Day 1 UK - Hanoi
Depart on your overnight flight to Hanoi today.
Day 2 Hanoi
On arrival in Vietnam's capital, we'll transfer you to your hotel. A two-night stay will give you plenty of time to get to know the city. Tonight you will experience a welcome dinner like no other at the Koto Restaurant, a social enterprise that provides training to disadvantaged children. KOTO has trained over 700 students in Hanoi and Saigon, with 200 of them currently enrolled. Enjoy the aroma and flavours of Vietnamese and South-East Asian specialties, and try a selection of traditional dishes before sitting down for a three course meal.Meals included: D
Day 3 Hanoi
We'll get to grips with Hanoi's many highlights on a full day of exploration, which starts at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Located in the heart of Ba Dinh Square, this imposing building is where the revered former president, known as Uncle Ho, lies in state. Next we'll head to the Temple of Literature, a collection of courtyards built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Here, we'll also see the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university.
We'll stop for a lunch of Vietnamese specialities including the fish dish 'cha ca' and spring rolls, before continuing our sightseeing. Instead of discovering Hanoi by foot, we're going to board a bicycle rickshaw. Your driver will weave through the busy streets of the Ancient Quarter while you sit back and relax as you take in the incredible sights.
Meals included: B,L,D
There's time to stop for a Vietnamese coffee and take in views of Hoan Kiem Lake, before we stroll to the ancient Kim Ngan Temple. The day concludes as we watch a water puppet show, a mesmerising Vietnamese tradition, and take a backstage tour before heading back to the hotel.
Day 4 Hanoi - Halong Bay
A wonderful treat is in store today as you not only admire the stunning beauty of Halong Bay but also spend the night cruising its waters. We reach this UNESCO-listed site on a lovely journey by road through a patchwork of green paddy fields.
On arrival you can join an optional seaplane flight for exceptional views, before we step aboard a replica paddle steamer. We then spend the rest of the day cruising through the dramatic limestone peaks that rise from the water. Head up on deck to watch the sun set before enjoying dinner in the onboard restaurant and a tranquil night in your comfortable cabin.
Day 5 Halong Bay - Hue
Wake up to glorious views of Halong Bay as you enjoy tea, coffee and cookies. Weather conditions allowing, there will be numerous activities on offer this morning including kayaking and swimming, or maybe you'd rather visit a market or peer into some of the nearby caves.
After disembarking we'll transfer to the airport for our flight to Hue.
Day 6 Hue
A full day in Hue will give you a real flavour of Vietnam's former capital. We'll start with a relaxing cruise on the Perfume River and a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda. We'll then continue to the walled citadel, the ancient seat of royal power whose incredible architecture was inspired by Beijing's Forbidden City. Lunch today is a unique treat as we enjoy a meal at the Lien Hao Pagoda, served to us by nuns.
Next is the Cat Tuong Quan Zen House, a haven of tranquillity located in the Thien An Hill pine forest. We'll be introduced to its architecture and learn about its spiritual meaning whilst relaxing with a cup of tea. Finally, we visit the royal tomb of the Emperor Minh Mang, which is surrounded by palaces, temples and pavilions.
Day 7 Hue - Hoi An
A scenic drive via the Hai Van Pass this morning takes us to Hoi An, an enchanting ancient riverside town. After checking into our hotel and enjoying lunch we'll head off on a tour of its highlights. These include the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Jinshang Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, and the Japanese Covered Bridge. We'll also take a cruise on the Thu Bon River.Meals included: B,L
Day 8 Hoi An
Today you will visit STREETS International's Oodles of Noodles project, a scheme which supports street kids and disadvantaged young people by providing them with training for a career in the hospitality industry. You'll meet some of the students, learn about different types of noodles and then have a go at making some yourself. Afterwards, a delicious bowl of Mi Quang noodles will be served.
Day 9 Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City
Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is our destination today. After our flight, our discoveries begin on an afternoon tour. Highlights include the Central Post Office, designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel, and the elegant Saigon Opera House. We'll also see the Reunification Palace, where the Vietnam War came to an end, and enter the War Remnants Museum, which documents its history.Meals included: B
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City
You'll spend this morning discovering the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of underground passages was first constructed in the late 1940s by the peasant army fighting the French. They were later extended by the Viet Cong rebels, and you can explore them today and learn about what life was like for the soldiers who called them home.
The afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure. A wonderful way to end the day is with a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, with traditional dishes and live entertainment on the menu.
Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City - Siem Reap
We're flying to Siem Reap in neighbouring Cambodia today, where on arrival we'll begin our discovery of the iconic temples of Angkor. Considered the jewel in its crown, the pink sandstone temple of Banteay Srei is our first stop. After admiring its intricately carved walls we'll move on to the temple of Banteay Samre, and then the magnificent Angkor Wat. This huge three-tiered pyramid rises 65 metres from the ground and is topped by five lotus flower-shaped towers.
What better way to end the day than by enjoying spectacular views at sunset from the top of the Pre Rup Temple.
Day 12 Siem Reap
An exciting day of experiences begins with a visit to the small village of Chansar, which is supported by our Travelsphere Cares project. You can see the work taking place here, including the building of a kindergarten. We'll then travel like the locals on an ox cart through the fields to the home of a Khmer family who make brooms. You can have a go if you like, before a walking tour of the village and the chance to participate in fishing or farming activities.
A simple Khmer lunch is followed by a visit to a Buddhist temple to receive a blessing from a monk.
Day 13 Siem Reap
Today's discoveries begin at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, whose entrance is lined by statues. We'll also uncover the Bayon, decorated by impressive bas reliefs depicting everyday life as well as great battles. We'll climb to the top of the Phimeanakas, a pyramidal temple, for fantastic views of the Angkor complex. We'll then view the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of Leper Kings before we take the short drive to Ta Prohm. This crumbling temple was abandoned and neglected for centuries and is enveloped by jungle – it's an incredible sight.Meals included: B,L
Day 14 Siem Reap - Luang Prabang
Our journey by road this morning takes us to Kompong Khleang, a village built on stilts whose residents earn a living by fishing on the Tonle Sap Lake. We'll gain a fascinating insight into life here before we transfer to the airport and fly to Luang Prabang in Laos.
Day 15 Luang Prabang
Today we'll discover the highlights of the former royal capital of Luang Prabang on a tour. Admire the ornate Wat Xieng Thong and the Wat Mai, with its beautiful gilded façade. Then we head to the former Royal Palace, now a museum housing many religious and cultural artefacts.
Next we'll see Wat Visoun and Wat Aham, and you'll have the chance to climb the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi for incredible panoramic views.
Day 16 Luang Prabang
We start early today as we rise to the sound of the temple gong and witness a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony. A procession of about 300 young monks in saffron-coloured robes will walk by us silently collecting food in their bronze bowls. If you'd like to take part, your Local Guide will advise you.
Later, we head to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, so grab your swimsuit and take a dip in the turquoise waters if you wish.
Day 17 Mekong River - Pakbeng
You'll spend the day cruising the Mekong River to Pakbeng, for an overnight stay at a riverside hotel. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the views of local life and lunch on board. En route we'll call at the Pak Ou Caves, a holy site packed with more than 4,000 images of Buddha.Meals included: B,L,D
Day 18 Mekong River - Chiang Rai
We'll set sail once more after breakfast, cruising the river to Huay Xai. Look out for wildlife along the way – if you're lucky you might spot elephants from a nearby sanctuary bathing in the waters. We'll stretch our legs in a traditional village, then cross the border into Thailand and make our way to Chiang Rai.Meals included: B,L,D
Day 19 Chiang Rai
Get picked up from your hotel to begin your tour at Wat Rong Khun, known as the White Temple. Designed by one of Thailand's most famous artists - Chalermchai Kositpipat - this unique temple is white with small glass pieces that shimmer in the sun, representing the purity and wisdom of the Buddha. Next, learn about some of the surrounding areas at the Hill Tribe Museum, where you can explore exhibits touching on the area's long history of opium and the effect it has had on the lives of the mountain people and hill tribe villages.
Then head onward to nearby Akha and Yao hill tribe villages. The Akha people are famous for their exotic and beautiful costumes, the Yao people for their peaceful and aristocratic demeanor. Both tribes are welcoming to visitors and eager to show people their day-to-day life. After meeting some of the tribe's people and exploring their villages, continue to Chiang Saen, a small town on the Mekong River. Known for its numerous ancient temples and ruins, this historical city is located at the convergence of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, and is overflowing with both beautiful scenery and incredible architecture.
Finally, head to Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand and an important trading city on the border of Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). Spend some time exploring the local market, which provides a glorious insight into the trading heritage of Mae Sai. Pick up some great jewels imported from Myanmar (Burma), a Chinese item or two or some delicious local food to enjoy on your ride back to Chiang Rai.
Day 20 Chiang Rai - Bangkok
Fly from Chaing Rai to Bangkok. This evening, we gather for a farewell dinner.
Day 21 Bangkok - UK
You can enjoy some time at leisure before we transfer you to the airport for your flights back to the UK.
Day 22 UK
You will arrive back in the UK today.
Please note: Up to and including February 2020 deaprtures, travellers on 'Invitation to Vietnam & Temples of Angkor' will travel with you until day 13.