Land Arrangements per person, double occupancy
16 Day, Private, customized tour with private driver and guide / Breakfast and Lunch Daily.
Does Not Include International Airfare, Round-Trip to Bangkok, Thailand
Depart the United States, crossing the International Dateline to arrive the next evening into Bangkok, where the innate friendliness of the Thai people offers their welcome.
A late evening arrival into Bangkok provides for a night of rest and relaxation prior to making passage north to the city of Hanoi, Vietnam.
Leave the golden temples of Thailand as you wing your way to Hanoi. Upon arrival, begin your exploration by riding through the famous “36 streets” on cyclo, allowing the rider a first hand look at the narrow lanes and colorful shops that line the streets. (B, L)
This morning, visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his former private residence, the One-Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and thereafter visit the Temple of Literature, a sprawling, landscaped grounds that was the setting for all qualified students final testing. Thereafter, see the Tran Quoc Pagoda, a tranquil setting not far from the heart of the city environs. This evening you are the invited guest for a performance of the famous water puppeteers. (B, L)
A morning stroll among the local residents who enjoy their sidewalk exercise completes your visit to Hanoi. Fly to the city of Hué, considered by many to be the most beautiful of all cities within Vietnam. Upon arrival, drive across the countryside to the Kai Dinh Tomb, one of the more elaborate among Vietnam’s former emperors. Stop by villages, where conical hats, incense sticks and duck raising are their means of livelihood. (B, L)
Next morning, board your private launch and cruise up the Huong Giang (Perfume) River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, perhaps the most famous in all of Vietnam. Continue by private boat to visit the Ming Manh Tomb. Completed in 1843, its design has elaborate bridges that link the various ceremonial halls, each surrounded by the magnificence of a beautifully landscaped natural setting. Enjoy a leisurely lunch in the town and thereafter, visit the expansive Citadel, the Forbidden City of Vietnam. (B, L)
A morning drive takes you south along the coastal highway to Danang. Enjoy a leisurely lunch in the city of Hoi An, originally a seaport used by all in the Champa Kingdom and a trading port for all foreign merchants. Hoi An is a quaint town, where you will enjoy a walking tour that visits the Japanese Bride, a Clan House, Chinese temple and find scores of shops that cater to both tourists and the local populace. (B, L)
Next morning, you will visit Marble Mountains. Set along the South China Sea, they depict the harmony between mountain and sea, forming a splendid display of natural color. The staircase leading to the inner caves is your gateway to viewing a temple set within the center of the cave, with sunlight glowing downward from a natural skylight formed at the mountain top. Thereafter, visit the Champa Museum, where you will find an impressive display of statuary dedicated to the former Champa people who held vast territories with the expansive Champa Kingdom. (B, L)
Fly to Saigon, a city like no other, which welcomes you to partake in all of its offerings, be they a beautiful temple in Cholon, a stroll through the city or simply the purchase of a silk garment as a memento of your tour. Upon arrival, begin viewing the city sights, including a visit to Cholon to see the Chinese Temple, the colonial-styled architecture of the inner plaza and dockside, where the never-ending movement of boats ply the waters of the Saigon River, moving both passenger and merchandise to market. End your day with a private boat cruise on the narrow channels of the Saigon River. (B, L)
CHIA morning drive takes you into the countryside to witness the ceremonies at the Cao Dai Cathedral, representing a blend of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in a unique style of worship. Thereafter, visit the region of Cu Chi, where you will be amazed at the size and breadth of the tunnel system used by the North Vietnamese to hide their weapons and forces during times of conflict. En route to Saigon, a rice noodle factory, providing an opportunity to observe the villages using generations-old methods of using rice to sun dry and cut into noodles for use in Vietnam’s favorite cuisine. (B, L)
Your midday flight wings you to Cambodia, site for the magnificence of Angkor. Upon arrival at Siem Reap, visit the Artisans d’Angkor, where elders teach the young the methods of preserving their treasured statuary. Thereafter, a visit to the National Museum provides and opportunity to understand the history behind the building of these truly magnificent monuments. The evening is at leisure. (B, L)
Today’s touring highlights the major sites at Angkor. Drive through the forested region to visit Bayon, Angkor Wat, Elephant Terrace and Ta Phrom. Each has its own history - its own fascination. Ta Phrom in particular is a photographer’s delight with much of the grounds encased in rooted Banyans, which have overcome the many walls and foundations on site. It is a remarkable temple ruins, one not to be missed and surely not forgotten. The day now complete, enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure. (B, L)
A midday flight wings you high above the verdant jungle carpet to the beautifully adorned provincial capital of Luang Prabang. Its sheer remoteness, together with its native villagers and colorful hilltribes, results in a charm and innocence that is relished by all who choose to visit the region. Arrival will come at late day, at which time you will have the remainder of the evening to enjoy at rest and relaxation. (B, L)
Begin your day with a visit to the colorful Royal Palace, situated nearby the town center and built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. Thereafter, board your private launch for a journey up-river to the Buddha caves at Pak Ou. While traveling on the Mekong, you will have the opportunity to stop at a village to see a generations-old rice making mill and enjoy your stroll through the grounds to see first hand how villagers live their lives along the banks of the Mekong. (B, L)
Your last morning in Luang Prabang offers a reward for the early riser who ventures to the river bank to witness lines of saffron clothed monks in stately procession as they walk along the narrow lanes of the town to receive daily offerings from the local residents who consider it their duty and their pleasure to present the monks with offerings of food. A visit to the silver market completes your stay at Luang Prabang. An afternoon flight takes you to the city of Bangkok for a night of rest and relaxation prior to your onward flight to the United States. (B, L)
All too soon your holiday to Southeast Asia has come to an end and it is time to board your onward flight returning you home with those never-forgotten memories to cherish over a lifetime. (B)
Its neighboring countries have coveted the territory of Vietnam, occupying more than a thousand miles of coastline and the fertile Red River Valley, through the ages. Several times over past millennia, China has conquered the region, and been repeatedly driven out by the will and tenacity of the Vietnamese people. France and Cambodia have also briefly held Vietnam.
For decades now, Vietnam has enjoyed peace as the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. After so many years of conflict, Vietnam is now blossoming, sharing its natural wonders and unique culture with the world.
Vietnam’s bountiful waters: rivers, deltas, and the sea, have given rise to a culture as at home on the water as it is on land. Boats on the river congregate into floating markets; and some residents live in floating houses. Unique to Vietnam is its beautiful water puppetry, in which puppeteers stand waist deep in a pool, hidden behind a floating stage, and use underwater levers and pulleys to manipulate elaborate, waterproof, puppets.
The jewel of Vietnam’s coastline is Ha Long Bay, which means “Bay of the Descending Dragons.” Artists over the ages have tried to capture the beauty of its mists and towering spires of stone, but this is one sight that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.
The city of Hué, half-way down Vietnam’s coast, contains many architectural treasures: The Citadel, a huge complex modeled after China’s Forbidden City; and many imperial tombs, such as the one built for Ming Manh in 1843, in which elaborate bridges connect each of the ceremonial halls to a manicured garden.
Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, welcomes visitors with several points of interest: the fascinating labyrinth of temples in Cholon, the Cao Dai Cathedral with its unique blend of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and Cu Chi, an amazingly elaborate and far-reaching system of tunnels used by the Vietnamese to hide weapons and soldiers in times of conflict.
Neighboring Cambodia contains the wondrous ruins at Angkor Wat. Built in the 7th and 11th centuries, these terraced temples are wonderfully ornamented with bas-relief carvings, which are amazingly well preserved. Other archeological sites of interest include: Ta Phrom, Bantreay Srei, and Bayon. Bayon contains bas-reliefs depicting over 10,000 figures in scenes from all walks of life. In Ta Phrom, trees grow among the ruins, creating a panorama of man’s art amidst nature’s implacable force.
North of Cambodia in Laos, a traveler encounters the villages of the colorful hill tribes. The innocence and enthusiasm of these native people, and their amazing silver jewelry and handicrafts are sure to delight.
The experienced guides at First Cabin Travel stand ready to show you the wonders of Vietnam and its neighbors, ensuring you see all the best sights and smoothing your way with expert translation and descriptions of local culture and customs.