Day 1: Hanoi (D)
Today arrive into Hanoi where you will be met at the airport for a transfer to your hotel.
This afternoon, your guide will take the group on an afternoon walking tour of the fascinating Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. The Old Quarter in Hanoi is over a thousand years old yet retains much of the old flavour that made the area special in earlier times. Discover this fascinating old part of Hanoi.
Later this evening, you will get your first taste of the wonderful Vietnamese cuisine and get to know the other tour members over dinner at a great restaurant.
2 night’s in a boutique 4 star hotel in the heart of the Old Quarter.
Day 2: Hanoi (B, L)
This morning, enjoy a city tour to visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (photo stop outside) and tour his historic house to learn more about the great man himself – Ho Chi Minh. Continue on to tour Hoa Lo, the infamous prison nick named the Hanoi Hilton. After which, visit the Women’s Museum, a fascinating insight into the Vietnamese culture and traditions including the women’s role in supporting the family and country.
It's then on to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 it was Vietnam’s first university and dedicated to Confucius. Your morning concludes with lunch at KOTO a not-for-profit restaurant helping troubled youth learn life and culinary skills to bring them an education and a brighter future.
After lunch, the afternoon is yours at leisure – you may wish explore one of the many other museum’s in Hanoi, enjoy Hoan Kiem Lake – or simply shop! Your guide is available to assist you if you wish.
Optional Experiences: Make the most of your time with these optional experiences bookable with your tour guide.
Chocolate High Tea - The impressive and historic Hotel Metropole Hanoi offers an exquisite afternoon Chocolate High Tea. Starts 3pm.
Street Food Tour – Sample the special flavours of Vietnam on this walking tour of the street food of Vietnam. Guided, 4-7pm
Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B, L, D)
After breakfast, depart for Halong Bay - a legendary world just waiting to be explored. Here, board your cruise boat which combines oriental style with contemporary comfort. Together they are the perfect recipe for an enchanting holiday. On arriving at Halong Bay around midday, board your cruise vessel for a delicious buffet lunch as it sets sails out amongst the stunning seascape.
Spend the afternoon cruising amongst the limestone islands with stops along the way. There may also be the opportunity to kayak or swim. On board activities include sunbathing, traditional massage and cooking demonstrations.
Overnight onboard your deluxe cruise. Your cabin offers all the amenities to feel comfortable: twin or queen-size bed, air-conditioning, ensuite bathroom with shower and expansive windows providing memorable views.
Day 4: Halong Bay - Hoi An via Hanoi (B)
For the early risers you can join in with Tai Chi on the sundeck, feel the early morning salt water scent or watch the sun rising from behind the mountains. Or simply enjoy dawn break with coffee and a light breakfast. Cruise back to port with stops with at islands and bays before enjoying a buffet brunch at the end of your memorable trip. On disembarking your guide greets you for the return drive to Hanoi with a visit to a local village popular for embroidery and textile products.
Late afternoon, arrive at Hanoi Airport for a short flight to Danang in Central Vietnam. Bonus: We have included access to the airport lounge for you to relax before your flight. On arrival in Danang, transfer to your seaside hotel in Hoi An.
4 nights' in a 4 star boutique beachfront resort
Day 5: Hoi An (B)
A later start this morning allows you to relax and enjoy a leisurely breakfast or early morning swim, before visiting Hoi An historic town. Begin with a walking tour inside and around the historic old buildings. Ancient shop houses line the streets, the Japanese covered bridge is a landmark and you’ll discover the history of this ancient trading port. Bonus: Your visit concludes with your chance to witness how the beautiful lanterns seen all around Hoi An are made – and give it a go yourself!
The afternoon is yours to spend at leisure. Hoi An is one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam with its charming old town filled with art shops, home-wares, cafés and tailors. During the 17th and 18th centuries Hoi An was a major Asian trading centre, it is a wonderful town for getting clothes tailor-made or for buying souvenirs, Hoi An also boasts an excellent beach.
Day 6: Hoi An/ My Con Excursion (B)
This morning we discover the ancient ruins of My Son. Between the 4th and 13th centuries a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Vietnam. This is graphically illustrated by the My Son remains of impressive towers located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence. My Son is considered to be Vietnam’s counterpart to the grand cities of other Asian civilizations such as Angkor (Cambodia), Bagan (Myanmar), Ayutthaya (Thailand), and Borobudur (Java).
You’ll return to Hoi An by boat for a relaxing view of the surrounding area. Arriving into Hoi An town, the afternoon and evening is yours at leisure to enjoy Hoi An or return to your hotel and its beach side setting.
Day 7: Hoi An (B)
Today we have included a full day at leisure in Hoi An as it is the jewel in anyone’s visit to Hoi An. Relax, explore, swim or shop – the choice is yours.
To discover more we offer optional experiences you can book with your guide (additional cost):
Red Bridge Cooking Class – Red Bridge offers one of the most professional and fun cooking classes in Vietnam. Begin with a market visit to purchase produce, followed by a boat trip to the school. Red Bridge will teach you how to create many of the popular Vietnamese dishes you will encounter on your holiday. Begins at 8.15am in Hoi An town.
Countryside Village by Bicycle - Using quality local bikes your guide will collect you from your hotel for a cycle through the countryside to a local village where the way of life remains as it has for generations. You’ll see pottery making and visit the Tra Que farming Village, the fresh vegetable gardens and many of local farmers work at their fields using traditional methods. On the way see small handicrafts, such as rice paper making. Lunch is included of local food before biking back to your hotel. Fitness level: Average. Grade: Easy
Ethnic Village by Jeep – Travel by American Army Jeep for an exciting ride inland towards the Ho Chi Minh Trail, through stunning countryside to a traditional ethnic community still living the ways of their ancestors. Full Day Tour, Guided.
These optional tours can be pre-paid with your tour or available for you to book with your guide prior to arriving in Hoi An. Alternatively you may simply relax beside the beach or enjoy shopping in the old town. Your guide is with you if you would like assistance.
Day 8: Hoi An - Hue via the Hai Van Pass (B, D)
This morning travel to Hue via the spectacular Hai Van Pass. After leaving Hoi An, the first stop is Marble Mountain, a whole village devoted to carving beautiful sculptures, then stop briefly at the Cham Museum filled with artefacts from the ancient Cham Kingdom, before heading over the pass. Once rated by National Geographic as one of the 50 ‘must-do’ journeys in the world, stunning views await at the top of Lang Co Beach and out to sea.
Continue on to Hue for check in with time to relax. Bonus: This evening you’ll be pampered like royalty as you discover the cuisine the Emperor’s dined on at a special Imperial banquet dinner.
2 nights' in a historic 4 star hotel
Day 9: Hue (B, L)
Today explore the historical significance on a city tour of the small city of Hue – the former Imperial City. Start the day with a boat trip along the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, built in 1601. Then continue by car to the Ancient Citadel, the capital of Vietnam from 1802-1945, where the last king of Vietnam, Bao Dai abdicated on 30 August 1945.
After lunch at a delicious local restaurant, visit the tomb of the Emperor Khai Dinh with its mix of Asian and Western architecture. On the return to your hotel a stop is made at a roadside village to observe how locals make incense and traditional conical hats.
Day 10: Hue - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (B)
This morning transfer to Hue Airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). On arrival transfer to your hotel for check-in and time to freshen up. We then begin a tour of the main sights in and around Saigon including a stop at the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral and Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office. We include a stop for lunch (own cost) and a visit to the War Museum – a stark reminder of the US-Vietnam war. Continue on for a special insight with a tour of a traditional medicine museum where you’ll discover the use of natural herbs in traditional medicines, used in Asia dating back to the Stone Age. We end the day at a local boutique brewery for those who want to sample an ice-cold local beer to end their day!
2 nights' in a historic central 4 star hotel
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (B, D)
After breakfast, transfer to the wharf for a magical speedboat trip up Saigon River to visit the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. Dug by hand the tunnels were home to the Viet Cong during the US war - parts have been excavated for visitors to see inside.
Returning to Saigon, the afternoon is yours at leisure for that last-minute shopping or to enjoy the cafés and bars. Tip: For those who like to shop, enjoy the luxury brand names around downtown Saigon or head to Ben Thanh Market to test your bartering skills.
Tonight, we celebrate your tour with a farewell dinner on a stunning evening river cruise as some tour participants will end their journey with us here.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Cruise Departure (B,L,D)
Today, transfer to the departure point of your River Cruise. Say farewell to your local Vietnam guide and some tour guests here as you will be hosted and guided by the River Cruise Company.
The Lost Civilization Cruise – Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (8 days/7 nights)
This classic Mekong river cruise, on board a luxury river cruise ship takes you on an amazing journey to places rarely visited as you travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The Mekong River and Tonle Sap (The Great Lake of Cambodia) are the flowing heart of the area, giving love and life to this nation.
NOTE: Please note that the cruise itinerary varies slightly as the water level varies a great deal according to the time of the year and the amount of rainfall recorded.
Bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of the city. Join other guests and transfer south 70 kilometres by land to My Tho to embark on the boutique ship. Refreshing drinks and a light lunch is served as the ship steadily glides off on your journey along the Mekong. Enjoy the sunset from your balcony followed by a briefing at the lounge. Later, enjoy a welcome dinner as the ship drops anchor. Overnight onboard at Cai Be.
On board, settle into your Superior Stateroom featuring bright tones with white wood furnishings and hand painted wall to ceiling décor. Gracefully designed the good-sized cabin has a private balcony with seating to watch the river flow past and a queen size bed. The in-cabin bathroom features a stand-up shower and a partition separates the bed from a small desk and wardrobe.
Amenities: Air conditioner, hot water kettle, ILLY espresso machine, balcony with two chairs and table, mini bar, hair dryer, internal phone, desk, chairs, luggage rack, bath robe, sun hat, binocular, hand fan, sandals, in-room safe, music and cabin sound system.
Day 13: Cai Be, Mekong (B,L, D)
If you wish, join in the Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck. Today a visit is made to Cai Be, a main floating market, which you will visit on board a smaller boat. The cruise will halt intermittently to allow you to observe how rice products are made including rice paper, rice cookies, rice pop, rice wine and coconut candies.
Witness local home life along the canals on the way back to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon, cruise to Sa Dec. Upon arrival, tour Binh Thanh Island to visit an untouched village. The ship will moor midstream overnight near Tan Chau.
Day 14: Border Crossing (B,L,D)
This morning, enjoy a short excursion into Tan Chau, a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. Stop at a colourful market near ancient temples, cruise past floating houses and stop to visit a fish farm located in the Tan Chau canal.
The afternoon is spent cruising up river, a chance to get into cruise mode, enjoy the pool, spa, your balcony or join in the culinary class to learn about some of the local cuisine. Overnight anchor midstream near Phnom Penh.
Day 15: Phnom Penh (B,L,D)
Today, explore charming Phnom Penh, once called the Paris of the East. A visit is made to the Killing Fields at the outskirts of the city and after, the centrally located prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of Khmer history. (Note: some images may disturb).
Lunch will be taken at a nice restaurant in town. Continue on to see 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.
In the evening there is a comprehensive lecture on Cambodia’s modern history onboard. A barbecue dinner is served right after the lecture along with an Apsara dance performance. Overnight onboard in Phnom Penh.
Day 16: Angkor Ban - Kampong Cham (B,L,D)
The ship departs Phnom Penh before the break of dawn cruising on to pass tranquil villages, exhilarating river life and sun-hardened fishermen on their shift boats. Depending on the river water level the cruise today will likely include a visit to a small rural Cambodian school. An incredibly heart-warming experience. A village visit showcases either silk manufacture or a pottery village. Overnight on board in Kampong Cham.
Day 17: Kampong Cham (B,L,D)
This morning’s excursion is by tuk-tuk to explore an island 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 guide offers 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. Overnight on board in Kampong Cham.
Day 18: Kampong Chhnang (B,L,D)
Again dependent on water level, today’s excursion may include a visit to the Cambodian water world village, where everything is on sticks balanced on water-rich soil. This is perhaps the most fascinating cruise locale in Cambodia, or a visit to 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 of the Mekong.
Return to the ship for lunch while cruising the narrow and meandering Tonle Sap River. Come evening, a sumptuous dinner and for the big entertainment - bring along your dance shoes and learn to elegantly move the Cambodian way with our staff doubling up as dance instructors!
Day 19: Siem Reap (B)
After a leisurely breakfast and farewell to your friendly crew its time to disembark for the transfer to Siem Reap.
* Note: Departure point and transfer time varies between low and high-water season. The transfer by coach to Siem Reap can take between one to four hours depending on disembarkation point.
On arrival in Siem Reap, farewell your fellow cruise passengers as you check in for two nights at the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
Day 20: Siem Reap / Angkor Temples Excursion (B,L)
Discover the incredible key temples of the Angkor complex. Today you have a private tour as your local English speaking Cambodian guide will collect you from your hotel to begin with Angkor Thom entering via the South Gate and the Bayon complex.
The vast area of the Angkor Thom ruins, over a mile on one side, contains many stone temples and other features to explore. The city has five monumental gates (one in each wall plus an extra in the eastern wall), each is 20m high and decorated with stone elephant trunks and the king's favourite motif, the four faces of Avalokiteshvara. The Bayon Temple (circa 1190) is a Buddhist temple but retains elements of Hindu cosmology and imagery. Standing in the exact centre of the walled city, it represents the intersection of heaven and earth. It is known for its enigmatic smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara and its extraordinary bas-reliefs.
Enjoy a break for lunch at a restaurant set in a garden setting close to the temples. Then continue to visit Angkor Wat, the jewel in the crown of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the best-preserved example of Khmer architecture in Cambodia and is so grand in design that some rank it among the Seven Wonders of the World. It appears on the Cambodian national flag, a very rare instance of a flag incorporating an image of a building. The "lost city" of Angkor first attracted the interest of Europeans in the 1800's after Cambodia was colonised by the French. Transfer back to your hotel around 5pm.
Day 21: Siem Reap (B)
Sadly today is the end of your tour. We include a transfer to Siem Reap Airport for your onward travel arrangements.