This is a great way to experience different places to visit in two countries Vietnam & Laos. This 16-day tour of Vietnam and Laos covers Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), the Mekong Delta, ancient citadel Hue, the beautiful and relaxing fishing village of ancient town Hoi An, exotic Hanoi, ethnic minority villages in Sapa, the exciting activities on the junk cruise on Halong Bay, and the peaceful beauty of Laos' Luang Prabang as the Kuang Si Falls, Tat Sae Waterfalls and Pak Ou Caves. We recommend that you slow down to enjoy these fantastic highlights in more depth.
Begin your Vietnam holiday in sultry, cosmopolitan Saigon where you are based for the first two nights of your holiday. Depending on your arrival time, go on a half-day tour of the city`s highlights and visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels system from the Vietnam War in a restored Russian army jeep or air conditioned vehicle.
Our one day cruise excursion starts from Ho Chi Minh City with a drive to Cai Be - Phu An where you board the Cai Be Princess at around 10:00am. The tour will start with the visit of Cai Be colourful floating market. Visit some local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The trip continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. During the cruise you will discover beautiful landscapes along the river and observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. Lunch awaits you at Le Longanier restaurant at La Residence de Phu An Resort, a superb Indochine style resort. After a short walk along a narrow canal, the excursion will end in the mid-afternoon when you will be transferred back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Next, you willl head to central of Vietnam to the tranquil, traditional town of Hoi An. A must-see on any Vietnam highlights tour, Hoi An offers a long stretch of soft sandy beach, beautifully-restored architecture, hundreds of expert, inexpensive tailor shops, excellent restaurants, and an abundance of cooking schools. It is the perfect point on your holiday to stop, unwind and relax.
Your highlights tour continues to the Central Vietnam coastline with a short drive to the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hue. Here you can explore the picturesque remains of the Imperial Citadel, royal tombs, and Buddhist pagodas.
You will take a short morning flight north to Hanoi, “the Paris of the Orient.” After spending the afternoon exploring the city, catch an overnight sleeper train to the lovely mountain town of Sapa, where you should expect to arrive into town early morning the following day (we recommend eating dinner beforehand or bringing a picnic onboard)
At this former French hill station, you will get a taste of Vietnam`s rich ethnic and cultural diversity. You’ll meet people from several different hill tribes and witness a simple rural lifestyle far removed from your life back home. The mountainous north of Vietnam close to the Chinese border is one of most beautiful areas on earth. Depending on your fitness level, various hikes can be arranged through fertile valleys, lush rice paddy fields and tiny hill-tribe villages. For the more adventurous traveler, home-stay accommodations can be arranged with a local family in one of the villages, or you can return to the comfort of your hotel in Sapa town at the end of a day`s exploring. If your holiday in Sapa falls over one of the ethnic minority market days, a trip can be arranged where you will be amazed at the colors, sites and wares for sale
This morning, trekking to visit Lao Chai and Ta Van villages inhabited by Black H’mong and Dzay ethnic minorities. Enjoy amazing and breath-taking landscapes of terraced paddies, green valleys and meet with friendly local people. Back to the hotel and free at leisure. In the afternoon, we transfer you back to Lao Cai station to take night train back to Hanoi. Overnight on the train.
Arrive to Hanoi train station at around 5:00 am, from Hanoi head to Halong Bay, one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. Thousands of towering pillars of sea and wind-carved limestone karst make the bay an unforgettable sight. Stay onboard a traditional junk for the night, visit floating fishing villages and awesome caves. Kayaking in naturally-formed grottos and swimming in the bay are also popular during the summer months.
Start the day with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay and a view of the Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee. Cruise through Bai Tu Long and a visit to the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng, and also learn about daily life on the water. We will cruise back to the dock, arriving in Ha Long about noon for the scenic drive back to Hanoi.
If you wish, get an early start (6:00am or so) and go watch or participate in the traditional Lao rite of Almsgiving to the monks. In the city, some 300+ monks file through silently collecting alms. This is an amazing sight and your guide will be on hand to demonstrate and explain this important ritual. Afterwards, visit the Morning Market and see an array of meats, vegetables and spices the locals use in their cooking. Return to your hotel for breakfast. Cruise up the Mekong River to the mouth of the Ou River. Visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves, long considered a holy spot for the Lao people. Locals make pilgrimages to this site to place Buddha images inside the caves to make merit. On the way, stop to visit Ban Xang Khong, where the weaving of Lao textiles still takes place on ancient wooden looms. Enjoy lunch before your return cruise back.
Travel south of town to the Kuang Si Waterfall. Stop along the way to visit the Living Crafts Centre, a place where you can meet weavers and learn about textiles, while helping keep these traditions alive. At the falls, crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit if you would like to swim! Also take time to visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures.
Relax on your own before catching your flight onward.
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