Day 1 London - In flight
Make your own way to London Heathrow Airport for a direct, scheduled Vietnam Airlines flight to Hanoi.
Day 2 Hanoi
Upon arrival in Hanoi we transfer to our hotel for the next two nights, the Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi (4T). After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the National Museum of Fine Art, which displays a vast collection of ancient stone carvings, Buddhist statues and contemporary artworks. We will also visit the lakeside Ngoc Son Temple, dedicated to the 13th century national hero Tran Hung Dao, and take a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a bustling area of narrow streets, traditional shop-houses, temples and countless cafés and bars.
Day 3 Hanoi
We continue our exploration of Hanoi this morning, stopping at the monumental Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which houses the embalmed body of the communist leader in a glass coffin. We will also visit the wooden stilt house where Ho Chi Minh lived in his later years. Nearby we will see the One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai Tong in 1049 and we will continue to the 11th century Temple of Literature and West Lake. Here we will visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi’s oldest Buddhist temple, originally built in the sixth century, and the Taoist Quan Thanh temple. The rest of the day is at leisure, while this evening you might like to attend an optional water puppet show, a traditional art form unique to northern Vietnam.
Day 4 Hanoi - Halong Bay
After breakfast we leave Hanoi and head towards Halong, travelling through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta. When we arrive in Halong we will board our private junk for a five-hour cruise on the emerald green waters of beautiful Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dotted with more than 2,000 towering karst islands topped with dense jungle foliage. We enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on our boat before we return to Halong and transfer to our hotel, the Paradise Suites Hotel (4T).
Day 7 Hoi An - Danang - Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City. You are free to relax or make your own discoveries in Hoi An this morning, before we transfer to Danang Airport for a flight south to Ho Chi Minh City, where we will be staying for the next three nights at the Liberty Central Saigon Hotel (4T). This evening we enjoy a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, aboard a traditional wooden junk.
Day 8 Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
Today we head out to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the remarkable underground tunnel network where Vietcong guerrillas hid out during the Vietnam War. You’ll see secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms, while you can also view excavated areas if you prefer to remain above ground. We return to the city for lunch at a restaurant and then take a tour, visiting landmarks such as the elegant 19th century Central Post Office and the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, which recall the days of French Indochina, and Reunification Hall, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. This was where the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975, when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through its gates.
Day 9 Ben Tre
This morning we embark on an excursion to the Mekong Delta region, often referred to as ‘the rice bowl of Vietnam’. In Tien Giang, we will board our boat for a scenic river cruise, stopping to visit a small handicraft factory on Turtle Island and to visit a tropical fruit orchard. Later we will take a horse-drawn cart ride along country roads and enjoy a taste of the locally-produced honey, and explore the Xep Canal by boat. After lunch we pay a visit to the Vinh Trang Pagoda, surrounded by beautiful gardens, in My Tho, before returning to Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City - Siem Reap
We head to Ho Chi Minh City Airport for our flight to Siem Reap and on arrival transfer to our hotel for the next three nights, the Angkor Palace Resort & Spa (4T+).
Day 11 Angkor Wat
More than a million tourists a year visit Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex in the world and Cambodia’s most cherished symbol - it even features on the national flag. We begin our visit to the vast Angkor Archaeological Park today at the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire under the 12th century reign of Jayavarman VII. At the centre of the city stands the impressive Bayon Temple, adorned with carvings of enigmatic human faces. After lunch in a local restaurant, we continue our tour to the Ta Prohm temple, whose ruins are wrapped in the sinuous, snake-like roots of strangler figs and silk cotton trees and on to Angkor Wat itself. Built in phases between the 9th and 13th century as a Hindu, and later a Buddhist, shrine, this remarkable site is famous worldwide for its exquisite bas reliefs, including over 3,000 images of apsaras - celestial nymphs or muses - as well as dynamic battle scenes, and depictions of Hindu myths.
Day 12 Siem Reap
This morning we drive through the countryside to visit the Angkor Silk Farm, where you can observe the entire process of silk production, from the growing and harvesting of the silk worms’ food, mulberry leaves, to the spinning and dying of the silk and the creation of beautiful textiles on wooden hand looms. The afternoon is free for you to relax or to explore independently.
Day 13 Siem Reap - In flight
This morning, we will enjoy a boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, stopping to visit the village of Kampong Phluck, with its traditional stilt houses (if water levels during the February to July dry season do not allow us to visit Kampong Phluk, we will visit Chong Kneas floating village instead). On our way back we will call in at Les Artisans d’Angkor, where we can learn about traditional local crafts such as woodcarving, lacquering and silk painting. Later today, we transfer to Siem Reap Airport for a scheduled Vietnam Airlines flight to London via Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 14 London
Upon arrival at London Heathrow Airport, you are free to make your own way home.