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From Bay to Temple
Overview Itinerary Dates & Rates Extension Visa
Detail Itinerary
Day 1 USA / Hanoi, Vietnam
Depart USA for Hanoi, Vietnam
Day 2 Arrive Hanoi
Arrive at Hanoi. Meet your tour guide and be transferred to your hotel in Halong.
Day 3 Hanoi B,L,
Today you will cruise on a traditional wooden boat among the emerald waters and craggy limestone cliffs of Halong Bay, stopping to explore one of the many caves in this area. Sail past picturesque islands, floating villages, fishermen casting their nets and pearl fisheries and observe the rhythms of daily life on the bay.
Day 4 Hoi An B,
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, HANOI still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shophouses invite exploration by cyclo, while its many beautiful public spaces lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Begin your day visiting the TEMPLE OF LITERATURE, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best surving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university. Continue to the miniature ONE PILLAR PAGODA. Also dating from the 11th century, this monument was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. Today it stands near the vast HO CHI MINH MEMORIAL COMPLEX, a lovely park setting which is home to Ho Chi Minh's final resting place, as well as a museum and other memorials. Stroll past the HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM (closed to visitors on Mondays and Fridays), where visitors can pay respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. Continue through the park to HO CHI MINH's STILT HOUSE, the simple two-room dwelling where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1948 until his final days. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows. Afterwards head to HOAN KIEM LAKE, located in heart of Hanoi, which contains an islet with the tiny TORTOISE PAGODA. Enroute, pass other colonial landmarks such as the magnificent OPERA HOUSE (may be seen from the outside only) and ST JOSEPH'S CATHEDRAL. From the lake, walking to explore the OLD QUARTER. This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shophouses 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. In the afternoon, visit one of Hanoi's famous museums, either the HISTORY MUSEUM or the MUSEUM OF ETHNOLOGY. Once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, the HISTORY MUSEUM (BAO TANG LICH) is housed in an elegant building from the 1930s, and include exhibits spanning the entirety of Vietnam's history including prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilisations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc-Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms. The MUSEUM OF ETHNOLOGY brings to life the astonishing ethnic diversity in Vietnam, with art and artifacts from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country. Inside the museum are detailed descriptions of minority groups, with examples of their traditional clothing and way of life. Outside are faithful reconstructions of traditional longhouses, cemeteries and other distinctive ethnic buildings. Later you will fly to Danang.
Day 5 Hoi An B,
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of HOI AN was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful shophouses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving center of traditional crafts and a shoppers’ paradise, best explored on foot. Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central MARKET and the small HARBOUR where colorfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a PRIVATE HOUSE, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the FAMILY CHAPELS built by prominent merchant or official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical CHINESE-STYLE PAGODA or ASSEMBLY HALL. Finally, continue to the famous JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.
Day 6 Hue B,
From Hoi An begin driving north, stopping just outside Danang to visit the MARBLE MOUNTAINS, five stone hillocks, once islands, that now rise sharply from the surrounding ricefields. Riddled with caves and shrines, they are said to each represent one of the five elements of the universe. Continue to the city of DANANG, briefly passing CHINA BEACH, a famous R&R spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam-American War, and touring the CHAM MUSEUM an elegant colonial building which now houses the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world. From Danang, journey north past LANG CO, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea, before arriving at Danang. Continue along steep mountainous roads with spectacular views of the coastline, crossing the dramatic HAI VAN PASS, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam. Sightseeing in Hue Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century. Excursion to Thien Mu Pagoda with a boat trip on the Huong Giang river 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.
Day 7 Saigon B,
More sightseeing in Hue: Old Imperial City, Imperial Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc and Dong Ba Market . Located in the heart of Hue is the IMPERIAL CITADEL, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled 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) is 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. TU DUC TOMB: Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled Hue more than 100 years ago, built his tomb when he was still alive and used it for meditation, reading and theater performances. There are pavilions in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The tomb was constructed between 1864 and 1867. Tu Duc, who was the longest reigning Emperor, lived a luxurious life. DONG BA MARKET: a local market near the Imperial City Fly to Saigon.
Day 8 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 motorcyles, chatting on cellphones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense. Begin your tour of this exciting city with a tour of the historic center, 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 uwas 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. In the afternoon, head out to CHOLON (CHINATOWN), stopping to visit two of Saigon's most interesting pagodas, the JADE EMPEROR PAGODA and GIAC LAM PAGODA, the oldest in the city. The sprawling, densely packed Cholon retains a traditional Asian feeling, unlike the more modern Saigon city center. 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
Day 9 Phnom Penh
Fly from Saigon to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival, you will 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 Sihamoi 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, and the sprawling RUSSIAN MARKET, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more.
Day 10 Fly to Siem Reap
Fly to Siem Reap to visit Angkor. 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 stonecarvings 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. Angkor Thom 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 cermonies, 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.
Day 11 Siem Reap
More sightseeing in Angkor. 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. Then you will visit Banteay Samre, a mid-12th century temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. You will also 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. PRASAT KRAVAN: the 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. 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. 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. Thommanon THOMMANON: temple which mirrors Chau Say Tevoda (just to the north), as it was built around the same time and has a similar plan. It is also dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu Finally you will watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
Day 12 Siem Reap / USA
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight return home.