Close your eyes and imagine sailing a “luxury junk” for 3 glorious days through a thousand islands of breathtaking Halong Bay. Then imagine an exclusive AFS “Water Blessing” with lotus petals by monks in a temple with a lesson in meditation. Imagine your “bragging” rights” after exploring the architectural wonder of Angor Wat. This dual destination vacation will leap beyond your imagination. We know because our past groups loved it. Discover the beauty of timeless villages, terraced rice paddys, elaborate temples in two countries that perfectly blend the old with the new. Each offers different splendors of culture, artistic expression and philosophies of living. We begin in Hanoi, so alluring with a bashful charm. Shrouded in mystery after years of isolation, Vietnam makes Americans feel welcome. You’ll see all the famous sites to learn the history but it’s also the place to chew. This new culinary superpower is filled with foodie tours, cooking schools and clean street food markets.
Onto the UNESCO site at magnificent Halong Bay. Most do a day cruise but we sail the tranquil waters for 3 days on an elegant boat with sea kayaks, cave exploration and lagoon swimming.
Fly to Cambodia, a land synonymous with tranquility and gateway to Angor Wat. With over a thousand temples spread over 15 miles, it’s the largest religious structure on earth and a must for anyone’s bucket list. Everyone loves Siem Reap where everything is affordable. Do your Xmas shopping at the Night Market, ride tuktuks, zip-line, see the floating villages and get massages at ridiculous low prices. You’ll be pampered throughout in 5-star hotels all at our 3-star cost.
Join us to an exotic part of the Far East for a sensory overload of delights. Utterly compelling, Vietnam & Cambodia are an Asian affair that will never be forgotten.Book Now!
We fly the comfort of China Southern Airline, a great Asian carrier with new aircrafts. Check in China SOuthern Airline counter in Los Angeles, LAX. Fly via Canton to Hanoi.
(crossing int'l dateline, we lose a day but gain back on return.)
Welcome to Hanoi! With more than 1,000 years of history and considered to be the cultural and political center of Vietnam, this busy and modern capital city still retains its charm through beautiful lakes, the alleys of the Old Quarter and colonial architecture.
We are met by our national guide and transferred to deluxe rooms at the new 5-star Movenpick Hotel conveniently located in the heart of Hanoi's central business district, only 5 minutes from the city center and its Old Quarter. You can relax and enjoy local food, get a massage or get fit in the Kinetic Gym and Wellness Studio. (Hotel is boutique style, flat screen TV, in room coffee & internet, trendy bar, spa.) The Mangosteen Restaurant provides an interactive buffet with great food.
After you rest, explore this bustling city filled with history and intrigue. It races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – offering a glimpse into the resilience of ambitious, proud Hanoians.
In free time, you may consider a foodie tour, slurp noodle soup at the Bird Market or Flower Market. Visit Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), museums or shop the bustling markets.
Overnight: Movenpick Hotel
Capital of Vietnam, Hanoi blends centuries old traditions with modern western colonization. Today enjoy a sightseeing tour by cyclo. Your driver peddles you in a 2-person trishaw. See elegant French architecture on lovely boulevards and narrow lanes with tiny houses. Visit Temple of Literature, a temple to Confucius built in 1070 that is filled with art and now the National University.
Then we tour the Old Quarter with over a thousand years of history. It remains one of the country's most lively and unique places, where one can buy anything from a gravestone to silk pajamas. We explore by walking the maze of back streets to witness the everyday life of locals. In 19th century, each of the 36 streets specialized in selling things in specific trades like- Jewelry St., Silk St., Bamboo St., Hemp St., etc. Lan Ong St. is still home to ethnic Chinese who've sold herbal medicines here since the 17th century. See banyan trees and art galleries. Great shopping for affordable unique souvenirs.
Your guide will offer suggestions on your free time such as Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Vietnam Military Museum, the new Vietnam Woman's Museum, the Water Puppet Theater, pagodas on the lake and more. Later enjoy Hanoi's vibrant nightlife.
Tonight is a Welcome Dinner at the Hanoi Club Hotel to get to know your fellow trip mates.
Overnight: Movenpick Hotel, Hanoi B, D
After breakfast, transfer through the countryside by coach north (3-hrs) to Halong Bay and board our Indochina Sails Luxury Junk, a traditional wooden vessel with all amenities you'd want. Launched in 2008, it has contemporary teak cabins. After a welcome drink, we have lunch as the boat sets sail for a fantastic luxury cruise.
Today we visit Luon Cave on Bo Hon Island with vertical cliffs rising from pure blue waters. Monkeys and orchids abound here. We can enter the huge cave by bamboo rowboats or your own kayak. In the lake there are shrimp and crabs. Then we sail to Titop Island for swimming. This is a popular stop for its white sand and warm waters. You can climb the 427 stone steps up the mountain to the pagoda for great photos from the peak. Later the boat anchors at Luon Bo to watch the sunset over a delicious dinner.
Overnight: Halong Luxury Junk. B, L, D
Join in the sunrise Tai Chi exercises on the sun deck with the incredible backdrop of Halong Bay followed by coffee and breakfast pastries. This morning we transfer into tenders (small boats) to reach Halong's more hidden coves unseen by many, (locations determined by tide conditions.)
We spend the day leisurely enjoying swimming, sea kayaking and a remote island stop for a delicious multi-course picnic lunch.
Later get a massage or join a cooking lesson onboard. In the evenings there may be films on Halong and local entertainment.
Overnight: Halong Luxury Junk. B, L, D
Day 3 of our cruise begins with Tai Chi. Transfer to tenders to visit Surprise Cave. Walk up 100 steps to tour one of the finest grottoes in the region. Inside are two chambers with stalactites dropping dramatically from high ceilings over a clear pond. The second chamber can hold thousands of people at one time. It's a natural wonder few can say they have visited. Back at our boat, we lunch and relax on the sun deck as we sail to Bai Chat pier to disembark.
Afternoon transfer by coach to Hanoi airport for flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Welcome to Cambodia! We are greeted at Siem Reap airport and transferred to the luxurious 5-star Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa. Glamorously decorated with traditional Cambodian art, French colonial style and located perfectly just off city center. Relax and pamper yourself; float in the salt water pool with waterfalls, take a steam or sauna, relax in the Jacuzzis, visit the award-winning spa, recharge in the fitness center and catch up with the free wifi. Enjoy 3 restaurants and 2 bars with signature drinks.
You won’t want to leave our tranquil oasis. Yet, there is Large Fun to be had just beyond the gates. Ride a tuk-tuk to the Old Market, rent a bike, eat tasty local cuisine on Pub Street or visit the casino. Easily walkable to food, shopping, spas, massages, markets, pubs, you name it…it’s there.
Overnight: Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa B, L
After buffet breakfast, we set out on a full day tour beginning with a morning visit to the ancient Roluos Group Temples before the crowds arrive. Its monuments mark the beginning of Khmer classical art, and they represent some of the earliest great temples built by the Khmer. They served as the capital of Indravarman (who reigned from 877 to 889). The sandstone carvings in the niches of the temples are notable as are the Sanskrit inscriptions on the doorposts. Bakong was built and dedicated to Shiva by Indravarman I, and is the largest and most interesting of the the temples and still has an active Buddhist monastery.
There will be a special private AFS water blessing performed by monks in an 11th century temple. This sacred ritual of holy water splashing with lotus petals is believed to bring on the good luck and prosperity! They will give you a brief insight into Buddhism and their spiritual beliefs. We may offer our monks alms for this memorable experience.
Next we head out for Angor Wat. These temples were dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu around 1131. They were constructed over a 30-year period and illustrate the more beautiful examples of Khmer art with the longest bas-relief gallery in the world. In 1992, the whole ancient city of Angkor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With over 100 temples spread over 25 miles, it is the largest religious structure on earth.
The crown 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. Upon entering the main structure, 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 of the temple, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted from 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, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
At night, Siem Reap comes alive. Go to Bar Street for dozens of dining venues and clubs. (It's like a mini New Orleans French Quarter.) Then visit the excellent Night Market. Get a "fish massage" and shop for gems like rubies and sapphires. This is the place to do all your Christmas shopping for fine gifts at ridiculously low prices - silk scarves $3, silver jewelry $6, etc.
Overnight: Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa B
After breakfast, we continue our sightseeing tour now at the fortified city of Angkor Thom, which covers 10 square miles. Enclosed by walls and surrounded by moats, this city includes Angkor's most popular sights. Enter the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined with stone demons and gods. Continue to Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies that are adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeankas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this most compelling temple, explore the preserved galleries. Then ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary where you'll find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle.
Visit Ta Prohm temple the most popular attraction of all, as much of the jungle has not been cleared. It looks surreal, as it would have appeared to European explorers who first stumbled across this place.
We have lunch at a popular Cambodian restaurant. If time permits, we head to Les Chantiers Ecoles or Artisans of Angkor. This vocational center trains 650 apprentices each year through the different authentic workshops like stone sculpture, wood carving, polychrome and more. Watch the artists at work.
Later revel in the nightlife Siem has to offer. You may want to visit Circus act at Phare Ponleu Selpak for an unforgettable show originating in 1986 in Cite 2 Refugee camp on the Thai border. They use art & expression to help young refuges, street kids & orphans to overcome the drama of war and revive the Khmer culture. It’s an hour show of theatrical and acrobatic performance that supports their cause. It’s a great performance that supports a most worthy cause
Overnight: Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa B, L
Free day at leisure in fabulous Siem! Everyone wants to linger here, especially with a 5-star hotel as our base. Biking, horses, ATV off-road, cooking classes and great zip-lining at ‘Flight of the Gibbon’ park.
Optional: AFS Floating Village Half Day Tour $65
Leave bust Siem and head off the beaten path to visit the unique Floating Villages of Lampong Kleang of a 4 hour. Get a real insight into rural life as we visit a local market and cruise in boats along stilted houses and fish farms of Tonle Sap lake.
This water village is truly authentic with 1800 families. Navigate among stilt houses, floating school, stores, monastery, flower market, pig farm – everything moves gracefully with the waves.
Overnight: Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa B
Say goodbye to Vietnam, Cambodia, Halong Bay and Angkor. Transfer to airport for our morning flight to USA, connecting via Hong Kong home.
We gain time back and arrive same day to LAX in the afternoon.
Movenpick Hotel, Hanoi
Sokha Angkor Hotel & Spa
2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.
This unique soft Asian adventure to 2 countries will fill fast - don't delay.
A $400 deposit will secure your space. Limited to 40 participants.
Land price - $1975 + air.
Includes: 8 nts first class accommodations, daily guided tours, Halong cruise, entrance fees, all meals and activities listed in itinerary, AFS trip leader.
Not included: gratuities, Cambodia visa $30 (bring 2 pictures), Vietnam visa $25 (subject to change by government).
Air: to be offered later.
TENTATIVE AIR ITINERARY:
CX 883 09NOV LAX-HKG 1035P 600AM + 2 days
CX 5297 11NOV HKG-HAN 840A 950A
KA 249 19NOV REP-HKG 1120A 300P
CX 882 19NOV HK-GLAX 435P 115P
Special fare: $680* + $280** taxes/fuel = $960 per person
Internal Air tentative (Price is a bit less than group air.)
VN 835 Y 15NOV HAN-REP SS1 600P 740P *
This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.
Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.