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This inspiring tailor-made Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos itinerary showcases the diverse heritage, history, culture and natural treasures of the three captivating countries. Exclusive experiences, enchanting boat cruises and culinary treats are offered throughout, while you’ll return each evening to beautiful hotels that combine ultra-luxury with the delights of the locality.
Spend a night cruising through the limestone landscapes of Vietnam’s Lan Ha Bay
Cruise for three nights from Vietnam along the mighty Mekong River, stopping to explore riverside villages and local markets
In both Hanoi and Siem Reap, dine on delicious local cuisine at restaurants that have been set up to help vulnerable young people
Watch a fantastic Phare show in Siem Reap, Cambodia's answer to Cirque du Soleil
Meet with several experts to learn more about the dreamy destinations. These include Dr. Dao Duc, a researcher on folk culture at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences; Ngoc Tran, a food photographer who has a published recipe book on Vietnamese cuisine; and Mr. Francis Engelmann, a writer who was involved in the mission to get Luang Prabang listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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At the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, learn more about the country’s history from Dr. Dao Duc, an expert in Vietnamese history. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant that works with disadvantaged youths, before discovering the charming Old Quarter.
Take a private car transfer to Hai Phong to board Ginger.
Spend a night aboard the luxurious vessel Ginger, exploring the karst maze of Lan Ha Bay. On board, cooking classes, squid fishing and sunrise Tai Chi can all be enjoyed.
Disembark and take a private car transfer to Hanoi Airport for your flight to Hue. From here, take a private car transfer to La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
The historic city of Hue is next to explore, where activities include a cycle rickshaw tour and a visit to the Thien Mu pagoda. Enjoy a local lunch at the former garden house of Princess Ngoc Son, as well as a culinary tasting tour.
Take a private car transfer to Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An.
With plenty of time at your leisure here, there are also several excursions to choose from – including a walking tour, cookery class and evening food experience.
Take a private car transfer to Danang Airport for your flight to Saigon. From here, take a private car transfer to Park Hyatt Saigon.
While in Saigon, head to the villa of local Vietnamese food photographer Ngoc Tran for a fabulous fusion dinner. Visit the famed Cu Chi tunnel complex, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels used as hiding spots during the Vietnam War.
Take a shared car transfer to My Tho to board your boat.
Discover the delights of the Mekong River on this three-night cruise, getting a feel for local life as you explore traditional riverside villages and floating markets.
Disembark in Phnom Penh and take private car transfer to Rosewood Phnom Penh.
Visit Tuol Sleng, a high school turned interrogation prison known as S-21 during the Khmer Rouge era. You’ll also visit Cheung Ek, a memorial for the 17,000 victims who died there under the reign of Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot.
Take a private car transfer to Phnom Penh Airport for your flight to Siem Reap. From here, take a private car transfer to Shinta Mani Angkor – Bensley Collection.
Watch as Buddhist monks participate in their alms offering at dawn, glide by longtail boat towards the famed Pak Ou Caves, and visit the nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls and bear rescue centre. Then, enjoy sundowner cocktails while chatting to a UNESCO consultant about Laotian history.
Take a private car transfer to Luang Prabang Airport for your flight to the UK.
Discover the history of Hanoi on a guided tour, beginning with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument of marble and granite built to house the preserved body of beloved revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, affectionately known to the Vietnamese as “Uncle Ho”. Tour the One Pillar Pagoda Buddhist temple built in 1049, before visiting Ho Chi Minh's former house nearby. Then, head to the Museum of Ethnology and meet with Dr. Dao Duc, Vice Editor and a researcher on folk culture at the Institute of Cultural Studies and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences. Having experienced first-hand living through the war era, the strict Communist era and the present modernization of Vietnam, he will lead a fascinating discussion on Vietnamese history and culture.
Pay a visit to the KOTO Van Mieu Training Restaurant, enjoying a lunch of original, modern cuisine with Vietnamese roots. More than just an eatery, KOTO – standing for “Know One, Teach One” - offers a training program which works with disadvantaged youth. At the end of their two-year training program at KOTO, all trainees receive an accredited, internationally recognised certificate in hospitality which allow them to secure a stable job in five-star hotels and restaurants worldwide.
Hanoi has a rich history of handicrafts, that will be showcased on this half-day tour. In the Old Quarter, discover the beauty of traditional Hang Trong paintings, one of three popular Vietnamese folk painting genres, by visiting the home of a local artisan whose family have made this type of art for three generations. At nearly 70 years old, he still has a passion for this traditional craft. Then, you will be driven to a suburban rail station to catch a local train back to the city centre. This short train ride will take you over the first French bridge built on the Red River, while giving a glorious glimpse of local life.
Join an overnight cruise across the serene waters of Lan Ha Bay, the lesser known extension of famed Halong Bay. Discover the wondrous scenery of quiet waters dotted with limestone pillars and tiny islets cladded with forest vegetation rising from the emerald sea of the gulf of Tonkin. Your luxurious floating home sets sail around noon for a unique journey. Along the cruise, spot an ancient lighthouse, built by the French over 100 years ago, before heading deeper and further south into the maze of Lan Ha Bay. Relax on the sun deck and enjoy views of the fascinating scenery, take a plunge in the pool, or enjoy a treatment in the Lady Ginger Spa.
Disembarking at Viet Hai Village on Cat Ba Island, hop on your bicycle for an active tour, spotting local inhabitants doing their daily work, passing their homes, and visiting the village school. Back on board, the chef will host an interactive cooking class in the open kitchen at the restaurant. Learn about local ingredients, preparation and cooking of particular dishes to imitate easily at home, before enjoying dinner in the dining room.
Hue served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. Start your cyclo trip of the city by crossing the Perfume River on the Trang Tien Bridge, riding past the famous Dong Ba Market to an area outside of the citadel where local people have lived for generations in their old-style houses, getting a real feel for local life here. After the cyclo ride, take a stroll to the Imperial Citadel from the Noon Gate, appreciating the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the history of the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections still intact and others which are being lovingly restored. From there, a driver will pick you up for a visit to the Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Standing on the riverbank with its seven-story tower, the pagoda is a sight to behold.
Princess Ngoc Son was a daughter of Emperor Dong Khanh, who granted her the land to build a home once she had married. Today, it is one of Hue’s best garden houses and has been maintained largely in its original form. As well as the classic structure with three bays and two wings, the highlight is a small artificial rock garden. The present owner also has a fascinating collection of artefacts and mementos from the days of the former Royal Empire. Enjoy a dinner of traditional Hue specialities prepared by the family at their historical home, while you unearth Hue’s fascinating past.
Hue is famous not only for its thousand-year-old history, but also for its diverse culinary culture, that will be showcased on this tasting tour around the city. Your first stop will be at a Me Xung sweets workshop, a delicious traditional dessert that combines sesame, crushed peanuts and handmade malt. Next, you will head to Ba Do's house to learn how to make some more of Hue’s mouth-watering specialties - such as "banh beo" (small steamed rice cake), "banh nam"(steamed rice cake wrapped in banana leaves), and "banh bot loc" (clear shrimp and pork dumpling). Enjoy the dishes you have made while chatting with the owner to understand more about Hue’s food culture. Complete your day by tasting famous Hue royal tea, a healthy blend that includes herbs such as kudzu, ginseng, jasmine and liquorice. Once served only to the royal family in ancient times, this brew has now become widely enjoyed throughout the country.
Transfer to the beautiful villa of local Vietnamese food photographer, Ms. Ngoc Tran, who has a published cookbook - “Easy to Cook: 40 Delicious Vietnamese Dishes” - that shows off her two passions of gastronomy and photography. The villa is nestled inside a small but bustling alley in the Binh Thanh district, offering a great chance for you to observe the real nightlife of Ho Chi Minh City. Sit down in a warm atmosphere and savour a special fusion menu prepared by Ngoc as she shares with you more about her interests and expertise. If you don’t already know how, you will be able to have a quick chopstick lesson before savouring the delicious culinary creations.
Discover the alluring Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of underground tunnels beneath the Cu Chi District of Ho Chi Minh City. This unique tour begins with a short and fascinating documentary video and presentation about the tunnels during the wartime. Afterwards, you will have a soft walk into the jungle to visit the bomb craters, the countless traps, the secret entrance, the fighting bunkers, the air ventilation and the constructed living areas. For those interested, there is a chance to fire off an AK47 or MK16 with real bullets at the shooting range. Furthermore, you can visit a traditional rice paper factory, witnessing the production process of this true Vietnamese staple. Then, you will gather together to taste-test the steamed tapioca root which is the main staple food in Cu Chi during the war.
Discover Saigon away from the tourist hotspots. Your tour begins with a visit to a secret weapons chamber, used by the Viet Cong as a place to hide and store weapons during the Vietnam War. Weave through back alleys and meet some of the locals who live in narrow small houses here, before chilling out at a local coffee shop tucked away in an old French colonial-era apartment block. Meander across to a local market to meet a street artist who has spent half of his life making spectacular souvenir carvings. Finally, visit a hidden restaurant accessed through an antique elevator, before returning to your hotel.
Transfer to My Tho to board your luxury boat on the mighty Mekong for your journey to Vietnam. Across three nights and four days sailing, highlights include a visit to Cai Be, a charming small town known for its floating market, as well as reaching Binh Thanh Island by traditional sampan boat. Here, meet local people and try your hand at traditional ratt making. Before arriving in Phnom Penh, stop to explore Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced town with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. Here, you will board a local boat and cruise towards a floating fish farm, from which the produce is exported all over the world. Meanwhile, onboard activities include sunrise Tai Chi, spa treatments, presentations on the Mekong Delta and culinary classes.
Your tour begins at Wat Phnom, a striking hilltop building made up of a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound, one of which is The Silver Pagoda, which takes its name from over 5,000 tiles adorning it. Continue to visit the National Museum, a Khmer temple-inspired building that houses the world’s largest collection of Khmer art sculptures, ceramics and bronzes from different periods of Cambodian history. Over 5,000 objects are on display - including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artefacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King.’ Though the emphasis is on Angkorian items, there is also a sizeable collection of pieces from later periods, including a special exhibition of post-Angkorian Buddha figures. Please note that visitors to religious sites should cover their shoulders and knees.
Pay an eye-opening visit to the harrowing Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. Toul Sleng, formerly a high school, was converted by the Khmer Rouge to a detention centre in 1976, known as S21, a torture, interrogation and execution centre. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Continue to visit Cheung Ek, once a Chinese cemetery before it became the Khmer Rouge’s best known Killing Field. The remains of almost 9,000 bodies have been excavated from mass graves in this area. Today, Cheung Ek is a moving memorial site for Cambodians and visitors from all over the world to pay their respects for those lost. A memorial stupa has been erected and displays over 5,000 human skulls, bones and clothes of the victims. At times uncomfortable, a visit is a profoundly moving and emotionally sobering experience.
Enjoy an authentic Khmer-style sharing meal at Marum, a restaurant run by the NGO Kaliyan Mith that has been working with street children and other marginalised young people since 2005.
Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious building in the world, showcases a volume of stone equalling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt! Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build, generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the King. Here, enjoy an exclusive tour from a renowned Khmer scholar that works with the Angkor Temple Conservation Institution, who will offer an engaging overview on Khmer history, culture, archaeology and civilization as you stroll.
Join a guide for half a day of eye-opening exploration. Depart by tuk tuk and head to Banteay Kdei, less visited than Siem Reap’s other temples and yet very impressive. Spot the rare Buddha statue that survived Jayavarman VIII’s Hindu reaction and lose yourself as you explore this peaceful compound. Then, transfer to your VIP gondola boat which awaits you on the moat of Angkor Thom. Sit back and relax as the expert staff guide you around the moat, enjoying a selection of local beer and soft drinks. Navigate the still waters and view the little-known Temple Prasat Chrung, or the "Corner Temple”, where you can climb the steep staircase and marvel at the views.
Pay a visit to Ta Prohm Temple, overgrown by twisting trees and a jewel of the Angkor Wat complex that was built by King Jayavarman VII to commemorate his mother. When visiting, we advise to wear suitable footwear and covering your shoulders and knees. After a walk through the serene buildings, head towards a private, local house situated close to Angkor Wat, where you will have the incredible opportunity to sip tea and eat local cake with a family and hear their account of survival and overcoming life before and after the Pol Pot Regime. While their story is moving and sometimes hard to hear, the overall message is for the love they have for their life in Siem Reap. Please note that the family do not speak English and their story will be translated by your guide.
Experience the Buddhist ‘Tak Bak’ tradition – or the morning alms ceremony – during your time in Luang Prabang. Wake up before dawn to behold a procession of hundreds of orange-robed monks, making an offering to them in the traditional Laotian manner. Afterwards, feel the bustling atmosphere of a Luang Prabang morning market before returning to your hotel for breakfast.
Enjoy a full-day river cruise to the iconic Pak Ou Caves of Laos. Board a luxury long-tail boat and cruise past charming private villages, where you can stop to learn more about their traditional crafts – from pottery to whiskey making. Located opposite the mouth of the Mekong and the Ou rivers, the two spellbinding limestone grottoes of Pak Ou Caves house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues. Explore them with a guide and enjoy a private picnic lunch on a sandy island, before returning by boat to Luang Prabang.
From Luang Prabang, depart on a one-hour drive south – stopping at the bustling Phou Si Market en route – to reach the lush Kuang Si National park. Stroll through dense tropical jungle towards the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, where you can enjoy a private tour, meeting and learning more about the Asiatic black bears that are cared for here, one of Laos’ most endangered species. Afterwards, walk to the beautiful cascading three-tiered Kuang Si Waterfall, possibly stopping to swim in the refreshing turquoise water.
Learn more about the fascinating history and culture of Laos in a beautiful Silk Road Café located on the banks of the Mekong River, amid the grounds of the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre, a well-known textile gallery and weaving centre. Here, as you sip on sundowner cocktails, enjoy a private discussion with Mr. Francis Engelmann, a writer and consultant to UNESCO on heritage preservation projects. Mr. Engelmann has lived in Laos for over 20 years and is an expert in all things Laotian, sharing more about the cultural heritage, history and people.
November to March is the best time to visit Cambodia, Laos and both the north and south of Vietnam for dry weather and comfortable temperatures.
22 NIGHTS - PRICES AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
Price based upon economy flights from London, transfers, UK airport lounge passes and meals and excursions as specified.
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