ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Luang Prabang
Fly to Luang Prabang a charming town set amidst lush mountains. This sacred city of golden temples and glittering spires is has been recognized by UNESCO for its artful mix of traditional Laos and colonial architecture. Relax into the laid back pace of the town with a sunset cocktail on this river.
Day 2: Luang Prabang
Today, visit Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai with their sweeping roofs and decorative features. Then cruise the tea coloured waters of the Mekong River to reach Pak Ou caves, filled with thousands of Buddha images left by pilgrims. Later in the afternoon return to Luang Prabang and wander the halls of the former palace which is now a museum and watch the sun set from the top of Mount Phousi.
Day 3: Luang Prabang - Hanoi
Rise early to the sounds of the temple gong and watch the daily ritual of monks collecting their daily alms. This important part of Buddhist culture is not to be missed! Then fly to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital and gateway to the north.
Day 4: Hanoi
Discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum — the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the World Heritage Site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an archaeological site dating back to the 11th century, and the famous Temple of Literature. End the afternoon viewing Long Bien Bridge which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing with a coffee at a local cafe.
Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay
Drive about four hours to reach Halong Bay, recognized by UNESCO for its limestone karst outcrops and unique natural scenery. Board a traditional junk for an overnight cruise in crystalline emerald waters. Take a kayak and paddle through secluded bays, sea arches and caves that have been formed through erosion, visit a floating fish farm and dine on fresh seafood.
Day 6: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hue
Take your last look at the beauty of the bay as you cruise back into the port. Then drive towards Hanoi and the airport for your afternoon flight to Hue.
Day 7: Hue
From 1802 Hue was the political, cultural and religious centre of a unified Vietnam, until the end of the Nguyen dynasty in 1945 when the capital was moved to Hanoi. Begin a city tour of UNESCO monuments including the Imperial Citadel and Imperial Tombs of the former emperors. Then take a cruise along the Perfume River as it wends its way through the city centre to Thien Mu Pagoda.
Day 8: Hue - Hoi An
Take a drive along the scenic Hai Van Pass towards ancient port town of Hoi An. This UNESCO recognized town has been artfully restored to its former glory and its quaint architecture makes the perfect picture postcard. This afternoon take a guided walking tour of the charming town to discover a preserved pagoda, assembly hall and beautiful covered bridge – living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.
Day 9: Hoi An
Beside the heritage and architecture, Hoi An is renowned for its tailors, food and way of life. Today why not take a cooking class or roll up your sleeves and become a fisherman or farmer! The day is free for you to do as much or as little as you want.
Day 10: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City
Fly to the modern capital of Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. Discover the story of Saigon from the days of the French rule to the war years with America – this is one city with a tale to tell! See all the main sights including the Reunification Palace, the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. End your day with a speedboat trip down the river to see a different side of the city.
Day 11: Cu Chi Tunnels
Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war. Then visit a farm and taste an unusual local specialty - cricket!
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City - Siem Reap
Fly to Siem Reap the gateway to the World Heritage Listed temples of Angkor. The Ankgor complex embodies the entire range of Khmer art from the 9th to 14th centuries and played a formative role in the cultural and political development of the region. This afternoon, visit the Roluos group of temples for your first peek into Angkorian masterpieces.
Day 13: Siem Reap
Start your exploration of the temples at Angkor Thom. Wander the Bayon with its hundreds of smiling faces and impressive bas reliefs depicting stories of daily life, and the great battles that were fought by the Khmers. See the rows of trunks that form the wall of the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of Leper Kings, followed by the most loved temples of all – Ta Prohm. This small crumbling temple his held together by giant tree roots giving it a magical feel. In the afternoon explore the magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. This visually spectacular temple is a massive three-tiered pyramid, rising 65m from the ground and crowned by five lotus towers. End your day with sunset views over the jungle from the top of an ancient temple.
Day 14: Siem Reap
Today venture to the outer reaches of the Angkor complex to see Bantay Srei – the Citadel of Women. This 10th century Hindu temple is constructed of pink sandstone and is revered for its intricate and delicate carvings. This afternoon relax by the pool or wander into the town for a spot of shopping.
Day 15: Siem Reap
On your last day, seek out those last minute trinkets at the market before transferring to the airport for you onward flight.