Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi
Upon arriving at Noi Bai International airport then you’ll be met and driven to your hotel for check in. Resting after your journey. Your overnight will be at hotel in Hanoi center.
Day 2: Hanoi Heritage Tour
Today enjoy a fascinating tour of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and famed for its centuries- old architecture and rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. You’ll explore bustling Hanoi; admire the traditional and French architectures before visting the Temple of Literature, originally built as a Temple of Confucius. You then visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum to see the large monumental marble edifice and nearby house too, set in tranquil grounds. After this you will learn about Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority people through the extensive display at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country.
After lunch you’ll call in at the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. The centre of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son temple and bustling Old Quarter are a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. At its heart is the chaotic Old Quarter where the narrow streets are roughly arranged by trade. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
You might like to consider the following alternatives for your day in Hanoi (pickup one or two sites below)
- Hoa Lo Museum: former US presidential candidate John McCain was imprisoned for over 5 years
- The History, Fine Arts and Vietnam Military History Museum [formerly Army Museum] – large, but with many interesting exhibits.
- The Women’s Museum – small but a fascinating narrative of the role of women in Vietnam, particularly during the war.
- The Hanoi Citadel: This former residence of the royalty of Vietnam was used between 1010 and 1810. It is now a recognised World Heritage Site that was not previously open to the public. Whilst most of the structure making up; the Citadel was destroyed by the French in the 19th century, the gate, steps, Princess's Palace and Hanoi Flag Tower still exist.
- The Dong Xuan, Hang Be or Hom markets – large, crowded, but very Vietnamese,
- St. Joseph’s Cathedral – European neo-Gothic (plenty of up-market shops and restaurants nearby)
Day 3: Hanoi/Hoa Lu/Mua Cave/Van Long Nature Reserve
In the morning our guide will meet you at the hotel for your departure to Ninh Binh city, 130km south of Hanoi. The journey takes about 2, 5 hours. On arriving at Hoa Lu you will visit the Ancient Capital and two remaining temples of Dinh King & Le King with a brief visit to the remains of the Old Palace. From here you’ll drive on the countryside road, passing through the limestone peaks and rice paddies and rural villages to Mua Cave. From the cave, you can see all the way to Tam Coc's three grottoes. Climb 500 stone steps to the top of the mountain to enjoy a stunning view of the countryside and the wonderful Ngo Dong River. Then you’ll enjoy your lunch in the local restaurant nearby.
After that, you will visit Van Long Nature Reserve, the largest wetland of Northern Vietnam. Upon our arrival at Van Long you will embark on a sampan boat trip along this beautiful reserve and through a cave. You will enjoy wonderful views similar Ha Long Bay but even more serene with its emphasis on ecology. You have chance to be close to nature with thousands of plants and hundreds of world-red-book animals in the Reserve. You’ll then get back to the resort where you’ll spend your night.
Day 4: Hanoi/Panoramic Ha Long Bay
At 7:30 you’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests and spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Indochina Sails boarding time is at 12:15 pm. Upon boarding you are greeted with a welcome drink and gather in the dining room for a comprehensive safety and boat orientation briefing followed by itinerary details.
After the briefing and check in you’ll have some free time until lunch is served at 1:00pm. Lunch is a multi-course Vietnamese and Western set menu. Enjoy a wonderful meal whilst gazing at stunning scenery as you cruise through Ha Long Bay, a most beautiful and quiet area including Incense Burner, Dog Stone Islet, Fighting Cock and Finger Islet. You’ll then stop at the Surprise Cave – one of the most spectacular and largest grottoes of Ha Long Bay which mouth of the grotto is reached by ascending about hundred stone steps.
Back on board there will be free time of about one and a half hours before the Cooking Class on board held by our chef. All guests are invited to participate. The chef will show you how to make several traditional Vietnamese dishes with the opportunity for food tasting too. Recipes can be provided to take home!
The dinner is served at 7:30pm, a sumptuous buffet featuring an array of salads, seafood, meat dishes, seasonal fresh fruits and deserts. After dinner relax in the dining room and lounge. Board games and playing cards are available and massage services as well (massage service is available throughout the cruise). Also, everyone can try their luck at squid fishing from the boat with help from the crew. You will spend your night on board.
Day 5: Panoramic Ha Long Bay/Hanoi/Hue
An early start to the day with a coffee or tea. At 06:45 do join in a Tai Chi session with the Tai Chi master or take part in a photo hunt. Breakfast is al fresco so enjoy the fresh air and beauty of the Bay. At 07:15 you’ll row in a kayaking boat with the guide leading to the beautiful Luon Cave. This is a great experience as you will get a good impression of the landscape and way of life on the Bay. You’ll then stop at Titov Island where you’ll spend nearly one hour to visit the island, sunbath or swim and climb up to the peak for breathtaking 360 degree view of Bay. Then it’s back on board; and time for final packing and to freshen up. While the boat starts cruising toward the harbor for brunch is served around noon. You then drive to back to Hanoi for your flight to Hue (VN1545 19:15 ~ 20:30). Once you arrive, you’ll be driven to your hotel in city centre for your overnight.
Day 6: Hue Heritage Tour
This morning, your guide will accompany you to visit one of the iconic attractions in Hue - the ancient Thien Mu Pagoda. On the way you’ll cruise along the Perfume River to enjoy the peaceful and romantic atmosphere of Hue. You’ll then call in at the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, the most majestic tomb with classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture. After lunch, you’ll arrive at the Royal Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, renowned for its unique architecture, combining Vietnamese and European features. You will then be taken to one of city’s garden houses before returning to your hotel.
In the evening you’ll have a traditional Hue dinner. Not only will the distinctive classic Hue cuisine indulge your taste but the beautifule and tranquil environment creates its own special atmosphere that makes for a delightful experience. You’ll spend the night in Hue
Day 7: Hue Real Local Life Explore
A most interesting way to discover the charms of the ancient capital of Hue is to take a drive around the surrounding countryside and villages. Here you can appreciate the local scenery and lifestyle. This tour is delightful as you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity as well as take in the scenery, including green paddy fields, rivers, hills, handicraft villages and old architecture, which Hue people try to maintain in its original state.
Your guide will be at your hotel ready for you to visit through Hue’s rural villages towards the Thanh Toan Bridge (roofed in Chinese style). You will cross infinite rice paddy fields with mountains in the background, rivers and small villages with their markets. Nearby, a local market will provide you with views of daily life and local products on sales. You'll then visit the An Hien Princess ‘garden house’. It has an attractive family altar and you’ll listen to the man who is an expert on Hue’s culture and history – he will be pleased to explain the geomantic principles underpinning the building and garden’s construction.
After that, you will visit one of the handicraft villages in Hue’s hinterland that specialises in a range of traditional cakes - ‘banh it’ and ‘banh nam., “banh beo’ . You’ll then be going to Vong Canh hill (meaning a Viewpoint hill, used to be the place where Kings could admire the scenery) as you enjoy the best view of the picturesque Perfume River and Pine Trees and a 360 degrees panorama. You will cross infinite rice paddy fields with mountains in the background, rivers and small villages with their markets. Nearby a local market will provide you with views of daily life and local products on sale. Finally, you’ll stop to visit the tomb of Tu Duc, the ‘poet Emperor’, is set in an elegant garden with a magnificent lake and pavilion complex. The simplest of the actual tomb (a monument – he was buried elsewhere to thwart grave robbers) is at odds with the lavish opulence of his reign. You’ll then get back to your hotel where you’ll spend your night.
Day 8: Hue/Danang/Hoi An Ancient Town
After breakfast, you’ll have a guided visit to the Imperial Citadel of Hue, once the capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty. The Citadel comprised three circles of ramparts: Hue Capital Citadel, Royal Citadel and Forbidden Citadel. Wandering outside, you’ll see the distinguished view of the enormous walls overlooking the defensive moat which is filled with beautiful lotus. After entering the citadel through Noon Gate you’ll visit different areas such as Thai Hoa Palace, the Nine Urns and remains of Royal Palaces and learn about the history as well as traditions of these important times.
You’ll then have lunch in a nearby restaurant and then your car will drive you to Danang. On the way, you'll cross the Hai Van mountain pass: “Ocean Clouds pass”, a long and amazing pass located between Da nang and Hue. From Hai Van pass, you can see the beautiful Lang Co beach with blue sea water and the panoramic view of Da Nang city.
Upon arriving in Danang you will visit the Hindu statuary in the Cham Museum. After 30 minutes of driving from Da Nang, you’ll arrive at Hoi An. After lunch, your guide will meet you to show you the Ancient Town and explain its considerable significance in the history of Vietnam. The ancient architecture of Hoi An is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional buildings with Chinese and Japanese influence. There’s plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, Pottery Museum, 200 years old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and vibrant market. Today we include these on a walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls, which reflect the town's multi-cultural past. You’ll understand why many visitors come to Hoi An again and again. Your overnight will be in Hoi An.
Day 9: Hoi An From Farmer to Fisherman
Today you’ll explore the life of local farmer and fisherman up close. On your way venturing to the countryside, you’ll enjoy the peaceful scenery of the rural area, taking photos of enormous rice paddy fields with water buffalo leisurely passing by. You’ll visit an organic vegetable garden, get to know the work of local farmers and experience with activities such as watering and planting vegetable or hoeing a soil with local farmer with your own hands.
You’ll then cruise on a boat to observe the lives of local fishermen and engage yourself in their work, experience the traditional net fishing in a traditional “Thung Chai basket boat. You’ll also meander through the water palm coconut canal, which was used as an effective hiding place of Viet Cong soldiers during the American War. After a fresh seafood lunch, you’ll bike back to your hotel to rest for a while.
After that, your guide will show you the Ancient Town and explain its considerable significance in the history of Vietnam. The ancient architecture of Hoi An is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional buildings with Chinese and Japanese influence. There’s plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, Pottery Museum, 200 years old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and vibrant market. Today we include these on a walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls, which reflect the town's multi-cultural past. You’ll understand why many visitors come to Hoi An again and again. Your overnight will be in Hoi An.
Day 10: Hoi An Free
The time will be yours to do anything you want, or you can pick one of these alternative excursions below to fulfil your day with joys.
Day 11: Hoi An/Danang/Ho Chi Minh City
You’ll be free in the morning to relax, sunbath or swimming until your car and driver arrive to take you to the Danang airport for your flight (VN 1347 14:50 ~ 15:50) to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, you’ll be picked up and driven to the hotel in the city centre for your accommodation.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels Discover
In the morning, your guide will arrive at your hotel and take you to Cu Chi Tunnels - an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about 60 km North West of Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnel system included countless trapdoors, constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. It was used by Viet Cong soldiers as their base as well has effective hiding places for guerrilla tactic in the American War.
After lunch, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City and have a visit to the Museum of War Remnants which will provide you a partial perspective about the “American War” with more than 1500 documents, artifacts and films displayed. You’ll also have a look at the Notre Dame and the Post Office nearby, two iconic buildings of the city with French colonial architecture. From there, you’ll have a short walk to Dong Khoi Street, the heart of the city’s commercial life with many French colonial style buildings before wandering around Ben Thanh Market to see the central market of Ho Chi Minh City, filled with colourful food, clothes and other commodity. You’ll then get back to your hotel for your overnight.
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City/Cai Be/Tan Phong Island/Vinh Long/Ho Chi Minh City
Escaping Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll travel to Vinh Long. Arriving in Cai Be, your host will welcome you with some fresh fruit before you embark on your boat to visit Cai Be Floating Market and traditional handicraft villages where you can see how to make the rice paper, coconut candy and pop rice, popcorn. At the market you’ll have opportunity to talk to some of the sellers on their boats, then your boat will take you to Tan Phong Island. The rowing boat will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals and to enjoy the peaceful time. It is so interesting to see traditional houses made of wood or palm leaves and see some activities of the local farmers with an opportunity to make contacts with them and see how they catch fish or pick up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta. If you prefer then we’ll provide the bikes for you to bike around the village on Tan Phong island via the village paths which will be so amazing to see the local farms, houses, real life and have an opportunity to see farmers picking up their fruits on the ancestral ways in Mekong Delta. You can also see how they make rice-net for spring-rolls, sew coconut-leaves for cottage roof and specially see how they wave the dried water-hyacinth to make many products: baskets, bags, hats, wallets, shoes...
Finally, you’ll come to visit Mekong garden, have a cup of tea and enjoy the local music in this garden before getting back to the pier where our car is waiting for you. In the late afternoon you’ll get back to the city for your accommodation.
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City Departure
You will have free time to explore the city until your driver come to transfer you to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City for your flight home. Tour ends!