Vietnam Explorer ( 25 days / 24 nights )

Day 1 Hanoi - Arrival

Arrive at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a welcome dinner at a colonial building.

In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry (an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture).

Your overnight stay will be in Hanoi.

Day 2 Hanoi city tour

An all day city tour, possibly including the Temple of Literature, (the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th C), the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Ethnology Museum and the centre of Hanoi, including the Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and the bustling Old Quarter with a complex of architecture – traditional tube houses, religious buildings and the colonial houses.

In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of Cheo (an traditional music typical for the northern Vietnam).

Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 3 Tam Coc - Van Long

In the morning you’ll be picked up to travel to Van Long. On arrival you’ll ride an ox cart to visit the Old House and the Old Pagoda and then board a boat to visit the Van Long Natural Reserve.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll visit Tam Coc – being rowed through paddies and into three caves in a peaceful valley.

In the afternoon you’ll return to Hanoi.

Day 4 Hanoi - Ha Long - Hanoi

At about 8:00 you’ll be driven to Ha Long Bay (one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas – the world’s largest marine “karst” landscape). Then you’ll board a traditional-style boat for 5-hour cruise on the bay and visit some of the less well-known grottoes and caves. Includes swimming and hill (not mountain) climbing for Bay overviews. Your seafood lunch will be on the boat.

In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Hanoi.

Day 5 Hanoi - Hue

Take an afternoon flight to Hue, check-in, then to the Thien Mu Pagoda (beside the Perfume River – very tranquil), boat cruise to King Minh Mang’s Tomb (the most majestic of the Royal Tombs) and drive to visit the Dong Ba market.

Overnight in Hue.

Day 6 Hue

Morning visit to the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the Antiquity Museum. Afternoon drive to visit King Tu Duc’s Tomb (the poet King, the simplest Royal tomb set in a beautiful garden) and visit to Garden Houses – (a cultural characteristic in Hue).

In the evening you’ll be picked up to enjoy a Hue musical show on a boat in the Perfume River for about one hour.

Overnight in Hue.

Day 7 Hue - Danang - Hoi An

Morning drive to Danang (excellent views from high mountain pass). On arrival in Danang, you’ll have a brief visit to Cham Museum, then continue to travel to Hoi An.

After lunch, a guided visit to the Ancient Town. Overnight stay in Hoi An.
The town is an ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina and a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings.

Day 8 Hoi An (free day)

A whole free in Hoi An for relaxation and shopping. Hoi An is a good place for shopping silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two with reasonable costs.

Overnight stay in Hoi An.

Day 9 Hoi An - Danang - Nha Trang

After breakfast, the car will take you to the airport for your flight to Nha Trang. On arrival, you’ll be picked up to visit Cham Ponaga Tower.

The rest of the day will be your own.

Overnight in Nha Trang in a hotel which overlooks the sea.

Day 10 Nha Trang

A whole day boat cruise to the Mun Island for snorkeling. Seafood lunch on boat, wine and fruit party at the Mot Island. Rowing bamboo-basket at a fishing village on the Mieu Island. Overnight in Nha Trang.

The boat trip is a “fun” event. You’ll join a boat party of tourists, with a Vietnamese crew who act as guides, cooks, and musicians. Plenty of wine is included (Vietnamese – very good after the first few glasses), and you’ll be offered the local delicacy of “sea-urchin soup”- definitely an acquired taste. The coral around Mun Island is good, provided you swim away from the area where the boats tie up.

You should get back to the land in time for a visit to the hot spring spa near the Cham tower in the town – you can wallow in mud, shower in spring water, and bathe in a large hot mineral water swimming pool set in beautiful gardens for just over $3 – amazing value! Please let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send a quotation for this arrangement.

Day 11 Nha Trang (free day)

Free day in Nha Trang for a beach break.

Nha Trang offers a sufficient variety of activities for a short break in the beach resort. You can have a boat trip to the islands for snorkeling, swimming, “water bar” with Vietnamese wine, water sport. Diving facilities and service here is supposed to be the best in Vietnam. There are many restaurants along the beach offering good Vietnamese and international food. A ten minutes drive takes you to the hot spring spa – you can wallow in mud, shower in spring water, and bathe in a large hot mineral water swimming pool set in beautiful gardens for just over $3 – cheap at ten times the price!

Day 12 Nha Trang - Dalat

Morning drive to Dalat – a highland city. Afternoon visit Linh Phuoc Pagoda – an interesting architecture with dragon statue made off La Rue beer bottles, and the embroidery workshop in a lovely garden setting.

Overnight in Dalat.

Day 13 Dalat - Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning, you’ll have a ride in cable car to Truc Lam Pagoda and Tuyen Lam Lake and visit the Flower Garden. After lunch, visit to King Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, the Crazy House, and Da Lat market. Overnight in Da Lat.

Then, the car will take you to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. The rest of the day will be your own. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City..

Day 14 Ho Chi Minh City tour

After breakfast, you’ll start your city tour including the History Museum (special exhibition of the 5thC “Oc Eo” civilisation), the Museum of War Remnants (very partial, but riveting, recollections of the “American War”: not for the squeamish), the huge Ben Thanh market (one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City), the Jade Emperor Temple (superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries) and a lacquer workshop.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 15 Ho Chi Minh - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi

Drive to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See (in time to watch the mid-day ceremony). Cao Dai is a “new” religion unique to Viet Nam with around a million followers. Cu Chi (intricate network of underground passages and bunkers that became legendary during the 1960′s for their role in the war of liberation). Both its creed and its architecture are remarkable and exotic.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 16 Ho Chi Minh City - My Tho

After breakfast, you’ll be picked up at our hotel to travel to My Tho.
Boarding at Cai Be at noon. Welcome drink, Introduction to the ship and crew, check into the cabins.

You’ll then departure towards Cho Lach on the Tien Giang river. Have lunch while en route. Rest on the deck.

The Bassac slips into the Cho Lach canal, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the river traffic, between markets and churches, a unique opportunity for a glimpse of the very varied life on the banks as well as on the water. Visit of a village on the banks of river Mang Thit, an opportunity to appreciate the way of life and hospitality of the local inhabitants. Visit of the orchard or rice fields nearby.

Boarding back, complimentary drink as a welcome back on board. Rest on the deck enjoying the sunset. The crew will serve dinner while the Bassac is cruising Mang Thit river.

The Bassac sets anchor just downstream from the little Tra On floating market, for the night.

Day 17 My Tho - Can Tho

You may get up for breakfast as early as 06:30, as the ship is resuming its cruise the Tra On floating market. The ship then departs towards Can Tho. Arrival in Cai Rang floating market, check out and transfer onto a local boat to visit the floating market, the nearby arroyos and gardens and return to the Ninh Kieu pier. After that, you’ll drive to Can Tho for accommodation.

*Note: You will leave the Bassac for good upon boarding the small boat for the last visit, typically about 8:30.

Day 18 Can Tho - Soc Trang - Chau Doc

You’ll have breakfast at your hotel and then be picked up to Soc Trang (a small town well off the beaten tourist track, where you can visit the K’leng Pagoda, remarkable Bat Pagoda, and the unusual ‘Clay Pagoda’. You’ll then drive to Chau Doc for accommodation.

Soc Trang is an attractive small town with very few tourists. The bats at the Bat Pagoda are very large fruit bats, with a wingspan exceeding a metre. They are now very rare, but a sizeable colony gathers in the trees of the pagoda where they are protected from hunters. The pagoda is also very interesting. The K’leng Pagoda is a good example of the ornate Kh’mer architectural style common in the area close to the border with Cambodia. The Clay Pagoda is a remarkable ‘one-off’, the life’s work of a poor but dedicated monk who created a wonderland of effigies ranging from the sacred to the bizarre.

Day 19 Chau Doc - Phnom Penh

After breakfast, you will take a hydrofoil trip to Phnompenh via speed boat Hang Chau. The boat takes us along the Mekong River. It continues on to the Vietnamese (Vinh Xuong) – Cambodian (Kaom Samnar) border and then to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. The journey takes approximately 4 hours. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel in Phnompenh, the capital of Kingdom of Cambodia.

A visit to Phnom Penh is a very interesting experience indeed. It is a city with an interesting pulse and it gives you a very true taste of Asia. We will visit the Wat Phnom, National museum, silver Pagoda and Royal Palace.

Overnight at Hotel in Phnom Penh.

Day 20 Phnom Penh - Baray (Kompung Thom) homestay

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to Baray district through Skun where you will have a quick stop to visit the spider market, then proceed your way to Baray. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed and check in home stay. Lunch at local villagers house.

In the same afternoon, what you can experience here are: stay in your very own bamboo hut, palm leaf house, tree house or deluxe wooden bungalow and wake up to the sights and sounds of rural village life. Pony cart ride to village to watch Khmer noodles making, see villager’s lifestyle. Take an oxcart ride to watch the magnificent sunset in nearby rice paddy fields. Dinner with Khmer authentic cuisine with Cultural dance by community students.

Overnight at home stay.

Day 21 Baray - Sambo Preikuk - Siem Reap

Breakfast at home stay, we will visit local market before our departure for Sambor Prei Kuk’s temples, certainly the most beautiful examples of the art PreAngkorian of the VIIth century, then then, departure to Siem Reap for about 3 hours to arrive in Siem Reap, near Angkor. At arrival, transfer to hotel for check in.

In the afternoon, visit floating village of Choueng Kneas, where you can find schools, restaurants, hospitals and much more on the great lake of Tonle sap and you will be taken by Tuk Tuk, a small open-sided taxi common in Cambodia, to cruise around the suburb of Siem Reap town and for a blessing ceremony by Buddhist monks for happiness, prosperity and safety for your journey.

Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 22 Siem Reap tour

Breakfast at hotel, we start to visit Angkor National Museum known as the grand entrance to a world-class heritage that reveals the glory of Angkor Civilization. This museum enhances the cultural heritage of the Golden Era of Khmer Kingdom through amassed collection of invaluable artifacts and through state of the art multimedia technology exhibition for a full picturesque legendary story. Here a special lecture on Khmer civilization and archeology will be conducted by Mr. Chamreoun co-executive Director of Museum and a famous archeologist.

We also visit Prasat Kravan with its unique brick sculptures and Ta Prohm. One of the area’s most beautiful temples, Ta Prohm has been relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery. Its appeal lies in the fact that, unlike the other monuments of Angkor, it was abandoned and swallowed by the jungle, looking very much the ways most of the Angkor temples appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them and visit as well Takeo, Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon.

Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 23 Siem Reap tour

Breakfast at hotel – In the morning, visit the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks – the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond.

In the afternoon, visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). We will enjoy elephant ride to Bayon temple. See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and Bayon Temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara. And we also take the boat cruise (Kongkear Angkor) onto the Tonle Oum south gate of Angkor Thom leading to the west gate to enjoy sunset with red wine & white wine and fruits. Of course, this time, other than your leisure & entertainment purpose, this boat activity has produced a number of jobs to our villagers, the origin Khmers who are living the nearby villages of Angkor Thom to get incomes for improving their living standard and also help proper schooling of their children.

Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 24 Siem Reap - Kulen Mountain - home stay

Breakfast at hotel – This morning, we start our tour to countryside on road to Phnom Kulen Mountain, First stage challenging climb up hill 12km to the waterfalls, this is a nice trail on Kulen mountain, taking us to a special stream with thousands lingas in the water. Enjoy swim at the waterfalls & relax. Enjoy lunch break at the waterfalls. Return from the top of the mountain, then stop at Bansrei temple. The Citadel of the woman, build in year 967, laterite wall, and beautiful sculpture on red sand stone.

Along the way we make stopover at the Preah Dark village and we follow these with a visit the Banteay Samre Temple adorned with impressive relief’s depicting scenes of Vishunu as well as Krishna legends.

Later this after afternoon, we scroll around the Preak Dark village to learn more about daily life of villagers. Tonight, we will enjoy dinner and stay in local villager’s house.

Day 25 Siem Reap - Departure

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight departure.

The package includes:

– Private transportation.

– English speaking guide

– Hotel accommodation: Three-star hotel (Twin sharing)

– Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

– Entrance tickets as the itinerary

– Fresh water (2 bottles/pax/day)

The package excludes:

– Domestic air ticket

– Drinks, tips, personal expenses

– Unmentioned meals

– Travel insurance

– International bank fee for transferring money

– Credit card payment: 3% will be added in total amount

– Single Supplement charge

– Others not mentioned above

We are maintaining the map.


VNM01: Experience of Vietnam

VNM02: Vietnam – North and South

VNM03: Know about Vietnam

VNM04: Understand Vietnam

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