Day 1: Welcome to Hanoi
When you arrive at Noi Bai International airport in Hanoi, you'll be smilingly met and transferred to your downtown hotel. The remainder of the day will be all yours to stroll around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi – City Sights and Highlights (B, L)
After a breakfast worth writing home about, you'll jump head-first into Hanoi's sights and sounds on a tour that covers all the essentials. You'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes the Mausoleum, Uncle Ho's former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace, the Ho Chi Minh Museum and The Temple of Literature, which, dating back to 1070, is Vietnam’s oldest university. After lunch, explore the enthralling Museum of Ethnology, which contains an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Next, enjoy an hour-long cyclo ride winding through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! The day finishes with a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets. Overnight in Hanoi.
Note: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed all day on Monday and Fridays, as well as from 1st October to 30th November (approx.) for annual conservation. Most museums close on Mondays.
Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay [Join with other travelers on the cruise] (B, L, D)
At 08.00, you will be picked up at your hotel and start the scenic 3.5 hour drive to Halong Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world's largest marine limestone 'karst' landscape. Enjoy the landscape of the Red River Delta countryside and have a short break en-route. Meet the crew upon boarding the traditional wooden junk, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads towards the secluded islands. Visit a fishing village by a rustic rowing-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and pearl farms. Return to the junk refreshed and and relax on sundeck with a drink to watch the sunset. Enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner under the stars. Overnight on a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay.
Day 4: Halong Bay Cruising - Flight to Danang & Transfer to Hoi An (B, L)
Enjoy an early morning swim/Taichi (if weather permits) followed by breakfast. You will visit a famous ancient limestone cave in the middle of the bay where you’ll discover magnificent stalagmites and stalactites as you walk along the lit paths on a guided tour. Enjoy a tasty brunch while cruising back to the main harbor Pier where your private car will be waiting for you and drive straight to Noi Bai airport in Hanoi for a late afternoon flight to Danang. On arrival, pick up and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 5: Hoi An – Morning Guided Walking Tour - Free Afternoon of Leisure (B, L)
8:30 AM, your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby and show you around the old town. You'll start a walking tour with numerous places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls, a museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you walk along tiny streets with houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures. After your walking tour, your time will be at leisure to wander around or go shopping. Your lunch will be at a local restaurant. The remainder of the day will be your own. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 6: Hoi An – Free Day of Leisure - Afternoon Flight to Siem Reap (B, L)
Apart from exploring Hoi An's World Heritage architecture & colorful market on foot, you might visit Vietnam's grandest Cham ruins at My Son; attend a cooking class at a riverside restaurant; or join other travelers to get up close and personal to daily farming and fishing life. For early risers, why not capture the real Hoi An by joining a 4-hour photography tour led by a local expat expert? If you want to go below, hop on a boat to Cu Lao Cham Island for a fun and relaxing day to explore exotic coral reefs and marine life [best between March & September]. If you'd like any of these activities to be included during your free time in Hoi An, just let it be known during your enquiry, or ask one of the Travel Specialists.
In the afternoon, transfer to Danang airport for an afternoon flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival at Siem Reap airport, you will be welcomed and driven to hotel. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 7: Visit Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm Monastery & Angkor Wat (B, L)
You’ll begin with a visit to Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). Your next visit will be to the Elephant and Leper King Terraces followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration programme. After lunch, you’ll explore Angkor Wat - the most impressive Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors. You’ll also see Ta Prohm monastery, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henri Mouhot. As dusk nears, a walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill will afford a panorama of the whole complex lit by the rays of the setting sun, weather permitting of course. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 8: Boat Cruise on Tonle Sap Lake & Departure (B, L)
After breakfast, travel about 15km to the fishing village of Chong Kneas, where you will board a traditional boat to discover the Tonle Sap Lake and see the daily activity of people living on floating houses. “The Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.” The rest of the afternoon is free until you're picked up for your departure flight.