Singapore & Vietnam
& optional extension to Angkor Wat

A San Diego Botanic Garden tour
November 6-17, 2012
San Diego Botanic Garden President & CEO Julian Duval
serves as host of a member’s journey to Singapore and
Vietnam.   Enjoy a private guided tour of the brand-new
Gardens by the Bay in Singapore and see what a billion
dollar budget can produce. Visit the pristine Singapore
Botanic Garden, the National Orchid Garden and some
private gardens.  Explore the vibrant natural beauty of
Vietnam, visit colorful markets, and enjoy fresh regional
cuisine prepared from local produce.
Tour Limited to 22 guests---just 4 spaces left open
To reserve online, click here

Tues-Wed Nov 6/7 USA to Singapore
US and Canadian departure flights cross the international date line
en route and lose a day, arriving November 7.   Upon arrival transfer to
our hotel, the Goodwood Park, for a 3-night stay. The gracious, old, colonial style hotel has all the modern amenities
with a choice of seven restaurants, from casual to gourmet.

Thur Nov 8 Singapore
After breakfast at the hotel, we have a full day of visits to gardens in the Lion City of Singapore.  Private visits include
the Singapore Botanic Garden and National Orchid Garden housing the largest collection of rare and award winning
orchids in Singapore. There are more than 700 species and 3,000 hybrids from tropical regions around the globe.
After lunch we will enjoy a guided tour of HortPark. The park’s themed exhibits include over 40 outdoor display
gardens, a collection of silver, grey and white plants, a lush, tropical Balinese garden, Herb & Spice garden and a
Rooftop garden. Later we will enjoy a visit to a private garden. Tonight we gather at the hotel for welcome drinks and
Breakfast, Dinner

Fri Nov 9 Singapore
After breakfast at the hotel, we spend the day exploring the
magnificent new Gardens by the Bay.  Spanning 250 acres,
Gardens by the Bay comprises three waterfront gardens:  
Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central.  Bay South, the largest at
133 acres, will officially open in June 2012. A showcase of
horticulture and garden artistry, the Gardens will bring the world
of plants to Singapore and present Singapore to the World.  Get
up close with a diversity of plant species from around the world
in the iconic cooled conservatories marvel at the Supertrees
vertical garden, and discover the intricacies of plant life at the
themed garden.  In this horticultural oasis nestled in the heart of the city, there's so much to explore!  

Sat Nov 10 Singapore to Saigon
After breakfast, we have a private airport transfer for the 2-hour flight to Saigon.  Upon arrival, we meet our guide and
transfer downtown and experience a first glimpse of Saigon’s hectic traffic. Saigon is the country’s commercial center
and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well-
documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. We will take a walking tour to admire
Saigon’s historic landmarks. We continue to Dong Khoi Street, or Rue
Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover
some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and
early 20th century. We will admire the splendidly restored exteriors of
the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville which are still two of the
finest buildings in Saigon.  We will wander up to the Notre Dame
Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original
construction from Paris.  Then head across the square to the Central
Post Office, designed by the French architect Gustav Eiffel, before he
rose to fame for the Eiffel Tower. The remainder of the day is free to
walk through Ben Thanh market and enjoy the bustling local life. Dinner
tonight is at Wrap &  Roll restaurant where we will experience various types of local “market style” food that can be
wrapped and rolled with varieties of vegetables
.  Breakfast, Dinner

Sun Nov 11 Saigon-Mekong Delta
We depart Saigon on a leisurely drive to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the
Mekong River.  We take in the lush surroundings of rice paddies and fruit farms alongside the highway as we leave
the busy city behind.  We arrive at a waterfront pier and embark on a motorboat excursion. Along the way we’ll enjoy
views of the Delta scenery, including houses built on stilts and local fish farms. Upon arrival at Turtle Island, we visit a
local house, meet the owner, sample freshly picked fruit and coconut milk while relaxing in the natural surroundings of
fruit orchards.  We can stroll through the garden and chat with our host to get an insight into daily farming life. We’ll
have time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the village observing tropical gardens along the way. We will see a family-
run business where they make coconut candy directly in front of the pier.  We continue on our journey by sampan,
paddled by a rower, while discovering the maze of small canals. Later, we bid farewell to our friendly boat rower,
take a short stroll through a shaded area of coconut gardens before reaching a rest-stop to enjoy a cup of honey tea
and a traditional folk song performance. Lunch will be served at My Tho, where we taste some local delicacies before
continuing on to Can Tho.  Upon arrival Can Tho we check into our hotel with the evening at leisure. Dinner is included
at the hotel.  
 Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Mon Nov 12 Mekong Delta-Saigon
This morning, we rise early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong.
We board a local boat and explore the colorful Cai Rang floating market,
where many boats laden with fruit, vegetables and fish jostle for trade.
Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters or tie their
goods to a tall pole attached to their boat so that buyers can see from a
distance what is being sold. This memorable experience makes for many
excellent photo opportunities. We will relax while cruising back to the
hotel where we can freshen up before returning to Saigon. Lunch will
be enjoyed at a local restaurant along the way
.   Breakfast, Lunch

Tue Nov 13 Saigon-Hanoi
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for the included flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, we’ll enjoy a countryside trip and
visit the last water puppet making village.  Originated in the 10th century, water puppetry is a unique folk art that cannot
be found anywhere else in the world.  We will enjoy a private 30-min outdoor show on the village pond with live
traditional orchestra music background.  The puppeteers stand chest-deep in the water while manipulating the
puppets. We continue our drive to Hanoi.  In the afternoon, visits include the must-see Temple of Literature, the first
University for the sons of mandarins, for an overview about Hanoian culture and appreciation for ancient Vietnamese
architecture. We will be taken on an hour long cyclo ride through the French quarter and the Administrative quarter and
have a walk around the Old Quarter.  Our welcome dinner at Ly Club, a typical Hanoi restaurant, offers authentic
Northern cuisine, including one of Hanoi’s specialities- cha ca la vong - grilled fish served in boneless chunks,
smothered in greens and saffron-infused oil.
 Breakfast, Dinner

Wed Nov 14
After breakfast this morning we meet with a local Hanoian chef for a market
tour. He will show us how to select fresh ingredients while we enjoy the
sights, sounds and aromas of the market. We will visit the local chef at his
beautiful home for a private hands-on cooking class and enjoy listening to
his personal stories. We dine on our own creations for lunch.  Hanoi is
known as the culture center of the country.  Little wonder then that there are
more than 250 art galleries in this small city and almost every street has an
art cafe. We pay a visit to Art Salon Natasha before driving a half hour out
of town to visit the studio home of Anh Khanh, a well-known Vietnamese
painter, sculptor and art performer. Enjoy a cocktail reception and view his exhibition on the ground floor of the wooden
stilt house and courtyard. Stroll around the lush garden full of sculpture scattered around the compound. It is a good
chance to learn his interesting life story as well. A former policeman, his daring artistic experiments have earned him
a reputation for eccentricity, at times even bringing him into conflict with Vietnam’s conservative cultural authorities,
who remain unfamiliar with more avant-garde modes of expression like performance art.
  Breakfast, lunch, reception

Thu Nov 15 Hanoi-Halong Bay
We embark on the drive to Halong Bay
where we board our deluxe junk, settle
into our cabins and prepare our
appetites for an enjoyable lunch on deck.
We take in the wonderful views as we cruise through the emerald waters of Halong Bay dotted with limestone
outcrops. It was this landscape that inspired the classic French film Indochine starring Catherine Deneuve. Mid-
afternoon we will visit the Cua Van fishing village, the largest community on the bay. This will allow a closer look into
the lives of local fishermen before we transfer to a bamboo boat and are rowed slowly through the village with a
museum and a school among floating houses. This evening, we will be amazed by the mysterious atmosphere of
Tien Ong cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. We will enjoy sunset cocktails and canapes in the cave
before returning to the boat for a wonderful dinner on board.   
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Fri Nov 16 Halong Bay to Hanoi
We could wake up early and partake in a Tai Chi class which is held on the upper deck. After an a-la-carte brunch,
there is an optional cooking class with the chef while our boat leisurely cruises back towards the shore. We arrive at
the jetty late morning and transfer back to Hanoi with light snack provided en route. Tonight we will enjoy a farewell
dinner with wine tasting.  We meet a local sommelier at The Match Box Restaurant which is located in a lovely setting
inside the grounds of the Fine Arts Museum. We can chat with him to learn about the various type of wine available in
Vietnam and learn a bit about how to pair western wines with Vietnamese and other Asian foods. Then we enjoy a
casual tasting dinner of fusion Asian cuisine combined with matching wines
. Breakfast, Snack, Dinner   

Sat Nov 17 Hanoi to USA, or optional extension to Cambodia.
After breakfast, transfer to airport for flight back to the USA, or take the optional extension to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Optional extension to Angkor Wat:
Sat Nov 17 Hanoi to Siemeap, Cambodia
After breakfast, morning is at leisure to explore corners of Hanoi on your own until transfer to the airport for included
onward flight to Siemreap. Upon arrival, meet and transfer to your hotel. Dinner is at the charming Viroth restaurant
Breakfast, Dinner.

Sun Nov 18 Siemreap
Morning sightseeing drive with stop at Artisans d’Angkor.  Then we
drive to Angkor Thom, the ancient royal city of Khmer Empire with its
centerpiece: the Bayon temple. As we approach, we will notice the
enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking in every
direction. Our guide will take us to the Terrace of the Elephants,
which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back
his victorious army and the Terrace of the Leper King, which holds
detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage way that leads to
the Baphuon complex. A gourmet picnic lunch awaits at Angkor Thom
temple. In the afternoon, we visit some of the most well preserved
carvings in the region at Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most
impressive temples, constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries and the largest Hindu structure in the world. The
temple is home to hundreds of fine carvings of Apsara and Hindu mythology.  Stroll around the massive hallways to
discover small shrines still in use today by the local people. We return to one of the grass terraces in front of the five
massive towers of Angkor Wat to watch the sunset.  
Breakfast, Lunch

Mon Nov 19  Siemreap, end of tour.
We transfer by private vehicle to the Angkor complex to start the day with a visit to the picturesque Ta Prohm.  
This beautiful temple is one of Angkor’s most impressive structures and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting
and exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple’s huge
stone blocks, emphasizing a “lost city” feeling.  Lunch is at our hotel before we drive to the airport for return flights to
North America or onward flight to other destinations in Asia.
  Breakfast, Lunch.

Pricing and Inclusions
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Sterling Tours, Ltd      Contact Us      
2907 Shelter Island Drive Suite #105-262    
San Diego, CA 92106      Tel: 619 299-3010     800-976-9497
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