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Highlights of Vietnam & Laos

(13 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, Danang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Luang Prabang

 

Set out on an enriching, in-depth journey to Vietnam and Laos, visiting must-see sites that include the Cu Chi Tunnels in high-energy Ho Chi Minh City, continuing to Hanoi - home of the revolutionary guerrilla leader - and beautiful Ha Long Bay, ending in peaceful, spiritual Luang Prabang.

 

*** All our tours are Exclusive Private Tours, so you will not be put together with other guests ***

 

 

Day 1: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City

Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM

 

Welcome to Vietnam. Upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh City Airport, obtain your Vietnam visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Formerly known as Saigon, today’s Ho Chi Minh City is the bustling and vibrating economic centre of the South. Over the past few centuries, Saigon was called the “Pearl of the Far East” and was an important trading centre for Chinese, Japanese and Western merchants who travelled along the Saigon River.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Ho Chi Minh City

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Grand Hotel, Liberty Central Saigon Riverside Hotel, Villa Song Saigon

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Park Hyatt Saigon, InterContinental Asiana Saigon, The Reverie Saigon

 

Day 2: Discover Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

This morning, enjoy scenic drive through the countryside as people work on their rice paddies and thatched hut villages scattered along the way. Visit a local village making rice paper, a well-known product used to make the delicious spring rolls. Arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels to explore part of the 151-mile underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Cambodia to the Saigon River. Cu Chi is a must for anyone interested in understanding a vital aspect of guerrilla warfare fought by the Vietnamese against both the French and the Americans. These criss-crossing tunnels were begun in the late 1940s by local resistance fighters looking for a place to hide their weapons from the French. Discover secret trapdoors, field hospitals, command posts, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms.

 

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to discover Saigon's historic landmarks including the former Presidential Palace which was once headquarters for the Saigon Government during the "American War", and the War Remnants Museum, established in September 1975 in Ho Chi Minh City. It contains countless artifacts, photographs and pictures documenting some of the less heroic activities carried out by the US army in Vietnam. Planes, tanks, bombs and helicopters are also on display. Next visit the 1880's General Post Office and the late 19th century Notre Dame cathedral, located in a peaceful part of the city.

 

Day 3: Saigon / Cai Be / Mekong Delta / Danang / Hoi An

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey through the Mekong Delta to Can Tho, via Cai Be: Leave the city and drive south to Cai Be in the Mekong delta, a journey of approximately 2 hours. The Mekong Delta is Vietnam's 'rice bowl' - a fertile region of flat farmland interlaced with thousands of waterways and tributaries of the Mekong. The delta's waters are interspersed with rice fields, colourful floating markets and isolated villages accessible only by boat. On arrival in Cai Be embarkation on Cai Be Princess junk boat, clients are welcomed with fresh cotton towels. The tour will start with the visit of Cai Be colourfull floating market. We will proceed by the visit of some local home factories such as rice paste making, rice popcorn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. You will then return on board Cai Be Princess to proceed the excursion to Dong Hoa Hiep island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be during a 40 minutes cruise to discover beautiful landscapes along the river and observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. Stops on the way can be made upon request for particular visits or photos making. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. Visit at an ancient mandarin house dating from the last century where the family descendants will welcome you with a cup a warm green tea. Back on board Cai Be Princess for a 20 minutes cruise to Phu An hamlet passing by Cai Be beautiful church.

 

Lunch will await you at Le Longanier restaurant, a superb Indochine style two storeys villa decorated with several antiques and furnitures from the 1930’ period, located in a lush tropical garden by the river among pomelo, longan, mango, and coconut and banana trees. After a short walk along a beautiful canal, the excursion will end at Ba Bon Bridge. Return back to Saigon by road, a journey of approximately 2 hours and straight to Saigon airport in time for your short flight to Danang, Vietnam's most beautiful city, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the central coast of Vietnam.

 

Fly Saigon to Danang on Vietnam Airlines VN 132, departing 19:10, arriving 20:25

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Danang. Upon arrival at Danang Airport. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Hoi An, known to early Western merchants, was one of the major trading centres of Southeast Asia in the 16th century. Hoi An has a distinctive Chinese atmosphere with low, tiled-roof houses and narrow streets; the original structure of some of these streets is still virtually intact. Many of the houses were constructed of rare timbers and decorated with lacquer panels engraved with Chinese characters and pillars carved with ornamental designs.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Hoi An

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Boutique Hoi An Resort, Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort, Hotel Royal Hoi An

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Fusion Maia Resort, InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, The Nam Hai Resort

 

Day 4: Hoi An

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today, discover how the traditions of the past are treasured in the present in Hoi An on the Thu Bon River, a key international trading port between the 15th and 19th centuries – now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved, centuries-old streets, dwellings, temples and pagodas, touring Hoi An's historic highlights via cyclo with your guide. Highlights of your walking tour through its charming streets, visit Hoi An history Museum, Fukkien Assembly hall with Thien Hau temple dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, visit a typical ancient house of Tan Ky House and 17th century Japanese Covered Bridge. Enjoy a boat trip along the Thu Bon River seeing life along the river. Return back to hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day is free at leisure.

 

Hoi An, the cobblestone streets in the old French Quarter are a delight to roam with many cafes, art galleries and handicraft shops. Hoi An is especially well known for its local artists and tailor made clothing, with over sixty shops providing this service in town.

 

Day 5: Hoi An / Hue / Forbidden Purple City of Hue

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Hoi An to Hue: After breakfast, you’ll be driven north along highway 1 to Hue, a journey of approximately 3 hours. After passing through the port of Danang, the highway meets the Hai Van Pass (meaning Pass of the Ocean Clouds). There are some spectacular vista points and photo opportunities en-route as the Truong Son mountain range cuts across the narrow centre of the country. The mountain range has created a barrier to the cold airstreams from the north which often results in thick cloudbanks over the peaks. The pass has been a strategic military focal point during Vietnam's turbulent history and from the top there are views of the curve of Danang Bay. There will be a stop in Danang to visit the Cham Museum, which houses some magnificent examples of Cham art, China Beach, made famous during the American war and the Marble Mountains. Continue north to Hue where you will check-in to your lovely boutique hotel. Hué, Vietnam’s most beautiful city, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site housing fantastic artistic and architectural treasures. The Tombs of the Nguyen Emperors are the main attraction. The Ancient Citadel of Hué has not fared well and stands as a reminder of the infamous 1968 Tet Offensive. From Hué, the Nguyen dynasty merged the lands of Vietnam and ruled it for almost 150 years.

 

After settling in and enjoying a bit of free time, you'll head out with your guide and spend the afternoon visit the historical Imperial Citadel. Often referred to as “ancient”, Hue’s Citadel is comparatively modern in European terms. Built over thirty years in the early part of the 19th century, the Citadel encompasses three “courts” covering a total of 6 km. The Imperial City, built along the same lines as the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, was the country’s administrative center. Senior mandarins, court officers and civil servants would have entered by the “Ngo Mon” (noon gate). Directly behind were the Dai Trieu Nghi (great rites courtyard) and the Thai Hoa Palace (throne hall) where the Emperor would meet foreign rulers and emissaries, high-ranking ministers and other dignitaries. At the heart of the Imperial City was the “Tu Cam Thanh” (Forbidden Purple City). Only members of the royal family, the Emperor’s concubines, and trusted senior mandarins and officers such as the royal doctor were allowed through the sole entry gate. Inside were various palaces and the Emperor’s private apartments. Despite more than fifty years of decay and attrition, the Citadel is still imposing, and recent renovation work has restored several of its buildings to their previous glory. Next, continue to Thien Mu Pagoda, sitting on the riverbank outside the city, this octagonal seven tier stupa has long been regarded as the symbol of Hué and was founded in 1601. It is still a site of Buddhist worship and its huge bell is said to be audible from the city. Enjoy a cruise downstream to watch sunset on the Perfume River, named after the tree resins and blossoms it carries on its way to the Pacific.

 

Accommodation: Stay 1 night in Hue

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Indochina Palace Hotel, Saigon Morin, Pilgrimage Village

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa

 

Day 6: Hue / Hanoi

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

This morning, stroll around the hectic Dong Ba market with your guide. The market is best explored in the morning when a sea of conical hats, colorful fabrics, produce of every description and an array of vendors offer delights for the senses await you. Continue to explore Emperors Tombs Hue’s environment is dotted with tombs of past emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Construction of the tombs was meticulous carried out starting whilst the king was still alive in order to ensure his comfort in the next life. Most of the tombs have courtyards, a temple for worship, statues of elephants and figures and a pond, but the layout of each is different reflecting differing each king’s personality and style. They have a lovely peaceful atmosphere. Khai Dinh and the tomb of 19th-century emperor Tu Duc, considered the most beautiful mausoleums around Hue. Then, continue to visit the Minh Mang Royal tomb, set amidst a lush pine hill by the river and considered to be one of the most beautiful mausoleums. Each ruler of the Imperial City built his own tomb during his reign.

 

Later this afternoon, you'll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Hanoi.

 

Later this afternoon, you'll be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Hanoi.

 

Fly Hue to Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines VN 1542, departing 15:40, arriving 16:50.

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Hanoi. Upon arrival at Hanoi Noi Bai Airport. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Hanoi, originally named Thang Long or “City of the Ascending Dragon” was the first capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010. Situated in the Centre North of Vietnam, the city is known as one of the most attractive and interesting places for visitors. In addition, after the fusion in 2008, Hanoi ranks in the top 20 biggest cities in the world.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Hanoi

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Hanoi La Siesta Hotel, Silk Path Boutique, Apricot Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, InterContinental Hanoi Westlake

 

Day 7: A palace, a prison, pagodas & water puppets in Hanoi

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day guide tour of Hanoi: Your guide will meet you at 8am at your hotel, you'll head out with your guide and begins with a visit Ba Dinh Square to see Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the museum to his life and the simple cottage where he lived and worked, along with his "house on stilts" and his final resting place; and take in Hanoi's famous One-Pillar Pagoda, constructed in 1049 to resemble a lotus blossom. Next, you’ll continue to the Temple of Literature, which dates back to 1070 and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius and visit the Museum of Ethnology, where we'll learn about the fascinating cultural diversity of this ancient land.

 

This afternoon, drive through Colonial Hanoi, seeing the Opera House and other local sights. Go inside infamous Hoa Lo Prison (“Hanoi Hilton”), where Senator John McCain and Douglas “Pete” Wilson were once imprisoned, and continue to the National History Museum of Vietnam. Take a cyclo ride through the Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a network of narrow alleys and shop houses also known as “The 36 Streets.” This is a wonderful place to watch the local life, and peruse items from fabrics to crafts to exotic medicines. Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet performance, a uniquely North Vietnamese art form celebrating rural life and folklore for over 1,000 years, this evening.

 

Day 8: Hanoi / Halong Bay Overnight Cruise

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

 

This morning, after breakfast transfer to Halong Bay to board an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. Halong Bay is listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. “Dragon descending to the sea“ as it is known in Vietnamese, picturesque Halong Bay has more than 1,000 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. Welcome onboard and set sails boarding time is at 12:15 pm. Upon boarding guests are greeted with a welcome drink and gather in the dining room for a comprehensive safety and boat orientation briefing followed by itinerary details. After the briefing and check in we have a bit of free time till lunch is served at 1:00pm. Lunch is a multi-course Vietnamese and Western set menu. Any and all dietary needs will be catered to. During lunch we cruise through the Bai Tu Long Bay, cruising through the most beautiful and quiet area in Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay to visit Cua Van Fishing Village. Cua Van Floating Fishing Village is one of the largest fishing villages on the Bay. Guests can choose between kayaking through the village or visiting on small bamboo boats (sampans) rowed by the villagers.

 

Back on board after visiting the village there will be free time of about one and a half hours before the Cooking Demonstration on board will be held by our Chef and all the passengers could attend to this. During that time the chef will conduct a Cooking Demonstration showing the guests how we decorate and make some Vietnamese food which is traditional food in Vietnam. In addition we will have the first of our double happy hours from 6:00 till 7:00 during which time one free drink will be received for each one ordered. The dinner is served at 7:30pm. Dinner is a sumptuous buffet featuring an array of salads, seafood, meat dishes, seasonal fresh fruits and deserts. After dinner guests can relax in the dining room and lounge or on the upper deck and enjoy the second happy hour from 9:00 till 10:00.

 

Accommodation: Stay 1 night onboard Cruise

 

First Class 4 Star Cruises: Indochina Sails Cruise, Bhaya Cruise, Indochina Junk

 

Luxury 5 Star Cruises: Paradise Luxury Cruise, Jasmine Cruise, Halong Violet Cruise

 

Day 9: Halong Bay to Luang Prabang via Hanoi

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

The next morning coffee, tea and breakfast pastries are on offer from 6:45. Tai Chi lessons are led by our tai chi master at 7:00 before we leave the boat at 7:45 for a walking tour of Titov Beach Island. About one hour is spent on the island allowing time for a climb up the steps to the peak for a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Bay (there is also an expansive viewing deck half way up). After the climb there is time left to relax on the beach and have a swim. Back on board it’s time for final packing and freshening up before enjoying a full breakfast buffet, including traditional Vietnamese Noodles (Pho). After breakfast guests may relax in the dining room and lounge or on the deck enjoying the last Bay views before disembarkation at 11:00am. The crew will bid you farewell and you disembark with our tender boat to the Tuan Chau Pier. Our guide and driver will be waiting for you at the pier and drive you back to Hanoi and transfer to Hanoi airport in time to catch your onward flight to Luang Prabang, Laos, the Land of a Million Elephants”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Fly Hanoi to Luang Prabang on Vietnam Airlines VN2905, departing 18:50, arriving 19:50

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Laos. Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport, obtain your Laos visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. The crown jewel of Laos and former Lanexang, Luang Prabang, is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. Magical and charming, it has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with its splendid natural scenery and sense of timelessness. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights in Luang Prabang

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Le Sen Boutique Hotel, Burasari Heritage, Mekong Riverview Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Say Residence 

 

Day 10: Luang Prabang & local rural life

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of Luang Prabang: This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and stroll through the lively Central Market where the ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily. Visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and visit to Luang Prabang’s most beautiful temple, Vat Xiang Thong. Once a royal temple where Laotian kings were crowned, it is still home to the royal funeral chapel with the 12-meter-high funeral chariot and funeral urns for each member of the royal family. Remodeled in the 1960s, the temple features a gilded entrance, walls covered in black lacquer and decorated with gold figures and symbols and the impressive “tree of life” mosaic of stained glass, which is one of the best-known images in Laos, visit the Wat Mai temple; and take an orientation tour of the city and visit the National Museum, preserved from its days as a royal residence at the turn of the 20th century and depicting day-to-day life for the rich and royal.

 

Spend the afternoon on a community based living rice farm situated in the idyllic countryside, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. You’ll have an opportunity to experience the life of local rice farmers and try your hand at some of their daily activities, or view them from the comfort of a traditional Lao rice house balcony, surrounded by rice terraces and an organic vegetable farm. There will also be time to visit local handicraft workshops featuring crafts including bamboo weaving, blacksmithing, and sugar cane processing. And a tour of an organic garden offers insights on how natural herbs are used in traditional medicine.

 

Returning to the hotel after dusk, the evening will be free to relax or explore on your own.

 

Day 11: Alms in Luang Prabang & Life in the Laotian countryside

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Shortly after dawn in Luang Prabang, a gong announces the end of morning prayers and the beginning of a procession of monks emerging from the temples to seek alms; rise early this morning to experience this extraordinary ritual. After breakfast, enjoy a relaxing local style riverboat trip with your guide on the mighty Mekong River, to visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Pak Ou caves have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that have been placed here by local people since 16th century, when King Setthathirath found the caves and declared them a holy spot, and even today many people still pay respect to this tradition. Afterwards, walk around Ban Pak Ou Village, a small Laotian fishermen’s village on the Mekong River, and your long-tail boat for a scenic ride on the Mekong until you reach the small weaving village of Ban Phone Xay, where you’ll enjoy a weaving demonstration and have a chance to purchase handmade items directly from the source.

 

After lunch, a scenic drive through the countryside leads to the multi-tiered cascades of the Khouang Si waterfalls. The distance is about 30km and takes approximately 1 hour passing through very scenic Laotian countryside. The waterfalls tumble over multi – tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing. On the way to the waterfalls, visit small villages of Ban Na Oune, Hmong village and Khmu minority village of Ban Thapane for a glimpse into their lifestyle. Continue to the waterfalls. Return to Luang Prabang. On the way, visit Ban Ou, a lowland Lao village known for its cotton production. Continue to see silk production at Ban Phanom, a weaving village that become famous as the ‘weavers of royalty’, producing items for the Royal Palace of the last King of Laos.

 

Later afternoon, you'll be returned to your hotel for free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 12: Depart Luang Prabang

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today free at leisure until your guide and driver transfer to the Luang Prabang airport in time for your flight to next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $1,655*per person, based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room.

 

*Please note this price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of travel and the availability of accommodation.

 

Our price includes (Private tour):

• Accommodation base in a shared double or twin room throughout

Daily buffet breakfast at hotel and all hotels taxes and service charges

Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary

Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver

Private sightseeing with local, English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary

Meals included as indicated as in program: B: breakfast, L: lunch & D: dinner

Domestic flight tickets: Ho Chi Minh City – Danang on Economy Class

Domestic flight tickets: Hue – Hanoi on Economy Class

International flight tickets: Hanoi – Luang Prabang on Economy Class

Boat cruise as specified in the programmed

Entrance fees according the above program

Local bottled water while sightseeing and transfers

VAT and all taxes and service charge

 

The price does not include

International flight tickets and Visas

Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry and telephone calls

Personal, travel and health insurance

Early check in and late check out

Drinks during meals

Meals that are not specified

Gratuities/tipping to tour guide, driver and hotel staff and restaurant’s staff

 

 

All of our itineraries can customized as you wish, add extra days, change a hotel, and see different sights. For information on this or our other tours please email us at: info@globaltravel-asia.com