Arrive Hanoi, Vietnam
Arrive in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and transfer to your colonial-style hotel.
Hanoi is the country’s cultural heart, bearing traces of centuries of changing dynasties. Visit Ho Chi Minh’s house, a simple structure that served as home to the revolutionary guerrilla leader. Continue to the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda, dating back to the first independent Vietnamese empire. Also visit the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, where American prisoners of war were once confined. Ride Like a Local by cyclo through the city’s Old Quarter. This evening, gather with your fellow guests for a welcome dinner.
Ha Long Bay
Travel to Hai Phong, where you board ‘Orchid’ for a cruise of picturesque Ha Long Bay. Relax on deck as ‘Orchid’ snakes her way past the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan, their striking karsts (limestone formations) rising dramatically from the emerald waters. On a course less frequented by other cruises, wind past Cat Ba Island, Thoi Quyt, Coc Ngoi islet and Cua Van. Drift to a halt in Lan Ha Bay, a quiet corner of greater Ha Long Bay, where you may disembark for a tranquil walk on a remote beach. Back aboard ‘Orchid,’ view the sunset framed against the Gulf of Tonkin shoreline. Later, join a Chef’s Table demonstration featuring traditional Vietnamese cuisine, followed by dinner aboard.
Ha Long Bay
Greet the day on deck with sunrise tai chi overlooking the bay. Then, set out to explore Toi and Sang (Dark and Bright) Cave. Return for brunch on board as ‘Orchid’ sails home to port in Hai Phong. Back on terra firma, enjoy an orientation tour of this important port city, visiting Du Hang Pagoda and the Navy Museum. Later, fly to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, where you settle in at your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City
Recently experiencing a resurgence of art and culture, Ho Chi Minh City is a lively, evocative hub of activity. Today, view examples of the city’s colonial legacy, including the Reunification Palace and the Central Post Office, and stop for photos at the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Saigon Opera House. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the War Remnants Museum, to discover photographs from Bunyo Ishikawa, a Vietnam War photojournalist. Then, get a feel for present-day Vietnamese life as you stroll Ben Thanh Market. Tonight, gather with your fellow guests for dinner at a local culinary hot spot.
Ho Chi Minh City
Travel into the countryside to explore the expansive Cu Chi Tunnel network. On arrival, talk with a former Vietcong soldier and, if you like, crawl through the small tunnels once traversed by Vietcong guerrillas. After lunch, return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Fly to Siem Reap, the town nearest to Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant upon arrival. Then, begin your exploration of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer kingdom, with a visit to the Bayon Temple, its 172 large-scale faces bearing beguiling smiles, representing gods, goddesses, and other beings from classical poems and mythology. Check in to your hotel before gathering for dinner at a local restaurant.
Rise early this morning to experience the incomparable serenity and inspiration of watching the sun rise over mystical Angkor Wat. Return to your hotel for breakfast and a morning at leisure. Later this afternoon, discover the stunning ruins of Ta Phrom, where the roots of great trees seem to have spilled over the roof of this iconic stone temple. Enjoy a Scenic Sundowner on a gondola while floating on the Angkor Thom moat.
Today, explore a less-visited temple — Banteay Srei, known as the “Citadel of Women.” Learn about the essential work of the Cambodia Clean Water Project, an A&K Philanthropy project that builds pumping wells in rural communities throughout the country. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Angkor National Museum, home to golden-era Khmer kingdom artifacts. Then, bid farewell to Cambodia as you fly to Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Step back in time for a day. This morning, join in a village baci ceremony, and then proceed to Wat Xieng Thong, a Buddhist Temple noted for its “Tree of Life” wall mosaic. After lunch at a local restaurant, stop at the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, which is devoted to protecting the ethnic diversity of Laos. In the evening, enjoy a stroll through the vibrant night market before continuing to a top local restaurant for dinner.
Rise very early to give alms to local monks before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Next, visit the National Museum, once a royal palace before continuing to a local restaurant for lunch. Visit a silk weaving center and then fly to Bangkok, Thailand’s vibrant capital.
Visit the sprawling Grand Palace. Explore the historic Siamese court, home to Thailand’s most important shrine, the green-jade Emerald Buddha. Discover Wat Pho temple, with its massive, gilded Reclining Buddha, and then enjoy a splendid view of Wat Arun from the deck of a boat, on a Chao Phraya River cruise. Tonight, gather for a special farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to depart for home.