NINETEEN: TRAVELLING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE VIETNAM WAR

Experience

NINETEEN: TRAVELLING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE VIETNAM WAR

HANOI I HUE I DANANG I HOI AN I HO CHI MINH CITY I BA RIA

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

11 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


The Vietnam War reached its bloody crescendo 50 years ago and its veterans have marched into history’s pages. Yet this lovely, dynamic country cannot escape the conflict – it permeates the national personality as profoundly as Honda motorbikes permeate Hanoi streets. The peace forged from pain has, poignantly, created a thriving destination whose complexity owes much to conflict.

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Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ANZAC’S

Our journey takes us from Hanoi in the north to Vung Tau and Saigon in the south. Walk in the footsteps of more than 50,000 Anzac’s who served during the Vietnam War, visiting key Australian, New Zealand and American war sites while introducing you to Vietnam’s historic treasures, vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine.

VIETNAM’S BUZZING CAPITAL

Touchdown in Vietnam’s buzzing capital, Hanoi. The city wears its multi-layered history like a rich garment. If you are in the mood for a truly local take on this great city, ask anyone in Hanoi, and they’ll tell you the only way to slow up the pace and see the city like a local is by cyclo. After your first night in Hanoi visit the heritage-listed Hanoi Citadel, whose artefacts date from the 6th century and highlight Vietnam’s centuries long independence battle. The Military History Museum narrates Vietnam’s long march to freedom, from early colonisation and occupation to the Vietnam War. A magnificent diorama of the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu underscores Vietnamese guile in defeating the French and ending the First Indochina War. Wander through the main courtyard strewn with tanks, aircraft and weaponry, whose centrepiece is a dramatic sculpture constructed from shot-down American B-52 bombers. Hoa Lo Prison Museum, also know as Maison Centrale or the Hanoi Hilton, was once a brutal prison where the French kept political prisoners and later it was home to shot down American pilots. The late US senator John Mc Cain was kept here, and he is now revered in Vietnam for his efforts in normalising relations and ending economic sanctions after the war. McCain was shot down at Ho Tay or West Lake and we visit his small memorial where a former Vietcong artillery gunner greets you. Next, on to Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in his massive mausoleum, before wandering the grounds of Hanoi’s former Presidential Palace. “Uncle Ho” lived here until his death in 1969, eschewing the palace for a modest stilt house. He is honoured at every turn. At the Signal Arm Museum view the interesting collections of signal items that helped bring Vietnam to victory and enjoy a special walk with a veteran who was a commander of a signal platoon. Our welcome dinner is at Jimmy Pham’s KOTO (Know one, Teach One). Vietnamese-Australian Jimmy Pham came to Australia with his mother and five brothers aged eight in 1966. Hard work and opportunity meant he could return to Vietnam and open a small sandwich shop to provide employment for nine street children in 1999. KOTO has grown and operates as a hospitality training school for disadvantaged young people. The food is simply amazing. Pham’s resilience, optimism and determination symbolise the Vietnamese character, forged by hardship, inspirational, like the country.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH IN HUE

Our journey today starts with a walk around Hue’s tourist-thronged ancient Citadel, where one of the war’s bloodiest battles took place. Hue, about 70 kilometres south of the 17th Parallel, formerly the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating South and North Vietnam, was once the Imperial capital and remains Vietnam’s cultural and spiritual heart. The Imperial City is a walled enclosure within Hue’s Citadel, with palaces, shrines and the Forbidden Purple City, the exclusive home of the emperor, his family, eunuchs and concubines. The Battle of Hue between January and March 1968 when North Vietnamese forces launched the Tet Offensive was one of the war’s longest and bloodiest battles. Hue was almost destroyed, and more than 5000 civilians killed. Crossing the DMZ, it’s 140 kilometres over the scenic Hai Van Pass via Danang to Hoi An, with its World Heritage-listed old town famous for its tailors. The coastal city of Danang, was a major air base for US and South Vietnamese forces. Today, a fire-spurting dragon bridge loops across the Han River and beach resorts scroll along those golden sands. We make a stop at My Khe beach once nicknamed ‘China beach’ by US forces enjoying RnR before arriving in Hoi An.

THERE’S NOWHERE LIKE HOI AN

For the next three nights you will wander the streets of colourful Hoi An, sitting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, offering narrow cobblestone lanes, well-preserved architecture and distinctive local cuisine. Once a trading port for the sandalwood, spice, tea, rice, elephant tusk and rhino horn vessels that blew in on the trade winds, Hoi An is now a shopping paradise for those after silk or jewels. After Hoi An, carry onto Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. The war ended here when the North Vietnamese Army’s tank No 843 smashed the Presidential Palace gates after the last American helicopter left. You can see the tank in Hanoi’s Military History Museum. Next up, a drive to Cu Chi, 40 kilometres from Saigon. The sounds from the neighbouring rifle range, the jungle smells and the uniformed officials render Cu Chi unsettling for returning veterans. Today, orchid farms replace the trenches, foxholes and caves, while frangipani and paw paw trees line the tapioca fields and rubber plantations. You will see the gruesome spiked traps and can descend into the dark earthen tubes that harboured up to 10,000 VC troops before the Tet Offensive. They are enlarged but can be claustrophobic, and if you are even braver you can experience the VC’s tiny spider holes.

VUNG TAU

During the next few days your guide elaborates on Australia’s war. Ba Ria, once capital of Phuoc Tuy, bore the brunt of the February 1968 Tet Offensive attacks along with neighbouring Long Dien. You will be taken to Vung Tau where a large fight took place between Australian soldiers and the NVA in June 1966. We will explore the sights of Vung Tau, including Back Beach and the Peter Badcoe Club – named after an Australian VC winner killed in Vietnam and used by Australian and New Zealand soldiers on in-country leave. The area is now a public beach and houses a massive war memorial to honour its past. The following day visit Long Tan, the site of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War. Our first stop is Nui Dat, where we will explore old bunkers, helicopter pads, SAS Hill and Luscombe Airfield. We will then head to nearby Long Tan village to see the Long Tan Cross, the memorial erected by Australian troops in 1966 to remember their fallen comrades. Marvel in the panoramas of rubber plantations that flank the battleground and imagine the rich and troubled history still tangible on these grounds. The journey continues to the Horseshoe, a former Australian Fire Support Base and the Long Hai hills – a major VC base during the War. We will also visit a memorial which commemorates more than 2000 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in this area, mostly in operations against Anzac troops.



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JAPAN’S CULINARY HERITAGE

Experience

JAPAN’S CULINARY HERITAGE

AAJI ISLAND I TOKYO I KANAZAWA I GOKAYAMA I TAKAYAMA

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

11 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

11 HOURS 5 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


This 11 day small group tour covers Japan’s regional cuisine, the heart and soul of Japanese culture. Visit renowned locations as well as hidden rural villages and the unique culture of Awaji Island in the fabled Inland Sea, where culinary traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. Other highlights include taking to the bustling streets in Tokyo for an Izakaya, quintessential Japanese destinations for casual eating and drinking; tasting the local specialty Kaga-ryori in Kanazawa which uses the freshest local seafood and vegetables; a foraging experience in Gokayama; a multi-course kaiseki dinner in Takayama plus much more.

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Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CITY STREETS

Head out into the city’s exciting streets – your guide will advise you on the best options for food and drink. You might want to try an Izakaya restaurant. Izakaya are the quintessential Japanese destinations for casual eating and drinking – the two go hand in hand in Japan and these bars cluster around railway and subway stations. Join a post-work crowd relaxing over some of their favourite small dishes and their favourite beers, sake and shochu. Visit the local food market Oomi Ichiba, “Kanazawa citizens’ kitchen pantry”. The market has attracted residents and visitors for centuries.

HISTORY

Travel by private motorcoach from Kanazawa to Gokayama, a World Heritage Site with distinctive Gassho-zukuri farmhouses sporting triangular thatched roofs which are unique to this part of Japan. Located in a mountainous region isolated from the rest of the country for centuries, villagers still follow traditional lifestyles, gathering and preserving Sansai (wild plants) and growing their own vegetables and mushrooms. Join local plant hunter and explore the surrounding mountains and harvest seasonal wild delicacies. Visit the home of local resident Mr.Nakanishi, who grows a special variety of rice for brewing sake.

EAT

Visit nearby Shirakawago which has its own impressive collection of Gassho-zukuri houses and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Continue onwards to Takayama nestled in the mountainous Hida region. Takayama boasts a beautifully preserved old town and a unique culture. Enjoy a multi-course Kaiseki dinner at a family-run ryokan before take a short train ride to Hida Furukawa, a beautifully-preserved old town with distinctive whitewalled storehouses retaining the atmosphere of the Edo Period. Entering one of the oldest Machiya traditional residences, a local grandmother will show the technique of cooking in a classic earth oven known as an “Okudo-san” which is rarely used in modern times. Also use traditional fireplace to grill delicious premium quality Hida Beef.

FARM

Osaka was historically known as “the Tenka no daidokoro” (the nation’s kitchen), famous not just for its Michelin starred restaurants, but particularly for its street food – takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and more – the food of the common man. For dinner, visit a hidden house in the downtown of Namba, owned by a unique sake specialty shop. Visit a small-scale producing organic farmer who left city life 10 years ago and moved to the village. Enjoy the opportunity to harvest vegetables and learn home cooking in a charming old Japanese house nearby, offering a true farm-to-table experience of preparing local dishes using vegetables grown in the area. Among the foodie experiences that have been described, there are so many treats in store.


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TAKAYAMA HERITAGE TRAIL

Experience

TAKAYAMA HERITAGE TRAIL

KYOTO I TAKAYAMA I SHIRAKAWAGO I KANAZAWA

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

4 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

11 HOURS 5 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

4


On this 4 day tour, depart from Tokyo, enjoy Mt.Fuji and then head inland to visit the impressive Takayama and Kanazawa areas, both offering insight into old and traditional Japan. Travel by train to Takayama retaining a traditional touch in its beautifully preserved old town. In Shirakawago explore the picturesque thatched roofed houses and in Kanazawa, visit the Nagamachi Samurai district, the beautiful Kenrokuen Gardens and the Higashi Chaya district, with its wooden-latticed teahouses and stone-paved streets.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

OLD TOWN

The journey will take you through some stunning countryside during the 4 hour journey. Takayama is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. It retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town, which has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants. The southern half of the old town, especially the Sannomachi Street, survives in a particularly pretty state with many old homes, shops, coffee houses and sake breweries, some of which have been in business for centuries.
On arrival you will meet your local guide for a walking tour to visit Yatai Kaikan Hall and on to Kusakabe Folk Museum, one of Takayama’s oldest merchant homes and then wander through Kami Sannomachi Street, still retaining much of its original atmosphere and traditional buildings.

HISTORY

Visit the Takayama Morning Market before a visit to the World Heritage Shirakawa-go where you can savour the taste of home-style cooking that can only be experienced in regions such as this. You will then continue to the Wada Residence (a traditional thatched- roof farmhouse) before moving on to Kanazawa. Your first stop will be the Nagamachi Samurai District and soak in the atmosphere of the days of the samurai in this area, where the earthen walls, waterways, and stone paths remain as they were when samurai of the Kaga domain resided here. Moving on you will visit what is justifiably one of Japan’s three most beautiful landscape gardens, Kenrouku-en Gardens. This spacious garden used to be the outer garden of the Kanazawa Castle and offers amazing seasonal views all year round.

TEAHOUSE

Continuing on you will visit the Higashi Chaya district, with its wooden-latticed exteriors of teahouses lining both sides of the stone-paved street, where something from the Edo period still lingers in the air. This area is an Important Traditional Building Preservation District. After a stop at the Hakuza (gold leaf shop) you will head to Kanazawa Station where you will board you high speed train taking you to Tokyo.


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NAKASENDO TRAIL

Experience

NAKASENDO TRAIL

TOKYO I NARAI I KISO-FUKUSHIMA I TSUMAGO I NARA I YOSHINO I MOUNT KOY I KYOTO

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

11 HOURS 5 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

8


On this 12 day small group tour, discover one of Japan’s ancient highways – the Nakasendo Trail. Linking Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period, it was the ‘road through the mountains’ traveled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants, and travelers.

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Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

THE JOURNEY

The journey begins in Tokyo, known as Edo during Japan’s period of rule by the Shoguns and ends in the city of Kyoto. Spend four days walking along the Nakasendo – by day walk along the ancient route as it passes through beautifully-preserved villages along an easy path. By evening, stay in traditional country inns and enjoy the regional cuisine prepared from the freshest ingredients, soak in natural hot springs and appreciate the warm hospitality of the hosts. Other hightlights include the cultural treasures of Nara, the mountaintop village of Yoshino and the sacred Mount Koya.

YOUR PACE OPTION

You can also walk the loveliest sections of the Nakasendo Trail on a 5 day self-guided walking tour. It is a variation of this fast paced hiking trail for those that want to slow it down. Highlights include walking over the Magome Pass to Tsumago, one of the best-preserved and most evocative of the Nakasendo post-towns, whilst Tsumago to Nojiri offers a beautiful and varied hike. The main difference being a minimal 5 out of 8 destinations are being explored in more detail.


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JAPAN’S GOLDEN ROUTE

Experience

JAPAN’S GOLDEN ROUTE

TOKYO I HAKONE I MT. FUJI I TAKAYAMA I KANAZAWA I KYOTO I HIROSHIMA I OSAKA

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

9 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

11 HOURS 5 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

3


This history, cultural and scenic 9 day tour of Japan covers key cities, including visits to Japans renowned Mt.Fuji and Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome. Depart from Tokyo and enjoy city sights before heading to Nikko and the striking Kegon Falls. Explore Mt.Fuji and cruise along Lake Ashi with a night spent in Hakone. Head to Nara and discover Todaiji Temple ahead of exploring Kyoto and its key attractions. Enjoy a day spent exploring Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima – pay respects at Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park and Museum.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

TEAHOUSE

Head to Kamakura. Highlights include a matcha green tea ceremony in a 400-year-old teahouse, Hokokuji Temple and its beautiful bamboo grove, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Komachidor and the Great Buddha which stands on the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. You will also visit Enoshima, a getaway island popular for its cool ocean breezes.

MOUNTAIN

Depart Tokyo, bound for the stunning Mt.Fuji. Gain an overview of the area and take in the scenic views (weather permitting). Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Ashi and the Mt. Komagatake Ropeway. Set for Takayama, a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture. It retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town.

HISTORY

Explore the key sights of Kanazawa. The city boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts. Kyoto is blessed with many beautiful attractions – explore Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Heian Jingu Shrine, Sanjusangendo Temple and Kiyomizudera Temple.


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THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

Experience

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH

NEGOMBO I ANURADHAPURA I DAMBULLA I JAFFNA I TRINCOMALEE I KANDY I NUWARA ELIYA I ELLA I YALA I GALLE I BENTOTA I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

21 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

12


The Greatest Show on Earth tour explores this bountiful and spirited nation based on Active Asia’s in house Sri Lankan enthusiast and Creative Director. A one-off journey covering all the must-see spots, Valentina shares with you the places,experiences and people she fell in love with. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

WILDLIFE & HISTORY

Begin your journey in Negombo,a fishing village with old-world charm before heading to Anaradhapura. Once serving as Sri Lanka’s capital, the city is home to a large collection of well-preserved architectural achievements. Next turn your focus to wildlife, with jeep safaris in both Wilpattu and Minneriya National Parks. Boasting a treasure trove of historical monuments, continue on to Dambulla. Visit the famed Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the ruins of Polonnaruwa. Once a medieval capital, this amazing citadel boasts historic archaeological relics. 

TEA PLANTATIONS

Travel north to Jaffna. Lying close to India, the city presents a largely Indian influence and offers a different perspective from the rest of the country. Then head east to Trincomalee, recognised for its natural harbour and an abundance of water related activities. Offering an urban buzz, head inland to Kandy. Bordered by beautiful hills and countryside, explore the city before travelling to Nuwara Eliya, a quaint town with colonial English charm. Surrounded by tea plantations, with tea pluckers working the slopes,the area affords a delightful landscape, as does a trek through the Horton Plains National Park where high-altitude grasslands border dramatically plunging cliffs

THE EPIC TRAIN RIDE

Take to the train as you journey into Ella – the track snakes along the edge of the mountains overlooking breath-taking valleys of rolling tea plantations and small villages. Considered the most famous national park in Sri Lanka, head to Yala National Park for a jeep safari in search of leopards, elephants, sloth bears plus more. Continuing along the southern coastline, a stay in Galle rewards you with a unique fusion of European and Arabic charm. Nearing the end of your journey, Bentota offers a relaxing beach stay. Small and buzzing with a friendly local atmosphere, one can spend the days languidly walking the streets,partaking in water adventures or merely enjoying the sunshine. Colombo is your final stop. This vibrant capital city offers a whirl of commotion and the perfect spot to reflect on your adventures.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

NEGOMBO LOCAL MARKET I RUINS OF ANURADHAPURA I JEEP SAFARIS IN WILPATTU, MINNERIYA, YALA AND UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARKS SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS EXPLORATION I POLONNARUWA CITADEL I JAFFNA CITY TOUR I DELFT ISLAND VISIT I TRINCOMALEE CITY TOUR WALKING TOUR OF KANDY I TEA PLANTATION VISIT I SCENIC TRAIN JOURNEY TO ELLA I GUIDED TOUR OF GALLE FORT RELAXATION IN BENTOTA I COLOMBO STREET FOOD TOUR


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TEA, LEOPARDS & TEMPLES

Experience

TEA, LEOPARDS & TEMPLES

GALLE I YALA I NUWARA ELIYA I GAL OYA I KANDY I SIGIRIYA I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

FEBRUARY – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


From epic legendary tea estates, historical towns and spectacular national parks, Sri Lanka has it all. For a slightly different taste of what this country has to offer, embark on this eleven night itinerary through Sri Lanka and take in the tea plantations surrounding Nuwara Eliya, the majestic wildlife in both Yalaand Minneriya National Parks and the exquisite carved rock Buddha images at Polonnaruwa.

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Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

WELLNESS

As soon as you touch down in Colombo, you’ll take a trip south along the coastline to Galle, an amazing fortified town filled with an eclectic mix of art galleries, cafes and boutique hotels. Offering a truly invigorating way to start your day, hop on a bike and cycle through flourishing paddy and cinnamon plantations in the charming southern countryside.

ECO RETREAT

From the walls of Galle head to the open spaces of Yala National Park, home to leopards,elephants, sloth bears, sambar, spotted deer, jackals, wild boar, buffaloes,langur, macaque monkeys and an array of bird life. Travel inland and enjoy the spring like weather in Nuwara Eliya, surrounded by hills and tea plantations –here you’ll need to blink twice as the quaint town keeps the atmosphere of a misplaced British village. Continue on to Gal Oya, one of Sri Lanka’s hidden gems and an area waiting to be explored. Along with recognisable wildlife, Gal Oya is also home to Sri Lanka’s indigenous communities.

TREATMENT

Move on to Kandy, a city which attracts visitors from afar and visit the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. The 147 acre site is composed of endemic plants and mixed with species brought from as far as the famous Kew Gardens in England. Travelling further north and with Sigiriya as your base, discover the archaeological relics of Polonnaruwa and the wildlife of Minneriya National Park. Your journey comes to an end in the vibrant capital city of Colombo – traverse the varied streets of a city rooted in trading, a colonial past and around every corner where buildings from another era remain hidden between renovations.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

RURAL GALLE BIKE RIDE I JEEP SAFARI AT YALA NATIONAL PARK I NUWARA ELIYA EXPLORATION I KANDY CITY TOUR PERADENIYA ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS I RUINS OF POLONNARUWA I JEEP SAFARI AT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK I HISTORIC SITES OF COLOMBO


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TAKING THE ROAD LESS BIKED

Experience

TAKING THE ROAD LESS BIKED

NEGOMBO I KANDY I DAMBULLA I POLONNARUWA I ANURADHAPURA I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER – MARCH

IDEAL LENGTH

7 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


Where else can you tick off five off the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in one go? Consisting of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, these three great, ancient capitals form the Cultural Triangle. Crammed with monuments and ruined cities, there is so much to see in this one area, it’s an obvious ‘not-to-miss’ on this small group cycling tour. Cycling offers the opportunity to see things close up, cycle the many back roads and absorb a grassroots feel of the country. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

OLD TOWN

The ride commences on the road to the beautiful old town of Kandy. Sweet-sounding Kandy lives up to its name, deep in the heart of the island and in perfect proximity to explore Adam’s Peak, which is known by a multitude of different names and brings together four separate strands of religious beliefs. Kandy is home to the famed Temple of the Tooth Relic and located around an atmospheric lake.

TEMPLES & WILD

The following day pedal through open countryside to see the ancient Buddhist cave temples of Dambulla or the city of Polonnaruwa (which you may recognise from Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’ video if you are a fan). Pedalling out of Dambulla head to Sigiriya, it’s dominating rock fortress will be in continuous view as you cycle towards it. It’s well worth the climb to explore its green slopes and holy summit. Taking a 4×4 through Minneriya National Park, home to herds of elephant, a sprinkling of leopards, buffaloes, boar, spotted deer,sloth bear, crocodiles and jackals, is another Sri Lankan treat and a generous slice of safari adventure. 

ANCIENT JUNGLE

After an adventurous morning, cycle back to Polonnaruwa, an ancient former capital with 800 years of history and with fascinating ruins rescued from the jungle’s grip. Cycle through and explore this historic complex. The last stop is the even more ancient heritage site of Anuradhapura, the centre of Theravada Buddhism and the most continuously inhabited city in the world.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

CYCLE THE SCENIC BACK ROADS I ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS VISIT I GOLDEN TEMPLE OF DAMBULLA I SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS JEEP SAFARI AT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK I ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF POLONNARUWA I RUINS OF ANURADHAPURA


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DISCOVER VIETNAM & THE MEKONG WATERWAYS

Experience

DISCOVER VIETNAM & THE MEKONG WATERWAYS

HANOI I HALONG BAY I HOI ANIHUE I HO CHI MINH CITY I CAI BE I TAN CHAU I PHNOM PENH I KAMPONG CHAM I KAMPONG I SIEM REAP

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – APRIL

IDEAL LENGTH

20 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

10


The Mekong River is the seventh longest river in Asia flowing through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Historically it has been a major trade route, a natural border and a cultural melting pot for the region. This relaxed journey combines the fascinating natural and historical highlights along its banks in two of these countries.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CAPITOL INFLUENCES

Your journey begins in Hanoi, the economic capital of Vietnam and centre of the French and American 20th century influences. Venture off on a unique guided tour of the sites followed by a delicious spread at a local restaurant Black Lotus supports. Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Halong Bay is by cruising through the sparkling turquoise waters by boat –admire the limestone islands, the floating villages and the intriguing caves.

BECOME A LOCAL

Next, it’s the beautiful heritage town of Hoi An, a highlight of Vietnam. The architecture remains as it was centuries before, faded yellow coloured facades with Chinese-style roofing, creating a setting reminiscent of an ancient far east fairy tale. During your down time, we highly recommend trying one of our favourite tours, maybe learn to cook with a professional, take a jeep off the beaten track and visit the locals or take a leisurely bike ride through the rice paddies. It’s time to relax and take a drive over the Hai Van Pass to Hue,this tranquil city is home to Vietnam’s most celebrated (and spicy) cuisine and is known as a centre of literature and arts. Time to head to the glitz and glamour that is Ho Chi Minh City where the possibilities are endless.

CAMBODIA EXPERIENCE

Saving the splendours of Cambodia for your final last days, highlights of this itinerary include a luxury cruise from Saigon to Cambodia on The Lost Civilization, life on board is going to be full of pinch your self-moments, adventures to luxury,Khmer temples to French colonial elegance, hospitable locals and incredible landscapes – Cambodia’s charms cast a spell over all who visit. A century has passed since explorers rode elephants through Cambodian jungle and discovered the temples of Angkor Wat, this incredible complex of creeper-clad ruins outside of Siem Reap has been wowing travellers for years.

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12 NIGHTS ACCOMMODATION IN 4 STAR HOTELS I 7 NIGHTS ABOARD A LUXURY RIVER CRUISE IN THE MEKONG DELTA I BREAKFAST DAILY I 12X LUNCHES I 8X DINNERS I ALL TRANSFERS I SIGHTSEEING AND ENTRANCE FEES I PORT TAXES I THE SERVICES OF AN ENGLISH SPEAKING GUIDE AND DOMESTIC FLIGHTS WITHIN VIETNAM I HANOI-DANANG I HUE-HO CHI MINH CITY



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FAMILY MEMOIRS IN VIETNAM

Experience

FAMILY MEMOIRS IN VIETNAM

HANOI I CAT BA ISLAND I PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK I HUE I HOI AN

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

11 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


With many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, breath-taking scenery, beautiful beaches, an abundance of shopping and a delectable cuisine – Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of cultural and sensory contrasts; it offers the perfect destination for a family adventure. We here at Active Asia, quite simply believe that Vietnam is one of the most divine Asian destinations on the planet. Travelling as a family is rewarding, it creates fond memories and for most children, it offers a different perspective on life – any trip to the east offers eye opening contrasts to the ways of the west. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

BACKSTREETS

Start out in Hanoi, the bustling capital city. Dive into the backstreets and explore with a flurry of noise, scooter horns, bicycle bells and vendors selling goods. Get off the grid with a cool urban hike which includes walking a piece of heritage, the symbol of Hanoi, the beautiful Long Bien Bridge.

SCATTERED MOUNTAINS

Catch a hydrofoil from Hai Phong and continue to jungle-clad Cat Ba Island, the largest island in Halong Bay. Explore nearby Lan Ha Bay, the twin sister of Halong Bay and certainly one of the less travelled corners of the Halong Bay archipelago. Fly to Dong Hoi, the gateway to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, where you’ll spend two days exploring. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park contains numerous karst mountains scattered with caves and under ground rivers. You’ll explore Paradise Cave with its magnificent scenery and spectacular stalagmites.

HISTORY

As you continue travelling south, drive across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which will take you to the Hien Luong Bridge, a historic landmark that served as the border gate between North and South Vietnam before reunification. As you arrive in the ancient imperial city of Hue, you’ll actually stay in a beautiful resort on Thuan An Beach, about 10km from Hue town

FAMILY

Although Hue unveils important pieces of Vietnam history it also offers plenty of fun with a stand-up paddle board expedition to a restaurant on stilts above a lagoon. Wrap up your family journey in Hoi An, travelling from Hue via the Hai Van Pass and its superb vistas. Some days may feel exhausting but we’re pretty sure they’ll be loaded with long lasting memories for years to come.

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HANOI CITY TOUR I HANOI URBAN HIKE I TREKKING IN CAT BA NATIONAL PARK I EXPLORATION OF LAN HA BAY I BICYCLE RIDE THROUGH PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK I PARADISE CAVE EXPLORATION I ZIP LINING I DMZ AND VINH MOC TUNNELS EXPLORATION I COOKING LESSON I STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING I IMPERIAL CITADEL EXCURSION I TRAVEL THE HAI VAN PASS COUNTRYSIDE CYCLE OF HOI AN I CAM THANH MANGROVE KAYAK



Didn’t see anything for you? No worries. Let us know what your dream trip is and we’ll help you create it.