Day 1 | Highlights:
Xin Chao and welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam! With large boulevards, tree lined lakes and French inspired architecture Hanoi is blessed with charming atmosphere. You will be met by an Emerald Waterways representative and be transferred to your hotel. This evening meet your Tour Director for a tour briefing and then enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Two Night Stay: Hanoi
Day 2 | Hanoi Highlights:
This morning visit historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (view from outside) and learn about the man who liberated his country from French Colonial rule. See Ho Chi Minh’s former home then the iconic One Pillar Pagoda. Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university established to educate royalty. Being over 900 years old with well-preserved architecture this is a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Take a walking tour through Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter. Consisting of bustling streets and lanes named after the products sold in each street, it is an area oozing with character and is a great way to see local life in Hanoi. Finish with a stroll around picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of the lake. EmeraldPLUS: Stop for lunch at KOTO restaurant, a unique restaurant that trains and educates disadvantaged street children in English and hospitality skills. EmeraldPLUS: Attend a traditional Water Puppets performance. Dating back to the 11th century, the Water Puppets are a unique Vietnamese art form. After the show we take you backstage to meet the puppeteers and get an intimate look at this fascinating art form.
Day 3 | Hanoi – Halong Bay Highlights:
Opportunity to view this spectacular landscape from the air with a 45 minute seaplane flight from Hanoi over Halong Bay (additional cost, must be pre booked).
Travel to Halong Bay and join your luxurious traditional style junk. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning scenery. Thousands of karst limestone pillars rise dramatically out of the emerald water creating a surreal but incredibly beautiful seascape. Settle in for an unforgettable overnight cruise through the bays and islets of this magnificent region. After a sumptuous lunch, board row boats and visit Dark and Bright Lagoon, a spectacular lagoon accessed by passing under a natural tunnel. In the evening enjoy the breath-taking surroundings as you relax on board.
Overnight Stay: Bhaya Classic Junk or similar
Day 4 | Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hoi An Highlights:
After breakfast explore one Halong Bay’s biggest caves, Surprise Cave which is known for its impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations. Sail back to the mainland leaving the majestic scenery behind. Transfer to Hanoi and take your flight to Danang where you will be picked up and transferred to the historic port town of Hoi An. From the 17th to 19th centuries Hoi An was a thriving port that saw trade from all parts of Asia as well as Europe. Today it is a well preserved town full of shops, great cuisine, history and architecture.
Three Night Stay: Hoi An
Day 5 | Hoi An Highlights:
Hoi An’s old town is closed to cars so is great for exploring on foot. This morning take a short guided walking tour through the World Heritage listed ancient town. See old merchants houses, a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese architecture, including the beautifully carved Japanese Covered Bridge as well as the Assembly Hall of the Chinese Congregation. EmeraldPLUS: Join the Lifestart Foundation, an organisation that assists the underprivileged in becoming self-sufficient through the production of traditional handicrafts. Receive an engaging and interactive glimpse into local life in Vietnam as you visit the studio of a local painter who will teach you the art of Vietnamese painting. Afterwards, enjoy a lantern making class. Silk lanterns line the streets and are a fixture in the local homes and shops of Hoi An. You will have the opportunity to learn about Vietnamese life through interesting discussions with the class instructor and Lifestart members. The afternoon is free for you to discover this wonderful town.
Day 6 | Hoi An Highlights:
Today is free to explore Hoi An and it’s surrounds. Wander the streets, visit the shops and markets, relax by the river or on the beach or take a Discover More tour.
Discover More: Learn how to cook like a local at a Vietnamese cooking class, or tour the historic ruins of the Champa Kingdom at My Son (additional cost)
Day 7 | Hoi An – Hue Highlights:
Drive along one of Vietnams most scenic roads travelling over the Hai Van pass with views of the picturesque coastline and quaint villages. Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. On the banks of the Perfume River, Hue hides secrets of an impressive past with a plethora of cultural sights. Visit the Imperial Citadel, a wonderfully historic structure that was the seat of the former Nguyen Dynasty. Modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City, it houses the emperor’s residence, temples and palaces. EmeraldPLUS: Cyclos are a Vietnamese institution and are a fun and relaxed way to get around. Experience a traditional cyclo ride through the Dai Noi or ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. Board a boat for a tranquil ride down the Perfume River to Hue’s most significant and iconic temple, the Tien Mu Pagoda, a seven story octagonal tower that is a Buddhist Temple. EmeraldPLUS: Royal cuisine under the Nguyen Emperors’ banquets were legendary, and tonight we live like an Emperor of Hue and dress up in royal costume for an Imperial banquet. Savor an unforgettable dinner with typical royal dishes which gives a glimpse of the city’s splendid past.
Overnight Stay: Hue
Day 8 | Hue – Ho Chi Minh City Highlights:
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. More commonly known as Saigon, it is a city with a turbulent and colourful past, although today it is the country’s commercial centre with over eight million inhabitants and four million motorbikes. Tonight enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Two Night Stay: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 9 | Cu Chi Tunnels Highlights:
EmeraldPLUS: Travel from the city, through the countryside to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. An ingenious network of over 200km of underground tunnels, they were built by the Viet Cong guerrillas as a means of protection, communication and deception against both the French and American forces. At its peak, the network included sleeping quarters, kitchens, meeting rooms and hospitals serving more than 18,000 fighters. Join a Vietnamese Veteran and learn of the wars, strategies, atrocities and the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese which eventually led to the defeat of their enemies. See traps, bombs, weapons, tanks and if you dare, you can even go underground and experience what it was like to be a guerrilla. Hear fascinating stories from first-hand experience to allow a real insight into one of the most famous wars of our time. Return to Saigon and spend the afternoon exploring the city.
Discover More: Evening street food walking tour introducing you to some hidden culinary delights of Ho Chi Minh City, or Discover Saigon old and new with a tour of modern, traditional and historical sights (additional cost)
Day 10 | Ho Chi Minh City – My Tho – 7 night Mekong River Cruise Highlights:
Be guided on a city tour seeing Reunification Palace, the Old Saigon Post Office, bustling Dong Khoi Street, Opera House, City Hall and the War Remnants Museum. Transfer to My Tho in the Mekong Delta. From here we will begin our journey upstream aboard the luxurious RV Mekong Navigator. Meet your Cruise Director and crew followed by a welcome reception. This evening enjoy a Vietnamese “Mekong Delta” Theme Dinner.
Seven Night Stay: RV Mekong Navigator
Day 11 | Cai Be – Sa Dec Highlights:
Board sampans and sail through Cai Be’s floating market, a fascinating and iconic scene of the Mekong Delta. Pass the city’s French gothic cathedral, tour Anh Kiet House, then visit a traditional rice factory. Observe daily routines of the villagers before stopping at a local brick factory. Upon arrival to Sa Dec, visit the home of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, who inspired Marguerite Duras’ novel, L’Amant (The Lover), and take a walk through the town’s market.
Day 12 | Tan Chau – Vietnam/Cambodia border crossing Highlights:
Sail to a Cao Dai temple, then ride a Vietnamese tuk-tuk to a mat weaving workshop. Cruise to a floating fish farm, and visit Evergreen Island for a walk through a local village. Reboard the ship and cruise to the border and Phnom Penh. Sous Sdei and welcome to Cambodia! Please note we are unable to dock until the customs office is open tomorrow.
Day 13 | Phnom Penh Highlights:
Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh was once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, but it was almost entirely evacuated by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. EmeraldPLUS: Meet our cyclo drivers for a city tour of Phnom Penh. Journey to the Royal Palace complex and the National Museum housing Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artifacts. EmeraldPLUS: Enjoy a performance by the Cambodian Children’s Group which includes Cambodia’s national dance as well as local traditional folk dances.
Discover More: Backstreets, temples and communities tour, or street food tour (additional cost)
Day 14 | Phnom Penh Highlights:
Visit the Killing Fields, which is a disconcerting reminder of the recent atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime. Continue to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school that was converted to the main prison and torture headquarters of the Khmer Rouge.
Day 15 | Angkor Ban Highlights:
Visit the charming town of Angkor Ban. Here, you will get a glimpse into the lives of the local people, starting with a visit to a family’s home where you will have the opportunity to meet the family and discuss their lifestyle. Continue through the village to the local school and join the children in their classroom to experience a typical school day.
Day 16 | Wat Hanchey – Kampong Cham Highlights:
Visit Wat Hanchey which offers views of the Mekong River. EmeraldPLUS: Receive a traditional Buddhist Water Blessing from the monastery’s resident monks. See Phnom Pros (man hill) and Phnom Srei (woman hill), the reclining Buddha, and the preaching Buddha. Our final visit is to the Angkorian-period complex of Wat Nokor Bachey. Return to the ship and gather for a farewell reception and Royal Cambodian Theme Dinner.
Day 17 | Kampong Cham – Siem Reap Highlights:
Disembark and bid farewell to the RV Mekong Navigator and her crew. Transfer to Siem Reap, the gateway to the magnificent Temples of Angkor. EmeraldPLUS: This evening witness the incredible Phare Cambodian Circus, a spectacle of acrobatics, theatre and music. Phare is an NGO founded by Cambodian refugees to assist disadvantaged young people by teaching them performing arts.
Two Night Stay: Siem Reap
Discover More: Uncover either Bantey Srei or Beng Mealea temples, take a Cambodian cooking class, or Explore the Roluos temple group (additional cost)
Day 18 | Angkor Temples Highlights:
Start at the famous Angkor Wat, known for its elaborate decorations and intricate carvings throughout. Continue to the unique Ta Prohm temple which is overgrown by jungle trees. Visit the impressive Bayon Temple, and finish at the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King known for their intricate bas-reliefs. This evening enjoy a farewell banquet.
Day 19 | Depart Siem Reap Highlights:
Transfer to Siem Reap airport for your onward flight. We hope you enjoyed your tour of South East Asia and hope to see you again soon!
Please Note: The Mekong River is subject to extreme variations in water levels. Every effort is made to provide the routing and inclusions stated however depending on water levels prevalent at the time of sailing, this itinerary may be amended.