Fly overnight from the UK to Hanoi.
Meet your tour manager and transfer to elegant, romantic Hanoi, for an overnight stay. Enjoy an introductory walking tour of the Vietnamese capital, with its colonial architecture, labyrinthine old quarter, tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake and island Ngoc Son Temple. After the opportunity to rest and relax, enjoy your first taste of Vietnamese cuisine, dining in the hotel or nearby at your leisure.
After breakfast, board the coach to journey through a landscape of timeless paddies dotted with remote villages, to stunning, UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. The smiling crew of RV Angkor Pandaw, your luxurious, exclusively chartered floating home-from-home, will be waiting to welcome you aboard. Settle into your teak-lined cabin and, as you enjoy an evening cruise through the bay’s astonishing limestone scenery, sip at your welcome cocktail before your first dinner is served. Retire to your cabin as the ship drops anchor in a sheltered bay.
Wake in dramatic Halong Bay, and as breakfast is served, sail through the spectacular seascape, where countless limestone pillars and cone-shaped islands rise out of the water. A shore call brings the opportunity, by ship’s bicycles or by motorised buggy, to discover the ancient village of Viet Hai. This jungle oasis draws visitors from across the globe to its pristine, verdant setting. Wander the village vegetable garden and perhaps taste local produce, before returning to the ship to cruise further into beautiful Lan Ha Bay. Weather-permitting, cocktails will be taken on the beach – bring your swimwear – before dinner is served on board once again.
A morning’s cruise through beautiful Halong Bay brings the chance to visit the spectacular ‘dark and bright cave’, a vast chasm boasting giant stalactites and a bat colony, reached either by kayak or on a traditional fisherman’s leg-rowed basket boat. As you head into the Red River delta to drop anchor near bustling Hai Phong, the rest of the day passes lazily by. Enjoy a fruit-carving demonstration from the chef, who will also unveil the secrets of the famous Vietnamese spring roll, before another dinner is served.
Stretch out in the shade on a deck lounger, as the ship passes through the Kinh Thay River, North Vietnam’s key commercial waterway. Enjoy an entertaining on-board talk from your guide, and after lunch aboard ship, join the afternoon excursion to idyllic village Thanh Ha, where as well as meeting the locals, you will be treated to a traditional water puppet show. Return to the ship and enjoy dinner as she continues upstream.
Another relaxing day sees you sailing towards Hanoi, pausing en route to visit Bat Trang, an ancient pottery-making village. Here, you will see craftsman at work and be treated to the colourful sight of a lion and unicorn dance, an ages-old tradition dating back to Chinese dominion over the region.
Today sees you arrive once more in teeming, fascinating Hanoi, where highlights include visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the former leader’s traditional house, the Imperial Citadel and the fascinating Temple of Literature, where Confucius once sat, thinking. Take in the notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and, less sombrely, enjoy a guided visit to a coffee shop to learn about Vietnam’s coffee industry.The ship will moor overnight in the city, enabling you to dine aboard or ashore at your leisure.
Cruise inland on to the Lower Red River, a pastoral landscape punctuated at times by bustling, commercialised towns. Step ashore to journey through the paddies, which are studded with startling limestone outcrops – a classic North Vietnamese scene unchanged in centuries – and visit two of the country’s most important Buddhist pagodas. A memorable day is completed with a visit to a traditional carpenter’s workshop, where some remarkable artefacts are exquisitely fashioned. This evening, you’ll arrive in Viet Tri, gateway to the Vietnamese Highlands.
Another morning’s cruise sees you enter the Lo River, which flows south from China through the northern ranges. You’ll head to the busy ferry station at Tien Du, for the short drive to traditional village Gia Thanh, where iconic, conical Vietnamese hats are fashioned by hand from palm leaves and bamboo, to a 3,000-year-old design.Another drive brings you to the Hung Lo Temple at Viet Tri, where traditional stories are passed from generation to generation through the medium of Xoan singing – yet another example of how life remains unchanged in rural Vietnam today.
Enjoy a relaxing morning’s cruise into the Da River, passing through the verdant, mountainous landscape of the Ba Vi National Park, with its tropical flora, before arriving this afternoon in Hoa Binh, the last port of call for Angkor Pandaw. Another fascinating included excursion brings you to ancient Duong Lam village, birthplace of two Vietnamese kings and where houses are fashioned from mud and clay. Back aboard ship, there’s a chance to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour, including the galley and engine room.
A last full day brings the opportunity to explore Hoa Binh, home to the ethnic Muong people, and site of a fierce battle during the Indochina War of 1951-52. Take a morning boat ride to Southeast Asia’s largest hydroelectric dam and this evening complete a wonderful tour of this unspoiled part of Vietnam with a visit to a rural village, to enjoy a traditional dance demonstration. A last dinner aboard brings opportunities to reflect on the past few days’ wonders with fellow guests.
Disembark Angkor Pandaw after breakfast, bidding farewell to the crew and guides, to board the coach for a morning visit to another local village untrammelled by the modern world. After a stop for lunch, the final highlights of the tour are visits to the 1,000-year-old Soc Son temple, set close to its hill-top pagoda and giant bronze Buddha, and to beautiful Thanh Chuong Palace, with its exquisite art collection.A final drive through the classic landscape brings you near to Hanoi, where dinner is provided before you transfer to the airport, checking in for the return overnight flight, which departs shortly after midnight.
Arrive back in the UK early this morning, at the end of a wonderful Vietnamese adventure.
The cruise sailing schedule may have to change depending on water levels. The ship’s crew reserve the right to do this at any time.
British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. Until 30 June 2021, British Citizens do not require a visa for single entry visits to Vietnam if staying for less than 15 days.
You are permitted to take one suitcase per person on the aircraft, which should not exceed 23kg.
Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.
In developing countries road networks are continually being improved and expanded, which can lead to roadworks and rough road surfaces increasing journey times. Some journeys are made on winding mountain roads and passes, which may also make for slow travelling. Many roads do not have separate pavements or safety barriers, and great care should be taken when crossing or walking alongside roads.
If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.
The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.
Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.
The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately 45 minutes.
Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.
This offer applies to new bookings on air-inclusive holidays and river cruise only made between 1st and 28th February 2019 (inclusive) only. Prices shown when booking do not include the discount. The discount will be applied to your booking once the promo code (FEB5) has been entered and will be confirmed before purchase. The discount applies to your final holiday price at the time of booking (excluding holiday insurance if selected). This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, is subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time.