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Vietnam Luxury Cruise Vacation

Tour code: LUX-05

Duration: 16 days/ 15 nights

Route: Hanoi - Halong Bay Au Co Cruise - Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta Aqua Cruise - Siem Reap

Prices: 12068 $

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi – Arrival (D)

You are warmly welcomed by our Tour Guide at Noi Bai airport and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, start a Hanoi sightseeing tour. You are presented the Vietnam daily life in the past and present within 1 hours cyclo tour around the Hoan Kiem lake, Ngoc Son temple and Old quarter streets. Attend the Water Puppet Show and enjoy welcome dinner. Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Day 2: Hanoi half city tour (B/L/)

 

Start a city tour to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, One pillar pagoda, Tran Quoc pagoda, Temple of Literature. Afternoon free  and Overnight in Hanoi

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay (B/L/D)

08:00: Driver pick up at hotel transfer to Halong Bay.

12.30: Embarkation/ check-in/ Departure. Cruise leisurely to Ho Ba Ham islets in Lan Ha Bay

13.00: Introduction to 5 elements cuisine. Lunch on board

15.30: Arrival at Ho Ba Ham islets. Enjoy swimming and guided kayaking organized by the Au co     crew

17.30: High tea ceremony with Vietnamese traditional tea

19.00: Our first 5 elements signature dinner of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water is served while anchored in Ho Ba Ham

21.00: Short lecture of Halong Bay and The Gulf of Tonkin by our crew

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Day 4: Cat Ba Island and Bai Tu Long Bay (B/L/D)

06.30: Earlier risers start the day with a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck or lie in your bed and enjoy the beautiful bays

07.00: Breakfast on board. Cruise towards Cat Ba Island

08.30: Guided Excursion & Biking in The National Park of Viet Hai Village and visit The Au Co green farm

10.30: Return to the ship and cruise to Cong Dam village in Bai Tu Long Bay

12.00: More delicious 5 elements cuisine - Lunch on boat while passing Cua Van village and Vung Vieng village

14.00: Visit Cong Dam Floating Village by Vietnamese rowboat or kayak yourself

16.00: Departure to Cong Do Area

17.00: Sunset cocktail

19.00: Our second 5 elements signature dinner of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water is served      while anchored in Cong Do

21.00: Short lecture of Vietnamese civilization and its ethnics by our crew

 

Day 5: Halong Bay – Hanoi - Hochiminh (B)

 

06.30: Earlier risers start the day with a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck or lie in your bed and           enjoy the beautiful bays

07.00: Coffee and Bakeries on board

08.30: Guided visit of Sung Sot (Surprise) Cave

09.30: Farewell Brunch and check-out

10.30: Disembarkation. Back to Hanoi, then drive directly to the airport for flight to Hochiminh. Overnight in Hochiminh city.

 

Day 6: Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi tunnel – half day city tour (B/L)

 

Morning visit Cu Chi tunnel, the incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence The tour begins with a visit to Reunification Palace, War Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Ben Thanh market. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City

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Day 7: Ho Chi Minh – Saigon – My Tho – Mekong Cruise (Aqua Mekong Cruise) (B/L/D)

 

Arrival at Saigon Meeting Point. Your guides greet you and our porters collect your luggage for delivery to your suite. Board our air-conditioned bus for the scenic 1.5-hour countryside ride to My Tho where we meet the Aqua Mekong.

Welcome to the laid back luxury of the Aqua Mekong. Settle into your elegantly appointed, river facing suite as the vessel begins to cruise and thus begins one of life’s most memorable and photogenic adventures. Ascend to the Observation Deck if you wish, to take in the view of the swaying palms and bustling waterways of My Tho.

Over the next seven nights, the Aqua Mekong sails from here along the one of the world’s great rivers, the Mekong, towards remote natural and cultural destinations visited by only a few. First however, we will begin with a Safety Drill followed by a briefing on the Observation Deck in the air-conditioned Indoor Lounge with the cruise director and hear from our expert guides about your Mekong adventures ahead.

We start by going native, so to speak. People of the Mekong Delta rely on flat-bottom wooden boats called sampan to get around and transport goods to market. We climb aboard to paddle through Cai Be floating market, where more than 400 sampans gather every day, starting in earnest from 5 a.m.. Each boat has one bamboo stick on the front to display that vendor’s product, be it Vietnamese fish sauce, rice paper for dumplings, or colorful sweet confectionery. We continue our exploration of this area on foot or by bicycle for more up close glimpses of the daily life of Mekong Delta dwellers.

 

Day 8: Mekong River – Sa Dec  - Gieng Islet (B/L/D)

 

Though we are in the heart of Vietnam, French colonial architecture stands all around us today as we walk back in time with a tour on foot around Sa Dec town. We roam around the fresh produce and exotic spices on sale at the local market and make our way to the colonial house once occupied by French writer Marguerite Duras. The house, built in late 19th century, is interesting in itself as a harmonious combination of Western and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles.

Perhaps no one has done more to associate themselves with the Mekong Delta than Duras. Born in Gia-Dinh, as Saigon was formerly known, because her parents had responded to a campaign by the French government encouraging people to work in the colony, Duras’ early life here in Sac Dec was one of extreme hardship. Her father fell ill soon after the family arrived here and returned to France where he died shortly thereafter. Her mother remained in Indochina with Marguerite and her two siblings, eking out a meager living as a schoolteacher. It was here in Sa Dec that the teenaged Duras and Huynh Thuy Le, a rich Sa Dec merchant began their affair that Duras wrote about in her most famous work The Lover.

Our time travel continues after lunch on board the Aqua Mekong. We cruise by skiff to a 40 square kilometer riverine island called Gieng Islet, to walk or cycle around this peaceful religious enclave on the Mekong Delta. Together we visit Cu Lao Gieng Church, built in 1875 with materials imported from France. It is impossible not to admire its imposing bell tower that appears to pierce the sky high above its low-rise neighbors. At the Convent of the Providence Order and Catholic Church, interact with Sisters or Father to learn of the religious influences on the surrounding communities, which we may visit to admire the indigenous pagodas and wooden houses built in the early twentieth century in traditional Vietnamese design and shaded by bonsai trees, as was the local custom.

 

Day 9: Bassac River – Gieng Islet – Chau Doc (B/L/D)

 

Leaving the Aqua Mekong behind, today we journey by sampan into the Tra Su Cajuput Forest, floating deep into the acacia flooded forest under dense tree canopy. The 845 hectare preserve is a colony for 70 bird species including the rare painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) and Oriental darter (Anhinga Melanogaster) as well as bats, snakes and endangered turtles. Flora here is equally abundant with over 140 specified floral varieties including 22 tree varieties, 70 types of grasses, 13 species of aquatic plants, nine varieties of fruit trees and many medicinal herbs of great value in traditional Vietnamese medicine.

Back on board the Aqua Mekong, we sail onward to the village of Chau Doc, which sits along the Hâu River, a tributary of the Mekong. We head to the shore by skiff then by road for a change, about six kilometers to the 230 meter (755 feet) high Sam Mountain, the highest point in the Mekong Delta, and home to dozens of pagodas that dot the mountainside, some even set in caves.

We make the easy climb to the mountaintop for the most captivating views of the surrounding countryside’s rice fields, and into Cambodia. We won’t be alone up here. As this is border territory, there is a military outpost on the summit. This legacy of the Khmer Rouge era confers a slightly anachronistic aura, which allows us some insights into the tensions of that horrific period, although these soldiers appear far more relaxed. If you ask, they will likely pose for your photos, assuming you have a few cigarettes handy as payment for their impromptu modeling duties.

Still at the top of Sam Mountain, Aqua Expeditions guests have the unique privilege to sit with the venerable Mahayana Buddhist monks at Long Son Tu Temple for a private audience. Enlightened, we head back down at the foot of Sam Mountain, stopping to visit the Temple of Lady Xu, one of the major religious sites of the Mekong Delta. According to a legend, in the early 1800s, villagers found a statue of a lady dating to the 6th century in the forest. In 1820 they completed this temple, originally built of bamboo and leaves, to honor her and in hopes that she would bring them better crops, thus improve their lives. Even today, the marble statue of Ba Chua Xu, meaning "country lady" is worshipped, with Vietnamese coming year round to ask for her protection and benediction.

he chef heads into the local market here with any gourmet minded guests interested to explore an authentic Vietnamese wet market, its copious baskets of the day’s catch from the river, crisp vegetables and luscious tropical fruits.

 

Day 10: Bassac River – Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong Border/Vietnam (B/L/D)

 

In the cooler morning time, we cruise further south towards the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Around 90 minutes into today’s journey we pause to head by skiff towards the shore for a visit to the intricately carved Prek Bongkong Pagoda with its upturned naga wingtips and angels appearing to hold up the pitched Khmer roof. This area is known for a series of “silk islands” along the river. We visit one of these villages where the weavers allow us to wander among their looms, admiring their skills at this knotty art form. Witness the entire process here, learning how silk starts with the worms, see silk thread being looped and dyed, then admire and purchase, if you wish, the final shimmering Khmer silk accessories.

We return by skiff to the Aqua Mekong, ready to continue to the Vinh Xuong –Kaam Samnor border for our crossing into Cambodia. Guests who have opted for a visa on arrival should contact the Cruise Director for assistance with this process.

 

Day 11: Tonlesap River - Phnom Penh – Cambodia (B/L/D)

Shifting gears from the sleepy countryside to this country’s political and economic capital, we sail into Phnom Penh where Art Deco buildings still stand in the shadows of ever-rising skyscrapers and vintage cyclos cruise alongside imported European sports cars. Buddhist temples, French colonial villas and the Royal Palace provide photogenic backdrop to international business and a new generation of boutique hotels, chic shopping and cosmopolitan nightlife.

 

Today’s urban adventure by two wheel motorized tuk-tuks take in this historic city’s most important sites including the 1866 Royal Palace that is still home to the reigning monarch and its Silver Pagoda, the royal compound’s most famous attraction, so called because in 1962 then Prince Sihanouk ordered the floor inlaid with 5,329 genuine silver tiles. Today the pavilion houses many jeweled statues and images, including the 17th century Emerald Buddha, made of Baccarat crystal, and a life size gold Maitreya Buddha adorned 9,584 diamonds, the largest of which weighs 25 carats.

Just next door, the National Museum of Cambodia houses the world’s largest collection of Khmer art, much of it removed from Angkor Wat to prevent looting. Here we can linger among the linga, representations of the Hindu deity Shiva, and thousands of other artifacts including an imposing 11th century bronze sculpture of a reclining Vishnu that is considered a monumental example of Khmer statuary.

Sip sundowners on the Observation Deck as our 3-Night guests arrive.

Join us in the evening for a performance by renowned Cambodian apsara dancers who continue an ancient tradition venerated on the intricately carved walls at Angkor Wat.

 

Day 12: Tonlesap River – Koh Chen – Kamphong Chnang (B/L/D)

 

This morning, we embark by skiff to visit Koh Chen, or ‘Chinese Island’ in Khmer. The inhabitants of this riverside village are renowned throughout the region as silver and coppersmiths. They purchase the precious metals in Phnom Penh and return here to make ornamental items such as the cups, boxes and delicately engraved tropical fruits used in Buddhist ceremonies and marriage blessings. Each family member carries out an aspect of these ancient methods and the intricate, beautiful workmanship belies its humble origins. Purchase whatever catches your eye before we continue on to the pagoda. If the monks are in residence, we will experience an authentic Buddhist blessing ceremony.

Later in the day, we continue exploring Khmer riverside life in the floating village of Kampong Chhnang, meaning Port of Pottery. Archaeological findings here link this now sleepy area as far back as the Dvaravati kingdom, dating to the 6th through 11th centuries when Kampong Chhnang was an important coastal stop on the trade route linking China and India. More recently, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen was born in this province. Colorful shrines with gilded Buddhas, villagers sporting conical hats more often associated with Vietnam and simple houses on bamboo stilts are among today’s striking sights along the waterfront.

 

Day 13: Kampong Chnang – Chnok Tru – Tonle Sap Lake (B/L/D)

 

We continue exploring remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, an ecological hot spot designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Today we travel by skiff to the village of Chnok Tru, as photogenic as it is remote and thus completely self-sufficient.

Here we “slide” into an ice factory, the importance of which will be obvious after a few days in Southeast Asia. As local factory workers explain how they make and use the ice for fish preservation, our expert guides translate and get answers to your questions about this livelihood so different from ours. Also be on the lookout in this lake village for floating schools, riverside churches and pagoda, and even the karaoke bar and police station. Literally everything and everyone in Chnok Tru travels by small boat through the intricate network of canals crisscrossing this tiny town.

On board the Aqua Mekong, we cruise onward to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla. We climb back into the skiffs and head for the shore where our expert guides act as translators, allowing you to pose questions to the people of Moat Kla about their lives.

You may be surprised to see that although most communities on the Tonle Sap are quite isolated, even Moat Kla has floating ‘convenience’ stores stocked with fishing tackle, cooking utensils, rice, beer, candy, fruits and vegetables. Along the water, there are also small merchants like egg vendors, women selling bamboo stalks stuffed with sticky rice and even divers hired to search for lost objects.

Moat Kla is the last village in Siem Reap Province on the southeastern end of the lake and only accessible by water. The community is largely of Vietnamese descent, owing to its settlement long before the nuances of international borders.

Aqua Expeditions has made special arrangements for our guests to attend the blessing ceremony conducted at Moat Kla’s Buddhist temple, home to only four monks.

 

Day 14: Tonle Sap lake – Siemreap - Cambodia (B/D)

This may be our last day but the adventure is far from over as we head off by skiff after breakfast into the 22,000-hectare Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve on Tonle Sap Lake, one of the largest freshwater bodies in Asia and the last refuge in Southeast Asia for large waterbirds like the spot-billed pelicans, milky stork, black-headed ibis and the elusive masked finfoot. Along the way, we visit floating houses and fish farms, and learn about sustainable development initiatives like Saray, a cooperative of women who weave water hyacinth into 100% organic mats and home accessories for some of Southeast Asia’s finest hotels. Visitors like us are invited to test our knotting skills, usually to the amusement of the resident experts.

 

We return to the Aqua Mekong to pack up then disembark for the road journey to Siem Reap.

Welcome to Siem Reap! Your tour begins when you are warmly welcomed by our English Speaking Guide at the pier. After you have collected your luggage he will then take you to your hotel for check in.

Evening is the time for a delicious dinner that with the exclusive Cultural Show- Apsara Dance.

For those travelers thirsting for cultural highlights of Cambodia, No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as 'Apsara Dance' after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance better described as 'dance-drama' in that the dances are not merely dance but also meant to convey a story or message. You will enjoy the tradition Royal musical instruments of Cambodia. A traditional music band will show in your mind the most memorable moments of lifetime thru the folk-music, folk-singers, folk-songs and folk-dances of Apsara dancers during dinner.

Stay overnight at the hotel in Siem Reap.

 

Day 15: Siem Reap (B/L)

 

After breakfast, enjoy a full day excursion to discover Angkor Thom and Temples. Firstly, you will visit the wonderful Angkor Thom (the Great City) including the Southern Gate, famous Bayon temple (12th century in the centre of city remains one the most enigmatic temples of the Angkor group composed of 54 gothic towers decorated with 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Baphuon temple is lying just to the north of Bayon a pyramidal representation of mythical Mont Meru. Terrace of Elephants used   as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall ; Terrace of the Leper King  a platform 7m high, with statue.

Your lunch will serve at local restaurant

Afternoon, continue with a visit to the picturesque Ta Prohm.  This beautiful temple is one of Angkor’s jewels and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere.  The magnificent roots of the trees have merged itself over the centuries with the temple’s huge stone blocks, emphasizing a ‘forgotten city’ feeling.  The temple was built by King Jayavarman VII to commemorate his mother. It is time to visit the wonderful Angkor Wat Temples – one of the seven greatest architectural wonders of the world, as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of 12th. Angkor Wat is probably the best-preserved of the Angkorean temples, with a central tower surrounded by four smaller towers. The central monument represents the mythical Mount Meru, the holy mountain at the centre of the universe, which was home to the Hindu God Vishnu. The whole complex covers 81 hectares, a rectangular wall measuring 1025 meters by 800 meters borders the inner edge of the moat, and temple's greatest sculptural treasure is its 2 km-long bas-reliefs around the walls... In the late afternoon, visit to the Phnom Bakheng temple, is the first temple in Angkor region build by the Yacovarman I King in the first of 9th century, located on a slope gently hill where thousands tourist are grouping on the hilltop to catch a memorable time of life when viewing the marvellous sunset, the distant Angkor Wat in the jungle and Tonle Sap Lake.

Evening is your free time for walking at busy pub street. Pop up at a bar for cool drink or shopping at Angkor Night Market. Stay overnight at the hotel in Siem Reap.

 

Day 16: Siemreap - Departure (B)

 

Your final day starts with breakfast at the hotel followed by check-out. You will then be transferred to the airport for your final departure.

 

Tour Price
Group 1 pax 2 pax 3-5 pax 6-9 pax 10-15 pax 16 pax up Single supplement
Standard
Superior
Deluxe
Premium

Rates vary frequently depending on group size, travel time, accommodation level, transportation and special touring requirements! Please contact us at info@handetour.com to get the best possible price.

Accommodation

City

Luxury Category – Top 5 star hotels in Vietnam

Hanoi

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi Hotel/ Premium Room

http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1555-sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi/index.shtml?PHPSESSID=qb1fegv3tf90lkklfg04c9ce14

Halong

The Au Co Cruise/ Deluxe cabin

http://www.aucocruises.com/

Mekong

Aqua Mekong River Cruise/ First deck suite

http://www.aquaexpeditions.com/luxury-cruise-vacations/aqua-mekong-cruises/mekong-7-nights/itin-one/

Ho Chi Minh

Park Hyatt Hotel/ Park Room

www.saigon.park.hyatt.com

Siem Reap

Raffles Siem Reap Hotel/ State room

http://www.raffles.com/siem-reap/

 

Inclusion & Exclusion
Tour Included
  • Air-con transfers
  • Join cruise in Halong bay
  • Join cruise in Mekong river
  • Join excursions on Halong Cruise and Mekong Cruise
  • English speaking tour guide
  • Accommodation
  • All entrance fees
  • Domestic flight ticket with airport tax – Business Class (HAN-SGN)
  • All meals as indicated on board and at the best restaurants in Vietnam
  • Daily bottle of mineral water on tours
Tour Excluded
  • Visa
  • Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Tip
  • Drink
  • Other not mentioned