13 Nights/14 DaysThis 13-night tour of IndoChina provides the opportunity to discover the gems of IndoChina in comfort and style. Highlights include the grand city of Hanoi, dramatic Ha Long bay, a cooking class in Hoi An and the sights of old Saigon in Vietnam; the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia and a taste of atmospheric Luang Prabang in Laos. Day 1 Arrive HanoiYou will be met on arrival and transferred to the Sofitel Metropole Hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi is a heady mix of ancient and modern where grand colonial mansions line equally grand boulevards and lakes and parks add colour to the city. After time to rest, ride around the Colonial and Old Quarters on a cyclo to discover the city’s architectural mixture, from French colonial to communal houses with Chinese features. This evening, enjoy dinner at a restaurant in a restored French colonial building. Day 2 Hanoi Enjoy breakfast and a morning at leisure. This afternoon, visit the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century and the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. This will be followed with the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups. This evening, watch a performance of traditional Water Puppetry - an art form unique to northern Vietnam. Day 3 Hanoi to Ha Long After an early breakfast, drive to Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. Board the luxurious Violet Cruise wooden junk to visit the busy World Heritage area and then to an island beach. Weather permitting, there will be the opportunity to swim, fish, and climb a hill for an overview of the bay’s remarkable seascape. From there, board a tender to visit a fishing village. It will also be possible to explore one of the bay’s sea level caves in a small sampan or a kayak. The route is designed to avoid the busy areas and includes a very quiet location for your overnight stay.Day 4 Ha Long to Danang via HanoiWake for a swim or Tai Chi session on the large sundeck. After a light breakfast, visit one of the most famous caves in the Bay. Return to the junk for brunch while cruising back to dock around noon. Drive to charming Yen Duc village with its small lanes and picturesque fields. Enjoy a performance of the uniquely Vietnamese Quan Ho singing and explore the historic ‘cave 73’ on Canh mountain to learn of the wartime struggles of its inhabitants during the French occupation. Visit a local house for lunch to meet and chat with the villagers and walk through the fields to Canh Huong Pagoda. Return to Hanoi late afternoon for an evening flight to Danang. Check-in to the Fusion Maia Danang Resort for three nights.Day 5 Hoi AnAfter breakfast, drive to the local market in Hoi An to purchase ingredients and then meet a local restaurateur who will teach you how to cook some of Hoi An’s traditional cuisine. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the Ancient Town before returning to the hotel. Day 6 Danang The day will be free for strolling in the town or relaxing on the beach. Day 7 Danang to Ho Chi Minh City After breakfast, drive to the airport for a morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Check-in to the Caravelle Hotel for two nights. Formerly known as Saigon, this high-energy city is a dizzying mix of modern skyscrapers and ancient pagodas. This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the city. Visit the Reunification Hall, the Jade Emperor Temple - one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam – and Binh Tay market, located in China Town. Return to the hotel before an evening dinner cruise on the Saigon River. Day 8 Ho Chi Minh City and Cu ChiAfter breakfast, visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a Byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used by both the Vietminh and the Viet Cong to suddenly materialise to launch a lightning ambush and vanish equally rapidly. After lunch, return to Ho Chi Minh City for the rest of the day at leisure. Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, CambodiaThis morning, fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Check-in to the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor for two nights. Siem Reap has undergone a recent renaissance but at its heart it is still a small charming city by the Tonle Sap River with tree-lined boulevards and old French shop-houses. This afternoon explore Angkor Wat - the largest and most impressive temple in the complex. Walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill for sunset over the whole complex. Day 10 Siem Reap After breakfast, visit Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism to Buddhism. Then visit the Elephant and Leper King Terraces followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration programme. After lunch, visit Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860. You will also see the Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary) and Srah Srang Lake and landing terrace. The Srah Srang is less touristy and could be a sunset alternative to Angkor Wat. Day 11 Siem Reap to Luang Prabang After a leisurely breakfast, transfer for your noon flight to Luang Prabang and check-in to La Residence Phou Vaou for three nights. Encircled by mountains, and sitting at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, produce markets, coffee shops and historic French colonial buildings sit alongside gleaming temples. Day 12 Luang Prabang After breakfast, visit the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, the roofs of which sweep low to the ground, typical of the classical architecture of Luang Prabang. This is followed with a walk around Wat Mai temple and a visit to the ‘Day Market’. After lunch, climb up the steps to the top of Mount Phousi for a panorama of the ancient royal city and the Mekong River - the evening views can be spectacular if there’s a good sunset. Mount Phousi also has many shrines and votive statues, topped by a large gilded stupa. In the evening, you may wish to stroll around the Night Market, where you can find handmade textiles made by locals and ethnic minorities from the surrounding countryside. Day 13 Luang Prabang and Pak Ou CavesAfter breakfast, board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, giving a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves - two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. En route, stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where the local speciality of rice wine is produced. Once back in Luang Prabang, drive a short way to Ban Phanom, a village well known for its hand weaving. Also visit Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek, small villages well-known for silk weaving and for saa (jute) papermaking. Day 14 Luang Prabang Departure After breakfast there is time at leisure until your airport transfer. Prices from £5,090 per person OUR PRICE INCLUDES•Return scheduled flights with Vietnam Airlines from London to Hanoi and returning from Luang Prabang via Hanoi in economy class•Regional flights from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap and Siem Reap to Luang Prabang including airport taxes•Domestic flights from Hanoi to Danang and Danang to Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.•Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.•Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) •Private transfers and sightseeing tours in an air-conditioned large car •Services of an English-speaking guide•Cooking class in Hoi An•Entry fees for all visits included on the itineraryOUR PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE•Visas•Meals, except as specified above •Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses•Camera fees where applicable•InsuranceHOTEL LIST FOR THE ABOVE ITINERARYHanoi, Sofitel Metropole Hotel, historic five star colonial building in the city centre – Grand Luxury Room Historical WingHa Long Bay, Violet Cruise, a traditional deluxe wooden junk – Violet Deluxe CabinDanang, Fusion Maia Danang Resort a luxury spa resort on China Beach – Spa VillaHo Chi Minh City, Caravelle Hotel , large five star high-rise building with good city and river views, well-located in the heart of the city overlooking the Opera House – Signature Deluxe roomSiem Reap, Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor, a historic luxury hotel reflecting the French colonial era and architecture – Landmark roomLuang Prabang, La Residence (Pansea) Phou Vao Hotel, a four start hotel on the Hill of Kites at the confluence of the Mekong – Garden View Room
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