Vietnam Highlights 18 Days
Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi (D, GP)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. After a short rest, you will have a cyclo ride around the bustling streets of Hanoi and discover the city’s architectural mixture of French colonial style, pagodas and communal houses with many Chinese features, merchants’ residences, ‘tube’ dwellings, modern buildings…
In the evening, you will enjoy a water puppet show – an art form unique to the rural Northern Vietnam culture. After the show, you’ll have dinner at a restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi Orientation (B, L, G)
Today, you will visit some highlights of Hanoi. You will first visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum’s complex including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh Museum, his simple house-on-stilt and the nearby One-Pillar Pagoda. You will then visit the oldest pagoda in Hanoi, Tran Quoc Pagoda.
After lunch, you will visit the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. You will then drive to the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups. You will finish your day by a visit to the centre of Hanoi including Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 3: Hanoi/Ha Long (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast at hotel, you’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. There you’ll board your boat, a wooden junk built in a traditional style. The boat cruise will take you to visit Sung Sot Cave (Amazing Cave) which is considered one of the biggest and finest caves in the Bay. The boat will then stop at a beach for you to swim before continue cruising to a quiet area for the night. All your meals will be provided on board, usually based on fresh seafood, and you’ll sleep in a twin cabin with an en-suite toilet and shower.
Day 4: Ha Long/Hanoi/Lao Cai (Brunch, G)
You’ll spend the morning cruising Ha Long Bay, followed by brunch just before docking around noon and leaving for Hanoi. In the evening, your car will arrive to take you to Hanoi railway station in time to board the overnight sleeper to Lao Cai.
Day 5: Lao Cai/Ethnic Market/Sapa (B, L, G)
Arriving in Lao Cai Station in the early morning, you’ll be met and taken to visit an ethnic market frequented by ethnic minority peoples. The ethnic market is considered one of the most wonderful and colourful markets in extreme North Vietnam where thousands of local people in their traditional attires busily buy and sell the local produces like dog, cat, pig, horse….
After a picnic lunch, you’ll continue your journey into the mountains to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. The rest of the day will be free to explore the town. You’ll spend the night in a Sapa hotel with good mountain views.
Day 6: Sapa (B, L, D, G)
After an early breakfast at your hotel,you’ll hike to visit the Red Dao ethnic minority people of Giang Ta Chai village, where you’ll have lunch. Later in the afternoon, you’ll be picked up by jeep to travel to Ban Ho village where you’ll have dinner and spend the night in a Tay ethnic minority group stilt-house.
Day 7: Sapa/Lao Cai/Hanoi (B, L, G)
After walking around Ban Ho village and a refreshing splash-around in a clear mountain spring, your guide will serve a stream-side picnic lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll be picked up to return to Sapa and, later in the evening, to Lao Cai station by jeep to catch the overnight train to Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi/Hue (B, G)
Arriving in Hanoi in the early morning, you will be met and driven to your hotel for breakfast and refresh.
You will be free until transferred to the airport for a noon flight to Hue. Arriving in Hue, you will visit the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the local Dong Ba market. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
Day 9: Hue (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast at hotel, you will take a short cruise along the Perfume River to visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda. From there, you’ll continue by boat to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, one of the most beautiful and majestic Royal Tombs. You will then return to Hue by car and have lunch in local restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will one of city’s ‘garden houses’, talk to a cup of green tea with the owner, also, a famous historian and then return to your hotel to freshen-up. The dinner today will in a pleasant surroundings of another garden houses where you will enjoy some of the most typical dishes of Hue’s cuisine. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
Day 10: Hue/Danang/Hoi An (B, L, G)
In the morning, your car will arrive to drive you to Danang via the high mountain pass of Hai Van. You will then visit the remarkable Hindu statuary in the Cham Museum before leaving for Hoi An. After lunch, you’ll have a guided visit the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls…in the Ancient Town of Hoi An. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 11: Hoi An/My Son/Hoi An (B, G)
Today, you will visit the World Heritage ‘My Son Sanctuary’. Your guide will show you the remains of the remarkable towers constructed by the Cham builders, many centuries ago – their origins and purpose have yet to be fully explained. Although, their towers were badly bombed in the American war, but are still impressive, as is its remote valley setting. The complex is set in a quiet, richly forested area bisected by a clear stream. However, the tree cover is not complete and the valley acts as suntrap, so good sun protection is important.
You will then return to Hoi An and have the rest of the day free to wander around the ancient town. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 12: Hoi An free (B)
The day will be free for strolling in the town, lazing on the beach, or whatever takes your fancy. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 13: Hoi An/Danang/Ho Chi Minh City (B, GP)
You will be free until your car arrives to take you to the airport in Danang for your noon flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. After checking in, you’ll be free for a preliminary wander around the hustle and bustle streets of this busy city. You will spend the night in a hotel.
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City orientation (B, L, G)
Today, you will have a guided tour around Ho Chi Minh City. You will visit the Notre Dama Catholic Church which is designed in France and built in 1877 under French architecture. You will then visit the nearby Main Post Office, which also is a masterpiece of French colonial architecture. The next stop will be the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries.
After lunch, you will visit the Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! You will then stop by the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll finish your day with a visit to a lacquer workshop to see the complex processes and meticulous workmanship involved in this traditional Vietnamese craft product. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City/Vinh Long/Can Tho (B, L, G)
A morning drive will take you to Vinh Long where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long established cottage industries. You’ll drive further into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho where you’ll spend the night.
Day 16: Can Tho/Ho Chi Minh City (B, L, G)
In the morning, you will take a boat cruise in the Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong Delta and then return to your hotel to check out. On your return to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll call in at the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang pagoda, 3 km from My Tho centre. Your overnight accommodation will be in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 17: Full day to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels (B, L, G)
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be driven to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See in time to watch the mid-day ceremony. Cao Dai is a ‘new’ religion unique to Vietnam with around a million followers. Both its creed and its architecture are remarkable and exotic. The service lasts about half an hour – the rituals are based upon an eclectic mixture of Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Discreet photography is OK, but shoes must be left outside.
After lunch, you’ll visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a Byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used by both the Vietminh and the Viet Cong to suddenly materialise as if from nowhere, launch a lightning ambush, and vanish equally rapidly. In the late afternoon, you will be back to Ho Chi Minh City where you will spend the night.
Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City departure (B, DP)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight. Tour ends.
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