Day 1 Arrive Phnom Penh
On arrival in Phnom Penh you will need to make your own way to your hotel. Explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendor hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business. Start your tour with an insight into Cambodia's cultural heritage with a visit to the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoni and the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. Continue to the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer Art. Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh's two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building OR the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2 Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Sightseeing today includes the crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones. The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 3 Siem Reap
Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite with visitors. Also visit Banteay Samre, s a mid-12th century temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Lastly visit Ta Keo, built by Jayavarman V who ruled from 968 to 1001), it was the first Angkorian monument built entirely of sandstone and was dedicated to Shiva. The summit of the central tower is 50 meters high and is surrounded by four lower towers. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4 Siem Reap to Saigon
Morning sightseeing in Siem Reap including Chau Say Tevoda, built during the second quarter of the 12th century opposite of Thommanon, it was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Banteay Kdei Temple, a massive Buddhist temple dating from the second half of the 12th century, Banteay Kdei is surrounded by four concentric walls, the outer walls measuring 500 by 700 meters. Visit Neak Pean Temple built by King Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181 to 1201), it is a Buddhist temple consisting of a square pool with four smaller square pools arranged on each axis. In the centre of the large central pool is a circular island encircled by two nagas with intertwined tails. Visit Sras Srang, a basin opposite of Banteay Kdei measuring 800 by 400 metres with a tiny island in the middle where only the stone base remains of what was once a wooden temple. Also visit Prasat Kravan, these five brick towers were built for Hindu worship in 921 and are notable for the bas-reliefs cut into the bricks on the interior walls. After your sightseeing you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Saigon. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Saigon
Day 5 Saigon
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on mobile phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense. Begin your tour of this exciting city with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Afterwards dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style palace was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Afterwards drive to the historic centre to visit Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas. In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown). Explore the highlights of this fascinating area, beginning with a brief visit to Binh Tay Market, the vast wholesale market selling every kind of good from dried foods to T shirts to electronics. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, build by the Cantonese congregation and dedicated to the heavenly goddess. End your tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 6 Saigon
From Saigon, drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Never discovered by American forces, these tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists. Afterwards, head to Tay Ninh, the birthplace of the unique Cao Dai religion, a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam and native Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. Every day at noon, worshipers garbed in colorful robes flock to the Cao Dai Great Temple to participate in the daily prayer sessions, which visitors may respectfully observe from the upper balconies. Return to Saigon in the late afternoon. Overnight in Saigon
Day 7 Saigon - Danang - Hoi An
Morning transfer to Saigon airport for your flight to Danang. Transfer from Danang airport to Hoi An to your hotel with sightseeing en route. Visit Cham Museum, this houses probably the best collection of Cham art to be found anywhere in the world. There are more than 300 artifacts in the museum, many dating to the 4th century. There are beautiful sculptures reflecting the 1000 year Cham period. Visit Non Nuoc Beach, a famous spot of American soldiers during Vietnam War in 1960s.Non Nuoc Beach gently slopes towards the calm, clear, blue sea; the clarity of the water attracts visitors who come to bathe and enjoy the seafood. This fine sandy beach with sunshine all the year round makes it suitable for holidaygoers in all four seasons. Visit Marble Mountains, they consist of 5 stone hillocks, once islands, made of marble. Each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. When the Champas ruled this area, these same caves were used as Hindu shrines. Visit Tam Than, located in Marble Mountain near Thuy Son. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Hoi An. Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Now, this beautifully preserved historic city is best seen on foot. The walking tour includes the Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, the first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was provided with a roof so it could be used as a shelter from rain and sun. Sa Huynh Museum, located near the Japanese Covered Bridge, it contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history. Tran Family Chapel, this house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from family members. The Tran family traces its origins to China and moved to Vietnam around 1700. The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles. Visit Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans that were established in the Hoi An area. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau (Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen). Visit one of the lantern workshop in Hoi An. The framework of lantern will be made by the industry itself and clients can observe locals making silk cloth on the lantern. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 8 Hoi An - Hue
Today you will be trnasferred from Hoi An to Hue over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Halfway between Danang and Hue lies the dramatic Hai Van PassS, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam. Continue southwards passing Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the East Vietnam Sea, and the large coastal city of Danang before arriving in Hue. Embark on a local boat and cruise down the Perfume River to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. During the early 1960s, this became a center of anti-government protest, and the site of the famous self-immolation of the monk Thich Quang Duc. Visit the Imperial Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, this was the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty and was constructed between 1920 and 1931. It sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village. It has a long staircase flanked by dragons. There are ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes. Overnight in Hue.
Day 9 Hue - Hoi An
Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Residence (Dien Tho Palace), where the Queen mother lived, visit Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns, among other sites. Transfer by road back to Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An
Day 10 Hoi An - Danang - Hanoi
Transfer to Danang airport for your flight to Hanoi. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Begin today’s sightseeing with a visit to Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, located in heart of Hanoi, which contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda. From there, walking through the Old Quarter for exploration. This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop houses is also known as 'The 36 Streets' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics to crafts to medicines to tombstones. A handicraft-lover's paradise and a endlessly interesting place to explore local life. Afterwards, visit the History Museum. Once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, is a building constructed of reinforced concrete completed in 1930. Exhibits include artifacts from Vietnam's turbulent history including some from prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilizations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc-Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 11 Hanoi - Vientiane
This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. The capital city of Laos, Vientiane still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, interesting wats and colorful markets. Tour the different highlights of the city, including Pha That Luang, a gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps most important national monument in Laos; Ho Pha Keo, the formal royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture; Wat Si Saket; and PatuxaiI, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 12 Vientiane - Luang Prabang
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang. Arrive Luang Prabang and transfer to your hotel. Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Begin your tour with Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunalat). The oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals. From there, stroll down the main street (Wat Street) of Luang Prabang. Time permitting, stop at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and Wat Sene. Visit Mount Phousi for sunset. Climb 328 steps starting from entrance on the opposite side of National Museum or 410 steps on the other side of Khan River to the small temples atop Phou Si, the 150m high hill which sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 13 Luang Prabang
Travel up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images, of every style and material imaginable. On the way to Pak Ou Cave, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village, a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whisky. Visit the weaving village of Ban Xang Khong, a village near Luang Prabang well known for its traditional hand woven cotton and silk, as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 14 Luang Prabang
Visit the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. Then, visit Hor Phrabang. In the right front corner room of the Palace which opens to the outside, is a collection of the palace's most prized art, including the Phrabang, cast of a gold, silver and bronze alloy. This Buddha stands at 83 cm tall and weighs around 50 kg. Continue to Wat MaiI, constructed in 1821 during the reign of King Manthatourath, it was once the residence of Phra Sangkharaj (the Patriarch of the Buddhist clergy). From Luang Prabang, travel by vehicle to Kuang Si Waterfall. This waterfall is located in a perfect natural setting near Luang Prabang, this multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Enjoy swimming in the clear water or just relaxing in the natural environment. Visit local village on the way, before returning to Luang Prabang by vehicle. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 15 Luang Prabang
Check out of hotel today and end of arrangements. No departure transfer is included.