Southeast Asia—so different, so beautiful, so intriguing. Two couples will have the fascinating and enlightening opportunity to see Vietnam and Cambodia with 20/20 vision. Get to know the people, traditions, cuisine, cities, and country side of this faraway land.
Start your trip in style, flying through the Private Suite at LAX, allowing you to pass through private TSA screening and wait in your exclusive Suite before taking a luxury car to the jet bridge of your awaiting aircraft!
The first city you’ll visit is Hanoi, the beautiful cultural center and capital of Vietnam. Centuries-old traditional architecture stands alongside elegant French-colonial mansions and traditional temples. The life of the city can be seen in the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, where small boutiques, Vietnamese coffee shops and lively street vendors create a vibrant and bustling atmosphere.
After you’ve settled into your Grand Premium rooms, you may wish to enjoy the Metropole’s classic afternoon tea, take an early evening tour of the hotel’s bomb shelter that protected
guests during air raids in the Vietnam-American War or indulge in a post-flight treatment at the spa.
Good morning, Vietnam! It’s time to meet your private guide for an introduction to Hanoi’s colorful history. Learn about the life of former President Ho Chi Minh and skip the lines as you visit the mausoleum where his embalmed body is on view. See his stilted house, which was built in 1958 to resemble a traditional ethnic village home, visit the One Pillar Pagoda and wind your way through Hanoi’s colorful backstreets.
In the late afternoon, your foodie tasting tour begins, so hop on a cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) for a ride into the Old Quarter. You’ll be drawn down narrow, 15th-century streets, now housing a variety of boutique shops—each bearing a name that reflects the business once conducted there: Silk Street, Rice Street, Paper Street, Jeweller’s Street, and finally, amid enticing aromas, you’ll reach “Food Street,” where you can sample a variety of snacks and bia hoi, fresh, locally brewed beer.
Leave the city behind to discover one of the wonders of Vietnam on an overnight cruise in the majestic waters of Lan Ha Bay, a remote part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay. Aboard the Ginger, a beautifully crafted sailing vessel, styled after a traditional Vietnamese junk boat, take in majestic views of the surreal landscape where hundreds of limestone karsts rise out of emerald waters.
Next, on the shores of Hoi An Beach in Da Nang, surrounded by golden sand and a lush tropical landscape, the Four Seasons Resort, The Nam Hai, is your base to explore three UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby. Your private villa has lavish wooden interiors with floor-to-ceiling windows, and you are welcome to lounge by the beachfront infinity pools or pamper yourself with a spa treatment overlooking a peaceful lotus pond.
Experience the local food traditions of Hoi An on a cycling excursion around the old town and nearby villages. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999, Hoi An is a picturesque old town set on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Characterized by several rows of bright yellow traditional houses, the town flourished during the 16th and 17th centuries when it was one of Southeast Asia’s most prominent port towns.
You will explore the picturesque rice fields and villages of the country side and a mouth-watering collection of open-kitchen stalls called The Market in the city, where you can have a hands-on experience. Stop for a local coconut coffee as you discover the hidden charms of old town Hoi An, from a demonstration by a calligraphy master to the Fukien Assembly Hall, to the 400-year-old Japanese covered bridge, an icon of the town.
Your next destination, Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known by its former name of Saigon, is the bustling and vibrant economic center of the south. Full of contrasts, the city is known for its cosmopolitan vibe and energetic pace. Old French boulevards and colonial architecture stand beside traditional temples and modern skyscrapers, revealing a city of captivating diversity and charismatic charm. Your home for the next two nights is the sophisticated Park Hyatt Saigon, where modern comforts and conveniences meet traditional colonial style.
Get ready for another foodie adventure Saigon-style—by motorbike sidecar! These three-wheeled renovated military choppers with passenger sidecars attached, are a fun way to explore the city’s most vibrant spots. You’ll hit all the local favorites and sample every delicacy! The next day, you’ll discover the many varieties and subtle flavors of Vietnamese tea at a boutique teahouse in the city, and hit a chic, organic vegetarian restaurant to enjoy creative Southeast Asia vegetarian cuisine. Uncover the stories of Ho Chi Minh City’s dynamic past, starting at the Reunification Palace, where the official handover of power took place during the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Then visit your choice of the History Museum or the War Remnants Museum. You’ll also have a choice of dining at one of Ho Chi Minh City’s best restaurants, from fine dining, to trendy, to the best local-style, casual cuisine.
Another adventure awaits as your vintage scooter driver whisks you to a local street market where a secret, underground weapons bunker lies hidden under a trap door in a narrow house. Wander through the market, admire the colorful flowers and enjoy a traditional breakfast of pho, Vietnam’s signature noodle, at one of the city’s best noodle shops.
Last stop is Siem Reap! Known as the gateway to historical Angkor and nestled between rice paddies along the Siem Reap River, is the provincial town of Siem Reap. The town is situated near Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, which is home to floating fishing villages and bird sanctuaries. You will stay at the beautiful Phum Baitung, private stilted villas offering a taste of traditional Cambodian life enhanced by modern comforts.
A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992, the Angkor Archaeological Park encompasses several ruined temples of the former Khmer Empire, including Angkor Wat, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Explore the magnificent temples and landmarks of Angkor by bicycle, and cycle to the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom, the former capital of the great Khmer empire.
Get a true taste of Cambodia with a progressive dinner through Siem Reap. You will be met by your tuk tuk driver for a ride by remork through different parts of the city, from a cocktail at Miss Wong’s, an intimate cocktail lounge harkening back to the speakeasies of the roaring 20s; to appetizers at Mie Café, a traditional Khmer house in a beautiful garden setting; to The Sugar Palm for authentic homestyle Cambodian comfort food; to dessert at Malis Restaurant, a celebration of Cambodian culinary heritage in a modern and refined venue.
View the dramatic sunrise at Angkor Wat, the magnificent 12th-century temple then discover Siem Reap’s creative circle with a curator who has worked with the city’s leading gallery and boutique owners for over a decade. You will meet the ethical artisans putting Cambodia’s arts, fashion and design on the map: two brothers promoting traditional Khmer lacquerware whose unique creations have been commissioned by the likes of Cartier, Hermès and Louis Vuitton; a couture Khmer fashion designer who crafts his own signature hand-made fabrics using natural fibers; a boutique selling elegant women and men’s clothing and accessories, all hand-crafted by Cambodians. Next, see the beauty of Angkor through an inspiring collection of photographs developed by a celebrated photographer who has appeared in The New York Times. Then explore a contemporary art gallery showcasing innovative pieces by Cambodian and international artists.
Your ticket to Southeast Asia from Southwest Florida is your bid.
Business Class Airfare from Los Angeles, California to Hanoi, Vietnam and from Siem Reap, Cambodia, with Private Suite access in Los Angeles is included. Visit to Vietnam and Cambodia to be scheduled for mutually agreeable dates between September 2020–March 2021. Trip includes all accommodations as listed with daily breakfast, tours and transfers by private vehicle with local English-speaking guides where listed. Experience also includes Vietnam normal visa approval letter, Vietnam visa stamping fee (US$25.00/person), Cambodia visa stamping fee (US$30.00/person), fast track service upon arrival at Noi Bai Airport, smooth departure at Tan Son Nhat Airport, VIP assistance upon arrival and departure at Siem Reap Airport, domestic/regional airfare in Business Class, entrance and camera fees during sightseeing, all meals as per mentioned in itinerary, drinks during included meals at local restaurants in Vietnam and water and cold towels on sightseeing tours. In Vietnam, two (2) passport sized photos are required upon arrival for your visa. In Cambodia, one (1) passport sized photo is required upon arrival for your visa. Trip does not include additional or optional tours, travel insurance, porterage at airport and hotels, any early check-in or late check-out, all items of a purely personal nature such as laundry, telephone, etc., other items not mentioned in the program and gratuities. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every afternoon and on Mondays and Fridays.
Abercrombie & Kent with thanks to Christin McKay, Luxury Travel Advisor with SmartFlyer
Airfare donated by Rosann & Bill Nunnelly