Day 1: Hanoi
Check in to your hotel in Hanoi City to rest up for the tour ahead. Hanoi is over 1000 years old and is currently the capital of Vietnam, as well the commercial, political, and cultural heart of the country.
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (B, L)
This morning you will be picked up by your guide. First up is a visit to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, followed by the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam that was built for the sons of mandarins (high government officials). Then it’s on to West Lake and Tran Quoc Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi, located on a small island near the southeastern shore of the lake. After lunch, visit Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Ho Chi Minh’s House. Then, transfer by bus to the ancient ’36 Meandering Streets’ of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, where you will have a chance to explore before before returning to the hotel.
Optional: Water Puppet Theatre and Hanoi Foodie tour.
A one thousand year old tradition, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Hanoi, Water Puppet Theatre is considered to be one of the cultural highlights of Northern Vietnam. Tonight, you’ll walk through the bustling Old Quarter as your guide tells you about the various foods on offer – stop and try some if you like! The sidewalks are full of pop-up restaurants which offer truly local food like bánh cuốn (rice rolls with pork and herbs inside), and many kinds of noodle dishes. End the night with a drink at a local coffee shop, talking about life in Vietnam, before heading back to your hotel.
Please note: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum can only be viewed from the outside if your visit is on a Monday or Friday, and from 5 September to 5 November due to annual maintenance. Rules regarding dress and behaviour are strictly enforced by staff and guards. Legs must be covered, with no shorts or skirts permitted.
Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B, L, D)
Travel by coach to Halong Bay. One of Vietnam’s most recognisable landscapes, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts a sprinkling of islands, caves and grottoes. A popular way for seeing the bay is aboard a traditional Vietnamese junk boat and that is what is in store for you with this evening’s overnight cruise.
Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi – – Danang – Hoi An (B, L)
Enjoy the emerald waters of the bay as the junk continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations. Disembark from the junk at noon and transfer to Hanoi airport for a short flight to Da Nang. On arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to Hoi An, an ancient town recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. Check into your hotel in Hoi An.
Note: In the event that sufficient seats are not available for the Hanoi to Da Nang flight, the group will instead fly from Hai Phong.
Day 5: Hoi An (B)
You will be escorted by our local guide to discover Hoi An by foot, wandering through the narrow streets of this charming town. Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years merchants from China, Japan, France, and Portugal settled in the prosperous town, resulting in a distinctive blend of culture, cuisine, religions and architecture. In 1999, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then, visit the highly-regarded Bebe Tailor Shop to discover the story behind Vietnam’s traditional outfits. The remainder of the afternoon is free at leisure. You may also join one of our optional tours.
Optional: Half-day cycling tour from Hoi An to Tra Que Village
Take a scenic bicycle ride through the rice paddies to Tra Que Village just outside Hoi An. This little village is well-known for supplying the many restaurants and hotels in the area with fresh herbs and vegetables. You will walk through the vegetable gardens, experience how the local farmers work the land and learn more about the history of the village and the importance of herbs in Vietnamese medicine and cuisine, before your relaxing pedal back to town. Additional costs applies.
Optional: Fishing Village and Waterway Eco-tour
Enjoy an authentic social and cultural insight into the local Vietnamese way of life. Drive to a local farming village travelling along picturesque country roads. Explore the now tranquil coconut-palm flanked waterways of a past war and hear of the extreme conditions endured by soldiers on both sides. Meet local fishermen and experience their daily life. You will then take a wooden boat to a ‘water coconut forest’, and join local fishermen on the river to experience round net and cast net fishing. Learn to paddle bamboo basket boats and join in a basket boat race. You’ll also learn how to use reeds or palm leaves to make grasshoppers, birds, rings, sunglasses, etc. Return to the boat to enjoy lunch and a cold beer or soft drink and then return the hotel by car. Additional costs applies.
Day 6: Hoi An (B)
This morning, you will visit the Réhahn Museum to view the ‘Precious Heritage Collection’, by French Photographer Réhahn. This work focuses on the endangered cultural heritage of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups, attempting to document their rapidly-changing ways of life. Afterwards, you have free time at leisure, or you may enjoy the following optional activities (at your own expense):
Optional: Half-day Da Nang tour (Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge)
Explore Ba Na hills and admire the panoramic views of Quang nam. Discover the famous Golden Bridge and see places such as the French Village Campanile, Nine Floor Goddess Shrine, Tombstone Temple, Linh Phong Monastery, and Linh Chua Linh Tu Temple. Lunch is included. Additional costs applies.
Optional: Evening Cultural Stage Show
The Lune Performing Centre in Hoi An is known for such performances as My Village, Teh Dar, and The Mist. The shows portray the daily lives of farmers, minority tribes, and urban and rural dwellers, and carry Lune Productions’ vision of upholding Vietnam’s culture and heritage, creating a whole new destination where heritage and art converge. Depending on the day of arrival in Hoi An, you may instead see the stunning Hoi An Memories Show. This colourful and musically dazzling show, with a cast of nearly 500 actors and actresses, recalls the memories of Hoi An as a prosperous trading port over 400 years. It took nearly two years to produce the one-hour show. The theatre uses the waters of the Hoai River as its 25,000 m2 stage along with state-of-the-art lighting technology and sophisticated sound effects. Additional costs applies.
Day 7: Hoi An – Hue (B)
Today drive to Hue City stopping along the way to take pictures at Lang Co Beach. During the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945), Hue was the political, economic and cultural capital of Vietnam, and its historical monuments were recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993. One of the largest battles of the Vietnamese revolutionary war was fought in Hue, as part of the 1968 ‘Tet Offensive’ that turned the tide of the war against the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. On arrival, you will take a boat trip to Thien Mu Pagoda – an historic pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River. Apart from the scenic riverside and hilltop location, the Thien Mu Pagoda and its environs are rich in history, standing witness to almost four hundred years of tumultuous nation-building in Vietnam. Transfer back to the centre of Hue city to visit the massive Kinh Thanh Citadel, the most well-known and iconic site in Hue, a sprawling complex within 2.5 km of walls, comprised of the Imperial City, several museums, lakes, and lovely gardens, all laid out in a series of concentric circles. Return to the hotel.
Optional: Enjoy a sumptuous Royal Dinner
Dress in beautiful traditional clothes (provided by the restaurant) and be served dishes which use to be made for the royal family. Enjoy live music during dinner. Additional costs applies.
Day 8: Hue – – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Transfer to Hue Airport this morning to catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival at the airport, you’ll will be picked up for transfer to the city centre to visit the imposing Dong Khoi Street (formerly Catinat street) before heading to the Notre Dame Cathedral. This is the most famous landmark in Vietnam, as the twin bell towers can be seen from a great distance. In the same square is the famous Saigon Post Office, the largest functioning post office in Vietnam. Continue on to visit Reunification Palace, the palace of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975, and the War Remains Museum, where you can learn about the Vietnam War. At the end of the day, visit Ben Thanh Market before returning to your hotel, after which you are free at leisure.
Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (B,L)
Depart with our guide and driver for a scenic drive through the Mekong Delta, home to the richest agricultural lands in Vietnam. On arrival at My Tho City, take a boat trip on the Mekong River to fishing villages and Dragon, Unicorn, Turtle and Phoenix Islands. Crossing the Mekong River, you’ll cruise along a small canal to see the daily life of locals in Bến Tre Province, visiting Quới An bee farm and handicraft workshop to enjoy some honey-tea and see how people make things from coconut wood. Take a horse-cart along country roads to visit fruit orchards, enjoy tropical fruit and listen to traditional music. Then, take small sampans back to your cruise to ‘Coconut Village’ for a coconut candy workshop and tasting. Visit Phoenix Island for a rice-paper workshop, then return by boat to My Tho and then by road back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy the rest of the day free at leisure.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
After breakfast, we visit the eerie Cu Chi Tunnels, a well-known historical vestige of the Vietnamese revolution. This cobweb-like tunnel complex is a network of underground dug-outs over 200 km long, consisting of many layers and turnings with meeting, living, and fighting quarters. Learn firsthand how the Viet Cong survived their extraordinary underground existence during the Vietnam War. Visit a lacquerware factory on the way back to the city, and then enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure in Ho Chi Minh City.
Optional Lunch: Hội An Sense restaurant has a beautiful harmony between refined cuisine and unique architecture. Set on an opulent rooftop with intimate terrace, relaxing fish pond and vivid lanterns, Hội An Sense draws influences from vibrant flavours of Vietnam’s central region. Additional costs apply.
Optional Dinner Cruise: Cruise on Saigon River and enjoy a delicious selection of local dishes as you take in the ambience of this charming city. Additional costs apply.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Check out of the hotel after breakfast. Your tour concludes today.
*Please note, the 2020 itinerary is subject to minor adjustments and substitutes of similar quality to ensure smooth running of the tour.