AHA007 – Deluxe Southeast Asia 17 days / 15 nights

Validity: 01 November 2018 – 31 October 2019
Arrive in Hanoi, Hanoi. Join the crowds traversing the narrow back streets of the Old Quarter. Depart to Ha Long Bay with a luxurious, classic junk that transports to thousands of limestone islands rise from emerald waters. Walking Tour of Ancient Hoi An, market adventure, and cooking lesson. Exclusive Lecture and Tour by Tim Doling. Continue excursion with a flight to Siem Reap, Tonle Sap Lake, Angkor Thom, and Bayon Temple. The highpoint of the day is to visit to majestic Angkor Wat on day 11. Visit Elephant Training Center on the next day and enjoy a ride down the Ping River on a bamboo raft. Heading up Doi Suthep Mountain to visit Wat Phra That.

Excursion Description

DAY 1 : Depart for Vietnam
Depart for Vietnam

DAY 2 : Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam
Arrival in Hanoi, Vietnam’s charismatic capital city, known as the “Paris of the East” with its French inspired architecture. You’ll be welcomed by our representatives and transferred to our deluxe hotel, with its French colonial grandeur and timeless elegance. Time to rest and acclimate to your new time zone
Overnight:Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi

DAY 3 : Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Complex, Water Puppet Show (B/L/D)
A morning briefing with the Tour Manager highlights the astonishing tour of Southeast Asia that lies ahead. Then, we get acquainted with energetic Hanoi, with its broad boulevards, ancient pagodas and scenic lakes – the city’s design and architecture is very much tied to the French-colonial era. Begin the day with a thrilling cyclo ride. Join the crowds traversing the narrow back streets of the Old Quarter – see locals in conical-shaped hats selling their wares in this bustling mecca of shops and stalls. At the Ho Chi Minh Complex, view Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the symbolic One Pillar Pagoda, designed to resemble a lotus blossom. Pass the imposing Presidential Palace before visiting the revolutionary leader’s humble “house on stilts” set in a well-tended garden, and the infamous Hoa Lo Prison named the “Hanoi Hilton” by U.S. POWs during the war. Visit the Temple of the Jade Mountain (Den Ngoc Son) one of Hanoi’s most picturesque shrines set on a tiny islet in the center of Hoàn Kiem Lake. Lunch is followed by an enchanting performance of the world-famous Water Puppets, depicting ancient Vietnamese folktales over a pool of water accompanied by an orchestra and opera singers. Tonight, gather with your Tour Manager and fellow travelers for a festive Welcome reception and a delectable Vietnamese dinner
Overnight: Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi

DAY 4 : Ha Long Bay (B/L/D)
Astonishing panoramas await us today! Depart on a long drive through the lush Vietnamese countryside with glimpses of the country’s traditional way of life to Ha Long Bay. Undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, Ha Long Bay has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” Upon arrival in the early afternoon, we embark on a luxurious, classic junk that transports us into another world, where thousands of limestone islands rise from emerald waters. A warm welcome by the captain and crew before lunch on board. Delight in the tranquility of the fairy tale landscape as we sail past jagged cliffs, grottos and hidden caves. Explore the serene Dark and Bright Lagoon by row boat or, opt to kayak in this soothing setting before returning to the ship. Later, relax on deck, take a swim or perhaps indulge in one of the spa services. A cooking demonstration precedes tonight’s remarkable culinary experience. At dusk, remain on deck to witness a spectacular sunset on these magical waters
Overnight: Bhaya Classic Boat, Ha Long Bay

DAY 5 : Halong Bay, Hoi An (B/-/D)
Rise early to watch the sunrise on the peaceful waters before joining the Tai Chi lessons on deck. We sail to Surprise Cave and explore the enormous grotto, full of spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. As we head back toward the harbor, a brunch buffet will be served. Afterwards, we disembark the ship, return to Hanoi for a flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival, continue to quaint Hoi An, an important trading port for Chinese, Dutch, Indian and Japanese merchants until the 17th century. A delectable dinner awaits us upon arrival at our stunning
boutique hotel, on the banks of the Thu Bon River, a perfect blend of historic charm and modernity
Overnight: Hotel Royal Hoi An, Hoi An

DAY 6 : Walking Tour of Ancient Hoi An, Market Adventure, Cooking Lesson (B/L/D)
Discover the extraordinary beauty of ancient Hoi An on the walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, where people still wear the “ao dais”, Vietnam’s traditional dress. Its past is superbly preserved in a captivating collection of temples, pagodas, shop houses and magnificent private homes in the town’s Old Quarter. Visit the Old House of Tan Ky, lovingly preserved throughout seven generations and the gorgeous Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, one of the city’s largest and most ornate temples. Follow Chinese tradition by lighting an incense candle in honor of your loved ones. At the graceful bright red 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, view a fantastic work of art. Then, splitting into smaller groups, a specially arranged private cooking class, led by a Chef at a local restaurant, is followed by lunch of your own creation. Later, visit the shop of a lantern craftsman to learn how colorful lanterns are made, and a workshop where artisans produce silk products using ancient looms. This evening, dinner at a charming restaurant. Afterwards, opt to stroll in the Old Town or along the river glistening with lights of flickering lanterns – a very unique highlight of Hoi An
Overnight: Hotel Royal Hoi An, Hoi An

DAY 7 : Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Cu Chi Tunnels (B/L/-)
A flight to the high-energy metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, a potpourri of old pagodas, modern towers and an energetic vibrant culture. Lunch at a local restaurant before driving to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the infamous underground network built in a jungle outside the city, that included hospitals, schools, kitchens, sleeping quarters and much more. We’ll gain a greater understanding into the history of this secretive expansive network, a key Viet Cong resource during the Vietnam War. If you choose, squeeze into and crawl through some of the small tunnels that were once traversed by guerrillas, experiencing for yourself the life that once existed here. Settle in and relax at our centrally located prestigious hotel designed to capture the essence of classical and contemporary Vietnam. Tonight is on your own – a great opportunity to try one of the fine restaurants in Ho Chi Minh where virtually every world cuisine is represented, or be adventurous and sample the vast selection of tasty Vietnamese dishes at one of the many street stalls
Overnight: InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

DAY 8 : Exclusive Lecture and Tour by Tim Doling (B/-/D)
Today, an exclusive lecture and tour of the city conducted by Tim Doling, the noted author, researcher and historian. Step back in time as we view his interactive presentation and listen to a fascinating lecture about Saigon’s history and its landmark buildings – see the old and witness the new! Following, we all walk together past the city’s major sites, observing landmark buildings such as the neoclassical Central Post Office, the Opera House standing magnificently at the heart of the city, the Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the former U.S. Consulate where helicopter evacuations took place during the Vietnam War. Next, enjoy a coffee break at the Rex Hotel’s legendary rooftop bar, overlooking the most cherished French-colonial buildings in the city. The rooftop bar, was made famous during the Vietnam War, when it served as home to the American military command’s daily conference, sarcastically named “Five O’Clock Follies” by cynical journalists who questioned the suitability of a bar to host a war briefing. The rest of the day is yours to discover the city independently – don’t miss the bustling Ben Thanh Market where you can find everything from coffee beans to bowls of Pho, the local noodle soup. Tonight’s dinner highlights international cuisine in a serene and stylish setting combining classical French cooking with exotic touches from Asia.
Overnight: InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

DAY 9 : Siem Reap, Chhayam Dance Welcome (B /L/D)
The journey continues with a flight to Siem Reap, center of the ancient Khmer civilization and gateway to Cambodia’s mystical UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. Upon arrival at our elegant French-colonial resort hotel, we’ll be welcomed to Cambodia by a group performing Chhayam Dance, a traditional Khmer musical dance. A lunch of local specialties before we depart to the dazzling Banteay Srei Temple, a jewel of Angkorian art, cut from pinkish colored stone with some of the world’s finest three dimensional carvings. In the late afternoon, watch the glorious sunset from the deck of a traditional Khmer boat, accented by cocktails and canapes. Floating on the peaceful waters of the moat at Angkor Thom, with a backdrop of the ancient city, is an experience you’ll surely not forget. Dinner tonight at a colonial-style restaurant overlooking the river
Overnight: Sofitel Angkor, Siem Reap

DAY 10 : Tonle Sap Lake, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple (B/L/D)
A wonderful morning excursion takes us by boat on freshwater Tonle Sap Lake, the largest in Southeast Asia, with its rich and diverse ecosystem. Explore the string of waterside villages (both floating and stilted) and observe the local life awakening before your eyes. You can even try riding on an ox-cart, still being used here by local farmers. After a local lunch, breathtaking experiences lie ahead at the fortified city of Angkor Thom. We walk amid monuments and statues of ancient Hindu gods, including the vast Terrace of the Elephants and elaborate Terrace of the Leper Kings, adorned with dramatic bas-reliefs. At the mysterious Bayon Temple, view the puzzling giant smiling stone faces. On to the monuments of Ta Keo, Prasat Kravan and Srah Srang before arriving at Ta Prohm, where the jungle was left untouched, still shielding many of the monuments. You’ll clearly understand why the architectural masterpieces of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat are designated as one of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” Perhaps linger to watch the blazing colors of the sunset over the monuments. Savor a delectable dinner together at the hotel
Overnight: Sofitel Angkor, Siem Reap

DAY 11 : Angkor Wat, Chiang Mai, Night Tour by Tuk Tuk (B/-/D)
The highpoint of the day is our visit to majestic Angkor Wat, a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, a gem of Khmer architecture. World-famous for its beauty and splendor, Angkor Wat has the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the entire outer gallery walls, depicting stories from Hindu mythology. This sprawling city, built by Khmer Kings, was once home to more than one million people at the height of the empire. Time on your own to reflect before departing to the airport for the flight to Chiang Mai in Thailand, ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom. At our lavish resort hotel nestled in a lush tropical garden, time to immerse yourself in relaxation and tranquility in your pavilion accommodations. Later, a night tour of the city in a traditional tuk tuk (open bike-taxi). We’ll pass magnificent temples with their gorgeous illuminations and the walls of the Old City. Along the way, view Chiang Mai’s many iconic landmarks such as the Iron Bridge, the Three Kings Monument and the city’s frenetic all-night market. Dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

DAY 12 : Elephant Training Center (B/L/-)
On the visit to an Elephant Training Center in a sanctuary setting, we’ll get to see baby elephants learning how to walk in a line and bathe in the running streams. Groups of older elephants display amazing feats of skill and strength of intelligence. You will have the chance to ride an elephant through the forest – a really pleasant experience! Later, enjoy a ride down the Ping River on a bamboo raft and take in the beautiful scenery as you float on the peaceful waters. After a picnic lunch, return to Chiang Mai for free time and adventures on your own.
Overnight: Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

DAY 13 : Rice Planting, Doi Suthep mountain (B/L/D)
Today, you’re taught how rice is planted by one of the local growers in this land of a million rice fields. Change into mud boots and a traditional farmer’s mor hom. Learn about the importance of rice in the Thai culture. Lunch and free time at the hotel to enjoy all the amenities. In the late afternoon, we head up Doi Suthep Mountain to visit Wat Phra That, the most sacred temple in Northern Thailand. Pay your respects to a holy relic of the Lord Buddha and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the peak, also the perfect spot for watching the sunset. The evening is sublime, with dinner at one of the very best restaurants in Chiang Mai
Overnight: Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

DAY 14 : Private Dinner Cruise on the Chao Phraya River (B/-/D)
An unhurried morning before the flight to Bangkok, the exotic capital of Thailand. Free time at our luxurious hotel nestled along the river, renowned for its gracious Thai hospitality, impeccable service and caring personal attention. In the afternoon, we board a long-tail speedboat that zips us along the Chao Phraya River and the klongs (canals) to see the many interesting sights and small villages that prosper along the riverfront. Later, a Dinner Cruise on a traditional teak rice barge, views of glittering Bangkok at night – the brilliant glow of lights is magical as we sail past the Temple of Dawn, the Grand Palace and other beautiful temples magnificently illuminated
Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

DAY 15 : Highlights of Bangkok (B/L/-)
Awake this morning in this endlessly fascinating city that is an extraordinary blend of ancient and modern. The day begins at the fragrant and colorful flower market; view the display of fresh flowers and learn about the importance of the flower trade on the economy. Onward to the elaborate Grand Palace, glittering centerpiece of the city, a sprawling complex of temples, halls, and pavilions built around immaculate lawns and gardens and its holy Temple of the Emerald Buddha built for the King of Siam in exotic Thai-style. Continue on a visit to serene Wat Po, the oldest and largest temple in the city, with its astonishing giant Reclining Buddha, over 150 feet long and almost 49 feet high. Afterward, a delectable lunch of local favorites! Afternoon at leisure. At dinner time, treat yourself to an evening of outstanding Thai food at one of the city’s well-known restaurants. Enjoy a night out on the town!
Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

DAY 16 : Floating Market, Farewell Reception (B/L/D)
An early departure to one of the busiest Floating Markets outside of Bangkok, popular with locals and visitors alike. You’ll be absolutely amazed at how the ancient art of trading wares is conducted between hundreds of local farmers and villagers aboard small Sampan boats fully loaded with all kinds of produce, dry goods and fresh cooked food. Whet your appetite after this frenetic display of food – you’ll be ready for a hearty lunch at a nearby restaurant. On your own for the rest of the day to catch up on last minute shopping or sightseeing. On the last night in Bangkok, an elegant cocktail reception followed by a sumptuous Farewell Dinner has been arranged just for you. Bid a warm farewell to your Tour Manager and newfound friends at tonight’s lavish dinner that caps your extraordinary experience in Southeast Asia
Overnight: Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok

DAY 17 : Depart Thailand (B/-/-)
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Meals: Breakfast