Best of Vietnam, 13 Days
Valid for select departures 10 June - 16 September 2022
13 day tour departing Hanoi.
10 nights accommodation in 4-star and special class hotels.
1 night accommodation aboard deluxe junk boat (private en suite cabin).
1 accommodation aboard an overnight sleeper train Hanoi to Hue in basic 4 berth cabin.
Breakfast daily, 5 lunches and 1 dinner.
Halong Bay Junk boat cruise - opt to swim, kayak and explore caves.
Bicycle ride to Tra Que village and cooking demonstration.
Economy class flight from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City.
Guided sightseeing - Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnels and Ho Chi Minh City.
Sampan boat trips in the Mekong Delta.
Escorted by an English speaking Vietnamese tour guide.
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles.
Airport arrival transfer day 1 and departure transfer day 13.
Day 1 Hanoi. Welcome to Hanoi, perhaps the most graceful, atmospheric and exotic capital city in Asia. Airport to hotel arrival transfer. The remains of the day offers free time for you to explore the wide tree lined avenues, beautiful lakes, ancient pagoda's and thriving, historic old city, all easily navigated on foot.
Day 2 Backstreets of Hanoi tour. After breakfast we embark on an exciting back streets tour of Vietnam's capital. Our adventure starts with a taxi ride from the hotel to a well known street market northwest of the city which sells giant trees and plants. From here we stroll along the sidewalks, following an urban trail through the backstreets to the quaint district of Vinh Phuc. After exploring this wonderful neighbourhood we stop for refreshments at a unique coffee shop tucked away down a narrow alley. Then it's time for an exhilarating local experience, riding pillion on taxi-motorbikes through a maze of tiny streets and along the shore of beautiful Ho Tay Lake. Our 2-wheeled taxis drop us off for a tasty lunch of Vietnamese street food, in the yard of a former film studio. In the afternoon we walk past Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum (exterior only), where 'Uncle Ho' has laid since 1975 and learn all about the great man himself, who is regarded as the father of the nation. Continuing on we stroll down Hung Vuong Avenue to explore the complex of the beautiful Temple of Literature, which was Vietnam's first university. Then we board the local bus to the Hoa Lo prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton, named by US prisoners of war. We finish the day with a glass of refreshing beer on a sidewalk facing the Soviet palace. Return to the hotel by taxi for an evening at leisure. Please note: If you would prefer not to travel by taxi-motorbike, please an air-conditioned car/ taxi will be provided at no extra cost.
Day 3 Junk boat cruising on Halong Bay. Take a moment to picture in your mind some two thousand rugged karst islands dappled with lush vegetation seeming to float on top of pristine emerald coloured waters and you have the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. This morning a scenic drive will take us to this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will enjoy a junk boat cruise. Based on traditional designs, these wonderful vessels combine oriental style with modern luxury. Soak up the panoramic views from the sundeck as the boat gently plies its course. This afternoon we visit Trinh Nu Cave, one of the finest caves in Halong Bay, covering an area of 2,000 metres squared with a stunning array of stalactites and stalagmites. There's also the opportunity to go kayaking and enjoy a refreshing swim. Later this evening back onboard, watch a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before settling down for a sumptuous seafood dinner.
Day 4 Hanoi cyclo ride. Early birds can start the day with a relaxing Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage - the perfect way to start the day. Before heading back to port this morning we explore the beautiful Sung Sot cave (Surprise Grotto), which is 10,000 metres squared and consists of two major chambers. These spectacular chambers are spacious enough to hold thousands of people. On arrival back into Hanoi mid-afternoon we'll explore the maze of streets in the French Quarter by cyclo (rickshaw), taking in highlights such as the Opera house and Ly Thai To park. We then swap our wheels for a leisurely walk through '36 streets of the old quarter', named after the numerous guilds that once set up shop on a particular street from silk tailors to traditional medicine shops. Later this evening there's a chance to freshen up before boarding the train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the 'Reunification Express' railway line to Hue. An option to fly from Hanoi to Hue is also available.
Day 5 Imperial Hue. Today we take in the highlights of Hue. Upon arrival we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin. In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here we'll view the elaborate mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc. As the sun sets there's an optional cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Day 6 Delightful Hoi An. Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. En route we stop for a walk along China beach. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey south to Hoi An. The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asia's best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here. On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, we'll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchants' homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge. During your stay in Hoi An, we offer a unique optional Hoi An Street Eats add-on, which explores the city's most popular local haunts. Cruise the city the way the locals do, by vintage Vespa and enjoy lots of tasty Vietnamese Cuisine. Book early with your reservation consultant, as numbers are limited.
Day 7 Tra Que village. This morning we set off on a leisurely bike ride through the countryside to Tra Que village. Here we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It's a fun, hands on experience today as we don conical hats and assist with tending the fields and gardens before watching an entertaining cooking demonstration and helping to cook a tasty lunch.
Day 8 Hoi An. A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. Alternatively you can opt to take an excursion to the UNESCO-listed My Son sanctuary or enjoy a day trip to the Ba Na Hills mountain resort, where you will ride the second longest cable car in the world and walk along the striking Golden Bridge (book and pay locally).
Day 9 Cruising the Mekong. Early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Cai Be we cruise through the maze of waterways watching the hubbub of daily life on the river. Passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children swimming we stop to visit some of the local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Day 10 Mekong and Ho Chi Minh City. Early today we visit the ever lively Cai Rang floating market before driving back to Ho Chi Minh City. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Ho Chi Minh City is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. On a walking tour of Ho Chi Minh City we'll see the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Post Office before visiting the sobering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
Day 11 Cu Chi Tunnels. This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet-Cong in their struggle to keep control of the region during the 1960's. After a short video presentation we take an exciting walk around the many bush trails and see trapdoors, booby traps, living areas, weapon factories and kitchens that were used and lived in during the war. We can also safely crawl through sections of the tunnels, that have been widened for the tourists and stand in the middle of bomb craters that are still just as defined as the day they were created. At the end of the visit you can opt to fire weapons of the era (including the M16 's and AK47) on the firing range.
Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City. Today we head out to explore more of Ho Chi Minh City. Starting off with the Reunification Palace - former residence of the President of South Vietnam until the fall of Ho Chi Minh City on April 30th 1975. The building is now a museum and a popular wedding venue. We'll take a look in the famous 'War Room' where the North Vietnamese army took control in 1975. Next we explore Giac Lam Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City's oldest and one of its most beautiful temples. Later on we take a journey through Vietnam's medical history at the FITO Museum. This is Vietnam's first traditional medicine museum with an amazing collection of over 3000 items. Our last stop of the day is Ben Thanh Market, where you can shop till you drop and master the art of haggling for just about anything!
Day 13 Ho Chi Minh City. Today marks the end of our tour and after breakfast we will transfer you to the airport for your onward departure flight.
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