Vietnam the Real 26 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: Explore Hanoi in the back of a motorbike (B, L, G)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city on the back of a motorbike. You will visit the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum Complex, the bustling Old Quarter.
The day also includes a ‘Street Life’ experience, also on the back of a motorbike. A street food brunch is included – take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork). You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 3: Hanoi/Mai Chau (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Mai Chau, passing through mountainous landscapes on the way. When you arrive, you’ll ‘check in’ to a stilt house in Pom Coong village, the home of the Thai ethnic minority group. After lunch, you can wander around the houses to see the daily life of the local people. They specialise in weaving brocade products, and are happy to show visitors their skills. The village is operated as a community co-operative, set up by the people themselves.
In the evening, you will enjoy a traditional music show followed with local rice wine. This performance is held by the young White Thai minorities, reflecting the rich culture of this ethnic group. You’ll spend the night in a stilt house in Pom Coong village.
Day 4 : Mai Chau/Son La (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you’ll walk to the town to visit the local market before hopping on your vehicle for a journey to Son La. You’ll pass by a small town with spectacular scenery; there will be opportunities for photo stops en-route. Arriving at Son La town in the afternoon, you will visit Son La Former Prison, a famous historical relic which was built by French colonialism in 1908. You will spend the night in a local hotel in Son La.
Day 5 : Son La/Dien Bien Phu (B, L, D, G)
After an early breakfast, you will have another day driving through the fabulous natural scenery and the ethnic minority villages of Northern Vietnam. You will also driver through the impressive Pha Din pass will which is 1,000 meter above the sea level, a spectacular scenery to take photo.
Arriving in the historical town of Dien Bien Phu in the early in the afternoon, you will have the rest of the day visiting some historical sites of the Vietnamese – French war like Dien Bien Phu Museum and A1 Hill. You will spend the night in Dien Bien.
Day 6: Dien Bien Phu/Lai Chau (B, L, D, G)
After breakfast, you will begin another spectacular drive, passing the stunning gorges and the Nam Na River. There will be stops to visit the H’mong and ZDao villages o¬n the way. Arrving in Lai Chau in the early afternoon, you will have the rest of the day wander around the town. You will spend the night in Lai Chau.
Day 8: Lai Chau/Sapa (B, L, D, G)
The drive’s today is the highlight of this trip. Although, the road is a bit bumpy at times, however, the magnificent scenery of the surrounding fertile valley, pristine rivers and high mountains is great. The 25 miles drive to Sapa goes up the Chin Co pass and Tram Son pass, the highest pass in Vietnam with the view to Fansipan Peak – The roof of “Indochine”. During the drive, you will visit residences of different ethnic groups such as Red H’Mong, Black Dzao, Lu, White H’Mong. Arriving in Sapa in the afternoon, you will have the rest of the day wandering around the town. You will spend the night in Sapa.
Day 9: Sapa (B, L, G)
After breakfast and a morning stroll to the town’s busy market, you’ll hike down a scenic valley calling in at the H’mong ethnic minority villages on the way. After a streamside picnic lunch, you’ll drive to more villages belonging to the H’mong, Day and Red Dao ethnic minority groups. You will spend the night in Sapa.
Day 10: Sapa/Ethnic market/Hanoi (B, L, G)
After breakfast, your transport and guide will arrive to take you to visit a 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 return to Lao Cai for a shower and freshen-up before boarding the sleeper train to Hanoi.
Day 11: Hanoi/Ha Long kayaking (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 12: Ha Long/Cat Ba Island (Brunch, G)
This morning, you will cruise toward Cat Ba Island. After that, your guide will take you to the National Park to hike through the forest. Although the distance is only about 18 km, it will take at least 6 hours to cover the undulating terrain. On the way, you’ll have a break for a picnic lunch at Viet Hai village and back to the town by late afternoon. You’ll spend the night in Cat Ba town.
Day 13: Cat Ba Island/Hai Phong/Hanoi/Hue (B, L, G)
The morning will be free for you to relax on a nearby sandy beach or while away your time in the small seafront town. After lunch, you’ll board the hydrofoil trip to Hai Phong where a car and driver will be waiting to return you to Noi Bai airport in Hanoi for an evening flight to Hue. You will spend the night in Hue.
Day 14: Cycling in Hue (B, L, G)
Today, the 30-km bike ride will take you to Hue’s rural villages. First, you will bike towards the Thanh Toan Bridge (roofed in Chinese style) and visit a local market with views of daily life and local products. You’ll then return to Hue’s city centre with en-route visit a typical Hue’s ‘garden house’. After lunch, your route will take you past the Imperial Citadel and then ride toward one of the handicraft villages. Back to hotel in the late afternoon, you will have free time to recover and spend the night in your hotel.
Day 15: 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 16: 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 17: Hoi An/Quy Nhon (B, L, G)
This morning, you will leave for Quy Nhon by car and arrive by early afternoon. You will spend the night in Quy Nhon.
Day 18: Quy Nhon/Nha Trang (B, L, G)
After breakfast at hotel, you will drive to NhaTrang passing Sa Huynh and Dai Lanh beaches. Lunch will be in a local restaurant en-route. Dinner and stay overnight in hotel in Nha Trang.
Day 19: Full day private boat trip in Nha Trang (B, L, G)
After breakfast, a car will arrive to take you to board a boat for a whole-day cruise to some of the small islands in the bay. You’ll anchor off Mun Island for snorkelling and a glass bottom basket boat ride to see colourful corals and the mysterious marine life. You’ll then cruise to Tam Island for swimming or relax on the beach before heading to visit Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island.
If you wish, you can join with other tourists to the ‘music entertainment’ with a wine and fruit party, followed by a seafood lunch on Tre Island. In the late afternoon, you’ll get back to the mainland and drive to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Nha Trang.
Day 20: Nha Trang/Dalat (B, L, G)
In the morning, your car and driver will arrive to take you to Dalat. After you have checked in to your hotel, you’ll visit the Linh Phuoc Pagoda and an embroidery workshop in an attractive garden setting. You’ll spend the night in Dalat.
Day 21: Hiking around Dalat (B, L, G)
After breakfast, you’ll drive along picturesque roads to the famous chicken village, aptly named due to the large chicken statue in the centre of the township. You’ll hike between Elephant Mountain and another large peak from where you’ll have an overview of the farms that dot the valley floor.
Lunch will consist of some of Dalat’s tasty produce. After a breather, your path will take you through an abrupt change in scenery from brush to dense forest. The track follows rolling hills with broad-leafed trees and vines, accompanied by a cool breeze. If you’re lucky, you may see a wild orchid in bloom or a few monkeys. Leaving the forest, the path heads across a meadow towards Tuyen Lam Lake. Don’t be alarmed if you meet an elephant along the way – they live on an island on the lake and are tame. You’ll finish your walk at a lakeside campsite with time for a swim in the lake (weather permitting). In the late afternoon, you’ll drive back to your hotel.
Day 22: Dalat/Ho Chi Minh City (B, L, G)
After breakfast, you’ll set off for Ho Chi Minh City – the early part of the journey takes you through attractive scenery and large coffee plantations. Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, you will visit the Museum of War Remnants, the huge Ben Thanh market. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 23: 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 24: 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 25: 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 26: Ho Chi Minh City departure (B, DP)
Free time until transferred to the airport for your departure flight. Tour ends.
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