Be enchanted by the dreamlike scenery of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam’s must-see natural wonder of limestone islands. Venture to where relatively few tourists have gone before – the extraordinary Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, where caves as long as 30 kilometres were discovered only recently. Spend time at the Vinh Moc tunnels and Khe Sanh Combat Base, both of which provide an eye-opening insight into the America-Vietnam war. Stroll the tailors and artisan shops of Hoi An and take home that bespoke souvenir
With miles of beautiful coastline, much of which most travellers don’t get the opportunity to witness, Vietnam shines with new light when seen from the comfort of a small cruise ship. Climb aboard the plush Panorama II for a memorable journey from Hanoi, in the north, to Ho Chi Minh City, in the south. Without forgetting iconic Ha Long Bay, lively Nha Trang and the old town of Hoi An, experience the destinations seldom seen by anyone but local fisherman. Contrast tiny islands and traditional village life with the likes of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, an unspoiled paradise where tourism is yet to gain a firm footing. The ideal combination of leisure and adventure, this comfortable small-ship cruise is bound to create to make lifelong memories for lovers of South East Asia.
Breakfast Included: 13 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 12
Welcome to Vietnam. A complimentary arrival transfer is included if you're arriving today. In the evening after a welcome meeting at the hotel, you may like to sit down to an optional dinner with fellow travellers. Enchanting Hanoi stands in contrast to its southern counterpart Ho Chi Minh City, with an atmosphere that's a little less frantic, due in no small part to the abundance of lakes and parks to escape to.
Those feeling active can rise early for a leader-led walking tour this morning. This includes 'laughing yoga', tai chi and other lakeside activities enjoyed by Hanoi's local population. It's a great first taste of everyday life in Vietnam. Today you'll also visit a traditional water puppet theatre. Here your host Liem invites you into his home, a small-scale theatre that continues a long running family tradition, passed down from generation to generation. Witness not only the show itself but gain an behind-the-scenes insight into how the puppets are made and animated. Afterwards, return to the hotel for a 2 pm bus transfer from Hanoi to Halong to board the Panorama II.
Transfer to a smaller local boat today for a tour around beautiful Halong Bay. Take in glorious views of this World Heritage-listed beauty and its pretty limestone islands. Kayaking along the bay is another great option.
Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay
Settle into a full day's sailing, heading south towards Hon La, which is located just north of Na Trang. Take the opportunity to relax with a drink, play some board games, chat with fellow travellers, or simply curl up on a comfortable chair on deck with a good book as the glorious coast streams by.
Hon La & Phong Nha National Park
Arrive in Hon La at around 8 am, then transfer by bus to the unspoiled Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Spanning 885 square kilometres and boasting some of Asia's most ancient limestone karst landscapes, this chunk of land is one of the last true paradises of Vietnam. Visit the Thien Duong cave (aka Paradise Cave), which clocks in at an astounding 31 kilometres long and was discovered only in 2005. Lunch will be in a local restaurant in Phong Nha. Later, set sail overnight for Vinh Moc, departing at midnight.
Vinh Moc and Khe Sanh
Arrive at 9 am in Vinh Moc, where another incredible, but very different, underground site is found. The tunnels here were built to shelter local communities in the Demilatarised Zone that separated North and South Vietnam during the war. As you'll learn, the tunnels grew in sophistication and depth, and many families resided in this underground village in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some 17 children were born down here. Today you'll also visit the Khe Sanh Combat Base, where the bloodiest conflict of the Vietnam-America conflict took place.
Dock at Chan May, then transfer by road to Hue, the former imperial capital and hub of Vietnam's historic past. Here the group will split up into smaller groups for a guided tour of the city with local guides. This includes a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601. Here you'll enjoy some tasty vegetarian fare for lunch. Also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees. Later, reboard the Panorama II and settle in for the evening. Your next destination is Danang.
Travel by coach to Hoi An. This charming destination was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures over the ages. With its low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. You'll notice a distinctly Chinese appearance here, with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small lanes. Embark on a tour of the town in small groups or if you prefer, take part in an optional cooking class or bike riding tour of the town. In the late afternoon, return to the boat for dinner on board. Set sail at 11 pm, spending the night at sea.
Enjoy a relaxing day of cruising around the Dao Ly Son Island, a location just south of Danang that's known for garlic production as well as its attractive shoreline. Also visit some mainland coastal beaches today. There will be time for some swimming off the Panorama II, as well as kayaking, snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding.
Visit the museum dedicated to Quang Trung, a revered emperor who ruled in the late 1700s and was a forerunner to the Vietnamese nationalist movement. After witnessing a Tay Son martial arts demonstration, head over to the Twin Cham Towers, some of the largest in South East Asia. After visiting some beautiful beaches where fisherman drift along in traditional basket boats, dine aboard the Panorama II and sail toward Nha Trang overnight.
Arrive in Nha Trang at around 8 am. Nha Trang has been referred to as the ‘Cannes of the Orient’, thanks to its cosmopolitan seaside atmosphere, but the star of the show is of course the beach and bay itself. We will take a half day tour of the city taking in the Ponaga Cham tower and the Ocean Institute which catalogues the marine life and fishing culture of the local area.
Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to explore or relax on one of Nha Trang's stunning beaches.
Travelling by bus, embark on a road trip from Nha Trang to Phan Rang. Pay a visit to the grand Po Klong Garai Cham Towers, an elaborate work of architecture dating back to around 1400 under King Jaya Simharvarman III. Head to Bau Truc, the oldest pottery village in South East Asia, and see some traditional pottery methods at work (this is a great place to buy a unique souvenir). Reboard the Panorama II at Phan Rang and set sail at 10 pm for Phan Tiet.