On arriving at Noi Bai Airport, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel in the city centre. Hotel check-in is available at 2 pm. Free time to discover the Old Quarter on your own.
Starting the day trip with a visit to the Tran Quoc Pagoda. It was the centre of Buddhism in the imperial city of Thang Long (former name of Hanoi) during the Ly Dynasty and the Tran Dynasty (11th - 15th centuries). We will then visit the Temple of Literature, constructed in 1070 to worship Confucius, which also served as the first Royal National University in Vietnam. There are 82 stone steles, carried by tortoises, engraved with names, birthdates, and birthplaces of honoured doctorates from 1442 to 1779. Local people believed that touching the head of these tortoises would bring luck.
Our afternoon exploration begins with the Museum of Ethnology (closed on Mondays, the alternative on this day being the History Museum). The museum offers a wide range of informative and well-documented displays of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, including colourful hill tribe costumes. The outdoor display is an impressive collection of traditional houses of various minorities from the north to the central Highlands.
We will drive to the Old Quarter, also known as “36 streets and guilds”. Now time for a street food tour and to get lost in the labyrinth of lanes in which each street once specialized in a specific type of manufacturing or trade. Most of the houses in the area were built towards the end of the 19th century. There is no better way of exploring this commercial district than on foot to capture all aspects of local daily life: crafts, Buddhism, temples, gastronomy, local markets, traditional tube-houses (a Vietnamese particularity), medicine… and perhaps most special, delving deep into the culture of the capital through local food will be a memorable experience.
The street food tour ends with a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) before watching a traditional water puppet show.
Today is for you to discover everyday life in the local area, ancient pagodas, and authentic villages in the neighbourhood of Hanoi. We take the fast lane to the Thay Pagoda - built in the 11th century during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong. The pagoda’s abbot monk was Tu Dao Hanh who was well-known for his humility and generosity towards the poor. He was the inventor of the water puppetry which recorded the lives of the rural population. Since then, the art from this area has become a nationwide tradition.
The tour continues to the famous Tay Phuong Pagoda to admire its fine century-old Buddha statue collection. We stop at Mr. Tai’s house whose family craft is making bamboo baskets and dragonflies. He will show you how to make your own bamboo souvenir to bring back home.
We head to Duong Lam village, a well-known village in Vietnam for its 300-year-old houses, grand communal halls, and pagodas. Two of Vietnam’s kings Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung were from the Duong Lam area. Here you will enjoy a local lunch in a rural atmosphere. The afternoon is devoted to a bicycle excursion to discover the village’s highlights: old houses, the communal house of Mong Phu, the Mia Pagoda built in iron wood (iroko wood) and the temple of king Ngo Quyen. Return to Hanoi in the late afternoon.
Our car and guide will pick you up in the morning for the two-hour drive to Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh province - the former feudal capital of Vietnam at the end of the 10th century. You will visit two ancient temples dedicated to Dinh Tien Hoang - the founder of the Dinh Dynasty (968-980) and Le Dai Hanh - the founder of Early Le Dynasty (980 - 1009). Lunch of a regional speciality will be waiting for you at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will board a rowing boat in Tam Coc (three grottoes) for a peaceful navigation along Ngo Dong River, cruising among limestone mountains, between rice fields and through three beautiful limestone caves. We will spend the rest of the day riding bicycles, getting lost on winding roads passing lotus ponds, temples, and cottages, typical of Vietnamese countryside. We will visit the Bich Dong pagoda complex, which dates back to the 15th century, hiding among the jungle on a lush hillside. There are three humble, yet interesting pagodas connected by stone steps. The reward for reaching the highest pagoda is the precious panoramic view of the valley below. Overnight at the hotel.
Following breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Hai Phong, where you will board the cruise and set off on an enchanting journey throughout the beautiful Halong Bay. On arrival, welcome drinks, a cruise briefing, and safety instructions are delivered by the cruise manager, followed by your cabin check in. The uniquely designed itineraries allow you to experience the less travelled routes that other cruises simply don’t reach.
Aside from exploring the natural beauty of the numerous islets at a leisurely pace, the program today also includes other activities such as swimming and kayaking on the vast sea, or a cooking class on board to challenge your skills preparing a very famous Vietnamese dish (activities depend on the weather, season, and the specific cruise). All seafood meals are prepared fresh on board.
Nothing can be compared to waking up to a serene morning surrounded by karsts. You can have an early morning dip and then breakfast on board. We will continue to sail through the bay during the morning to explore hidden areas. The junk will stay close at all times serving as a backup vessel for those who need it. Around midday we will return to the main harbour & drive back to the airport in Hanoi to catch the flight to Hue. Pick up and transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Hue.
Start the morning with a boat trip on the poetic Perfume River. Our first visit is to Thien Mu Pagoda (Celestial Lady pagoda) built in 1601 on the Northern bank of the river. With its seven-storey Phuoc Duyen tower, Thien Mu Pagoda became the symbol of the ancient capital and has often been mentioned in folk rhymes about Hue.
We continue cruising toward Thuy Bieu, a laid-back village settled on the banks of the Perfume River. The village is famous for its green Thanh Tra (a small kind of pomelo) orchards. Then you have a peaceful walk through the village, visiting communal houses, ancient temples, and the garden houses - a typical and unique feature of Hue. You will be treated to a foot bath in medicinal herb water, followed by a soothing massage from the skilled hands of a blind therapist to recharge after a full day spent sightseeing.
Join the cooking class to prepare Hue’s signature dishes under our chef’s instruction and enjoy your delicious freshly made food in the open-air riverside restaurant.
After having lunch, we drive to visit Hue Imperial City. In the ultimate royal city of Vietnam, we will have a chance to see beautiful structures including the Flag Tower, Nine Holy Cannons, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Nine Dynastic Urns and the Forbidden Purple City or Tu Cam Thanh. Continue on to visit the Tomb of Tu Duc designed by the Emperor himself before his death. The Tomb includes 50 monuments arranged asymmetrically and highlights the perfect harmony of buildings and nature. Take time to soak in its tranquil and relaxing setting.
Head back to the city centre and night at the hotel.
Visit to the Minh Mang Mausoleum, one of Hue’s finest royal tombs. The complex, built from 1840 to 1843 by more than ten thousand workers and soldiers, comprises 40 buildings including palaces, temples, pavilion, etc... which are organized symmetrically on a vertical axis. After lunch, we hop in the car and take the Mandarin Road from Hue to Hoi An. The scenic journey offers views of seemingly endless stunning beach landscapes and dense tropical forest. Along the road we can stop to take photos of Da Nang Beach. We will visit the Marble Mountains and the Cham Museum before arriving in Hoi An. Night at the hotel.
In the morning you will be taken on a half-day walking tour of Hoi An ancient town. In this UNESCO-recognised world heritage site you will visit Chua Ong Pagoda (dedicated to “Quan Thanh De Quan” - an ancient Chinese general), Chinese assembly halls, the 200-year-old Tan Ky house (with Japanese and Chinese influenced architecture), and the Japanese Covered Bridge (built by the Japanese then living in Hoi An to connect their quarter to that of the Chinese).
In the afternoon, hop on a bicycle and ride to Phu Thinh beach, passing through lush paddy fields. On the way we will stop at the Precious Art Gallery Museum to admire the exhibition of photos and costumes of the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. You will have an enjoyable massage facing the sea, and afterwards swim freely at Phu Thinh beach. A Seafood dinner is served right on the beach. After that we ride back to the hotel.
Free time to discover Hoi An City. In the afternoon, take the car (no guide) to Da Nang airport to catch the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. You will be picked up and transferred to the hotel in the city centre. Night spent in the busy and colourful City.
We depart from Ho Chi Minh City in the morning for Cai Be, located in the heart of the Mekong delta, where the river divides into multiple canals and arroyos. Upon arrival, we take a bicycle ride on Tan Phong island to discover its fertile fruit orchards. There are several stops to visit family workshops of rice paper (banh trang re) and baskets made from water hyacinth. During lunch we will have a chance to taste various specialities cooked with love by the locals. In the afternoon, we return by boat to visit a ceramics factory where they make pottery and tiles from clay. Transfer back to the landing stage and drive toward Can Tho. Night at the hotel.
Today we will be the early birds taking the morning boat trip to Cai Rang floating market, the largest in the region, where boats bursting with fruit and vegetables gather every day. After joining in at the busy market, you will take a walk in Mr. Ba Cong’s orchard to taste fresh tropical fruits. The following visit is to a workshop where you will see how the local (canna indica) vermicelli is made. Get back to the mainland by boat and then we will drive to Chau Doc.
On the way you will stop at the Bang Lang Stork Garden (the largest bird sanctuary in the Mekong delta). The view from the platform overlooking the forest is breath-taking, with hundreds of storks and herons nesting there.
Arriving at Chau Doc in late afternoon, you will visit Chua Hang on Mount Sam - an exceptional pagoda combining the different cultural and religious influences of the region. Its architecture and panoramic view are worthy of a cinematic setting.
The visit to Tra Su forest in the morning is simply spectacular. This mangrove is composed of cajuput trees and home to 70 species of birds, 140 plant species, and 20 species of reptiles, to name but a few. We will hop on a small boat sailing on a river covered by lenses of freshwater (floating on the denser saltwater below), lotus hearts and water lilies. In order to get a breath-taking view of the forest and neighbouring Cambodia, we will climb the six floors of the observation tower. Transfer to HCM City.
Free time to discover Ho Chi Minh City on your own then transfer (without guide) to the airport for your departure flight. End of our services.
This in-depth journey through Vietnam takes you all the way from North to South. You will start with the colonial charm of Hanoi – the capital, then travel to the natural wonderland of Lan Ha Bay. Visit the ancient capital of Hue and relax on the beaches of Hoi An. Explore the lush landscape of palm trees and fruit orchards of the Mekong Delta, and after that back to the bright lights and urban bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. This Panorama of Vietnam tour takes you deep into the soul of our beautiful country, immersing you in our rich culture and fascinating landscapes. This tour is a perfect snapshot of a captivating country with energetic cities, enchanting traditions, and compelling landscapes!
• Visit Hanoi – the elegant capital of Vietnam.
• Overnight on a luxury cruise on Lan Ha Bay
• Visit the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc and the Imperial Citadel in Hue.
• Explore Hoi An by bicycle
• Tour bustling Saigon, Vietnam's financial hub.
• Take a sampan cruise on the Mekong River & witness local daily life
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
- Accommodation with breakfast on a Double/Twin Basis in Hotels listed or similar
- 2 day/1 night cruise in Halong Bay
- All entrance fees and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
- Experienced English speaking tour guides except on free days (for other language guides supplements will be applied)
- Meals as mentioned in the program (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles with driver
- Boat trips in the Mekong Delta as mentioned in the program
- Domestic flights Hanoi - Hue, Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh City in economy class
- Bottled water during the tour day
OUR SERVICES DO NOT INCLUDE:
- Rates and Hotels are subject to availability
- Domestic & International flights when not mentioned
- Drinks and meals other than those mentioned
- Gratuities to guides, drivers, boat crews, wait staff... We recommend you allow USD$3-6 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guide is an entirely personal gesture.
- Personal expenses of any nature like, laundry, telephone calls, shopping, incidentals at hotels etc.
- Any tours, services, transfers, or event tickets not mentioned in the package inclusions.
- Incidental Charges must be paid by clients
- Visa Stamping Fee for Vietnam
- Travel Insurance
- Peak season or Public holiday surcharges if any
- Other services not mentioned in the itinerary
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