Meet upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh City / Tan Son Nhat International Airport and check in to the hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day relaxing at your leisure or join one of our interesting daily excursions in and around Ho Chi Minh City.
In the morning, drive out of the city to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing complex of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War. There are more than 200 kilometres of tunnels, comprising a main axis system with many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and other tunnels, that you’ll have the chance to crawl through.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before exploring the rest of Saigon during an afternoon city tour that will take you to Thien Hau Pagoda, Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and a local lacquerware workshop.
Begin the day by travelling via car to Vinh Long to visit the colourful Cai Be floating market filled with local barges teeming with fruits and vegetables. An optional stop at a workshop to see how local goods, including rice paper, coconut candy, popped rice and popcorn, are produced is also available.
Enjoy a peaceful trip through small canals on rowboats gliding deeper into the countryside to see traditional wooden houses and local farmers and fishermen at work. Arrive at Ut Trinh Home for lunch followed by a leisurely walk while enjoying local fruits and listening to traditional music.
In the afternoon, take advantage of cycling through the village on small paths to catch a glimpse of rural life and learn the ancestral way to harvest fruits in Mekong Delta. After the ride, arrive back in Vinh Long then journey back to Ho Chi Minh City.
In the morning, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Hai Phong. After arriving in Hai Phong, transfer to the Dinh Vu Port to begin your memorable journey on Halong Bay with Orchid Cruise.
Enjoy a special tea in the Orchid Cruise’s lounge before being welcomed aboard the boat and checking in.
After a welcome drink and safety briefing by the crew, get ready to sail through one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’. Unchanged for centuries, Halong Bay is steeped in striking vistas, beautiful seas and impressive islands.
Head first toward the Da Chong islet, where you can see a lighthouse that was built by the French over 100 years ago and enjoy an on-board lunch before continuing the journey via the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan. These amazing limestone karst formations rise up out of the sea in an impressive manner and remain in an untouched area as not many cruise ships use this route.
Continue on to the Ba Trai Dao beach area of Lan Ha Bay, a separate part of Halong Bay that is known for its pristine beaches and spectacular beauty with roughly 400 fascinating forested islands.
Next, witness how the local fishermen go about their trade, casting nets whilst navigating the waters in their tiny boats. Alternatively, you may prefer to try your hand at kayaking or simply just enjoy a swim. In the winter months (December to March) guests may visit Viet Hai village with a guide where one can cycle along the village path through rainforests and tunnels and enjoy stunning its rice fields on the way before stopping at the village to relax. (An optional electric cart service is available at an extra cost.)
In the evening, watch the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. Back on board, join a traditional cooking class where a chef will demonstrate how to prepare popular Vietnamese dishes or take part in Happy Hour on the deck. Enjoy a delicious dinner of local food in an intimate, romantic setting before relaxing on the top deck with a drink in hand. Additional activities, such as night squid fishing, watching a film or booking a massage treatment through the Cruise Manager, are also available.
Accommodation on Orchid Cruise (Suite Balcony cabin)
Rise early to witness the bay at its very best – at sunrise – whilst enjoying an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sundeck and breakfast. Upon finishing breakfast, head out in canoes to explore the bay around Toi Sang Cave.
Indulge in a delightful brunch while cruising to the mainland and transferring back to Hanoi.
In the evening, explore the city through a 2-hour walking tour of Hanoi’s charming the Old Quarter before enjoying dinner at your leisure. The Old Quarter of Hanoi formed the core of the legendary “Hanoi of 36 guild streets” where goods and crafts were traded in specialised streets formed by traders and craftsmen from all over the country.
Today, explore all that Hanoi has to offer. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (closed on Mondays, Fridays during September and October) and his former residence (closed on Mondays and Fridays). Next, continue on to the One-Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature, the first university of Vietnam built more than 1,000 years ago.
Continue the city tour to one of the following museums:
• Fine Arts Museum
• Vietnam National Museum of History
• War Museum
• Museum of Ethnology
• Hoa Lo Prison Museum
(Note that museums are closed on Mondays.)
After lunch, enjoy a leisurely one-hour cyclo tour through Hanoi making stops at the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. Saint Van Xuong, considered to be one of the brightest stars in Vietnam's literary and intellectual circles, was worshipped at the Ngoc Son Temple along with other national heroes.
In the morning, check out from the hotel and depart to the Hanoi International Airport for a flight to the historic colonial town of Luang Prabang, Laos.
After arriving in Luang Prabang, transfer to the hotel and check in then head back out to see the sights. Start with a visit to the National Museum (a former King’s Palace) to see a collection of the Royal Family’s personal artefacts. Also explore Vat Mai, built in 1796 in the standard Luang Prabang style and famous for its five-tiered roof of wooden sim.
In the evening, attend a traditional baci ceremony meant to celebrate special occasions at The Bamboo Experience, a family-run business allowing guests the opportunity to discover Lao culture through the local community. Enjoy a Lao dinner before returning to the hotel for the night.
Rise early to witness the daily morning ritual of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings in their black alms bowls. As the day begins to break, monks appear everywhere throughout the old town of Luang Prabang silently walking in single file lines as the inhabitants of the city come out onto the streets to offer the monks food. Walk along the road to see the morning local market (close to the Ramayana Hotel/National Museum) and then return to the hotel for breakfast.
Afterward, visit Wat Xieng Thong, the most important Buddhist monastery in the country. This sanctuary shows off the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with roofs that sweep low to the ground. In the compound, you’ll notice several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images. Near the east gate stands the Royal Funeral Chapel housing the impressive 40-foot-high royal funeral float and funeral urns of members of the former Royal Family.
After visiting Wat Xieng Thong, board a boat for a peaceful voyage along the Mekong River to the caves at Pak Ou. Pass by small villages on the way and marvel at caves full of gilded Buddhas. Enjoy lunch at AMALA / Manivan restaurant on the Pak Ou riverbank across from the caves before continuing by boat upstream to visit the village of Ban Muang Keo.
Enjoy a hearty breakfast at the hotel before heading out for the day to discover more of the charming city.
Begin by climbing Vat Phousi Hill for an outstanding view of the city before visiting the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a museum dedicated to the ethnic cultures of Laos. The centre is housed in a heritage building and exhibits ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts with information in English and Lao.
Continue your exploration of Luang Prabang with stops at Vat Visoun, That Makmo and Vat Aham, one of the city’s major tutelary shrines dedicated to Deveta Luang (spirit) Pu Gneu Ya Gneu (ancestors). After visiting these local sites, drive to Ban Phanom, a weaving village populated by Thai Lu.
Continue the tour to the mesmerising Kuang Si Waterfalls that tumble over multi-tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing. Visit the rescued bears of the “Bear Lao” project during your walk up to the falls and stop at the Khmu minority village of Ban Thapaene. After taking time to enjoy the surrounding nature, visit a recently opened Butterfly Park (closed on Tuesdays) to marvel at a large variety of colourful butterflies and orchids before heading back to Luang Prabang.
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the Luang Prabang Airport and fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Upon arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, transfer to the hotel (rooms may not be ready until the afternoon).
The rest of your day is free to do as you wish. Soak up Siem Reap’s charming café scene, vibrant nightlife or colourful night markets. Though it may seem small at first, Siem Reap has a lot to offer!
Rise early and head to the Angkor Archaelogical Park to witness the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Take advantage of your early morning and continue to the temple of Ta Prohm to discover its beauty at dawn before the crowds come in. This temple has remained relatively untouched since it was discovered, still covered in tree roots and retaining much of its mystery to this day. Swallowed by the jungle, it still appears in much the same way other Angkor temples looked when European explorers first stumbled upon them.
Return to the hotel for breakfast before journeying out again to explore the unique interior brick sculptures of Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei surrounded by four concentric walls and the mountain-temple of Pre Rup.
In the afternoon, visit the archaeological park’s South Gate, with its huge statues depicting the churning of the Ocean of Milk, the ancient capital of Angkor Thom and the iconic Bayon, recognised for its 54 towers decorated with more than 200 large stone faces.
Finally, it’s time to visit the most famous of all the temples – Angkor Wat – only this time in the daylight. Spanning 81 hectares, the temple complex is thought to be the largest religious building in the world and is comparable in size to Beijing’s Imperial Palace. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolise the mythical Mount Meru’s five peaks with the enclosed wall representing the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat signifying the ocean beyond.
See the sunset from this stunning temple before departing for the hotel after your fulfilling day of sightseeing.
Today, breakfast at hotel will be followed by a trip to the village of Kompong Khleang near Siem Reap. This permanent community is one of the largest on the Tonle Sap Lake and home to more than 20,000 people living in stilt houses. Enjoy the spectacular site and board a private boat to visit a small island at the centre of the village where the market, school and brightly painted pagodas reside. Continue by boat to experience what local life is like on the waters of the great Tonle Sap Lake.
Note: During the high water season from August to January, the water level rises to within one or two metres of the buildings. During this time of year the village becomes a lively place with floating houses scattering in the vicinity of Kompong Khleang on the lake. Alternatively, the dry season reveals a spectacular site as the stilt houses rise up to ten metres into the sky. The floating houses are now on the open lake and can be visited with a scenic boat ride. We advise taking advantage of this tour in the morning as there are more activities to be observed compared to the rather quiet afternoon.
In the afternoon, head back to Angkor Archaeological Park to visit the South Gate of Angkor, the ancient capital of Angkor Thom, the iconic Bayon temple, Baphuon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.