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. Overnight at the hotel.
Starting the day trip with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Complex (closed on Mondays & Fridays) & his former stilt-house residence. 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. The green and neatly maintained gardens and lotus ponds make this place a peaceful hideaway from the city’s hustle and heat.
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.
Drive back to the Old Quarter for a 1.5-hour walking tour, specially designed for a deeper insight into Hanoian daily life. We will also visit the Ngọc Son temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) which sits on a green islet in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, connected to the lakeside by a graceful scarlet bridge named The Huc (meaning the early sunlight welcoming place). The temple is dedicated to Tran Hung Dao - the General who defeated the Mongols in the 13th century and Van Xuong De Quan - the patron of literature and examinations. Ngoc Son temple and Hoan Kiem Lake are frequently visited by tourists and locals.
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).
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.
Our journey today is toward the East, through the rich farmland of the Red River Delta, and then by boat to Cat Hai Island off the port city of Hai Phong. On arrival at the port, you are welcomed aboard the ship. Settle into a private comfortable cabin and unpack for a three-day cruise around Lan Ha Bay. Along the way to the unspoiled and less visited areas, you can admire the picturesque scenery of islands immersed in emerald water while enjoying a generous lunch served on board. These karst formations are littered with beautiful beaches, grottoes, and caves. Take a break from the cruise with an enjoyable paddle in the kayaks or a recreational swim in a secluded cove and the crystal-clear waters of the bay. Then back to the boat to take part in an onboard traditional cooking class. Enjoy delicious local food prepared and served for you by the wonderful onboard catering staff.
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 and drive back to Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi to take the flight to Hue City. 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 morning 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. Transfer to Hue Airport to take the flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
This morning we leave the hotel at 8 am and drive to Ben Tre province in the Mekong Delta. Upon arrival at Hung Vuong Pier (90km from Sai Gon), we get on a boat and cruise along the Ben Tre River. The boat stops at an artisanal brick factory for you to explore its imposing ovens. A sweet break is planned at a coconut candies workshop where you will watch how coconut flesh is used and processed. A short tuk-tuk bike ride on the winding small road of the countryside will take you deeper into the village and we will stop at a family braiding mats. The local restaurant prepares typical dishes of the Mekong delta for your lunch. Following, we board on a rowing boat to join the maze of canals and return to the landing stage. Get back on the car and we continue driving to Can Tho. Night spent 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.
Overnight at the hotel in Chau Doc.
This morning we drive to Tra Su Cajuput Forest. The visit to Tra Su 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 Ho Chi Minh City.
In the morning, you will be picked up from the hotel. We head to an open-air space near Tao Dan Park where elders display their prized songbirds. The following visit is to the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica of Ho Chi Minh City, constructed between 1877 and 1880 by the French. Only a few steps from the Cathedral is the General Post Office. People come here not for sending postcards or letters, but mostly to admire its interior with an arched roof and curved windows, reminiscent of early European railway stations. We continue to the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Presidential Palace, which was the residence of the president of South Vietnam until the end of April 1975.
Afternoon, we head to the Cu Chi Tunnel system built from 1946 to 1968 by local inhabitants and soldiers using simple tools. During the American bombings, they were turned into an underground city, which could house up to 10,000 people, with trapdoors, living areas, kitchens, storage facilities, armouries, hospitals, and command centres. Visitors can enter some parts of the underground tunnel to understand better how the system worked. Overnight at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
Free time to discover Ho Chi Minh City then transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
This Vietnam package tour encompasses all the main features of Vietnam: the conservative capital in the north, rich historic stories of imperial cities, beautiful coastal settings, the dynamic ambiance of Ho Chi Minh City and the busy Mekong Delta. A beautiful country with colourful local traditions and fascinating cultures and histories is waiting for you to come and travel.
• Visit Hanoi - the charming colonial capital of Vietnam
• Take a peaceful row boat cruise in Tam Coc - Ninh Binh
• Enjoy a 5-star luxury cruise on Lan Ha Bay & Halong Bay
• Learn about the Nguyen dynasty during the trip to Hue
• Peruse the lively Cai Rang floating market
• Take a boat trip through narrow canals in the Mekong delta
OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:
- Accommodation with breakfast on a Double/Twin Basis in Hotels listed or similar
- 2 days/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 - 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.
- 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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