Arrive in Hong Kong and embark the L'Austral between 5 and 6 PM. Settle in to your cabin and attend a welcome dinner. Familiarize yourself with the ship and her staff as you set sail.
As you embark and head towards your first destination, continue to get to know your ship and her amenities. Acquaint yourself with your "home" for the next several days.
Haiphong is an industrialized city with the largest ports in Vietnam, however its surrounding rural area is still very traditional. Choose from two optional excursions. First, take a drive into Vihn Bao and visit a village family to see how they work on wood. Next visit the village temple where you can drop a pomelo in the crescent shaped well in front of the village God. You can visit with other families who raise buffalo, or make a stop at the village courtyard to enjoy a puppet show.
Alternatively, spend the day exploring the capital city of Hanoi. Visit Ba Dinh Square, the Temple of Literature, the Ngoc Son Pagoda, and enjoy lunch at a local Hanoi restaurant.
Enjoy several options for exploring Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the mountains and caves that highlight its idyllic beauty. See the area by sea on a Junk as you enjoy a gentle cruise through remarkable green water. Or choose to glide through these calm waters by kayak.
You can also enjoy a longer junk cruise to view Vietnam's greatest natural wonders. There are several nice caves in Ha Long Bay; have the opportunity to visit one of them. See the many stalagmites and stalactites. Visit a fishing village where the locals raise fish, live with the entire family, and where children go to school on boats.
From the port of Da Nang, visit Hoi An, a lovely riverside town and a World Heritage Site which has remained unchanged for centuries. Initially an important trading port, Hoi An boasts some of Vietnam's most historic architecture as well as temples and community houses. Join a walking tour of this charming town and see such sites as the covered bridge built by the Japanese in the 17th century and the Phuoc Kien Temple, built in honor of Thien Hau, the Goddess of the Sea.The real key to discovering Hoi An is to keep your eye on the skyline where you can see evidence in the architecture of the Japanese, Indian, Chinese, and Portuguese that once inhabited these shores.
Join an optional tour of Hue, the former Imperial City of Vietnam during the 19th century. Observe buffaloes and rice fields before reaching the Royal Citadel, built by Emperor Gia Long in 1804. Proceed to the impressive Mon Gate, followed by the Palace of the Supreme, with its immense Dynastic Urns, and the Pavilion of Benevolence with dedicated thrones to each of the revered Nguyen Emperors. Next, visit Thien Mu Pagoda. Founded in 1601, this is the symbol of the city and one of the most holy pagodas in all of Vietnam. Continue with a visit to one of the most famous symbols of Hue, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda. The seven-tiered tower at the top of a steeply-stepped entrance is perched overlooking the tranquil Perfume River. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the magnificent tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, considered the most romantic Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Conclude your tour with a visit to the conical hat village to view local people making hats and incense sticks.
Take time to reflect on the remarkable sights, smells, and sounds you have encountered on your trip thus far. Spend time relaxing in the library or enjoying the passing scenery from the deck.
Spend the morning cruising the legendary Saigon River. Enjoy the scenery as you sail into the bustling harbor of Ho Chi Mihn city, a famous metropolis undergoing rapid development. Historic, heroic, crowded, and booming - Ho Chi Minh City is still commonly referred to as Saigon. Choose an optional excursion to discover the metropolis. On your way to the city center, see grand old buildings such as the "wedding cake" style Hotel d'Ville and the historic Rex Hotel. See colorful markets selling everything from chilies to French baguettes and, of course, an endless stream of bicycles, cyclos, and motorbikes. Your panoramic tour includes a number of cultural and historic landmarks throughout the city.
Alternatively, depart the city for Cai Be to visit the centuries-old floating market along the banks of the Mekong River. Embark a private boat for the highlight of the day: a chance to discover the day-to-day life of the friendly locals living along the Mekong. Your trip takes you through a maze of canals, past many boats, and on to one of the many islands in the delta to visit the traditional homes of fruit farmers and fishermen. Stroll in a mandarin orchard, and visit an ancient teakwood house located within the orchard.
A third excursion is offered to the Cu Chi Tunnels, originally constructed as a means to fight against the French by the Viet Minh. Most tunnels were only 2-3 feet wide and 5 feet high, with thick roofs capable of withstanding the weight of tanks or the impact of bombs weighing up to 200 pounds. View a short video and listen to a presentation on the underground network and some of the tools and weapons utilized by the guerrillas before exploring the tunnels.
Following breakfast on board, disembark in Ho Chi Mihn. Transfer to the airport for your homeward journey.
|Superior Stateroom||Deluxe Stateroom||Prestige Stateroom - Deck 4||Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5||Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6||Deluxe Suite||Prestige Suite - Deck 5||Prestige Suite - Deck 6||Owners Suite|
|* Itinerary operates in reverse.|