River Cruise Itinerary for Halong Bay, Red River and Laos Mekong Downstream | Pandaw.com
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PANDAW COMBO RIVER CRUISE

HALONG BAY, RED RIVER & LAOS MEKONG

21 NIGHTS

For the first-time travelers will be able to explore the key sites of Northern Vietnam by river ship traversing the Red River delta and its main tributaries, connecting the wonders of Halong Bay with the excitements of down town Hanoi, and then on into the interior, well off the beaten track. This is a combination of scenic beauty, lively and interesting (sometimes industrial) life of the river and exploring rivers where no other tourist craft operate.

Combined this with a three-country expedition as we will traverse Laos to touch Thailand and Burma at the once notorious Golden Triangle. From Vientiane, the old French capital, and so redolent of L’Indochine, beyond Luang Prabang, Pandaw is the first river expedition since prewar days to cross all Laos.

This trip included flight between Hanoi and Vientiane or v.v. with a one-night hotel stay.

IMAGES

EXPEDITION MAP

YOUR SHIP

EXTENSIONS

PRE CRUISE EXTENSIONS

The Rachamankha Hotel, Chiang Mai Pre Tour

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The Hill Tribes of North Thailand Pre Tour

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POST CRUISE EXTENSIONS

Post Tour Hanoi 1 Night

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Hue & Hoi An 4 Nights Post Tour

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OPTIONAL PACKAGE ADDONS

Private Dining

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Pre-Bookable House Wine Package

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Free Flow Drinks

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Free Flow Drinks & Wine Package

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ITINERARY

Upstream      Downstream

DAY 1 CHIANG SAEN

PLEASE NOTE: The itinerary for this expedition is indicative only and subject to reconnaissance. As we travel to remote areas, changes to the itinerary will inevitably occur. A flexible approach is required if you book this cruise.

Transfers from airports or any city hotel in Chiang Rai (2 hours) and Chiang Mai (6 hours) including a visit to the Golden Triangle and the now infamous opium museum. Embark your ship by 16.00 and cruise up river towards the Burma border for sunset.

More about Chiang Saen

DAY 2 INTO LAOS

Pass through immigration formalities at the Thai/Laos border and re-join the ship. Set sail downstream on the beautiful Upper Mekong River. After lunch, if time allows, sightseeing on foot in a Laos jungle village.

More about Into Laos

DAY 3 KHAMO VILLAGE

Morning walk in a Khamo village. Sail downstream on the beautiful Mekong then relax with evening cocktails on a sandbank.

DAY 4 PAK OU CAVES & LUANG PRABANG

Continue cruising downstream to Pak Ou, transfer to a local boat and enter the Nam Ou River to visit the extraordinary Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Admire spectacular limestone cliff faces in the Buddhist sanctuary.

More about Pak Ou Caves and Nam Ou River

DAY 5 LUANG PRABANG

In the morning explore by tuktuk this well preserved and unique world heritage site with its many Buddhist temples, libraries and royal palace. Visit the National Museum and have the afternoon free to explore the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang. Traditional Laos dancing on the upper deck late afternoon. Moor overnight in Luang Prabang.

More about Luang Prabang

DAY 6 KHAUNG SI WATERFALL

Early morning walking tour to observe the morning alms offering by local people to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. Drive to see the deep jungle pools at the Khaung Si Waterfall, the teak forest trails and butterfly farm.

DAY 7 XAYABURI DAM

Pass through the Mekong water control lock at Xayaburi Hydro Electric Power Plant (itself an interesting and perhaps controversial tourist attraction). Late afternoon walking tour of a local village.

More about Xayaburi Dam

DAY 8 XANAKHAM

Morning visit to Ban Pha Leab with its beautiful limestone mountain. Continue to Pak Houng-Thai Lao Border for an excursion to a plantation village and meet the local people.

DAY 9 VIENTIANE

Pass through a dramatic landscape of jungle and mountain where the river flows fast and wild. Amazing rock formations straddle the river banks. Here we enter the cultivated plains of Vientiane province. Arrive mid-afternoon in Vientiane to moor overnight. Opportunity for independent exploration of this delightful, French influenced city.

More about Vientiane

DAY 10 VIENTIANE

Morning exploration of the delightful French city including visits to the golden Pha That Luang Stupa, Sisaket Temple, the President’s Hall, Watt Prakeo Temple and the Phatouxay monument. Opportunity for independent exploration and experience the many cafes and bistros in this charming little corner of L’Indochine. Farewell cocktails and dinner.

DAY 11 VIENTIANE - HANOI

Disembark in Vientiane after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi. After arrival, transfer to your hotel. Rest of day at leisure.

DAY 12 HANOI - HOA BINH

Transfer to Hoa Binh, embark your ship at around 15.00 and set sail downstream for sunset and a night on the Da River.

DAY 13 HOA BINH

Hoa Binh was the site of a major battle with the French in 1951 & 1952 and is home to the Muong ethnic group.

The Hoa Binh Dam at the Black River is the largest hydroelectric dam in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Take an afternoon boat ride on the reservoir of Hoa Binh power station.

More about Hoa Binh

DAY 14 THE DA RIVER

In the morning, visit a museum and local village where villagers still wear traditional dress.

A day sailing downstream admiring the unspoilt beauty of the Da River, passing through the Ba Vi National Park with its rich and diverse tropical and sub-tropical flora and fauna before arriving at Trung Ha.

More about The Da River

DAY 15 VIET TRI

After breakfast by coach through beautiful scenic countryside to the UNESCO praised village of Duong Lam then continue cruising downstream to Viet Tri. Take in the sights and sounds of the bustling river with all kinds of craft and activity.

Meet your guide in the dining room for a lecture on Vietnam, its history, geography and the boat people.

More about Viet Tri

DAY 16 LO - RED RIVERS

Take in the sights and sounds of the bustling river with all kinds of craft and activity. In the morning cruise to Tien Du ferry station to visit the Hung Lo Temple. Continue by bus to Gia Thanh village, makers of the conical hats (known as 'non la'). The 'non la' are handmade with palm leaves and bamboo. There is no machinery available to create this work of art. Their origin dates approximately 3,000 years back. Afternoon excursion to a carpenter village famous for exquisite carvings and wood work techniques.

More about Lo River

DAY 17 THE LOWER RED RIVER

Go ashore to visit a timeless Arcadian Vietnam with emerald green rice paddies punctuated by limestone rock formations. Of particular interest are the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas. Enroute to Hanoi, stop at Bat Trang in the afternoon, a ceramic village (literally: 'bat' means 'bowl' and 'trang' means 'workshop'). Bat Trang is a seven century-old pottery village, located in an area rich in clay. On the way back to the ship watch a traditional unicorn and lion dance at the jetty. This dance originated in China and spread over Southeast Asia.

More about The Lower Red River

DAY 18 HANOI

Drop anchor in the capital and bustling city of Hanoi to visit some highlights of this Asian metropolis. Must-sees include the notorious Vietnam War prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, temple of literature where Confucius did his thinking, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Afternoon walking tour of Hanoi’s old quarter,including a visit to a coffee shop to learn about Vietnam’s famous coffee-making industry.

More about Hanoi

DAY 19 LUOC - THAI BINH - KINH THAY RIVERS

Observe the lively and interesting life on the river before reaching next destination in the afternoon.

Afternoon excursion to Thanh Ha Commune with village walk and a private water puppet show set under the shade by a beautiful pond of lotus and lilies.

Drop anchor near Hai Phong Port.

DAY 20 HALONG BAY

Cast off early morning along the river before entering Halong Bay’s amazing island scenery with its 2,000 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations dating back 20 million years. Exploration of Halong Bay continues with a visit to the so called "Dark and Bright Cave". Take a kayak or a local basket boat rowed by fishermen and enter this remarkable cave into an enclosed area similar to a crater. Bats can be heard in the cave and massive stalagmites hang from the ceiling. Continue cruise around Halong Bay until dropping anchor in Rang Dua.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 21 HALONG BAY

Morning sail around Halong Bay and beyond with its 1,500 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations, dating back 20 million years.

Stop at Viet Hai Village and explore on mountain bike or electric buggy, visiting the village’s vegetable farm and typical village houses. It is a breath-taking trip along a small road winding its way through the limestone rocks.

In the afternoon continue cruising towards Lan Ha Bay for a visit to a floating fishing house.

Weather dependent, end the day with cocktails at a beautiful beach in Halong Bay -bring your swimwear!

DAY 22 HALONG BAY

Morning sail to Tuan Chau Jetty. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi Airport or Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi with stop for lunch at a local restaurant.

DAY 1 CHIANG SAEN

PLEASE NOTE: The itinerary for this expedition is indicative only and subject to reconnaissance. As we travel to remote areas, changes to the itinerary will inevitably occur. A flexible approach is required if you book this cruise.

Transfers from airports or any city hotel in Chiang Rai (2 hours) and Chiang Mai (6 hours) including a visit to the Golden Triangle and the now infamous opium museum. Embark your ship by 16.00 and cruise up river towards the Burma border for sunset.

More about Chiang Saen

DAY 2 INTO LAOS

Pass through immigration formalities at the Thai/Laos border and re-join the ship. Set sail downstream on the beautiful Upper Mekong River. After lunch, if time allows, sightseeing on foot in a Laos jungle village.

More about Into Laos

DAY 3 KHAMO VILLAGE

Morning walk in a Khamo village. Sail downstream on the beautiful Mekong then relax with evening cocktails on a sandbank.

DAY 4 PAK OU CAVES & LUANG PRABANG

Continue cruising downstream to Pak Ou, transfer to a local boat and enter the Nam Ou River to visit the extraordinary Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Admire spectacular limestone cliff faces in the Buddhist sanctuary.

More about Pak Ou Caves and Nam Ou River

DAY 5 LUANG PRABANG

In the morning explore by tuktuk this well preserved and unique world heritage site with its many Buddhist temples, libraries and royal palace. Visit the National Museum and have the afternoon free to explore the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang. Traditional Laos dancing on the upper deck late afternoon. Moor overnight in Luang Prabang.

More about Luang Prabang

DAY 6 KHAUNG SI WATERFALL

Early morning walking tour to observe the morning alms offering by local people to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. Drive to see the deep jungle pools at the Khaung Si Waterfall, the teak forest trails and butterfly farm.

DAY 7 XAYABURI DAM

Pass through the Mekong water control lock at Xayaburi Hydro Electric Power Plant (itself an interesting and perhaps controversial tourist attraction). Late afternoon walking tour of a local village.

More about Xayaburi Dam

DAY 8 XANAKHAM

Morning visit to Ban Pha Leab with its beautiful limestone mountain. Continue to Pak Houng-Thai Lao Border for an excursion to a plantation village and meet the local people.

DAY 9 VIENTIANE

Pass through a dramatic landscape of jungle and mountain where the river flows fast and wild. Amazing rock formations straddle the river banks. Here we enter the cultivated plains of Vientiane province. Arrive mid-afternoon in Vientiane to moor overnight. Opportunity for independent exploration of this delightful, French influenced city.

More about Vientiane

DAY 10 VIENTIANE

Morning exploration of the delightful French city including visits to the golden Pha That Luang Stupa, Sisaket Temple, the President’s Hall, Watt Prakeo Temple and the Phatouxay monument. Opportunity for independent exploration and experience the many cafes and bistros in this charming little corner of L’Indochine. Farewell cocktails and dinner.

DAY 11 VIENTIANE - HANOI

Disembark in Vientiane after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi. After arrival, transfer to your hotel. Rest of day at leisure.

More about Hanoi

DAY 12 HANOI - VIET TRI

Transfer to Viet Tri, embark your ship and set sail downstream for sunset and a night on the Red River. Tonight we enjoy a traditional dance on board.

More about Viet Tri

DAY 13 THE LO RIVER

In the morning transfer to Gia Thanh village and visit the conical hat making village. Then continue by bus to visit Hung Lo Temple where we will enjoy a UNESCO recognized "Hat Xoan" performance. In the afternoon will moor in Minh Chau to visit a carpenter village and smith's village in Vinh Phuc province.

More about Lo River

DAY 14 UPPER RED RIVER

We will visit the UNESCO praised village of Duang Lam, then sail downstream on the Red River and visit a timeless Arcadian Vietnam with emerald green rice paddies punctuated by lime stone rock formations. Of particular interest are the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas, hardly known, yet with exquisite temples dating from the 8th and 11th century and home to some fine Buddhist statuary carved from jackfruit trees.

More about The Upper Red River

DAY 15 HANOI

Dropped anchor in the bustling city of Hanoi, passengers will visit some highlights of this Asian metropolis, must see’s like the notorious Vietnam war prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, temple of literature where Confucius did his thinking and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Welcome back to the ship by Lion Dances.

DAY 16 THE LOWER RED RIVER

In the morning going off shore to visit Bat Trang ceramic village followed by a Unicorn Dance. Sail down the lower Red River to Dien Xa Bonsai village.

More about The Lower Red River

DAY 17 DAY RIVER

After breakfast we visit Dien Xa Bonsai village followed by lunch. In the afternoon we visit the quaint village of Pham Phao where guests can walk around the village visiting a host family where musician instruments have been made and repaired for generations. Listen to the owner who plays every instrument within his family run business. We visit local Woodworking Artisans who produce items for local and international markets.

DAY 18 NINH BINH

In the morning we will visit Thung Nang, taking a rowing boat to the so called "Halong on land" in Ninh Binh. In the afternoon, visit the famous Phat Diem stone Cathedral and a local house where they make rice wine. Back to the ship then sail up the Day River to Ninh Binh.

DAY 19 LUOC - THAI BINH - KINH THAY RIVERS

Observe the lively and interesting life on the river before we reach our next destination in the afternoon.

Excursion to Thanh Ha Commune with village walk and a private water puppet show set under shade by a beautiful pond of lotus and lilies.

We drop anchor near Hai Phong Port, the gateway to Halong Bay.

DAY 20 HALONG BAY

Cast off early morning along the river before entering Halong Bay’s amazing island scenery with its 2,000 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations dating back 20 million years.

Exploring Halong Bay, we stop at the so called “Dark and Bright Cave”. Take a kayak or a local basket boat rowed by fishermen and enter this remarkable cave into an enclosed area similar to a crater. Bats can be heard in the cave and massive stalagmites hang from the ceiling.

We continue our cruise around Halong Bay until we drop anchor in Rang Dua.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 21 HALONG BAY

We make a stop at Viet Hai Village and continue our journey by mountain bike or electric buggy to visit the village’s vegetable farm and typical village houses. It is a breathtaking trip along a small road winding its way through the limestone rocks.

In the afternoon we will continue cruising towards Lan Ha Bay for a visit to a floating fishing house.

Weather dependent, we will end the day with cocktails at a beautiful beach in Halong Bay.

DAY 22 HALONG BAY - HANOI

Morning sail to Tuan Chau Jetty. Disembark and transfer to Hanoi Airport or Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi with stop for lunch at a local restaurant.

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WHATS INCLUDED

Cruise Price Includes: One overnight at Pan Pacific Hotel (Hanoi) or Ansara (Vientiane) or similar, one flight from Hanoi or Vientiane or v.v., entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes. Transfers between ports of embarkation and Hanoi International Airport at the start and end of the voyage.

Cruise Price Excludes: International flights, port dues (if levied), laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions), all beverages except local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.

TRANSFERS & JOINING

DAY 1 CHIANG SAEN

Hotel pick-ups from city hotels in Chiang Mai can be as early as 06.00 or as late as 08.00. From Chiang Rai hotels can be as early as 08.30 or as late as 10.00. Timing varies according to the docking place of the Pandaw vessel. Our representative will call you on the evening before or leave a message with the hotel to reconfirm the exact pick up time.

If you do not book a pre stay at a city hotel then we will pick you up from the airport Chiang Rai (arrival must be before 13.00) or airport Chiang Mai (arrival must be before 13.00) and transfer you to the ship. This transfer will not include any visits to Golden Triangle, Opium House and Lunch due to time limit.

Please Note: There is a surcharge for private transfers if you are not able to meet us at above scheduled pick up times.

DAY 22 HALONG BAY

Disembarkation at 10.00 Tuan Chau Port at Halong Bay. After lunch at local restaurant departure for Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport. Estimated arrival at Hanoi Airport at 15.30 PM and continuing to Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi, arriving at 16.10 PM. Your flight out of Hanoi airport must be after 16:30 (domestic) or 17:30 (international).

DAY 1 CHIANG SAEN

Hotel pick-ups from city hotels in Chiang Mai can be as early as 06.00 or as late as 08.00. From Chiang Rai hotels can be as early as 08.30 or as late as 10.00. Timing varies according to the docking place of the Pandaw vessel. Our representative will call you on the evening before or leave a message with the hotel to reconfirm the exact pick up time.

If you do not book a pre stay at a city hotel then we will pick you up from the airport Chiang Rai (arrival must be before 13.00) or airport Chiang Mai (arrival must be before 13.00) and transfer you to the ship. This transfer will not include any visits to Golden Triangle, Opium House and Lunch due to time limit.

Please Note: There is a surcharge for private transfers if you are not able to meet us at above scheduled pick up times.

DAY 22 HALONG BAY - HANOI

Disembarkation at 10.00 Tuan Chau Port at Halong Bay. After lunch at local restaurant departure for Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport. Estimated arrival at Hanoi Airport at 15.30 PM and continuing to Pan Pacific Hotel Hanoi, arriving at 16.10 PM. Your flight out of Hanoi airport must be after 16:30 (domestic) or 17:30 (international).

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