THAILAND AND VIETNAM
16 Days/15 Nights
Where traditional cultures mix with leading-edge technologies in bustling world capitals, Asia awaits your exploration on a Holland America Line cruise.
• 16 day cruise on board the ms Westerdam
• All meals daily in complimentary dining venues & selected non-alcoholic beverages on board
• Most entertainment and activities on board
• Port taxes and charges
DAY 1 SINGAPORE - DEPARTURE 5:00PM
City-states are rare in the present day—and none are quite like Singapore. In the 20th century, the Southeast Asian nation hurtled itself into the modern world, and it continues to expand its state-of-the-art transportation system and build its edgy skyline. Yet Singapore's urban plan wisely maintained its intimate neighbourhoods, many with streets lined with colourful shophouses (a type of building unique to parts of Asia, with businesses located on their ground floors and residences above). Add the city’s mix of ethnic groups—mainly Malays, Chinese and Indians—and you get a vibrant cultural scene that attracts a cosmopolitan, international community. Singapore's food scene—which is arguably the world's most dynamic and runs the gamut from beloved street hawkers to Michelin-starred venues—would merit a trip alone, as would its never-ending shopping options. But the city is also packed with world-class museums, many designed by celebrated architects, and it hosts many major international events, such as the Formula One Grand Prix. Yet only about half of the 720-square-kilometer (278-square-mile) island is developed, which leaves plenty of room for parks and open spaces such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where an old-growth forest still thrives.
DAY 2 AT SEA
DAY 3 NATHON (KOH SAMUI), THAILAND - 8:00AM TO 4:00PM
Koh Samui can feel like a screensaver landscape. The beach-fringed coast is edged with vivid, blue water that’s a surf-and-sand playground for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, building sandcastles and simply lounging. Along with busy food stalls and restaurants where you can find a whole world of cuisine made with local produce and fresh seafood as well as authentic Thai dishes, the lively streets are lined with bars, boutiques, markets and spas. By contrast, the island’s interior can provide moments of reflection and replenishing solitude. Enter the dense, hilly jungles for hikes to ancient temples and pristine waterfalls and quaint villages where you can experience true Thai hospitality. With dreamy landscapes and island adventures from boat excursions to nature treks, you'll soon be enchanted by Koh Samui.
DAY 4-5 LAEM CHABANG (BANGKOK), THAILAND - 8:00AM TO 3:00PM
Thailand, known as Siam until 1932, is the only country in Southeast Asia (and one of the few in the world) never to have been colonised by a European power. Its capital, Bangkok, reflects the country's unique status. It has embraced modernity on its own terms as the seat of a beloved monarchy that dates back to the 13th century. In this city, Buddhist temples and gilded palaces coexist with the bustle of one of Asia's major metropolises. The contrast between the golden glow of sunrise along the Chao Phraya River, which runs through the municipality, and the neon lights of downtown can feel intoxicating. There are few places in the world where you can spend the morning visiting a centuries-old stupa, have lunch at one of the world's top Michelin-starred restaurants and then shop for exquisite silk garments. And wherever you explore, you'll be struck by the warm welcome you receive. "The Land of Smiles" may be a cliché and a tourism-marketing slogan, but it's also a fitting nickname for Thailand.
Many of the country's most important historic areas can be found not far from Bangkok. Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with impressive Buddhist ruins. The 16th-century town of Chachoengsao is known for its many temples, including Wat Saman Rattanaram with its 22-meter-long (72-foot-long) statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. In Pattaya, on the coast, the Pattaya Elephant Village is a sanctuary for Asian elephants.
Whether you travel by boat, bus or tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled motorised taxi) to explore Bangkok's temples, palaces and markets, be prepared to fall in love with this city that somehow manages to be both chaotic and captivating at the same time.
DAY 6 SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA - 8:00AM TO 9:00PM
Cambodia’s certainly most famous for the temples of Angkor, but travellers seeking to wander farther are flocking to the small-yet-bustling coastal town of Sihanoukville. Renamed in 1964 for King Norodom Sihanouk, this provincial port is home to some of the nation’s most stunning coastline and a downtown that's a blend of local businesses and a lively expat scene centered on Serendipity Road.
You’ll find not one beach but several, each with its own personality: good for whether you want a relaxed day reading a novel or one full of activity, food and people-watching.
Often described as the Thailand of 20 years ago, this region is less touristy but still able to meet your expectations for a perfect beach getaway. In Sihanoukville, you can take a guided snorkeling trip, kayak through mangrove forests, hike through a national park or horseback ride on the beach. Visitors in the mood for less action can spend time exploring the local temples or shopping near the beach. Angkor’s certainly amazing, but Sihanoukville might just be Cambodia’s most perfect, still-secret stop.
DAY 7 AT SEA
DAY 8 NHA TRANG, VIETNAM - 8:00AM TO 5:00PM
In Nha Trang, on the southern Vietnamese coast, you'll find a magical combination of historic sites along with a stunning beach. You can while away a day here soaking up the sun, sand and sea, alternating snorkeling or scuba diving sessions with naps in the shade, lulled to sleep by the sound of the surf. And while warm, clear waters and a white-sand beach dotted with restaurants and bars would be enough for most visitors, the city has worthy historic sites that make it more than just a beach town.
Exploring Nha Trang beyond its beach brings you a better understanding of not only the city's history but also that of Vietnam as a whole, from long before the nation was formed through its colonial period. Work your way forward from Buddhist temples like the 7th- to 12th-century Po Nagar Cham Towers and the late-19th-century Long Son Pagoda, to the city's early-20th-century French Gothic–style cathedral. By day's end, you'll likely find yourself drawn back to the water. Take a walk along the Hon Chong promontory, enjoying the view of the islands in Nha Trang Bay as you watch the sun melt into the sea
DAY 9 AT SEA
DAY 10 HALONG BAY, VIETNAM - 6:00AM TO 7:00PM
Like a combination of Thailand's famous limestone islanded Phang Nga Bay and old Hong Kong's harbour with its dragon-sailed junks, Vietnam's Halong Bay is fast making its way to the top of everyone's Asian must-see travel list. The bay and its almost two thousand islands were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 giving an official stamp of recognition to this natural wonder that has captivated painters and poets for centuries. Halong City has several markets and restaurants worth visiting, and is also a convenient base before setting out for places like Cat Ba Island and some of the smaller islets with their underground caves and biodiverse wildlife. As you sail the bay or look at it from the mainland, you may feel like you've stepped into a postcard or a painting from the classic era of Vietnamese art.
Some travellers come here for active days filled with kayaking, caving and islet-hopping but you can also sit back and simply sail through this stunning bay or take a day trip to fishing villages with their colourful markets. If you are up for venturing farther afield, it's a three-hour trip (each way) to Hanoi but worth the effort if you have yet to visit the city.
DAY 11-12 DA NANG (HUE), VIETNAM - 2:00PM TO 5:00PM
Located halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the port city of Da Nang has a small-town charm despite its lack of big-ticket attractions. It is home to a stunning 30-kilometre (18-mile) coastline that is popular for water sports such as waterskiing, paddleboarding and surfing. It’s also known for its great street food—and an extremely quirky bridge that you can't miss. The place was previously occupied by both the French and the Americans (this was the first place U.S. Marines landed in March 1965), and vestiges of both can be seen in the city, from the remnants of the vast U.S. air base and hospital to the city’s wide boulevards and old villas.
Da Nang is a great launchpad for day trips, whether to the picturesque city of Hoi An to the south, the old imperial capital of Hue to the north, or the majestic Marble Mountains to the southwest. The UNESCO-protected Champa temple complex, My Son, which lies 69 kilometers (43 miles) southeast, is definitely worth the trip—but for those who don’t want to leave the urban environs, many of the ruins have ended up at Da Nang's excellent Museum of Cham Sculpture, where you can learn all about the history and architecture of this fascinating culture.
DAY 13 AT SEA
DAY 14 PHU MY, VIETNAM - 6:00AM TO 6:00PM
The real draw of the port of Phu My is actually 80 kilometers (50 miles) away, in bustling, frenetic Ho Chi Minh City. Here, motorbikes hurtle down the wide streets and crossing the road is like a real-life game of Frogger. Its hectic pace is somewhat tempered by tranquil parks, peaceful pagodas and timeless alleyways.
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a fascinating mix of high and low, old and new. On its streets, French-colonial architecture vies for attention with glistening modern skyscrapers; sleek designer malls sit alongside bustling local markets; and glamorous fine-dining restaurants are just around the corner from street-food stalls.
The best way to explore the city is on foot. Most major tourist venues are in compact District 1, which is easy to get around. Or hop on the back of a xe om (motorbike taxi) to see the city like a local. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll be swept along in the pulsating energy of it all.
DAY 15 AT SEA
DAY 16 SINGAPORE - ARRIVAL 7:00AM
2019 DEPARTURE DATE
Inside Stateroom from $2,439*
Ocean View Stateroom from $2,639*
Verandah Stateroom from $3,419*
Signature Suite from $5,629*
Neptune Suite from $6,269*
*Terms and conditions apply. Prices are per person twin share, cruise only and subject to availability at time of booking. Valid for sale until sold out. Prices correct at May 2018. Offer is only available for new bookings and prices are subject to change without notice due to change in fees, taxes, surcharges or currency fluctuations. Saving amount has already been applied to the advertised prices. Further conditions apply, call your Bucket List Buddy team.