Vietnam & Cambodia 2020

Vietnam from North to South 14 Day Tour

January 3, 2020 – January 16, 2020

Day 1 (January 3, 2020):  Hanoi Arrival

Welcome to Hanoi, the nation’s capital, which has already celebrated its 1,000th Anniversary!

IMG_2260Our guide and driver will pick you up at the airport and drive you to your hotel for check-in.   We will enjoy a welcome dinner together at a local restaurant with well-prepared Vietnamese food. Recover from your flight at a boutique hotel in the heart of Hanoi. .

Overnight in Hanoi

 

Day 2 (January 4, 2020): Hanoi City Tour (B/L) 

After breakfast at the hotel, we will begin our tour of Hanoi, Vietnam’s artistic and intellectual capital.  We will explore the vibrant Old Quarter and its hundreds of specialty shops selling silk clothing, lacquer ware, embroidered linens, furniture, bamboo products, cooking utensils, street food and other fascinating items.

While listening to the tale of the Golden Turtle, we will walk around the sacred Hoan Kiem Lake and later take some time to people-watch at stylish outdoor cafes.  After lunch, we will also visit some of Hanoi’s main cultural and tourist attractions, such as the One-Pillar Pagoda, the Fine Arts Museum, the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and his stilt house set amidst lush greenery.  Then we also will have the opportunity to ride a cyclo in the old part of town.  In the evening, we will attend a traditional Water Puppet show.

Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.

Day 3 (January 5, 2020): Pu Luong Retreat (B/L/D)

RICE WORKERS

After breakfast at our Hanoi hotel, we check out and travel to Pu Luong Nature Reserve area by car (approximately 4 hour drive).   We drive via a breathtaking mountain pass giving you a panoramic view of the whole valley.   After check in, we will have time for a delicious lunch, followed by free time to explore this beautiful retreat, with its captivating views and tranquil setting.

If you would like a more active afternoon, you will be transferred to a suspension bridge over the Cham River, where you begin your walk in search of stunning water wheels. Get up close to each wheel and discover how water is moved from river to handmade bamboo aqueducts via simple constructions of all sizes.

Arriving at a local fisherman’s house, you may have a short rest before gearing up for bamboo river rafting.  Float along the calm river and enjoy the views, learning how to paddle and steer to arrive at scenic Tan Lap bridge where you disembark to be transferred back to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner.

Overnight at hotel in Pu Luong.

Day 4 (January 6, 2020): Pu Luong – Village Trekking (B/L/D) 

After breakfast early, in the morning, descend into the beautiful valley facing the Retreat where you walk around tumbling rice terraces. Trek through small paths shrouded in vegetation to slowly reveal a picturesque village sitting at the base of a towering mountain. Continuing to thePu Luong Nature Reserve In Vietnam base of the valley, you weave between roads and farmland, villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers, mountains and open land. Savor the ever-changing scenery as you trek to a beautiful spot to enjoy a simple picnic lunch.

You will then have free time to explore the nearby river before moving to our pick up point to be transferred back to the Retreat.

Overnight in Pu Luong.

Day 5 (January 7, 2020): Pu Luong & return to Hanoi (B/L)

This morning you will have the chance to get close to village life and interact with locals living in the hills above the Retreat.  Glimpse their daily life, walk around the working farmland and rice fields, and learn about weaving colorful textiles, followed by lunch at the Lodge.  After lunch, we check out of the Lodge and return to Hanoi. The rest of the evening is free for you to explore as you wish.

Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 6 (January 8, 2020): Hanoi to Lan Ha Bay and Cruise (B/L/D)

After breakfast at our hotel, we will check out and drive to Lan Ha Bay (approximately 3 hours) to embark on the Peony Cruise or similar 4 star cruise line.  On the way, you will have the chance to see green rice fields, water buffalos, cows and local rural life set amidst a backdrop of misty mountains.

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The Peony Cruise boat proceeds to Da Chong islet, where you can see a lighthouse built by the French over 100 years ago.  We have lunch before continuing our journey via the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan. These awesome limestone karst formations rise up out of the sea in an amazing manner.  This area is untouched as not many cruise ships use this route via Cat Ba Island.  On the Peony Cruise boat you can watch a magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. Onboard you may be able to join a traditional cooking class where our chef will instruct you in the making of some Vietnamese dishes.

A special meal will then be served in an intimate setting.  Enjoy the landscape of the bay at night up on the top deck. Relax whilst enjoying drinks from the bar. Try your hand at night squid fishing or watching a movie in the restaurant.

Double or twin bedded accommodations onboard the boat with ensuite toilet and bathing facilities.

Day 7 (January 9, 2020):  Lan Ha Bay – Hanoi – Fly to Da Nang (B/L).

Ẹnjoy an early breakfast in the middle of world-class scenery followed by a visit to the part of the bay where the movie “Indochine” was filmed.  Another delicious lunch will be served on board.  We will then return to the harbor around noon and drive straight to the airport from the dock for departure to Danang.  From there, a short drive takes us to the ancient town of Hoi An, known for its traditional houses and hand-made clothes.

Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 8 (January 10, 2020): Hoi An to My Son (B/L)

After breakfast, we will travel through the countryside to the My Son Sanctuary – a World Heritage Site and Vietnam’s Image result for free images of My Son Vietnammost significant vestige of the Champa Kingdom, which prospered from the 2nd  to the 15th century.  In the 4th century My Son was established as a religious center in a lush, isolated valley at the foot of the Cat Tooth Mountain.  We will have time to walk around the red brick ruins to admire the intricate ancient masonry and to enjoy the peaceful setting.

We will return to Hoi An by boat or by car with the rest of the afternoon free to explore the old city of Hoi An, now a tourist mecca for made-to-order clothing.  You can stroll around this lovely town and visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Chinese Assembly Hall and Ancient House, with walks along the river and visits to handicrafts centers.

Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 9  (January 11, 2020):  Hoi An – Biking and Cooking (B/L)

After breakfast, we will bike through the green Hoi An countryside and visit a family who makes traditional local handicrafts.  Upon our return to the town, we will join a Vietnamese cooking class by a great local chef.  Your lunch is your cooking class food made by your own hands under the chef’s guidance.

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The rest of the afternoon is free for your own exploration and shopping in this center for handicrafts and inexpensive clothing made to order.  A shoppers paradise.

Dinner at your leisure.  Overnight at hotel in Hoi An.

 

Day 10 (January 12, 2020): Fly to Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon – Cu Chi Tunnel (B/L) 

Motorcycles_of_Ho_Chi_Minh_CityFollowing our breakfast, we will leave Hoi An and check-in for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – the commercial hub of Vietnam.  Upon arrival and a simple lunch, we will leave the city for a half day tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.  At the Cu Chi Tunnels we will spend time examining parts of this 170 mile-long underground maze where thousands of fighters and villagers hid and fought during the Vietnam War.  We then return to HCMC for the evening.

Overnight in HCMC.

Day 11 (January 13, 2020):  HCMC/Saigon City Tour  (B/L)

Today we are in the busy urban center of Vietnam.  We will have a half day city tour including the War Remnants Museum, Central Post Office, Ngoc Hoang temple, and the busy Ben Thanh market where we will have a street food lunch.  We will have various options of activities for the afternoon as you choose, including the Southern Women’s Museum.

Overnight at our hotel in HCMC.

Day 12 (January 14, 2020):  HCMC/Saigon – Cai Be (B/L/D)

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We will check out of our hotel after breakfast to leave for the Mekong Delta, an area crisscrossed by an intricate network of canals and arroyos (about 2.5 hour drive).  We arrive at Cai Be and check into our boat, the Mekong Eyes Cruise or similar.  The cruise includes fantastic scenery while you watch the daily life of the Mekong Delta people and lunch onboard.  Boating along the waterways is an enchanting experience of a lifetime.  We will cruise through the lush vegetation along the canals, stopping from time to time to observe how local people make coconut and fruit candies, handicrafts, and even bricks by hand.

In the afternoon, you can disembark for a leisurely stroll through a village and the surrounding fruit orchards or rice fields where you can meet the friendly locals and taste the local produce and fruits.  In the evening, you may watch the sunset over the magnificent water landscape of the Mekong river as the boat anchors for the night. The day ends with a delicious on-board dinner and then a comfortable overnight on your river cruiser.

Overnight on Cruise.

Day 13 (January 15, 2020)  Can Tho – HCMC/Saigon (B/L/D)

Can Tho

At 6:30, the cruise vessel sets off for a sunrise cruise and while enjoying an early breakfast you may watch the locals go about their daily work drying exotic fruits and building ships.  After breakfast, we board a sampan boat to Cai Rang floating market, the region’s busiest and most lively market where you may marvel at the sheer abundance of exotic fruits, vegetables and skillfully handcrafted regional products and visit a noodle producing family.  We will be able to pull up to the boats to talk and bargain with the merchants.

After the excursion to the market, it is time to start the journey back to HCMC. From Can Tho we travel by road back to HCMC with a lunch stop in Vinh Long City.   Upon arrival back in HCMC, we will have a farewell Vietnamese dinner on a Saigon river cruise.

Overnight in HCMC.

Day 14 (January 16, 2020): HCMC/Saigon Departure: (B) 

After breakfast at our hotel, some of us will say goodbye today to our newly made friends as we end our tour of Vietnam.   You are free to relax until your departure time.  Arrangements will be made for your transfer to the airport.  For those who are ending our tour and returning home, we are sure you will have a new perspective about Vietnam and many indelible memories to carry back with you!

Cambodia 4 Day Extension Itinerary

January 16 – January 19, 2020

This tour is an optional extension of our Vietnam itinerary.

Day 14 (January 16, 2020):  HCMC/Saigon to Siem Reap, Cambodia (B/D)

Today we will say goodbye to anyone leaving us in HCMC.  Those going on to the Cambodia portion of this tour, will depart in the morning for a flight to Siem Reap.  You will be welcomed at the Siem Reap Airport and transferred to your hotel for check-in.  You may obtain a visa upon arrival with your U.S. passport, a photograph and a fee.

Ankor

In the afternoon, we will depart to visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, which is 7 km from Siem Reap: visiting the world-famous Bayon temple, the Baphoun, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.  At dinner, we will enjoy an Apsara traditional dance performance.

Overnight in Siem Reap

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Day 15 (January 17, 2020):   Siem Reap Wonders (B/L/D)

After breakfast, visit the Ta Prohm temple which is a wonderful combination of human construction genius and the natural beauty of giant trees which have grown for centuries.  We go on to visit Ta Keo, dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and built at the end of the 10th century, the Thommanon, Chau Say temples and the natural lake of Sra Srang.

concrete temple with tree root on top

We will have lunch before visiting Angkor Wat.   The founder was Suryavarman II who reigned over Cambodia from 1113 to 1152 and built the five towers in the 12th century and dedicated them to the Hindu God Vishnu.  The plan with a pyramidal conception of the temple combined with spaces, alleys, and ditches is an ancient masterpiece of architectural design and construction.

Dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Siem Reap

Day 16 (January 18, 2020):   Siem Reap Exploration to Bang Mealea (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we will spend the entire morning visiting Bang Mealea, a remote largely unrestored temple, its walls and towers Related imagebursting apart with trees and creepers. While a wooden walkway guides visitors round the tumble-down structure, more able explorers can clamber through rubble-filled corridors and make their own discoveries in the ruins.  Lunch at a local restaurant outside the temple or a box-lunch from hotel.

On the way back to Siem Reap we will make a brief stop at an often-overlooked group of temples, the Ruolos Group.  The afternoon is free to visit the Artisans d’Angkor, silk weaving and high quality local goods, or to do other shopping on your own.  We will have a farewell dinner together for our last night in Cambodia and on this tour.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 17 (January 19, 2020):   Siem Reap Departure (B) 

This morning we will have our last breakfast together and begin preparations for our departure home.  We know it will have been an intense and memorable experience to the layered remains of this ancient kingdom.

Tour Operator is Vietnam Now Travel

For registration form and further information about this tour, please contact varya@varyatours.com or (510) 527-0486.