On your arrival at the Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by our driver & guide who will bring you to Hanoi City. Hanoi is over 1000 years old and is currently the capital of Vietnam as well the commercial, political, and cultural heart of the country. Transfer to check into your hotel (early check-in is subject to the hotel’s availability). Overnight at Sofitel Metropole.
Day 2: Dec 21: Full day Hanoi tour (B)
A city tour of Hanoi starts with a visit to the One-Pillar Pagoda. We will then take a drive to visit the Temple of Literature. The temple was built in October 1073 to worship Confucius and is considered to be the first university in Vietnam. We will then drive to Hoan Kiem Lake where you will see Ngoc Son Temple which worships Van Xuong saint and Tran Hung Dao, a former general commander. Hanoi is one of the few places found in this part of the world that has such elegance. Walk down the tree lined boulevards where we see many French influences such as Hanoi Opera House, the State Bank, the former Governor’s palace, and the Hanoi Cathedral (Saint Joseph’s built in the late 19th century).
Later in the afternoon, you will get a chance to enjoy a 1-hour cyclo ride around the 36 streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi followed by the traditional folk performance of the Water Puppet Show at the Hanoi Theater. You are then free to venture out on your own or take it easy and relax in your hotel room. You will spend the rest of the night in Hanoi. Overnight Sofitel Metropole.
Day 3: Dec 22: Hanoi/ Halong Bay – Lan Ha Bay
08.30: Transfer to Halong Bay from your hotel in Hanoi
12.30: Arrive in Halong Bay. Check-in at the cruise centre.
12.45: Depart from Tuan Chau Island, meet the onboard team and receive the safety briefing.
13.30: Acquaint yourself with the five elements cuisine with lunch on board, while The Au Co cruises leisurely towards Lan Ha Bay.
15.30: Visit Three Peaches Beach – Ba Trai Dao for swimming and other water activities.
17.30: Take part in a Vietnamese food cooking demonstration.
18.00: Enjoy Happy Hour at the bar (buy 1 get 1 free for all drinks).
19.15: Savour our five elements signature dinner of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water while the boat is anchored for overnight stop.
20.30: Relax with a drink at Lan Ha bar or join our crew and try squid fishing on the deck.
Option: we can fly the seaplane from Hanoi to Halong to save the driving time, seaplane will take around 20 minutes http://www.seaplanes.vn/en/
Day 4: Dec 23: Cat Ba Island and Bai Tu Long Bay
07.00: Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or enjoy the stunning views of the bay while the ship begins slowly cruising.
07.30: Have breakfast onboard while The Au Co cruises in Ha Long Bay.
09.00: Visit the famous Surprise Cave, Hang Sung Sot.
11.15: Take a tour at the Captain’s Bridge and the Engine Room
12.00: Enjoy lunch in Ha Long restaurant while The Au Co cruises towards Cat Ba Island.
13.45: Join a guided biking or hiking excursion through the national park of Cat Ba Island and visit The Au Co organic farm in Viet Hai Village. Another option for visiting the island is to use electric cart service available (at extra cost).
16.30: Kayak & swim in Viet Hai Lagoon.
17.00: Make the most of an extended Happy Hour at our Lan Ha bar (buy 1 get 1 free).
19.15: Try the barbeque buffet in the restaurant while the boat is at anchor.
20.30: End the day with a drink at Lan Ha bar or join our crew and try squid fishing on the deck.
21.00: Join our kitchen staff for the fruit carving sessions.
Day 5: Dec 24: Bai Tu Long Bay/ Hanoi/ Hue (by flight)
06.30: Start the day with a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck or enjoy the breath-taking views of the bay while The Au Co cruises leisurely in Bai Tu Long.
07.00: Take your time over breakfast.
07.45: Visit Vung Vieng floating fishing village by traditional bamboo boat.
09.00: Prepare for check out: passenger’s bags must be put in the corridor.
09.45: Join a Vietnamese traditional tea ceremony then check-out.
10.45: Disembark in Tuan Chau and leave for Hanoi.
15.00: Arrive Hanoi. End of service.
Transfer back to Hanoi for flight to Hue – overnight La Residence Hotel – Xmas Dinner at hotel
Day 6: Dec 25: Full day Hue city tour (B)
We spend the entire day exploring ancient Hue and finding its beauties and marvels. We first start off by taking a boat trip down the romantic Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the oldest and most beautiful pagodas in Hue. After that we move on to see the Minh Mang Tomb who was emperor of Vietnam from 1820 to 1841.
In the afternoon, we head to the outskirts of Hue to explore the Tu Duc Tomb before heading for the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of the Imperial Citadel. You will see the Imperial City and Forbidden City as well as enjoying the palaces, ornate halls, libraries, residences, colleges, Flag Tower and Noon Gate. After that you are free to venture out on your own or take it easy and relax in your hotel room. Overnight La Residence Hotel
Day 7: Dec 26: Hue/ Hoian (B)
From ancient Hue, we travel to the more modern and rapidly growing town of Da Nang then into the exotic Hoi An. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to stop en route to take pictures at the summit of Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass. The Cham Museum is located in Da Nang City and has the most extensive collection of Cham art sculptures in the world. Sculptures date from the 7th to the 15th century. Afterwards you will go through the beautiful and famous Marble Mountains arriving in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site of Hoi An. This ancient town offers tourists a chance to go shopping and relax at some of the local restaurants as well as offering a look into history and a way of life from days gone by in the well preserved and cared for buildings. Overnight in Hoi An at Royal Hoian.
Day 8: Dec 27: Visit Hoi An (B)
This morning we take a walking tour of the old town Hoi An. Hoi An nestled on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Before the river silted up, Hoi An was one of the most important trading ports in Southeast Asia, and a center for East-West exchange and trade. From the 2nd until the 10th century, Hoi An was one of the principal Cham cities. Over the years, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Thai, Indonesian, Spanish, American, Japanese, Filipino and Chinese ships docked in Hoi An. In the 19th century, as the result of warfare and environmental changes, Hoi An was replaced by Da Nang as a major port. Reflecting the diversity of the traders and missionaries that settled in the port (including Alexander of Rhodes), the ancient architecture is a fascinating mix of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese. The rooftops of Hoi An retain a magical old world Oriental feel and are a favorite subject for Vietnamese artists. In the early 1980s Hoi An’s ancient quarters and historical monuments came under the protection and restoration efforts of UNESCO and the Polish government. Visit the Japanese covered bridge, Phuc Kien assemble hall, Phung Hung old house, Hoi An museum and Quan Cong temple. The rest of time is fee to walk in the old town, feel the atmosphere of its original culture, enjoy shopping for tailor clothing, lanterns, shoes and food, or simply relaxing on the beach.
Option: private cooking class in Hoi An in Red Bridge:
We start the day (8.15 – 13:00) with a welcome drink at Hai Café
Visit Hoi An’s colourful market, and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and learn about all the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson later.
We board the Red Bridge boat for a leisurely cruise (25 minutes) along the Hoi An River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. This is a chance to view local river life, so make sure your camera is handy.
On arrival, we explore the cooking school’s herb garden, before learning about some of Hoi An’s and Vietnam’s well-known dishes. The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours – the Red Bridge chefs first demonstrate each dish before we prepare the same dish ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration). After the lesson, we sit down and eat what we have cooked.
Bring your swimsuit and after the cooking tour has finished relax and enjoy free use of our 20 metre swimming pool – towels and showers provided.
Day 9: Dec 28: Hoian/ Danang. Flight to Saigon (B)
Transfer to Danang airport for the flight to Saigon.
Being the heart and soul of South Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is a bustling, dynamic and industrious city. It is not only the largest city but also the economic capital and trendsetter of Vietnam. Yet within the teeming metropolis are the timeless traditions and beauty of an ancient culture. The city streets of Ho Chi Minh come to life as you experience a myriad of street markets, shops, pavements, cafes, stands-on-wheels and vendors all with their wares spread out on the sidewalks. Let the exhilarating vibe of Ho Chi Minh City fill you with joy and wonder. You will start off by visiting the Reunification Palace, a tribute to the war when the gates came crashing down in Saigon to the North Vietnamese. In the same area is the Notre Dame Cathedral with the twin bell towers that form the most famous landmark in Ho Chi Minh as that can be seen for miles. After that, we go to see China Town, Binh Tay Market and the Thien Hau Temple. Overnight at Saigon Reverie.
Day 10: Dec 29: Saigon/ My Tho/ Saigon
Depart for a scenic drive through the Mekong Delta, home to the richest agricultural lands in Vietnam. Once at My Tho, you will take a boat trip to an island that houses orchard gardens. Afterwards take a horse-drawn cart to Quoi Son where you will see a bee farm and enjoy various teas and candies. Then gently float down the tree-lined canals of the Mekong Delta in a comfortable sampan. Continuing by boat, you will get to see a family-run enterprise that produces coconut candy, have lunch at the orchard garden and, by late afternoon, return by boat to My Tho and then by road back to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight Saigon Reverie.
Day 11: Dec 30: Saigon – Full day free for shopping (B)
Guide and driver are available for you (from 8:00 to 17:00).
Day 12: Dec 31: Fly to Siem Reap from Saigon
Transfer to Sofitel Angkor Siem Reap – Gala Dinner at hotel.
Day 13: Jan 01: Tour of Siem Reap (B, L)
Breakfast in hotel, start exploring Angkor Wat: Visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King and Taprohm. In the afternoon, Angkor Wat temple – The 7th world wonder until sunset. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 14: Jan 02: Full day tour in Siem Reap (B, L)
Today we will have another full day in Angkor to visit Banteay Srei, this temple is small but its carving is so beautiful. This temple is located 35km from Siem Reap town and was built by King Rajendrvarnman II and Jayavarman V in the second half the 10th century and for dedicated to Hinduism. We head to visit Banteay Samre temple. After lunch time we will visit Neak Pean, Preah Khan and Pre Rup & Mebon Oriental temple. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 15: Jan 03: Siem Reap/ Saigon (B)
Transfer to flight to Saigon – road directly (by driver & guide) to Ho Tram Beach resort (1.5 hour by road) Overnight at a villa here http://www.hotramresort.com/accommodation/suites-villas/
Days 16, 17: Jan 04 – 05: Ho Tram Beach resort (B)
Day 18: Jan 6: Ho Tram/ Saigon – Departure (B)
At leisure till transfer (by driver & guide) to the Tan Son Nhat airport for the departure fly.