Essence of Vietnam

  • Destination: Vietnam
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Price: $1340

Travel from South to North on a 9-day tour, exploring Vietnam’s geography and culture. Start in Vietnam’s modern metropolis, Saigon then travel north to the sleepy riverside town of Hoian. Discover the ancient capital of Hue, before immersing yourself in Hanoi’s colonial charm and conclude your tour with an overnight boat cruise among the towering limestone islands of Halong Bay.

Day 1

Saigon Arrival

Welcome to Vietnam’s financial hub: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Arrive in the late morning and enjoy an orientation tour through Saigon’s bustling streets en route to the hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure to recover from jet lag and explore the city on your own.

Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon

Day 2

Saigon City Tour

Enjoy a full day to tour Saigon’s diverse attractions. Start with a visit to Saigon’s China Town, then learn about traditional Vietnamese medicine at the FITO Museum and browse through the amazing array of goods at Ben Thanh Market. Stop for lunch then continue on the city tour with a visit to the War Remnants Museum and former Presidential Palace. You conclude the day exploring the city’s French colonial architecture, stopping at the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Post Office. Meals: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon

Day 3

Saigon – Mekong Delta – Saigon

Today you travel to the Mekong River Delta on a day trip to explore the rich culture and lush fluvial landscape. Your driver and guide will meet you at your hotel and take you to Cai Be. Start your tour with a visit to Cai Be’s colorful floating market, cruising among the local barges stuffed-full of fruits and vegetables. Visit some local workshops then enjoy a delicious lunch served in the cool shade of An Binh Island’s orchards. In the afternoon, take a traditional rowboat and venture deeper into the countryside, floating through narrow canals to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Stop at a nursery garden to discover how farmers along the delta produce their world famous fruits and vegetables. The cruise ends around 3:30 PM in Vinh Long. Your driver will meet you at the dock and take you back to Saigon.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.

Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon

Day 4

Saigon – Danang – Hoian

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your internal flight to Danang. Your guide and driver will meet you at the airport and take you on the short drive to the sleepy riverside town, Hoian. Take a half-day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the ancient quarter, visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, the Chinese Assembly Hall, the 200-year old Tam Ky ancestral house and the famous Japanese Bridge. End the day with a relaxing sunset boat trip. Meals: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa or similar, Hoian Beach Resort or similar

Day 5

Hoian – Danang – Hue

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel then check-out and drive over the 500m-high Hai Van pass to Hue. Enjoy a stop at the scenic Lang Co Beach for a drink before continuing on to Hue – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Vietnam’s former capital. Spend the afternoon on a leisurely walking tour through the ancient city. Visit the Royal Citadel, the Imperial Museum, as well as the Mausoleum of King tu Duc (a replica of the king’s palace built for the next reincarnation of the king).  Meals: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Imperial Hotel Hue, Best Western Premier Indochine Palace

Day 6

Hue  Fly to Hanoi

Spend the morning on a private boat cruise down the romantic Perfume River to visit the Lady Pagoda (Thien Mu Pagoda), Dong Ba Market and the ornate Minh Mang’s tomb. Drive to Phu Bai Airport to catch your short flight to Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi. Upon arrival, get transferred to your hotel in the city centre. Free at your leisure.  Meals: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel  or similar, Grand Plaza Hanoi Hotel or similar

Day 7

Hanoi City Tour

Today you have a full day to explore Vietnam’s charming capital. With its wide tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and ancient oriental pagodas, Hanoi is an eclectic mix that offers something for everyone. Your city tour will take you to Hanoi’s key sites: the Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and stilt house), the Presidential Palace, the nearby One Pillar Pagoda; the Temple of Literature; West Lake including the sedate Tran Quoc Pagoda & Quan Thanh Temple; and one of the city’s museums (a choice between the History Museum and the Ethnology Museum). Later in the afternoon, enjoy a traditional Water Puppet Performance – a unique folk art that originated a thousand years ago during the Ly dynasty.  Meals: Breakfast.

Accommodation: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel  or similar, Grand Plaza Hanoi Hotel or similar

Day 8

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, before setting out on a 3 to 4 hour drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site: Halong Bay.Spend 24 hours on a traditional Junk Cruise in the amazing bay: a natural wonderland composed of jutting limestone islands and sparkling turquoise waters. Arrive at the dock around noon and board your junk. Savor a gourmet lunch of fresh seafood onboard as sailing out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Halong’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot). Stop at an island cove with a sheltered white-sand beach and take a dip in the warm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (weather permitting). Pass the night on your junk, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.  Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Accommodation: On Cruise

Day 9

Halong Bay – Hanoi – Departure

Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore the nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for brunch then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay as you navigate back to Halong City, where your driver will meet you at the dock and take you to Noi Bai International Airport to catch your departure flight home.

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Inclusions
Accommodation
Breakfast & meals as mentioned in the itinerary
Transportation by private car with A/C
English-speaking guides
All entrance fees, performances, boat trips & excursions.