Four Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam & Cambodia When we are not partaking in a traditional Vietnamese cooking class, watching traditional performers dance in bedazzling regalia, or visiting illustrious museums, our 14-day Vietnam & Cambodia guided tour features a variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well – look forward to tremendous temples, wondrous waters, and ancient trade ports. Join us as we get acquainted with these destinations which UNESCO recognizes as having extraordinary cultural or natural value to humanity. Halong Bay, Vietnam Board a modern vessel and spend one night in a comfortable cabin cruising beautiful Halong Bay featuring hundreds of limestone islands and pillars that rise up from emerald-green waters. According to legend, the gods sent a family of dragons to protect Vietnamese ancestors from invaders. The beasts spit out jewels and jade into the bay creating the many islands we see today, and also created rock walls and mountains which invaders’ ships crashed against. Today, about 1,600 people live in Ha Long Bay in fishing villages on floating houses making their living catching fish and mollusks. On our cruise we are welcome to explore the bay by guided rowboat or on a kayak. Onboard activities include a Master Chef Competition, a naturalist discussion, a traditional squid fishing demonstration, sunbathing, and Tai Chi on the sundeck the following morning. We are invited to explore the thrilling Sung Sot Cave with a guide before our vessel returns to land. Hue Imperial Citadel & Thien Mu Pagoda, Vietnam Before Hanoi, Hué (pronounced “hway”) was established as the capital of Vietnam in the early 19th century. Nestled between the Perfume River and Ngu Binh Mountain, the city’s protected citadel was the centerpiece to the Nguyen Dynasty’s 143-year reign. The site was chosen by geomancers – a form of spiritual divination. The Imperial Citadel is our first stop on our day of touring Hué, feasting our eyes on its majesty after arriving by cyclo (a bike taxi). The citadel’s intricate facades and lush vegetation create a visual paradise. While natural disasters and the Vietnam War have taken a toll on the citadel, decades of restoration projects are bringing many sites back to its former glory. Later in the day we visit Thien Mu Pagoda, an iconic seven-tiered pagoda originally founded in the 17th century that is also the city’s unofficial symbol. Each of the seven levels are dedicated to a Buddha that came to Earth in human form. The pagoda was founded by the provincial lord Nguyen Hoang upon learning the legend of an elderly woman who prophesized that a lord would come and build a pagoda for the country’s prosperity. It is no wonder that “Thien Mu” translates to “Celestial Lady.” Hoi An Ancient Town, Vietnam Join your Tour Director for a stroll through Hoi An’s historic seaside district, featuring an ornately decorated covered bridge plus canals, pedestrian streets, markets, and colorful pagodas among other wooden buildings. UNESCO recognizes the district as “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to 19th centuries.” As Hoi An expanded its trading activities with regional partners including China and Japan, so too did those countries impact the port city’s including architecture, festivals, cuisine, and other cultural facets. European influences joined the cultural melting pot when France made Vietnam a colony in the 19th century. Even today visitors will witness the occasional French colonial villa. On our tour of Vietnam and Cambodia, the fun doesn’t stop at its historic district! Join your fellow travelers as we will collect fresh ingredients at the nearby food market, then join a professional chef for an entertaining hands-on class preparing delicious regional specialties at the Market Restaurant & Cooking School. Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom, Cambodia Feel the majesty of Cambodia’s most famous temple complex on a breathtaking tour of Angkor Wat, commonly recognized as one of the largest religious sites on Earth. Nestled deep in the forests of Cambodia, elegant spires and ancient stonework towers high above the sprawling archaeological park. Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 12th century, but later converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century. The entire complex is a replica of the universe created in stone, representing the cosmic world. The central tower symbolizes a mythical mountain called Meru, situated in the center of the universe. Its five towers represent the peaks of Meru and the outer wall the mountains edging the world surrounded by the oceans. The oceans are represented by a 650-foot-wide moat which helps stabilize the temple’s foundation and groundwater levels. Our visits to monumental Hindu temples do not stop there – we will also journey to Angkor Thom, the nearby ancient royal city, to admire its wealth of ancient sculptures and architecture including the Bayon, best known for its smiling stone faces, and the Baphuon, a three-tiered “temple mountain.” Stories unfold throughout the complex beginning with crossing the moat. Witness stone figures holding a huge snake, representing Hindu deities and demons churning the ocean to extract the “nectar of immortality” with the snake as a rope and Mount Manada as a churning pole.