CHONGQING to HO CHI MINH CITY Expedition along the legendary Mekong

                                                                                                                 Section 4


Dates:                                                November 17, 2019
Length:30 days 
Countries to be visited:                   Southwestern China – Laos – Vietnam
Total distance:                                  ±4720 km 
Per person price:                             USD$12300 (based on twin-share)  
USD$20800 (single room supplement)


Day 1, Sunday, November 17                        Arrive Chongqing
Today is the beginning for those who wish to join us for the last section of the Silk Road drive in 2019.
Your starting point is Chongqing, the biggest city in China.
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Join the group for dinner.
D Hongyadong Hotel

Day 2, Monday, November 18                        Chongqing        
Sightseeing day in Chongqing.
B/L/D Hongyadong Hotel

Day 3, Tuesday, November 19                    Chongqing – Zunyi                     (driving distance: 239 km) 
Zunyi is situated between the provincial capital Guiyang to the south and Chongqing to the north, also bordering Sichuan to the northwest. Along with Guiyang and Liupanshui, it is one of the most important cities of the province.
Zunyi is known for being the location where Mao Zedong was first elected to the leadership of the Communist Party of China during the Long March. After this famous Zunyi Conference, Mao Zedong and other two leaders formed a group to control the procedure of the Long March. Chinese tourists come to take photographs in the meeting hall where this historic election took place. This historical meeting hall once belonged to a local warlord and after being occupied by the Red Army served as the temporary headquarters.
Zunyi is also known for its fiery hot local cuisine, including yangrou fen (spicy hot rice noodle soup with lamb and bean curd) etc. We will walk around the old town to taste a large variety of its local street food.
B/L/D Zunyi Hotel

Day 4, Wednesday, November 20          Zunyi – Guiyang – Bijie                      (driving distance: 335 km) 
Drive to Bijie visiting some colorful ethnic villages en route.
Drive through the mountains into a hidden Miao Village and overnight. We will need to pack an overnight bag, leave the car outside of the village and enter it on foot.
B/L/D Miao Village House

Day 5, Thursday, November 21                      Bijie – Liupanshui                 
(driving distance: 384 km)
Drive to Liupanshui, enroute enjoy the scenery of the green tea plantations and winding rivers.
B/L/D Yining Hotel


Day 6, Friday, November 22                     Liupanshui – Kunming                      (driving distance: 384 km) 
Along the area’s criss-cross rivers, we will leave Guizhou Province and enter Yunnan Province.
There will be plenty of scenic spots enroute for us to stop and take photos.
Arrive Kunming in the afternoon.
B/L/D Kunming Hotel

Day 7, Saturday, November 23                       Kunming

Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, is known as 'the City of Eternal Spring' for its pleasant climate and flowers that bloom all year round.
With a history of more than 2,400 years, Kunming was the gateway to the Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar, India and beyond.
The city center is an attraction with its two squares. Of these, Jinma Biji Square has the most eye-catching archways and stylish architectures.
The most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Street, Jingxing Flowers & Birds Market, and Jinma Biji Fang.
The city is also the focal point of Yunnan minority culture. Some 26 ethnic minorities such as Yi, Bai, Miao, Dai, and Hani inhabit this region.
B/L/D Kunming Hotel

Day 8, Sunday, November 24          Kunming – Simao                       (driving distance: 400 km) 
Leaving Kunming, we will drive towards the border between China and Laos.
We will overnight at Simao, a place known for its tea plantations.
B/L/D Simao Hotel

Day 9, Monday, November 25                   Simao – Xishuangbanna (driving distance: 123 km)    
A short drive will take us to the exotic Xishuangbanna, shortened to Banna, in the extreme south of Yunnan, China. The prefectural overnight spot is Jinghong, the largest settlement in the area and one that straddles the Mekong, called the "Lancang River" in Chinese.
This region of China is noted for its distinct cultures, unlike that of the Han Chinese. The people, architecture, language, and culture more similarly resembles that of the Shan, Dai and Tai peoples, which includes the Thai and Lao.
Sightseeing of the area.                                                          
B/L/D Jinghong Hotel

Day 10, Tuesday, November 26             Xishuangbanna – Menglah (driving distance: 135km)                                                         
We will be very close to the China-Laos border now. Overnight in Menglah and prepare for border crossing.        
B/L/D local hotel

Day 11, Wednesday, November 27                    Menglah – Nam Nga, Laos (driving distance: 260 km)                                                               
Today, we will depart China and cross the border to enter Laos. The border crossing can be lengthy and bureaucratic.
First, we will drive for about 45 km to the China side of the border town, Mohanzhen. We will cross the border from there. The Laos’ side is called Boten.
The road between Boten and Luang Prabang is not paved, therefore we might need to overnight in a half-way town called Nam Nga.
It is a lovely place along the Mekong. The experience will give us a good insight of local life in Laos.
B/L/D Local Guesthouse

Day 12, Thursday, November 28                 Nam Nga – Luang Prabang, Laos (driving distance: 90 km)                                                    
We will arrive Luang Prabang today!
The ancient town of Luang Prabang situated in northern Laos, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Considered by many travellers and writers as being the heart of Laotian culture, the tiny town is encircled by mountains and is 700 metres above sea level at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. Here visitors are subjected to an inflamed economic bubble that does not apply to the rest of the country.
In Luang Prabang, we will spend two nights.
Visit its important temples and palaces.                                                
B/L/D Xishuangbanna Hote

Day 13, Friday, November 29                        Luang Prabang                                                                                                                         

Today we will visit the Kuang Si Falls, a three levelled waterfall about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang.
Cascading waterfalls, scaling peaks and the milky-brown waters of the Mekong River provide ample opportunity to swim, climb and sail your way through Luang Prabang.
This small and gentle town where most locals are asleep by 22:00 is now one of the richest and most visited provinces in Laos.                                                                                                    
B/L/D Xishuangbanna Hotel

Day 14, Saturday, November 30 Luang Prabang – Muang Xai                 (driving distance: 100 km)                                                    
The road to Laos-Vietnam border will not be an express way, therefore we need to overnight somewhere such as Muang Xai.                                                    
B/L/D Local Guesthouse

Day 15, Sunday, December 01                               Muang Xai – Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam (driving distance: 200 km)
Today we will depart Laos and cross the border entering Vietnam.
The first city to visit in Vietnam is Dienbien Phu.
Dien Bien Phu plays a star role in Vietnam's modern history.
Dienbien Phu is in the northwestern region of Vietnam. It is the capital of Dien Bien Province.
The city is best known for the events which occurred there during the First Indochina War, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, during which the region was a breadbasket for the Viet Minh.
Dien Bien Phu lies in Muong Thanh Valley, a 20 kilometre long and 6 kilometre wide basin sometimes described as "heart-shaped", about 10 kilometres from the border with Laos.                                     
B/L/D Local Hotel

Day 16, Monday, December 02                Dien Bien Phu                                                    
Sightseeing in Dien Bien Phu. Visits include Dien Bien Phu War Museum and Cemetery, the Muong Thanh Bridge and cultural village etc.                                                                                                                                                                
B/L/D Local Hotel

Day 17, Tuesday, December 03                 Dien Bien Phu – Son La                 (driving distance: 148 km)                                                      
Today we drive southeast bound to reach Son La. It is located in Northwestern Vietnam with its topography fully describes the geographical traits of this area, with mountains, hills, rivers and mineral sources, surrounded by natural forests.
Right in the center of Son La City, we would have chance to visit Son La Former Prison and Museum.
Son La Highland is part of the Moc Chau Plateau, which presents vast pasture lands, tea and fruit plantations. There are also bat caves and waterfalls to visit.
B/L/D Windsor Hotel Son La

Day 18, Wednesday, December 04                   Son La – Hanoi       (driving distance: 378 km)                                                    
From Son La, we drive eastbound to Hanoi, Vietnam’s northern capital. Upon arrival, check into hotel and rest.
B/L/D Sofitel Hano

Day 19, Thursday, December 05                Hanoi                   (driving distance: 181 km)     
Sightseeing in the city, visiting its temples and musems, as well as the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
We will also take some time to walk around in the city.
B/L/D Sofitel Hanoi

Day 20, Friday, December 06                   Hanoi – Hai Phong                    (driving distance: 120 km)     
Drive further south, through the Red River Delta to reach Hai Phong where we will leave our cars at a designated parking lot.
Hop aboard a traditionally designed vessel at Tuan Chau Harbor, for an overnight Halong Bay cruise. The cruise ship featurs 11 or so deluxe en-suite cabins.
We will be welcome aboard with a cocktail before setting sail into the World Heritage area dotted with limestone peaks and caverns.
Visit Luon Cave and Sung Sot (Amazing) Cave; swim in emerald waters at Soi Sim beach; kayak or ride in a bamboo boat; take tai chi, cooking and more.
B/L/D Halong Cruise

Day 21, Saturday, December 07           Cruise – Hai Phong – Thai Binh             (driving distance: 74km)                                                    
After some morning excursions, the cruise will arrive Hai Phong in early afternoon.
We will pick up our cars and drive for about 73 km to reach Thai Binh, settled in a local hotel to spend the night.
B/L/D Petro Thai Binh

Day 22, Sunday, December 08                      Thai Binh – Vinh                   (driving distance: 266 km)           
Drive along the coast to arrive Vinh.
Vinh is the biggest city and economic and cultural center of central Vietnam. Vinh is the capital of Nghệ An Province, and is a key point in the East–West economic corridor linking Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
B/L/D Muong Thanh Grand Cua Dong Hotel

Day 23, Monday, December 09                               Vinh – Hue                               
(driving distance: 367 km)       
Drive southbound to Hue, by the Perfume River. .
B/L/D Rosaleen Boutique Hotel

Day 24, Tuesday, December 10                        Hue            
Full day sightseeing in Hue.
Huế is a city in central Vietnam that was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802 to 1945.
A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century Đại Nội Citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines; the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor’s home; and a replica of the Royal Theater.
B/L/D Rosaleen Boutique Hotel

Day 25, Wednesday, December 11                            Hui – Hoi An                              (driving distance: 123 km)           
Today, a short drive will take us to Hoi An.
Hội An is a historical town on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese houses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda.
B/L/D Hoi An Odyssey Hotel

Day 26, Thursday, December 12                   Hoi An – Nha Trang                     (driving distance: 498 km) 
We will continue our drive along the coast southbound. Will reach a resort town, Nha Trang, by the sea in the evening..
B/L/D Rosaka Nha Trang Hotel

Day 27, Friday, December 13                            Nha Trang                           
Relax by the seaside for the day.
B/L/D Rosaka Nha Trang Hotel

Day 28, Saturday, December 14 Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City                     (driving distance: 443 km) 
Another long driving day along the coast to reach our final destination, Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City, also widely known by its informal name of Saigon, is the largest city in Vietnam. Under the name Saigon, it was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam 1955–75.
The metropolitan area, which consists of the Ho Chi Minh City metropolis and surrounding towns, is populated by about 12 million people, making it the most populous metropolitan area in Vietnam.
It will be an extremely busy city and traffic would not be good enough for us to drive through. We might need to park our cars at one of the ports outside of Ho Chi Minh City for shipping, and we take a mini-bus to enter the city centre.
B/L/D Silverland Yen Hotel


Day 29, Sunday, December 15                            Ho Chi Minh City                          
Full day city sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City.
Farewell dinner party in the evening.
B/L/D Silverland Yen Hotel

Day 30, Monday, December 16 Depart Ho Chi Minh City            
Today an airport transfer will be arranged and it is time to say good-bye!
End of the 2018 Silk Road drive!

What’s included in AAST’s services:

  • 4WD vehicle throughout the journey (3-4 people per vehicle).
  • Petrol charges, toll fees, maintenance and repair of the vehicle.
  • Leadership of experienced group leaders including mechanical support.
  • Local sightseeing tours with entrance fees (sometimes via chartered van or coach).
  • Accommodation: 3 & 4-star hotels in major cities, local guest houses or best available in remote areas.  
  • Hotel taxes and service charges.
  • Meals which are indicated in the day-by-day itinerary (B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner)
  • Arrival and departure transfers.
  • Cross-border handling.
  • Banquets, parties and special events.
  • Travel manual and educational materials.
  • Use of travel accessories (GPS, maps, GMRS Radio Walkie-Talkie, tools, general emergency kit)

What would be your extra cost:

  • Your international flights and related taxes.
  • Personal travel insurance (mandatory) .
  • Visa fees.
  • Vaccinations (not mandatory).
  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, use of internet, laundry, shopping.
  • Cash payment (5 euro or 6 dollars per traveller, per day). This will cover all gratuities and incidentals. The group leader will collect this cash payment at your trip’s starting point.


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