In Vietnam, visit sites important to the country's history like Hanoi's Old Quarter, the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Temple of Literature, and the Cu Chi Tunnels – an incredible network of underground passages used during the war. Gather at the banks of the Perfume River in Central Vietnam at the educational and cultural town of Hue. Here, you’ll visit the former home of Princess Ngoc Son and meet the present owner, Phan Thuan An, a direct descendant of the Imperial Court and former history professor and author. And visit the astounding archaeological site of My Son, the religious capital of the Champa Kingdom which flourished from the 4th to 13th centuries and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You'll also have a chance to experience Vietnam's remarkable natural beauty. Spend time in the quiet villages of Duong Lum and Cam Thanh, set along the fertile valleys and lush waterways of the Mekong Delta. Witness thousands of limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of majestic and inspiring Ha Long Bay. You’ll see this breathtaking body of water in style aboard the Bhaya Classic, where you’ll spend the night. Stroll along the beaches of Hoi An, a major international port during the 17th-19th centuries and now a popular seaside resort. In Ho Chi Minh City, see the city's French influence in the colonial architecture of the City Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral. At Au Manoir de Khai, you’ll enter into a stunningly restored French colonial home for an elegant dinner.
Then venture to neighboring Cambodia where, assisted by your knowledgeable guide, you'll explore the magnificent jungle ruins of Angkor and the impressive architecture of Angkor Wat, once the royal seat of the mighty Khmer Empire and the largest temple in the world. Your two-day guided tour also includes Angkor Thom – the last capital of the Khmers, with its Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King; the stunning Bayon temple; and less-visited sites like Ta Prohm and the Wat Bo Temple. Conclude your Southeast Asia adventure with a festive dinner of traditional Khmer cuisine in Siem Reap.
• 13 nights deluxe accommodations: 3 nights in Hanoi, 1 night aboard Bhaya Classic, 2 nights in Hue, 2 nights in Hoi An, 2 nights in Ho Chi Minh City and 3 nights in Siem Reap
• Daily breakfast, 8 lunches and 8 dinners, including a dinner of traditional Khmer cuisine in Siem Reap
• All on-tour transportation and 3 internal flights
• Specially arranged private wine reception at an artist’s gallery in Hanoi
• Specially arranged visit to the former home of Princess Ngoc Son in Hue, now owned by Mr. Phan Thuan An, a direct descendent of the Imperial Court and former history professor
• A Vietnamese cooking class in Hoi An
• Two days guided, in-depth exploration of the ruined temples of Angkor
• Small-group sightseeing to these historic sites, including 4 UNESCO Heritage sites: Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi; scenic overnight cruise of Ha Long Bay; Tu Hieu Pagoda and Imperial Citadel in Hue; the seaport, Old Town and Japanese Covered Bridge in Hoi An; the archaeological site of My Son Sanctuary; Cu Chi Tunnels and Reunification Hall in Ho Chi Minh City; Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon temple, and Ta Prohm in Angkor, outside of Siem Reap
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Single supplement may apply. Unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member benefit is per person and applies to first and second traveler only. Member benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or cancelled subject to the travel provider's policies. Black out dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of publication but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement and vary by provider. **Our Travel Insurance cost of $195 per person is included, but purchase is not mandatory and the policy can be optionally deducted from your trip cost at the time of final payment. Note that separate cancellation terms and conditions apply if included travel insurance is declined. Vietnam & Cambodia visa fees of $199 per person are also included.
Day 1 - Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam
Settle in to your deluxe Hanoi View room at your 5-star hotel, wonderfully situated on the shores of the city’s largest lake.
Accommodation: InterContinental Westlake - 3 nights
Day 2 - From Ancient Monuments to Avant-Garde Art
Hanoi is a distinctive city, with its own unique rhythm and feel. You’ll be captivated by scenes of everyday life everywhere you turn – bustling sidewalk cafes, pavement barbers, and bicycle-filled streets lined with elegant Colonial French mansions. Starting after breakfast at your hotel, today’s in-depth sightseeing explores the city across the centuries from the Temple of Literature, built in 1076, to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing edifice of granite and concrete modeled after Lenin’s tomb. Stroll the atmospheric lanes of the Old Quarter, now home to many artists’ studios, and stop by one of these galleries for a private afternoon wine reception, spending time with the artist and his work. Today you’ll also experience the timeless traditions of the city: a cyclo ride along charming streets and a water puppet performance. Dine tonight at Wild Lotus Restaurant.
Day 3 - Out and About in the Countryside
This morning’s leisurely journey into the northern countryside takes you first to Thay Pagoda. Just 25 miles from Hanoi, this Pagoda is especially popular with city residents during festival times, and is famed for its finely carved statues of Buddha, ornamented with lacquer and gold. Continue to Duong Lum, a quiet village surrounded by ride paddies and widely recognized for the remarkable preservation of its old homes and temples. Enjoy lunch in this timeless setting before returning to Hanoi in the late afternoon. The balance of the day is free to explore or relax as you wish.
Day 4 - Journey to Ha Long Bay for an Overnight Cruise
After breakfast, journey to Ha Long Bay. The drive is just a few hours, but the breathtaking scenery that greets you will feel worlds away from the city. Ha Long Bay is filled with thousands of limestone islands, forested peaks, hidden coves, secret caves, and emerald green waters that stretch forth as far as you can see. Traditional sailing junks and local fishing boats ply these waters and here awaits the Bhaya Classic, styled after the grand junks once reserved exclusively for the Emperor.
You board around noon and have plenty of time to settle in to your superior, air-conditioned outside stateroom before enjoying a welcome drink as you set sail. After a buffet lunch, the afternoon is yours to relax and enjoy as you cruise through the magnificent scenery, exploring along tranquil coves and past limestone caves to visit a selection of islands. As weather and sea conditions permit, you might swim, snorkel or kayak during the afternoon. Of course, there’s plenty of time to just relax onboard, enjoying the vistas, and socializing with fellow passengers. Dinner is served onboard.
Accommodation: Bhaya Classic - 1 night
Day 5 - Arise in Ha Long Bay and Travel to Hue
Early risers can enjoy an invigorating Tai Chi session on deck as the sun casts its first light across the peaks and coves of this magnificent bay. After a leisurely buffet breakfast and time to take in the scenery, step off ship in the late morning and return to Hanoi for your late afternoon/early evening flight to Central Vietnam. Upon arrival in Hue, you’ll be met and escorted to your hotel.
Accommodation: La Residence Hotel & Spa - 3 nights
Day 6 - Getting to Know Hue
Founded more than 300 years ago, Hue has long been an important cultural, religious, and educational center for Vietnam. Setting out early this morning after breakfast, your exploration takes you along the Perfume River, across its tranquil waters, and on a pleasant stroll along peaceful shaded pathways. Visit the tomb of Emperor Gia Long, founder of the Nguyen Dynasty, and also Tu Hieu Pagoda – surrounded by the lush tropical vegetation of the countryside.
After lunch, tour the Imperial Citadel, an impressive complex of buildings, lakes, and tranquil gardens, all laid out in a series of concentric circles. Your touring ends on a high note, with a specially arranged visit to the former home of Princess Ngoc Son. It’s been lovingly preserved and is perhaps the finest traditional garden house in the region. Here you’ll meet the present owner Mr. Phan Thuan An, a direct descendent of the Imperial Court. A former history professor, Mr. An has written several books, including a respected review of Hue’s history and culture. After visiting Mr. An, journey by boat down the Perfume River, passing peaceful sampan villages on the way back to your hotel.
Day 7 - Across the Hai Van Pass to Hoi An
This morning’s journey takes you across the scenic Hai Van Pass through Danang and past the Marble Mountains to the historic port city of Hoi An. Check in to your deluxe beachfront resort with time to freshen-up before lunch at the Morning Glory Restaurant. Known as Faifo to early western traders, Hoi An was one of Asia’s major ports during the 17th to 19th centuries, home to Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Portuguese merchants. Today, Hoi An is remarkable for its collection of original Chinese temples and impressive homes built by these wealthy merchants of earlier times.
This afternoon, explore with your guide through this ancient seaport; it’s easy to imagine yourself a sailor of the 18th century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in all of Asia. Wander through the old town center to admire these old merchants’ homes, the art galleries that now draw visitors from all over the world, and the famous Japanese Covered Bridge. Your dinner reservations this evening are at the charming Brothers Café, located on the riverfront.
Accommodation: The Victoria Hoi An - 2 nights
Day 8 - In and Around Hoi An
Today we’ve arranged for a cooking class at the Red Bridge Cooking School & Restaurant, starting with a morning boat ride along the Thu Bon River into the countryside. After a refreshing welcome drink at the pier, your chef will introduce you to the ingredients and methods of Vietnamese cuisine in general, and the regional Hoi An style in particular. A number of specialties will be prepared as you watch and learn. Then, retreat to the riverfront to dine al fresco, sampling the dishes your chef has prepared. Before returning to your resort, visit the peaceful village of Cam Thanh to experience the ordinary rhythms of daily life here: children returning from school, water buffalos being fed, and farmers returning to the fields after the midday heat has passed.
Day 9 - From the Ruins of My Son to bustling Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)
After an early breakfast, a scenic morning drive brings you to My Son. This astounding archaeological site was the religious capital of the Champa Kingdom, which flourished from the 4th to 13th centuries. This unique Hindu-based culture left behind more than 70 religious monuments. But with the ravages of time and war, only 25 partial structures remain today. They are, nevertheless, spectacular and with UNESCO recognition as a World Heritage Site, extensive conservation efforts are underway to protect these fascinating jungle ruins. Continue to Danang for the short afternoon flight to Ho Chi Minh City, where you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to your 5-star hotel in the heart of the city.
Accommodation: InterContinental Asiana Hotel - 2 nights
Day 10 - Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels and Sights of Saigon
An enriching day begins this morning at the Cu Chi Tunnels, the incredible underground network used during the Vietnam War that once stretched for 210 miles. Marvel at secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living quarters, and even conference rooms. You’ll have ample opportunity to view the excavated areas from above. The more adventurous can even explore the deeper second and even third-level tunnels.
Then return to Ho Chi Minh City for lunch and an afternoon of sightseeing, including Reunification Hall, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. It was towards this modern building that Communist tanks rolled on the morning of April 30, 1975, as the city fell at the end of the Vietnam War. Stop by the General Post Office, a picturesque Colonial-era landmark, City Hall, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Then stroll along Le Cong Kieu Street, famous for the many shops and galleries selling antiques – both old and new! Your specially arranged dinner this evening explores the French heritage of the country. At Au Manoir de Khai, you’ll enter into a stunningly restored French Colonial home for an elegant dinner of fine French cuisine.
Day 11 - Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Siem Reap where you’ll be greeted and escorted to your hotel.
Accommodation: Sofitel Royal Resort - 3 nights
Day 12 - The Glory of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
Set out with your guide after breakfast to begin your in-depth exploration of the magnificent jungle ruins of Angkor, once the royal seat of the mighty Khmer Empire. This morning you’ll explore imposing Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt. Inspired by 12th century Hinduism, it took an estimated 30 years to build Angkor Wat, including the intricately carved bas-relief which adorns all four sides of the temple.
After a relaxing lunch, discover the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom – the last capital of the Khmers with its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King, and the stunning Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. Late in the day, your guide will lead you to a prime vantage point to witness the sun set over Angkor, a magnificent and unforgettable spectacle.
Day 13 - Ruins of Angkor / Exploring Further Afield
This morning’s expertly guided exploration focuses on the less-visited but equally impressive sites of Angkor, including Ta Prohm. Dedicated in 1186, this vast temple complex has been largely left in its natural state, surrounded by the massive roots and limbs of the encroaching jungle. Return to your resort at midday before afternoon sightseeing in town, including Wat Bo Temple. There’s time to freshen up before this evening’s farewell dinner at a particularly atmospheric restaurant, Viroth’s.
Day 14 - Depart Siem Reap
Bid adieu as your tour concludes this morning.