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Sapa, Sampans & Saigon
Good Morning Vietnam! Included transfer from Hanoi airport to the city before taking the overnight sleeper train to Lao Cai. (Please note your flight into Hanoi should arrive no later than 1400).
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
Lao Cai – Sapa
Breakfast. After an early arrival in Lao Cai we take a short drive to Sapa and take breakfast before visiting a local market. We then take a leisurely walk to Cat Cat village, home to the famous Black H’mong tribe and pay a visit to a local family. Continuing on we visit Cat Cat waterfall for lunch. This afternoon we take a trail through the mountain surrounded by spectacular scenery to another local village. Once back at the main road we drive back to Sapa for the evening.
Overnight in Sapa.
Sapa –Tribal Villages
This morning we head to the Lao Chai Vilage and begin a walk to Ta Van village – home to the Dzay tribe for a rest and a picnic lunch. After lunch we continue our walk through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai. This is a village of the Red Dao tribe, who dress in beautiful embroidered trousers topped with bright red turbans and chunky silver jewellery. Before we head back to Sapa we visit another beautiful waterfall for a refreshing end to the day.
Overnight in Sapa.
Today is spent at leisure in Sapa. Why not take a walk up to the Sapa radio tower where you can get spectacular views of the surrounding rice paddies, terraces and the valley. Sapa also has a local market where you can buy souvenirs and try your hand at haggling. This evening we climb aboard our train back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
An early arrival into Hanoi we then proceed to the famous Quang Ba Flower Market where you will witness one of the most frantic and colourful markets in the world. Some great photo opportunities to be had! Afterwards we take a stroll to Truc Bach Lake where you will witness locals doing their morning Tai Chi and other exercises as the sun comes up. On the way to the hotel we visit a local restaurant for breakfast.
The rest of the day is at leisure so you can properly explore Vietnam’s buzzing capital. Why not head to the Ho Chi Minh complex? Home to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum (closed in the afternoon), the Presidential Palace and Ho Chi Minh’s famous House on Stilts.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi – Halong Bay
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 ‘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
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. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. 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
Hue – Road of the Ocean Clouds – Hoi An. 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 My Khe beach, a beautiful stretch of coastline which was nicknamed ‘China Beach’ by the Americans during the war and famously 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
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practises 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.
A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. It’s also possible to take an optional excursion to the most holiest and evocative of Vietnam’s Cham sites, My Son or to Quang Ngai, the site of the My Lai massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the Vietnam War and the story is told through photo presentation on a walk through the village.
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
Early today we visit Cai Rang floating market and drive 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.
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
Cai Be waterways, cottage industries, mansion home and Dong Hoa Hiep Island
Saa – tribal villages of the H’mong, Dzay and Red Dao Tribes. Stunning mountain vistas and rice terraces
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
Can Tho – lively market town in the Mekong Delta and nearby Cai Rang floating market
13 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 1 dinner
Economy class flight Danang – Saigon
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
Visa approval letter (excl. stamping fee required upon arrival)
9 nights 4 star and special class hotels, 1 night deluxe junk boat and 3 overnight sleeper train (Junk boat: private cabin, Sleeper train: basic, 4 berth cabin)
Halong Bay Junk boat cruise – opt to swim, kayak and explore caves
Sampan boat trips in the Mekong Delta
Guided sightseeing – Sapa Villages, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta and Saigon
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
Trekking in Sapa
International flights and visas
Entrance Fees: USD$35-45, paid in USD
Tip for your tour guides. We recommend you allow USD$3 – 6 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guides is an entirely personal gesture
Tipping Kitty: USD$50-60, paid in USD
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