Welcome to Hanoi, perhaps the most graceful, atmospheric and exotic capital city in Asia. Airport to hotel arrival transfer. This morning offers free time for you to explore the wide tree lined avenues, beautiful lakes and ancient pagoda’s and thriving old city.
Meeting our guide at 2pm we set of on foot to explore Hanoi’s charming Old Quarter known as the ‘36 streets of the old Hanoi’. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and importantly Hang Ma street where we’ll browse and learn about the history and traditions of Vietnam’s Full Moon Festival. There may even be deliciously sweet traditional Mooncakes to be shared.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi –Halong Bay (B,L,D)
This morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay.
Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the pristine waterway known as ‘Dark & Bright Lagoon’. Tonight, there’s a Vientnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
Overnight in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay – Hanoi –Hue (B)
Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we sail back to port.
Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. The motorbike swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. The maze of rambling streets are framed by narrow front tube houses and we may have a chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offers by he pavement vendors. Our tour of the area is undertaken by a quintessentially Vietnamese experience from aboard a cyclo (rickshaw).
A little time will be given to freshen up before boarding the our train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on he ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
Upon arrival to Hue 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 mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Overnight in Hue.
Hue – Hoi An (B)
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, featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey south along the coast 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.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Full Moon Festival (B)
Today marks the height of the Full Moon Festival and we will be celebrating with the locals. This morning we ride by rickshaw to a local home on the outskirts of Hoi An where we will learn about the family’s long tradition of lantern-making and handcraft our own lanterns for tonight’s festivities. Heading into town we explore the local market stalls and authentic lantern shops before free time to visit one of the many great tailor shops, take a row boat down the river or spend the afternoon relaxing by the hotel swimming pool.
Tonight we make our way to the waters edge with hundreds of locals to release our lanterns and enjoy the spellbinding spectacle of hundreds of sparkling lights sailing down river and lighting up the night sky.
Overnuight in Hoi An.
Hoi An (B,L)
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Hoi An –Saigon (B,L)
Early morning flight to Saigon. 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 Vinh Long we’ll cruise downstream from Cai Be 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.
Overnight in Can Tho.
Can Tho –Saigon (B)
Early today we visit the ever lively Cai Rang floating market. Watch as melons, pineapples, fresh greens, sacks of rice and children’s toys get tossed from one sampan to another at great heights and speed before driving back to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon 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. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
Overnight in Saigon.
Today offers free time in Saigon till your departure transfer to the airport. Opt for a relaxing foot massage, shop for souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath!
You could also extend your stay and join us on a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels . Here you can go underground to explore the vast network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters, see booby traps, trap doors or test your skill with an AK 47 at the firing range.
Celebrating of the Full Moon Festival in Hoi An and witnessing the mass release of thousands of colourful lanterns into the river
Hanoi – Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ancient Quarter
Hue – ancient citadel, Imperial Purple City, Royal Tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda and monastery
Saigon – ‘Pearl of the Orient!. Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office and War Remnants Museum
Can Tho – lively market town in the Mekong Delta and nearby Cai Rang floating market
Cai Be waterways, cottage industries and mansion home
Halong Bay – UNESCO Listed region with thousands of beautiful limestone peaks and islets
Hoi An – UNESCO Listed ancient town, famed for its beautifully preserved old city, tailors, handicrafts markets and nearby beaches
Mekong Delta – a maze of waterways, fertile farm land and floating villages
9 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 1 dinner
Economy class flight Danang – Saigon
Halong Bay Junk boat cruise – opt to swim, kayak and explore caves
Bicycle ride to Tra Que village and cooking demonstration
Airport arrival transfer day 1 and departure transfer day 10
Escorted by an English speaking Vietnamese tour guide
7 nights 4 star and special class hotels, 1 night deluxe junk boat and 1 overnight sleeper train (Junk boat: private cabin, Sleeper train: basic, 4 berth cabin)
Guided sightseeing – Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta and Saigon
Lantern making in the home of the Ha Linh family in Hoi An and releasing our lanterns onto the river
Sampan boat trips in the Mekong Delta
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
Visa approval letter (excl. stamping fee required upon arrival)
International flights and visa. Vietnam visa letter included – stamping fee required upon arrival
Entrance Fees: USD$30-40, paid in USD
Tip for your tour guide. We recommend you allow USD$3 – 6 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture
Tipping Kitty: USD$40-50, paid in USD