Day 1: Australia – – Ho Chi Minh City
Today depart Australia for Vietnam! We will pick you up at airport then transfer to the hotel. The rest of day is at your leisure. We recommend that you pay a visit to The Ben Thanh market. It is the biggest in Ho Chi Minh and you will find plenty choices of Vietnamese handicrafts, local delicacies, garments and small souvenirs. Please note, some flights might arrive late on the first day.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
Today we head to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is a network of more than 120 km under the ground and were built by sweat and blood of Vietnamese guerrillas to hide and fight against the rival forces. We will learn how the Vietnamese made and used many kinds of booby traps used during Vietnam War and explain the methods of creating, maintaining and living in these tunnels as well as the special technique of hiding smoke invented by the guerrillas. The visit also includes visiting different type of underground halls, secret work-ing, meeting rooms. This afternoon explore modern day Saigon with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum.
Day 3: (Superior Tour): Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (B,L,D)
After breakfast you will be picked up from the hotel to depart for My Tho on the Mekong River. Here enjoy a boat ride along the river and marvel at the houses on stilts that line the river bank, home to the farms for the many fruit plantation in this region. Then relax on Tortoise Island where lunch will be served in the fruit orchard. After lunch, continue your beautiful boat ride through Tan Thach canal in Ben Tre, cruising under the shadow of the water coconut trees. Here we visit a family workshop making coconut candy which is a local delicacy before enjoying a row boat ride along the creeks before proceed to Can Tho for your overnight hotel.
Day 3: (Deluxe Tour): Ho Chi Minh City—Mekong Delta—Embark on cruise (B,L,D)
After breakfast you will be picked up from the hotel to depart for Cai Be on the Mekong River.. You board your comfortable wooden river cruise vessel around noon. After a refreshing welcome drink get shown the on-board facilities and your cosy cabin. As lunch is served, the boat starts cruising. Sit back and watch the fantastic scenery and the daily life of the Mekong people. In the afternoon you can disembark for a guided leisurely stroll through a village and the surrounding fruit orchards or rice fields. Meet the friendly locals and taste the local produce and fruits. Get back on board and enjoy a drink at the bar or relax on deck as the sun sets over the magnificent water landscape of the Mekong river. The cruise boat will anchor for the night. The day ends with a delicious onboard dinner. You stay overnight on board your floating hotel in the Mekong Delta.
Day 4: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
After breakfast, we take a morning boat trip to visit the Cai Rang floating market, the river is at its busiest at this time of the day. Keep cruising through the small canal system and visit a rice noodle making village. We then cycle in the countryside (optional) before having lunch and heading back to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival to Ho Chi Minh city the rest of the afternoon is then at leisure.
Day 4: (Deluxe Tour): Mekong Delta – Disembark cruise – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
Wake up well rested to the sound of the river and get ready for another exciting day of sightseeing in the Mekong Delta. At 6.30h the cruise vessel sets off for a sunrise cruise. Watch the locals go about their daily work drying exotic fruits and building ships on the wooden yards while enjoying an early breakfast. After breakfast, we will board a sampan boat to Cai Rang floating market, the region’s busiest and most lively markets. On even dates, you will explore the small channels of the mekong delta around Cai Be with a small sampan or by foot. Marvel at the sheer abundance of exotic fruits, vegetables and skilfully handcrafted regional products. We will pull up to the boats for talking and bargaining with the merchants. We will also visit some of the local candy and cake making factories or boat through the green water landscape to see some local houses, verdant orchards and shipbuilding yards. After, disembark from your ship and be met and transferred back to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City – – Dalat (B)
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the mountain town of Dalat. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its distinctive temperate climate, Dalat was developed as a resort by the French in the early 1900s, and many reminders of its colonial heritage remain. On arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure to enjoy the cooler climate of this charming town.
Day 6: Dalat (B,L)
Today head out on a tour of the city to learn about its fascinating colonial heritage. Visit the Domaine de Marie Church, the church’s history goes back to its initial construction in 1940 and is French and Vietnamese style of architecture. After, continue to the Flower Gardens. These gardens were established in 1966 and include hydrangeas, fuchsias and orchids, the latter in shaded buildings to the left of the entrance. Then, learn about local crates at an embroidery workshop. The highlight of the day will be when you board an open-air train for a journey through fantastic scenery to Trai Mat hamlet. End the day with a local coffee by Xuan Huong lake.
Day 7: Dalat – Nha Trang (B)
Today, you will be driven down from the highlands and along the coast to Nha Trang, Vietnam’s beach capital. Ringed by a necklace of hills, with a sweeping crescent beach, the city’s turquoise bay is dotted with tropical islands. Take to the turquoise waters for a cruise around the bay’s many islands, including a stop to enjoy a swim in the refreshing waters. After you will be transferred back to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. For those adventurous foodies, why not sample bun cha ca, a soup made from sailfish and jellyfish.
Day 8: Nha Trang – Quy Nhon (B,L)
This morning, leave the hustle and bustle of Nha Trang and continue driving up the coast of Vietnam. Enroute visit the Po Nagar Cham Towers. Built between the 7th and 12th centuries, these four Cham Towers are still actively used for worship by Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists. Originally the complex had seven or eight towers, but only four towers remain, of which the 28m-high North Tower (Thap Chinh), which dates from AD 817, with its terraced pyramidal roof, vaulted interior masonry and vestibule, is the most magnificent. After continue on to the coastal city of Quy Nhon. On arrival there is leisure time for exploring Quy Nhon on your own.
Day 9: Quy Nhon – Hoi An (B,L)
Today, leave the town of Quy Nhon and continue driving north to the famous colonial beach town of Hoi An. Enroute, stop at the Son My Village to pay homage to the victims of the My Lai massacre, a reminder of the horrors of war. Contrary to expectations, no enemy forces were encountered during the assault on My Lai, yet the men of the American Charlie Company swept through the hamlet and systematically killed all the inhabitants—almost exclusively old men, women, and children. After a moving visit, continue to Hoi An.
Hoi An is a city known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, cut through with canals. The former port city’s melting-pot history is reflected in its architecture, a mix of eras and styles from wooden Chinese shophouses and temples to colorful French colonial buildings, ornate Vietnamese tube houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge with its pagoda. On arrival the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 10: Hoi An (B,L)
Take a morning walking tour of charming Hoi An – a wonderfully laid-back and wilfully traditional town that has managed to retain the charms of a bygone era. Visit a lovely oldstyle merchant’s house, the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese temple and the local market. After there is free time to either continue your exploration of the city or simply relax on the sun soaked beach.
Day 11: Hoi An – Hue (B)
Today, leave Hoi An behind you as you make your way to Hue. Today trip takes you over the famous Hai Van Pass. The Hai Van Pass crosses over a spur of the Annamite Range that emerges from the west and juts into the South China Sea, forming the Hai Van Peninsula and the adjoining Son Tra Island. The pass, which once formed the boundary between the kingdoms of Dai Viet and Champa, also forms a boundary between the climates of northern and southern Vietnam, sheltering the city of Da Nang from the “Chinese winds” that blow in from the northwest. During the winter months (November– March), for instance, weather on the north side of the pass might be wet and cold, while the south side might be warm and dry. On the other side of the pass, find yourself in the charming city of Hue. A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century Citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines.
Day 12: Hue (B,L)
Today you will be picked up from the hotel for a tour and visit to the Imperial Citadel. This was the centre of power for the Nguyen Dynasty who ruled between 1802 and 1945. Here, we will visit Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City. Later, we will board a boat for a wonderful trip on Perfume River and a visit to Thien Mu pagoda where you will enjoy a vegetarian meal prepared by the local nuns. This afternoon continue with a visit to the fantastic tombs of the emperors Minh Mang and Khai Dinh. Your guide will give you a deep understanding of the King’s philosophy of geomancy and how this affected royal life. After, return to the hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 13: Hue – – Hanoi (B)
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi! Hanoi is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. On arrival into Hanoi airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel where the afternoon is at leisure. We recommend you to take a slow walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, which is very scenic, so remember your camera.
Day 14: Hanoi (B,L)
After breakfast, you will be picked up for city tour of incredible Hanoi. First head to visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, a 1400 year-old temple, the oldest in the city and is located near West Lake offering a watery landscape, the pagoda is a very scenic attraction. The next destination is the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where you have chance to visit President Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Uncle Ho’s House and the One-pillar pagoda – a very iconic temple in Vietnam. Temple of Literature will be your next stop, here education and study is centre point. After lunch, we will explore Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of Jade Mountain) dedicated to Confucian and Taoist philosophers and the national hero Tran Hung Dao. The temple with its famous Huc bridge is in the centre of Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake. Tonight, enjoy an evening performance of the traditional Water Puppets.
Day 15: Hanoi—Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Today we head for Halong Bay! Enjoy the journey through the Red River Delta with lush rice fields, water buffalos and everyday Vietnamese rural life. After we arrive in Halong, we will check-in for our overnight cruise and relax for a while. Then we lift anchor and sail to visit Sung Sot caves where we have one hour for kayaking between the limestone spires. Afterwards we set sail the explore this UNESCO Heritage region. As the sun sets over the bay, dinner is served on board with a huge selection of fresh seafood, salads, and fruits. There will also be a cooking class on board, where you can learn to cook some basic Vietnamese dishes or simply watch the sun slip away with a cool drink on the deck.
Day 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi (B,L)
The beautiful sunrise on Halong bay should never be missed, especially if you are into photography. Start the new day with a on deck Tai chi session (if you are keen on), or sleep in. Breakfast will be served on the boat after which you’ll have more time to enjoy the view before a wholesome brunch as your boat weaves through the magnificent limestone karst formations on your return towards Halong City. Upon disembarkation, we will head back to Hanoi with a stop at a local workshop in Hai Duong province for a lunch break. Once we arrive in Hanoi the rest of the evening is at leisure.
Day 17: Hanoi (B)
This morning you will have free time to wander Hanoi one last time before being transferred to the airport for your overnight flight back to Australia.
Day 18: Australia
Arrive home today