BEAUTIES OF VIETNAM – 12 DAYS / 11 NIGHTS
Hanoi > Mai Chau > Ninh Binh > Ha long > Hue > Hoi An > Saigon > Mekong Delta
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Meet your local guide and driver and transfer to your hotel. Check-in and free time to relax. Take a walk and explore the city in the chaotic Old Quarter around the Hoan Kiem Lake.
Day 2: Hanoi
Start your Hanoi discovering with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (outside) where you will learn about the man who led Vietnam’s independence campaign French colonial domination. Visit the One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace, and the Temple of Literature which is the first university in Vietnam in the afternoon.
Day 3: Hanoi > Mai Chau
After around four hours’ drive from Hanoi, you will discover Mai Chau in Hoa Binh province where you can see limestone mountains, rice paddies, corn fields, bamboo groves and terraced tea plantations. Relax at your retreat hotel in the countryside then take a walk around the nearby villages and meet the Thai ethnic people living there.
Day 4: Mai Chau > Ninh Binh
This morning, saddle up and enjoy a guided half-day cycling tour through the villages of Sam Khoe, Pieng Ve and Buoc. Give a wave to or stop for a chat with the local minority people who will be out and about, collecting firewood, working in the fields and tending to their animals. Later in the afternoon return to Hanoi.
Day 5: Ninh Binh > Halong Bay
Travel about four hours to reach the port of Halong Bay. Called “Bay of Descending Dragons” in Vietnamese, the archipelago of Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of almost 2,000 islands and jungle clad limestone pillars. Hop onboard a traditional junk and over lunch cruise to a secluded corner of the marine park. Spend the next few hours visiting ancient limestone caves and paddling around on sea kayaks.
Day 6: Halong Bay > Hanoi > Hue
Rise early for a lesson in Tai Chi or just to enjoy a hearty breakfast. The boat will make its way back to the port stopping at the Cave of Surprises, full of stalagmites and stalactites. From here, it’s clear sailing back to the main harbour and the return drive to Hanoi and the airport for your onward flight to Hue.
Day 7: Hue
The former imperial capital of Hue, was once the seat of power for the ruling Nguyen Dynasty. The city is brimming with history, culture and ancient temples. Spend the day exploring the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and other key sites, before taking a cruise on the Perfume River.
Day 8: Hue > Hoi An
Take a drive along the scenic Hai Van Pass towards ancient port town of Hoi An. This UNESCO recognized town has been artfully restored to its former glory and its quaint architecture makes the perfect picture postcard. This afternoon takes a guided walking tour of the charming town to discover a preserved pagoda, assembly hall and beautiful covered bridge – living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.
Day 9: Hoi An
Spend the day at leisure on the beach, learning the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine with a cooking class or having clothes made by one of Hoi An’s famous – and famously inexpensive tailors! Your day is free to do as little or as much as you like.
Day 10: Hoi An > Ho Chi Minh City
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) and spend the afternoon on a guided walk. Discover the story of Saigon and hear about the history of the city from the days of French colonial rule to the tragedy of the Vietnam War. You’ll visit key locations such as the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City > Mekong Delta > Ho Chi Minh City
Travel about two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be, the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Hop aboard a small boat and explore the waterways stopping off at a small home-based factory where workers process coconuts to be used in products like matting and candy. Then transfer to Le Jarai, a converted rice barge and continue your cruise along the Mekong River. Join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking and watch the river go by as you enjoy a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties! Late in the afternoon arrive into Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City Departure
Spend your last moments picking up souvenirs at the local market before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.