PRIVATE TOUR – CODE: VIM08

Pack your bags! A 3 weeks starts in Southern Vietnam winds up the country to the unspoiled beauty of Ha Long Bay and the mountains along the Chinese border then into picturesque northern Laos. Highlights of Laos are followed by Cambodia’s charm and ancient history. River trips and World Heritage locations combined with natural beauty set a month of discovery. All remote land border crossings make the trips more adventure!

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Travel route: Saigon – Cu Chi – Mekong delta – Can Tho – Saigon – Da Nang – Hoi An – My Son – Hue – Hanoi – Halong – Hanoi – Mai Chau – Hanoi – Luang Prabang – Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Departure

BRIEF ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Saigon – Arrival (L or D)
  • Day 2: Saigon – Cu Chi tunnels – City tour – Buffet dinner on Saigon river (B,D)
  • Day 3: Saigon – My Tho – Thoi Son island – Dong Tam snake farm (Mekong delta) – Can Tho (B,L)
  • Day 4: Cai Rang/Phong Dien floating market – Saigon (B,L)
  • Day 5: Saigon – Flight to Da Nang – Hoi An (B,L)
  • Day 6: Hoi An – Tra Que herb village – Cam Thanh coconut village (B,L) Group tour
  • Day 7: Hoi An – My Son – Free afternoon (B)
  • Day 8: Hoi An – Da Nang – Hue (B,L)
  • Day 9: Hue – Flight to Hanoi (B,L)
  • Day 10: Hanoi – Halong – UNESCO World Heritage (B,L,D)
  • Day 11: Halong – Hanoi (B,L)
  • Day 12: Hanoi – Mai Chau valley – Traditional dancing and singing show (B,L,D)
  • Day 13: Mai Chau – Hanoi – Flight to Luang Prabang (B,L,D)
  • Day 14: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Buddhism caves – Khuang Si waterfalls (B,L)
  • Day 15: Luang Prabang – Short trekking and swimming in hilltribe villages (B,L)
  • Day 16: Luang Prabang – City tour by bicycle – Flight to Siem Reap (B,D)
  • Day 17: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom (B,L)
  • Day 18: Siem Reap – Ta Prohm (early morning) – Tonle Sap lake – Preak Toal Bird watching (B,L)
  • Day 19: Siem Reap – Flight to Phnom Penh – Killing fields –  Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (B,L)
  • Day 20: Phnom Penh – Departure (B)

DETAIL ITINERARY

Day 1: Saigon – Arrival (L or D)

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh city (formerly named Saigon), the economic hub of Vietnam !

Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat international airport, you will meet our CosianaTour guide and transfer to hotel for check-in. Enjoy welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant (upon your flight arrival time, lunch maybe pre-arranged instead). Overnight in Saigon.

Day 2: Saigon – Cu Chi tunnels – City tour – Buffet dinner on Saigon river (B,D)

Morning, we will visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the former fierce battlefield during Vietnam War 1955 – 1975. The Vietnamese are proud of their resolve in their prolonged history of struggle against invading armies, and the story of the people of Cu Chi is indicative of that spirit. The residents of Cu Chi then took their war underground, literally, developing a network of tunnels that, at its height, stretched as far as Cambodia and included meeting rooms, kitchens, and triage areas. Try crawling in one part of this 32km underground tunnels. Free fire by a AK47 Kalasnikov riffle at the “Free Target” zone. Return to your hotel and lunch is arranged by yourselves.

Afternoon, you visit the Reunification Palace which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975. Take a short walk to Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Sai Gon Post Office , a neo-Romanesque cathedral constructed between 1877 and 1883 using bricks from Marseilles and stained-glass windows from Chartres. Free shopping in Ben Thanh market, the city’s biggest market.

At 19:00, our tour guide picks you up to Bach Dang pier. You embark Bonsai river cruise for dining out. Enjoy sumptous buffet dinner on board with traditional music show. Overnight in Saigon.

Day 3: Saigon – My Tho – Thoi Son island – Dong Tam snake farm (Mekong delta) – Can Tho (B,L)

Today we take an excursion to My Tho. We will be traveling past miles of flat rice fields, along a bustling High Way. On arrival at My Tho, we board a Mekong cruise boat to Thoi Son Island where we will be entertained with traditional music.  We will then change to a paddle boat to cruise through the narrow canals and visit home grown industries like coconut candy and rice-wine making. We next travel by motorized boat to another Mekong island to visit a bee farm and try tea with fresh honey from the beehives and enjoy fresh seasonal fruits. As we return to My Tho there will be a visit to the Dong Tam snake farm, the largest centre for snake rearing and snakebite treatment in the Mekong River Delta.  Proceed for Can Tho, the municipality of Mekong Delta. Check in your hotel and free city discovery at night. Overnight in Can Tho.

Day 4: Cai Rang/Phong Dien floating market – Saigon (B,L)

Morning, depart Ninh Kieu wharf by shuttle-boat, you can see bustling activities along Can Tho riverbanks. Particularly, you may know how local people go fishing with plenty of fish traps and how they transport passengers as well as products by the waterway. Approaching Cai Rang or Phong Dien floating market, you can reappear the selling activities in the past using a traditional “offering pole” exchanging consumer goods hanging on the pole for Mekong fruit and vegetables with local sellers. To understand more about lifestyle over here, keep on going into the small creeks called Rach Nho in which the Southern countryside can be seen clearly before cruising back to Ninh Kieu Wharf. Lunch at local restaurant.

Afternoon, you’re transferred back to Saigon. Arrive at Saigon in the mid-afternoon. Overnight in Saigon.

Day 5: Saigon – Flight to Da Nang – Hoi An (B,L)

Free morning at your leisure. You check out the hotel then private transfer (with our driver) to Tan Son Nhat airport for your internal flight to Da Nang city in Central Vietnam.

Upon arrival, you meet our tour guide in Da Nang then private transfer to Hoi An Old town, UNESCO World heritage. Check in your hotel and enjoy welcome lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon is for your walking tour among the narrow streets of Hoi An Old quarter. Our tour guide will go with you to visit Japanese covered bridge, Fukian Trading Hall, Tan Ky Old house, a tailor shop, the town market, Thu Bon river. Overnight in Hoi An – Old town.

Day 6: Hoi An – Tra Que herb village – Cam Thanh coconut village (B,L) Group tour

Today you will join a group excursion to visit the 2 most famous villages around Hoi An. 08:00 Guide pick guests up at hotel, take bicycles along De Vong  River  to  Cam  An wharf. Embark  on  the  boat  to  Cua Dai sand dune, enjoy casting net  show  and  learn  how  to cast net by local fisher man. Continue    to    Cam    Thanh Water coconut village, have a brief introduce  to the history there.

Take on the basket boat along the water coconut river,  Fisherman will teach  you  how  to catch the crabs (02 paxs/ boat). Divide group into 2 teams for basket boat racing and catching crabs. There will be a lovely present for winner.

Embark on the boat, enjoy the folk songs show by local people and learn how to make funny tools by water coconut leaf. Then get on board to Cam An wharf, continue to take a bicycle to Tra Que village and join in the daily activities with local farmer there. Enjoy special local food such as pancake, Tam Huu spring roll, fried fish … at Tra Que herb village.

14.30 Bidding farewell, take a bicycle back to Hotel.

15.00 Ends of tour.

Free leisure and overnight in Hoi An – Old town.

Day 7: Hoi An – My Son – Free afternoon (B)

Morning, meet our guide at hotel and transfer to visit My Son – Vietnam’s most important Cham’s site. My Son becomes a religious center in the late 4th century and lasts till 13th century – a longest period of development of any monument in Southeast Asia. Wander around this chain of 70 ancient Champa towers and our guide will tell more about the unique architecture and why UNESCO ranks My Son as a World Cultural Heritage. Transfer back your hotel to check out.

Hoi An beach is just 4km from the Old town. We will transfer you from the hotel in Hoi An Old town to another beach resort hotel in Hoi An beach. You have free afternoon to enjoy swimming and sunbathing. Overnight in Hoi An – Beach.

Day 8: Hoi An – Da Nang – Hue (B,L)

Free morning at leisure and check out at 10:00. Our guide will pick you up to Da Nang city for a short visit in Marble mountain. A cluster of five hills made from limestone and marble, Marble Mountains are a well-known pilgrimage site with peaks, caves, tunnels and temples all just waiting to be discovered. Lunch is arranged in a local restaurant in Da Nang.

Continue driving to Hue city crossing the Hai Van Ocean Cloudy pass with 1 side is mountain, 1 side is ocean. Upon arrival in Hue city, you visit Hue Imperial Closure. Take city tour to visit this Royal Citadel – Vietnam’s former imperial capital and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Check in your hotel and overnight in Hue.

Day 9: Hue – Flight to Hanoi (B,L)

In the morning, you visit Thien Mu Pagoda and Minh Mang emperor tomb. Visit the community of garden-houses in Phu Mong and some traditional craft villages, just 5km far away from the center of Hue city – visit embroidery village of Kim Long to discover how they can embroider a whole picture. Next stop will be the bronze casting village, one of the most well known bronze casting centers which produces different kinds of products, from a small vase to large burner. Lunch is served before your internal flight to Hanoi.

Welcome to Hanoi, the 1,000-year-old capital of Vietnam !

Upon arrival, you meet our tour guide in Hanoi then private transfer to your hotel in the city center. This afternoon a private Electric car will pick you up from your hotel to get around Hanoi Old quarter. You have 1 hour passing through 28 ancient streets of the Old quarter, Bach Ma temple, O Quan Chuong old city gate. 1 stop to visit Old House 87 Ma May street and Ngoc Son temple marking the city center. The tour guide will tell you about the difference between Hanoi Old quarter and Hoi An Old town. See-off at your hotel. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 10: Hanoi – Halong bay – UNESCO World Heritage (B,L,D)

Start at 8am with shuttle bus transfer to Halong City. This takes around 3 hours. We may stop enroute to admire the local scenery. Arrive at the port around 11:30 and board the ship. Begin sailing and pass through a magical bay, where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragons’ teeth. After lunch, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay dotted with golden sails, go swimming on a quiet beach or sunbath on the sundeck. Later in the afternoon, visit an interesting fishing village with an opportunity to interact with local people who have been living in the bay for almost three generations. Back on board, enjoy a lavish dinner.

Day 11: Halong – Hanoi (B,L)

Wake up with Tai Chi exercises (a kind of light exercises) on the sun deck and continue cruising the bays. Enjoy breakfast buffet in the restaurant, then visit the limestone grotto. Disembark in Halong City around 11 and get back to Hanoi with your shuttle bus vehicle, guide and driver. When we arrive in Hanoi you have the rest of the afternoon free to explore the colorful streets of the Old Quarter.

Water puppet show tickets are provided. The water puppet theatre is just 5 minute drive from your hotel then you can take a taxi by yourselves to the theatre to enjoy the show. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 12: Hanoi – Mai Chau valley – Traditional dancing and singing show (B,L,D)

Morning transfer to Mai Chau valley in the Northwest of Hanoi (4-hour drive). Enroute, our tour guide will drop you off at Ba Dinh historical square, where our former President Ho Chi Minh declared the Independence of Vietnam on 2 September 1945. You’re driven uphills through Thung Khe and Thung Nhuoi mountain pass offering the best landscape photos of Mai Chau valley.

You arrive at Mai Chau town. Check in your hotel/homestay and have lunch. In the afternoon, you’re walking in the Thai hilltribe villages, the bamboo trees, rice fields and free to talk to the locals. Our tour guide will explain the traditions and architecture of local hilltribes.

Dinner is arranged in the village with local foods. Join the traditional singing and dancing show performed by villagers. Return to your hotel for overnight in Mai Chau.

Notes: If you book 4-star or 5-star package, you will have Free of Charge benefits: A cooking class, a Vietnamese language class in your hotel/resort.

Day 13: Mai Chau – Hanoi – Flight to Luang Prabang (B,L,D)

You’re free at leisure in the morning. You can wake-up late then check-out the hotel after lunch time. Our tour guide will transfer you to Noi Bai international airport (Hanoi) for your next flight to Luang Prabang.

Welcome to Luang Prabang, another UNESCO World Heritage, the ancient capital of Laos Kingdom !

On arrival at the airport, our Laos tour guide transfers to your hotel. We then transfer out to have dinner at local restaurant. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 14: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Buddhism caves – Khuang Si waterfalls (B,L)

In the morning, we drive to visit mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims.  Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine. On arrival, we will take the small boat to visit Pak Ou Caves. On return, we will make a stop to visit Bang Xang Khong, which is famous for its traditional hand weaving.

In the afternoon, we will drive to visit Khouang Si Waterfalls. Laos is also known for its traditional handicrafts, and today you will visit local village of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene. On arrival in Khouangsi Waterfall, you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest paths. We return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 15: Luang Prabang – Short trekking and swimming in hilltribe villages (B,L)

We depart from your hotel in Luang Prabang at: 9:00am and drive up hill toward North-East of air-port via Hath Hient Village. We make a stop at the village to experience how villagers make iron knife. We continue to Ban Pickngai (Yuan ethnic minority). Passing the paddy rice field, we arrive to Ban None Tan (Khmu & Low Land ethnic minority) and to Ban Kok Wan (Khmu & Low Land). Our guide will prepare picnic lunch cooked out of local food while we enjoy the beautiful landscape of Hmong ethnic minority village.

After lunch, we have time for swimming in Nam Pa River, one of the most scenic rivers. We then drive along the Nam Pa River bank to Ban Bo Hae, Ban Tha Oui and Ban Kok Muang to visit the Hmong villages. There is time to visit 2 more villages on the other river bank by crossing the wooden bridge. We return to Luang Prabang around 4:00pm. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 16: Luang Prabang – City tour by bicycle – Flight to Siem Reap (B,D)

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession.

In the morning, your city tour by bike begins with ascending the 329 steps to the top of Phousi Hill for a beautiful sunset view of the city and its glowing reflection on the Mekong River. Then we visit the Royal Palace Museum, which hosts a range of interesting artifacts.  Our last stop today is the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture.  We can take a soft rest before transferring out to the airport to take the departure flight to Siem Reap.

Welcome to Siem Reap, the land of Angkor Wat !

Upon arrival at Siem Reap international airport, you meet our Cambodia tour guide and transfer to your hotel to check in. Enjoy special welcome dinner in Siem Reap and free discovery in the Pub street at night. Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 17: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom (B,L)

Your second day, you will visit the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, which was built by King Suryavarman II (1113 – 1150) to dedicate to God ‘Vishnu’.  Angkor Wat, the largest monument of the Angkor complex and the best preserved, is an architectural masterpiece. It is perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief and sculptures make it one of the finest monuments in the world. . You will continue to visit Ta Prohm, jungle temple which was built by king Jayavarman VII (1181-1218). The temple was built in 1186 for dedicating to his mother. This temple, Angelina Jolie is an American actress, film director, screenwriter, and author, took the movie “Tomb Raider”.

Afternoon, you will visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon faces. The Bayon, is the exact centre of the town of Angkor Thom. Having to power after the burning of the capital by a Cham fleet, he rebuilt the city and surrounded it with a strong wall. Then you will going on to visit Baphuon, Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, and Elephant Terrace and Leper King Terrace. You are going to see sunset on Phnom Bakheng.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 18: Siem Reap – Ta Prohm (early morning) – Tonle Sap lake – Preak Toal Bird watching (B,L)

Early morning getting-up at 5:00 then our tour guide transfers you to Ta Prohm temple to enjoy early sunrise of Angkor temples. It’s a precious chance for photohunting.

In the morning, you get out of the city center and the temple complex to visit Tonle Sap lake. Cambodia’s Great Lake, the Boeung Tonle Sap (Tonle Sap Lake,) is the most prominent feature on the map of Cambodia – a huge dumbbell-shaped body of water stretching across the northwest section of the country. In August, the Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, which can make itself 5 times larger than its size of the dry season. Visit some fishing villages of Kampong Phluk, Kampong Khleang around the lake to know more about the locals’ life.

Afternoon, continue boating to visit Preak Toal on 1 side of Tonle Sap. The ‘bird sanctuary’ at the Prek Toal core area of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve has been called “the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large waterbirds.” The Biosphere covers 31,282 hectares at the northwest tip of the Tonle Sap Lake and plays host to species including Greater and Lesser Adjuncts, Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Milky Stork, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-Headed Fish Eagle and many more species. Of the three Biosphere core areas on the Tonle Sap Lake, Prek Toal is the most accessible from Siem Reap and the most popular with birdwatchers.

Return to Siem Reap hotel for overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 19: Siem Reap – Flight to Phnom Penh – Killing fields –  Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (B,L)

Take the morning flight to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Airport transfers are provided.

You check in the hotel in Phnom Penh. After lunch, this afternoon is our chance to know another tragedy chapter of Cambodia. Visit the Killing Fields, 15 km southwest of Phnom Penh. Many of the Cambodians who perished under the Khmer Rouge regime ended up dumped in one of the dozens of ‘killing fields’ that can be found scattered across the country. The killing fields were essentially ad hoc places of execution and dumping grounds for dead bodies during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979.) This particular killing field is the site of the brutal executions of more than 17,000 men, women and children, most of whom had first suffered through interrogation, torture and deprivation in the S-21 Prison (now the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum) in Phnom Penh. The Choeung Ek Memorial is now a group of mass graves, killing areas and a memorial stupa containing thousands of human skulls and long bones. The memorial is about a 20-40 minute drive from the center of Phnom Penh. There is also a small souvenir shop as well. For sake of historical context, combine your trip to Choeung Ek with a visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (the former S-21 Prison) in Phnom Penh. Return to your hotel. Overnight in Phnom Penh.

Day 20: Phnom Penh – Departure (B)

You’ll have the rest of the time before transferring to your onward flight. Say goodbye to Indochina countries and see you next time !

INCLUSION

  • FREE visa approval document to Vietnam
  • 18 nights hotel accommodation as listed below.
  • 1 night on Halong Bay cruise (3-star package) or Bai Tu Long Bay cruise (4-star and 5-star package).
  • Local English speaking guides in different cities.
  • Transfer and sightseeing with air-conditioned car as mentioned in the program.
  • Meals as indicated: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner, inluding 1 special Buffet dinner on Saigon river on Day 2
  • Boat arrangment in My Tho, Tonle Sap lake, Cam Thanh village.
  • Kayaking in Halong bay.
  • Water puppet show tickets on Day 9.
  • Easy cycle in Hoi An, Luang Prabang (private bikes)
  • Admissions to the indicated sites.
  • Bottled water during transfer.

EXCLUSION

  • Vietnam visa stamp fee of US$45/person, Laos visa stamp fee of US$30/person, Cambodia visa stamp fee of US$20/person – You will pay this fee upon your arrival at the airports of Saigon, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap.
  • Other meals, drinks and personal expenses (eg. laundry, telephone call etc).
  • Camera and video camera fees.
  • International airfares arriving in Saigon and departing from Siem Reap.
  • Early check in and Late check out from hotel
  • Tips (eg. Driver, guide,..)
  • Services not mentioned in our itinerary