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Activities Included
Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh
Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Asia
Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Danang, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam, Asia
Hoi An, Vietnam
Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue
Minh Mang, Hue, Vietnam
Governor's House, Hanoi
Bhaya Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Secrets of Indochina

15 day Multi Centre Holiday – from £2519

With flights from £3939

Discover the ancient histories, vibrant cities and spectacular landscapes of Vietnam and Cambodia on this in-depth exploration, with daily activities included.

Highlights:
  • Explore the ancient Temples of Angkor
  • Visit the Silver Pagoda at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
  • Enjoy guided city tours of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
  • Learn about life and work on the water at the Mekong Delta
  • Experience a night in the mystical Halong Bay, on board a junk ship

Your Itinerary

Expand All

This itinerary is customisable. Just let us know if you would like to add extra nights, activities or destinations.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Asia

Day 1 – Siem Reap

Your adventure begins in Siem Reap, where you will be met at the airport for the…

Your adventure begins in Siem Reap, where you will be met at the airport for the short drive to your city centre hotel.

This afternoon, you will be collected from reception for a guided tour of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the great Khmer Empire. Here you can marvel at the sprawling Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the enchanting Bayon, a 12th century archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the main features are the towers each with three or four gently smiling faces, over 200 in total.

Enjoy sunset at Angkor Wat Temple, an unforgettable experience, before heading back to Siem Reap where you have the rest of the evening at leisure.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Asia
Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Day 2 – Siem Reap

This morning, you have a chance to explore Angkor Wat properly. Arguably the largest religious building…

This morning, you have a chance to explore Angkor Wat properly. Arguably the largest religious building in the world, with a volume of stone equalling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt, it is unlike the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides and each tells a story – your guide will explain the mystical tales…

This afternoon, visit Ta Prohm, built in the 12th century the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its “re-discovery” by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles and giant claws. Continue to Preah Khan, “The Sacred Sword”, an extensive monastic complex covering over 56 hectares built by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a monastery and teaching complex. Preah Khan is the site of the World Monuments Fund ‘prime’ Asian project a painstaking renovation whilst maintaining its mysterious allures and superb original structure.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

    Breakfast
Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 3 – Siem Reap

This morning, visit Banteay Srei; ‘the Womans Citadel’ – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one…

This morning, visit Banteay Srei; ‘the Womans Citadel’ – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is “a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest.” Continue to Banteay Samre, built in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as Banteay Srei.

This afternoon visit SATCHA, a Cambodian handicraft centre that aims to support traditional crafts. Visitors can wander around the various workshops and observe stone carving, wood carving, painting and jewellery making in practise.

Then proceed to Tonle Sap Lake which is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and lifeblood of the fishing industry and for millions of Khmers living on and around it. Every year during the monsoon season the flow of water from the Mekong River changes direction forcing water back into the Tonle Sap lake bringing nutrients that fertilise the rice fields and support the breeding of the 200+ fish species and other life. You will board a comfortable boat to see the true way of life in one of the floating villages of the Tonle Sap, here you can see how Khmers and Vietnamese live and work side by side.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

    Breakfast
Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia

Day 4 – Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

After breakfast, our tour guide will pick you up from your hotel and drive to airport…

After breakfast, our tour guide will pick you up from your hotel and drive to airport for your flight to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival in Phnom Penh Airport, you will be met and transferred by our Tour Guide and proceed to your hotel to freshen up.

This afternoon, visit to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Cheung Ek is essential for a first time visitor to Cambodia. During the Pol Pot regime, Toul Sleng, formerly a high school was converted to a detention centre known as S21. After interrogation and often torture, prisoners were transferred to ‘Killing Fields’ where they were often tortured again and brutally killed.

    White Mansion, Phnom Penh

    Breakfast
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia
Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh

Day 5 – Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City

This morning, visit The Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom; the Palace is made…

This morning, visit The Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom; the Palace is made up from a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound one of which is The Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda takes its name from the 5,000+ silver tiles and the building itself holds a number of national treasures perhaps most notably are a life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha decorated with 9584 diamonds, weighing in a at 90 kg and a small 17th century Emerald Buddha made from baccarat crystal.

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 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King.’

Afterwards, head to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the beginning of the Vietnam part of your tour.

Ho Chi Minh City is surely one of the most evocative place names in Asia and definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The most Western in atmosphere of Vietnam’s cities, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon, as it is affectionately known to many residents and visitors) has a population of 5 million, and a booming free-market economy. It is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls and vociferous cyclo drivers.

On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred by private car to your hotel for the next three nights, passing by the Cathedral Notre Dame, the Post Office and the Opera House on the way. The rest of the day is at leisure.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast
Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Day 6 – Ho Chi Minh City

Visit the former Presidential Palace, which is now preserved as a museum, including the underground communications…

Visit the former Presidential Palace, which is now preserved as a museum, including the underground communications bunkers, headquarters for the Ho Chi Minh City Government during the American War. Continue to the History Museum, which houses an excellent display tracing the origins of the indigenous Vietnamese. A water puppet performance is housed in the grounds. See Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral in the centre of city, the ‘wedding cake’ styled hotel d’ville and the former US Embassy.

Lunch will be taken in local restaurant – then journey to Cu Chi where you will visit the vast underground network of tunnels built first as a defence against the French, and later expanded during the American war. It was from here that the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla warfare and you will marvel at their ingenuity and resilience. See secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms.

The more adventurous may explore the deeper second, and even third level tunnels. For those preferring to remain above ground, there is ample opportunity to view excavated areas from above. Your guide will advise you of the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering – some are easily accessed by stairs. We recommend good walking shoes and sun protection for this tour.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast and lunch
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Day 7 – Mekong Delta

Leaving Ho Chi Minh City today, travel by car and then motorised sampan (wooden boat) into…

Leaving Ho Chi Minh City today, travel by car and then motorised sampan (wooden boat) into the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is a rich fertile region of farmland interlaced with countless waterways crisscrossed by low-lying rice paddies.

Exploring Ben Tre, one of the lesser-visited provinces in the Mekong Delta, you will cruise along the Ham Luong River visiting small family businesses to gain an insight into local life. Stops include a coconut workshop where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products, and a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom.

Stop at a peaceful village for a short walk then travel by bicycle or xe loi (a type of cyclo) through the surrounding fruit orchards. Stop for lunch at a riverside restaurant where local specialities such as elephant ear fish can be tried. Afterwards, there will be time to explore the garden before taking a rowing boat along narrow canals back to the main boat. Return to the pier in Ben Tre and transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City by car.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast and lunch
Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Danang, Vietnam

Day 8 – Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An

A short one hour flight brings you to Danang. One of the most ancient cities in…

A short one hour flight brings you to Danang. One of the most ancient cities in Vietnam, Danang was the centre of the Cham Dynasty from the 2nd century and today boasts the largest and most impressive collection of Cham artefacts anywhere in the world. Danang’s rich cultural history, its proximity to the extraordinary ruins of My Son, its atmospheric riverfront promenade, its world-famous Cham Museum all continue to draw visitors.

Close by Danang is China Beach, immortalised for many by the US television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia. Also nearby are the Marble Mountains, the 5 craggy limestone peaks that are said to represent the 5 elements of the universe. A climb inside through the hundreds of natural caves and grottoes is a must.

On arrival in Danang, visit Cham Museum then continue to Hoi An Ancient town with photos stop en-route at Marble Mountain and China Beach, if requested. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant in Da Nang or en-route, where suitable. Check in to your chosen hotel in Da Nang/Hoi An then rest of day is at leisure. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Da Nang or Hoi An for three nights

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast and lunch
Danang, Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam, Asia

Day 9 – Hoi An

This morning, you will take a walking tour of Hoi An including lunch at one of…

This morning, you will take a walking tour of Hoi An including lunch at one of the many nice restaurants. Hoi An is an extraordinary jewel of a town. In a country so ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched, and as you wander the completely traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport it is not hard to imagine yourself amidst the sailors and merchants of the 18th century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest trading ports in Asia. Lunch will be served at local restaurant.

This afternoon you will visit the small village of Cam Ha by boat from Hoi An and, because of its isolation, has retained traditions that have long since been modernised elsewhere in the world. On disembarking your simple, but comfortable boat, you will wander the well-trodden track to the village centre.

At every turn you will see the remarkable tenacity of the local people as they perform the backbreaking labour of their craft that has been handed down through generations. Courtyards are lined with hand cut bricks, drying in the accommodating sun. Village elders turn the potting wheels whilst their children shape vase after bowl after plate from the supple clay. The village of Cam Ha is a truly remarkable example of a simple life, unfazed by the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Return to your hotel for dinner at your own expense.

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast and lunch
Hoi An, Vietnam, Asia
Hoi An, Vietnam

Day 10 – Hoi An

Enjoy breakfast at hotel then you will have full day is free at leisure. Perhaps retrace…

Enjoy breakfast at hotel then you will have full day is free at leisure. Perhaps retrace your steps to some of the town attractions, or spend a day by the beach.

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast
Hoi An, Vietnam
Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue

Day 11 – Hoi An to Hue

This morning, you will take an overland transfer by road along Highway One and over the…

This morning, you will take an overland transfer by road along Highway One and over the spectacular Hai Van Pass to Hue, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. Visitors to Hue are often taken aback to discover that the sleepy provincial town of Hue was once the religious, economic and cultural epicentre of Vietnam, the mighty Imperial headquarters, and the political capital of the country until 1945. That this glorious architectural masterpiece of a city should have been reduced almost completely to rubble as a result war is indeed a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.

Thirteen Nguyen Dynasty Emperors ruled Vietnam from Hue. They built a fortress around the ancient city, a huge Citadel, with walls 10 metres thick, modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City. Even this seemingly impenetrable defence though was useless during the Tet Offensive of 1968, when the proud city of Hue was reduced to ruins. Hue today has regained it’s royal demeanour and is a calm, peaceful and relaxed place to visit. The remaining French colonial garden houses and villas, the quiet streets, the riverbanks, the outlying tombs and pagodas that escaped damage – all give Hue a unique atmosphere of tranquillity.

In the afternoon, you will take a boat trip on Perfume River to Thien Mu pagoda and also Imperial Citadel. One of the most famous sights in Hue- the Thien Mu Pagoda. An octagonal tower of seven tiers rises majestically over the tranquil Perfume (Huong) River. Beyond you may see robed monks chanting their mantra, or novices carefully tending the bonsai garden.

Then, continue to visit the Imperial Citadel, which has a 10km perimeter, was built in 1804 by Emperor Gia Long (the first Nguyen emperor) on a site chosen by geomancers. It was originally made of earth, but during the first few decades of the 19th century, tens of thousands of workers laboured to cover the ramparts, built in the style of French military architect Vauban, with a layer of bricks 2m thick.

    Indochine Palace, Hue

    Breakfast and lunch
Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue
Minh Mang, Hue, Vietnam

Day 12 – Hue to Hanoi

In the morning, continue to visit Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang’s tomb. The tomb of Emperor…

In the morning, continue to visit Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang’s tomb. The tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, resplendent in traditional architecture, paved walkways, resting pavilions overlooking tranquil lotus ponds, and a small forest for hunting. Then visit the tomb of Minh Mang which was built between 1841 and 1843 and is well known for its harmonious blend of architecture and natural landscape.

Transfer to the airport for noon flight to Hanoi with afternoon flight/early evening flight. Arrive Hanoi, our car and guide will transfer you to your hotel in downtown where you will stay on the last two nights in Vietnam.

    La Siesta Classic, Hanoi

    Breakfast and lunch
Minh Mang, Hue, Vietnam
Governor's House, Hanoi

Day 13 – Hanoi

In the morning, you will visit Ho Chi Minh’s complex followed by lunch in a local…

In the morning, you will visit Ho Chi Minh’s complex followed by lunch in a local restaurant. Visit Ba Dinh Square, where silent sentries guard the marble and granite mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state. (Subject to opening times the interior of the mausoleum can be visited). See the simple cottage where Uncle Ho lived and worked, Nearby, visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum, an extraordinary tribute in abstract form to the life of the ‘father of the country’ and the evolution of Vietnamese independence.

French architecture is a feature of Hanoi, and the nearby former Governor’s Residence is a fine example. See also the One Pillar Pagoda, and hear the legend of its construction, born from the love of an emperor in the 11th Century.

After lunch you will continue to visit some of the highlights of Hanoi. Enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it en-route to one of the city’s fascinating museums (Army, History or Fine Arts, depending on your preference).

Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and then dedicated to Confucius, it is a serene retreat from the busy streets outside, and later became Vietnam’s first university. Then take to the streets on foot for a walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with stores in this souvenir hunter’s paradise!

    La Siesta Classic, Hanoi

    Breakfast and lunch
Governor's House, Hanoi
Bhaya Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Day 14 – Hanoi to Halong Bay

After breakfast transfer by road to Halong Bay, approximately 2.5 hours drive north of Hanoi. Halong…

After breakfast transfer by road to Halong Bay, approximately 2.5 hours drive north of Hanoi. Halong Bay is considered Vietnam’s eighth wonder of the world – and on arrival it is easy to see why. Three thousand spectacular chalk and limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches, and coves form a dragon’s tail across the bay. Traditional sailing junks and local fishing boats glide by selling their latest catch.

A Halong Bay cruise onboard the Bhaya offers luxurious elegance amid the splendour of Vietnam’s premier cruising attraction. Styled after the Emperor’s grand junks, all Cabins and Suites are finished in traditional Vietnamese hardwood giving them a rich, luxuriant warmth. Hand-crafted hardwood furniture and gold and white fittings, further enhance the warmth and light.

After boarding the Bhaya Cruise boat at approximately mid day, enjoy a welcome drink and begin cruising on the bay. A Vietnamese buffet lunch is served on board. Whilst cruising on the emerald green waters of the bay you have chance to enjoy the magnificent scenery and to visit a selection of islands and caves. If weather permits there is also the chance to enjoy swimming, snorkelling or kayaking or to relax on-board and enjoy the views or socialising with your fellow passengers.

    Bhaya Classic Cruise

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Bhaya Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Day 15 – Halong Bay to Hanoi

Early this morning there is the chance to practice Tai Chi skills on the sundeck whilst…

Early this morning there is the chance to practice Tai Chi skills on the sundeck whilst the sun rises over the bay. A buffet breakfast is served as the Bhaya continues cruising through Halong Bay, allowing guests a last chance to enjoy the spectacular views of this unique seascape. At approximately 11am the Bhaya returns to shore, and after disembarking you will transfer by road back to Hanoi and then transfer to the airport for evening departure flight.

    Brunch
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

Your Itinerary

This itinerary is customisable. Just let us know if you would like to add extra nights, activities or destinations.

Day 1

|

Siem Reap

Your adventure begins in Siem Reap, where you will be met at the airport for the short drive to your city centre hotel.

This afternoon, you will be collected from reception for a guided tour of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the great Khmer Empire. Here you can marvel at the sprawling Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the enchanting Bayon, a 12th century archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the main features are the towers each with three or four gently smiling faces, over 200 in total.

Enjoy sunset at Angkor Wat Temple, an unforgettable experience, before heading back to Siem Reap where you have the rest of the evening at leisure.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Asia

Day 2

|

Siem Reap

This morning, you have a chance to explore Angkor Wat properly. Arguably the largest religious building in the world, with a volume of stone equalling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt, it is unlike the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides and each tells a story – your guide will explain the mystical tales…

This afternoon, visit Ta Prohm, built in the 12th century the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its “re-discovery” by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles and giant claws. Continue to Preah Khan, “The Sacred Sword”, an extensive monastic complex covering over 56 hectares built by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a monastery and teaching complex. Preah Khan is the site of the World Monuments Fund ‘prime’ Asian project a painstaking renovation whilst maintaining its mysterious allures and superb original structure.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

    Breakfast
Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Day 3

|

Siem Reap

This morning, visit Banteay Srei; ‘the Womans Citadel’ – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is “a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest.” Continue to Banteay Samre, built in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as Banteay Srei.

This afternoon visit SATCHA, a Cambodian handicraft centre that aims to support traditional crafts. Visitors can wander around the various workshops and observe stone carving, wood carving, painting and jewellery making in practise.

Then proceed to Tonle Sap Lake which is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia and lifeblood of the fishing industry and for millions of Khmers living on and around it. Every year during the monsoon season the flow of water from the Mekong River changes direction forcing water back into the Tonle Sap lake bringing nutrients that fertilise the rice fields and support the breeding of the 200+ fish species and other life. You will board a comfortable boat to see the true way of life in one of the floating villages of the Tonle Sap, here you can see how Khmers and Vietnamese live and work side by side.

    Aviary Hotel, Siem Reap

    Breakfast
Banteay Srei, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 4

|

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

After breakfast, our tour guide will pick you up from your hotel and drive to airport for your flight to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival in Phnom Penh Airport, you will be met and transferred by our Tour Guide and proceed to your hotel to freshen up.

This afternoon, visit to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and Cheung Ek is essential for a first time visitor to Cambodia. During the Pol Pot regime, Toul Sleng, formerly a high school was converted to a detention centre known as S21. After interrogation and often torture, prisoners were transferred to ‘Killing Fields’ where they were often tortured again and brutally killed.

    White Mansion, Phnom Penh

    Breakfast
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodia

Day 5

|

Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City

This morning, visit The Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom; the Palace is made up from a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound one of which is The Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda takes its name from the 5,000+ silver tiles and the building itself holds a number of national treasures perhaps most notably are a life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha decorated with 9584 diamonds, weighing in a at 90 kg and a small 17th century Emerald Buddha made from baccarat crystal.

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 5000 objects are on display including Angkorian era statues, lingas and other artifacts, most notably the legendary statue of the ‘Leper King.’

Afterwards, head to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the beginning of the Vietnam part of your tour.

Ho Chi Minh City is surely one of the most evocative place names in Asia and definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The most Western in atmosphere of Vietnam’s cities, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon, as it is affectionately known to many residents and visitors) has a population of 5 million, and a booming free-market economy. It is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls and vociferous cyclo drivers.

On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred by private car to your hotel for the next three nights, passing by the Cathedral Notre Dame, the Post Office and the Opera House on the way. The rest of the day is at leisure.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast
Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh

Day 6

|

Ho Chi Minh City

Visit the former Presidential Palace, which is now preserved as a museum, including the underground communications bunkers, headquarters for the Ho Chi Minh City Government during the American War. Continue to the History Museum, which houses an excellent display tracing the origins of the indigenous Vietnamese. A water puppet performance is housed in the grounds. See Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral in the centre of city, the ‘wedding cake’ styled hotel d’ville and the former US Embassy.

Lunch will be taken in local restaurant – then journey to Cu Chi where you will visit the vast underground network of tunnels built first as a defence against the French, and later expanded during the American war. It was from here that the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla warfare and you will marvel at their ingenuity and resilience. See secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms.

The more adventurous may explore the deeper second, and even third level tunnels. For those preferring to remain above ground, there is ample opportunity to view excavated areas from above. Your guide will advise you of the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering – some are easily accessed by stairs. We recommend good walking shoes and sun protection for this tour.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast and lunch
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Day 7

|

Mekong Delta

Leaving Ho Chi Minh City today, travel by car and then motorised sampan (wooden boat) into the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is a rich fertile region of farmland interlaced with countless waterways crisscrossed by low-lying rice paddies.

Exploring Ben Tre, one of the lesser-visited provinces in the Mekong Delta, you will cruise along the Ham Luong River visiting small family businesses to gain an insight into local life. Stops include a coconut workshop where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products, and a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom.

Stop at a peaceful village for a short walk then travel by bicycle or xe loi (a type of cyclo) through the surrounding fruit orchards. Stop for lunch at a riverside restaurant where local specialities such as elephant ear fish can be tried. Afterwards, there will be time to explore the garden before taking a rowing boat along narrow canals back to the main boat. Return to the pier in Ben Tre and transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City by car.

    Northern Charm Hotel

    Breakfast and lunch
Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Day 8

|

Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An

A short one hour flight brings you to Danang. One of the most ancient cities in Vietnam, Danang was the centre of the Cham Dynasty from the 2nd century and today boasts the largest and most impressive collection of Cham artefacts anywhere in the world. Danang’s rich cultural history, its proximity to the extraordinary ruins of My Son, its atmospheric riverfront promenade, its world-famous Cham Museum all continue to draw visitors.

Close by Danang is China Beach, immortalised for many by the US television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia. Also nearby are the Marble Mountains, the 5 craggy limestone peaks that are said to represent the 5 elements of the universe. A climb inside through the hundreds of natural caves and grottoes is a must.

On arrival in Danang, visit Cham Museum then continue to Hoi An Ancient town with photos stop en-route at Marble Mountain and China Beach, if requested. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant in Da Nang or en-route, where suitable. Check in to your chosen hotel in Da Nang/Hoi An then rest of day is at leisure. Dinner is on your own. Overnight in Da Nang or Hoi An for three nights

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast and lunch
Danang, Vietnam

Day 9

|

Hoi An

This morning, you will take a walking tour of Hoi An including lunch at one of the many nice restaurants. Hoi An is an extraordinary jewel of a town. In a country so ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched, and as you wander the completely traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport it is not hard to imagine yourself amidst the sailors and merchants of the 18th century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest trading ports in Asia. Lunch will be served at local restaurant.

This afternoon you will visit the small village of Cam Ha by boat from Hoi An and, because of its isolation, has retained traditions that have long since been modernised elsewhere in the world. On disembarking your simple, but comfortable boat, you will wander the well-trodden track to the village centre.

At every turn you will see the remarkable tenacity of the local people as they perform the backbreaking labour of their craft that has been handed down through generations. Courtyards are lined with hand cut bricks, drying in the accommodating sun. Village elders turn the potting wheels whilst their children shape vase after bowl after plate from the supple clay. The village of Cam Ha is a truly remarkable example of a simple life, unfazed by the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Return to your hotel for dinner at your own expense.

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast and lunch
Hoi An, Vietnam, Asia

Day 10

|

Hoi An

Enjoy breakfast at hotel then you will have full day is free at leisure. Perhaps retrace your steps to some of the town attractions, or spend a day by the beach.

    Boutique Hoi An

    Breakfast
Hoi An, Vietnam

Day 11

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Hoi An to Hue

This morning, you will take an overland transfer by road along Highway One and over the spectacular Hai Van Pass to Hue, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. Visitors to Hue are often taken aback to discover that the sleepy provincial town of Hue was once the religious, economic and cultural epicentre of Vietnam, the mighty Imperial headquarters, and the political capital of the country until 1945. That this glorious architectural masterpiece of a city should have been reduced almost completely to rubble as a result war is indeed a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.

Thirteen Nguyen Dynasty Emperors ruled Vietnam from Hue. They built a fortress around the ancient city, a huge Citadel, with walls 10 metres thick, modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City. Even this seemingly impenetrable defence though was useless during the Tet Offensive of 1968, when the proud city of Hue was reduced to ruins. Hue today has regained it’s royal demeanour and is a calm, peaceful and relaxed place to visit. The remaining French colonial garden houses and villas, the quiet streets, the riverbanks, the outlying tombs and pagodas that escaped damage – all give Hue a unique atmosphere of tranquillity.

In the afternoon, you will take a boat trip on Perfume River to Thien Mu pagoda and also Imperial Citadel. One of the most famous sights in Hue- the Thien Mu Pagoda. An octagonal tower of seven tiers rises majestically over the tranquil Perfume (Huong) River. Beyond you may see robed monks chanting their mantra, or novices carefully tending the bonsai garden.

Then, continue to visit the Imperial Citadel, which has a 10km perimeter, was built in 1804 by Emperor Gia Long (the first Nguyen emperor) on a site chosen by geomancers. It was originally made of earth, but during the first few decades of the 19th century, tens of thousands of workers laboured to cover the ramparts, built in the style of French military architect Vauban, with a layer of bricks 2m thick.

    Indochine Palace, Hue

    Breakfast and lunch
Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue

Day 12

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Hue to Hanoi

In the morning, continue to visit Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang’s tomb. The tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, resplendent in traditional architecture, paved walkways, resting pavilions overlooking tranquil lotus ponds, and a small forest for hunting. Then visit the tomb of Minh Mang which was built between 1841 and 1843 and is well known for its harmonious blend of architecture and natural landscape.

Transfer to the airport for noon flight to Hanoi with afternoon flight/early evening flight. Arrive Hanoi, our car and guide will transfer you to your hotel in downtown where you will stay on the last two nights in Vietnam.

    La Siesta Classic, Hanoi

    Breakfast and lunch
Minh Mang, Hue, Vietnam

Day 13

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Hanoi

In the morning, you will visit Ho Chi Minh’s complex followed by lunch in a local restaurant. Visit Ba Dinh Square, where silent sentries guard the marble and granite mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state. (Subject to opening times the interior of the mausoleum can be visited). See the simple cottage where Uncle Ho lived and worked, Nearby, visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum, an extraordinary tribute in abstract form to the life of the ‘father of the country’ and the evolution of Vietnamese independence.

French architecture is a feature of Hanoi, and the nearby former Governor’s Residence is a fine example. See also the One Pillar Pagoda, and hear the legend of its construction, born from the love of an emperor in the 11th Century.

After lunch you will continue to visit some of the highlights of Hanoi. Enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it en-route to one of the city’s fascinating museums (Army, History or Fine Arts, depending on your preference).

Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and then dedicated to Confucius, it is a serene retreat from the busy streets outside, and later became Vietnam’s first university. Then take to the streets on foot for a walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with stores in this souvenir hunter’s paradise!

    La Siesta Classic, Hanoi

    Breakfast and lunch
Governor's House, Hanoi

Day 14

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Hanoi to Halong Bay

After breakfast transfer by road to Halong Bay, approximately 2.5 hours drive north of Hanoi. Halong Bay is considered Vietnam’s eighth wonder of the world – and on arrival it is easy to see why. Three thousand spectacular chalk and limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches, and coves form a dragon’s tail across the bay. Traditional sailing junks and local fishing boats glide by selling their latest catch.

A Halong Bay cruise onboard the Bhaya offers luxurious elegance amid the splendour of Vietnam’s premier cruising attraction. Styled after the Emperor’s grand junks, all Cabins and Suites are finished in traditional Vietnamese hardwood giving them a rich, luxuriant warmth. Hand-crafted hardwood furniture and gold and white fittings, further enhance the warmth and light.

After boarding the Bhaya Cruise boat at approximately mid day, enjoy a welcome drink and begin cruising on the bay. A Vietnamese buffet lunch is served on board. Whilst cruising on the emerald green waters of the bay you have chance to enjoy the magnificent scenery and to visit a selection of islands and caves. If weather permits there is also the chance to enjoy swimming, snorkelling or kayaking or to relax on-board and enjoy the views or socialising with your fellow passengers.

    Bhaya Classic Cruise

    Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Bhaya Cruise, Halong Bay, Vietnam

Day 15

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Halong Bay to Hanoi

Early this morning there is the chance to practice Tai Chi skills on the sundeck whilst the sun rises over the bay. A buffet breakfast is served as the Bhaya continues cruising through Halong Bay, allowing guests a last chance to enjoy the spectacular views of this unique seascape. At approximately 11am the Bhaya returns to shore, and after disembarking you will transfer by road back to Hanoi and then transfer to the airport for evening departure flight.

    Brunch
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi

This Holiday Includes

13 nights accommodation
Overnight Halong Bay Cruise
Daily activities and excursions
Daily breakfast and several lunches
Private tour guides and vehicles
Airport and hotel transfers
Optional UK and internal flights

Flights & More

Ask your FREEDOM Consultant to include Economy, Premium or Business Class flights for a complete ABTA and ATOL protected package.

They can also add extra nights and experiences in places you choose, to create the exact holiday you are looking for. Popular options include:

  • Extra nights in Siem Reap, Hanoi or any location
  • An upgrade to a two night Halong Bay Cruise

Next Step

Please get in touch with our Asia Experts to start planning your holiday. You’ll have a single point of contact from your first enquiry through booking.

Secrets of Indochina

15 day Multi Centre Holiday – from £2519

With flights from £3939

All prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin or double room. Seasonal variations may apply, please call Freedom Destinations for more information and availability.

Map

Secrets Of Indochina Map