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See centuries-old architecture in Hanoi, trek through hill-tribe viallages in Sapa, sail through the emerald waters of Halong Bay on a traditional junk boat, visit charming ancient Hoian as well as Imperial Hue to bustling Saigon and enjoy a 7-night cruise along the Mekong on brand new Emerald Harmony then explore magnificent Angkor Wat. This tour includes hotel stays in Hanoi, Sapa, Hoian, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap PLUS excursions and complimentary drinks with lunch and dinner...
Day 1: Hanoi arrival
Day 2: Hanoi city tour - Lao Cai (B)/ Night train
Day 3: Lao Cai - Sapa/ Lao Chai - Ta Van (B,L)
Day 4: Ma Tra - Ta Phin - Hanoi (B, L)/ Shuttle bus
Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B, L, D)
Day 6: Halong Bay - Hanoi - Danang - Hoian (B, Br)/Domestic Flight
Day 7: Tra Que village - Hoian ancient town walking tour (B, L)
Day 8: Hoian Free & Easy Day (B)
Day 9: Hoian - Danang - Hue (B)
Day 10: Hue Sightseeing (B)
Day 11: Hue - Ho Chi Minh (B)/ Domestic Flight
Day 12: Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh city tour (B)
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh – My Tho – Cai Be (B, L, D)/ Cruise Embarkation
Day 14: Cai Be – Sa Dec – Tan Chau (B, L, D)/Mekong River Cruise
Day 15: Tan Chau – Border Crosing – Phnom Penh (B/L/D)/ Mekong River Cruise
Day 16: Phnom Penh (B/L/D)/ Mekong River Cruise
Day 17: Phnom Penh – Kampong Chhnang (Tonle) (B/L/D)/ Mekong River Cruise
Day 18: Tonle River - Kampong Cham (Mekong) (B/L/D)/ Mekong River Cruise
Day 19: Kampong Cham (Mekong)/ Mekong River Cruise
Day 20: Kampong Cham (Mekong) - Siem Reap (B/L/D)/ Cruise Disembarkation
Day 21: Siem Reap – Angkor Complex (B)
Day 22: Siem Reap – Angkor Complex (B)
Day 23: Siem Reap Departure (B)
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a city of lakes, shaded streets and verdant public parks. Come to Hanoi, you will have a chance to explore the rich cultural heritage with the Old Quarter, prominent delicious Vietnamese cuisine as well as other interesting spots. Upon arrival at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport, our guide and driver will welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. After check-in, you are free to stroll around the city and catch a first glimpse of this peaceful city. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, 8:30 AM we begin the full day city tour with Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and “House on stilt” at the same area with the Presidential Palace. We will then continue to the One Pillar Pagoda and the 900-year old Temple of Literature, the principal Vietnamese Confucian sanctuary, and its historical centre of learning. Made up of five courtyards, this is one of the few remnants of the original city. Lunch at local restaurant ( by your own account).
In the afternoon visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), which is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam. After that, you will enjoy one hour cyclo tour through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, then visit the colorful local markets where we meet stall holders and talk about their food and learn about local culinary. Then continue along both high streets and back streets exploring many corners in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Our driver will pick upo and take you to the railwway station. Overnight on sharing cabin on Chapa Express (or similar train)
Upon arrival Lao Cai Station, you will be picked up by our guide and driver. After breakfast, take time to explore the Sapa market and then set out on our 3-4 hour trek that will take us along buffalo paths and trails and through several hill tribe villages of Lao Chai and Ta Van, home to H’mong, and Dzay people. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet. Have lunch at a local family. Back to your hotel in Sapa. Overnight at hotel in Sapa.
We begin the day with a 3km trek through breathtaking landscape to the village of Suoi Ho, home to H’mong minority. From here you can enjoy views over endless rice terraces, and you will have the opportunity to see some of the animals used by the locals. Continuing on to Matra village you will come across the impressive ruins of a church dating back to the French occupation in the early 1900s. Take a minute to explore this intriguing sight and take some photos. Trekking to the village of Ta Phin you will be able to meet both Black H’mong and Red Dzao minorities. The Red Dao are known for their expertise in herbal medicine, and use plants from the land to treat many illnesses. Your guide will be able to introduce you to some Red Dao women who can tell you more about their many remedies. A Red Dao herbal medicine bath can be arranged for you to experience, so please ask. Back to Sapa in the early afternoon. Getting back to Hanoi by shuttle bus. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Early morrning at 07.30 or 07.40, shuttle bus from cruise company will come and pick up, depart from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Embark on the boat. Enjoy welcome drink as Cruise Manager gives you a brief overview of the itinerary and important safety guideline. Check in your cabin.
Have lunch while cruising to magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay; Start sailing among famous Islets (Indochina studio, Am Islet…) of Bai Tu Long Bay, the wildest beauty with the panoramic natural views. Visit and explore the well-hidden Co Cave (known as Thien Canh Son Cave) where you can hiking to the middle of the mountain to see the wild and mysterious beautiful cave, contemplate numerous sparkling stalactites appear like 'hanging lamps’ inside the Cave. (No swimming). Return to the boat and enjoy Happy hour.
Enjoy kayaking and relaxing on the cruise in Cong Do Area. Take part in carving flowers on the sundeck. Attend our chef’s cooking demonstration and try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking (spring roll). Dinner is served in the restaurant. You can enjoy the charm of Bai Tu Long Bay at night. Enjoy evening activities (Squid Fishing, Movie Night, Board Games, Massage & Spa services) or relax at the leisure then overnight at private cabin at Cong Do area.
Welcome a new day with an amazing dawn on Bai Tu Long Bay. Refresh your body and soul with a Tai-chi session on the sundeck. Catch the morning view of seascape while enjoying the breakfast with cookies and tea, café in the restaurant.
Visit Vung Vieng fishing village - the famous fishing farm by bamboo boat and discover life of local people living on the surface of Halong Bay. (No swimming). Pack up the luggage and check out of the cabin.
Enjoy the brunch in the restaurant while cruising back to Vinashin tourist harbor. Disembark from boat. Back to Hanoi. Our driver will take you to Noi Bai airport for your flight to Danang. Upon arrival, our driver will come to pick up and take you to your hotel in Hoian. Overnight at hotel in Hoian
Local guide will meet you at your Hotel. Ride your bike to a farmer’s house in Tra Que vegetable village. Enjoy welcome drink then stroll around the vegetable garden with your guide before joining the farmer to learn and to practice the traditional farming ways in preparing the land, and fertilizing the land with seaweed which is exploited from the nearby river. The following steps are raking the ground, sowing or transplanting, watering, some other gardening activities. After farming activities, you will take a break in the restaurant then enjoy foot massage before taking part in preparing and cooking some of the famous local dishes such as “Banh Xeo” Pancake, “Tam Huu” rolls, seafood Springrolls with the guidance of the farmer’s family or the chef. Enjoy your lunch with local specialties and with dishes that made by yourself.
This afternoon, we enjoy a half-day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Halls, the 200- year old Tam Ky ancestral house, and the Japanese Bridge. From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab traders. These people came primarily to trade in the high grade silk, which is still produced in the area, as well as ceramics. Today, Hoi An is a quaint riverside town, popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailors shops, and numerous cafes. Some of the buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century.
Overnight at hotel in Hoian.
Free at your leisure exploring the ancient town or riding bikes to beautiful An Bang/ Cua Dai beach.
Overnight at hotel in Hoian
After breakfast, we will be on 4 –hour journey to Hue. Our next stop is Da Nang City, famous for the Cham Museum and the My Khe Beach, a place called R and R (Rest and Rehabilitation) where thousands of American GIs came for a break during the war in Vietnam. . Also, we have a short sightseeing at the Marble Mountain, whose peaks represent the five elements of the universe. The winding road begins as we make our way up the Hai Van pass. The breath -taking view from the top of the pass is one of Vietnam’s most impressive panoramic scenes. We also make stop for relaxation at charming Lang Co Beach. Overnight at hotel in Hue
Discover the spectacular sites of Hue and admire its art, architecture, history and local food on this full day sightseeing tour. After breakfast, head to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hue Citadel, where Nguyen rulers presided between 1802 and 1945. Passing by stunning palaces and shrines at the Imperial City and the emperor's private residence at the Forbidden Purple City, hear interesting stories about the Nguyen Emperors and learn more about the history of the city from your informative guide.
Then, enjoy unique local food which is rated as one of the best in the world (by your own account). After lunch, take a panoramic cruise along the enchanting Perfume River. Relax and get closer to nature as you pass by lush forest trees and colorful flowers on full bloom by the river bank. Disembark for a quick visit of the Thien Mu Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Vietnam and is considered by many as the unofficial symbol of Hue. See one of its most poignant display, a car belonging to a former monk, who in 1963, drove to Sai Gon and set himself alight to protest against the South Vietnamese regime and its cruel treatment of Buddhist monks and followers. Explore the Khai Dinh Royal Tomb, and see its graceful combination of Western and oriental architecture. Emperor Khai Dinh ruled Vietnam for 9 years and his tomb took 11 years to complete. Overnight at hotel in Hue
Today you will say goodbye to imperial city then take a short flight to our bustling city – Ho Chi Minh.
Upon arrival, meet our local driver and transfer to your hotel for checking in
Free at your leisure. Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh
We gather before noontime at our welcome lounge in Saigon. Lean back with a drink as our staff welcomes you and collects your details for boarding. We bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon and travel 70 kilometers south overland to My Tho to embark on your luxury floating home for the upcoming journey along the Mighty Mekong
After our crew warmly welcomes you, you check in to your well prepared staterooms. The ship sets sail and a fascinating voyage along the Mekong begins. Lunch buffet is served in the restaurant while the vessel steadily glides upstream to reach the overnight spot. Make yourself familiar with all the ship facilities. Now it is time to become one with one of the largest streams in Asia. The afternoon allows you to leisurely pass time on your private balcony or join our tea time at the open air bar as the twilight bathes the Mekong Delta in a golden haze.
During the time you savor your dinner, the ship reaches Cai Be. It is a charming town, famous for its Catholic French church and the manufacturing of traditional crafts and food products. The floating market of Cai Be is getting smaller every year, since trading on the water is shifting more and more to the modern central markets.
We anchor mid-stream near Cai Be for dinner and moor there overnight. After dinner our lounge cinema features selected classic movies (every night).
Each morning, we offer our guests an invigorating Tai Chi class on the sun deck. Start your day, just as many local people do in Asia, as the sun begins its gentle glow. A sumptuous buffet breakfast is served for the perfect first exploration day in the Mekong Delta. Our morning tour takes you to Cai Be. We can still see some boat to boat trading of local goods such as fruits and agricultural products
Our guide will explain the particularities of this long lasting trading culture. Each boat has a special marker that lets buyers know what goods it is selling. Cai Be is a rustic town crisscrossed by many water canals. We go on-shore to visit a workshop and learn how rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies and rice wine is manufactured. Cai Be and its surrounding areas are covered with palm trees and hence the region is also famous for the production of coconut candies. With our local boat we continue to explore the lush and green canal network and observe the farmers working in the fields.
Back on board lunch is served. You can enjoy time for yourself then to either enjoy a true Vietnamese coffee at the bar or simply watch the life on the riverbanks floating by.
In the afternoon, we reach the area of Sa Dec. We embark on a traditional local boat and head towards Binh Thanh Island. This island is one of the larger ones in the vast stream of the Mekong. Some communities have settled here and make their living by growing water hyacinths. We exclulsively visit one of those untouched areas. By wandering through the village, we get a deep understanding of the native life. Moreover, we see the whole process of mat making. You can try weaving yourself, which is still done manually. We will meet also an elderly local couple who shares their story on this island. They are happy to engage in a conversation with you.
Back on board you may like to pamper yourself with a spa treatment or take a dip into the pool on the sun deck. Our expert guide offers a presentation on the “Life on the Mekong Delta” as the ship continues sailing to Tan Chau – near the border to Cambodia. We moor midstream.
Dinner is served and afterwards you can join our evening cinema session (offered every night) featuring selected classic movies.
Welcome to the fish sanctuary of Vietnam. Begin your day with a hearty breakfast at the dining hall or in the quiet privacy of your balcony. Brace yourself for a tour around Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced town with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. Once on-shore we hop on “xelois” to explore Tan Chau. A “xeloi” is a local vehicle which is still used as a taxi in this region. We slowly move around the streets to see all the workshops, houses and domiciles. Get to feel the laid-back vibes of this place. We stop at the colorful local market near one of the town’s temples. This is the best time to interact with the vendors of this friendly town to practice your bargaining skills. We board our local boat and cruise past floating houses and finally reach a floating fish farm. This region is the source of a fish production that is sold all over the world. Here we get a deep insight on how fish farming works.
Back on board our “home” we sail towards the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Get ready for a fascinating and leisurely cruise through the deep Cambodian countryside towards Phnom Penh. The whole afternoon is at your own arrangements. Now is the time when even the last passenger will switch into cruise mode and experience the therapeutic influence that this mighty river radiates. It is time for massages, for relaxation on the sun beds, for private balcony kick-backs - it’s the time to merge with the river. A culinary class is offered in the afternoon to sharpen your knowledge and skills on the local cuisine. Some may like to visit the bridge - the captain always has a little story to share about “his” river. Float into a state of mild bliss and join our afternoon High Tea for sweet treats before you totally drift away in relaxation. Dinner is served before we arrive at the capital of Cambodia. Around seven o’clock the boat docks at the pier of Phnom Penh. You are free to go for your first exploration by yourself. Stroll along the river promenade and watch the locals chit-chatting, selling odds and ends or have a drink in one of the numerous bars (kindly inform our crew once you are leaving the ship on your own).
Welcome to Phnom Penh - once called the Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained a lot of its rustic charm and elegance. It is an amazing town with centuries of incredible history and culture which can still be felt at many street corners
After breakfast we bid farewell to our passengers of the Pearl of the Orient Cruise (3-nights).
At the same time we welcome our passengers of the Serenity Cruise (4-nights).
We start with a full sight-seeing tour right after breakfast. By bus we visit the Killing Fields at outside of the city and after, the centrally located prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of Khmer history when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country with terror and suppression. Those places have not changed much since this horrific time back in the early seventies and it can be heartbreaking. Alternatively, explore the city in the morning on your own before re-joining the group. We will have lunch at a fine restaurant in town. Our exploration of Phnom Penh continues on the fascinating cultural heritage of Phnom Penh. The golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum are the afternoon highlights. The day trip ends with a “cyclo” ride back to the ship through the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh.
Take some rest in your spacious cabin or join other fellow passengers at the bar for some refreshing drinks before our captivating evening activities start: We move to the lounge which is set up for a lecture about Cambodian modern history, held by a professor of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Definitely among the highlights of this cruise receiving knowledge first hand as our lecturer has studied the subject extensively and personally. After the lecture a barbecue dinner feast on the sun deck commences. The dinner is accompanied with an Apsara dance performance. You have to witness the brilliance and richness of this dance along with the soothing sounds of traditional music. As the evening unwinds, enjoy your supper with a glass of wine and marvel at the skyline of Phnom Penh, and the calming flow of the Tonle River.
Before the sun peeks over the horizon, the cruiser sets sail towards Kampong Tralach on the Tonle River – an amazingly narrow river. Gently gliding through leafy swaths of this jungle-like landscape we reach Kampong Tralach. Breakfast is served before we anchor and get ready for our first Tonle discovery. We reach the shore by local boat and cacophonous children wave enthusiastically while bringing their livestock for a bath in the meandering river. We will stop at the “Green School” which is partly supported by Heritage Line. See all the river life, which is so different than ours - by a local ox cart ride. Back on board our staff is keen on showing you a variety of traditional Khmer fashion. Lunch is served afterwards.
The ship cruises along the narrow Tonle River towards Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “water world”, where everything is on sticks and balanced on water-rich soil. Perhaps it’s the most fascinating cruising spot in Cambodia. Back on land in Kampong Chhnang, we take mini buses to a rural village nearby for a walking tour. Our guides introduce you to the village specialties – Khmer style pottery and the making of palm sugar. Before returning to the boat we explore the floating villages and wetlands of the region. Relax back on board until dinner is served. The boat moors mid-river in the Tonle area.
In the early morning during breakfast we sail from the lower Tonle River towards the Mekong passing their confluence at Phnom Penh. We arrive at the island of Koh Oknha Tey. This spot in the middle of the Mekong owns its fame for the manufacturing of high class silk products. By tuk tuk we explore the island with its workshops and learn how silk is processed from its source, provided by little silkworms, to a final top quality product made of original Cambodian silk.
Before lunch our expert guides offer a presentation about “Geography of the Mekong and Tonle Sap”. Afterwards a Monks’ blessing ceremony on board delivers spirits and wishes for our health and prosperity for all. The ship sails towards the small Angkor Ban village up in the Mekong River. The Angkor Ban village is famous for its unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. It feels like being transported back a hundred years ago into an era unaffected by modernity. Villagers are characterized by their unbridled warmth. Afterwards it’s time for some fun at a cocktail party on the riverbank. We continue cruising for a while until dinner is served. The boat finds its overnight spot at the riverbank of Kampong Cham.
After breakfast by bus we visit the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey, built in the 7th century. This small complex sits on a hill top right on the shore with breath taking views over the Mekong. We return to the ship for lunch and some relaxation. In the afternoon we head to the tiny, colorful monastery of Wat Nokor. Here we might get the chance to engage in light banter with some of the monks living in the area. As it is low water season we are able to see a bamboo bridge which connects the mainland with the island. Local communities re-build the bridge every year when the water levels drop. We continue our journey and visit a local school to understand more about the education of the young Cambodian generation (NGO project). The children here are always excited to show their skills in music and art and will bathe you in smiles upon your applause. As the sun sets, our crew invites for a farewell event. Enjoy some dancing and music together with the crew before dinner is served. The boat moors at the riverbank of Kampong Cham
Enjoy your last breakfast on board our floating sanctuary. We disembark the ship for a transfer by bus to the drop off point in Siem Reap. The transfer takes about 4.5 hours. Snacks are provided during the trip. You will arrive in Siem Reap in the early afternoon. We hope that you enjoyed this fascinating river just as our crew does every single time. Moreover, take plenty of memories and friendships along with you that will linger on with your stories of this amazing river – the Mighty Mekong
Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archeological sites in the world. Begin your day with a visit to one of Angkor’s largest Khmer temples, Angkor Wat, built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century A.D. With its beautiful proportions and extensive, intricate bas-relief stone carvings, it is one of the most spectacular sights in Southeast Asia. Spend some time exploring the fortified city of Angkor Thom, which houses several of Angkor’s most popular sights such as the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings with their dramatic bas reliefs. Today you also visit the mysterious Bayon Temple, known for its giant, stone carved faces with their enigmatic smiles. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.
Today, continue your exploration of the temple ruins left behind by the mighty Khmer Empire, which ruled Cambodia from the early 9th century for some 400 years. Its founder, King Jayavarman II, was a contemporary of Charlemagne, and his dreams of empire were equally grandiose. At its zenith, the Khmer Empire covered most of the Indochinese Peninsula. Ride to the spectacular 10th-century Hindu temple Banteay Srey (“Citadel of Women”) to see magnificent carvings of Shiva and Vishnu. Then, journey to Ta Prohm, one of the most popular of the temples of Angkor. Unlike many other buildings, it has been largely left intact as it was when discovered, with trees and large shrubs growing over the ruins.
Return to Siem Reap this afternoon and learn how local crafts are alive and well in the modern-day city. Visit a vocational center that trains 650 young apprentices every year in the traditional crafts of stone sculpture, wood carving and painting; then take a guided tour through Artisans d’Angkor, a network of studios for the newly trained craftspeople. Mingle with the locals at some of Siem Reap’s open air markets.
Coming to the end of your journey, enjoy some free time before your flight home. If time permits, shop around for some last minute purchases or simply relax before your onward departure flight.
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