Museums, markets and monuments- this tour covers a lot of ground! See the best of Laos and Vietnam in a compact yet insightful holiday. Embrace the quiet, laid-back pace of Luang Prabang, filled with temples and golden spires to the modern metropolises of Ho Chi Minh City.
After arrival and check in at your hotel, you will have an afternoon private city tour of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). It is the largest and busiest city in Vietnam, with a population of 7 million people. Much of daily life takes place on the streets, which are lined with shops, stalls and vendors with their wares spread out on the footpath. Don't miss the bustling Ben Thanh Market, a fantastic place for bargains of every kind! The War Remnants Museum has a wealth of images from the wars, the most moving being a gallery entitled 'Requiem', which is dedicated to Vietnamese and foreign journalists and photographers who perished during the French and American conflicts.
The Reunification Palace was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the front gates, bringing the U.S.-Vietnam War to a dramatic end. Close to the Palace some of the best examples of French colonial architecture are represented in the forms of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Notre Dame Cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and 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 Vietnam's largest post office. For all its French colonial history, Ho Chi Minh City is far and away Vietnam's most modern city. It has numerous shopping malls, cinemas, discotheques and a bewildering number of bars. You will stay overnight after a busy and exciting day!
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh
The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam. This region is known as the rice bowl of Vietnam as it cultivates up to 3 harvests per year. The fertile Mekong Delta is also famous for tropical fauna. The Delta area marks the end of a 4,500km journey made by the Mekong River after crossing six countries. Traditional transportation in the Delta is by boat along a vast network of canals and channels. Boating along these canals and observing daily life has been proved to be a fascinating and rewarding experiences for all visitors.
Drive from Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho then continue the day with a walking route around the village. This will be a good chance to explore daily local life
Start by a visit to Chuong Duong eco tourism site, then to bee farm, try some honey tea, enjoy variety of tropical fruits while listening to traditional Southern Vietnamese folk songs (Don ca tai tu Nam Bo) performed by local artists. Continue to wander around the village, then stop for a while to visit a family making coconut candy, taste some local confectionery and take a fresh and relaxing walk in the garden.
Then, take a sampan to enjoy the charming Mekong scenery before enjoying lunch in a local restaurant.
This afternoon, continue your peaceful cruise on Tien Giang River and visit a floating fishing village and a local fish market. Disembark at Chuong Duong pier then drive back to Saigon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to airport for your flight to Nha Trang. Upon arrival, meet with our guide and transfer to hotel for check in.
This morning you will take a flight to the resort town of Nha Trang to spend several days at a seaside resort overlooking beautiful Nha Trang Bay. You can snorkel or dive among the coral reefs in crystal blue waters, hike nature trails, cool off in your private plunge pool, indulge in spa treatments or just relax on the white sand beach and admire the unspoiled mountain and sea views.
You will transfer to the airport and fly on Vietnam Airlines to Danang. Upon arrival to Danang, our guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the town of Hoi An, about 40 minutes south. A major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries, Hoi An’s architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the centuries. Overnight in Hoi An.
Begin Day 6 with a half day to visit the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Located 40km southwest of Hoi An in a lush green valley, My Son is home to dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating between the 7th and 13th centuries. After a morning of exploration, head back to Hoi An, stopping for a visit to Tra Kieu, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum originated from here. Upon returning to Hoi An, take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchants’ houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market. After the tour, enjoy some time at leisure exploring the old town. Overnight in Hoi An.
You will transfer to the airport for flight to Hanoi and have free time. You can ride a cyclo around the Old Quarter then go to dinner at a super restaurant in the French Quarter. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show before an overnight stay in Hanoi.
Begin the first full day of the trip with a tour of Hanoi. Depart from the hotel at 08:30 for a visit to Vietnam’s first university: the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1076, Quoc Tu Giam was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. Continue with a visit to the iconic One Pillar Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Nearby is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and his modest house on stilts. (Sites are viewed from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov) Wrap up the morning with a visit to the picturesque West Lake and its sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) 700 meters to the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism. This afternoon visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), which is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam. At the end of the afternoon visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Take a walking tour through charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake, home to literally thousands of small businesses and shops. Finish the day with a Water Puppet show, a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Overnight in Hanoi.
In the morning you will drive to Halong Bay City, approximately 3 hours away. Once at Halong Bay City, you will be welcomed on board for a four hour cruise on the stunning bay, stopping along the way to visit one of the limestone caves in the area. As you are cruising, the boat crew will serve you a sumptuous local seafood lunch. After a four hour navigation, you will sail back to the harbor, rejoin car and head back to your hotel in Hanoi for anovernight stay. Overnight in Hanoi.
Enjoy your free time souvenir shopping until transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, meet with our guide and transfer to hotel for check in.
Start the morning with a visit to one of Laos’ most picturesque temples, Wat Xieng Thong. Located at the end of the peninsula, close to the Mekong River, this temple was erected in 1560 by King Setthathirat and is deeply revered by Lao people. Walk to the boat pier, near the temple, and board the Nava Mekong, a beautiful wooden riverboat for a cruise up the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves(depart around 10:30). The journey takes around 2 hours. Along the way, be surrounded by spectacular views, pass by small villages on the river banks and witness fishermen out for their daily catch. Upon reaching Pak Ou, disembark to explore the caves. Here, see thousands of gold-lacquered Buddha statues crammed into two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. The statues range in size from a few centimetres tall to the size of a human, and the view from the mouth of the cave provides sweeping views of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The caves are also a destination for local pilgrimages, especially during the Lao New Year period of Pii Mai, making them a great place to get in tune with local culture. Following lunch at the local restaurant, return to Luang Prabang for a half day city tour to visit the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum. Here, explore the history of Laos. Then continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade.
Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to all the side streets.In the early cool of the morning, walk downtown through quiet streets to watch the daily procession of about three hundred young monks walk silently by, collecting sticky rice and other foods in their bronze bowls. Watch as the monks disappear down the road in a long, saffron-coloured ribbon. Feel free to take photos, however please use discretion and refrain from using your flash. Now is the perfect time to stroll through Luang Prabang’s morning market where you will see the locals haggling for fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. Then you will be driven through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Along the way you will drive through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills, and small villages. There are also viewpoints overlooking the Mekong River. Picnic lunch at the waterfall.
You will be transferred to airport for your departure flight out.
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