- Witness local life with plenty of smiles
- Bangkok by long-tail boat
- Pak Ou Caves by long-tail boat
- UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang
- Magnificent temple complex of Angkor, Siem Reap
- 24-hours in Ho Chi Minh City
- Old Town Hoi An & the market
- Explore the Old Quarter in Hanoi
- Cruise the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay
- and more...
Bangkok (Thailand) /Ha Noi (Viet Nam)
18 days - 17 nights
Bangkok (Thailand), Luang Prabang (Laos), Siem Reap (Siem Reap), Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hue, Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam)
Upon arrival you’ll be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. Bangkok is an intense place of movement ~ a cityscape of high-rise buildings, expressway flyovers, colorful advertising billboards and traffic. Yet in between the skyscrapers and sophisticated shopping centers, we find stillness in the elegant temples, pagodas, spirit houses and historic sites. Dine on the Chao Phraya River aboard The Manohra, a traditional barge converted into a floating restaurant serving fine royal Thai cuisine.Overnight in Bangkok, Thailand
Explorations begin this morning by long-tail boat. Motor upstream to Wat Arun, a remarkable Buddhist temple constructed between 1809 and 1851. Again, notice the stillness of the peaceful surrounds amidst the hustle of the city. Continue by boat across the’ river highway’ to disembark at Ta Chang Pier. We continue on foot to the Grand Palace. One of the most spectacular palaces in Thailand, construction began in 1782, after King Rama I moved his capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. From the 18th century onwards it served as the residence of the Chakri Dynasty Kings. We also visit Wat Phra Kaew, housing the Emerald Buddha, it is considered to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. Our explorations continue through the bustling Bangkok streets to visit Wat Po, which houses the enormous reclining Buddha as well as the Chedis (stupas containing the ashes) of the Kings. Further on is the impressive Wat Trimitr, which houses a huge five-ton solid Gold Buddha. Our afternoon rounds off in Bangkok’s Chinatown, one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city. A maze of small roads and crowded Soi (alleys) overflowing with restaurants, shops, street markets and food stalls, selling virtually anything you can imagine. (Ladies should wear short-sleeved top with full-length trousers or knee-length skirts. Gentlemen should wear trousers and short-sleeved shirts for religious reasons.)Overnight in Bangkok
We bid Thailand farewell and head for Luang Prabang in Laos today. Upon arrival in Laos you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel. The stillness of Laos is palpable after the frenzied pace of Bangkok. The remainder of the day is at leisure for you to rest or explore at will.Overnight in Luang Prabang, Laos
A highlight of any visit to Luang Prabang is to wake before the dawn and bear witness to an ancient morning ritual - the alms offering to the Buddhist monks. Hundreds of saffron-robed monks take to the streets in search of their daily food offered by the lay community. You are welcome to make an offering or simply be a witness to the humbled procession. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos and originated with the Buddha’s own ritual 2,500 years ago. Watch the town come to life and then return to your hotel for breakfast. Note: With the Morning Alms Giving, if you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and observe the ritual in silence. Dress appropriately – shoulder, chest and legs should be covered. After breakfast we will visit this sacred town of many temples. We’ll include a visit to the National Museum (closed on Tue), the former Royal Palace housing a collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue and numerous gifts from foreign dignitaries. Other must-see places include Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple that served as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple said to be the most beautiful temple in town, epitomizing the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang’s architecture. Late afternoon, visit Phousi Hill climbing up 328 steps to the summit that provides a superb panoramic view of the whole town.Overnight in Luang Prabang
This morning we take to the river after breakfast. We cruise the Mekong River by long-tailed boat to visit the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. The site is strategically positioned in a lime stone cliff overlooking the Mekong. The sanctuaries at Pak Ou consist of two large caves, serving as repositories for thousands of Buddhist icons, which range from mere centimeters to two meters in height. En route, typical Laotian villages are barely visible behind thick screens of riverbank foliage. Slender canoes bob by the shoreline and bamboo poles with floats mark the location of nets and fish traps. Lunch is at a local restaurant on the bank of the Mekong River. Return to Luang Prabang by boat; continue by car to visit Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for its wood paper making and Laotian silk weavings with natural dyes. Transfer back to town in the late afternoon.Overnight in Luang Prabang
We bid Laos goodbye and head for Cambodia today. Check-out of the hotel by noon and transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. The flight time is just under two hours. Siem Reap International has to be one of the most architecturally striking airports in all the world. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by your local guide and transferred to the hotel, arriving late afternoon.Overnight in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Optional: sunrise over Angkor Wat temple. Return hotel for late breakfast. If you’re an early riser consider catching sunrise over Angkor Wat temple. It is certainly one of the most unique places in the world for sunrise but be forewarned, you won’t be alone!
After breakfast, return to visit the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor – one of the world’s most impressive heritage sites. The temple still holds fine examples of stone carvings and engravings from the rich Angkorian era. Look for Apsara’s or celestial angel figures dancing in intricate still life scenes on the bas-reliefs. In the afternoon, take an elephant ride from the Southgate of Angkor Thom to Bayon and explore the mysterious Royal city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom’s 50-tower temple is an inspiring sight. At first glance it seems to be a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals a face, and then another and another until suddenly you are engulfed by the heavy, enigmatic and silent gaze through half-closed eyes. Enjoy sunset at one of the quieter temples.Overnight in Siem Reap
This morning drive further into the Cambodian countryside to visit the petite but magnificent temple, Banteay Srei, built in the 10th Century and dedicated to Shiva. The temple was the birthplace of Khmer classical style architecture and the bas-relief work is the best remaining example of Khmer classical art. The pink sandstone structure hosts a series of striking and beautiful sculptures, lintels, pediments and friezes. Khmers say women must have carved the temple for the details are too fine for the hands of a man. Continue our sightseeing after lunch to visit the striking Ta Prohm. The temple was once reclaimed by the jungle and disappeared from sight until a French explorer uncovered the ruins. It remains overgrown, an oddly haunting and powerful scene. The ficus family continue to embrace the ruins with their twisty, winding roots and branches, ever threatening to reclaim the temple.Overnight in Siem Reap
This morning your guide will present the historic overview of the city as you take in the main points of interest. It's an energetic city and the architectural disorder gives you some idea of the rapid growth over the past decade. The past and present may be found on the same block; French colonial heritage buildings flanked by a flashy Louis Vuitton boutique. Architectural highlights include the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883. The stone used to create it was exported in its entirety from France. Next to the cathedral stands the Central Post Office, finished in 1891. It is another fine example of French architecture and is Viet Nam's largest post office. We continue to the Reunification Palace, the former residence of the President of South Viet Nam until April 30, 1975. We end the architectural highlights with a stroll through the bustling Ben Thanh Market.
Cu Chi Tunnels option It is possible to include a morning visit of the site, followed by an afternoon visit of Saigon. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Viet Nam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specifically constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command center and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a glimpse of the underground life and strategy during the war.Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
We transfer back to the Saigon airport for your flight north to Da Nang. Upon arrival it’s a short drive to the Cham Museum of Da Nang city for an introduction to the Classical Era of South East Asian art and history. The time span roughly corresponds to the medieval period in Europe. The Champa Kingdom was a maritime powerhouse, trading in spices and ivory. The culture was highly developed, leaving a legacy of refined artworks and architecture. The museum houses the largest and most impressive collection of Cham sculpture and artifacts, dating from the 4th to the 14th centuries. We continue past the striking Marble Mountains for photo opportunities and on to Non Nuoc Beach, immortalized for many by the US television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia. Our end destination is Hoi An. In a country ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched, and as you wander the relatively traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport it is not hard to imagine yourself amidst the sailors and merchants of the 18th Century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest trading ports in Asia. And don’t forget that this is the town famed for its great tailors; so if you brought anything with you to be replicated—or want to have traditional Viet Namese dresses tailored —this is the spot.Overnight in Hoi An
Today your guide will lead you through Hoi An’s historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picturesque riverside town was a major trading port between the 15th to 19th centuries. Mansions built by prosperous Japanese, Chinese, and European merchants characterize the enchanting Old Quarter. Appreciate the vivid sense of history as you walk the narrow streets visiting temples, houses, artisan workshops and the bustling fish market along the quay. Late morning, get involved in a hands-on cooking class with a local chef. The chef offers us an introductory cooking class that leads into lunch together (not to worry, you won’t be obliged to cook your own lunch). After your market visit this morning, you will have gained a good understanding of local ingredients and the basic techniques of Viet Namese cuisine. The remainder of the day is free to explore on your own or spend a few hours with the tailors of Hoi An.Overnight in Hoi An
Say good-bye to Hoi An as we drive northwards - direction Hue. Between 1802 and 1945, Hue was Viet Nam’s Imperial City and thus the seat of 13 Nguyen Emperors. Today, the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk through the Imperial city of Hue, originally modeled after the Forbidden City of Beijing. Followed by a visit of the Thien Mu (Heavenly Lady) pagoda – the most beautiful pagoda located atop a hill with magnificent views across the river. Then sit back for a scenic cruise along the Perfume River.Overnight in Hue
Our explorations of the Imperial capital continue as we tour around Hue through shady, scenic landscapes to arrive at the majestic, serene tomb of Nguyen Emperor Tu Duc, set amidst fragrant frangipani trees. We also pass by the mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh before heading to the airport for the flight to the modern day capital of Ha Noi. Upon arrival, private transfer with guide to your hotel downtown.Overnight in Ha Noi
This morning we have a 3.5-hour drive to reach one of the newly declared 7 New Wonders of the World - Ha Long Bay. Journey through the impressive countryside of the North, by now you’ll have a sense of how distinctly different each region of Viet Nam is. Arrive at the pier by noon; board your luxury junk (flat-bottomed sailing vessel), your accommodation for the night. Cruise through the magical bay, where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the water. Lunch is served on board. Drop anchor in a bay, disembark to visit spectacular limestone caves or trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the evocative bay. Choose to swim near a secluded beach, or simply lounge on deck soaking up the atmosphere. Visit a floating fishing village and meet third-generation fishermen to learn about their traditional way of life at sea. The day rounds off at sunset with sundowners before feasting on fresh seafood for dinner.Overnight on board
Catch an early sunrise this morning from the deck with a traditional Viet Namese coffee in hand. Breakfast will be served on board. Continue cruising through the Bay with its limestone formations and small islands. Small-uninhabited beaches and grottoes carved out by wind and water action provide an ever-changing backdrop for photography. Not to mention the images of distant junks, or round basket boats floating on shimmering waters. Drop off at the pier at around mid-day and transfer back to your hotel in Ha Noi. In the late afternoon, we’ll enjoy a performance of water puppetry, an art form that developed in the rice paddies of northern Viet Nam.Overnight in Ha Noi
(All museums in Ha Noi are closed on Monday & Friday) This morning, we travel by rickshaw cyclo (traditional bike-propelled cart) and by foot along tree-lined boulevards and through the 1000-year-old “Old Quarter”. Other stops on your visit include Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda, the hallowed “Temple of Literature”- Van Mieu as it is known in Viet Namese - the country’s most renowned temple complex. A Confucian sanctuary and academy, the centre once housed the country’s first university, founded in 1076. Take time to wander through the stone tablets and soak up a thousand years of learning with your local guide. After lunch at another of our favorite local spots, we leave you to enjoy the afternoon as you see fit. Depending on your interests, your tour guide will be happy to lead you to some of the city’s more interesting art galleries, or take you on a shopping tour for silks and linens (this is perhaps the best place in Viet Nam to pick up gifts for people back home). There are numerous historic sites to recommend or even a visit to the Museum of Ethnology to enhance your understanding of Viet Nam's diverse culture.Overnight in Ha Noi
A private transfer with your guide to the airport for departure flight home takes us to the end of your stay with us. Safe onward travels.
You deserve a HUGE thank you from the WHOLE Bradstock family for organising what was the best holiday that we have ever had. We are REALLY grateful and thank you for all of your hard work…we had THE most fantastic time.read more
Flavours & institutions: Cha Ca Hanoi
Cha Ca La Vong is an institution in Hanoi. Under four generations of family ownership, the restaurant serves only one dish - cha ca. Be prepared to do the cooking as everything is served at the table: a hot pan of peanut oil on an open flame, fried fish, a plateful of herbs which are added during the cooking process, then eaten on a cold bed of noodles with peanuts. The flavours are distinctive - fennel and coriander complement the fish and the crunchy peanuts add sweetness to the melange. Cha ca is the perfect meal for a cold, wintry day in Hanoi.
Hué represents an outstanding demonstration of the power of the vanished Vietnamese feudal empire at its apogee in the early 19th century. The complex of monuments is an outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital and of the planning and construction of a complete defended capital city in a relatively short period. The integrity of town layout and building design make it an exceptional specimen of late feudal urban planning. UNESCO Inscription, 1993
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