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Turkey | The Caucasus | Thailand | Vietnam | Cambodia | Myanmar | Malaysia | Indonesia | Singapore | Hong Kong | China | Mongolia | Japan

From sailing through the Three Gorges in China aboard a luxury cruiser to soaring above the gilded pagodas and stupas of Myanmar, grand temples of Angkor and volcanic moonscape of Cappadocia, Asia’s diversity is boundless. Covering 8.7% of the Earth’s total surface area, Asia varies even within its regions in cultural ethnicity, environment, history, economics and political systems. From the expansive grasslands of Mongolia and Silk Road cities of central Asia to Malaysia’s melting pot of cultures, Indochina’s colonial heritage and Indonesia’s iridescent islands, experience authentic travel moments across the world’s largest continent while luxuriating in world-class accommodations. Wherever your journey takes you, we’ll be with you every step of the way, making sure your experience is utterly unforgettable and that you return home with a treasure of memories from the land of tea and silk.

An Epic Journey through Indochina


Bangkok to Hanoi by way of Cambodia & Vietnam ~

featuring the AmaDara downstream Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City

Day 1:  Fly USA/Bangkok, Thailand - On board the flight. Make your way to the airport at least three hours before departure in order to clear security. Check in for your flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Day 2:  Arrive Bangkok, Thailand  -  Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Upon arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport, your personal hostess will meet you directly at the aircraft gate and escort you to a special immigration counter. The hostess facilitates the paperwork and then escorts you to the baggage claim area to retrieve your luggage. Thailand Visa: US Passport does not require visa as tourist, under 30 days; Passport valid for 6 mos; 2 blank pages.

A private transfer to your accommodation, and assistance provided with check in. The rest of your day is at leisure.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Bangkok
Known as the preferred hotel of royalty, presidents and celebrities, this 5-star hotel is renowned for its sheer extravagance of its rooms and suites. At the Mandarin Oriental, you are staying in a piece of history - a luxurious escape in lively Bangkok. Nine delectable eateries offer the very best in international dining including French, Italian, Thai, Mediterranean and Chinese favorites, plus a vast selection of fresh seafood, pastries and tempting gourmet cocktails. Splendid live entertainment options include the Bamboo Bar, noted the city’s best jazz club, and a traditional dance show at the Sala Rim Naam restaurant. Two shimmering pools complete with ample loungers, poolside bars and ice cream service provide welcome escape after a day of touring. Luxuriate in the Oriental Spa, an oasis of 14 suites providing exceptional Ayurvedic remedies and treatments.

Accommodation: Deluxe King Room
Located on the higher floors of the hotel, these elegant rooms offer exceptional river and city views. Featuring traditional Thai touches such as teak furniture and beautiful silk accompaniments, the rich decor is supremely stylish yet wonderfully comfortable. Furnishings include the choice of king or twin beds swathed in luxurious linens, while spacious bathrooms have large soaking tubs in which to relax.

Day 3:  Bangkok - Mandarin Oriental (BL)

Following a leisurely breakfast, join your guide for a full-day exploration of Bangkok.

First drive to Wat Po in time to experience the monks’ morning chanting ritual. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Po is home to the famous 45m Reclining Buddha; it is also the original school of traditional Thai massage. From here, take a tuk-tuk ride via the Pak Klong Taland Flower Market towards The Grand Palace. Built in 1782, this complex is home to one of the country’s most beloved treasures, the Emerald Buddha, said to date back to the 14th century. Look for it at Wat Phra Kaeo, just one of the magnificent temples on the grounds of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace consists of 54 acres featuring a collection of palatial buildings, golden stupas, sculpted nine-foot demons, and richly ornamented wats (temples). The architecture spans more than 200 years, and the highlight is undoubtedly the glorious Wat Phra Keo, the most sacred Buddhist sight in Thailand.

Continue with a walk to the pier for a long-tailed boat ride along the “klongs” (canals) of Thonburi to get a flavour of local life. Stop at Wat Arun, once the grand royal temple to King Rama II.

Lunch at Chote Chitre.

Following lunch, cross the river again and drive to Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown) and get a first-hand look at old Bangkok. Now home to 10 million, in 1910 Bangkok was a city of just 600,000 residents with 200,000 of those being traders from China. With a revolution in China on the brink and an Absolute Monarch in power in Thailand, the early 1900s were a tumultuous period in the kingdom. Fast, frantic and eclectic, a ramble through Yaowarat is cacophony for the senses. Explore narrow lanes, fresh markets, religious landmarks and textile booths. Enhance the journey by sampling street snacks while gaining candid impressions of the cultural mosaic that is Bangkok. From Chinatown, we’ll then visit the fabulous museum home of Jim Thompson, the American silk-tycoon whose house is a classic Thai architectural masterpiece. 

 

Transfer to your hotel and enjoy your evening at leisure, exploring Bangkok’s nightlife and dining venues. Recommendations are (under guests' own account)
• Eat Me
• Bo Lan
• The Nahm

Day 4:  Bangkok - Mandarin Oriental (B)

This morning, a visit to Bang Khu Wiang Market
At 5 AM, meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a 45 minute boat ride to Noi-Khlong Om-Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market. From there it is a 10-minute boat ride to the market. If boats don't suit you, no worries as taxis and tuk-tuks are available for hire at the market.

Enjoy a traditional Thai floating market without the touristy push at Bang Khu Wiang. Monks arrive by boat in early morning on their daily 'tak baat' (alms round), and a variety of farm-fresh produce is offered. The market is open daily from 04:00 – 07:00 hours.

Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure with our guide/car at disposal until 10 pm.

Evening Recommendations:
Drinks at the Sky Bar located in the Dome at Lebua

The Dome at the Lebua:
Lebua offers an exquisite and eclectic selection of restaurants and bars, better known as the Dome at Lebua, which is a culinary dream even for connoisseurs. Be it Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, Indian or Lebanese, the best restaurants and bars in Bangkok congregate at Lebua. All restaurants and bars provide an unmatched experience with truly personalized service. The signature restaurants at Lebua include Sirocco – the world’s highest open air restaurant, Mezzaluna, Breeze, Distil, Ocean 52 and Café Mozu. Also, the Lobby Lounge at Lebua provides delightful snacks, drinks and afternoon tea. Enjoy drinks at the Skybar, located on the 63rd floor of The Dome at Lebua.

Dinner recommendation Breeze at the Dome (under guests' own account)
Breeze was designed to revolutionize the Asian style seafood-dining scene in Bangkok, taking it to a gourmet level. At Breeze, a semi open-air restaurant on the 52nd floor, it's not just the Asian cuisine that embraces the pinnacle of grandeur, but also the design, ambience and service. Seating is high above the sea level. The view is a bird's eye glimpse of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River that you can admire from the open-air terrace or a spectacular glass sky- bridge suspended mid-air.

Day 5:  Fly Bangkok – Siem Reap, Cambodia  - La Residence d'Angkor (B)

Following breakfast, check out and meet your driver for transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Cambodia Visa: US Passports require a visa for Cambodia, obtained on arrival with two passport size photos. Passport valid for six months. 

Arrive Siem Reap: 
An immigration officer meets you immediately off the flight and collects your passport and two passport-sized photos, and then escorts you to the baggage claim to collect your luggage. The immigration officer will complete customs and immigration formalities for you. After collecting your luggage you are escorted into the arrival hall, where your local Guide will meet you.

Arrive at your accommodation, with assistance provided at check in.

This afternoon visit the Ta Prohm, is undoubtedly the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor and should be high on the hit list of every visitor. Its appeal lies in the fact that, unlike the other monuments of Angkor, it has been swallowed by the jungle, and looks very much the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Well, that's the theory, but in fact the jungle is pegged back and only the largest trees are left in place, making it manicured rather than raw like Beng Mealea. Still, a visit to Ta Prohm is a unique, otherworldly experience.

 

Dinner recommendations (under guests' own account)
• The Heaven Restaurant
• Sugar Palm
• Cuisine Wat Damnuk

La Residence d'Angkor, Siem Reap 
An intimate Belmond hotel on the banks of Siem Reap’s tree-lined river, La Résidence d'Angkor is built in natural woods in traditional Khmer style. Located close by Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site considered one of the man-made wonders of the world, it is ideally placed to explore this breathtaking complex of temples. Also near at hand are the town’s busy craft markets, restaurants and galleries as well as fascinating Tonle Sap Lake with its "floating village". This delightful hotel’s quiet gardens, swimming pool and spa are the perfect place to relax at the end of a thrilling day.

Constructed of wood and furnished in the local style, modern comforts and luxurious touches create a welcoming atmosphere. At La Résidence d'Angkor we are pleased to offer our guests a variety of dining experiences. Indulge in royal Khmer cuisine or refined international dishes at The Dining Room. Alternatively, if you prefer a more casual experience, The Lounge offers a spectacular choice of light meals, snacks and salads.

Accommodation: River View Deluxe
Located in the quietest area of the property, ensuring maximum relaxation. Each room incorporates a large bedroom with a flat screen satellite television. Sliding opaque glass doors lead into a spacious bathroom, with an oversize free standing bathtub, a separate walk-in rain shower, dual sinks and dressing and storage areas.

Day 6:  Siem Reap - La Residence d'Angkor (B)

Sunrise at Angkor Wat: Start early this morning at 05:00 AM. Meet with your guide and drive by tuk-tuk or travel by car to the celebrated temples of Angkor. Then join a Khmer Scholar for a guided visit of the magnificent Angkor Wat Temples. The 100 or so temples are the sacred remains of what was once a much larger administrative and religious center. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag. This 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat's five towers symbolize Meru's five peaks - the enclosing wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the ocean beyond. The temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries to glorify a succession of Khmer kings. Most of Angkor was abandoned in the 15th century, and the temples became cloaked by forest. The site became the source of scholarly interest in the late 19th century after the publication of "Voyage à Siam et dans le Cambodge" by French naturalist Henri Mahout. Efforts were undertaken to clear away the jungle vegetation that threatened to completely destroy the monuments, and restoration continues today.

Then visit the South Gate of the ancient capital Angkor Thom (12th century) with its huge statues. You can ride an elephant to the South Gate. (Elephant ride is available only until 10 am). This temple is unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara.

En route to the hotel, enjoy a 10-minute balloon ride (weather permitting) over this massive Temple complex. From 200 meters in the sky you have a wonderful view of the Angkor Heritage Site and its surrounding nature. The launching site of this tethered balloon is close to the Angkor Wat temple, but as you have a visibility of up to 20 km you can see many other sites as well.

Day 7:  Siem Reap - La Residence d'Angkor (B)

Following breakfast check out. Experience a private good luck blessing ceremony exclusively arranged for you at Wat Damnak. Located in the heart of Siem Reap city, Wat Damnak is one of the most beautiful pagodas in town, with French colonial architecture reflecting its history. Bring candles and incense sticks, and participate in a private good luck blessing ceremony. Sit on the mat while the monks chant blessings and sprinkle holy water – a traditional way where the luck is supposed to soak the body. Afterwards, tie your wrist with a sacred red thread which will protect you from any evil spirits or accidents along the line. Before you continue on your journey, you will receive a small keepsake from the monks to remind you of this special moment.

 

Later drive about 45-minutes to the countryside, stopping en route to visit a local floating village. Arrive at the quay and board a local boat for a 1.5-hour ride on the Tonle Sap Lake, also known as the Great Lake of Cambodia. Find out how communities live and work on the lake; see the floating schools, markets, and police stations, among others; observe their daily lives. Return to Siem Reap.
The rest of your day is at leisure to explore on your own.
Note: Our guide and car remain at your disposal until 6 pm.

Day 8:  Embarkation The AmaDara (BLD)

Following breakfast, check out. You are then transferred to the cruise port on Tonle Sap Lake to board your river cruise ship. Enjoy stops along the way including Kampong Thom village. Meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner as the ship cruises to Wat Hanchey.


Accommodation: Luxury Suite
The 124-passenger AmaDara features ultra-spacious 624-sq ft Luxury Suites boasting outside twin balconies which create an all-weather conservatory-style area with sliding glass doors. With a décor that combines Colonial elegance with regional Khmer accents, Luxury Suites include a separate living room and bedroom; individually controlled air-conditioning, a mini-bar, safety deposit box, robes and slippers, and two bathrooms, one with luxurious bathtub. Public areas include a main restaurant serving Asian and Western specialties; Saigon Lounge; Gift Shop; Fitness Center, Spa, plus a swimming pool and bar on the Sun Deck. The ship also features a fully English-speaking staff.

Day 9:  Wat Hanchey/Angkor Ban - The AmaDara (BLD)

This morning, explore Wat Hanchey, a hilltop pagoda with beautiful panoramic views of the Mekong River. This ancient 8th century pagoda is characteristic of the Chenla Empire, which pre-dates the Angkor period. Your afternoon excursion takes you to the Kampong Cham area on your way to visit the Mahayana Buddhist temple of Wat Nokor, where the 12th century temple has been ‘fused’ with a modern wat. Afterwards you will see the Twin Holy Mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey (man and woman hill) symbolic of marriage in Cambodian culture.

Day 10:  Angkor Ban/Chong Koh/Phnom Penh - The AmaDara (BLD)

Today, your morning excursion begins with a blessing from the monks of a local temple followed by a visit to the village of Angkor Ban, one of the only villages that was not burned down or destroyed during the Khmer Rouge tragedies, where you can see stilted houses up to 100 years old. After lunch take a leisurely walk to Chong Koh village best known for its silk-weaving artists. The ship arrives in Phnom Penh this evening.

Day 11:  Phnom Penh - The AmaDara (BLD)

A morning tour explores the highlights of the city of Phnom Penh, famous for its French
colonial architecture, busy cafes and colorful nightlife. Visit the Royal Palace, the spectacular Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum, which has an outstanding collection of Khmer crafts. After lunch onboard, you will take an afternoon excursion to Cambodia’s infamous Killing Fields, and also visit the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng S21 detention center (Genocide Museum) just outside the city. An overnight on the waterfront provides an opportunity to dine on your own in one of many nearby restaurants, if you so choose.


Day 12:  Phnom Penh-Border Crossing-Tan Chau, Vietnam - The AmaDara (BLD)

Spend the day cruising the Mekong River and crossing the border into Vietnam. Your vessel moors at the small town of Tan Chau, Vietnam. Vietnam Visa: US Passports require a visa for Vietnam, which will be obtained in the form of a pre-approval letter prior to US departure and stamped upon arrival in Vietnam. We will obtain and handle this letter in your behalf, and visa fees will be included in your trip cost. 

Day 13:  Tan Chau/Sa Dec - The AmaDara (BLD)

Today, you will take a small local boat through narrow channels to several scenic locations, including a small village known as “Evergreen Island.” Later, you will see Tan Chau from the vantage point of a traditional “xe-loi” (trishaw) that will take you around to all the sights, with stops at a silk-making workshop and another that produces rattan mats and slippers. This afternoon, your ship cruises to Sa Dec, where it will moor overnight.

Day 14:  Sa Dec/Xeo Quyt/Cai Be - The AmaDara (BLD)

In the morning, board a local boat for Sa Dec. Once ashore, you will tour the town where French writer Marguerite Duras spent many years in her youth. Visit a colorful local market, and the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, Duras' Chinese paramour, now a small museum. Afterwards, board a motor coach for Xeo Quyt, once used as a base during the French and U.S. wars and now an important ecological site. After lunch on board, a local boat will take you to Cai Be’s spectacular floating market. You will also have an opportunity to visit candy and rice paper workshops. This evening, enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner on board.

Day 15:  Disembark Ho Ci Minh City (Saigon) - Park Hyatt Hotel (B)

Your cruise comes to an end as the ship docks at My Tho Port, meet your guide and transfer by private vehicle to Saigon. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.

Note: Check-in time is 14:00 PM. Early check-in is not included and subject to availability.

Park Hyatt Hotel, Saigon
Located at Lam Son Square in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, the 9-story Park Hyatt Saigon hotel is within walking distance of main tourist attractions, restaurants and parks. Park Hyatt Saigon is host to world-class restaurants and the exclusive Xuan Spa. Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City offers a sanctuary for work and relaxation. Park Hyatt Saigon offers guests the convenience of its Business and Communications Centre with Technology Concierge.

Accommodation: Park Room
This colonial style 34 square metre room features wood floors, separate work area, high-speed Internet access, white marble bath with walk-in rain shower and one king bed or two beds with plush feather pillows and duvets. Pampering amenities include luxurious bathrobe, yukata, slippers and bathroom amenities.

Restaurant Recommendations (under guests' own account) 

  • Au Manoir de Kai
  • Mandarin
  • Quan An Ngon
  • Nam Phan
  • Cham Charm Gallery Cuisine
  • The Square One at Park Hyatt

Evening Recommendations (under guests' own account) 
Saigon Saigon Bar (Caravelle Hotel)

Rooftop Garden & Bar (Rex Hotel)  Overlooking the very heart of the city, the Rooftop Garden is the place where memories still remain. It recalls to the world its famous past-calling “Five O’clock Follies”, where international correspondents who covered the Vietnam war, U.S officers and GIs had their drinking niche during the 60s. 

Day 16: Ho Ci Minh City (Saigon) - Park Hyatt (B)

After a leisurely breakfast, meet your guide for a full-day private tour of Saigon, the country’s commercial center and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. A walking tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmarks is a must.

 

Transfer to Dong Khoi Street or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. 

Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville, which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon. Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris. (It is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed.) Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustav Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower. The former Presidential Palace, headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past.

Lunch recommendation is at Quan An Ngon with food stalls for cuisine from all over Vietnam - 10 mins drive from the Park Hyatt (under guest's own account)

Head out of the city centre on a short 6km drive to District 5 to visit Thien Hau Temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honor the Goddess of the Sea. The temple’s ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshippers from the local Chinese community come to offer their prayers. Continue your visit to FITO, the first museum of traditional medicine in Vietnam, offering an insight into how traditional medicine was used in the past.

Day 17: Ho Ci Minh City (Saigon) - Park Hyatt (B)

After breakfast, start early in the morning with a two hour drive northwest of Saigon to the Cu
Chi tunnels
. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapons, and hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of the tunnels’ history, the hardship of life underground and the Vietnamese resilience during combat.

Continue your journey with a 1½ hour drive to the Cao Dai Great Temple. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism with Christianity and Islam thrown in for good measure. The elaborate temple’s architecture reflects the combination of religions. Visitors are welcomed inside the temple to observe the colourful service at midday. There is a viewing balcony which affords excellent views and photography is permitted. A Vietnamese lunch is served at a simple, local restaurant. Return to Saigon in the late afternoon.

Day 18:  Fly Ho Chi Minh City – DaNang; Overland to Hoi An (25 mins)  - Anantara Resort (B)

After breakfast, check out and meet your guide for transfer to the airport to board your flight to DaNang.

Arrival DaNang: Upon arrival in DaNang, collect your luggage and EXIT into the arrival hall where your guide will meet you for transfer to Hoi An.

Upon arrival in Hoi An, embark upon a guided cylco tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO declared area. The narrow lanes are ideal for a tour to visit the old merchant’s house with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings; and the colorful market with stalls brimming with tropical specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day.

 

Anantara Resort, Hoi An - Accommodation: Deluxe Room
Experience an idyllic blend of riverside relaxation and a UNESCO World Heritage Site on your doorstep. The beautiful beach life just a short bicycle or boat ride away. Scenically positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Anantara Hoi An Resort in Vietnam is a charming boutique retreat in the historic port town of Hoi An. Designed with French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences that reveal Hoi An’s fascinating cultural diversity, split level rooms and suites open onto porches with comfortable daybeds, overlooking the river. Delve into Vietnamese culture with language, lantern making and cookery classes. Savour authentic local dishes and popular world flavours in elegant and casual settings beside the river. Meet up at the heritage inspired wine bar for an atmospheric view of Hoi An’s street life. Or laze by the pool and let us bring an exotic cocktail to your sun bed. Follow in the footsteps of the merchants who once traded their precious goods, and immerse yourself in the town’s colonial architecture, vibrant artistic scenes, and romantic café culture. Capture vivid snapshots of local life aboard a scenic river cruise. The Hoi An Anantara is the ideal starting point from which to venture further afield and discover the region’s magnificent natural beauty and ancient cultural sites.

 

Day 19:  Hoi An - Anantara Resort (B)

Following breakfast, drive along the Thu Bon River where you have a chance to take photographs of many fishing boats and small houses. Continue through Thuan Tinh ecological village where you will see areca-nut gardens, family shrines and local villagers going about daily life. Continue along quiet inland trails, past water-coconut palm trees, fishing farms and rice paddies to reach Cua Dai Beach. Cam An is a local fishing village with charming ocean views, many kumquat gardens and corn fields. On your return to Hoi An town, you may wish to stop by Tra Que village where many farmers cultivate herbs and vegetables. Help water the plants or fertilize the land if you have no problem getting your hands dirty.

Lunch Recommendations (under guests' own account - reservation recommended)
Brother’s Cafe
Cargo Club Restaurant and Hoi An Patisserie
Mango Rooms
Red Bridge Restaurant

The rest of your day is at leisure.

OPTIONAL: Tailoring in Hoi An
Hoi An is a silk mecca. The quality and selection are the best in the country, and you'll have more peace and quiet here during a fitting than in Hanoi. Silk suits are made to order within 24 hours for about $35; cashmere wool is $45. There are countless shops, and a good way to choose a shop is by what you see out front - if you see a style you like, this will help with ordering. Make sure you take the time to specify your style, down to the stitch. It's not a bad idea to bring an actual suit or piece of clothing that you'd like a copy of. 

Day 20:  Overland Hoi An - Hue - La Residence (B)

Check out and join your guide for a 3½ hour scenic transfer to Hue via Hai Van Pass, offering a spectacular panorama of the central coastline at the summit into DaNang. As you leave the Imperial City behind, a sequence of valleys and a long peninsula separates a shallow lagoon from the sea dotted with traditional Hue style houses. This journey unfolds yet another natural wonder of this beautiful country, the Hai Van Pass that literally means “Sea Clouds”. The pass forms an obvious boundary between North and South Vietnam and is the highest in the country (1640 feet above sea level). Stops will be made to enjoy the views and scenery of Hai Van Pass

Arrive Hue early evening. Assistance is provided with check-in, and your evening is offered at leisure.

Dinner Recommendation (under guests’ own account)
Ancient Hue Restaurant
The five-acre compound feels like a step back in time to a Nguyen dynasty palace with a centerpiece open-air dining room. The raised, wooden pavilion quotes the lines of the Citadel's Peace Palace with imperial touches like a lotus pond, bronze urns, and red silk tablecloths. The menu mixes Mediterranean and Vietnamese flavors resulting in dishes like steak with grilled tomatoes, zucchini, and couscous-stuffed bananas. Save room for the homemade ice cream, especially fruit flavors like mango and mangosteen, then peruse the on-site art gallery housed in an antique home.

La Résidence Hue Hotel & Spa - Accommodation: Deluxe River View 
Guests of the La Résidence Hotel and Spa will be transported back to an ancient era of emperors and kings, complete with all of today's modern luxuries. Managed by industry expert Accor Hotels, this former governor's palace has been restored and transformed into the finest boutique destination in the historic city of Hue. Set on the lovely Perfume River, the La Résidence Hotel and Spa is surrounded by nature’s marvels – verdant gardens, the famous river and the Citadel. The cozy feeling of classic colonial villa ambiance is kept intact. 

 

Day 21:  Fly Hue - Hanoi - Sofitel Legend Metropole (B)

Following breakfast, join your guide and start the cultural integration with a 10-minute cyclo ride from your hotel to the Imperial Citadel (Hue). Stroll to explore the history and architecture around the Capital Citadel (the bastion), Royal Citadel (the sanctum), and the Forbidden Citadel (the royal family’s residence). Most of Hué's sights and a sizeable chunk of its population reside within the 2m-thick, 10km-long walls of its Citadel on the north bank of the river.

                                                 

 

 

From here a 20-minute cyclo ride will bring you to the boat docking station, where you will embark on a half-hour boat trip on the picturesque Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Standing on the riverbank with its seven-storey tower, the pagoda is a sight to behold. Built in 1601 between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda ("Heavenly Lady Pagoda") in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country.

Evening transfer to the airport for your fight into Hanoi.

Arrive: Hanoi 
Upon arrival in Hanoi collect your luggage and EXIT into the arrival hall where your guide will meet you for transfer to your accommodations for check-in.

Sofitel Legend Metropole - Accommodation: Grand Premium 

Located at the heart of Hanoi since 1901, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has a long history of being a luxury place for many prestigious events and popular rendezvous. Features include 364 rooms and suites, excellent French cuisine at Le Beaulieu, Vietnamese specialties at Spices Garden, and Angelina - Hanoi's most "avant garde" Italian Restaurant & Lounge. A swimming pool, fitness centre and a brand new Le Spa du Metropole are also available in the hotel. This charming Metropole Hanoi hotel blends the warm Vietnamese hospitality with the European luxury heritage offering legendary services, and has been named the first Sofitel Legend in the world on 1st of July 2009.

Day 22:  Hanoi - Sofitel Legend Metropole (BL)

Meet your guide at 9:00am for a full-day tour. First visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, then onto the One-Pillar Pagoda, resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Inside is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy with its legendary “thousand arms and thousand eyes”.

 

At 10:30am, enjoy a street food adventure with your local chef. Eating on the street is a very typical activity for Hanoians and makes up an important part of the city’s unique culture. Street food is for everyone – rich, poor, old, young, tourist and local alike. Start your street food tour with an overview of local ingredients by visiting a local food market with your local chef. With some background knowledge, it’s time to hit the streets and start your food adventure. Most street restaurants only serve one or two dishes – and each is prepared right in front of you. Walk down small alleys and bustling streets and savor some of Hanoi’s specialties which are recommended and explained by your gastronome.

Finish the trip dining at Ngon Restaurant (delicious) which is set up like a local food market selling specialties from each region in Vietnam. Your guide will join you for lunch.

Your next stop is at the Temple Of Literature. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, this campus of tile-roofed sanctuaries and walled courtyards was Vietnam's first national university. Then visit the infamous Hanoi Hilton, Hoa Lo prison. About two thirds of the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" was demolished in the early 1990s for the construction of a high-rise apartment complex, but the penitentiary's remaining cells and dungeons were turned into a small, fascinating museum. The bulk of the exhibits (iron fetters, razor-sharp guillotine) recount the cruelty of French jailers during the colonial era, but a few rooms are devoted to the Vietnam War, when the jail held and tortured American prisoners of war.

Next stop at the Vietnam Military History Museum. Its exhibitions present the Vietnamese military history from the first period of founding the country to the Ho Chi Minh era. The Vietnam Military History Museum is one of seven national museums and acts as the headquarters of the army museum system. The museum has around 160,000 objects stored and 4000 on display, many of which are placed in object collections for future exhibition or research.

Dinner Recommendations (under guests' own account)
Angelina – Italian Steakhouse located in the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Angelina is considered Hanoi’s most “avant garde” culinary address where Hanoi’s social elites gather. Culinary offers include rustic Italian dishes and a large selection of Italian wine.

Le Beaulieu Restaurant also located in the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
This elegant restaurant offers the best French cuisine in town featuring a great selection of imported products. Le Beaulieu is particularly famous for evening dinners and Sunday brunches, which have become a tradition for Hanoi residents.

Day 23:  Overland Hanoi - Halong Bay (3 ½ Hours) - Halong Violet (BLD)

This morning meet your English-speaking guide for an overnight transfer to Halong Bay. (approximately 3 ½ Hours). A rest-stop is included enroute at Da Viet Center.

Halong Bay:
Imagine 3000 or more incredible islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Halong Bay is pure art, a priceless collection of unfinished sculptures hewn from the hand of nature, and was designated a World Heritage site in 1994.

 

Majestic and mysterious, inspiring and imperious: Words alone cannot do justice to the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. These tiny islands are dotted with beaches and grottoes created by wind and waves, and have sparsely forested slopes ringing with birdsong. Beyond the breathtaking vistas on a boat cruise through the bay, visitors to Halong come to explore the caves – some of which are beautifully illuminated for the benefit of tourists – and to hike in Cat Ba National Park. There are few real beaches in Halong Bay, but Lan Ha Bay (off the coast of Cat Ba Island) has more than 100 sandy strips. Halong Bay is the stuff of myths, and naturally the Vietnamese have concocted one. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’. Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

Embark on your beautiful five-star, traditional wooden junk, the Halong Violet. After a delicious lunch on board, the sailing begins! Cruising along the Tu Long Bay where the film L’Indochine was shot with French actress Catherine Deneuve, visit Cua Van fishing village by tender. View a close-up of local fishermen’s daily lives on the water of Halong Bay. Transfer from the tender to the bamboo boat which is slowly rowed around in a quiet lagoon and even through a water cave. An area of outstanding natural beauty, picturesque Ha Long Bay has more than 1,000 limestone islets rising from the sea. For the adventurous, climb over 400 steps to the top of Titov Island to experience a stunning panoramic view of the entire bay.

An early evening back at the Violet and head to the Cong Do area for anchoring overnight. Enjoy a nightly cooking class and demonstration lead by the skilled chef before you delight in a fantastic meal of Vietnamese fusion cuisine in the expansive dining room. Browse the wine and champagne selection for a relaxing glass as you take in the glorious sunset over the water. 

Halong Violet - Accommodation: Deluxe Cabin

The Halong Violet guides passengers through the majesty of Ha Long Bay in absolute luxury. Climb aboard the five-star traditional junk and explore hidden beaches, towering limestone karsts and the beauty of the bay. Designed to reflect the Indochine style of the 1930s, the red-sailed Halong Violet is the definition of opulence afloat. Each of the six spacious cabins is unique in theme and decor, evoking the ambiance of Vietnamese color and culture in rich dark woods and hand-painted fabrics. Plush beds are clad with refreshing linen sheets, a cooling comfort after windswept days on the bay. Glass-walled showers, Jacuzzi tubs and cotton bath robes round out the suite's elegant marble bathroom. Each cabin also boasts a private balcony and a personal butler on call at all hours, ready to assist in your every comfort. There is also a calming spa and peaceful library on board for guests to enjoy at their leisure, quiet retreats that bookend the excitement of excursions on the water.

Day 24:  Halong Bay - Halong Violet (BLD)

Enjoy early morning Tai Chi on board, followed by a visit to Titov Island. Over 400 steps lead to the top of the island for a panoramic view of the bay. Brunch is served (a la carte menu). Enjoy the afternoon completely at leisure aboard the elegant Halong Violet. 

Day 25:  Overland Halong Bay - Hanoi | Fly Hanoi/USA (B)

Following breakfast your beautiful journey ends today as you join your guide for a private transfer to Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, where assistance will be provided with check in for your flight homeward bound.

A Fond Farewell to the Smiles of Indochina

 in collaboration/Ker & Downey

 


Condé Nast Traveler Award
Resorts & Charted Courses

"World's Top Travel Specialists"
SALLIE MASSIE for Destination MONACO
Four-Time Award Recipient - Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler Award

 

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