Day 1: New Zealand – – Phnom Penh
Today, depart New Zealand for Phnom Penh, Cambodia!
Upon arrival to the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Day 2: Phnom Penh (B,L)
Today, learn about the Cambodia’s turbulent history as you visit the infamous Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields, the infamous site of Pol Pot’s bloody Khmer Rouge regime.
Later we will make our way to the Royal Palace. Although closed to visitors, the beautiful building and palatial gardens are still visible from the exterior and are a sight to behold. A trip to the National Museum, Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural history, rounds off the day.
Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (B)
This morning we depart Phnom Penh for a 5 – 6 hour drive to Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor region. The journey offers an excellent opportunity to observe rural Cambodia up-close. Stop along the way and visit a market, where every assortment of street food is available, including a Khmer favourite, fried spiders!
Once you arrive in Siem Reap, you will check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 4: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B,L,D)
Today is the day many travellers have been waiting for! Early this morning, you will visit the breathtaking Angkor Wat. Surrounded by a wide moat and spanning 162.6 hectares, Angkor Wat is the largest and arguably most astonishing religious monument in the world.
In the afternoon we continue to make our way around the temples of Angkor, and visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom, the last capital city of the Khmers, home to the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King, the Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm. Watch a beautiful sunset from the Pre Rup temple before enjoying dinner with “Apsara Dance”.
Day 5: Siem Reap (B)
Take this opportunity to explore Siem Reap at your own pace. Be sure to check out some local restaurants for a taste of world famous Cambodian cuisine.
Optional Tour: Choose to visit 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. Afterward, return to the hotel for free time.
Day 6: Siem Reap – – Luang Prabang (B)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. On arrival, you will be met by your driver and tour guide and transferred to your hotel.
In the afternoon climb Mount Phousi, rising 150 metres above the centre of town, from the summit you can enjoy a spectacular 360 degree outlook across the city and its many temples. Admire sunset before heading back down the mountain to discover the H’mong Night Market on your way back to the hotel.
Day 7: Luang Prabang (B,L)
Today, you have a full day visiting the National Museum, the former Royal Palace which houses a collection of valuables, including the famous Prabang Buddha statue and gifts received from foreign dignitaries. Previously a religious capital, Luang Prabang showcases more than 100 temples, considered amongst the most beautiful in Laos. In particular, you will discover, Vat Xieng Thong or Temple of the Royal City – a vast collection of sacred buildings and the most beautiful temple in the city. Vat May – built at the end of the 18th century, a capped sanctuary featuring a five sided roof surmounted by three parasols. Vat Visoun – the oldest temple in the city with its wooden windows inspired by the Khmer Temple of Vat Phou. Vat Aham – framed by two large Banyan trees. Vat Senna – the first monastery whose roof was to be covered with yellow and red tiles.
After we will visit TAEC Cafe, located inside the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (TAE), and take a tour of TAEC, a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people.
Day 8: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Cave – Khuang Si Waterfall (B,L)
This morning embark on an upstream cruise on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. These two linked caves are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we will stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make local rice wine. Relax and enjoy the leisurely cruise back to Luang Prabang.
Upon arrival in the city we will go directly to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the pools or walk along the forest trails. On our way back to Luang Prabang, we stop to visit the Kuang Si Falls Butterfly Park, a must-visit spot where you can have an optional 15-minute tour to learn about butterflies and local flora.
Day 9: Luang Prabang – – Hanoi (B)
An early start gives a fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. We will take a short visit to the local morning market near the Royal Palace. At the market, you can find anything from rice, to fresh vegetables, to steamed fish, frogs, and anything else that might be the day’s catch, set up on the ground this is what the locals do every day. This is a great chance for you to get a real flavor of the local culture.
In the afternoon we will check out of our hotel and take a flight to Hanoi – Vietnam’s capital. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours for you to relax and settle into your new surrounds.
Day 10: Hanoi (B)
This morning, we 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.
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 11: Hanoi (B)
Beautiful Hanoi has enough to keep any traveller entertained for a lifetime. You will have all day today to explore the vibrant city streets, stunning natural landscapes and hidden local gems as you wish.
Optional Tour: Ninh Binh – Hoa Lu – Tam Coc (Kong skull) Visit Ninh Binh, the ancient capital of Vietnam from 968 AD to 1010 AD during the Dinh and early Le Dynasties. You will visit two small temples of the Kings, each of which is nearly a thousand years old. From there you will cycle through the quiet countryside roads to the spectacular limestone peaks of Tam Coc, passing colourful rice paddies and through the rural villages. Later, take a traditional boat trip to visit Tam Coc.
Day 12: Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise (B,L,D)
This morning we drive to the ‘Jewel in the Crown of Vietnam’, Halong Bay. Arriving just before lunch, you will embark on a traditional Vietnamese junk boat. Have lunch on board and enjoy the afternoon and overnight cruise as it provides you with a fantastic view of the fabulous scenery and some 3,000 limestone islands which rise magically from the emerald waters. The limestone formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, some of which you’ll get to visit. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on board.
Day 13: Halong Bay Cruise – Hanoi – – Hoi An (Danang) (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, especially if you are into photography. 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.
Your driver and guide will transfer you back to Hanoi to take a flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang you will be transferred to your hotel in Hoi An.
Optional Tour: Halong Sea Plane A unique vantage point to appreciate the vastness, the beauty and all limestone formations of World Nature Wonder – Halong Bay from the air in 25 minutes. Witness with your own eyes the panorama of the famous film ”Indochine”. This is the perfect combination with a wooden junk cruise through the bay before returning to Hanoi. After having an early morning breakfast on the sundeck and discovering various rock formations, you will disembark and get on the seaplane to see a uniquely different point of view of this destination.
Day 14: Hoi An (B,L)
Today you will explore Hoi An on foot, visiting an old merchant’s home, the Japanese Covered Bridge, Hoi An Market and a local Chinese temple. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, wander through the town or relax at one of the many cafés along the picturesque Thu Bon River.
Day 15: Hoi An (B)
Take the day to explore the delights of this wonderful city at your own pace or enjoy an optional tour.
Optional: My Son Sanctuary & Thanh Ha village Depart from your hotel and journey 40km outside of Hoi An. Arrive in My Son santuacry, a great sample of ancient Champa civilization situated in southern region of Vietnam. Stand astounded by a great number of exquisite stone sculptures, temples and towers nestled in tropical jungle. There will be a traditional music show you can choose to enjoy. Around late morning, we will return to Hoi An.
Day 16: Hoi An (B)
Take the day to explore the delights of this wonderful city at your own pace.
Day 17: Hoi An – Danang – – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Hoi An before being transferred to the airport for your scheduled flight to Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon). On arrival you will be by met by our tour guide and transferred to your hotel.
Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Today spend the day at leisure or choose to go on an optional tour.
Optional Tour: Mekong Delta – Travel to Ben Tre to discover the unique lifestyle of inhabitants living along the Mekong Delta. Visit fruit and bonsai gardens, a coconut candy workshop and a rice paper mill. Bike ride or travel by horse carriage along the village road and enjoy local delicacies and tropical fruits, before you head back to Saigon this afternoon. Lunch will be included on your Mekong Delta tour.
Day 19: Ho Chi Minh City—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 20: Ho Chi Minh City – – New Zealand (B)
This morning you will have some free time for any last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping before your transfer to the airport for your flight home to New Zealand.
Day 21: New Zealand
Arrive home today.