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COMBINED TOUR – SIC – A glimpse of Indochina 15 Days / 14 Nights

Day 1: Arrival in Luang Prabang

Upon your arrival in the UNESCO Heritage Town of Luang Prabang, your guide will welcome you at the airport and then escort you to your hotel for check-in. The balance of the afternoon will be free at your leisure to relax and settle into your hotel.

Meals included: Meals on your own account

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Note: Hotel rooms will be available from 13:30 onwards

Day 2: Luang Prabang surroundings

In the morning, you will visit the Royal Palace, which is nowadays the National Museum, before heading off to Khuang Sy waterfall along a road bordered by villages and rice fields. Along the way, stop at some of these villages and then have a countryside lunch at the waterfall. The falls are also frequently visited by locals and villagers. If weather allows, you will be able to take a swim in the waterfall, which scatters into many basins. You will return to Luang Prabang and continue with a visit to Vat Aham and Vat Senna, if time permits.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Distance: From the National Museum to Khuang Sy waterfalls: ~ 70 kilometers

Day 3: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou cave

Continue to explore the old city on the left bank of the Mekong River. Previously a religious capital, Luang Prabang showcases more than 100 temples, considered amongst the most beautiful in Laos. Highlights include: Vat Xieng Thong, Vat Visoun – the oldest temple in the city that looks like no other with its wooden windows inspired by Khmer temples, and the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre.

In the afternoon, you will drive to the pier and board a traditional boat to cruise up along the Mekong River. Upon arrival, visit the sacred caves of Pak Ou, which shelter hundreds of Buddha statuettes. The caves offer a splendid view of the Mekong that, here, mixes its water with those of the Nam Ou River. Cruise back to Luang Prabang while enjoying a magnificent sunset over the Mekong River. You will then explore the H’mong night market before returning to your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Day 4: Luang Prabang – Hanoi

Enjoy some free time in the morning until the time to go to the airport for your flight to Hanoi. You will be welcomed at the airport by your local guide and transferred to your hotel for check in. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure to relax and settle into your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:

  • Hotel rooms will be available from 14:00 onward
  • Separate airport transfer with guide will be provided for different guests arriving from different flights.

Option: Morning Experience in Luang Prabang (Tak Bat ceremony)

In the early morning, you will be taken by your guide to Vat Nong temple to witness the Tak Bat ceremony (procession of monks). During the ceremony, devoted locals stand on the sidewalk bearing food in their arms which they offer to the monks as they walk by in a procession of orange robes. After the somewhat humbling experience, your guide will take you to a local market where each stall offers different kinds of food ranging from fruits and vegetables to meats and fishes, herbs, and fragrant spices. You will have a chance to taste and savor some local snacks, before heading to a welcoming local restaurant for a breakfast designed to fill your stomach to start your day.

Day 5: Hanoi

Today you will visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his traditional stilt house – Uncle Ho’s former residence – and the nearby and highly revered One-Pillar Pagoda. Continue your day with a visit to Vietnam’s first university, the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. You will then return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day free at your leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:

  • Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is closed on Mon, Fri and every afternoon; outside visiting will be arranged at closing times
  • The Mausoleum will also be closed from 08 September to 08 November for annual maintenance

Option: Walking tour in Hanoi

Passing by the quiet and peaceful alleys with street vendors taking a nap, or seeing a motorbike taxi-driver sleeping precariously on his bike, you may feel the quietness of Hanoi; then suddenly, you will find yourself turning onto a noisy and busy street so abuzz with life it’s as if the center of Hanoi industry has taken over. Throughout the tour, your senses will be bombarded with a cascade of different sights, sounds, smells and characters that play the tune of the music of life in Hanoi. You will finish this walking tour by stopping by a welcoming coffee shop, or lie back and have a relaxing foot massage near the lake.

Day 6: Hanoi – Halong

Leave Hanoi in the morning and head straight to Halong Bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin. After arriving at noon, you will board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise in Halong Bay with an excellent menu of fresh seafood.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner (lunch and dinner are served on the boat)

Accommodation: Overnight on the boat

Distance: Hanoi to Halong: 180 kilometers – 3.5 – 4 hours driving

Day 7: Halong – Hanoi – Hue

Wake up early in the morning to enjoy the aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After a light breakfast on board and some relaxing, you will continue to cruise in the bay. A delicious brunch will be served while the boat will be cruising back to the pier. You will then disembark and start the journey back to Hanoi Airport for the flight to Hue.

On the way you will make a stop to discover the charm and the enigmatic soul of a pottery village. This enchanting and unusual experience will reveal a fascinating Vietnam: wandering on the paved streets along Cau river and practicing pottery, or visiting avant-gardist artists’ handicrafts as well as meeting families whose know-how is transmitted from generation to generation…

You will take an evening flight to Hue, a former capital of Vietnam also known as a UNESCO Heritage Site of Central Vietnam. You will be welcomed on arrival and transferred to your hotel for check in.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:

  • Disembark at around 11:00
  • Time to check-out of the cabin is at 09:00

Day 8: Hue

In the morning you will visit the impressive Imperial City and Citadel. Afterwards you will be taken to a typical garden house to discover Hue’s culinary art. Accompanied by a chef and her assistants, you will prepare some traditional Vietnamese dishes (around 1.5 hours). At lunch you will taste your own creations and sample additional dishes prepared by the chef.

The afternoon will be devoted to visit the Tu Duc Mausoleum, one of the most beautiful tombs of Hue. It was inspired by the calm and is a model of Vietnamese traditional art. It will also be an opportunity to learn about the history of Nguyen Dynasty and the French colonial period. Round off your day by visiting Dong Ba market to have a glimpse at the daily life rhythm of locals. You will then go back to your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Day 9: Hue – Hoi An

In the morning you will take a motorbike riding from the hotel along the village road (14 kilometers) from Ngoc Anh to the village of Vinh Ve for Chuon lagoon part of the famous Tam Giang Lagoon. Take a break at the local coffee shop and enjoy the picturesque view, then continue by private vehicle heading to Tu Hien Beach, passing by large roads and then creeping through village paths. The end of the route is the beautiful Tu Hien Beach, where you will take a wonderful swim and relax on the beach with white sand beach and crystal clear water (if weather allows).

In early afternoon, depart for Danang via the scenic Hai Van Pass, where you will enjoy the spectacular panorama of the central coastline from the summit. You will arrive at Hoi An in the middle afternoon, check in at the hotel and spend the rest of day free at your leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Distance: From Chuon lagoon to Tu Hien beach: 45 kilometers – 1h 20min driving

Note: The program of the day is subject to change depending on the weather conditions

Day 10: Hoi An

The day will be free at leisure to explore the town and its surroundings.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Option: Full day cycling tour to explore Hoi An

Start cycling from your hotel and follow small paths that link small villages, passing by multiple rice fields, shrimp ponds and coconut palm trees. You will stop at a village to taste delicious grilled seafood and coconut rice paper at a local hostess’s house. Then take a ride through lush sedge fields to a sedge mat weaving village – Dong Binh. From there, the local ferry will take you back to the ancient town before you continue biking to Tra Que Village – a charming little village famous for many kinds of vegetable. Meet the local host in Tra Que, relax with a foot massage and enjoy a lovely local meal.

After the return trip to Hoi An, you will spend time in the ancient town area, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. At the end of the day, you will have a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the “Reaching Out Tea House” – a very special and unique ancient house where you will be offered not only fabulous drinks and snacks but also some soulful values.

Cycle back to the hotel for some relaxing time and spend the rest of day at your leisure.

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Distance: 40-45 kilometers cycling on sealed roads and flat terrain; medium leveL

Notes: Without private vehicle

Option: Full day exploring Hoi An

In the morning you will depart the hotel for a discovery tour around Hoi An. Embark on a boat ride to the mouth of Thu Bon river to witness the daily activities of the fishing people such as how they throw fishing nets and trade their products. Your boat then will continue cruising for about half an hour to a fishing village. Change to a smaller bamboo boat (a coracle) to discover a distinctive mangrove forest and try your hand at fishing for crabs. This excursion will also give you a chance to admire how the skillful fishermen do their work in the watery forest. Enjoy a delicious BBQ seafood lunch at a local house.

In the afternoon, you will take a walking tour in Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. At the end of the day, you will have a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the “Reaching Out Tea House” – a very special and unique ancient house where they will offer you not only a choice of fabulous drinks and snacks but also some soulful values.

Meals included: Lunch

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Day 11: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning you will be transferred to Danang Airport for a brief morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City – also known as “Saigon” by many locals. Upon arrival, you will start a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Continue your visit to the Reunification Palace that used to be the headquarters of Saigon Government during the war in the 1960s. You will round off the day with a visit at the ethnic Chinese quarter of Cholon with the Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda. You will finally be taken to your hotel for check in and spend some time for relaxation.

In the evening, meet your guide again for a dinner at a nice local restaurant.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Distance: From Hoi An to Danang airport: 45 kilometers – 30 minutes driving

Note: Binh Tay Market is a wholesale market and not suitable for shopping. Should you wish to do some shopping in Saigon, our guide will give you his best advice accordingly.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City – Siem Reap

Enjoy some free time before travelling without guide to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival Siem Reap Airport, you will be welcomed and taken to the hotel. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:

  • Without guide
  • Separate airport transfers will be arranged for guests with different departure flight times
  • Hotel rooms will be available until noon only

Option: Half day to Cu Chi tunnels

You will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250 kilometers in length, was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to fight against the French air and ground sweeps, the network then served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If interested, you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by the Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to your hotel in the city center in the early afternoon.

Distance: From Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi: 60 kilometers – 1.5 hours driving

Day 13: Siem Reap

Your day will start with a visit to Angkor Wat, a World Heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honor of Vishnu. In the afternoon, leave for Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women. On the way back, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple. You will find some splendid sculptured devatas and a unique atmosphere.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:

  • Hotel rooms will be available from 13:30
  • Lunch is not included but our guide will be happy to take you back to your hotel or to Bar Street in Siem Reap so you can purchase lunch and take a short break from the tour

Day 14: Siem Reap

In the morning leave by tuk-tuk for the northern end of Angkor, beginning the day with Preah Khan Temple, built by Jayavarman VII in 1191 in honor of his father. Of the same era is Neak Pean, the only island temple of Angkor, and also known as Entwined Nagas. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary savior of shipwrecked boats. Continue your exploration of Angkor by heading further south to visit the two very beautiful temples – Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – dating from the 12th century and built during the reign of Suryavarman II.

In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. Later that day, go to The “Baray occidental”, a lake made in the 11th century thanks to the construction of huge dams around it. It perfectly illustrates the magnitude of the work undertaken to irrigate the land around Angkor. You will stop on its shores and enjoy a glass of wine and canapés at sunset. Far from the tumult of the temples, the quietness and enchantment of the site are a wonderful way to end the day.

Meals included: breakfast

Accommodation: overnight at the hotel

Day 15: Siem Reap departure

Enjoy free time until the drive to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals included: Breakfast

Note: Hotel rooms will be available until noon only