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Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam- Journey to a region rich in culture and history. Take in three extraordinary countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Your tour opens in historic Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. For centuries, the city has been the commercial hub of the region, creating a cultural melting pot.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City- This morning, head to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a maze of underground passageways used as hideouts by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon you’ll get acquainted with the city’s colonial landmarks on a tour that features the Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral,* the Reunification Palace, and the Binh Tay Market. Tonight, gather with your fellow travellers for a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City- Explore the famous Mekong Delta, rich with natural and cultural wonders, during a cruise along this bustling river. Be introduced to daily life during a visit to a home where coconut candy and rice paste are made. Enjoy a lunch of regional cuisine in a lush tropical garden. Visit a local residence to learn about their traditional way of life. Later, enjoy a visit to Cao Dai Temple and explore the region’s rich architectural style.
Day 4:Ho Chi Minh City - Siem Reap, Cambodia- Fly to Cambodia and the village of Siem Reap, our gateway to the wonders of Angkor. Siem Reap brings together colonial and Chinese architecture of days gone by. Today, this ancient place is home to chic hotels and a thriving culinary scene.
Day 5:Siem Reap- Begin your day exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Thom, known for its colossal stonecarved faces. Discover its famous Bayon temple, Baphoun; Phimeanakas, the Royal Palace, the Elephant Terrace and the Leper King Terrace. Next, explore the famous Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building and the symbol of Cambodia. Stand before the stone carvings and bas-reliefs that adorn the complex, the magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire. Remain until evening for an opportunity to see a spectacular sunset over the monuments. Dinner this evening is accompanied by an Apsara show.
Day 6:Siem Reap- Set out to see three impressive Hindu temples: the towering 11th-century pyramid-shaped Temple of Shiva; Banteay Srei Temple with its remarkably intricate carvings; and the wellpreserved Banteay Samre Temple. This afternoon, spend time at a local monastery where you’ll meet the monks who reside there and participate in a private blessing ceremony. Then we continue to the mystical Buddhist temple Ta Prohm, overgrown by the creeping jungle.
Day 7: Siem Reap - Luang Prabang, Laos- Your day begins at the JWOC Community Center** where you’ll meet local school children. Then we fly to Luang Prabang, the spiritual capital of Laos. Hotel Sanctuary Hotel Luang Prabang Culinary Breakfast Weather High 28° Low 21° Day 8: Luang Prabang This morning we are off to two of the most remarkable temples in Luang Prabang: Wat Sen or “Temple of 100,000 Treasures,” and Wat Visun, the city’s oldest and most beautiful. Continue through the countryside to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls, passing rice fields and small villages along the way. Return to town in time to gaze over Luang Prabang from atop Mount Phousi. Later, immerse yourself in the Night Market to browse for textiles, garments and crafts made by local residents and people from surrounding hill tribes.
Day 8: Luang Prabang- This morning we are off to two of the most remarkable temples in Luang Prabang: Wat Sen or “Temple of 100,000 Treasures,” and Wat Visun, the city’s oldest and most beautiful. Continue through the countryside to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls, passing rice fields and small villages along the way. Return to town in time to gaze over Luang Prabang from atop Mount Phousi. Later, immerse yourself in the Night Market to browse for textiles, garments and crafts made by local residents and people from surrounding hill tribes.
Day 9: Luang Prabang- Board a traditional riverboat for a cruise down the Mekong River. Our first stop is to see the Wat Xieng Thong temple with its colourful Tree of Life mosaic. Continue on, pausing along the way to get to know the rural way of life in the small villages of Ban Xieng Maen and Ban Chan. Head for Wat Long Khoun – or the “Monastery of the Happy” – once a sanctuary for people looking for spiritual rejuvenation. The next stop on our journey is at Pak Ou Caves, home to hundreds of Buddhas. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before driving back to the city. En route, learn about locally made rice wine called “lao lao” in Ban Xang Hai. Discover local artisan creations including jute paper with stops in Ban Xang Khong and Ban Xieng Lek.
Day 10: Luang Prabang - Hanoi, Vietnam- Wake before dawn and participate in the offering of alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks. Fly to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. From ancient Chinese to French Colonial, this diverse city blends many cultures. It is truly a place where the old meets the new.
Day 11: Hanoi- Begin your day in Ba Dinh Square, home of the mausoleum built to honour Ho Chi Minh, a revered figure in Vietnam. Behind this impressive site and standing in stark contrast is Minh's simple house on stilts. Admire the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Take in the well preserved traditional architecture at the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, founded in the early 11th century. Enjoy lunch at a nonprofit restaurant that empowers underprivileged children by training them with new skills. Then, set out on a cyclo tour of Hanoi that takes you through its old quarter. Catch a glimpse of ancient Hanoi and see traditional Vietnamese architecture including the long house. End the day with a traditional water puppet performance.
Day 12: Hanoi - Ky Son - Hanoi -Venture through the countryside to Ky Son Village. Come to know life here as you embark on a stroll through the village. Learn about local culinary traditions during a cooking demonstration with a local chef before a lunch highlighting regional cuisine. Next, head to Duong Lam village. Along the way, meet villagers and see their unique historic homes and communal places of worship. Enjoy a visit to the Mia Pagoda. Stop at the humble Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung temples, built by the locals in the 8th and 10th centuries to honour their kings. Return to Hanoi for an evening at leisure.
Day 13: Hanoi - Halong Bay- Journey to Halong Bay for your overnight cruise on a luxury junk boat. Travel through the rice paddy fields and stop in some of the villages. Marvel at the thousands of limestone islands that dot these waters. Enjoy a lunchtime seafood feast aboard; then go for a swim in the crystal clear waters of the bay. Overnight among the dramatic limestone peaks rising out of the sea.
Day 14: Halong Bay - Hanoi – Hue- Wake as the fog lifts, revealing the morning light. Cruise through the emerald waters of Halong Bay back to the harbour. Then we return to Hanoi to board a flight to Hue, the Imperial capital city.
Day 15: Hue - Hoi An- Travel to the shores of the Perfume River and embark on a cruise that reveals Hue’s Imperial past. Stop at Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the oldest and most remarkable religious buildings in the country. Then it’s on to the sprawling Imperial Citadel that originally encompassed 148 buildings. After your cruise, continue through the countryside via the breathtaking Hai Van Pass. Pause to see the quaint Lang Co fishing village before arriving in Hoi An, an ancient merchant trading port and a UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 16: Hoi An- Learn about the local cuisine at today’s cooking class. Begin with a visit to a local market to interact with vendors and learn about traditional ingredients. Learn how each of the vegetables and herbs are used to create everyday Vietnamese cuisine and enjoy lunch after your class. Then, visit one of Hoi An’s famous lantern workshops and try your hand at lantern making. These colourful handmade creations are a part of the culture of the city and symbolize luck, happiness and wealth to the residents. Set out on a walking tour of this well-preserved town. Feel like you have stepped into the past as you stroll by the Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, the ancient merchant house, and a 400-year-old Japanese covered bridge. Later, enjoy a peaceful boat trip along the Thu Bon River before time at leisure to explore the old town.
Day 17: Hoi An- Catch a glimpse into the Champa Kingdom at the remarkable ruins of My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site situated in a remote jungle valley. This once thriving epicentre of religion and politics dates back to the 4th century and has more than 20 wellpreserved monuments to explore. Then it’s off to Tra Que Herb Village, a small farming community. En route, stop to see 17th-century Japanese tombs, the only ones of their kind outside of Japan. Arrive in town and observe the local farmers tending to their crops and sample some local delicacies. Relax as you soak your feet in an herbal bath before returning to Hoi An. Tonight, enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 18: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City- Fly to Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon. Tonight, toast to the end of a remarkable trip while savouring your farewell dinner.
Day 19: Ho Chi Minh City- Tour Ends
All Long Haul destination tours are operated by The Big Journey Company a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and ATOL number T7282. Financial Protection: The flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please request this and check to ensure that everything you have booked (flights, hotels and other services) are detailed. Please see The Big Journey Company booking conditions for further information or go to WWW.ATOL.ORG.UK for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate.