Tour of Thailand & Vietnam: Bangkok’s Floating Markets to Halong Bay

A 14 day trip to Thailand & Vietnam 
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The majesty of Thailand and Vietnam are set upon the riverbanks and beyond the shores that have cast myths and captured imaginations for centuries. Watch as the colors of the landscapes and the textures of temples, the grandeur of the Thai Palace to the simplicity of Ho Chi Minh’s home, are placed against the backdrop of rushing rivers, serene ponds, and immaculate oceans. Whether floating along the water or watching it from a distance, on this custom tailored tour through Thailand and Vietnam, their splendor is sure to captivate you. 

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General Information

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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Bangkok, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Over the Waterway

Your flight may have just started to glide over the Pacific but you have been ready for this holiday for months, each second bringing you closer to the splendor of Bangkok and Vietnam. You have been seeing gilded temples and grand statues of Buddha lining the streets in your dreams. You have imagined the sensational limestone peaks around Halong Bay. Soon you will be standing within the annals of history and natural beauty that stretches through Thailand and Vietnam, ready for you to explore.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner

Day 2: Inexhaustible Charm

Welcome to Bangkok, the energetic capital of Thailand, one of the most popular destinations worldwide. The berth of skyscrapers give an impressive grandeur over the lavish history of the city, nestled beneath the shadows of modernity and the shade of pleasant, serene trees. At the airport you will be met with a private transfer where you will arrive at your luxurious accommodations. Rambuttri Road is like the quiet and cuter little brother to Khao San Road, where, even though they run parallel to each other, Rambutrri gives you the look and feel of what Bangkok once was. Banyan trees offer shade to the smooth pavement as the stunning scent of freshly grilled chicken is wafted over the street from the local restaurants. Walking along the serene path also gives you a view to the monk’s quarters of Wat Chana Songkhram, where you can see the flowing golden robes of the devoted clerics beneath the gilded tower of the temple.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 3: Reflected in the Waters

Your first morning in Bangkok brings with it the fresh and graceful fragrance of fresh fruit, juicy pineapple and creamy bananas, even a sweet coconut or two. In the morning you will set out along a tour to cruise the Chao Phraya River, also known as “River of Kings.” The quiet canals run through the old Bangkok capital of Thonburi; a welcome breeze rises from the water as you watch the antique charm of the riverbanks, from stilted homes to wooden townhouses. The freshness of the river surrounds you as you drift farther from the bustling center of Bangkok.

Wat Arun, known as “The Temple of Dawn,” sits along the riverside, rising into the air in an opulent sphere, giving it a unique shape from the other temples of the city. The spire rises over 210 feet tall, decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and porcelain in intricate patterns that create a passionate and irreplaceable gleam in the sunlight. The Grand Palace is another dazzling site along the river of Chao Phraya, and had been the home of the king for over 150 years. Wat Phra Kaew is one of Thailand’s most sacred sites and contains the revered Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century. The energy within the temple is palpable as the bright green of the statue glows vibrantly within the tame décor of the shrine. The King of Thailand rotates the robes of the Buddha throughout the seasons.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 4: The Floating Colors of Thailand

The sun rises over the river and brings with it a welcoming elegance that takes you out of your hotel and onto the fabulous waterway to experience the fabulous floating market of Damnoen Saduak. The world outside of the metropolis’s center is different, more vibrant in its natural state, where the colors of food and life shine along the waterway. Vendors fill their boats with a spectacular variety of tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables, and fresh produce. Large melons create mountains within skiffs while fresh lilies are stacked like a collection of snowflakes. The hum of the market is from the spirited bartering and bantering of merchants and costumers, enchanting and floating.

In the evening glow of the city you will enjoy a tasty menu at the famous Oriental Hotel’s Sala Rim Nam Restaurant. The gentle ting of symbols and soft strings of instruments accompanies the elegance of traditional Thai dancers. The cultural dress, complete with spired and gilded ornaments, bring culture and tradition to the foreground, each pose and costume adding another layer of meaning to the movement. The succulent scent of peanut sauce and grilled chicken rises from the juicy chicken satay, while the coconut sticky rice with mango offers a luscious, sweet accompaniment.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 5: Capital to Capital

In the morning the sweet fragrance of pineapple rushes through the streets of the city. You can almost taste the juicy citrus before stepping down for breakfast. After your meal you will be transferred to the airport where you will soon arrive within the borders of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The city is a mixture of old world and new world, where French colonial buildings decorate neighborhoods and pagodas ordain gardens, all while the second tallest skyscraper in Southeast Asia towers over the entire city. Within the walls of the Vietnam Ethnology Museum you bare witness to the diversity of the country’s culture and people, composed of 54 different ethnic groups. The open-air exhibition takes you into to the peaceful grounds that feature ethnic houses from all over Vietnam. The Ede longhouse has a thatched roof that runs the vast length of the structure, placed on thick stilts and a platform, the house is generally made from wood and bamboo; when a girl in the house is married it is lengthened, which makes some homes quite massive. Get acquainted with Hanoi, get acquainted with Vietnam, and let its wonders open up to you.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, transfer

Day 6: Marvelous Capital

The major metropolis of Vietnam has a vast amount of splendor to offer and today you will be able to experience it all on a tour of the city. The opulent curvatures of balconies and rich terraced windows from French architecture continue to shine along the streets of the city. The Presidential Palace is a next to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum; its mustard yellow and classic French architecture is charming within the manicured grass and trees of the park. Ho Chi Minh had refused the palace as his quarters and instead occupied the electrician’s house nearby. The wooden tiled house is on stilts and is simple, framed within lush vines and vibrant fruit trees. The colors bring a wealth of life to the outer rings of the house. A fishpond is quiet and graceful at the home’s edges. The interior has allowed visitors to see the life of Vietnam’s first president as he left it, including the 12 simple wooden chairs that sat around a large table on the first floor. Tour through the country’s history where you can find grace and turbulence, grandeur and beauty.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 7: Bay of Dragon Magnitude

In the morning you will be taken to the stunning shores of Halong Bay where you will step along a traditional boat that combines classic beauty with modern comfort. The sails are textured and angled giving them a fan-like grace. When you look out over the side of the boat you can see the intimidating karsts, isolated limestone peaks, which rise straight from the water. The breeze blows through your hair bringing the sweet scent of the sea around the boat. Tour through grottoes and caves with bizarre rock sculptures interspersed beside the walls. It isn’t hard to be swept up in the grandeur of the bay, where the limestone sparkles in the sunlight beneath the lush and unique flora of the tropical climate.

The legend says that the stones stem from a dragon that solidified as it descended into the sea, which gives the rocks a particularly sculpted quality like dragons' teeth pushing against the waves. You will stop along the shores of a nearby island where a quick trek to the summit will give you an unhindered view of the bay. Witness the limestone of the jutting karsts from an areal view, along with the golden sails of your cruise ship billowing in the breeze. Fishermen glide through the turquoise water with calm purpose and colorful boats. When the sun begins to set over the undulating terrain of the Bay you can watch the colors float above the rocks and sink behind the sea.   

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 8: Bayside to Riverside

There is no calmer or more serene way to start your morning than with a Tai Chi lesson. The art is known not only for its defensive attributes but also for its health benefits. The graceful and precise movement becomes a one-person ballet, where the slow attention to detail gives you proper gravity and balance. After your lesson you will fly to Danang and transfer to the charming city of Hoi An. The riverside city of Hoi An shows you the quintessential elegance of a traditional Vietnamese city, including Hoi An’s customary trade as merchants. Beside the stretches of water is the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall; once having served only the Chinese community, now walls in the courtyard are lavishly decorated with murals. The colors spring from the paint where men stand at attention behind a table laden with gifts. Porticos are overrun with flowers and mountains that brim with hues of the earth, decadent greens and shimmering scarlet. An old man with an immaculate beard reads a scroll next to a gilded stork. Get caught up in the elegance of the hall; get caught up in the colors of the murals; get caught up in Hoi An.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 9: Covered Bridges and Rising Pagodas

The morning brings the gentle trickle of the river to your doorstep, where the sound is calm and alluring. Colorful boats filled with textiles, fresh fish, and nets drift through the waterway, docking along the rising walls of the city. Tour through the history of Hoi An at your leisure to experience the grandeur of its significant and inescapable beauty. The Japanese Covered Bridge rises over the river like a jewel, standing out from the stretch of buildings, making itself noticed.  Built by the Japanese community and connecting them with the Chinese quarter across the river, the bridge now stands as a symbol of the town. The tubular shingles slope down over the bridge at a delicate angle. The pillars and metropes are painted a vibrant shade of red, reflecting their hue in the calm waters below.

Standing at the bridge’s center you can look over the waterway and feel like the pulse of the city has opened to you. A collection of colors wrapped in floating lamps begins to shine. The collection looks almost like balloons ready to take flight. They dangle over the streets and outside of buildings. They give a hallowed glow to the city, within the marketplace and over the edges of the river. Boast glide past, setting out once again in the night, where they can see the city glowing like a beacon.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Imperial History

The morning brings you to the gilded city of Hue, once the capital of Vietnam for over 140 years. The vibrancy of the city sits within the stunning greenery outside of the city and the vibrant royal life that continues to emanate majesty. The Thien Mu Pagoda shows you the immaculate architecture that graces the city and reminds passersby of the illustrious past. On the bank of the Perfume River is the Thien Mu Pagoda, once a hotbed of anti-government protest in the 1960s. The pagoda’s most striking feature, Phuoc Duyen tower, stands alone, rising above the tree line on the plateau with layered, concentric tiers. The pink and peach trim imitates the color of the bricks that mark the pathway. There is a cool breeze the brushes through the park, where the green lawn ripples like the tides of the lake nearby. The city, from within the silhouette of the pagoda, is quiet, calm, and yours.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 11: A Visit to the South

From the old capital to the economic capital of Vietnam, today you will find yourself within the expansive city of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon. Cafes and bakeries offer a connection to the country’s French colonial past with the sweet and fresh scent of baguettes and croissants drifting through the open doors. You can sit sipping a strong, rich coffee along the sidewalks while watching the city pass you by. There is an ease to the city’s grandiosity, where you can fit into a neighborhood with the feeling that you have been there before or have stumbled upon it for the first time. The Notre Dame Cathedral’s spires rise thinly over the open square as its red brick, brought from France, gives a separate hue to the blue sky. The rose window adorns the façade with intricate detail while the interior is filled with opulent tiles and high, grand arches. The rich scent of grilled meats and seafood being wafted from all directions brings you back to Vietnam, where the country’s past is still very much alive in its present.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, transfer

Day 12: Past and Present Futures

Today you will venture onto the streets of Saigon on a guided tour that will take you through the diversity of the city, where cultures mix, history evolves, and eclectic flavors are on display. The streets burst with life; from walkers to motorbikers, the sounds of conversations are everywhere. The Jade Emperor Pagoda was built in the early 20th century and has an atmosphere akin to none. The interior is chock-full of statues representing divinities and sensational heroes, all kept within the delicate air of incense. Look to the roof and you will find it adorned with statues depicting characters from both Buddhist and Taoist lore, each constructed from reinforced paper mâché, including an over 12 foot high general who was said to have defeated the terrible Green Dragon that is almost hidden beneath his foot.

The Reunification Palace was the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975, which indicated the fall of South Vietnam. The palace has been preserved in its original state. Palm trees surround the grand architecture that looms over the city by its size and importance. Within the palace the upper level is a set of stellar reception rooms, used for welcoming foreign and national dignitaries. The basement is where the telecommunication center is housed and where you can find the war room and a catacomb of tunnels; its like stepping back in time and finding the room precisely as it was set decades ago. The enchantment of history can come from anywhere and strike awe at anytime, even within a basement.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 13: The Lushness of the Mekong

Today you will step onto the luxurious Cai Be Princess that will take you along the lush waters of the Mekong Delta. As the sun drifts above the horizon it casts a gentle light over the immense greenery of the countryside. The river becomes dense with boats and the colors of the water start to shine and pop; the famous floating market of Cai Be has begun. The local vendors cruise through the water showcasing their sensational produce, each vessel containing an array of vegetables and fruits. The dragon fruit shines with a layered red skin and bright white flesh with black seeds. Spinach is collected in large bundles and look like prehistoric leaves. Vendors want you to taste their superior produce, buy a bundle, share with friends, and experience the sensational freshness of the market, the fruit, the vegetables, and the morning.

Continue down the Mekong where the tiered hillsides rise in the distance like something out of a photograph. Farmers work along the riverside with conical –shaped hats, helping shade them from the sun and rain. Paddy-fields extend almost as far as the eye can see in certain places, where the flat fields give a sense of untouched beauty, an escape to a countryside you didn’t know you wanted. Off of the boat you will venture onto Dong Hoa Hiep Island where a peaceful Mandarin home dates back to the late 19th century. Sit along the comfortable and antiquated teak furniture where you can enjoy a refreshing cup of sweet and herbaceous green tea. You can see how the plantation and the countryside work, as crops rise lushly over people’s heads, boats slowly drift down the river, and the world is a naturally paced as it could ever be; before you make your way back to Ho Chi Minh City you let yourself relax amongst the splendor of the cruise, where the landscapes are as majestic as the people.

What’s Included: breakfast, accommodation, tour

Day 14: Where the Waterways End

Today you will see an end to the waterways of Indochina. You have spent your time along the rivers, streams, and oceans that have taken you form capitals to countries, each elegant, vibrant, and diverse. You will have a private transfer to the airport where you will begin your return journey. The flight climbs over the Pacific and will set you down within the luxuries of home; the waterways through Thailand and Vietnam may have ended but there will always be more grandeur to see and more Southeast Asia to experience.

What’s Included: transfer

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Price

Price 

Zicasso recommends the following guidelines for customized Thailand tour packages, excluding international flights:

  • 5-star: USD $450 - $1,000+ per person per day
  • 4-star: Minimum USD $350 per person per day
  • 3-star: Minimum USD $300 per person per day

The customized package will include accommodations, airport transfers and other transportation within Thailand, guided tours or activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip.

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.