Arrive Ho Chi Minh City
Tour begins: Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers. A transfer is included from Ho Chi Minh City Airport to the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers. Located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), it is just steps from the Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, and Reunification Palace.
Ho Chi Minh City & Embark Ship
A guided tour of landmark sites this morning includes a visit to Reunification Palace and stops at Notre Dame Cathedral and the neoclassical Post Office. After lunch, see the bustling activity at Ben Thanh Market as you stroll past vendors' stalls, wet and dry, selling all manner of goods, fresh produce and seafood. Your guided walking tour continues near famed Dong Khoi Street, offering you up-close views of the Opera House, the Caravelle Hotel, the CIA Building, City Hall and the acclaimed Rex Hotel, a favorite haunt of U.S. officers during the war. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from the top of the Bitexo Financial Tower before embarking your small ship and settling into your cabin. Dine ashore tonight.
Mekong Delta or Cu Chi Tunnels
A choice of shore excursions today sheds light on daily life in rural Vietnam. You can disembark your yacht for a fascinating motorboat cruise along the Mekong Delta, known as "the rice bowl of Vietnam"; visit Cai Be floating market and see villagers whose livelihood is inextricably linked to the river and land, before returning to L'Austral late afternoon. Alternatively, head underground on a guided tour of Cu Chi Tunnels, constructed to shelter Viet Cong guerrillas during wartime. Athough incomprehensible to imagine how anyone could exist in these underground hiding places, the Cu Chi tunnels grew to house entire "villages," with living quarters, kitchens, factories, hospitals and bomb shelters, living undeterred by the endless firefights and combat that raged above. Everyone gets together after dinner onboard for a local folkloric show held ashore.
The Saigon River & the East Sea
Sailing alongside narrow fishing boats, tugs and ferries, leave the Saigon River for a day at sea aboard L'Austral. Tauck's private lecturer will be onboard to share lectures and insights during your cruise, while the ship's lounge and dining venues pamper with amenities and great views. Join us for the captain's welcome party tonight.
A Relaxing Day At Sea
Chart a course for the port of Chan May, arriving early tomorrow morning. Spend a relaxing day onboard your yacht, enjoying a blend of exclusive Tauck lectures and shipboard activities that make today a real pleasure. Onboard you will find an outdoor swimming pool and sun deck, a spa and fitness center, a handsomely appointed lounge, bars and more that are perfect for mingling and making the most of a leisurely day. Evening shows promise lighthearted entertainment.
Treasured Sights in Ancient Hué
After disembarking in Chan May, drive to Hué this morning for a day spent exploring treasured sights that have earned this ancient city designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop aboard an electric cart for a visit to the Imperial Citadel, a walled fortress and palace in the heart of the former capital of Vietnam. Local school children are on their best behavior today when you visit a kindergarten to see what they've learned and to share what you know, perhaps a song or two! Enjoy a lunch of traditional fare; Vietnamese cuisine is greatly admired for its fresh ingredients and delicate seasonings. Stop at Thien Mu Pagoda, a seven-tiered Buddhist tower built in the 1600s, and go inside Khai Dinh Mausoleum, an eclectic mix of Gothic, Baroque, Hindu, and Chinese Qing dynasty architecture at the top of 127 steep steps. Its two main rooms are completely covered with intricate glass and ceramic mosaics. Return to your yacht for dinner and an evening at leisure as you chart a course for Da Nang.
Da Nang & Historic Hoi An
Exploration in Da Nang and Hoi An offers cultural insights, past and present. Stop for a walk on China Beach en route to the picturesque town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A cyclo tour of this well-preserved, historic Asian trading port takes you down narrow lanes of traditional buildings - many dating back to the 16th century - that include houses, pagodas, temples and meeting places retaining a charming sense of the city's 19th-century livelihoods; spend time on your own before returning to the ship.
Beauty on Ha Long Bay
Board a traditional "junk" for a sampan cruise of majestic Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to towering limestone peaks.Then ride aboard a hand-rowed sampan to find a handful of floating fishing villages on the bay where families spend their lives on brightly colored floating structures that include homes with tiled roofs and modern-day electronics and school facilities for children. Go ashore by tender to explore a cave filled with amazing stalactites and stalagmites before your return to ship late this afternoon to continue your Southeast Asia cruise to Hanoi.
Sightseeing in Hanoi
Upon arrival in the port of Hai Phong, drive inland to Hanoi today where guided sightseeing includes the 11th century Temple of Literature, lunch, and a tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter in a small open-sided vehicle. Discover a 1,000-year-old marketplace, where narrow shopfronts double as entries to living spaces and streets hum with scooters, cars, bicycles and people. See Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and visit the Hoa Lo Prison ("Hanoi Hilton"), before returning to the ship; set sail tonight, bound for Hong Kong.
Day at Sea en route to Hong Kong
Spend a day at sea today, where you'll sail in comfort along the waters off the Vietnamese coast. These waters are known by different names in different countries. "South China Sea" is the dominant name, but in China it is the "South Sea" and in Vietnam, the "East Sea." It's also been called the "Sea of Cham," reflecting the might of the Champa Dynasty.
Disembark in Hong Kong
Disembark in Hong Kong this morning and ride the iconic Star Ferry across the harbour to Hong Kong Island. Drive to Victoria Peak for a ride on the Peak Tram; stunning views of the city and harbour await. Continue to Stanley Market for time to explore at leisure, and head to your gracious city hotel where your room overlooks the stunning Kowloon Harbour.
Kowloon Sights & Dim Sum
After breakfast in your hotel's Café Kool (coffee shop) and a guided jade and produce market walk, take a stroll through centuries of life in this fascinating city on a visit to the Hong Kong Museum of History. It's the perfect appetizer for a delectable taste of modern-day fare at our must-try Hong Kong dim sum dining experience. Essentially a group or family experience, seating is at large, round tables for at least eight, where pots of steaming jasmine tea are served to begin the fun. In a seemingly endless stream, servers bring around stacked bamboo or metal steamers, each revealing deliciously prepared morsels to choose from: dumplings, buns, fried or steamed meats and seafood, vegetarian dishes, cakes and desserts, along with small portions of rice or noodles. Spend the afternoon as you please, then join us this evening at a farewell reception and dinner at the members-only China Club.
Tour ends: Hong Kong. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong to Hong Kong Int'l Airport. Please allow three hours for flight check-in.