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Welcome to the EXPLORE VIETNAM & LAOS tour! This 11-day adventure will take you on a journey through some of the most beautiful and historic destinations in Southeast Asia. In this tour, you’ll explore Ho Chi Minh City, cruise through the Mekong Delta, visit Hanoi and Halong Bay, discover Luang Prabang’s temples and participate in a traditional alms-giving ceremony, and end your journey in Vientiane. Throughout the tour, you’ll stay in comfortable hotels and be accompanied by Golden Lotus Travel‘s knowledgeable guides who will provide insightful commentary on the two country’s rich cultures.
1 hour before departure
You first arrive in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, a young city with the age of more than 300 years, a centre of culture, education, commerce and tourism of Vietnam, the biggest city of Vietnam mix with the West and the Orient, and once known as the “Pearl of Far East”.
Welcome by your local guide and driver at airport and transfer to your hotel in the city centre. Time at leisure after your long flight. Overnight in Saigon.
Enjoy a two hour drive northwest of Saigon, through urbanized areas and typical lush southern Vietnamese countryside, to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of the tunnels’ history, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Return to Saigon.
A walking tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmarks is a must. Transfer to Dong Khoi street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon. Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris. (It is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed) Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustav Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower. Finally, the former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. The last stop is Cho Lon Quarter.
Depart from your hotel at 08:00, it takes only 2 hours to drive to Ben Tre. On arrival in Hung Vuong Pier, hop on a motorized boat on Ben Tre River – one of the tributaries of the Mekong river while sight-seeing lively activities along the river such as fishing, water transfer. Our first stop is a brick kiln to see how to make bricks traditionally by printing and baking. Continue to visit one of plenty of coconut processing workshops located along the canal. Return to the boat and go through natural scissors creeks to a village and see some local houses making sleeping mats and enjoying some fruits. Take a motorized cart (tuk tuk) or bicycle on shady paths, pass by green rice fields and vegetable plains to be able to touch on real life and find out about tropical culture from peasants. Have lunch at local a riverside restaurant. After lunch, we take a rowing-boat along beautiful water palm creek before meeting up with the motorized boat and transfer you back to the pier for your transfer to Can Tho. Overnight in Can Tho.
Cruising along the small and picturesque tributaries by a rowing boat, we will see the Cai Rangfloating market (the nicest one with heaps of rowing boats). See the beautiful scenery and daily activities of the locals. Walk around a village, visit a rice husking mill. Disembark at Ninh Kieu quay, visit an Ancient house (in Binh Thuy, 10 km from Can Tho). Go back to your hotel for relaxation.
In the afternoon take direct flight from Can Tho to Ha Noi. Meet your local guide at No Bai airport and go to your hotel in Ha Noi city for overnight.
After breakfast, the day starts with visit to the complex dedicated to Ho Chi Minh – the nation’s founder, containing Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (viewed from outside on Mondays & Fridays afternoon due to closure), and the house on stilts, One Pillar Pagoda. Next up visit Tran QuocPagoda – Hanoi’s oldest pagoda on the bank of West Lake.
In the afternoon, visit Temple of Literature, the Vietnam’s first university which was constructed in 11th century. Later on, take a cyclo ride around the Old Quarter streets which were named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. Stop at Hoan Kiem Lake. Followed by the Water Puppet show – a uniquely Northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Overnight in Hanoi.
Breakfast at your hotel and check out.
Leave your hotel, embark on a 3.5 hour coach drive to Halong with short stop en route for refreshment.
Upon arrival, board your deluxe junk where a welcome drinks awaits. After a relaxing break, enjoy a delicious seafood lunch while cruising through the magical bay where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waters like dragon teeth.
After lunch, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay, swim on a quiet beach or sunbathe on the deck. Later in the afternoon, take a sampan ride to visit floating fishing village. Back on board and enjoy cocktails while watching sunset and later unwind at restaurant for a lavish dinner.
Note: the cruise itinerary is subject to change due to the cruise and weather condition.
Wake up early to catch the dramatic sunrise on the bay and enjoy a Tai Chi demonstration on the sun deck. Relax with a cup of hot coffee before departing to the splendid Sung Sot grotto where stalactites hanging from the high ceiling take on numerous shapes and forms. Enjoy a brunch on board while cruising back to the boat docking station, then transfer back to Hanoi for your flight to Luang Prabang, the most interesting place in Laos. The World Heritage city located in north at the confluence of the Nam Khan river and Mekong River and has numerous historical and modern Buddhist temples and monasteries, colonial buildings, villas, intimate restaurant, nice atmosphere.
Overnight in Luang Phrabang.
For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Visit Morning Market where you can find all ingredients for local food. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, you board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a beautiful view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious of Pak Ou Caves, crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes.
Then in the afternoon, visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace, which displays a lovely collection of the artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign.
In the evening, at your leisure time you may explore Street Night Bazaar, where you can find the lovely collection and handmade textile by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
In the morning, you will drive through the Luang Prabang countryside to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Along the way by the Mekong River you will see gorgeous landscapes of many rice fields, hills and villages. You will visit an ethnic minority at a village where their local culture has remained unchanged for centuries. Upon reaching Kuang Si Waterfalls, relax and enjoy the magnificent natural surroundings.
Continue our city tour with the impressive stupa of Wat Mai and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represent the classical architecture of Luang Prabang temple. Then you will climb up to the top of Phousi Mount for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Enjoy your morning free time in Luang Prabang and then go to the airport for short flight to Vientiane. Up on arrival Vientiane Capital, meet our guide, and transfer to hotel for check-in.
In the afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of Vientiane, to visit religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, Symbol of Lao nation the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha; Patou xay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today as the land-mark of Vientiane. Overnight in Vientiane.
Today we say goodbye to Vientiane, and board your flight back home or to the next destination. Pick up time is to be confirmed when we fix your outgoing flight.
I recently went on the explore Laos & Vietnam, and I have to say it was an amazing experience! The itinerary was well-planned, and we got to see so many beautiful places. From the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City to the peaceful temples of Luang Prabang, each destination had its unique charm. The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, and the accommodations were comfortable. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to explore Vietnam and Laos.
My husband and I went on the explore Laos& Vietnam tour for our honeymoon, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The tour was well-organized, and we got to see some of the most beautiful and historic destinations in Southeast Asia. We particularly loved the Mekong Delta cruise and the visit to Halong Bay. The accommodations were top-notch, and the tour guide was friendly and helpful. We would definitely recommend this tour to anyone looking for a unique and memorable honeymoon experience.