American breakfast daily, 6 lunches, 7 dinners including a welcome dinner in Ho Chi Minh City and a farewell dinner show in Siem Reap
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description.
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Ho Chi Minh City. Cu Chi Excursion. This morning, leave the city and drive through vast expanses of rice paddies to visit the CU CHI TUNNELS, an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles long that was used by the Viet Cong as a hideout and secret village during the war. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for a WALKING TOUR of the city’s famous and historic landmarks. The tour will take you through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat) past the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, the Municipal Theatre, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Next, visit the WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM, followed by BEN THANH MARKET, the largest and oldest in the city. This evening, join your traveling companions at a special welcome dinner hosted by your Tour Director. (B,L,D)
Ho Chi Minh City. A full day at leisure in Ho Chi Minh City. The city is booming, and pulses with contagious energy day and night. Sample local food from a street vendor, get a foot massage, or spend more time on Dong Khoi Street, known for its quality goods, including silk garments that rival those of Hong Kong. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, this is a great place to start your exploration of the city. You may also consider an optional trip to the Mekong Delta for a cruise on the great Mekong River and a visit to a local family’s home for tea and rice wine. Tonight, be sure to stop at one of several rooftop bars for a drink and great views of the city. Your Tour Director will be on hand to assist with recommendations.
Ho Chi Minh City–Danang–Hoi An. After a short flight to Danang, enjoy a picturesque journey by motorcoach to Hoi An. Along the way, visit CHINA BEACH, landing point for U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. Hoi An is Vietnam’s active trading center and a town that has been largely preserved, with architecture that reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French, and British traders. Hoi An is also where French missionary Alexandre de Rhodes introduced Catholicism and Roman script to Vietnam.
Hoi An. Today starts with a CRUISE on the Thu Bon River. Along the way, meet with a local fisherman who will teach you about their fishing methods and give you a [LF] FISHING LESSON, where you will learn how to throw and retrieve a traditional round fishing net called a ro. Afterward, you will have a chance to throw the net yourself and see what you catch! Later, continue with a WALKING TOUR of Hoi An, visiting an old MERCHANT HOUSE, the HOI AN MUSEUM, a CHINESE ASSEMBLY HALL, and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Then, free time to enjoy this quaint town further.
Hoi An–Danang–Hue. Stop in Danang to visit the CHAM MUSEUM, then continue north over spectacular Hai Van Pass (weather permitting), considered to be one of the most scenic in all of Vietnam, before arriving in Hue. One of Vietnam’s former capitals, Hue is a beautiful, welcoming city that remains a cultural and religious center. Upon arrival, visit the IMPERIAL CITADEL and the THIEN MU PAGODA, the unofficial symbol of the city. This evening, enjoy an imperial banquet at a popular local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Hue–Hanoi. This morning’s sightseeing provides a unique window into Vietnam and its complex past. Visit the TOMBS of the NGUYEN EMPERORS: the KHAI DINH MAUSOLEUM and the ROYAL TOMB of TU DUC. Later, fly to Hanoi, the nation’s capital and one of Southeast Asia’s most engaging cities.
Hanoi. Today, take time to look at the life of Ho Chi Minh, the father of modern Vietnam. First, visit the MAUSOLEUM and the humble cottage from which “Uncle Ho” ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. Next on the agenda are the ONE PILLAR PAGODA and HO CHI MINH MUSEUM. You will also visit the ancient TEMPLE OF LITERATURE, more than 900 years old and Hanoi’s first university, followed by the infamous HANOI HILTON. After lunch in a local restaurant take a [LF] “CYCLO” ride around the city, followed by a WALKING TOUR through the fascinating Old Quarter, 36 ancient streets where peddlers trade as they have for centuries. An early dinner this evening is followed by a fascinating performance of Hanoi’s renowned [LF] WATER PUPPETS, a traditional art form dating back to the 11th century. (B,L,D)
Hanoi–Ha Long Bay. Travel from Hanoi through the fertile countryside to Hon Gai, gateway to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, the bay is dotted with more than 3,000 limestone islands carved into fanciful shapes by the action of the water. Tunnels, caves, and weirdly shaped outcroppings with imaginative names can be found on many of the small islets that are sprinkled across the bay. Board a CRUISE that takes you to explore the caves, and admire the beauty and scale before stopping at one of the many secluded bays. (B,L,D)
Ha Long Bay–Hanoi–Siem Reap, Cambodia. This morning, drive to Hanoi and board your flight to Siem Reap, which will act as your base during your visit to Angkor, considered by many to be the most spectacular architectural ruins on Earth! (B,L,D)
Siem Reap. This morning, start your sightseeing of the TEMPLES OF ANGKOR. Constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, the temples were built around the Khmer interpretations of Indian religious and political beliefs that ultimately evolved from Hinduism to Buddhism. The complex architectural grandeur of the Angkor temples is arguably unmatched among ancient ruins anywhere in the world. First, visit the best preserved and most famous of all the temples, ANGKOR WAT, honoring the Hindu god Vishnu. Featuring five trademark towers and stunning bas-reliefs, it has become a symbol of Cambodia. Next stop is ANGKOR THOM to see the BAYON TEMPLE. One of the few Buddhist temples in Angkor, it features some 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas-reliefs. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. This evening, witness one of the world’s most amazing experiences: sunset at Angkor Wat! (B,L)
Siem Reap. Today, continue your sightseeing of the Angkor temples. Visit BANTEAY SREI, a unique temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva that was built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. Unlike the other temples, TA PROHM has been left relatively untouched. Surrounded by jungle, tree roots grow over and through the ruin walls, and you will experience the temple with the same wonder as the early explorers who discovered it. This afternoon, enjoy a bit of time at your leisure. This evening, enjoy a traditional [LF] APSARA DANCE PERFORMANCE, where the ancient Khmer culture is brought to life by talented dancers, singers, and musicians.
Siem Reap–Chiang Mai. Fly to Chiang Mai (via Bangkok), Thailand’s second-largest city.
Chiang Mai. Your Chiang Mai city tour includes a visit to WAT PHRA SINGH with its famous Buddha image and WAT DOI SUTHEP, a temple tucked away in the mountains at 3,464 feet above sea level. The temple is reached by climbing 290 steps. The remainder of the day is free for your own exploration.
Chiang Mai. Today, visit BAAN TONG LUANG to visit several hill tribe groups, including the AKHA, known for gorgeous headdresses decorated with silver coins, and the KAREN, home to the PADAUNG LONG-NECKED WOMEN. Early in life, brass rings are placed on the necks of the village girls and as they mature, additional rings are added. This pushes the collarbone down and compresses the rib cage, creating the illusion of stretching their necks. On your return to Chiang Mai, stop at an ORCHID FARM to see these exotic plants up close. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Chiang Mai–Bangkok. Fly to Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city.
Bangkok. Your morning sightseeing tour includes the stunning GRAND PALACE, featuring the TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA. Also visit the TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA, the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It houses more than 1,000 Buddha images, including the 49-foot-high and 151-foot-long massive Reclining Buddha. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Bangkok. Enjoy a full day at your leisure to explore on your own.
Bangkok. Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.