This itinerary is for a past tour program.
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Discover Vietnam, one of the most fascinating and stunningly beautiful natural settings on earth, where ancient civilization, a welcoming people and dramatic history await.Our 16-day fully escorted tour includes the best of Vietnam, north to south, plus a visit to the massive and amazing Angkor temple complex in Cambodia and a stop in Bangkok, one of Asia's most beloved cities. Enjoy First Class accommodations, fully escorted touring, lots of included meals and the very best in service, all at prices that are downright amazing!
Day 2: En route. Cross the International Date Line and lose one day.
Day 3: Hanoi. Mid-morning arrival in Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks, and the capital of Vietnam. Meet your guide and transfer to your hotel to check in. This afternoon, enjoy a tour of Hanoi that begins at Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), the oldest school in Vietnam and one of its most important temples, representing Confucian thought and behavior. Continue to Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword), which geologists believe was part of the Red River thousands of years ago, before it reversed its course. Return to your hotel and prepare to enjoy your "Welcome to Vietnam" dinner at Au Lac Restaurant. Sofitel Plaza Hanoi Dinner provided.
Day 4: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay & Emeraude Cruise. After breakfast, drive from Hanoi to Halong where you'll board the deluxe rated Emeraude, a wonderful replica of one of the classic steamships of the colonial era of French Indochina. With 37 luxurious air-conditioned cabins, a restaurant, two bars and a sun deck this is the ultimate Halong Bay experience. Lunch is served on board at 1:00 PM. While cruising on the emerald green waters of the bay, try a traditional Vietnamese massage as an optional extra. You'll enjoy High Tea, served on the sun deck in the late afternoon, a sunset cocktail served on the sun deck followed by a delicious Vietnmese buffet dinner. Overnight on board the Emeraude Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 5: Emeraude Cruise, Halong & Hanoi. Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Tuan Chau quay. If you're an early riser, you can take advantage of an optional Tai Chi class on the sun deck from 6–7 a.m., before breakfast. After disembarkation from your replicated French Colonial steamer board your touring coach and drive back to Hanoi.
Continue to the theater to enjoy a unique, ancient form of Vietnamese entertainment known as Mua Roi Nuoc, or Water Puppets, where puppeteers control their puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanisms hidden beneath the water's surface. After the show, you'll transfer to a local restaurant to enjoy dinner. Sofitel Plaza Hanoi Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 6: Hanoi & Hue. Hanoi's rich history is closely tied to French colonialism as well as the Chinese era, both evident in the city's architecture, cuisine and culture. On this morning's sightseeing tour, you'll further explore the highlights of this fascinating city. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, one of the most important and visited sites in Vietnam and the One Pillar Pagoda, built on stilts over a lake in 1049 by King Ly Thai Thong. A prayer here is said to bring fertility and good health. Drive to Hanoi airport for a short flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel to check in.
End the day with a visit to the popular Dong Ba Market, one of the must-see sites in Hue, where fruit, vegetables, fish, rice and other staples of the traditional Vietnamese diet are sold along with foods made from these ingredients. Join your fellow tour members at Y Thao Restaurant for dinner this evening. Morin Hotel Breakfast & dinner provided.
Next you'll drive to picturesque Hoi An, known as Faifo to early western traders. Settled on the banks of the Thu Bon River, the colorful market town of Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a major Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with ships arriving from all over the world to obtain silk and other fabrics, sugar, tea and ceramics. Hoi An's traditional Vietnamese architecture has been preserved, and there are many historic temples and pagodas in the area.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then set out on a walking tour of this World Heritage Site. Along the way visit the Japanese Covered Bridge which features a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side and the town's most famous landmark, a beautiful Chinese Assembly Hall built in 1740 as a meeting place for all Chinese residents of the town. The hall is lavishly decorated with murals and a replica of a Chinese ship, and Phuoc Kien Pagoda, also called Kim Son Pagoda, built in 1697 by Chinese Phuoc Kien merchants at Hoi An.
End your day at the Central Market where you will find everything from fruit and flowers to tailor-made clothes and silk lanterns, whose flexible bamboo frames are designed to collapse, so they're easily transported home as a souvenir. This evening, take a stroll around town after dusk to see the streets beautifully lit with these lanterns. Ancient House Hotel Breakfast & lunch provided.
On the way back to Hoi An stop to visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculpture in Danang's Cham Museum originated from here. Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Hoi An, Danang & Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City which Vietnamese also call Saigon or simply HCMC. But regardless of what name you prefer, it's most certainly the economic center of the country. You'll see the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life everywhere—in the street markets, blocks of colonial houses, sidewalk cafes, sleek new hotels, trendy restaurants and pubs and high fashion shops.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then head out for a tour of the city. Visit the former Presidential Palace, now known as the Reunification Palace, where the South Vietnamese government officially turned over power to the North in 1975. It's a trip back in time, particularly the "strategy rooms" in the basement and the upper-floors filled with 1960s furnishings.
Visit Notre Dame Cathedral, the lovely red-brick church that was built using bricks from Marseilles and stained glass windows from Chartres, then continue to the Old Saigon Post Office, the largest post office in Vietnam, built between 1886 and 1891 by the great architect Gustave Eiffel. Complete the day with a visit to the Thien Hau Pagoda in the bustling Chinatown section of Saigon, dedicated to Thien Hau, the Chinese goddess of the sea. New World Hotel Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) & Cu Chi Tunnels. After breakfast, drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, begun by the Viet Minh in the 1940's. The incredible network of tunnels once stretched for 210 miles and contained extensive Viet Cong infrastructure including tactical quarters, storage rooms, kitchens, a school and even an underground hospital. Most entrances were so well disguised that only a small portion of the system was ever discovered during the war, despite the fact that some 125 mi/200 km ran under a U.S. military base. Return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure for shopping, strolling or touring by "cyclo" along the busy, bustling streets. Breakfast provided.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) & Chau Doc. After breakfast, depart from Ho Chi Minh City and head southwest to Chau Doc, on the Cambodian border, deep in the Mekong Delta. En route, stop at Sa Dec, a delta town famous for its cultivation of exotic fruit and flowers, to visit the orchards and gardens of Mr Tu Ton, a local farmer.
Victoria Chau Doc Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 12: Chau Doc, Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, Cambodia. After an early breakfast, board the "Blue Cruiser" speed boat for an enjoyable morning trip to Phnom Penh, the bustling capital city of Cambodia, located on the banks of three rivers—the Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the Tonle Bassac. Arrive around noontime, and after a box lunch, board your touring coach to visit some Phnom Penh's sites. Begin at the Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace complex where you'll encounter the dazzling site of a green crystal Buddha and a life-size Buddha made of solid gold and encrusted with 9,500 diamonds, sitting on a floor covered with 5,000 silver tiles.
Continue to the National Museum which has a wonderful collection of Khmer art and sculpture. Then transfer to the airport for your late afternoon flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel, located just a short drive from the temple complex of Angkor. Borei Angkor Hotel Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 13: Siem Reap. After breakfast, begin your exploration of two of the largest religious sites in the world; Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. The temples of Angkor, built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD represent one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. From Angkor the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that reached from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. The structures you see at Angkor today, more than 100 stone temples in all, are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings—palaces, public buildings, and houses—were built of wood and are long since decayed and gone.
This afternoon, visit the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat, built during the early years of the 12th century to honor the Hindu god Vishnu. Consisting of an enormous temple symbolizing the mythic Mt. Meru, its rectangular walls and moats represent chains of mountains and the cosmic ocean. Hundreds of fine carvings and scenes from Hindu mythology can still be viewed here. Later on, enjoy a spectacular view of the sun setting at Angkor Wat. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 14: Siem Reap & Bangkok. This morning you will continue your exploration of the incredible ruins of Angkor, which consists of more than 30 temples and ancient buildings. All of the spectacular, carved-stone buildings were built between AD 800–1400, the height of the Khmer empire.
This afternoon explore Preah Khan, once a monastery and training grounds for monks whose buildings, now in ruins, housed Buddhist, Hindu and ancient ancestor-worship religions and view the former water bath at Neak Poan. Late this afternoon transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel, conveniently located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Millennium Hilton Hotel Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 16: Bangkok/USA. After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your return flight to the USA via Taipei, arriving later this evening. Breakfast provided.