Saigon · Hoi An · Hanoi · Halong Bay · Angkor Wat

March 22-30, 2017 

FROM $4999

We strongly suggest extending your stay with our pre-tour to Laos, March 18-22, 2017

Day One ~ Arrive Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Saigon is surely one of the most evocative destination names in Asia and definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The most Western in atmosphere of Vietnam's cities, Ho Chi Minh City (to use it's official name - although to residents and visitors alike it is universally and affectionately known as Saigon) has a population of 5 million, and a booming free-market economy. It is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls and hurried cyclo drivers. Golf courses, bowling alleys and shopping malls vie for space with fruit and vegetable markets, pagodas and karaoke rooms. There are the elegant colonial French boulevards and buildings, the Cathedral, the riverfront, the quiet moments at a sidewalk cafe watching the world literally go by you at breakneck speed. Saigon is a city that is almost indescribable and completely unforgettable.

Arrival:  Upon arrival at Saigon Airport, you will be met by our local guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

Evening: Welcome Dinner and Cocktails
This evening we welcome you to Saigon with dinner at one of Saigon's best venues.

Accommodations: Intercontinental Asiana Saigon – Deluxe Rooms
Meals Included: Dinner

 

Day Two ~ Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)– Mekong Delta Day Trip to Cai Be
7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel. 

Morning:  Tour of Mekong Delta and Cai Be
This morning we journey south of Ho Chi Minh City by road for approximately 3 hours to the Mekong River town of Cai Be to board a motorized sampan for an introduction to life on the Mekong River.

Cai Be is known for its large floating market, where displays of food produce are hung from bamboo poles over the boats in order to attract customers.  From here the journey continues across the upper reach of the river to a maze of tributaries and fruit plantations. Barges navigate the route, overloaded with rice husks that are used as fuel for the numerous brick kilns in the area.  You will see how, to the people of the delta, the water is a lifeline - the focus of all daily activity - as you journey through a maze of tributaries and fruit plantations by local style boat.  Lunch will await you in a superb Indochinese villa located in a lush tropical garden by the river, surrounded by fruit orchards.

Transfer by road back to Saigon, arriving late in the afternoon. 

Afternoon/Evening: The remainder of the day is at your leisure.

Optional Dinner: This evening there is the option to experience fine French cuisine (which is still an integral part of the dining experience in this country) at a stunningly restored French colonial home. 

Accommodations:  Intercontinental Asiana Saigon – Deluxe Rooms
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Three ~ Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) - Fly to Da Nang/Hoi An

7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.

Morning / Afternoon:  Highlights of Saigon
This afternoon enjoy a tour of the highlights of this exciting city.  Visit the former presidential palace, which is now preserved as a museum, including the underground communications bunkers, headquarters for the Saigon Government during the Vietnam War.  Visit Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral in the centre of city, the 'wedding cake' styled Hotel d'Ville and Dong Khoi Street - formerly the centre of haute couture in Saigon when it was known as Rue Catinat. We also visit the War Remnants Museum and take a short cyclo ride through the streets of Saigon and visit the bustling Ben Thanh central market.

Return to the hotel for lunch (included) and late check out, and then transfer to Saigon Airport.

Late Afternoon:  Flight to Da Nang and Hotel Check-in

One of the most ancient cities in Vietnam, Da Nang was the centre of the Cham Dynasty from the 2nd century and today boasts the largest and most impressive collection of Cham artifacts anywhere in the world. Close by Da Nang is China Beach, immortalized for many by the US television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia.

On arrival in Da Nang we transfer the short distance to our resort, which is located right on the renowned China Beach - just a short drive from historic Hoi An town.

Evening:  Optional Dinner in the town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Just a short drive from Da Nang, this unique town was a civilization cut off by the absence of rail lines and a silted river, leaving it frozen in time.  In a country so ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched, and as you wander the completely traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport it is not hard to imagine yourself amidst the sailors and merchants of the 18th Century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest trading ports in Asia. See architecture reminiscent of traders of a bygone era - Japanese, French, Chinese, and Indian, as well as beautifully preserved ancient houses. No cars are allowed to pass through Hoi An, making it an excellent village for walking. 

Dinner will be at an innovative East-meets-West restaurant with dishes like rice paper tuna and nori rolls drizzled with passion fruit–mint yoghurt sauce and cashew-encrusted red snapper with spicy pineapple salsa. These dishes compete for attention with Hoi An’s covered Japanese bridge which is picturesquely reflected on the river. 

Accommodations:  Fusion Maia, Da Nang – Pool Suite Rooms
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Four ~ Da Nang/Hoi An

7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.

Morning:  Cooking Class on Vietnamese street-food Cuisine
This morning we start with a visit to Hoi An’s colorful local market to experience the sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and purchase some of the ingredients to be used in our cooking lesson later. On arrival at a local cooking school, we learn about some of Hoi An’s and Vietnam’s best-known dishes. This locale is one of the ventures of Ms Trinh Diem Vy, who is a Hoi An native and the third generation of chefs in her family.

Ms Vy will give an introduction to Vietnamese street food and explain some of its peculiarities and traditions. Then you will enjoy a cooking demonstration where a selection of dishes are prepared, including some that are particular to Hoi An and this region. Clients will be able to attempt to prepare the dishes themselves and sample the dishes that have been made. After the lesson, it is time for lunch and to eat exactly what we have prepared!

Afternoon:  Guided walk around the town of Hoi An
This exquisitely preserved merchant town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and its streets are best explored on foot. Wander with your guide past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the riverfront where colorfully painted boats are moored. Visit a private home, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries. See one of the family chapels built as a center for  worship of ones ancestors. Continue on to a typical Chinese-style communal hall and on to the Japanese covered bridge. We will also stop at the home of a silk lantern making craftsman, located in the old quarter. We’ll have a brief introduction to the history, shape and color of the lanterns, as well as the many stages of making them. We’ll make our own lantern to take home with us as a souvenir.

Evening at your leisure

Accommodations:  Fusion Maia, Da Nang – Pool Suite Rooms
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

 

Day Five ~ Da Nang and Flight to Hanoi

7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.

Morning: Hotel check-out and Airport Transfer
After the short flight to Hanoi and before checking-in to the hotel, we will stop for a late lunch.

Afternoon: Highlights of Hanoi and Hanoi by Cyclo
Hanoi is Vietnam's capital and is described by almost all who go there as ‘an old-fashioned city’. Old-fashioned in style, it is a city of lakes, parks, trees, villas, mansions and an area called the Old French Quarter where crumbling houses are crammed into narrow alleyways that are still named after the goods that were traded there - Silk Street, Gold Street, even Fried Fish Street! Hanoi has sidewalk cafes, sidewalk barbers, tree-lined bicycle-filled boulevards, and elegant colonial French mansions. There is the grandeur and solemnity of Ho Chi Minh's monumental Mausoleum and the rustic simplicity of the house in which 'Uncle Ho' lived out his final years. There is also the barely concealed misery of the  'Hanoi Hilton' where so many prisoners of war were incarcerated, as well as the religious pride that constructed the beautiful Temple of Literature - it's all here in Hanoi, a microcosm of Vietnamese culture.

This afternoon enjoy the tree-lined streets of Hanoi with its French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House.

Take to the streets of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District by cyclo - Vietnam’s most traditional form of transport.  Enjoy weaving through the narrow streets and tree-lined avenues. Your personal cyclo rider will take you along some of Hanoi’s boulevards in the center of the town to Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it. The Old Quarter is a densely populated corner of the city which was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild, with ancient homes and temples interspersed throughout. 

Evening: Visit one of Hanoi’s finest Art Galleries, followed by Dinner
This evening we will review some of the work of some artists that are changing the Vietnam art scene. Drinks and canapés will be served before we venture into the Hanoi night for a memorable dinner within the grounds of the splendid Opera House.

Accommodations:  Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake – Deluxe Hanoi View room
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day Six ~ Hanoi - Halong Bay Overnight Cruise

7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.
Morning: After early breakfast and check-out from the hotel, we will take a visit to Ba Dinh Square and the Ho Chi Minh complex. The tomb is monumental, built of marble, granite and precious wood. Behind the Mausoleum, you can see Ho Chi Minh's house. The simple house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked is made of wood and enjoys a tranquil setting, with a view of a lotus pond.

Next, we depart Hanoi and transfer by road to Halong Bay, north of Hanoi (approx. 3.5 hours), which is considered Vietnam’s eighth wonder of the world – and on arrival it is easy to see why. Three thousand spectacular chalk and limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches, and coves form a dragon’s tail across the bay.

Afternoon: Arrive at Ha Long Bay
Upon arrival in Ha Long Bay we will board a luxurious junk boat. On board a traditional-style luxury sailing junk we meander through the area whose name translates as 'Where the Dragon Descends into the Sea', stop off at an islet and climb through a series of breath-taking caves and grottoes, marveling at some of the most impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations anywhere in the world.  Lunch is served on-board. If the weather is nice, you can swim in the bay and sunbathe on the deck. Dinner is served on board the boat

Accommodations:  Halong Bay Junk Boat – Paradise Luxury Cruise Boat
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day Seven ~ Halong Bay, Hanoi, and Flight to Siem Reap

Morning: Breakfast and Optional Sunrise Tai Chi  
Early this morning there is the chance to practice Tai Chi skills on the sundeck while the sun rises over the bay. A buffet breakfast is served as the boat continues cruising through Halong Bay, allowing guests a last chance to enjoy the spectacular views of this unique seascape. At approximately 10:30 AM the boat returns to shore, and after disembarking you will be transferred directly to the Hanoi Airport. We will serve boxed lunches during the air-conditioned ride.

Afternoon: Flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia
On arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, you will be met at the arrival gate by a Zoom Vacations tour guide, transfer by air-con vehicle on the scenic route to Siem Reap Town giving you a sneak peak of Angkor Wat, before checking-in to our hotel.

The Kingdom of Cambodia remains one of Asia’s most enthralling destinations, deeply enriched by history and culture that never fails to impress. 
From the deserted beaches on the Gulf of Thailand to city streets of Phnom Penh where the senses are heightened, from the deep jungles and indigenous tribes of the northwest, to the final mystique and grandeur of the Angkorian period in all its glory, Cambodia is a land as yet untouched by commercialism and development. In its place lies a warm, enigmatic people maintaining the richness of their culture, now for all the world to see.

Siem Reap is a quaint and peaceful town in the north of the Kingdom of Cambodia; rich in charm and retaining the feel of a ‘big country town’, it’s the perfect base from which to explore the regions’ Wonders. The city thrives in the shadow of the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat; and on the edge of the largest fresh-water Lake in South-East Asia, the Tonle Sap. Beyond the archaeological attractions, lush green countryside rich with culture and tradition and shy but friendly locals welcome you with their warm smiles. Lose yourself in remote ‘jungle temples’, trek to the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen and experience an innovative but challenging way of life on a boat trip through a floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake.

Take the time to treat yourself with a Spa and Massage treatment, shop at a socially responsible enterprise, local market or an exclusive atelier or enjoy the city's growing cultural and arts scene.

Dinner tonight is at your leisure

Accommodations:  Belmond La Résidence D’angkor, Siem Reap - Deluxe Room
Meals included:  Breakfast, Boxed Lunch

 

Day Eight ~ Siem Reap and Temples: Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom City, Angkor Wat

7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.

Morning: Tour of Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom City
After breakfast we will depart by air-conditioned vehicle to begin our temple exploration. We will start with Ta Prohm, also known as the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ as some scenes from the movie were filmed here. In the dry season it is possible to enter from the spectacular Northern Gate where you will be guaranteed not to see any other tourists. We will trek along jungle paths used only by locals; closer to Ta Prohm you will cross the ancient moat and soon after, the dense jungle opens to reveal this stunning 12th Century Jungle Temple.

Continue on to Angkor Thom City, the last Capital of the Great Khmer Empire, abandoned in the 17th Century. The high city walls are surrounded by a magnificent 3km by 3km man-made moat; you will stop to walk through the Victory gate to admire it’s enormity before continuing by car. Stop to admire the Terrace of the Leper King and the Elephant Terrace before continuing on to the exact center of this great city, which happens to be marked by the marvellous Bayon Temple.

This 12th Century masterpiece is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive and detailed bas-reliefs but the main features are the 49 remaining towers each with 3 or 4 gently smiling faces pointing to the four Cardinal points

Lunch in front of Angkor Wat.

We will visit Angkor Wat in the afternoon as there are less visitors at this time, as well as great afternoon light so you can capture some beautiful photos. Depart the hotel by local Remork (Cambodian tuk-tuk) to visit the amazing 12th Century, Hindu-inspired temple of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is arguably the largest religious building in the world and has a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took around 37 years to build and it is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. 

It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved with ongoing restoration taking place. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides, with each side telling a story. There are also more than 2000 stunning Apsaras throughout the temple and no two are identical. If the skies are clear, Angkor Wat is a very special place to enjoy the sunset.

Evening: After a short break at the hotel, we will enjoy dinner at a restaurant serving modern Cambodian fusion fare.

Accommodations:  Belmond La Résidence D’angkor, Siem Reap - Deluxe room  
Meals included:  Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

 

Day Nine: Siem Reap ~ Tonle Sap Lake ~ Departure for flight home
7:00 AM to 11:00 AM:  Breakfast is served at the hotel.

Mid-morning: Tour of the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake  
Today we will have a chance to visit the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia. It is the heart of the Cambodian fishing industry and the lifeblood for millions of Khmers living on and around it. Every year during the monsoon season, the flow of water from the Mekong River changes direction forcing water back into the Tonle Sap, bringing nutrients that fertilize the rice fields and support the breeding of over 200 fish species and other life. You will board a boat to see the true way of life in one of the floating villages of the Tonle Sap, where you can see how the Khmer and the Vietnamese live and work side by side.

Lunch is included at the hotel 

Afternoon: Transfer to Siem Reap Airport for your flight home

Meals included:  Breakfast, Lunch

 

Air: International and domestic airfare not included.

Passports: Your valid passport should have at least two blank visa pages and should be valid for at least six months after your planned departure from the country you are visiting. 
Note: Passport pages titled "Endorsement Pages" are not visa pages.

Visas: Please note that currently US citizens must have a visa to enter both Vietnam and Cambodia. If you are not a US citizen, please contact your nearest Vietnam and Cambodia Consulates to determine your visa requirements.

While Zoom Vacations will assist when possible, please note that passport, visa, and vaccination requirements vary from country to country and are the sole responsibility of the traveler. If you are a US resident, you may click here for more information on passport, visa, and vaccination requirements for various countries.

*Land only Introductory rate, based on double occupancy. Prices are subject to change. Need a roommate? Zoom Vacations® is happy to match you with someone, at no additional charge. Or, you may pay a single supplement and go as a single.

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