Vietnam & Laos Explorer 15 Days

Vietnam & Laos Explorer
Highlights: This is the perfect option for those who want all of the highlights of Vietnam & Laos in one go. You will explore the waterways of the Mekong Delta with a private sampan ride & walk the village paths to learn about local life. Explore the engrossing underground network of Cu Chi Tunnels; visit the sights of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An on foot; Enjoy a cyclo ride of Hanoi's Old Quarter to learn about traditional Vietnamese architecture; spend a night cruising Halong Bay aboard a traditional Junk. And later spend 5 nights in Laos to visit historical city of Luang Prabang, the Plain of Jars site at Xiengkhouang and the pleasant capital of Vientiane.

Day 1: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2: Sights & Sounds of the Bustling City & Cu Chi Tunnels 
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Tre (in the Mekong Delta) 
Day 4: Flight & Transfer to Hoi An's Ancient Gems & Guided Walking Tour
Day 5: Free Day of Leisure in Hoi An
Day 6: Morning Flight to Hanoi & City Tour
Day 7: Explore Vietnam's Countryside with a Sampan Ride
Day 8: Ninh Binh to Legendary Halong Bay (Join with other travelers on the cruise) 
Day 9: Halong Bay Cruising - Return to Hanoi  
Day 10: Flight to Luang Prabang
Day 11: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Cave – Khouangsi Waterfall
Day 12: Luang Prabang – Scenic Drive to Xiengkhouang
Day 13: Xiengkhouang – Flight to Vientiane
Day 14: Vientiane City Tour
Day 15: Depart Vientiane 

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City
Upon your arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Meals: None
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City


Day 2: Sights & Sounds of the Bustling City & Cu Chi Tunnels
Today you'll embark on a guided city tour, starting with the War Remnants Museum - a real eye-opening part of Vietnam's proud history; followed by the Reunification Palace; the former South Vietnam Presidential Palace; the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office, as you  get your camera working overtime peeking into the past of Vietnam's biggest, most energetically progressive city.

After lunch, a 1,5-hour drive will take you to Cu Chi Tunnels where you will visit the amazing network of underground tunnels was used during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong. This huge construction was a habitation for villagers in the war time. With 3 levels of depth, it was never discovered by the US during the Vietnam War despite its proximity to Saigon. Visit the fighting tunnel system with your local guide. Return to Saigon, arriving at around 18.00.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Tre (in the Mekong Delta)
At 8.00am, depart for a 2 hour drive to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Take in the highway as you leave behind the busy city. On arrival, take a boat on Ben Tre river – one of tributaries of Mekong river to witness lively activities along river such as fishing, water transferring. Stop at brickwork to see how to make bricks in traditional style by printing and baking. You will visit one of plenty of coconut processing workshops located along canal. Turn on natural scissors creeks where they look smaller and smaller to go to village. Take a walk to family workshop making sleep mats and enjoying some fruits. Later, take a moto-cart on shady village paths, passing by green rice fields and vegetable plains to be able to touch on real life and find out  about tropical culture from peasants.

After lunch at a riverside restaurant, enjoy rowing-boat along water palm creek, and boat back to pier where you will be taken to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving at around 17.00

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 


Day 4: Flight & Transfer to Hoi An's Ancient Gems & Guided Walking Tour
Morning flight to Danang. On arrival, pick up and transfer to your hotel in the downtown of Hoi An.
Afternoon, your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby to give you a proper show-around of the old town. You'll start a walking tour with a lion's share of places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls; the museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you'll meander through tiny streets studded by houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures. After such gallivanting, your time will be your own to wander around or getting amongst some retail therapy.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Hoi An

Day 5: Free Day of Leisure in Hoi An

A free day to spend as your wish!

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Hoi An

Day 6: Morning Flight to Hanoi & City Tour
Morning flight to Hanoi. When you arrive at Noi Bai International airport in Hanoi, you'll be smilingly met and transferred to your downtown hotel to leave luggage. You'll then jump head-first into Hanoi's sights and sounds on a tour that covers all the essentials. You'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes the Mausoleum [from outside], Uncle Ho's former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Temple of Literature, which, dating back to 1070, is Vietnam’s oldest university.

After lunch, explore the enthralling Museum of Ethnology, which contains an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Next, enjoy an hour-long cyclo ride winding through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! The day finishes with a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets.

Note: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed all day on Monday and Fridays, as well as from 1st October to 30th November (approx.) for annual conservation.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Hanoi   

Day 7: Explore Vietnam's Countryside with a Sampan Ride
After breakfast, a two hour road trip through picturesque countryside and agricultural land will take you to Hoa Lu. On arrival, your guide will lead you through this ancient complex which formed the capital city of Vietnam under both the Dinh and Le Dynasties between 968 and 1009 AD. King Dinh Tien Hoang chose this mountain location as the water systems fed from the mountains were perfect for both agriculture and defense. Enjoy the sight of palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions built by different dynasties and visit the Dinh and Le Temples, the two remaining architectures of Hoa Lu.

In the afternoon, take a three hour sampan ride along the waterways of Tam Coc. Known locally as the ‘Halong Bay of the land,’ this winding river way is dotted with gorgeous limestone karsts with  endless photo opportunities. You will also visit Bich Dong Pagoda comprising three pagodas located at different levels on a green mountain and the setting of the French film ‘Indochine’. Stay overnight in Ninh Binh.

Meals:
Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ninh Binh   


Day 8: Ninh Binh to Legendary Halong Bay (Join with other travelers on the cruise)
In the early morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and start a scenic drive to Halong Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world's largest marine limestone 'karst' landscape. Enjoy the landscape of the Red River Delta countryside and have a short break en-route. Meet the crew upon boarding the traditional wooden junk, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads towards the secluded islands. Visit a fishing village by a rustic rowing-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and pearl farms. Return to the junk refreshed and and relax on sundeck with a drink to watch the sunset. Enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner under the stars.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight on a wooden junk in Halong Bay 


Day 9: Halong Bay Cruising - Return to Hanoi 
Enjoy an early morning swim/Taichi (if weather permits) followed by breakfast. You will visit a famous ancient limestone cave in the middle of the bay where you’ll discover magnificent stalagmites and stalactites as you walk along the lit paths on a guided tour. Enjoy a tasty brunch while cruising back to the main harbor pier where your private vehicle will be waiting for you and transfer you back to Hanoi, arriving at around 16.00.
The remainder of the day will be all yours to stroll around the Old Quarter of Hanoi and its raucous streets full of traditional vendors and artisans, or if you prefer, simply relax.

Meals: Breakfast, Brunch
Overnight in Hanoi   


Day 10: Flight to Luang Prabang
Your time will be your own until being picked up to head to Noi Bai Airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.

On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in Southeast Asia. After a short break, visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai; hike up to the top of Mount Phousi to explore the sacred, gilded stupa as well as capture a beautiful view of the city and the watch sunset reflected on the Mekong River. Continue to visit the Night Market, where you can browse a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by the local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Luang Prabang

Day 11: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Cave – Khouangsi Waterfall

An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (often in the form of sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the ritual. You can also visit the morning Phosi Market where you can see such diverse offerings as dried buffalo skin, local tea and saltpeter among the chickens, vegetables and hill-tribe weavings.

After breakfast, embark on a short-guided tour including the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. Thence board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River which also gives us a panaromic view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Stop en-route at the small village of Ban Xanghai where the local rice wine is distilled. Return to Luang Prabang in the afternoon, on the way, a short drive will take you to Ban Phanom, a small village well known for its hand weaving.
Afternoon continue towards Khouangsi Waterfall, en route, we visit the local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Ban Ou, Laoloum and Ban Thapene, and then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall.   Here you can take a dip in the inviting pools or walk along the forest trails surrounding the waterfall.  Return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon and continue to Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for silk hand weaving and for traditional Saa Paper making. Return to the city in time to watch the sunset at Wat Siphouthabath.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Luang Prabang

Day 12: Luang Prabang – Scenic Drive to Xiengkhouang
Today begins our day with a drive through beautiful mountain scenery to Xiengkhouang, a province of Laos famous for its ‘Plain of Jars’.   There will be plenty of opportunities to stop off and visit the numerous villages en-route.  On arrival, check in to the hotel. Evening is free at your leisure.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Xiengkhouang


Day 13: Xiengkhouang – Flight to Vientiane
A short transfer will take you to the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site encompassing hundreds of large stone jars scattered throughout the plateau. You will also visit the old capital of Muang Khoun Province and its' nearby villages which are home to the Hmong hill tribe and Tai Dam people who possess an interesting local culture and a vibrant history. Afternoon flight to Vientiane. Visit the Morning Market and the weaving village of Ban Nong Bouathong.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Vientiane

Day 14: Vientiane City Tour
Today, see the major sights of the capital including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. On the way to Lao’s national icon, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.

Afternoon drive to the ourskirt of Vientiane to visit Buddha Park, an enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. A spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Vientiane


Day 15: Depart Vientiane
After breakfast, free time at leisure till being picked up to the airport for our departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Prices & Inclusions

Price is from~US$ 1245 per person
Please contact us for the best offers!
Prices Include:
- All pick-ups and transfers by private vehicles with experienced drivers.
- 13-night accommodation in Twin/Double share basis, and 1 night on a traditional wooden junk in Halong Bay.
- Experienced local English speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Domestic flight ticket in Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City - Danang and Danang Hanoi (economy class by Vietnam Airlines, inclusive of domestic airport taxes)
- Domestic flight ticket in Laos: Xiengkhouang - Vientiane (economy class by Laos Airlines, inclusive of domestic airport taxes)
- Lunches and Dinners as indicated in the programme
- All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
- Private sampan ride in the Mekong Delta and Tam Coc
- 1 hour cyclo ride & water puppet tickets
- All VAT and other government taxes

Prices Exclude:
- Entry visa to Vietnam & Laos
- Regional and International flights and airport taxes
- Other meals, drinks, tips and other personal expenses or services not mentioned on the program.
- Travel Insurances
- Gala Dinner on Dec 24 & Dec 31, 2016
- Peak season surcharge between Dec 20, 2016 - Jan 10, 2017

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