Arrive in Vientiane, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in.
In the afternoon, visit Patuxay monument, Laos’ version of the Arc de Triomphe, where you can climb the stairs to the roof for sweeping panoramic views of the city. Next, your tour takes you to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Impressive Welcome Dinner will be served at local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Vientiane.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will enjoy a guided tour to discover the hidden charms of Vientiane, whose name means ‘the city of sandal wood’. Vientiane is one of the quietest capitals in the world, far away from the bustle and hustle of other Asian capitals and far from the real-estate frenzy of the regional megalopolis.
Your tour begins at the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues.
Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo Museum, used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Also nearby is the Presidential Palace. Although you are not allowed to visit inside, it is a good glimpse in to the town’s colonial past as this building formerly served as the French governor’s palace.
Stop at Wat Simuang, the most popular and venerated temple in Vientiane, as it is considered the guardian of the spirit of the city. Upon its grounds, you will find an Angkorian-era pillar and it is a popular belief that if you circle it three times and make a wish, then that wish will come true.
Enjoy a delicious Lao-style lunch at Makphet Restaurant. Established by Friends International (www.friends-international.org), Makphet is a charity-run restaurant aiming to train the area’s street children in the hospitality industry. Professional chefs from around the world have volunteered their time in developing the menus and training the staff. The food is excellent, and the staff excels in bringing true Lao-hospitality in to their service.
Visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them.
Your guide and private car will then transfer you to the airport for your departure flight QV103 departing at 17:10 to Luang Prabang.
Arrive in Luang Prabang on flight QV103 at 17:50, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to the heart of the spiritual capital of Laos. You will then be dropped off at your hotel to check in and relax. Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang.
After your breakfast, your guide will pick you up at your hotel. Your city tour begins with a visit to the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos. Continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish this morning with a visit to the beautiful Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important temples in Laos.
Then transfer back to your hotel/restaurant (lunch at your convenience by your own account). Your guide will pick you up at 02:00pm from your hotel/ restaurant in Luang Prabang for a short transfer by tuk tuk to our electric powered bike station.
After a short briefing to explain you the use of your new vehicle, it will be time to start your discovery of our “responsible Luang Prabang” in a quiet way! These electric bikes are an emissions-free mode of transportation and allow the user to either pedal the bike by their own power or to coast along using the bike’s battery-powered, rechargeable motor.
Begin with a short ride to the Traditional Art & Ethnology Center, your first stop of the day. The Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre is dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people (note: closed on Monday).
Continue to the Phousi Market where you can join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruit. Your guide will be here to encourage you to taste some of the exotic flavors of the local fruits, helping to identify new items not found in your grocery store back home!
Then, it will be time to return the bike to the station and transfer to a stunning country side location for your evening cooking course.
Lao cuisine relies heavily on the freshest produce and incorporates a range of intriguing flavors, many unfamiliar to the western palate. A cooking class at ‘Tamarind’ restaurant starts with an introduction to these main ingredients and how they are used in Lao cuisine. Then you will start preparing and cooking an assortment of dishes under supervision- a cheerful chef who will teach you the traditional techniques as well as information about Lao culture. A cooking class is an ideal way to experience a culture from inside as Lao people take pride in sharing their love for their cuisine with some introduction to distinctive Lao dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. Recipes are provided for you to take back home. Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang.
For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
You will then board a traditional wooden boat, Nava Mekong, for a relaxing cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy stunning mountain scenery and witness the simple rural lifestyles which rely on the river as you make your way upstream for 1.5 – 2 hours. You will reach Pak Ou caves at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou Rivers. In these 2 caves are displayed hundreds of sacred centuries-old Buddha images which are the object of pilgrimages during the Lao New Year festivities around mid April. The boat then keeps cruising in the vicinity of the caves and will moor during lunch time at the foot of beautiful limestone cliffs. A selection of typical Lao dishes will be served onboard. Cruise back to Luang Prabang and return in the early afternoon and transfer directly to Luang Prabang International Airport for your onward flight to Hanoi.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you are warmly welcomed by our local guide and transfer to hotel in Hanoi for check in. Impressive Welcome Dinner will be served at local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Morning drive through the countryside from Hanoi to Halong Bay (165 km east of Hanoi) - a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty, you will experience a rural area dotted with villages, rice fields and farms providing the many parts of the nation with rice, fruits and vegetables. Short rest stop en route, you will reach Halong city after 3.5
12h00 - 12h30: Embark on Cruise followed by a short cruise briefing.
13h00 - 15h30: Savor a delectable lunch as Cruises among the limestone islands.
15h30 - 16h30: Kayak among the hidden areas of the bay, around the Luon Cave area. Back to the Cruise
16h30 - 17h30: Cruising to Titop island. Go swimming and relaxing at the beach of Titov or climb up to the top of the island for a panorama view of Halong Bay.
17h30 : Cruise back to the main boat for a shower. Relax or snap photos as the sun starts to set.
19h00 : Dinner is served. Socialize with other guests, fish for squid, or just laze around.
Overnight on board.
06h30 - 07h00: Start your day with Tai Chi exercises or a photo hunt.
07h30 - 08h30: Have breakfast at sunrise.
08h30 - 09h30: Explore the amazing Sung Sot Cave - the nicest cave in Halong Bay.
09h30 : Return to the boat. Freshen up and check out of your cabin.
09h30 - 10h30: Continue your cruise exploring the Bay, passing Ba Hang fishing village, Dog Islet, and more.
10h30 - 11h30: While heading back to the habor, watch the cooking demonstration before enjoying a traditional Vietnamese lunch.
12h00 - 12h30: Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi, short rest at Dai Viet or Hong Ngoc or ABC shopping en route back. Arrival Hanoi, check in the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi
- The above itinerary is for your reference only as each cruise will have its own different itinerary and will be slightly different.
- The cruise itinerary is subject to change due to weather, tide levels and operating conditions without prior notice.
This morning, you will explore the citya to visit the Temple of Literature. In 1076, Vietnam's first university Quoc Tu Giam, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Then you will visit The One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049, next. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the Mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and The Former Presidents House on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (viewed from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov)
Tour continues to visit Hoa Lo prison, known by its American inmates as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ during the war years of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Whilst much of it has been torn down to make way for a modern office development a section of it remains open for visitors and provides a fascinating insight into the domination of the French during their colonial governance. Lunch will be served at local restaurant
Afternoon you will visit the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. Hoan Kiem Lake was already considered the most beautiful lake in Hanoi when Ngoc Son Temple was built on an island in the 19th century. Initially, the temple was called Ngoc Son Pagoda and was later renamed Ngoc Son Temple, since temples are dedicated to saints. Saint Van Suong, considered to be one of the brightest stars in Vietnam's literary and intellectual circles, was worshipped there along with other National heroes.
Afterward enjoy a leisurely one-hour buggy tour through the streets of this fascinating city, you will come face to face with the daily lives and activities of Hanoi’s streets as you pass through the congested, but delightful, Old Quarter. Ride pass the fascinating streets, which still bear the names of the shops that could be found in them in the 15th to 18th centuries
End the day you will attend a performance of the famous water puppet show. The Vietnamese traditional art of water puppetry has roots that date back to the 10th century when it originated in the Red River Delta area of northern Vietnam. The farmers in the region celebrated festivals and harvests by performing this unique art form. Learning to manipulate the puppets is usually a tradition that is passed on as a family secret. It takes a great deal of skill and because the puppeteer’s hands are underwater, it is easy for them to hide their methods. The fascinating part is that the central stage is below the water line, and the puppeteers stand in the waist-deep water. A rattan curtain hides them, but they can see the stage and the audience through the bamboo slats. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Optional Ionah Show @ surcharge of US$ 35/ pax
Ionah Show - a unique experience combining modern dance, theater, circus, and music, visual and light effects. It delivers novelty and originality in performances and stage effects. Ionah Show is only performing on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.
This morning you will enjoy the cooking class. The course begins with a brief introduction to Vietnamese cuisine, highlighting the ingredients of traditional Vietnamese dishes. Afterwards, walk to the Chau Long Market and enjoy a market tour with the Hanoi Cooking Centre chefs who will highlight some of the daily produce sold, such fruits, vegetables, meat, silk worms, etc. Surely, this market visit will provide you with endless photo opportunities. Return to the Hanoi Cooking Centre and get started. The chefs will explain how to prepare the various dishes on the menu. Printed recipes as well as samples of some local fruits, green bean cake, quail eggs, etc. can be taken home after the class. Enjoy the meal you prepared and visit the Hanoi Cooking Centre shop where you may find useful cooking utensils, recipe books, spices, etc.
Note: Up to 9 guests, you will attend in a joining (shared) - cooking class. From 10 guests up, you will participate in a private class, maximum of 32 attendees for one class.
Afternoon proceed to Noi Bai Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport by our local guide then transfer to check in the hotel. Overnight at hotel in Hochiminh.
After breakfast at hotel, guide will meet in the lobby of your hotel and enjoy the journey to Tay Ninh, the scenery changes as you leave the city behind to views of rice paddies, villagers drying noodles by the side of the road and other scenes typical to southern Vietnam. Visit the Cao Dai great temple at Tay Ninh with its flamboyant architecture, where all the major faiths of the world blend together in a unique religious mosaic. You will have the opportunity to watch the worshippers in their white long tunics during noon mass.
Afterward transfer to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels (50km from Tay Ninh) to enjoy the lunch at local restaurant.
After lunch you will explore Cu Chi Tunnels - an complex of an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars. There are more than 200 km of tunnels, comprising a main axis system with many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and other tunnels. You have the chance to crawl through this amazing system of tunnels. For a more “thrilling” experience, you can even test your shooting skills on original AK47s and other guns from past war times (subject to a surcharge). Journey back to Ho Chi Minh. Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
Morning meet our local guide in the lobby of your hotel and enjoy 3 hour drive to Cai Be, deep in the Mekong Delta. Enjoy the lush green view of the paddy fields along the road. Upon arrival in Cai Be, embark on a motorized boat that takes you to the floating market and spend an hour there for a unique interaction.
Continue your tour on row boat zigzagging through a maze of canals shadowed by coconut trees to a great orchard where you can freely taste many seasonal fruits of Vietnam and observe daily life of the local folks. Visit a family workshop to see how coconut candy, crispy rice cake and ceramic are made.
You will then enrich your experience by taking a bicycle ride roaming through a village to check out several rural shops or just relax on a hammock for a short rest before moving on to a marketplace where you are encouraged to interact with the vendors and see how friendly and respectful they are.
After lunch, the boat will be waiting for you at the pier nearby to bring you back to the harbour city where your car will be ready to take you back to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
Discover District 5, also known as Cholon, Saigon’s former Chinatown. Visit Nguyen Dinh Chieu school where blind and visually impaired children are taught. Nguyen Dinh Chieu was a patriotic writer, himself a visually impaired man, who fought French colonials with his words. Try a foot massage given by the students and experience how these children can see with their hands. Our next stop is the museum of Vietnamese traditional medicine (FITO), the only museum of its kind in Vietnam. The FITO has more than 3,000 items including traditional tools and medicine books as well as miniatures of typical northern and southern medicine houses on display. The museum building and its interior reflect the skilfulness of local artisans. Continue to visit Binh Tay Market, the central market of Cholon, trading daily goods coming from all directions of Southern Vietnam, Thien Hau Pagoda and a stop at a local medicine vendor to learn more about the traditional way of healing. Lucnh at local restaurant.
In the afternoon, return to Saigon and tour continues to visit the former Presidential Palace, renowned for its symbolic role in the fall of Saigon in 1975 and continue to visit the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral inaugurated in 1880 became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient as was the Post office designed by Gustav Eiffel and resembling a grand railway station, the people’s Committee Hall, Old Saigon Post Office. End the day at the famous Ben Thanh Market, where you can purchase souvenirs for your beloved ones and shopping before transfer back to your hotel. Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Breakfast at hotel, free at your own leisure until transfer to Tan San Nhat International Airport for your international flight home. We hope you had an exciting holiday with us. Making it an affair to remember!