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The Best of Vietnam & Cambodia: A Luxury Small Group Tour

  • Destination: Asia & India, Cambodia, Cruise, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Duration: 13 days
  • Start: 02/10/2017
  • End: 02/22/2017
  • Price: $6295

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OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO LAOS
To start off Coda’s 2017 season, we are bringing back one of their most popular itineraries: The Best of Vietnam & Cambodia. Our trip is distinguished by the top hotels selected in both countries and ample time to leisurely visit each city. Dine at the best restaurants and learn the troubled history of these countries. Enjoy Hanoi, Ha Long Bay (overnight luxury cruise), Danang, Hue, Saigon & Angkor Wat. Take an extension to Luang Prabang, Laos following the group tour or spend some nights in Bangkok, where there is always a party going on…
Start in Hanoi (HAN), End in Siem Reap (REP).

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“I have tried all things…I have experienced everything…. In the depths of the forests of Siam, I have seen the Evening Star rise over the mysterious ruins of Angkor.“

A Pilgrimage to AngkorPierre Lotio (1912)

We begin our journey with three elegant nights in Hanoi, where everything from the architecture to the cuisine is classic Vietnamese, but with a French accent. Leaving the sophisticated capital, we cruise among the 3000 islands rising from the clear, emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin at HaLong Bay. We luxuriate at the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, spilling down a hillside to the bay and offering multi-level swimming pools, tennis courts, a world-glass spa and extraordinary restaurants. We continue to ancient Hue, seat of Vietnam’s emperors. We have two full days to explore Ho Chi Minh City, hub of all that is new in Vietnam. Lastly, we fly to Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor, where we’ll have two days to explore this spectacular site in the midst of the jungles of Cambodia.

Day 1

FRI FEB 10, 2017 • Depart USA

Depart the USA on any regularly scheduled flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Coda can arrange for a stop in Seoul en route, staying at the Park Hyatt or classic Shilla Hotel. A visa is required for entry into Vietnam, which may be obtained prior to departure from the USA or upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi.

Day 2

SAT FEB 11 • Arrive Hanoi

Wide tree-lined bicycle-filled boulevards, elegant colonial French mansions, the grandeur and solemnity of Ho Chi Minh’s monumental Mausoleum, the incongruous rustic simplicity of the house in which ‘Uncle Ho’ lived out his final years, the memory of Hoa Lo Prison, the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ where so many prisoners of war were incarcerated, the beautiful temple of Literature compound — it’s all here in Hanoi, a microcosm of the Vietnamese culture.
A visa is required for entry into Vietnam. It may be obtained prior to departure from the USA or upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi. If you plan to obtain it at the airport, Coda Tours will assist you in getting the necessary permission. The process upon arrival is simple, but it may take some time if several flights arrive at the same time.

metropoleAfter immigration and customs formalities, we meet our guide and transfer to the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel Hanoi, where we stay the next three nights. The rest of the day and evening is at leisure to relax, enjoy the many amenities of the hotel and settle in as our group arrives. Built in grand colonial style in 1901 and steps from the Opera House in the historic center, the Metropole has a long tradition of welcoming heads of states, writers and entertainers. Somerset Maugham wrote The Gentleman in the Parlour at the hotel and Graham Greene stayed here in 1951 while he was writing The Quiet American. Guests can visit the recently rediscovered bomb shelter.

Hotel: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Room: Deluxe room in Opera Wing
Meals: None

Day 3

SUN FEB 12 • Hanoi Sightseeing

day3We meet our tour manager, guide and fellow participants in the lobby of the hotel after breakfast for a tour of Hanoi. This morning, we will have a private tour of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, following by a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum on Ba Dinh Square, Uncle Ho’s Stilt House on the grounds of the presidential palace and the iconic One Pillar Pagoda. French architecture is a feature of Hanoi, and the nearby former Governor’s Residence is a fine example. After lunch at Seasons of Hanoi, we tour Hanoi’s Old Quarter with a cyclo ride followed by a walking tour. Established 1,000 years ago by King Ly Thai To around his palace, this densely populated corner of the city has long been a center of commerce, where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. A shopper’s and photographer’s haven with a tangle of low buildings, the warren of “36 Old Streets” (today there are more!) include variously Bat Su (China bowls), Cha Ca (roasted fish ), Hang Bac (silver),Hang Dau (shoes and sandals, Hang Gai (silk) and To Tich (mixed fruits). Our Welcome Dinner tonight is at Wild Rice restaurant.

Hotel: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Room: Deluxe room in Opera Wing
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4

MON FEB 13 • Hanoi Sightseeing

day4After a morning exploring with the city (with a stop for a group lunch), we dive into the thriving gallery scene this afternoon, stopping it at the exhibition spaces, cultural centers, cafes and gallery spaces scattered across the city. The Vietnam Fine Arts Museum is a superb introduction to contemporary arts in Vietnam. We also visit today the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university, built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Dinner this evening is at leisure to try one of Hanoi’s best restaurants. Reservation recommended!

Hotel: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel
Room: Deluxe room in Opera Wing
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5

TUE FEB 14 • Drive Hanoi to Halong Bay and board Paradise Cruises


This morning we say goodbye to Hanoi and say hello to Ha Long Bay, and Paradise — that’s what our luxurious cruise vessel, built in the style of traditional boats of the bay, is called. We sail at noon from Tuan Chau Island, cruising along myriad emerald islets, limestone towers, arches and caves, pristine beaches and floating villages of this stunning place. Food, accommodations and services aboard are all five-star. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin is dotted with 1,600 islands and islets, many very steep, forested and almost all uninhabited, forming a romantic seascape of limestone pillars and cliffs. The enormous caves sculpted by the sea are out of this world.

Cruise: Paradise Luxury Cruise (Deluxe Balcony cabin)
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6

WED FEB 15 • Disembark & Drive to Hanoi Airport for Flight to Danang

day6Early birds can attend a Tai Chi demonstration on the sundeck— or simply take in the sunrise over the Bay. After the morning to enjoy this amazing place, we return to Tuan Chau Island for disembarkation. Today we are on the move— heading from the ship back to Hanoi, with a break for lunch, for our short flight to Danang. Upon arrival in this ancient capital, we transfer to the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula, designed by Bill Bensley and one of Asia’s leading resorts with a world-class spa, Michelin-starred restaurant and an enviable setting in the hills of the Son Tra Peninsula.

Hotel: The Nam Hai Hokan Resort
Room: 1-bedroom Pool Villa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 7

THU FEB 16 • Danang, My Son and ancient Hoi An

Center of the Cham Dynasty from the 2nd century, Danang’s rich cultural history, its proximity to the extraordinary ruins of My Son, its atmospheric riverfront promenade and world-famous Cham Museum all draw visitors. Danang was also the first landing-point for the invading French troops and again decades later for the US Marines. Non Nuoc Beach (also known as China Beach), immortalised for many by the US television show of the same name, is one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia.

day7Today we visit Hoi An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. The UNESCO-designated town, once one of the most important trading centers in Southeast Asia, stands much as it did during its heyday with 1,107 timber-frame buildings, including the original street grid, narrow lanes, open market and a ferry quay, many pagodas, low-slung merchant houses and family cult houses. We tour the markets and shops, stopping at a silk artisan’s workshop to see the techniques of lantern making. The afternoon is at leisure at our hotel with lunch and dinner on our own today.

Hotel: The Nam Hai Hokan Resort
Room: 1-bedroom Pool Villa
Meals: Breakfast

Day 8

FRI FEB 17 • Danang to Hue, Vietnam's Ancient Capital

day8After breakfast this morning we regroup for a spectacular drive to Hue along the coast via Hai Van Pass (Ocean Cloud). Tonight we are at La Residence, an enchanting Art Deco boutique hotel on the banks of the fabled Perfume River, built in 1930 as the French colonial governor’s mansion. In the afternoon we visit the Imperial Citadel, begun in 1804, continuing to Dong Ba market. We return to the hotel to relax before a festive dinner tonight at the hotel.

Hotel: La Residence Hotel & Spa
Room: Deluxe Riverview
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9

SAT FEB 18 • Royal Tombs in Hue. Later fly to Saigon.

day9This morning we visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and Minh Mang Tomb, the most majestic of the Royal Tombs. Six royal tombs lie to the south east of the citadel on the other side of the Perfume River and one on the same side. Based in Hue, the imperial Nguyen Dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favor of Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary government. After lunch on our own, we fly to Ho Chi Minh City late this afternoon and check in at the InterContinental, a leading hotel in the city center minutes away from Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House.

Hotel: Caravelle Hotel Saigon
Room: Heritage Opera Suite
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10

SUN FEB 19 • Saigon

If Hanoi and Hué represent the colonial past of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City stands for its future. This bustling city is booming with new economic opportunities, new construction, new technology, and newly arrived Western influences. More and more, cars are replacing bicycles, and cell-phone sales are on the rise. Situated on the northeast edge of the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City is poised and ready for a new millennium of growth.

day10On our tour of Ho Chi Minh City, we see the Reunification Palace, The History Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the grounds of the former US Embassy. The afternoon is on your own to explore, shop or relax at the hotel. Those who wish may join an optional tour to the famed Cu Chi Tunnels, which served as the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.

Hotel: Caravelle Hotel Saigon
Room: Heritage Opera Suite
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11

MON FEB 20 • Angkor Wat

day11This morning we fly to Siem Reap, gateway to Angkor and the immense collection of Khmer temples and palaces built between the 6th and 13th centuries. This afternoon, we visit Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. It is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th century Hinduism. Conceived by Suryavarman II, the temple has been occupied continuously since its foundation.

We stay at the Park Hyatt, a re-imagined Art Deco oasis on Sivutha Boulevard in the center of Siem Reap, convenient to markets and shops and surrounding a lovely pool.

Hotel: Park Hyatt Hotel
Room: Park Room
Meals: Breakfast

Day 12

TUE FEB 21 • Angkor Thom

day12The morning begins with the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom, last capital of the Khmers, known for its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the stunning Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very center of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the highlight is the “faces”, more than 200 of them, silent but with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote of them, “godliness in the majesty and the size; mystery in the expression.” We continue to Ta Prohm, the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its “re-discovery” by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles. It is one of the largest temples at Angkor, dedicated in 1186. Historians have noted its mystical charm.

This afternoon is at leisure with an optional tour to Ton Le Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia, and the lifeblood of the Cambodian fishing industry. Hop on board a small shaded vessel and move between the floating homes and small fish farms to experience, close up, the daily life on the lake. On the way back to Siem Reap town between the palms and other large vegetation we may a stop to visit a development project teaching young adults the techniques of stone carving, wood carving and lacquer application. Les Artisans d’ Angkor is a heart-warming reminder that progress in Cambodia can go hand in hand with traditional crafts. We gather for a farewell dinner at hotel this evening.

Hotel: Park Hyatt Hotel
Room: Park Room
Meals: Breakfast

Day 13

WED FEB 22 • Siem Reap to the USA or select an optional extension

We are at leisure until check-out noon with transfers to the airport for onward flights.

Meals: Breakfast

Rates & Facts

Rates 5-9 travelers 10+ travelers
Double occupancy $6595 $6295
Single occupancy $9295 $8995

The rates do not include intra-tour airfare. All intra-tour airfares are subject to change until ticketed. These flights are in economy class, unless you request business class (based on availability). The rates are: $625 Coach; $780 Business. Single rates can be avoided if you are willing to share. We will be happy to match you with another single traveler who also wishes to share. If no share is available, the single rate will apply.

NOTE: Rates are based on current rates and currency exchange rates at the time of publishing the tour on-line. These rates are subject to change until final payment.

MINIMUMS: For fewer than 5 participants, the trip may still operate but rates may be revised. We can also quote this program as a private, custom trip. A Coda Tour Manager accompanies the tour on a minimum of 7 participants.

Your tour includes:

  • All accommodation as stated in the itinerary and in the room category indicated. Breakfast is included daily.
  • Meals: as indicated in the itinerary
  • Domestic airfare in economy class. (Ask for Business Class upgrades if available.)
  • Entrance fees to sites listed in the itinerary.
  • All transfers as required by the itinerary, including private transfers for arrival & departure if required.
  • Sightseeing with English Speaking local guides.
  • A Coda tour manager based on minimum participation.
  • Private, air-conditioned vehicles.
  • One drink at all meals (either of mineral of water, local beer or soft drink).
  • Bottled water and cold towels in vehicles during sightseeing.
  • Pre-departure assistance and information Portfolio from Coda Tours.

Your tour does not include:

  • International airfare to/from Vietnam & Cambodia.
  • Trip Cancellation & Interruption insurance (highly recommended)
  • Vietnam Visa fees (currently US$ 20 for pre-approval and from US$ 45 cash payable on arrival).
  • International departure tax US$ 25 from Siem Reap.
  • Cambodia Visa fee (currently cash US$ 30, with one passport size photo, on arrival).
  • Meals are not mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Drinks with meals beyond the 1st one.
  • Tips to guides & drivers.
  • Items of a personal nature.
Travel Documents

A single entry visa for Vietnam is required for American/Canadian passport holders. For current costs and to download forms, we recommend using Visa Central. To speak directly to Visa Central, call 877-535-0688 (toll-free in the U.S.). Please note that visas cannot be processed more than 90 days prior to departure and processing may take several weeks to complete. You may also apply directly with a Vietnamese Consulate in your area. For information, google the Vietnam Consulate nearest you (e.g. Vietnam Consulate New York). You must have a valid passport that remains valid six months past your return to the U.S. You should also have a minimum of two empty passport pages.
Note that a Vietnam visa may also be obtained upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi (or Ho Chi Minh City.) To arrange for this, Coda Tours must submit all of your personal data in advance to the authorities. Please inform us at the time of booking if you wish to obtain your visa upon arrival. A Cambodian visa is obtainable upon arrival at the airport in Siem Reap and one passport photo is required. The Cambodian visa may also be obtained on-line by applying here: http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/

Shots

None required or recommended. It is recommended you have your regular vaccinations up-to-date before traveling. For further information, visit the Center For Disease Control website.

International Airfare

Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Thai Airways, Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines, China Airlines are among airlines that can be used for this trip. We recommend booking at least 7 months in advance if you want to try to use Frequent Flyer Miles for free tickets or upgrades or the American Express Platinum card 2-4-1 program.

Optional Extension to Laos – Luang Prabang


Day 13

WED FEB 22 • Welcome to Luang Prabang, Laos

Arrive at Luang Prabang Airport from Siem Reap, Cambodia – arrival flight is not included, after customs & immigration formalities; you will be transferred to your hotel.

Surrounded by thickly forested mountains and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, old world charm rarely found in Asia today. This fascinating town was the capital of the Lane Xang (million elephants) kingdom until the mid-sixteenth century. In colonial times it served as a provincial headquarters of the north. The legacy of the European presence here – well preserved French architecture and careful street planning – has blended delightfully with more than 30 gilded Buddhist temples to create a town rich in atmosphere and history. Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.

The remainder of the day and dinner is on your own.

Hotel: Belmond La Residence Phouvao Hotel
Room: Deluxe Garden Junior Suite Room
Meals: None

Day 14

THU FEB 23 • Full Day Highlight Tour

14This morning there is the opportunity to start the day early with one of the most memorable sights of Luang Prabang – The ‚Tak Bat’. At dawn hundreds of saffron robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms (offerings of food). Your guide will explain the background behind this ritual which is still very much a part of everyday life in Laos. Take a stroll with your local guide through the colorful, open-air fresh early Morning Market. Tasted a unique local authentic Lao Coffee at Pasaneyom Coffee Shop and return to hotel. It’s early but well worth the wake up call!

After breakfast, discover some of the priceless monuments around the old city, now under UNESCO protection as a World Heritage Site.

Set out to Living Lands Community Farm, Your adventure that benefits the environment! The Living Land Project is a sustainable company set up in Luang Prabang where guests learn about the importance of certain farming methods and how the produce can help support local communities. The rice farming experience is particularly popular, introducing visitors to the process of planting and harvesting rice in the rice paddies. Only employing locals and helping to train young members of the community, the project provides many great benefits for the community – all within an idyllic countryside setting framed by rising mountains and ancient rice terraces. Lunch is included at local restaurant and visit Luang Prabang’s National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Displayed inside is a collection of personal artifacts of the former Laotian Royal Family. Visit Wat Xieng Thong – often said to be Luang Prabang’s most beautiful. It is characterized by its several roofs sweeping low to the ground and the impressive “tree of life” mosaic. Visit Vat Siphouthabat a monk school, where you will have the opportunity to meet with a young monks learning about Buddhism and Laos.

If time and energy permit! Climb its 350 steps Phou Sii hill stands right in the center of this small city to enjoy commanding views for many miles in each direction.

The remainder of the day and dinner is on your own.

Hotel: Belmond La Residence Phouvao Hotel
Room: Deluxe Garden Junior Suite Room
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15

FRI FEB 24 • Elephant Ride & Mekong River Cruise

15After breakfast, take a short transfer to Elephant Camp, located in the countryside near the Mekong River approximately 15 kilometres from Luang Prabang town. On arrival you will be welcomed participate in a short briefing and then depart for a scenic ride. Enjoy the impressive experience of one hour elephant ride on the Howdah (Elephant seat).
Also visit Ban Thin Hong Traditional Handicraft Village for a picturesque and get a glimpse of daily life. You are also welcomed in the village with the special, traditional Laotian Baci ceremony. ‘Baci’ plays an important role even today to welcome or farewell, bring good luck and ward of bad spirits for any major event in the life of local people. Later begin a relaxing riverboat trip with your guide on the mighty Mekong River to visit Pak Ou Buddha Caves. These caves have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that were placed here by local people since 16th century, when King Setthathirat found the caves and declared them a holy spot. Today many people still pay respect to this tradition. Follow by lunch and enjoy a relaxation on a river cruise descend of the Mekong River to Luang Prabang with choice cold Lao beer or chilled white wine.

The remainder of the day and dinner is on your own.

Hotel: Belmond La Residence Phouvao Hotel
Room: Deluxe Garden Junior Suite Room
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16

SAT FEB 25 • Departure to Bangkok

After breakfast, you will be free or exploring on your own before transfer to the airport for flight to Bangkok – departure flight is not included. Stay in Bangkok or connect with international flights home.

Meals: Breakfast

Additional Hotel

Positioned atop a hill, gazing across the sacred mountains, Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is an unforgettable place to stay. Its calm, tranquil ambience echoes that of the sleepy World Heritage town of Luang Prabang—former royal capital of Laos—spread out below.

Designed in a traditional style, this intimate hotel is gemmed with teak, silk and fresh cotton accents. It is famed for its wonderful French-influenced local cuisine and an open-air spa beside a waterlily pool.

Relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy stepping back into a more gracious era.

Rates

4 Days/3 Nights with Luang Prabang Tours

Per Person (2-6 travelers) Double Occupancy Single Supplement
Tour Cost $1695 $1195
Flights Coach class: $488
1 PG 924Q | 22FEB WE REPBKK | 950A 1045A
2 PG 945Q | 22FEB WE BKKLPQ | 305P 440P
3 PG 946Q | 25FEB SA LPQBKK | 520P 650P

Your tour includes:
  • Accommodation as specified in the itinerary with breakfast daily
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (food only)
  • Transfers and included sightseeing as specified on a private basis
  • Service of English speaking local guide for included sightseeing and transfers
  • Entrance fees to all included sites visited
  • Service charge, room tax and baggage handling
  • NTA and Laos Government Tax
  • Bottled water provided on transport during transfers
  • First drink is included at meals (Lunch or Dinner)
Your tour does not include:
  • Meals and other services than those mentioned in above inclusion
  • Any optional sightseeing excursions or additional visits not outlined in itinerary
  • Laotian visa fee (Laos visa on arrival presently US$ 35 for USA passport holders, plus 2 passport-sized color photos. Often an extra US$ 1 or so will be charged on weekends or holidays as an overtime fee).
  • International arrival flight to/from Laos and airport departure tax
  • Excess Baggage fees or charges levied by Airlines
  • Drinks, tips and other personal expenditures (e.g. telephone, laundry, souvenirs, etc.)
  • Personal Travel Insurance
  • Tips/Gratuities to guides/drivers