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Beyond Boundaries

16D/15N - VIETNAM & MYANMAR CONTRASTS
16D/15N - Vietnam & Myanmar Contrasts
SaiGon - DaNang - HoiAn - Hue - Hanoi - HaLong Bay - Yangon - Heho - Inle Lake - Indein - Inle Lake - NyaungShwe - Heho - Bagan - Yangon
Unforgettable: In recent years, both Vietnam and Myanmar have had times when they were closed off to the outside world. Today, visitors can explore the very best these two incredible countries have to offer, all in one 16-day trip. Travel the length of Vietnam, from the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to the central heritage coast and exquisite Halong Bay. Then fly to Myanmar and experience the colonial wonders of Yangon, the temple landscapes of Bagan and serene landscapes of Lake Inle. A truly magical experience with Luxury Travel.
Day 01: Arrival to Saigon (D)
On arrival to Tan Son Nhat International Airport you will be greeted by your guide and driver and transferred to your hotel. Freshen and relax at the hotel, then enjoy dinner at Park Hyatt. Overnight at the Park Hyatt.
NB: Additional activities can be arranged on this day subject to your arrival time.

Day 02: Saigon City tour (B,L)

Experience the dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals. There are many ways to explore the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh, however none is as exhilarating as on the back of a Vespa scooter! Our professional drivers will drive you around Ho Chi Minh City, while you take in the sites. Enjoy a local lunch before you depart on your vespa tour.

Head to the monument of Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death on June 11, 1963 to protest against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem administration.
 
Then take a quick stop at the colorful Ho Thi Ky flower market before riding to the Funeral Home to get to know about Vietnamese funeral ceremonies & customs.
 
Rollthrough Chinatown to NhiPhu temple built in the end of 17th century by Chinese immigrants from FukkienProvince. Although the exact construction date is unknown, an inscription on the pagoda's ancient bell dates the pagoda to pre-1765. NhiPhuTemple is built in a “Khẩu” (gate) architectural style with an open yard in the center. Its roof is covered with tubular tiles lined with bas-relief mosaics made from broken ceramics, depicting the eight immortals of Taoism including apricot trees, orchids, bamboo and  of course dragons and phoenix.
 
Continue with a short walk through the alley full of tailor’s supplies. Then back to Nhi Phu temple to return to district one by bike. On the way stop at a Medicine shops for an explanation about “Thuốc Bắc - medicine from herbs”. Leaving Chinatown, we drive through the tunnel to District 2 where we see downtown Saigon from a different perspective and we have a chance to see a developing Ho Chi Minh City.

Visiting a local market before heading back to District 1 for a twin set of neighboring landmarks: the Post Office, noting the architecture and in particular the map of Saigon that shows where this modern city has come from, followed by Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Moving then to the remarkable ReunificationPalace and the previous CIA Office before a drive down Dong Khoi Street (it means “people’s revolution”). Pass by the historic Opera House (now the Municipal Theatre). You may recognize the square from the film based on Phil Noyce’s “The Quiet American”.

Pass HCMCity People’s Committee (formerly Hôtel de Ville) which is one of the most photographed buildings in Vietnam - notable for its gardens, ornate facade and elegant interior lit with crystal chandeliers. Enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the best restaurants in Saigon, Monsoon, serving up all delicacies from Indochina.

In the afternoon step off the beaten track and take a stroll to the oldest quarter of the city (car at your disposal should you need it). Explore Saigon’s well-kept secret - Antiques Street (Le Cong Kieu), where genuine antiques are mixed in with genuine fakes: Aladdin oil lamps, carved wooden chests, Marelli copper fans, opium pipes, abacuses, etc. You can also find military cast-offs from the Vietnam War, and if you look hard enough, relics from the French Indochina era. Follow a typical street to reach the Beaux-ArtsMuseum, a superb neo-colonial building home to various modern arts. Explore the art galleries surrounding the museum, where local artists gladly display their talent.
The rest of the evening at leisure. Overnight at the Park Hyatt.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch included. Dinner Independent

Day 03: Saigon - Cu Chi Tunnels - Danang - Hoi An (B,L,D)

Get a first-hand look at the Vietnam-American war history with this half-day morning tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. Travel 1.5-hours northwest of Ho Chi Minh City where you will be led through the jungle as your guide explains the history of the war, the ingenuity of the Cu Chi residents and the daily activities of the people. You will even have a chance to crawl through the tunnels before returning to the city.
 
Depart Ho Chi Minh City for the morning drive to Cu Chi district. Leaving the city behind, the scenery changes to views of rice paddies, villagers drying noodles by the side of the road and other scenes typical to southern Vietnam.
 
Arrive and start the visit of the famous Cu Chi Tunnels which consist of an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars. Start the visit with the Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc sections of the tunnel. Here you can imagine what it was like to be a guerrilla complete with Russian Carbine rifles and AK 47’s on display. In the late morning journey back to Ho Chi Minh City.
 
Enjoy delicious Vietnamese lunch at HoaTuc, located in the most famous countyard of a previous Opium Factory.
 
After lunch, continue to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your 40 min flight to Danang. On arrival your guide will welcome you for the 30-minute drive to Hoi An. Freshen in your hotel before going on a walking tour to discover the ancient port town of Hoi An. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. A walking tour is the best way to see this marvellous town.
 
After the walking tour, enjoy dinner at Mango Rooms, one of Hoi An’s best restaurants which serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. With a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations and a relaxing atmosphere this eatery has one the heart of many loyal and happy customers.
 
Immerse yourself in the romantic atmosphere by the bank in the old town lit up by thousands of lanterns at night, enjoy the rest of the night at leisure. Overnight at The Nam Hai Resort Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast on board. Lunch included. Dinner Included

Day 04: Hoi An street food tasting tour - free day or tailors etc (B,L)
This morning, you will embark on an unique street food tasting tour - a different side of Hoi An through its food. Visit a local market off the tourist map then sit down to sample an astounding 36 local delicacies bought directly from the vendors - from sweet to the savory, noodles, sticky rice, a myriad of spring rolls, tropical fruits and dishes only found in Hoi An.
Start at a colourful and friendly ‘wet market’ where you’ll get the chance to meet and chat with stall holders to learn more on the huge choice of ingredients on sale. Everything from silk worms, a huge variety of fresh fragrant herbs and vegetables to the meat and fish sections will be seen.  Leaving the market continue along both high streets and back streets, discovering out-of-the-way producers and street vendors making and selling a wide variety of exotic foods.
Your final destination, will be a comfortable restaurant where the tasting session will begin. A wide selection of local delicacies bought directly from the vendors – will be tried. Learn the names and meanings of different local foods and how to pronounce the names as well as the main ingredients and how they should be eaten. This tasting session will give you a deeper understanding of Vietnamese cuisine  and the purpose of the tour is to give an opportunity to try the huge variety of foods of the local Hoi An people – the benefit also goes back to the vendors as all dishes are bought directly from them.
Your afternoon is free to wander this beautiful town or take some time to relax at your beach resort.
Overnight at the Nam Hai Resort Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch included. Dinner Independent.

Day 05: Hoi An - Hue (B,D)
Leave Hoi An after lunch (plenty of time to pick up those handmade items) for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. In Danang visit the ChamMuseum, before climbing over the ‘Pass of Ocean Clouds’. Arrive in Hue late in the afternoon and transfer to hotel.
 
Freshen at your historic hotel before dinner at one of Hue’s beautiful garden houses known locally as 'nhavuon'.  These houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in large and attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court and the house’s traditional architecture has long been associated with the natural environment and the ancient belief of 'feng-shui'.
 
Enjoy the rest of the eveving at leisure. Overnight at La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch independent. Dinner Included.

Day 06: Hue (B,L)
Pick up from hotel by cyclo and head to dainoi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax; full of lotus flowers in summer there are many local style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study.
 
Continue by cyclo to Tay Loc Market which is located in the northwest part dainoi. This market is mostly for locals and is rarely visited by tourists.
 
From Tay Loc transfer by vehicle to the beautiful pagoda which dates back to 1843. What is most interesting at the pagoda are the eunuch tombs from the former Royal Court which in the whole city of Hue are only found here. If in Hue on Thursday or Sunday mornings between 0900-1000 it is the gathering place for up to 20 Buddhist monks and nuns who gather together to pray and read aloud scriptures. This is a fascinating time and highly recommended.
 
Ho Quyen, which was an arena where duels between elephants and tigers were fought for the entertainment of former Kings, will be visited next. The last fight was held here in 1904 and although small, you can climb the nearby ramparts and gaze down upon the area where the animals once fought.
 
At the end of the tour visit the recently restored An Dinh Palace where magnificent murals can be seen, as well as the stunning façade where oriental and European designs are integrated.
 
Enjoy lunch in Hue at one of the city’s most renowned restaurants, Ancient Hue.
 
In the afternoon see the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang which is located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. At the end of the afternoon head back to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at La Residence Hotel & Spa.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch at Ancient Hue restaurant. Dinner Indepentent.

Day 07: Hue - Hanoi (B,L)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to depart for the Ha Noi bound flight. Upon arrival in Hanoi Airport, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel to check in before meeting your specialist street food guide and driver. Continue to the centre of Hanoi, where the tour be mostly conducted on foot so be sure that you are wearing comfortable walking shoes.
 
Your expert guide today is aa local hospitality industry insider and food blogger, with an enormous passion for his country's cuisine, and a large following both in Vietnam and internationally. He created awareness of locally known street food dishes combined with cultural adventures, entertaining his readers since 2005. Quirky observations also found their way into both local and international media and his experience managing some of Hanoi 's finest dining establishments along with his special interest in street-food (he's shared many hours trawling the street stalls and markets) make him the genuine, local authority on  Hanoi 's food scene.
 
Stroll through Old Quarter, past the old east gate to Thanh Ha market. Along the way delicacies, strange food items and an explanation of Vietnamese food practices will be given. This busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and is the essence of Vietnamese culture.
 
Continue through the streets of the Old Quarter to Dong Xuan market to sample some local treats such as pho tiuand bun dau. Your guide will explain the routine of Vietnam meal times and indigenous/unusual ingredients eaten. Stroll up ‘food alley’ to see other dishes on offer.
 
From here visit the food sections of Hanoi’s main market, Dong Xuan. See dried goods and aromatics, the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine.
 
Walk down to Hang Than Street to view ceremonial cake stalls and taste a special French influenced dessert. An explanation on traditions and food gifts for celebrations will be given. Continue back into the Old Quarter via Hang Cot Street – check specially treated fruit which are dependable on the seasons and a common snack in Vietnam. Walk along Phung Hung Street through temporary market stalls where you can see the changing market scene in Hanoi and how modernization is shaping tradition. At the end of the tour stop at one of the Old Quarter busiest (yet smallest) coffee shops for a well-earned sit down and coffee before transferring back to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Overnight at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Street Lunch included. Dinner Independent

Day 08: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay (B,L,D)
Following breakfast leave Hanoi for a 4hrs drive to Halong Bay,the mystical scenery of Halong Bay where thousands of limestone islands jut out of the emerald sea, sculpted into bizarre shapes and surrounded by colorful floating villages is a truly a breathtaking destination.
 
Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board. Overnight aboard on Paradise Peak.

Day 09: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi - Flight to Yangon (B,L,D)

On your return to Halong City enjoy a breakfast on board or an early lunch as your boat weaves through strange-shaped limestone rock formations. Upon disembarkation your driver will meet you for the transfer to Ha Noi Airport for the 1635 Vietnam Airlines flight to Yangon.On arrival at the Yangon airport, you will be welcomed your tour guide, who will assist you through all the immigration procedures. Transfer to your hotel for check in and a chance to freshen up and relax. Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening at The Strand. Overnight The Strand

Day 10: Yangon (B,L,D)

Enjoy breakfast at the Hotel before commencing a day of sightinseeing in this evocative city. Your guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel and you’ll venture downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. You’ll start at the post office – a lovely historic building- and walk to SulePaya in the middle of downtown, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit Little India and Chinatown, a colorful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets.
 
Lunch at a local restaurant where delicious Burmese cuisine is served in a clean, comfortable environment.
 
After lunch we’ll visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-meter long reclining Buddha. A visit to Kyaukhtatgyi provides a great overview of Buddhism with murals depicting the life of Buddha, the feet of the statue carved with traditional symbols and often many locals gathering to pay homage and pray.
 
Continue to a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life: drinking tea! Select from an array of snacks and enjoy a coffee or tea as you sit amid businessmen, friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialize or conduct business.
 
Next your guided tour goes to Kandawagyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots. Here you will see the glittering Karaweik barge, a replica of the royal barge, and the vast lake with views of Shwedagon in the background. Depending on the day of your visit Kandawgyi may be busy with local families who come here on the weekend to relax in the fresh air.
 
From here, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, the local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas and your guide will show you around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.    
                 
Dinner this evening is atHouse of MemoriesRestaurant, anold colonial style mansion set in a beautiful garden. Once used as the BIA (Burma Independence Army) and BDA (Burma Defense Army) Head Quarters, the building is full of memories of the people who embarked on the long walk toward gaining independence for Myanmar. Wander through the house looking at the historic remnants on display including a room named after General Aung San, which was once his office and still contains his desk and typewriter. Overnight The Strand

Day 11: Yangon - Heho - Inle Lake (B,D)

This morning, transfer to Yangon Airport for your flight to Heho.  Here you will enjoy a one-hour scenic drive to NyaungShwe, the gateway village to the lovely Inle Lake.
 
A private local motorboat will escort you to your luxurious hotel for check in.  Along the way, pass stilted villages, the leg-rowing Intha fishermen, and floating gardens anchored to the lake’s bottom with bamboo poles.
 
Check in to your hotel, a resort nestled near the lake’s shores. Your stilted bungalow offers spectacular views from the balconies.
 
After freshening up, a private boat will take you out on the lake to visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake's main sanctuary, before returning to the resort.
 
If there is time, we will stop for a coffee break (client’s account) at Inthar Heritage House. Not only are the cakes and coffees delicious, but the house also has a superb display of information about traditional Inthar culture and history.
 
Return to your hotel in time for sunset. This evening enjoy a traditional Shan Style dinner at hotel, served on lacquer plates. Overnight on Inle Lake

Day 12: Inle Lake - Indein - Inle Lake (B,L,D)
Option: should you wish to wake up early, we will visit the lake’s morning market on our way to Indein. The market rotates location on a 5-day basis and is a colourful spectacle with vendors gathering from the villages around the lake to buy and sell their wares.

This morning, enjoy a relaxing boat trip along a small canal to the Pa-oh village of Indein.  Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful AlaungSitthou area.  AlaungSitthou is filled with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below.
 
Lunch today is a highlight of many people’s visit to Inle Lake. We’ll stop at a village for a private lunch at an Inthahouse. Enjoy traditional Inthar dishes as you sit on cushions around a low table, a unique chance to learn about and experience Inthar culture firsthand.
 
Then we visit the lake’s villages to learn about the cottage industries. Visit the weaving village of Inpawkhone where beautiful textiles are produced from silk and lotus roots. Continue to a cheroot factory where typical Burmese cigars are made by hand.
 
Return by boat to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon at your hotel. In this evening, enjoy your dinner at the Hotel. Overnight on Inle Lake

Day 13: Inle Lake - NyaungShwe - Heho - Bagan (B,L)

After a leisurely breakfast, check out of your hotel and transfer by boat to the town of NyaungShwe. We’ll visit the local monasteries and nunneries as well as the colourful morning market where dozens of stalls are set up selling flowers, produce and other goods.
 
Enjoy lunch at Viewpoint Restaurant, widely regarded as the best Shan food in Myanmar.
 
Then transfer to Heho Airport for the flight to Bagan.Upon arrival in Bagan transfer to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure. Overnight in Bagan

Day 14:  Bagan (B)
Begin today with a visit to the NyaungOo Market where dozens of vendors come to sell their fresh produce and products.  The market is at its busiest early in the morning as the locals come to do their shopping. This is a great opportunity to observe the daily lifestyle of the friendly locals. Then continue to the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of later Myanmar stupas.
 
Next, visit Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas mural paintings.  Continue to the elegant Htilominlo Temple, noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
 
Take a break midday to escape the heat and enjoy lunch at your leisure.
 
This afternoon visit the New Bagan area and one of its many lacquer-ware workshops.  Here you can observe the traditional technique of making these handcrafted products from start to finish. The process takes incredible skill and patience and Bagan’s craftsmen are well renowned for their fantastic lacquer products.
 
As today comes to a close, travel to the boat jetty and embark on a sunset cruise.  Enjoy a cocktail and a stunning view of Bagan as you cruise along the Irrawaddy River. The remainder of this evening is at your leisure. Overnight in Bagan

Day 15: Bagan - Yangon (B,D)
This morning, continue your Bagan sightseeing at Ananda temple, an architectural masterpiece of the early-style temple.  Nearby, AnandaOkkyaung is one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period. Travel by horse carriage among the temples starting at Ananda and passing dozens of monuments. Stop as you wish to take photos or explore hidden temples. The slower pace of the horse and cart is a relaxing way to see the wonders of Bagan from a different perspective.
 
After lunch at your leisure, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This evening enjoy a special farewell dinner. The elegant Le Planteur Restaurant serves a variety of French and Asian cuisines, freshly prepared by top chefs. Overnight inYangon.

Day 16: Yangon Departure (B)

This morning head to Bogyoke Market, also referred to as Scott Market, for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets. Browse the aisles of handmade goods, looking for the perfect souvenir of your Myanmar holiday. (note: Closed on Mondays and public holidays). The remainder of today is at your leisure for additional sight seeing or shopping before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.
Bagan, Myanmar

For those with more time we recommend joining one of our exclusive day trips to further explore the wonders of Yangon. Below are just a few ideas you may enjoy- ask your travel consultant for more details or additional ideas.
    •    Art and Antiques Tour: This full day tour reveals the city’s rich history through its art and antiques. Visit several antiques shops tucked away in a residential neighbourhood where the goods echo the years past. Dine at a 100-year old colonial house filled with furniture and remnants of General Aung San’s revolutionary period and spend the afternoon exploring the city’s art galleries.
    •    Yangon for Foodies: Get a taste for Burmese food and culture with our half day guided ‘Yangon for Foodies’ tour. Visit some of the city’s best fresh markets, sample tasty treats, sip a cuppa with the locals in a tea shop and enjoy a traditional curry lunch. From the sweet (fried donuts) to the strange (fermented tea leaf salad), you’ll get to try it all! (Lunch included).
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