Vietnam by Land and by Sea

Program Overview

Journey through Vietnam, where natural beauty, sacred rituals, and cultural wonders come together on an exceptional 14-day expedition that includes a 7-night cruise from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to Hanoi. This program features guest speakers Kim Phuc, famously photographed as a child in 1972 Vietnam; Nick Ut, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who took that iconic image; and Jim Laurie, a TV news correspondent during the Vietnam War. Enhance your experience with the Siem Reap and Cambodia Pre-Program Option.

Program Details

February 22 to March 6, 2024 (Le Jacques Cartier)
From $7,195 plus air View Terms & Conditions
  • Uniquely designed 14-day land and cruise expedition through Vietnam, featuring the scenic beauty, rich culture, and history of Vietnam, including the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin.
  • Experience the full breadth of Vietnam afforded by a cruise of the South China Sea.
  • Visit three UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Ha Long Bay, Hue, and Hoi An.
  • Meet Kim Phuc, famously photographed fleeing a Napalm Strike when she was 9 years old, and learn more about her commitment to global peace.
  • Engage with Nick Ut, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who captured that moment for the Associated Press and shared it with the world.
  • Hear award-winning reporter Jim Laurie talk about his days covering Vietnam and Cambodia for NBC News in the 1970's, including as a witness to the Fall of Saigon.
  • Join Nick Ut for an onboard workshop and hands-on coaching to elevate your travel photography.
  • Siem Reap Pre-Program Option in a world-renowned, 5-star hotel.

Day 1-2 - Depart home city/Cross the International Date Line

Day 3 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Day 4 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 5 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)/Embark Le Jacques Cartier

Day 6 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 7 - Cruising the South China Sea

Day 8 - Da Nang for Hôi An

Day 9 - Da Nang/Chan May for Hué

Day 10 - Chan May

Day 11 - Cruising the South China Sea

Day 12 - Ha Long Bay

Day 13 - Hanoi

Day 14 - Hanoi/Depart for home city/Cross the International Date Line/Arrive in home city

View detailed program itinerary >

Le Jacques Cartier

Exclusively Chartered, 5-Star Luxury Small Ship

  • Only 92 suites and staterooms, each with a private balcony.
  • All meals included on board the ship, as well as alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages throughout the cruise.
  • State-of-the-art theater ideal for enriching programming.


View Le Jacques Cartier Deckplan >

Learn more about The PONANT Fleet >

Two nights in the 5-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. Situated in the heart of the Vietnamese Capital, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has been Hanoi’s legendary landmark since 1901. The Hotel Metropole Hanoi was the first Sofitel Legend property in the world and is the recipient of numerous international awards for its fine service. This legendary landmark has contributed to the history and heritage of the city. The hotel has a long tradition as a luxury venue for prestigious events & as a popular rendezvous for business and leisure travelers including playwrights, ambassadors and heads of state.

Three nights in the 5-star Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra hotel, which offers the discerning traveler the ultimate in comfort and refinement by combining the traditional architecture of Cambodia with elegant French colonial style to create a resort of unsurpassed luxury. Set amidst a landscaped lake garden and surrounded by lagoons, the hotel offers visitors a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere.

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia

Cambodia Pre-Program Option

This three-night pre-tour extension in Siem Reap immerses you in the rich culture and traditions of Cambodia and the Siem Reap province with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a private dinner at Kravan Temple in UNESCO World Heritage-designated Angkor Wat. Begin your exploration of this storied region with a visit to the royal walled city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Tour the area surrounding its UNESCO-designated complex, including the Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, and Royal Palace. Nearby, visit UNESCO-inscribed Ta Prohm, a 12th-century Buddhist temple that remains largely untouched by man. Here, the dynamic life cycle between nature and humanity provides the basis for Ta Prohm’s legendary “lost city” tales. Continue your discovery with a tour of the 12th century Temple of Angkor Wat. the largest religious structure in the world which stands in testament to the centuries-long grandeur of the prosperous Khmer Empire. As darkness falls later that evening, you will head back into the temple complex for a dinner to remember. After being greeted by a traditional Chayam dance, you will dine under the stars with full table service among its famous temples with entertainment into the night. Enjoy luxury accommodations at the 5-star Sofitel Angkor Wat.

The Pre-Program Option is available at an additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.

With specially arranged, acclaimed guest speakers:

Kim Phuc and Nick Ut at a Press Club EventKim Phuc—On June 8, 1972, 9-year-old Kim Phuc was photographed fleeing a napalm strike. The photograph, “Napalm Girl,” remains one of the most influential images from the Vietnam War. Today, Phuc is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and the author of Fire Road, the inspirational story of her unexpected survival and unshakeable faith. She shares her experience at global events and has received awards and recognitions, including six honorary doctorates, for work supporting child victims of war and her commitment to global peace. She has also inspired the nonprofit organization KIM Foundation International.

Huỳnh Công Út, known professionally as Nick Ut, is a Vietnamese-American photographer who began taking photographs for the Associated Press in Vietnam at age 16 after his older brother, Huynh Thanh, also an AP photographer, was killed in combat. His photo of Phan Thi Kim Phuc running toward the camera from a South Vietnamese napalm strike made history and won the Pulitzer Prize, among other major photographic awards. Immediately after making the photo, he rushed her to a hospital, which saved her life. Ut continued covering the Vietnam War for AP and also worked in Tokyo before being transferred to Los Angeles in 1977. He still works for AP as a photojournalist, and is still in touch with Kim Phuc, now living in Canada, whom he calls every week.

Jim Laurie

Jim Laurie

Jim Laurie is a distinguished international broadcaster, writer, and media consultant who has witnessed many defining moments in Asia’s history for over 50 years. He began covering Indochina for NBC News in 1972 and became the only American network correspondent to witness the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese in 1975. Laurie's memoir of his early days in Vietnam and Cambodia, The Last Helicopter: Two Lives in Indochina was published in April 2020. He is the recipient of a Peabody Award, two Emmy Awards, and an Amnesty International Award and has also co-produced, written, and directed several television documentaries.

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Program Itinerary

Day 1-2 Depart home city/Cross the International Date Line

Depart your home city and cross the International Date Line.

Day 3 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, a vibrant convergence of Vietnamese heritage and French panache. Check into the 5-star Park Hyatt Saigon hotel for an evening at leisure.

Day 4 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning, followed by an excursion to explore Ho Chi Minh City.

Marvel at the city’s French colonial architecture on a morning walking tour. Pass by the Notre-Dame Cathedral, completely constructed with materials from France. Everything from the nails and bricks to the stained-glass windows and bells were manufactured or created in France and imported into Vietnam. You’ll also see the famous haunts of war correspondents and U.S. military officials, the HOTEL CONTINENTAL and the REX HOTEL, and admire the Saigon Opera House and the City Hall. Visit the Central Post Office, which processes thousands of pieces of mail each day, and send a postcard of your own.

Then, stop at a café for a glass of Vietnamese iced coffee—a delightfully refreshing drink of strong drip coffee and sweetened condensed milk—followed by a visit to the Reunification Palace. Formerly known as Independence Palace, it was home of the South Vietnamese government until April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese tank breached the gates and a North Vietnamese soldier ran to the roof, where he removed the Republic of Vietnam flag and waved a Viet Cong flag.

From there you will board an open-air coach to see more of the city, stopping at the Saigon Opera House. A short walk will take you back to the hotel, where you will have lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure.

Welcome Reception: Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception at the hotel, followed by dinner on your own. The hospitality desk will be open to assist with restaurant recommendations.

Day 5 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)/Embark Le Jacques Cartier

Check out of the hotel this morning after breakfast. Your luggage will be transferred to the ship while you enjoy a visit to the Ben Thanh market with a Vietnamese cooking class.

Meet a Vietnamese chef at the market for a cooking challenge that will have you engaging with local sellers to purchase ingredients for the menu. This will give you the opportunity to learn more about the vast array of fruits, produce and herbs that are available. After you have gathered all the ingredients, you will proceed to a studio for an introduction to the authentic dishes prepared on this three-course menu. Your lunch will be the dishes you help create and you will bring home a recipe booklet so you can reproduce them at home.
After the cooking class and lunch, transfer to the port and embark LE JACQUES CARTIER.

Early this evening, delight in a special performance of Vietnamese music and folk dancing, followed by dinner on board.

Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Wake to breakfast on board amid views of cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City.

Traveler’s Choice | Choose one of the following included excursions. Full descriptions of the excursions are on the separate Traveler’s Choice Excursions sheet.
• Cu Chi Tunnels (by boat)
• Good Morning, Saigon & Ho Chi Minh, Past and Present

Return to the ship for lunch on board as we cruise the coast of Vietnam.

Special guest speaker Phan Thi Kim Phuc will present a “Lessons of Life” lecture and discuss the iconic “Napalm Girl” photo that was taken of her in 1972. Jim Laurie, an acclaimed journalist who saw the fall of Saigon when covering the Vietnam War, will also speak on board.

Captain’s Welcome Reception: Join your fellow passengers for a Captain’s Welcome Reception, followed by dinner on board the ship this evening.

Day 7 Cruising the South China Sea

Savor a day at sea as Vietnam’s natural landscapes unfold.

Day 8 Nha Trang

This morning we arrive in the coastal resort city of Nha Trang, where you will disembark after breakfast for a half-day excursion.

Enjoy stunning views on a scenic drive to visit the majestic Po Nagar Cham towers—built between the 7th and 12th centuries and where Vietnamese Buddhists continue to worship to this day. From there, continue on to visit Long Son Pagoda, the oldest temple in Nha Trang. It is also home to the world’s largest Buddha statue, built in 1963. Our final stop on the tour will be the Dam Market, a sprawling two-story market complex noted for its unique architecture and an abundance of vendors.

Return to the ship for lunch and dinner on board this evening.

Day 9 Da Nang for Hôi An

This morning we arrive in Da Nang, where you will enjoy breakfast and lunch on board before heading out for an afternoon excursion to Hôi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Arrive in Hôi An, where you will explore its medieval old town. Established in the 15th century, Hôi An was a commercial hub of the Cham Empire for centuries because of its port on the Thu Bon River. This captivating river town encapsulates a past thriving trading culture with China and Japan as well as European countries. More than 1,100 well-preserved buildings and structures show off its original urban plan. Our tour includes a visit to the 400-year-old Japanese bridge and waterfront, where you will have time at leisure to shop its boutiques and galleries.

Return to the ship for dinner on board as the ship departs Da Nang.

Day 10 Chan May for Hue

Enjoy breakfast on board this morning as the ship arrives in Chan May, where you will disembark for a half-day excursion to Hue.

 Hue. Located on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the Imperial City of the Nguyen dynasty from 1601 to 1945. The city also was the first capital of a newly united Vietnam in 1802.

Upon arrival in Hue, you will explore its Imperial Citadel, the Noon Gate, and Thai Hoa Palace. See the Imperial Enclosure of the emperor’s residence, palaces, temples, and state buildings and the Purple Forbidden City, a citadel within a citadel formerly reserved for the royalty of the Nguyen Dynasty. Visit the 17th-century Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the holiest in Vietnam.

Enjoy an authentic lunch at restaurant in Hue during your excursion.

Return to the ship for dinner on board this evening.

Day 11 Cruising the South China Sea

Enjoy a day at sea, surrounded by majestic scenery, and attend lectures featuring Phuc and Laurie.

Day 12 Ha Long Bay

Board a traditional Vietnamese junk for a private cruise and experience the ethereal beauty of Ha Long Bay, the “Bay of the Descending Dragon.” This UNESCO World Heritage Site is characterized by a seascape of over 1,600 emerald green pinnacles that soar from the bay’s tranquil waters. Cruise between limestone islands with wave-eroded caves and walk among the tapering stalactites and stalagmites in the natural grottoes of Thien Cung, the Heavenly Palace Cave. This evening, check into the 5-star Sofitel Legend Metropole.

Day 13 Hanoi

The undeniable charm of this enigmatic capital city resides in its time-honored rituals and compelling fusion of Vietnamese, Chinese, and French-colonial influences. A morning tour takes you past Hoan Kiem Lake—the mythical Lake of the Restored Sword—where a red wooden bridge leads to the jewel box Ngoc Son Pagoda. Walk among the 36 streets of the 13th-century Old Quarter, named after guilds formed in the Middle Ages. Visit the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, or “Hanoi Hilton,” where American pilots, including late Senator John McCain, were held as prisoners during the Vietnam War. Enjoy lunch on your own before joining an afternoon tour of the UNESCO-designated Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long—built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty. Proceed to Ba Dinh Square, where the revered father of the nation lies in state in the granite Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Starkly juxtaposed against the Beaux Arts-style Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s modest two-room stilt house where he lived from 1958 until 1969, was built to reinforce the revolutionary leader’s image as a “man of the people.” Walk past this landmark to the 11th-century One Pillar Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Visit the Temple of Literature, a Confucian sanctuary and paradigm of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Attend a special event this evening.

Day 14 Hanoi/Depart for home city/Cross the International Date Line/Arrive in home city

Following breakfast in the hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight home, crossing the International Date Line.