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Beyond Boundaries

14D/13N - VIETNAM & ANGKOR WAT JOURNEY LIKE NO OTHER
 14D/13N - Vietnam & Angkor Wat Journey Like No Other
Unforgettable: ndochina’s cultural landscape comes alive as you journey from Hanoi to Saigon and the ancient capital of Angkor. Sail among the gumdrop islets of Halong Bay on a traditional-style junk. Cruise the Perfume River in Hue and see the handicraft villages outside Hanoi and Hoi An. Watch the sunset over the Khmer ruins of ancient, mysterious Angkor.
Day 01: Arrive Hanoi, Vietnam
You will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. (You have crossed the International Date Line during your flight and arrived the following day. Overnight at Hilton Hanoi Hotel

Day 02: Hanoi      B, L
Stroll through the park to discover Ho Chi Minh's stilt house, the simple two-room dwelling where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1948 until his final days. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows. Visit the nearby miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Dating from the 11th century this monument was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. Visit the Temple of Literature a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, this monument is one of the best preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius this was also the site of Vietnam's first university. Colonial architecture and broad boulevards are just one part of Hanoi.

Lunch at KOTO Restaurant. KOTO, Know One Teach One, is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Delicious food.

Explore the winding lanes of the Old Quarter by cyclo where the streets bear the names of the crafts or merchandise tranditionally sold here. Enjoy talking with the Puppeteers before the traditional Water Puppet performance.

Day 03: Hanoi – Handicraft Villages      B, L

Drive past rice paddies through the picturesque countryside to visit the handicraft villages that surround Hanoi. Bat Trang which produces traditional ceramics, we will have luch in traditional house in Bat Trang village and Dong Ho a center for traditional painting and Dong Cao which manufactures Rhamnoneuron paper. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.

Day 04: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay      B, L, D
Halong Violet
Welcome on board and set sail through Bai Tu Long Bay while seafood lunch is served. Let your eyes wander the azure waters of this magical bay, where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragon's teeth, you’ll be passing the picturesque area around Mat Quy islet, Am islet. Mid afternoon, cruise to Cua Van fishing village and enjoy a pleasant bamboo row through the village with floating homes. Enjoy swimming before going back on board for a sunset cocktail. In the evening, experience a unique dinner in Tien Ong cave.

Day 05: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi - Hue      B, L
Pilgrimage Village
Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi session on deck as the sun rises over the bay. Cruise deeper into Bai Tu Long bay, passing Pearl Farm, Tam Cung cave, Hon Xep islet and Dau Moi temple. Join your chef for a cooking demonstration to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy buffet brunch on board before arrival at the dock. The transfer from Halong to Hanoi will take about 3½ hours. Take a short flight to the former capital of Hue.

Day 06: Hue      B, L, D

Embark on a local boat and cruise down the Perfume River to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful, natural setting.

Enjoy a vegetarian lunch at the ancient Ba La Mat Pagoda with an opportunity to learn more about Buddhism.

Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 6 miles (10 km) and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead to the imposing Ngo Man Gate the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Residence (Dien Tho palace) is where the Queen mother lived. Visit THAI HOA PALACE the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins and the original NINE DYNASTIC URNS among other sites.

Day 07:  Hue to Danang/Hoi An      B, L           
Swiss Belhotel Golden Sand Resort
Journey  to Danang, via  Hai Van Pass with its spectacular views of the coastline. The pass is the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam. Continue southwards passing LANG CO a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon. Continue to the ancient fishing town of Hoi An, and enjoy time at leisure this afternoon.

Day 08: Hoi An      B, L, D

The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage dating back to the 16th and 17th century when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving center of traditional crafts and a shoppers’ paradise best explored on foot. Wander through the cobbled streets past low tile-roofed buildings the bustling Central Market and the small harbor where colorfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a private house, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the Family Chapels built as centers for ancestor worship and to a typical Chinese style pagoda. Finally, continue to the famous Japanese Covered Bridge.

In the afternoon board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River, enjoying the unspoiled countryside and stopping to visit a Pottery Village and a Woodcarving Village before returning to Hoi An Harbor.

Day 09: Hoi An -  Danang - Saigon      B. L
Inter-Continental Asiana Saigon
This morning fly to Saigon. Begin your tour of this exciting city in the historic center. Stroll Dong Khoi Street known as 'Rue Catinet' during the French years. This is a main shopping street in the centre of Saigon where there is a lot of choice of handicrafts and lacquer ware. Drive by City Hall also known as Hotel de Ville at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With its ornate gingerbread facade it looks like the town hall of a French town. Opera House: this colonial-era monument is today one of the main places for cultural exchange.

Notre Dame Cathedral built between 1877 and 1883, is set in the heart of Saigon's government quarter. It has a neo-Romanesque form and two high square towers tipped with iron spires. Post Office: this is a French-style building with its glass canopy and iron frame right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam. Visit the Reunification Palace: the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, it was stormed by tanks on 30 April 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state. Cholon: this is the huge Chinese neighborhood to the west of the city in District 5. Cholon means 'Big Market', a good indication of the importance the Chinese have traditionally played in Vietnam's economy. Explore the alleys and side streets of Cholon by cyclo, visitng Chinese herbal medicine streets and clothing streets. Visit Binh Tay Market: Cholon's main wholesale marketplace, this is a bustling center for trade. Thien Hau Pagoda: the pagoda is one of the most active in Cholon and is dedicated to Thien Hau.

Day 10: Saigon      B, D
The day is free for exploring or shopping on your own.
Or take an optional tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps and even venture inside the tunnels some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists. Dinner tonight at the Temple Club.

Day 11: Saigon to Siem Reap, Cambodia      B, L
Le Méridien Angkor Hotel. Fly to Siem Reap and check into our hotel.

The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface with some 1,700 Apsaras or celestial dancers sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world which narrates stories from Hindu mythology including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day. Watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terrace of an ancient Angkorian temple.

Day 12: Siem Reap: Angkor Thom - Angkor Wat      B, D

The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public cermonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle.

Visit Ta Prohm one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.

This afternoon visit Banteay Srei Temple. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite with visitors.

Day 13: Siem Reap      B, D
Tonle Sap (Great Lake) Located in the heart of Cambodia this extraordinary lake swells up to seven times its original size during the monsoon season. Its ecosystem is one of the richest and most diverse in the region. This boat trip will explore the floating fishing villages that live at the edges of the lake, passing submerged forests and fishing farms.

Les Chantiers Ecoles a vocational centre that trains 650 apprentices a year including 160 in fine arts and crafts trades united in the Artisan d Angkor production network. Guided tours through the different workshops like stone sculpture, woodcarving, polychrome, and watch the artisan at work. Enjoy a farewell dinner with Khmer dance performance tonight.

Day 14:  Siem Reap - Departure
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home. We will add a hotel overnight in Bangkok if your transpacific flight departure time does not allow for a same day connection.

AB = American breakfast, L = Lunch, BD = Buffet dinner, D = Dinner, WD = Western Dinner,
DH = Dinner at hotel, DS = Dinner
Tour Price including on-tour air (4 flights).
Please contact us for 2014 and 2015 departure dates and prices.

Special notes: Tour price is per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement applies. Please refer to Luxury Travel and Leisure terms and conditions. Tour price includes economy class intra Asia airfares and taxes.
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