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Good morning Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your city centre hotel. Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’, Hanoi is the charming capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. Spend the remains of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi – Sapa
This morning head to Hoan Kiem Lake which is the very heart of the city. Residents of Hanoi congregate around the lake early each morning to partake in Tai chi, aerobics and other light exercise. Enjoy a Tai Chi lesson with the locals and take a stroll around the lake before tucking into a traditional Vietnamese breakfast (Pho) at a café boasting marvelous views of the lake. After breakfast prepare yourself for a truly unique cooking experience!
Vietnamese food is healthy, simple to cook and downright delicious. This half day cooking tour in Hanoi will provide you with a hands-on lesson on how to shop for and cook authentic Vietnamese food. Begin with a quick walk to the famous Chau Long market, where you learn more about the various ingredients that go into a Vietnamese dish including vegetables, fruits and Vietnamese herbs and spices. It’s then onto the Hanoi Cooking Centre for your hand’s on cooking lesson. The cooking class is held in small groups (2 to 16 people) to enhance interactivity with the head chef. You will have one cooking station between 2 persons. At midday sit down and enjoy your own Vietnamese creations accompanied by local beer or wine, and receive detailed recipes cards to take home.
In the afternoon, enjoy a guided city tour of Hanoi. Having celebrated its 1000 year anniversary in 2010, the city has a rich and fascinating history. Sightseeing includes the Museum of Ethnology (closed Mondays), widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority peoples and the Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070.
This evening at approx 9pm, board an overnight express sleeper train from Hanoi to the border town of Lao Cai (soft sleeper berth cabin).
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
The train pulls into Lao Cai at approximately 06:00am this morning, transfer to Sapa for breakfast. Located 1500m above sea level, Sapa is a former French hill station, nestled in the rugged Tonkinese Alps and surrounded by lush valleys and verdant rice paddy fields. This morning take a light trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. Walking to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, you meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Zao, Hmong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets. Tonight you spend the night at the hotel in Sapa town.
Overnight in Sapa.
Start your morning with a hike to a beautiful waterfall before continuing on to a picturesque Red Dao village. Red Dao women wear giant red scarves around their heads and their clothing is embellished with colourful red embroidery and coins. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Sapa before returning to Lao Cai to board the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
Upon arrival in Hanoi, freshen up before driving to Halong City (approx 4 hours), stopping for refreshments en route. At UNESCO Listed Halong Bay limestone peaks and forest clad islets, hidden coves and beautiful beaches await discovery! Board your Junk boat and cruise to the famous islands of Halong Bay and onto Bai Tu Long Bay, stopping to visit a cave and swim in the warm waters. There is a chance to explore more this stunning area by sea kayak. Return to the Junk boat for a tasty dinner and a memorable night in beautiful surrounds.
Overnight in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay –Hue
Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! This morning cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng – where you’ll gain a fascinating insight into local life. Cruising back to the dock arrive into Halong City around noon then transfer back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city’s regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Created in the 19th century, the Imperial City was modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and holds many palaces and temples inside its giant walls. Many of the buildings were damaged by French aerial bombing and the Tet Offensive in 1968. Now it is slowly being restored thanks to generous funding by UNESCO.
Your tour begins after breakfast with the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. This evening, take a scenic boat cruise along the Perfume River.
Overnight in Hue.
Hue –Hoi An
This morning, continue south to the riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour trip hugs the coastline along the South China Sea with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants. Today, Hoi An is a quaint riverside town, renowned for its silk and popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailors shops and numerous cafes. Some of the buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century and much of the town is now heritage-listed.
In the afternoon, enjoy a guided walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Spend a day at leisure on the beach or having clothes made by one of the expert, inexpensive tailors that Hoi An is famous for. In the evening, you might want to stroll Hoi An’s romantic, silk latern lit streets and dine in one of its fantastic riverside restaurants.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Hoi An –Nha Trang
On day 10 transfer to the airport in Danang and fly to the coastal resort of Nha Trang. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure. Nha Trang is a popular coastal resort in central Vietnam, with 7kms of white sandy beach and pristine waters surrounded by archipelagoes and mountains.
Experience the beautiful coast of Nha Trang aboard a boat on day 11. The first stop is Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island, before heading out to Hon Mun Island for swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear waters. Breaking for lunch at the fishing village of Lang Chai, there is time to walk around the village before boarding the boat back to Nha Trang harbour. Spend day 12 at leisure. The resort is ideal for scuba diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing on the sandy beach. Sample some of the delicious seafood in some of the many restaurants and perhaps enjoy a spot of retail therapy at Cho Dam Market.
Overnight in Hna Trang.
Nha Trang –Saigon
In the morning on day 13, transfer to the airport and fly to Saigon. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure in this lively and cosmopolitan metropolis with its gleaming sky scrapers, expensive restaurants, bars and designer shops, which stand in stark contrast to the ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and ramshackle markets.
On day 14 take a morning excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, north west of the city. This immense network of connecting underground tunnels, were used by the Viet Cong and one of the famous battle grounds in the Vietnam War. Watch a short introductory video on the construction of the tunnels before exploring the maze of tunnels, accompanied by the guide. Also on display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs from B52 bombers.
Returning to Saigon at around 2pm, stop for lunch before visiting some of the city’s major attractions including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.
Overnight in Saigon.
Today enjoy a full day cruise excursion on the beautiful Mekong Delta, one of the world’s greatest river systems. Known as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’ the Mekong Delta has lush rice paddy fields and colourful fruit orchards, enchanting villages and bustling floating markets.
Early morning transfer to Cai Be – Phu An where you board the Cai Be Princess at around 10:00am. First stop is the colourful floating market at Cai Be. Then visit some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The cruise continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island where you can observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. Lunch awaits you at Le Longanier restaurant at La Residence de Phu An Resort, a superb Indochine style resort before disembarking mid-afternoon and returning to Saigon.
Overnight in Saigon.
After breakfast and hotel check out, included transfer to Saigon airport for your onward flight.
Hanoi – the ‘Paris of the Orient’ and capital of Vietnam; The Old Quarter, Tai Chi at Hoan Kiem Lake, Chau Long Market, the Museum of Ethnology and Temple of Literature
Hue – the Perfume River, Imperial City and ancient walled Citadel, Royal Tombs
Hoi An – UNESCO Listed former merchant trading post, famed for its beautifully preserved architecture
Cu Chi Tunnels – vast underground network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong
Nha Trang – coastal resort. White sandy beach, crystal clear water and off shore islands
Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay – UNESCO Listed region with thousands of beautiful limestone peaks and islets
Sapa – a former French hill station, nestled in the rugged Tonkinese Alps. Valleys, waterfalls and ethnic minority villages
Saigon – Cosmopolitan and commercial hub of Vietnam; The Presidential Palace, the History Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, Hotel D’Ville and Dong Khoi Street
Cruising on the Mekong Delta – one of the world’s greatest river regions. Cai Be Floating Market, Dong Hoa Hiep Island and Mekong Delta rural life
Hue – boat trip on the Perfume River
Vietnamese Cooking lesson in Hanoi
Nha Trang beach break and boat excursion
1 night aboard a Halong Bay Junk boat
16 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 1 dinner
Airport arrival and departure transfer
Services of an English speaking guide for all scheduled sightseeing
Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay Junk overnight boat cruise
Tai Chi lesson in Hanoi
Trekking in Sapa
13 nights standard hotels. Superior (4 star) and deluxe (5 star) properties are also available
2 nights overnight train – Hanoi to Sapa return. 4 berth soft sleeper cabin
3 domestic economy flights: Hanoi to Hue, Da Nang to Nha Trang and Nha Trang to Saigon
All transfers and transportation in private air conditioned vehicles
Guided tour of Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon
Sampan cruise on the Mekong Delta, including stops at Cai Be Floating Market and Dong Hoa Hiep Island
International flights and visa
Tipping – an entirely personal gesture
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