Encompassing all the main highlights of Vietnam and focusing on the country’s cultural and natural diversity, this tour takes you from the charming capital city of Hanoi and the stunningly beautiful Halong Bay to the World Heritage sites of Hoi An and Hue; from colourful and teeming Ho Chi Minh City to the wonderful scenery and floating markets of the Mekong Delta. This is the perfect tour for an insight into traditional Vietnamese culture and people.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai Airport , immigration formalities are cleared individually. Select a luggage cart from the ample supply available, identify and collect luggage personally from the carousel. Group members exit at appropriate customs checkpoint, they are able to see and identify signage for their group held by our staff members for direct transportation to the hotel. Balance of the day at leisure.
This morning you are collected at around 8.00am by our local guide for the 3 hour drive to Halong Bay, listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty, means “dragon descending to the sea“, for its picturesque seascape of more than 1,500 limestone islets rising from the sea. Enjoy a relaxing boat trip with fresh seafood lunch prepared and served on board. Late afternoon transfer back to Hanoi.
Breakfast at the hotel, we depart hotel for a visit to Ba Dinh Square where silent sentries guard the mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state (closed every Friday & Monday & October / November). See the simple cottage where Uncle Ho lived and worked and visit the nearby museum, the Temple of Literature. Return to hotel balance of the day at leisure.
After breakfast, check-out and transfer to Hanoi Airport for flight to Danang. Upon arrival at Danang Airport, meet and transfer to hotel in Hoi An. Then explore Hoi An, a world heritage site and florid trading town on the Silk Route since the 16th century. We visit a traditional house, the Japanese covered bridge as well as the Hoi An fish and produce market.
Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and overland transfer by road to through the newly opened Hai Van Tunnel to Hue with stopover to visiting of Cham Museum was founded in 1915 by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient. The museum building is lovely in its own right: as you wander past the exhibits you can look out on a courtyard full of frangipani trees and smell the salty sea air. But what makes this place worth visiting are the statues, which date from the 7th to 15th centuries. The Chams were masterful carvers; their religious statues are by turns serene, playful and sensual. Lunch break and toilet stop at “Lang Co Beach Resort”. Arrive in Hue in the late morning and check in at hotel. In the afternoon, you will start touring to visit Thien Mu Pagoda is about 3 km from Hue, on the banks of the Perfume River. This Mahayana Buddhist temple is a peaceful place to spend time. It’s the oldest monastery in Hue, dating back to the 17th century. It is octagonal seven tier stupa, which has long been regarded as the symbol of Hue. The best way to get to Thien Mu Pagoda is by a leisurely cruise along the Perfume River. The legend tells how, during the time of the Chams, an old woman dressed in red and green was seen seated on a heap of bricks. She ordered a pagoda to be built on that auspicious spot and then disappeared into the clouds. The sanctuary itself is an impressive monument overlooking the Perfume River and offers a good view of the area. Then continue on to the Royal Citadel & the Imperial City, the past glory of Hue. Emperor Gia Long modeled the Royal Citadel on the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. The Royal Citadel is composed of three walled enclosures, each within the other – a city within a city. Visit the Imperial City, which housed the palaces, pavilions, civil and religious ceremonies and official audiences with the civil mandarins. Then visit the Forbidden Purple City, located within the Imperial City, was the royal palace used only by the imperial family and the concubines and eunuchs, who served them. This part of the Imperial City suffered the most extensive damage during the Vietnam War and little remains of the original structures; today there are just ruins. UNESCO as a World Heritage Site is presently restoring it. Return to hotel for time at leisure and overnight.
Breakfast at the hotel, check-out and transfer along the banks of the Perfume River outside the imperial city are the tombs of the 13 Nguyen rulers. You will visit Khai Dinh’s Tomb; the spectacular entryway with its dragon pillars is the highlight of the Tomb. The architecture is in a modern style with a blend of European and Eastern design. Inside the main hall are colourful glass mosaic frescoes and a life-size bronze statue of Khai Dinh. Next stop will be Tu Duc’s Tomb; a peaceful resting place enclosed by walls, it features pine woods and a lakeside pavilion with lotus blossoms where the emperor once fished, listened to music, and wrote poetry. The tomb was more of a pleasure garden than a tomb: the emperor used it as a second residence, where he indulged in extravagant 50-course meals of incredible delicacies. The mausoleum was constructed between 1864 and 1867 by a force of 3,000 labors. Transfer back to Hue Airport for departure flight to Ho Chi Minh.Upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh Airport meet and transfer to hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart hotel by exploring the fascinating Mekong Delta. By travelling along Vietnam’s most important highway you will pass through seemingly endless paddy fields. At My Tho you will visit the ancient Vinh Trang Pagoda. Next, a motorised sampan will take you on a fascinating tour through the vast estuary of the Mekong Delta. All daily life and agricultural activities are centred on the countless branches of the river. Because of its abundance of rice fields and water, this region is called the Rice Bowl of Vietnam. Visit a local fruit orchard on one of the countless islands. Wander through the green heart of the Mekong Delta to visit a Rice Farmer’s House.
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart hotel to see the city’s major sights on this essential half-day tour. Start at the elegant Historical Museum and trace the country’s history from the ancient Dongson period until recent time. Admire here an enchanting performance of traditional Water Puppetry. En route, see the twin-spired Notre Dame Cathedral and the City Hall. Explore the old Presidential Palace with its remarkable network of underground bunkers. Venture through bustling Chinatown, locally known as Cholon, with its colorful atmosphere and mysterious temples. Visit the lively Thien Hao Pagoda, with the enormous burning incense-coils that never fail to impress. Lunch at local restaurant and transfer back to hotel can stay until check-out time at 18:00 hrs.