20 October 2016
This 15-day tour gives you a unique insight into the people, history and traditions of these two beautiful countries. You'll explore magnificent Buddhist temples, admire breathtaking natural landscapes and sample delicious local food, but also have plenty of opportunities to meet local people, from Buddhist monks to factory workers, and learn more about their lives and work.
Today you'll arrive in Saigon, where you'll be met at the airport and transfer to your hotel. In the evening, you'll join your tour leader and the rest of your group for welcome drinks and a tour briefing.
This morning you'll enjoy a walking tour of Saigon, taking in landmarks including Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Reunification Palace (formerly the Presidential Palace) and the War Remnants Museum. After a delicious lunch of Pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, you'll head for the Cu Chi Tunnels. This amazing network of tunnels extends over 155 miles, and was developed as a means of waging guerrilla war against French and American forces.
This morning you'll head south out of Saigon, to the Mekong Delta. This fertile area is known as Vietnam's "rice bowl". On the way, you'll stop at an unusual Cao Dai pagoda. At the Mekong River, you'll board a boat to begin a tour with the aim of gaining a real insight into the lives of local people. You'll visit a traditional brick factory, a coconut-processing factory and a local family home. After a lunch of local specialties, including elephant ear fish, you'll return to Saigon.
This morning you'll transfer to the airport for the flight to Hue, the former Vietnamese capital on the banks of the Perfume River. Here you'll visit the magnificent Citadel, home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors, and the tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda. The day ends with a visit to the Spiral Foundation, where the deaf and mute workers will help you make your own unique souvenir from recycled materials.
This morning you'll visit the impressive tomb of the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Tu Duc, before driving south along the spectacular Hai Van Pass, taking in some of Vietnam's most beautiful rural and coastal scenery, to the World Heritage listed old town of Hoi An. Here you'll admire the architecture, a mixture of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British influences, and learn about local produce when you meet the students at Streets cafe. In the afternoon you'll visit an old merchant house, a Chinese assembly hall and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Today you're at leisure to explore the town. It's a chance to pick up some souvenirs, visit the colourful fish market, head to the beach or just relax by the pool at your hotel.
This morning you will transfer to the airport for your flight north to and your journey to Halong Bay. A stunning World Heritage listed attraction; Halong Bay is best viewed on board your boat. You'll spend the afternoon drifting by the islands and relaxing amidst the beautiful scenery.
This morning you'll continue cruising Halong Bay, famous as the location of the Catherine Deneuve movie Indochine. This spectacular bay has more than 3,000 islands that rise dramatically out of the sea. After a seafood lunch, you'll head to Hanoi, and this evening you'll enjoy a performance of the city's famous water puppets.
Today you'll begin your exploration of this vibrant city with a walking tour through the bustling markets of the Old Quarter, before heading to the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, starting at Ba Dinh Square, site of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and where Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. You'll also take in the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum, before a drive across the city to Hanoi’s first university, the Temple of Literature, founded in 1070. Finally you will visit the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" prison. This evening you'll join the rest of your group for a farewell to Vietnam dinner.
Today you'll fly to Vientiane, Laos, where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. Once you've settled in, you'll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers for a welcome drink and tour briefing.
Today you'll tour Laos’ capital, which retains an "old world" feel despite the many modern developments. You'll visit the exquisite Wat Sisaket, Vientiane’s oldest temple and the only one to survive the Thai invasion of 1828. You'll also explore Haw Pha Kaew, the former royal temple of the Lao Monarchy and now a museum, Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos, and the grand Patuxai Monument, before lunch in one of the city’s many charming cafes. This afternoon you'll head just outside the city to tour Mai Savanh, a fair-trade silk-weaving workshop, and taste the specialty Lao green tea grown on the southern Bolaven plateau. On the way back to Vientiane, you'll stop at COPE, an organisation which provides prosthetic limbs to victims of unexploded ordinance from the Vietnam and Indochina conflicts. You'll end the day with a traditional Baci welcome ceremony in a local home, to honour your arrival and wish you safe travels.
Today you'll fly to Luang Prabang. This beautiful city is surrounded by mountainous forests and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers. You'll enjoy a short walking tour to admire the city's blend of French architecture and gilded Buddhist temples, and will have the chance to meet a Buddhist monk and learn more about his faith. In the early evening you will transfer by tuk-tuk to Bamboo cooking school, where you'll prepare your own traditional Lao-style dinner!
This morning you'll visit the Royal Palace Museum, to admire its Lao art and furniture, then head to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, before a short boat trip along the Mekong to the mysterious "cave of a thousand Buddhas" at Pak Ou. You'll enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on board. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the local markets or just relax with a drink.
An early start this morning to see the Buddhist monks collecting alms. After breakfast, you'll travel to Kuang Si Falls, one of the many beautiful waterfalls near Luang Prabang, with a stop en route at one of the local markets. At the waterfall, you'll have time to swim and relax, amid turquoise waters and lush jungle. Afterwards, you'll visit a sanctuary for Asiatic Black bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, before a visit to Wat Pha Bhat Tai temple. Here you'll have the chance to play petanque with some local people, and enjoy refreshing local juices and snacks. Then you'll head back to Luang Prabang for a final dinner with your group.
This morning your tour comes to an end as you transfer to the airport.
Classic fr £2130pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated