Would you be interested in a Vietnam cruise trip combine with exploring our historical, cultural and wonderful landscape? If the answer is Yes then you can follow our itinerary as follow
Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi Being A Local
In the early morning, you’ll go to Hoan Kiem Lake where you can find local people, from elderly to youth, doing their morning exercise. Engage yourself in the Vietnamese culture practice and join the locals in practicing routine, for instance Taichi or aerobics. After having a look at Ngoc Son Temple, your guide will take you to a traditional coffee shop to enjoy Vietnamese local iced coffee, "Ca phe sua da" or the ‘Egg coffee’! Your breakfast will be a “banh mi”, a local typical baguette sandwich stuffed with a variety of ingredients.
You’ll then have a walking tour in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and appreciate the beautiful French colonial architecture. You’ll have a look at St. Jospeh Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in Vietnam with neo-gothic style built in 1886. Your next stop will be Hoa Lo Prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War. During the American War, it was sarcastically known to American as the Hanoi Hilton. You’ll then have a quick visit a lake where a “B-52” bomber wreckage still remains.
Your guide will then take you to explore Northern Vietnamese culinary with many street specialities. You’ll try “Bun Cha”, a traditional Hanoi’s speciality for lunch. Your next destination will be the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university built in 11th century, dedicated for Confucius, sages and scholars. After taht, you’ll go to an area where Hanoi railway tracks located just a few meter from local houses. Enjoy your photo opportunity as well as a taste of local draft beer. You’ll then return to your hotel for overnight accommodation.
Note: As you’ll try many local specialities along the tour, we suggest skipping breakfast at the hotel.
Day 3: Hanoi/Mai Chau/Pu Luong Nature Reserve/Water wheels walking and rafting
After breakfast, you’ll head to Mai Chau area, located about 135km from Hanoi. After a quick rest, you’ll continue to Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Enjoy the magnificent panoramic view and photo opportunity of the whole valley on your way.
After checking-in and have lunch at Pu Luong Retreat, you’ll have some time to relax before going to a suspension bridge over Cham River to search for stunning water wheels. Discover how the ethnic minority transfer water from the river to handmade bamboo aqueducts with simple constructions.
You’ll then head to a local fisherman’s house where you’ll gear up for the rafting adventure. You’ll learn to paddle and steer your rafts to float along the calm river while enjoying the natural scenery
Day 4: Less trodden path around Pu Luong 1 day (hiking continues)
In the morning, you’ll descend into the beautiful valley and walk around rice terraces as well as hiking through small paths with flora to arrive at a picturesque village located near the mountain. The road can be slippery and dangerous at some points, therefore you should be careful even though the guide would be on hand for everything to go smoothly. You’ll continue to discover the attractive roads and farmland, villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers.
After a picnic lunch, you’ll have time on your own to explore around. Enjoy the refreshing water in the nearby river before heading back to the Retreat on tuk tuk where you’ll have dinner and spend the night.
This trekking route requires stamina and effort. The time will be plenty and you’ll be assisted by your guide. However, you can ask a guide for an alternative path if it’s too much for you.
Pu Luong trekking route is a fine example of effective collaboration between NGOs and FFI, local authorities and communities in helping the ethnic minorities with cooking techniques and other hospitality requirements. We are pleased to be involved with this community-based development project.
Day 5: Thai lifestyle in Pu Luong (hiking continues)/Hanoi
After an early breakfast, you’ll explore a Thai ethnic village where you’ll have a chance to get close to local life of Thai people living the hills above the Retreat. You’ll have a glimpse of their daily life, learning about making local rice wine and weaving colourful textiles, You’ll return to the Lodge for lunch before driving back to Hanoi in the late afternoon. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi/Ha Long Bay Cruising
At 8:00 you’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests and spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. At 12:00 you’ll embark at Hon Gai International harbor. Upon boarding the cruise to Vietnam you are greeted with a welcome drink and gather in the dining room for a comprehensive safety and boat orientation briefing followed by itinerary details.
After the briefing and check in we have a bit of free time till lunch is served at 1:30pm inside Vietnam Cruise. During lunch you’ll cruise through the Bai Tu Long Bay, cruising through the most beautiful and quiet area in Bai Tu Long Bay and admire the fascinating formations on the way. At 15:30, you’ll explore the well- hidden Thien Canh Son cave and enjoy relaxing on a white sandy beach at Hon Co Island, swimming or kayaking until 18:00. You’ll be back to junk for refreshing before having dinner on board, then, you’ll relax, enjoy fresh air and overnight on board.
Day 7: Ha Long Bay/Hanoi
Around 8:00, your morning will start at the Vietnam Cruise with a magnificent view of Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee and you’ll have breakfast in the fresh air. At 9:00, you’ll visit Vung Vieng floating fishing village by a rustic row-boat. Then, you’ll be back on board; it’s time for final packing and freshening up. While the boat starts cruising towards the harbor, an A la carte lunch is served around noon. From the dock you‘ll be transferred back to Hanoi; you’ll arrive in late afternoon and spend the night in Hanoi.
Our Princess Junk is designed in the style of the traditional sailing boats and was the first small deluxe one-cabin junk in Ha Long Bay. It is an ideal option for a couple on a romantic trip to enjoy the cruise to Vietnam. She is designed with sophistication and a meticulous attention to every single detail, for our guests’ enjoyment, especially their viewing pleasure. The en-suite room has a big sea view window and the outside dining area is a perfect place to observe the natural landscape while cruising.
From the moment you step aboard and check into your cabin, to when you are relaxing on the sun deck, you are surrounded by handcrafted teak and oak furnishings. You can relax in comfort on our traditional boat and will receive a warm welcome from our crew while enjoying many interesting activities.
Day 8: Hanoi/Hue – The Imperial Citadel
In the morning, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your noon flight to Hue. Upon arrival, our guide will pick you up and take you to the city centre. You’ll have a guided visit to the Imperial Citadel of Hue, once the capital of Vietnam under Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945). The Citadel comprised three circles of ramparts: Hue Capital Citadel, Royal Citadel and Forbidden Citadel. Wandering outside, you’ll see the distinguished view of the enormous walls overlooking the defensive moat which is filled with beautiful lotus. After entering the citadel through Noon Gate, you’ll visit different areas such as Thai Hoa Palace, the Nine Urns, the remains of Royal Palaces, etc. and learn about the history as well as tradition in the days of feudatory.
You’ll then have lunch in a nearby restaurant and continue to visit the Museum of Antiquities and the bustling Dong Ba market across the river. Your overnight accommodation will be in Hue.
Day 9: Hue Orientation
This morning, your guide will accompany you to visit one of the iconic attractions in Hue - the ancient Thien Mu Pagoda. On the way, you’ll cruise along the Perfume River to enjoy the peaceful and romantic atmosphere Hue. You’ll then call in at the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, the most majestic tomb with classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture. After lunch, you’ll arrive at the Royal Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, renowned by its unique architecture - a combination of Vietnamese and European features. Finally, your car will take you to visit one of city’s garden houses before returning to your hotel.
In the evening, you’ll have a traditional Hue dinner in a garden house. Not only will the distinctive classic Hue cuisine indulge your taste but the lovely scenery, nature and atmosphere will also make a delightful experience. You’ll spend the night in Hue
Day 10: Hue/Danang/Hoi An Ancient Town
After breakfast, you will go to Danang. Enjoy the excellent scenery, especially the views from the top as you cross the Hai Van mountain pass. You’ll see the tranquil and dazzling Lang Co beach, beautiful turquoise lagoon and Danang coastal city spreading out.
Upon arriving in Danang, you’ll stop by Danang Museum of Cham Sculpture and have see the Hindu statuary before heading to Hoi An. Your lunch will be served in a restaurant in Danang or Hoi An.
After lunch, you will visit the Ancient Town and discover its influence in Vietnam’s history. Explore the ancient houses, a combination between traditional Vietnamese architecture and influences from China and Japan. You’ll have a walking tour around the charming town with beautiful old houses, small alleys and have a look at the famous attractions, such as Japanese Covered Bridges, Museum of Trade Ceramics, Old house of Tan Ky, Chua Ong Pagoda and lively local market. You’ll understand why many visitors loved Hoi An and wish to return again. Your overnight accommodation will be in Hoi An.
Day 11: Hoi An – Country Life Experience
The day starts with cycling the narrow roads through the countryside, passing by rice paddy fields, water buffalos, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work. You’ll then arriving at Tra Que herb garden village where you’ll help the farmers with their daily work, such as hoeing soil, using seaweed, transplanting and watering vegetable…
You’ll then continue to bike to the rice paddy field and have a chat with a local farmer before joining with his family in growing wet rice. You’ll experience plough and raking with buffalo, riding water buffalo, learning how to transplant rice, flooding farm, grinding rice, pounding rice, coking rice into a meal.
After lunch and enjoying a foot massage at the farmer’s family, you’ll be transferred to a local fishing village. You’ll join the fisherman to try your hand at catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat and meander through the water palm coconut canal. During the American War, Viet Cong soldiers made use of this area as a highly effective hiding place from enemy attacks through their long struggle. Following an insightful visit to a local fishing village, you’ll return to your boat to enjoy Vietnamese traditional while watching the sunset. You’ll return to your hotel in the evening. Your overnight accommodation will be in Hoi An.
Day 12: Hoi An Free
The day will be free for strolling in the town You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 13: Hoi An/Danang/Ho Chi Minh City
Your time will be your own until your driver arrives to take you to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by your guide and taken to your hotel.
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City/Cu Chi Tunnels/City Tour/Local Nightlife Experience
In the morning, your guide will arrive at your hotel and take you to Cu Chi Tunnels - an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about 60 km North West of Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnel system included countless trapdoors, constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. It was used by Viet Cong soldiers as their base as well has effective hiding places for guerrilla tactic in the American War.
After lunch, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City and have a visit to he Museum of War Remnants which will provide you a partial perspective about the “American War” with more than 1500 documents, artifacts and films displayed. You’ll also have a look at the Notre Dame and the Post Office nearby, two iconic buildings of the city with French colonial architecture. From there, you’ll have a short walk to Dong Khoi Street, the heart of the city’s commercial life with many French colonial style buildings before wandering around Ben Thanh Market to see the central market of Ho Chi Minh City, filled with colourful food, clothes and other commodity. The remaining time of the day will be your own.
In the evening, you’ll have a part excursion, part street food tour to explore the local life of Saigonese. Our car will pick you up from your hotel and take you to a cafe to enjoy a drink and have a brief chat. You’ll then explore the city’s stimulating spots, visit a local market in the evening, taste street food at local’s favourite spots and enjoy live music in a Vietnamese-style coffee shop. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City’s Art Day
After breakfast, you’ll be picked up for your art tour. After a welcome drink, you’ll be given an introduction to modern Vietnamese history. You’ll visit several galleries and the Fine Arts museum to see artworks collections in different eras. You’ll discover artworks from colonial era, wartime, pre and post unification and contemporary. Not only will you enjoy the artworks, you will also figure out the links between culture, history and politics which influenced the art of Vietnam. The future of Vietnamese art and the next generation of Vietnamese artists will also be discussed in an international context.
At around 1 PM, you’ll be picked up for your lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll visit Truc Mai House, the home of Mrs Tuyet Mai and Mr. Dinh Linh, two recognized experts of traditional music who performed in many countries around the world. You will be able to appreciate simple yet unique Vietnamese instruments through the artists’ performances and have a chance play the traditional instruments yourself under the hosts’ guidance.
In the evening, you’ll have ticket to see the A O Show, which is phonetically understood as Ahhhh! Ohhhh! Show, beautifully express the charm and richness of Vietnamese culture, from rural village culture to the modern society through exciting acrobatic acts and contemporary dance performance on harmonious live traditional music and fabulous theatrical visual arts with bamboo stage props and scenic lighting design. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City/My Tho/Cai Be – Pandaw Cruise
After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to My Tho port to embark the Pandaw Cruise. You’ll check-in and have your cabin. Lunch and Dinner will be served on board. You can then rest and relax, sunbathing on the sundeck and watch the sunset as your cruise heads to Cai Be where you’ll moor and spend the night.
Day 17: Cai Be/Vinh Long/Sa Dec
After breakfast, you’ll visit Cai Be colourful floating market. You’ll also go ashore to visit French Gothic Cathedral and vibrant port area with colonial buildings, delightful flower gardens and local rice paper manufacturers. You’ll return to your cruise for lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll have an exciting Sampan boat excursion to Sa Dec via Vinh Long, along canals and backwaters. You’ll have a look at the ancient house of Mr, Huynh Thuy Le, the main character of the famous love story “The Lover” of French novelist Marguerite Duras, as well as a market. You’ll spend the night on board.
Day 18: Sa Dec/Chau Doc/Border Crossing
From the main Mekong channel at Tan Chau, you’ll travel to Chau Doc. On arrival, you’ll transfer to small boats to visit a Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm. You’ll then return to the Pandaw by boat for lunch and cast off for the Cambodian border. In the evening, we will cruise up the broad Mekong channel, which is an international shipping route. The cruise will moor overnight just downstream from Phnom Penh. You’ll spend the night on-board.
Day 19: Phnom Penh
Today you’ll discover Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia with its French charm. There are several Wats with their own beauty, such as Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and Wa Langka. The highlights of the city tour will be The Silver Pagoda, a well preserved pagoda through the war with artefacts embodying the brilliance and richness of Khmer culture, and the National Museum which displays the brilliance of Khmer crafts. All the tour will be done by cyclo. The income will provides basic welfare and medical services to cyclo drivers
Today, your tour will begin at the Royal Palace, which stands majestically in the city centre just off the riverfront area. There are several attractions nearby: the ‘Silver Pagoda’ whose floor is lined with solid silver tiles and the National Museum. Located in an ancient building, the Museum is filled with art and artifacts dating back to the pre-Angkorian era. Towards the North end of the city, there is the hilltop pagoda of Wat Phnom, for which the capital was named. You’ll climb to the top of the hill for fabulous views of the city below. You’ll have lunch in a local restaurant
If you would like, you can register in advance for an afternoon excursion to learn about the country’s tragic contemporary history. You’ll visit Tuol Sleng Prison (S-21) and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, sobering reminders of the evils of the Khmer Rouge regime. Visiting these monuments unlocks keys to understanding the development of Cambodia. You’ll then return to your cruise for overnight accommodation.
Day 20: Phnom Penh/Tonle River/Kampong Cham
Today, you will cruise past the Mekong’s villages and have a glimpse of the river life with extensive fishing activities. The scenery is very lovely here. Discover the vast wetlands around the mouth of the river. Here many fish traps may be seen, which is real Cambodian life. Your overnight accommodation will be onboard.
Day 21: Kampong Cham
Today, you’ll cruise along the river and stop at the Chong Koh silk-weaving village for a morning walk at leisure. In the afternoon you’ll visit the Wat or monastery and school with time for leisure to explore this peaceful and friendly community in Peam Chi Kang. In the wat the splendid village racing boats are stored. You’ll the return to your cruise where you’ll spend the night.
Day 22: Kampong Cham Area
After breakfast, you’ll cruise upriver to have a visit at Wat Hanchey temple. The temple was built in 8th century. Its ancient brick structures reflects the architecture of Chenla Empire. After lunch, you’ll explore the Kampong Cham area. You’ll have a bus ride to visit the Wat Nokor temple. Dating from 12th century, the temple is unique as many of the older building’s archways have been incorporated into the new building as shrines for worship. Your next destination will be the Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei, which are also known as the Man and Woman Hills to explore the various pagodas and shrines on the hilltops. You’ll have a visit to the ecotourism village of Choeungkok, supported by the French-Cambodian NGO Amica before returning to the cruise. You’ll spend the night on board.
Day 23: Kampong Cham/Siem Reap Arrival
After breakfast, you’ll say goodbye to the crews and disembark. You’ll be transferred to the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap with refreshment stop at Kampong Thom on the way.
Upon arrival at Siem Reap, you will be welcomed by our guide and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be your own time to relax or explore Siem Reap on your own. You’ll spend the night in Siem Reap.
Day 24: Siem Reap/Angkor Thom temple complex
Your day will be devoted to the Temple complex, of which Angkor Wat is a key element. Your first stop will be the Angkor Thom – the last capital of Khmer Kingdom. You’ll see with your own eyes the spectacular Bayon Temple, which reflected a shift from Hinduism to Buddhism with the variation of architecture in the foundations and the superstructure. Your next visit will be to the Elephant and Leper King Terraces, followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is at the final stages of a multi-million dollar restoration programme.
After lunch, you will visit Banteay Srey Temple and see some finest examples of classical Khmer art, some of the most beautiful, deep and intricate carvings. Finally, you’ll explore Bantey Samre Temple, which has been admirably restored, before enjoying a Hot air balloon ride with striking view of the Angkor Wat under your feet. Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.
Day 25: Siem Reap Angkor Complex
After breakfast, you’ll be driven to explore the outer sites of the Angkor Wat. You’ll visit Preah Khan, a huge monastic complex which was left largely unrestored with trees and vegetation growing inside. You’ll also visit Neak Pean, an artificial lake with a Buddhist temple and East Mebon temple.
After lunch, your guide will show Ta Prohm, one of the most visited temples in the complex. The temple was left in the condition it was originally discovered, strangled by massive tree roots and surrounded by the jungles.. You will also visit the Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary) and the Srah Srang lake, which is less touristy and a sunrise alternative for the Angkor Wat. Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.
Day 26: Siem Reap/Tonle Sap Lake Departure
After breakfast, you’ll be driven to Siem Reap River and Wat Athvea where you’ll board on a boat for a private boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake. Ton Le Sap Lake is a seasonally inundated freshwater lake, partly controls the level of floods in the Mekong Delta. You’ll also visit a floating fishing village and see the life of local people living on the water. You’ll then return to Siem Reap for lunch. The remainder of the day will be your own until your driver arrives at your hotel to take you to Siem Reap airport for your international departure flight.