REDISCOVER INDOCHINA

A grand journey to rediscover the beauty of the Indochina Region, listen to the untold stories, and admire its diversity.
DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Hanoi arrival                                                                                                                                              

Pick up at the airport welcome and transfer to your selected hotel in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi – Exploring the “Paris of the East”                                                                                       

Explore charming Hanoi, the “Paris of the East,” with its yellow-ochre colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards, and gorgeous lakes. Stop by the late-11th-century Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university. This well-preserved temple is featured at the back of the 100,000 dong Vietnamese note. the Museum of Ethnology, which houses a large collection of traditional costumes and artifacts from Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups, ranging from simple, everyday objects like fishing tools to prized possessions like jewelry. Continue to central Hanoi for a cyclo ride through the scenic Old Quarter, where each street is named for its original wares, from silk to silver. Stroll through the interesting network of back alleyways, fronted by narrow “tunnels” or “tube houses” built to escape taxes depending on their street frontage, for a truly eclectic view into Hanoi street life.

Time at leisure to explore the city independently.

Day 3: The cruise on Emerald Halong Bay                                                                                

This morning, Depart for a 3.5-hour journey to Ha Long Bay. Make a stop en route for some refreshment (around 15-20 minutes). On arrival at Tuan Chau Marina, board the overnight cruises. Check in to your elegant cabin and enjoy a Welcome Cocktail followed by a brief cruise introduction. Afterward, prepare to savor a sumptuous Vietnamese lunch while cruising toward Ha Long Bay and then visit Sung Sot cave before returning to the boat for the anchor area. A cooking demonstration with Vietnamese food on the sundeck. The cruise will dock at the Ho Dong Tien area where you can enjoy a private romantic dinner with an amazing set up on sundeck. After dinner, retire to your cabin or join the squid fishing program.

Day 4: From the bay of Dragon Landing to Hoi An ancient town                                                                

Wake up early and partake in a Tai Chi demonstration which is held on the upper deck. Then sail to Vung Vieng Floating Village by local rowing boat or kayak. Returning to your boat where a delicious brunch is waiting to be served. Enjoy the beautiful view of the Bay while the vessel cruises back to the harbor. Arrive at the jetty late morning and transfer back to Hanoi. Driver back to Hanoi airport for the flight to Da Nang.

Upon arrival at Da Nang Airport, welcome and transfer to your selected hotel in Hoi An.

Day 5: Hoi An – Town and merchants stories                                                                                          

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An flourished as a trade harbor, attracting merchant vessels from China, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Well-preserved buildings, lanes dedicated to foot traffic, and unique regional cuisine give modern visitors a taste of this historic town’s storied past, which has earned it World Heritage status. On a guided walking tour through Hoi An’s winding streets, you can see old merchant houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, first built in the 1590s by the Japanese community to connect them with the Chinese quarters across the stream; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, with its intricate woodcarvings; and the colorful market, with stalls selling a wide variety of goods.

Time at leisure to explore the town independently.

Day 6: Hoi An of your leisure                                                                                                       

Time at leisure to explore the town independently.

Day 7: Hoi An – Da Nang – Fly to Saigon – The city of diversity                                                               

Morning transfer to Danang for flight to Saigon.

Formerly known as “Saigon” before 1975, today the city is Vietnam’s commercial center. The city’s dynamic energy is apparent in the bustling street scenes with thousands of people on motorbikes constantly on the move.

With nearly 9 million citizens, Saigon is a dynamic city filled with culture and different lifestyles and enriched by its strong links to the past through its colonial landmarks. Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires constructed from materials imported from France (entrance is only permitted when no services are being performed). Then, walk across to the Central Post Office, completed in 1891. Continue to Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Southern Vietnamese Government during the American War. Drive to the War Remnants Museum to learn about the story of the Vietnam War. Be a part of Saigon’s daily life by experiencing Saigon’s street coffee before returning to your hotel.

The darker the night gets, the more vivid Saigon becomes! Get ready for a fascinating ride by vintage Vespa tonight to discover busy Saigon after dark, together with fun street food tasting in the most authentic local restaurants. Make your first stop at a small yet popular Vietnamese bread stall, line up to get a fresh bread roll before heading to a vintage coffee shop tucked away in a back alley for a briefing. Then continue to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the streets and explore an old apartment complex that comes to life at night with hundreds of food and drinks stalls. Continue riding to a hidden boutique local restaurant to taste the freshest Southern Vietnamese courses. Take a break at a 30-year-old street dessert shop. Conclude your night at a speakeasy bar tucked away in a quiet alley to taste their signature cocktails and have a chat with people here. Hop back on the Vespa and ride back to your hotel. 

Day 8: Mekong Delta – The Tales of Mekong River                                                                           

Depart Saigon and drive south to Ben Tre, the land of coconut. Visit brick kilns to see how the locals still use centuries-old traditional methods to make the bricks by hand. Also, stop at coconut workshop to learn about the multiple uses of coconut in daily life. Take a short cruise to a small family-run mat workshop and learn how to make sleeping mats.

Afterward, get on tuk-tuk (or hop on a local bicycle and ride 3 km) and travel along the narrow shady village roads to admire the tranquility of the Mekong villages. Arrive at the Garden House of a tropical fruit farmer and enjoy a walk around his orchard. After lunch, have a short break before getting on Sampan for rowing through the idyllic water of palm creek. Arrive at your main boat and cruise back to Hung Vuong Pier where your driver awaits for driving back to Saigon.

Day 9: Saigon – Siem Reap – The mythological shores of Tonle Sap                                                          

After breakfast, leave for the airport for the flight to Siem Reap.

Welcome by your local guide then transfer to your hotel in Siem Reap. After that, begin to explore Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia.

For the residents along the Tonle Sap River, life on the water is the greatest traditional culture that should be preserved before the rapid development of modern society.

Kampong Phluck, 18 km from downtown Siem Reap, is one of Tonle Sap Lake’s most beautiful and untouched permanent towns. This charming hamlet of 3,000 people offers a close look at the underwater mangrove forest and lakeside village life. Relax and learn on a local boat. You’ll learn about the lake’s villages as your boat passes through mangroves, stilt dwellings, the floating school, and the police station. Prepare your camera to capture the lovely image of Tonle Sapa Lake, local women or children crossing the river canal, or village residents selling and buying goods at a makeshift floating market.

Day 10: Siem Reap – the Khmer Empire, and its centerpiece                                                                    

Visit Angkor Thom, the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire, and its centerpiece, the Bayon temple. When you get closer, you’ll find the enigmatic faces of previous King Jayavarman VII smiling at you from every angle. Your guide will take you to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform for the King to welcome back his triumphant troops, and the Terrace of the Leper King, which features elaborate sculptures twisting along a tight passageway leading to the Baphuon complex.

Continue to Ta Prohm Temple, one of Angkor’s crown jewels that is overgrown with fig trees and thick vegetation, creating a melancholy yet fascinating ambiance. The majestic roots of the trees have mingled with the temple’s massive stone blocks throughout the centuries, emphasizing a ‘lost city’ impression. King Jayavarman VII commissioned the construction of the shrine to honor his mother. Take your time walking through the temple from the East to the West entrance (around 1-2 kilometers), where your vehicle will be waiting for you.

In the afternoon, spend time at one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat. See the immense scale of the temple and gain insight into the thriving Khmer Empire that existed during the 9th and 13th centuries, when Angkor Wat was constructed. Explore the narrow passageways, each displaying hundreds of exquisite carvings, and find the little shrines that are still in use by the locals today.

Day 11 Siem Reap – Organic Khmer living style                                                                                

Siem Reap is famous not just for the ancient temple remains of the Angkor complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also for its rural surroundings, where the Khmer lifestyle has been effectively preserved before the hasty growth of modern life.  Take in the scenery and paddy fields, and participate in local life as it passes gently by. Discover the history and ancient customs of this picturesque Khmer village by strolling through the peaceful roads and observing daily activities such as rice growing, buffalo herding, fishing, and handicrafts, among others. Meet with a local farmer in his traditional home, which is surrounded by gardens and farms, to learn how to raise vegetables using traditional methods and without the use of pesticides. Participate in a hands-on cooking lesson with a local chef, who will show you some secret techniques for presenting these delectable Khmer delicacies. Enjoy the food that you’ve cooked in a quiet setting surrounded by peaceful countryside surroundings.

In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for a flight to Luang Prabang.

Day 12 Luang Prabang – The serence beauty                                                                                          

Located at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan (Khan River), UNESCO-protected Luang Prabang is a beautiful mix of ancient gilded temples, saffron-clad monks, faded Indochinese villas and peaceful river scenery. Take a half-day walking tour exploring some of the highlights of this incredibly picturesque town. Start with a visit to the Royal Palace, which is now a National Museum housing precious artifacts that belonged to the Royal Family. Drive or enjoy a leisurely walk to explore some of Luang Prabang’s famed temples including Wat Visoun, Luang Prabang’s oldest temple. Notice its unusually shaped stupa designed to look like a lotus flower but referred to by locals as “the watermelon stupa”; Wat That Luang, traditionally the cremation site for Lao royalty; the gorgeous Wat Mai with its detailed golden reliefs depicting scenes from village life; and Wat Xieng Thong, built in the 17th century. Notice the stunning “Tree of life” mosaic set on its western exterior wall. End the tour by climbing up to the top of Mount Phousi to admire the panoramic views across the Mekong and Khan rivers as well as the mountain range. Return to your hotel.

Day 13: Luang Prabang – Sailing to the past                                                                                            

Enjoy a half-day river cruise to the famed Pak Ou Caves. Board a long-tail boat and begin cruising past scenes of typical Laotian villages barely visible behind thick foliage, wooden canoes bobbing by the shore attached to bamboo poles and floats marking the location of nets and fish traps. Located next to the mighty Mekong and opposite the mouth of the Mekong and the Ou rivers, explore the two limestone grottoes which house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images which range from mere centimeters up to 2m (7ft) in height. Return to Luang Prabang by cruise with a stop en route at the village of Ban Muang Keo and observe local weavers and whisky distillers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts.

Day 14: Luang Prabang – Natural hideaway                                                                                     

Early in the morning, you will leave for the outskirts of Luang Prabang, where you will spend the day in a stunning natural hideaway, nestled into the riverbanks with panoramic views of the river and the surrounding mountains. This morning’s recuperation is set apart from any other by a refreshing handmade detox drink and the opportunity to be surrounded by a newly natural setting while practicing Chi Kung. Chi Kung is a centuries-old practice that translates to “cultivating energy” or “working with the life energy.” It is a great place to start if you’re looking to embark on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Movement, breathing, and meditation all come together to help you bend your body in ways you never thought possible.

After a delicious veggie meal made from fresh organic products, enjoy a 30-minute traditional Laos massage in a timeless and peaceful setting with surrounding limestone hills and the sights and sounds of rural Laos all around.

Transfer to Luang Prabang airport for your flight back home.

Day 15: Luang Prabang Departure                                                                                                          

Transfer to Luang Prabang airport for your flight back home.

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Hanoi countryside tales by traditional crafts

Today, drive an hour along the Red River to Ha Noi’s neighboring countryside through immense rice fields and fruit farms. Visit the village that birthed Vietnamese incense upon arrival. This village’s incense, made from over 30 herbs with skills passed down from generation to generation, is known for its pure, light scent. A guided stroll through the hamlet with older residents will take you to various family-run workshops to see the entire incense-making process and hear about the glory days of this traditional craft. Help the host make incense.

Take another short drive to a rural community behind endless rice fields and duck farms. The locals’ 200-year-old fish-pot crafting heritage includes bamboo weaving. Walk around the village to see the typical Northern countryside architecture: dark brown tiled roofs, three-room houses with elders sitting in front weaving fish-pots and chatting. Visit a local artisan who rode his bike across Vietnam to proudly promote his village’s unique traditional craft. Create your own fish pot with his help and give it as a present.

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning
  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 6 hours

*Optional to add Nha Xa silk village
*Incense making at Thon Cao, Hung Yen. Fish-pot making village at Thu Sy, Hung Yen.
*Possible to have lunch at Hung Yen