GLANCE OF VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA

From charming Hanoi to mystic Siem Reap, from tranqil Hoi An to bustling Saigon, the trip compacts all the jewels of Vietnam and Cambodia.
DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: Hanoi arrival                                                                                                                         

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

Overnight 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: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Depart Hanoi for a 2-hour drive to Halong Bay by the new highway. A UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, Halong Bay covers an area of 43,400 ha (168 sq mi) including over 1,600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited and untouched. Board your cruise ship to admire the stunning islets that soar from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Towering limestone pillars and tiny islets topped by forest along with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes add to the enchantment of this breathtakingly beautiful region. Stop to visit the caves, and islets, and enjoy kayaking and swimming over the turquoise water of the bay. Optional to join in a cooking demonstration and cocktails. Overnight on board the ship dock in the quiet bay overlooking to the starry night.

Day 4: Ha Long – Hanoi – flight to Hoi An                                                                                                           

Wake up early in the sound of waves and breeze. Join a Tai-chi class to refresh your soul and body under the sunshine as the ship continues to cruise around the bay, where you can witness the life of a local fisherman on the floating fishing villages. Enjoy brunch with a sip of tea or coffee over the magnificent view of the limestones. Stay relaxing until disembarkation in the afternoon and drive back to Hanoi.

Take a flight to Danang. Upon arrival, transfer to your accommodation.

Day 5: Hoi An                                                                                                                                              

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 for 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.

The rest of the day at leisure exploring the town.                                                                                                                                     

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning, Afternoon
  • Suggested time: 09:00, 14:00
  • Tour duration: 3 hours
  • The Hoi An entrance ticket is valid for entry to 5 sightseeing spots in Hoi An including merchant houses, the Japanese Covered Bridge, museums, pagodas, and assembly halls for 24 hours. It also provides entry into Hoi An Ancient Town for as long as you are in Hoi An. Please keep the entrance ticket with you at all times should you independently visit Hoi An later in the evening or on another day.

Day 6: Hoi An – Hue – The Hidden Jewel Tam Giang Lagoon

After breakfast, transfer up north to reach Hue, the Citadel. Hue was the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and its magnificent emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas, and the remains of the Citadel add to its undeniable royal charm.

Check in to your selected hotel in Hue, then take a short drive to Tam Giang Lagoon, the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia and unquestionably the most beautiful place to visit. Explore the ancient village. Visit a friendly fisherman’s home and watch him weave traditional fishing tools and a bamboo sampan before joining him on a boat ride across the beautiful lagoon. Admiring the authentic lifestyle of boat dwellers, learning how generations of families “eat, pray, love,” and survive on a houseboat, is an eye-opening experience. Paddle gently alongside the unique aqua-culture farm system before beginning the original fishing techniques. Continue your visit to a vegetable farm for a special “farm-to-table” dinner cooked with the host.

Overnight in Hue

Day 7: Hue – Imperial Citadel – Home-hosted dinner                                                                         

After breakfast, explore the Imperial Citadel, which is located in the heart of the Complex of Hue Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage site. As your guide explains the events and intrigue surrounding the former royal court, enter through the towering main gate and take in the magnificent architecture and gardens. Despite being heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, some sections are incredibly well-preserved and others are being carefully restored.

Select one of two royal tombs to visit: (1) The Tu Duc Royal Tomb, the most impressive of all the royal mausoleums, built by Emperor Tu Duc between 1864 and 1867. Interestingly, Tu Duc had 104 wives and countless concubines but left no heirs to the throne, or (2) the elaborate Khai Dinh Royal Tomb whose architecture showcases elements of Eastern art and Western design. Return to your hotel.

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning, Afternoon
  • Suggested time: 09:00, 14:00
  • Tour duration: 3.5 hours

Drive to Ms. Nau’s local garden house. Her house showcases the most typical Hue family culture, in which 3 generations live together and open a business in their own house. Each family member has his/her passion, typically in singing, cooking, and art. And, like other traditional Hue families, everyone in Ms. Nau’s family is carefully educated about royal Hue customs and spirits. Ms. Nau herself is an interior designer. She left Saigon and got back to Hue a few years ago, starting her business creating macrame artworks. Meet her and her friendly family members, and get to know a typical Hue family with generations living together. Enjoy a home-cooked dinner in the cozy garden with Hue local dishes.

Notes:

  • Availability: Afternoon only
  • Suggested time: 17:00
  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Capacity: Max. 10 pax           

Day 8: Hue – flight to Saigon – Half day city – Saigon nightlife on vintage Vespa                                

After breakfast, leave for the airport for the flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). On arrival, meet your guide, and transfer to Saigon downtown.

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.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 18:30
  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Special note: the itinerary is subject to change during the Tet holidays
  • Capacity: max. 15 pax per group. For bigger group sizes, clients will be divided into different private groups

Day 9: Saigon – Ben Tre – Night flight to Siem Reap                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Leave Saigon for a 1.5-hour drive to Ben Tre Province in the Mekong Delta, which is famous for its coconut products and tropical fruit orchards. Before boarding your private local boat view river life. Stop at a coconut workshop where you will get to know how every part of the coconut can be used for candies and crafts. Visit a fruit farmer’s home after a 3km (2 mi) tuk-tuk or bicycle ride. After lunch, paddle a sampan through the Delta’s palm-lined rivers.

Drive to the airport for a flight to Siem Reap. Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 10: Siem Reap – Legendary of ancient temples                                                                                        

In the morning, 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.

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 on 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.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 5hours

Day 11: Banteay Srei and Beng Melea                                                                                                            

Drive 1.5 hours through the beautiful Siem Reap countryside to Beng Mealea, a massive jungle temple built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in the Angkor Wat style. The temple may have been Angkor Wat’s antecedent. Unlike Angkor, carvings and bas-reliefs are few. The temple’s decaying stone walls and overgrowth make it attractive. Elevated passageways make most of the temple accessible, but you’ll need to climb over stone blocks or go through short tunnels to see everything. Lunch at an authentic Cambodian restaurant.

Then head to the outskirts of Siem Reap to see Banteay Srei, which translates as “the Castle of the Ladies.” This red sandstone temple, built in the 10th century and devoted to the Hindu god Shiva, is one of Angkor’s most notable temples, with walls covered with exquisite carvings that have been surprisingly well preserved. This amazing site provides a fascinating insight into the Angkor civilization and its beliefs.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 8.5 hours

Day 12: Siem Reap – Departure                                                                                                                     

Breakfast at the hotel  – continue to visit Artisan D’Angkor, a handicraft center the Handicraft for the wood and stone carving processes followed by the local old market of Psachas. Transfer to the airport for flight departure.

End of service.

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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