- Discover Hanoi's street food, pagodas, and temples
- Take an overnight cruise of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay
- Tour Bangkok's temples, floating markets, and Grand Palace
- Meet, bathe, and feed elephants at a Phuket jungle sanctuary
- Charter a private speedboat to the idyllic Khai and Phi Phi Islands
|Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), City Tour
|Village Pottery Experience, Vietnamese Coffee & Food Tour
|Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise
|Ha Long Bay
|Wake Up on Ha Long Bay, Fly to Bangkok (Thailand)
|Temples, Palaces & Markets Tour, Chinatown Street Food Tour
|Visit the Railway & Floating Markets
|Fly to Phuket, Explore
|Phi Phi & Khai Islands Speed Boat Tour
|Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Visit
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), City Tour
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam's high-energy capital and cultural heart. A private driver will take you to your hotel, navigating the motorbike-choked streets of the city. Settle in before exploring Hanoi's tree-lined avenues, which feature a mix of temples and French colonial buildings contrasted with modern, glassy malls and office buildings. In the labyrinthine streets of the Old Quarter, shopfronts and cafés spill onto pavements scattered with tiny stools where Hanoians sip coffee and play checkers.
Later, take a guided tour of Hanoi's top sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where Vietnam's revered revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, lies embalmed in a mausoleum. Wander the serene grounds to see the humble wooden stilt house where he once lived, as well as the ornate One Pillar Pagoda, which sits in the middle of a lake and resembles Vietnam's national flower, the lotus.
Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university built in the late 11th century. Lauded for its striking architecture, the temple is pictured on the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote. In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Museum of Ethnology, which houses an extensive collection of costumes and artifacts from Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority groups.
The trip finishes in Hanoi's Old Quarter, known as the "36 streets" area. These bustling narrow streets and alleys are home to thousands of small businesses, street vendors, and shopkeepers. Before dinner, take a walk past Hoan Kiem Lake, an oasis where locals come to exercise and relax.
Day 2: Village Pottery Experience, Vietnamese Coffee & Food Tour
Today, you'll visit Bat Trang Pottery Village, just a short drive from Hanoi, to learn more about the traditional handicrafts of the Red River Delta. Your guide will take you through the village, where you can peruse its many pottery shops. Stop for a workshop, where you'll learn how to make a piece of pottery, from turning the clay on a wheel to drying and decorating. You'll get to take away your masterpiece as a souvenir.
Return to Hanoi in time for your evening tour, where you'll explore Vietnam's coffee culture. Discover the history, art, and secrets behind ca phe sua da (Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk) during this workshop led by coffee specialists. Next, wander the streets of Hanoi with a guide to try classic Vietnamese dishes, from banh mi (a meat-filled baguette) to spring rolls and a glass of regional rice wine.
Day 3: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise
Today starts with a four-hour transfer to Ha Long Bay, where you'll board a ship for your overnight cruise of this UNESCO-listed landmark. Sail across the paper-flat waters, taking in views of more than 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. A seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sundeck as you sail to the most remote corners of Ha Long Bay.
In the afternoon, stop at secluded islands where you can go swimming and kayaking, then explore one of the bay's eerie caves. Return to the boat in time to catch the sunset from the top deck, followed by dinner. You can spend the evening relaxing or join the locals for a spot of night fishing.
Day 4: Wake up on Ha Long Bay, Fly to Bangkok (Thailand)
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The morning is yours to simply absorb the view or join in with a tai chi class. Enjoy lunch on board as you sail back to port, where a driver will be waiting to take you back to the airport in Hanoi.
Say goodbye to Vietnam and board a 1.5-hour flight to Thailand. Touch down in Bangkok, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city's heart. Thailand's capital is beloved for its chaotic energy, delicious street food, heaving nightlife, and Buddhist sights.
Day 5: Temples, Palaces & Markets Tour, Chinatown Street Food Tour
This morning you'll take a tour of Bangkok with a guide, starting with a trip to Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn since it's named after the Indian dawn god, Aruna. Then travel by ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Pho, a temple founded in the 16th century that houses a 150-foot (46 m) reclining Buddha statue whose feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Next up is the Grand Palace, a complex of intricate temples and palaces built in 1782, which served as the royal family's home for 150 years. Today, the palace is used for royal ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and state banquets. Highlights include the Reception Hall, Coronation Hall, and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha statue.
Continue via tuk-tuk to the colossal Chatuchak Market and a nearby flower market, which is Bangkok's largest and open 24 hours a day. You'll end the day in Chinatown to sample the area's street food. Try local classics like kai satay (barbecue chicken with sweet and sour peanut sauce), pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles), and ba mee mhoo daeng (crispy noodles with pork). Top off your feast with some Thai desserts and Chinese herbal drinks.
Day 6: Visit the Railway & Floating Markets
Today, you'll discover some of Bangkok's sprawling markets on a guided tour. Drive 1.5 hours through the high-rise urban landscape to Samut Songkharm in the rural outskirts of the capital. Here, you'll visit the Mae Klong Railway Market, which sits along the tracks; when a train pulls in or out of the station, the vendors quickly clear their stalls, only to set them up again moments later when the train has passed.
Continue to the nearby Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi, 62 miles (100 km) southwest of the capital. Paddle through the maze of canals past vendors selling exotic fruit and handicrafts from their boats. Hail down the food vendors for a spot of lunch and witness traders selling food and handicrafts on their boats. Return to Bangkok afterward for a restful evening.
Day 7: Fly to Phuket, Explore
Wave farewell to Bangkok this morning and fly two hours south to Phuket, where paradisiacal beaches await. Set on the Andaman Coast, Phuket is Thailand's largest island, known for its powdery beaches, neon nightlife, and luxury resorts. The island is also home to diverse landscapes ranging from tropical rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and craggy limestone cliffs.
Your driver will escort you to your lodge, where you can settle in before hitting the beach. Sunbathe, relax with a cold drink, and then wade into the topaz water for a swim or some snorkeling. In the evening, dine on seafood, peruse the night market, and have a drink on lively Bangla Road, where you can duck into a local spa for a soothing Thai massage.
Day 8: Phi Phi & Khai Islands Speedboat Tour
Today, you'll discover the beauty of the Khai and Phi Phi archipelagoes. Take a speedboat to the Phi Phi Islands, 25 miles (40 km) east of Phuket, known for their film-worthy beaches and top snorkeling spots. Highlights include swimming and snorkeling at Pileh Lagoon and Viking Cave and visiting Phi Phi Ley's Maya Bay, which served as the setting for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, "The Beach."
Have lunch before continuing your speedboat journey. Bump across the turquoise waters just east of Phuket, where you'll hit the cluster of Khai Islands, famed for their unspoiled sands and undeveloped vibe. Laze on the palm-shaded beach, order a cocktail, or snorkel among coral reefs teeming with marine life. You'll sail back to Phuket as the sun begins to set, ready for a relaxed evening.
Day 9: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Visit
Get to know Thailand's iconic national animal today with a private elephant care experience. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the journey to Phuket's elephant sanctuary. Meet expert guides who'll introduce you to the animals and teach you about their natural habitat, behavior, and place in Thai culture.
You'll get to feed the elephants by hand and prepare their vitamin balls, then pamper these gentle giants with an herbal compress massage and mud sand spa. Head down to the water to bathe with the elephants and learn about the special relationship between the animals and their mahouts (elephant carers). The trip ends with a Thai buffet before returning to your hotel for a final afternoon by the pool.
Day 10: Depart PhuketToday your Vietnam and Thailand getaway comes to an end. Spend a final few hours on the beach or shopping for souvenirs before your airport transfer. Safe travels!
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