Day 1: New Zealand–– Hanoi
Today, depart New Zealand for Hanoi, Vietnam! Upon arrival to the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Day 2: Hanoi (B, L)
This morning, take a city tour of Hanoi and will explore attractions such as the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda) and Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Why not explore the Old Quarter for shopping, bars and restaurants.
Optional tour: Hanoi Street food (Dinner included) – Enjoy a walk around the Old Quarter in the afternoon and appreciate the local lifestyles as you wind through Hanoi’s streets. You will have a taste of Northern Vietnamese delicacies such as: stuffed pancake, banh my, stuffed sticky rice balls, the unique egg coffee and many more.
Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Today travel by coach through the rich farm land of the Red River Delta to arrive at Halong Bay. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay’s spectacular scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty. Upon arrival you will board a ship to visit the thousands of limestone islands filled with caves of all shapes and sizes. The sails of junks and sampans gliding along the clear and emerald waters of the bay form a magnificent scene that blends into the sky. You will also have the opportunity to visit some of the hidden grottoes beneath the towering cliffs.
Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi –– Hue (B,L)
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands, a sight not to be missed! Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for breakfast then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy an early light lunch before heading back to the jetty to meet your driver for the journey to Hanoi Airport. From here you’ll board a short flight to Hue in the late afternoon. On arrival, you’ll be met at Hue airport and transferred to your hotel.
Day 5: Hue (B,L)
Today we visit the Imperial Citadel. This was the center of power for the Nguyen Dynasty who ruled between 1802 and 1945. Here, we will visit Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City. Later, board a boat for a wonderful trip on the Perfume River and a visit to Thien Mu pagoda where you’ll enjoy a vegetarian meal prepared by the local nuns. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 6: Hue – Hoi An (B)
Today, leave Hue behind you as you make your way to Hoi An. Today’s trip takes you over the famous Hai Van Pass which crosses over a spur of the Annamite Range that emerges from the west and juts into the South China Sea, forming the Hai Van Peninsula and the adjoining Son Tra Island. The pass, which once formed the boundary between the kingdoms of Dai Viet and Champa, also forms a boundary between the climates of northern and southern Vietnam, sheltering the city of Da Nang from the “Chinese winds” that blow in from the northwest. During the winter months (November– March), for instance, weather on the north side of the pass might be wet and cold, while the south side might be warm and dry.
On the other side of the pass, you will be transferred to the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Hoi An, stopping en route at the Marble Mountains to enjoy the view of Danang. As an important trading route during the 15th to 19th centuries, Hoi An is now a unique blend of culture, cuisine and architecture. Step back in time as you wander the narrow streets of this charming former trading port, with its ancient covered bridges and temples.
Day 7: Hoi An (B)
Today you will explore Hoi An on foot, visiting an old merchant’s home, Hoi An Market, a local Chinese temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge was first constructed here in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure to wander through the town or relax at one of the many cafés along the picturesque Thu Bon River.
Day 8: Hoi An (B)
Free day at leisure – continue exploring the Ancient Quarter or head to the beach/swimming pool for relaxing.
Day 9: Hoi An – Danang –– Nha Trang (B)
Today you will take a short flight to Nha Trang, a famous beach city of Vietnam. On arrival in Nha Trang, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this bustling seaside favourite.
Day 10: Nha Trang – Islands and Snorkelling Tour (B,L)
Today you’ll enjoy a day island hopping around Nha Trangs stunning islands and beaches. First stop is Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island, home to many sea species of Nha Trang/Khanh Hoa province. Mun Island is the best island for snorkelling where you can see lots of colorful coral and fish. You will also be able to see caves in which the sea swallows make their nests from the boat. Then you have the opportunity to relax, swim or do some water sports at Mot Island, Tranh Beach Island or on a small island called “Mini beach”. Lunch is enjoyed on this island. On the way back you’ll visit a fishing village before arriving to the shore and transferred back to your hotel.
Day 11: Nha Trang –– Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Today is free at leisure before your transfer for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Cu Chi Tunnels (B, L)
After breakfast, you will have a half day tour of Ho Chi Minh City with highlights such as, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, War Remnant Museum and soaking up the atmosphere at Ben Thanh market, one of Ho Chi Minh’s liveliest areas.
In the afternoon we continue on to Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, guerrilla fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels, using them to hide in during bombing raids and to stage surprise attacks. Today, the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction, giving visitors a unique understanding of what life was like during the Vietnam War.
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (Cai Be – Vinh Long) (B,L,D)
After breakfast we depart for Cai Be in the Mekong Delta by road. We then board a boat and stop along the way to see local handicrafts that provide a living for the river people. Observe from the comfort of your boat life as it plays out on the riverbanks – the people, the stunning landscapes – while your attentive crew serves tea and seasonal fruit. Before arriving at Sa Dec, go ashore to visit a pottery factory where everything is made by hand and all is recycled. Arrive in Sa Dec and take a stroll to the outdoor market. Visit the local celebrity: the ancient house of Huynh Thuy Le, a real-life character of the novel and film “The Lover” by Marguerite Duras. Lunch is served on board while cruising towards Can Tho along a narrow canal teeming with life. You will pass monkey bridges and tiny villages before stopping for a visit to a Cao Dai Temple. Cycle or row in a small boat around the countryside to explore the surroundings. Your last stop before sunset is at an ancient house, “Nha Co” dating back to the 19th Century. The owner welcomes you and a candlelit dinner is served in this authentic countryside setting. After dinner return to the boat while Song Xanh continues its cruise towards Hau River. Overnight on board.
Day 14: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Awake early for a visit to the famous Cai Rang Floating Market which only operates from 5am – 8am every day. Breakfast is served on board while the Song Xanh navigates towards the market among local barges laden with fruit and vegetables. Be sure to have your camera ready! Later on, cruise towards Victoria Can Tho and disembark at the hotel’s private jetty. You’ll then be transferred back to your Ho Chi Minh City hotel.
Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City –– Siem Reap (B)
Today you will be transported to Ho Chi Minh City airport for your flight Siem Reap. On arrival at Siem Reap airport you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. Tonight is at leisure.
Day 16: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B,L)
Spend a full day discovering the mystical Angkor temples. Your day starts with a visit to Angkor Wat, then we will visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery.
In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries. Then, journey to the Elephant Terrace and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. Tonight is at leisure.
Day 17: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh (B)
Enjoy your leisure time this morning before your 6 hour bus journey to Phnom Penh. Watch as the Cambodian countryside passes by and the unique modes of transport local people use to carry their wares. This evening is at leisure.
Optional Tour: Tonle Sap Lake.
Start your trip with Kampong Kleang, a floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake, and as yet bypassed by mass tourism. All the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment with breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water vistas as far as the eye can see. Walk through the village meeting the locals and a family who raises crocodiles. Afterwards, travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Then we return to the hotel for relaxing.
Day 18: Phnom Penh (B,L)
This morning we take in everything Phnom Penh has the offer, The Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, National Museum and Wat Ounalom. Afterwards, enjoy shopping for unique souvenirs at Central Market. Over lunch we watch the royal dance rehearsal by the Apsara Arts Association.
Later, discover the place where journalists camped on the eve of the Khmer Rouge takeover followed by the exciting ghostly building. Touring to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school served as Khmer Rouge prison before heading to the Choeung Ek Killing Field and learn about the atrocities that took place here. Finally, taste some Khmer snacks while learning how the bloody history still haunts Cambodian lives.
Day 19: Phnom Penh – – New Zealand(B)
This morning enjoy breakfast at the hotel before your transfer for your flight home to New Zealand.
Day 20: New Zealand
Arrive home today.