Essential Asia: Hong Kong to Singapore - 2021

Hong Kong • 13-night expedition cruise with Hong Kong, Halong Bay, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Sihanoukville, Koh Samui, Kuantan, Singapore • Phnom Penh • Singapore
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Vantage invites you aboard the inaugural voyage of the brand-new Ocean Explorer on February 26, 2021!

You’ll be proudly welcomed aboard by Vantage’s founder and chairman, Henry Lewis, for an expedition through the distinctive cultures, nuanced cuisines, and stunning landscapes of six nations — China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore — while reveling in the luxury and ease of Vantage’s first 5-star small ship expedition vessel.

Sail from the spectacular harbor of Hong Kong, dotted with red-sailed junks and ringed by a brace of gleaming glass skyscrapers. Set foot on historic Macau, with its blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. Cruise among the emerald islands and limestone pinnacles of Vietnam’s Halong Bay. See the elaborate temples of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where you’ll enjoy the added bonus of an overnight stay at a deluxe hotel and delve further into the glories of the “Pearl of Asia.” Unwind on the seductive beaches of Thailand. And then be electrified by the dynamic pulse of Singapore, the Asian Tiger where out-of-this-world luxury vies with the old traditions of its Chinese, Malay, Indian, Tamil, Arab, and Dutch citizenry.

In addition to 23 included sightseeing excursions and Cultural Discoveries, look forward to the many special events we have planned to celebrate the occasion, including elegant receptions, festive dinners, special tours, unique enrichment events, and extra inaugural amenities — all this in addition to the Ocean Explorer's infinity pool, spa services, evening musical performances, fine cuisine, and much, much more.

Hong Kong to Singapore

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DAYS 1-2:

Fly to Hong Kong

Your journey begins today as you depart your gateway city and fly to Hong Kong. You’ll fly overnight and cross the International Dateline, arriving at your destination on Day 3.

Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Hong Kong and Macau, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 5, when you'll board the Ocean Explorer and join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the adventure. All activities and inclusions will be covered; please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.

DAY 3:

Welcome to Hong Kong

If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport in Hong Kong a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. You may arrive early in the morning, but we have arranged for an early check-in so you can get some rest. Enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. This evening, attend the Welcome Briefing and Dinner, where you'll be joined by pre-trip extension travelers. You will be reunited with these travelers again in time for embarkation on Day 5.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4:

The best of Hong Kong Island

After breakfast, get better acquainted with some of Hong Kong’s most iconic attractions on a half-day city tour.

Unforgettable Moment: Aberdeen was the original tiny village for which all of Hong Kong is now named. It was settled by the Tanka people, who speak their own dialect and have historically lived on fishing boats in floating villages. This is where locals came for the freshest seafood, and jostling next to the tiny traditional junks you’ll see famous, grand floating restaurants like the iconic Jumbo. A sampan ride through the harbor brings it all to you, up close. Then, for a totally different perspective, you’ll ride to the top of Victoria Peak by tram, and enjoy lunch atop Hong Kong’s highest hill.

Cultural Discovery: Experience the dim sum tradition on an included lunch, where servers bring carts of small plate dishes to tempt you. Dim sum literally means “touch the heart,” and perhaps yours will be filled by some fluffy, pork-filled bao buns . . . mouthwatering siu mai dumplings . . . translucent shrimp cheung fan rolls . . . beef balls seasoned with coriander . . . and more.

Later in the afternoon, you’ll return to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, with dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Lantau Island, embark the Ocean Explorer

This morning after breakfast you will check out of your hotel and embark on a half-day tour of Lantau Island, where Hong Kong comes to play.

Unforgettable Moment: Lantau is popular for its beaches, shopping outlets, and theme parks, but you will focus on its historic attractions and traditional culture. See the classic Po Lin Monastery, and just above it on a hilltop, the Tian Tan Buddha, an 85-foot high bronze statue. Then, where the mountains meet the sea you will explore Tai-O, a 300-year-old fishing village of stilt houses, traditional boats, and more. Before leaving, you’ll get a birds-eye view of it all when you ride the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to Tung Chung peak.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll transfer to the pier and embark the relaxed, yet refined Ocean Explorer. Vantage Founder and Chairman, Henry Lewis, and his wife, Patricia, will be on board to personally welcome you on this special inaugural voyage.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Cruising the South China Sea

Enjoy a full day at sea to relax and enjoy the luxurious amenities of the brand-new Ocean Explorer. Pamper your body with a relaxing massage, a facial, a swim in the infinity pool, or a soothing soak in the hot tub. Stimulate your mind with a lecture on the Vietnamese culture, a movie, or a great book borrowed from our library. The choice is yours! You'll also meet the Ocean Explorer's captain and crew at a Welcome Reception, followed by a briefing and sumptuous dinner on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Cruise idyllic Halong Bay or explore the best of Hanoi

Good morning, Vietnam! Your ship will drop anchor in the port of Cai Lan, and after breakfast you have a choice of two exciting tours:

Unforgettable Moment: Behold the nearly 2,000 jutting limestone outcrops of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose mystique has inspired artists for centuries. Legend says that its emerald pinnacles are the humps of a sea-dragon’s back. Your tour takes place on board a small, private boat that will glide you through the silent channels and hidden lagoons. As you cruise, you’ll see an entire city on boats, including a bank, bar, shops and houseboats. Waving children, mothers hanging laundry, old men mending their fishing nets — here is where the everyday life of traditional Vietnam reveals itself. You’ll stop at the famous Hang Dau Go ("Grotto of the Wooden Stakes"), where stakes were driven into the mud in 1288 to skewer the boats of Kublai Khan's Mongol navy. There are also stairs to a commanding lookout point here. This tour includes a deluxe multi-course lunch featuring many fresh seafood specialties.

Unforgettable Moment: This choice lets you discover the capital city of Hanoi, an amalgam of French colonial mansions, tree-lined avenues, and traditional Vietnamese architecture that was known as the “Paris of the East.” Your tour begins with a visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university built in 1070, and dedicated to Confucius. Students still visit its elaborate altars to pray for good grades. A highlight will be your electric cart tour through the famed Old Quarter. It is known for its “36 streets of 36 wares” where 36 13th-century artisan guilds built their specialized workshops. You’ll wind through a maze of fascinating back streets lined with narrow houses known as “tunnel” or “tube” houses, built that way so owners could avoid paying taxes based on the width of their street frontage. Lunch is included at the Cau Go Vietnamese restaurant, located on the top floor of a building that offers amazing views of distant Hoan Kiem Lake.

Whether your explorations take you to Halong Bay or to the streets of Hanoi, you'll re-embark the ship after a full day of adventure and enjoy leisure time before another delicious dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 8:

Cruising the Gulf of Tonkin

Enjoy a day at leisure to relax and enjoy your ship’s resort amenities. Perhaps you’ll join a morning yoga class, read on your balcony, or catnap on the sun deck. Later you can join friends for cocktails in the multi-level lounge, browse the boutique, or attend a lecture by a local historian. Later in the day your Cruise Director will present a port talk.

Cultural Discovery: Learn about the transformation of Vietnam when an expert historian presents a lecture on Vietnam, Past & Present.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

Nha Trang countryside tour or a day at the beach

Watch the sun rise during breakfast as the ship arrives in Nha Trang, then take your pick of two wonderful tours: Spend the day in the countryside learning about the culture from locals, or opt for a more relaxing alternative enjoying the picturesque beaches for which Nha Trang is renowned.

Cultural Discovery: Travel beyond the beautiful beaches of Nha Trang, and get a true slice of Vietnamese life. It begins at Po Nagar Cham Tower, a beautiful Cham temple dating to 781 BC that is dedicated to the goddess of the countryside. From here you’ll walk along a tiny alley to a dock where you’ll begin a river cruise aboard a small boat. Drift through peaceful scenes of sleepy villages nestled under coconut shade, wooden bridges, and uniformed children walking to school. You’ll disembark at a village market, and get an eyeful of the colorful fruits, flowers, clothing and household implements. Then, drive to an ancient house to share a cup of tea and seasonal fruit. You’ll also visit a workshop where village elders weave mats from sedge, keeping alive an age-old tradition that is fast disappearing. Your tour includes lunch at local restaurant.

Unforgettable Moment: Nha Trang is famous for its sandy beaches and you’ll enjoy one of its best on this easygoing excursion. Ride to a private beach club where you can swim, snorkel, or snooze beneath your own shaded canopy. The staff will be happy to serve you cool beverages or snacks by the sea, or explore the restaurant, spa, and other beachside facilities.

Afterward, you will arrive back mid-afternoon from the countryside or beach right in time for dinner on board as the ship sets off for Ho Chi Minh City.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Experience old Saigon in Ho Chi Minh City

Take your time over breakfast and relax as we sail into Nha Rong, the port for Ho Ch Minh City. Once known as Saigon, the city is Vietnam’s business and financial hub.

Unforgettable Moment: Upon arrival this afternoon, visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a neo-Romanesque, red brick edifice with twin spires topped with iron. It was constructed around 1888 with materials imported from France. Across the way, the classic 1960s exterior of the Reunification Palace may seem familiar to you. It was here that the first Communist tanks rolled into town and the building was prominently on the news when South Vietnam fell in 1975. On the other side of the square admire the Central Post Office, completed in 1891. With its barrel-vaulted central hall and pale pink façade, it seems just too pretty to be relegated to mail! Also featured are the restored exteriors of the Saigon Opera House and the elegant City Hall (the former Hotel de Ville), two of Saigon’s most stunning French colonial monuments.

Dinner is on board this evening, followed by an evening at leisure, or join our optional “Saigon by Night” tour, which features a water puppetry performance.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Saigon Evening Water Puppery

Saigon Evening Water Puppery

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • When: Evening tour

Transfer from Pier to Saigon, enjoy the beautiful city at the nighttime, Then, enjoy the unique art of water puppet show, a traditional art form closely connected with the long-standing spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. It is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment. Singers with origin in north Vietnam sing songs which tell the story being acted out by the puppets (which are carved out of wood). Although the authentic shows are exclusively in Vietnamese, the tales depict rural life in villages and are easy to understand. The shows typically last for one hour and offer a colorful way to enjoy an ancient tradition. Then, transfer back to cruise 

DAY 11:

Explore more of Ho Chi Minh City

We’ve left this morning free so you can pursue your own interests here in Saigon. Perhaps you’ll nibble on exotic street food at the Ben Tranh Market, where your choices range from savory spring rolls to skewers of tarantulas and everything in between! Step back in time at the War Remnants Museum, or admire the masterworks at the Fine Arts Museum. Your onboard Vantage Concierge can assist with all your plans, or you may also join our exclusive optional tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. You'll enjoy lunch on board before the Ocean Explorer departs Ho Chi Minh City, bound for Cambodia!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: The Tunnels of Cu Chi

The Tunnels of Cu Chi

  • Approximate Cost: $89 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 5 hours
  • Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon
  • When: Half-day tour including lunch

On arrival to Saigon (Nha Rong Port), take a two hour drive northwest to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an ingenious network of connecting underground tunnels started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as living quarters, communication, and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food, and weapons caches. Touring the underground compounds will provide a better understanding of the history of the tunnels, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Transfer back to your ship.

DAY 12:

Cruising the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand

A free day as your ship rounds southern Vietnam and continues towards Sihanoukville Cambodia. Perhaps you’ll indulge in some spa treatments, do laps in the infinity pool, watch a movie under a canopy of stars on the sun deck, or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start:

Cultural Discoveries: During your time on board there will be an ongoing schedule of enrichment programs, and today you'll be joined on board by an expert lecturer who will walk you through the fascinating history of Cambodia, where you'll soon be. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

Arrive Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh overnight excursion

Today you’ll disembark ship and travel inland to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, staying overnight at an elegant 5-star hotel. Once known as the “Pearl of Asia,” Phnom Penh nestles on the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, and was renowned as one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina. After surviving the destructions of the Khmer Rouge regime, it is once again a vibrant, youthful capital.

Cultural Discovery: Spend a sobering but important half day learning about the turbulent Khmer Rouge years as you visit sites related to the infamous “Killing Fields.” Tuol Sleng, a high school turned interrogation prison known as S-21, is now a genocide museum. You’ll also call at Cheung Ek, a large memorial commemorating the 17,000 victims who died there under the reign of Pol Pot. While disturbing, these somber relics also provide an appreciation for the courageous struggles that Cambodian people have faced.

Cultural Discovery: This evening during dinner you’ll enjoy a traditional Apsara Dance Show with beautifully costumed performers.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

Phnom Penh historical tour, return to ship in Sihanoukville

After checking out of your hotel, you’ll transfer to Phnom Penh for some more city touring.

Unforgettable Moment:  Explore hillside Wat Phnom with its big trees and mischievous monkeys, and hear about the legend of Lady Penh, the founder of the city. At the National Museum, you can admire a collection of Khmer art that includes more than 5,000 objects, including statues and other artifacts from Angkor Wat. Then, see the Royal Palace, home to the present King Norodom Sihamoni. It was opened in 1870, and now contains the Royal Residence, Throne Hall, Silver Pagoda, and other historic buildings. The Silver Pagoda (Wat Preah Keo Morokat) is named for its more than 5,000 silver floor tiles. The building is a repository of cultural treasures, such as the famous Emerald Buddha, and a life-sized gold Buddha adorned with 2,086 diamonds.

Cultural Discovery: You’ll get around Phnom Penh as the locals do, riding past the elegant Post Office, Central Market, and Public Library on board a bicycle-powered carriage called a cyclo.

Back on board the Ocean Explorer, you’ll enjoy another memorable dining experience and a relaxing evening at leisure.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Koh Samui, Thailand’s romantic beach paradise

Relax on board as your ship plows through the turquoise waters around Koh Samui. After lunch, get ready for a cultural safari that will whisk you around the island! 

Unforgettable Moment: Your safari starts at Wat Khunaram, where the mummified body of a monk named Luang Phor Daeng sits in a meditative pose, looking very much alive. Stop for refreshments at the impressive Na Muang waterfall, which cascades 59 feet into a sparkling natural pool below. You’ll pass the unusual Grandma and Grandpa rock formations, then continue to Ladd Koh for panoramic views of famed Chaweng Beach. See the golden Buddha at Wat Phra Yai, who sits on hill and is nearly 50 feet tall. Heading back to the ship you’ll pass many stands selling handicrafts such as batiks, and products made from seashells and coconuts. Time pending, you might stop at a local market in Nathon to browse the beachwear and other Koh Samui specialties.

Cultural Discovery: Enjoy an onboard performance of traditional Thai dancing this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 16:

Free day in Koh Samui

Take advantage of your free time to savor another day in this seaside heaven. Koh Samui is a foodie favorite, so ask your onboard Vantage Concierge for recommendations. Perhaps you’ll just relax on a secluded beach, or indulge in a Thai massage. Consider also our optional snorkeling tour to Koh Phangan island by private speedboat — you'll visit Koh Ma, the island's very best snorkeling spot, and other secluded isles where you'll have ample time to relax, read, and soak up the sun.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Koh Phangan Snorkeling Safari by Private speedboat

Koh Phangan Snorkeling Safari by Private speedboat

  • Approximate Cost: $239 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Koh Samui, Thailand
  • When: Morning tour

Koh Phangan is located 20 kilometers north of Koh Samui. This island is famous for its “Full Moon Party” which is held on every full moon night. The island has numerous heavenly white sand beaches and secluded bays all along its coastline, some of them reachable only by a boat cruise. The first stop will be at Koh Ma — the best Koh Phangan snorkeling area. Here, you can jump into the water and enjoy the amazing soft coral and multicolored fish in the warm water. The next is “Haad Kuad beach“ and other secluded beaches, where you will have available time to swim and relax on these beautiful beaches. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. The last thing we can’t miss is to visit “Haad Rin Beach;” Then, cruise back to Koh Samui and transfer back to the port.

DAY 17:

Cruising the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea

Another day to enjoy your ship’s deluxe facilities. Perhaps you’ll join a bridge group in the lounge, have a facial at the spa, or get in some cardio at the gym.

Cultural Discovery: Today a local historian will present a fascinating lecture. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 18:

Discover Kuantan, Malaysia

Today you’ll enter Malaysia and explore the capital of its Pahang province, Kuantan. The city is popular for its excellent beaches, but our touring will concentrate on some of the more interesting cultural and historical attractions.

Unforgettable Moment: Your exploration begins in Sungai Lembing, an old tin mining town that was once known as the “El Dorado of the East” because of the wealth it generated. During their peak at the turn of the century, these were among the world’s longest and deepest mines, and you’ll have the chance to peer into them. You’ll also visit the Sungai Lembing Museum, which displays many old photographs and mining equipment. Back in Kuantan, you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, the see the main sights such as the imposing Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah mosque, and Teluk Chempedak Beach.

Cultural Discovery: The Kuantan region is famous for its beautiful, intricate batik prints that adorn clothing and many other decorative objects. During your city tour you’ll stop at a local studio to see how batik printing is done.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 19:

Celebrate the multiculturalism of Singapore, disembark the Ocean Explorer

You’ll disembark your ship this morning and transfer to your deluxe hotel in the heart of Singapore. We hope you enjoyed this once-in-a-lifetime experience on the inaugural sailing of the Ocean Explorer, Vantage's first small ship ocean cruising expedition vessel! 

Today's city tour showcases some of Singapore's modern splendor as well as fascinating old ethnic enclaves. Unforgettable Moment: Your tour showcases the historic Civic District, with its lovely parks, memorials and government buildings. It was here that Sir Stamford Raffles first laid out the core of modern Singapore in 1822. Featured here is City Hall and the Parliament building, a modern take on the classic Greek Revival style, and the New and Old Supreme Court buildings. You’ll also see the Padang, an open playing field that is home to the prestigious Singapore Cricket Club. At Merlion Park, you’ll admire the half lion, half fish statue that is the symbol of Singapore and stunning Marina Bay, with its futuristic skyline.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll see some of the city’s older landmarks. In Chinatown, you’ll see Thian Hock Keng, the city’s oldest Hokkien temple; Little India; the Yong Gallery; and the Peranakan area, with its pastel-colored shop houses. Over at the UNESCO-listed Gardens by the Bay, you can explore 250 acres of green space, including the largest glass greenhouse of flowers in the world.

Cultural Discovery: Enjoy a trishaw ride through colorful Bugis Street, a onetime red-light district that is now one of the biggest and most popular market districts in Singapore.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 20:

Half-day tour of Singapore with futuristic Gardens by the Bay, then toast your discoveries at a Farewell Dinner

A half-day tour of Singapore awaits this morning, with visits to the Skypark and Gardens by the Bay, a futuristic botanical garden (and UNESCO World Heritage Site), with a skyway, air-conditioned indoor parks, Flower Dome, and massive Supertree structures that are vertical gardens. Lunch is included with the tour. 

Then, spend an afternoon at leisure afterward, perhaps embarking on some last-minute exploring, shopping — and eating — on your own. Perhaps you’ll visit Kampong Glam, the Muslim heart of Singapore with its landmark, golden-domed Sultan Mosque. The neighborhood is popular for its trendy shops and hip cafés. A classic way to ride out the afternoon would be at the legendary Raffles Hotel, a colonial gem where everyone from Noel Coward to Somerset Maugham to Elizabeth Taylor have tipped a few — most likely the famous Singapore Sling, which was invented here.

Return to the hotel this evening to toast to a wonderful expedition at a Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 21:

Return home

After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home. Or, if you’re joining our Siem Reap & Angkor Wat post-trip extension, you’ll stay on for four more nights!

Please note: Arrive to your destination rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Siem Reap & Angkor Wat

FROM: $1349 PER PERSON | 5 DAYS | $270 PER DAY

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise DIrector or regional expert.

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Essential Asia: Hong Kong to Singapore - 2021

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