Water Puppet Tours

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With its numerous national parks, white sand beaches, colourful villages, pagodas and ancient monuments, forests and islands, Vietnam is a land of often surprising beauty, offering cultural depth and history, increasingly combined with tourism-friendly areas offering all the facilities a modern traveller could wish for.

Vietnam’s people are its greatest asset: gregarious, friendly and eager to meet visitors. In the bustling cities, the often chaotic streets contrast ox carts with limousines, ancient rituals with sophisticated technology, and are ruled by the ubiquitous moped.

Our strength is in translating these opportunities into detailed, practical itineraries. We do luxury travel and event planning, as well as a wide range of beach, family, honeymoon, adventure, golf, veteran and cultural tours.

There is no better way to experience a destination than through the perspective of the local people. At Water Puppet Tours, this key element of local insight drives every step of our process of tour design and delivery. We provide tailor-made tours individually crafted for each client, achieving this by emphasizing the direct working relationship between the client and the tour designer and operator.


Travel Style

Travel Destination

Cycling through Vietnam 17 Days

This 17-day trip will be a great chance to explore Vietnam at best. From busy city’s back streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to less traveled country roads in Mai Chau, Ninh Binh or historical sites of Hue, Hoi An, the view you gain from the handle bar is really lively and authentic. Let’s jump up on the saddle and together we conquer cloudy passes and inhale the fresh air of evergreen country lands.

Highlights

  • Ho Chi Minh house, vibrant old quarter, street life in Hanoi
  • Magnificent landscape of Ha Long Bay
  • Stunning scenery of Mai Chau & Ninh Binh
  • Ancientry of Hue & Hoi An<
  • Secluded bay Quy Nhon & marine life in Nha Trang
  • Beautiful Da Lat and busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Rewarding views from top of passes on the way
  • Great local interactions

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pickup)

Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. In the afternoon, you’ll ride a cyclo to visit the bustling Old Quarter, a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices.

After that, you will have a chance to enjoy a water puppet show, an art form in which puppets are suspended over water, directed by puppet masters who must sit semi-submerged for hours at a time. The tradition of water puppetry is at least 1,000 years old, originating with peasants in the Red River Delta of the north. The puppets, which the French used to call “the souls of the Vietnamese rice fields,” are made of the water-resistant wood of the fig tree and depict villagers, farm animals, dragons, and more.

In the evening, you’ll have a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi cycling tour (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - Cycling distance: 25km

After breakfast, your guide will take you to visit Hanoi capital by bicycle. Firstly, you will visit the Ho Chi Minh complex, when you arrive there, leave your bike then take a walking tour of to visit the Ho Chi Minh memorial complex including the mausoleum and his humble stilt house to learn about a big Vietnamese character, his influence to the Vietnam modern history. Nearby is the One Pillar Pagoda, built in 1049 by King Ly Thai Tong, one of the most iconic architecture in Hanoi. You will continue with a discovery to the Temple of Literature, the first university in the country where, for incredible more than 700 years, Vietnamese intellectuals were educated and names of those received Doctor Laureate still remain on huge stone steles that stand on turtle’s backs.

In this afternoon, you will have a test ride through back streets of Hanoi to the stunning country villages nearby. After that, you will come back to your hotel. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 3: Mai Chau (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide) - Cycling distance: 70km

After breakfast, you will depart from Hanoi and travel west by a private car to Luong Son. After that, you will jump up your saddle and cycle past spectacular karst cliffs and lush valleys along the way to Cun Pass. Enjoy the breath taking view and continue up and down hills on scenic road dotted with traditional villages and green farms with a support bus is available at any stage to pick you. Mai Chau, a beautiful valley surrounded by high mountains is home to beautiful White Thai minority villages and is the closest place from Hanoi to enjoy the typical hill tribe culture.

You can take a walk or a ride around the village for sightseeing and perhaps join with local in their farming work. This evening, after an excellent home meal you will take part in a local dance and music performance. You will stay overnight in local house on stilts.

Day 4: Mai Chau - Cuc Phuong National Park (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide) - Cycling distance: 80km

After breakfast, you will take a short rest then being transferred to Man Duc where you will start your ride through lush paddy fields and jagged limestone escarpments of the region to the ancient rainforests of Cuc Phuong National Park. This is the foremost and largest national park in Vietnam and is home to rich fauna and flora system.

Paddle through the jungle along the little road to the National Park centre then you will visit to the Cave of Historic Men before check in bungalow and enjoy your sleep in the sounds of the jungle.

Day 5: Cuc Phuong - Hoa Lu (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) - Cycling distance: 50km

Get transferred by bus to the gate of the National Park. Visit to the Primate Rescue Center where endangered monkeys from illegal trade and hunting are rescued and cared before they will be released back to their jungle home.

You will then continue on the ride along Hoang Long River dyke to ancient capital of Hoa Lu, the place famous with Limestone Mountains on spectacular country scenery. You will visit the ancient temples dedicate to great Kings of the Dinh and the Early Le Dynasty from 10th and 11th century. This evening you will take overnight train to Hue. You will stay overnight on train in AC soft sleeper cabin.

The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre is a temporary home for many gibbons and langurs that have been injured, or have been orphaned by poachers. Among them are two of the rarest species in the world, Delacourt’s Langur, now confined to two or three spots in North Vietnam, and the elegant Cat Ba Golden Langur, now reduced to a colony of around 50 individuals in Cat Ba Island National Park. Strenuous efforts are being made to conserve both species. When those in the rescue centre have regained their strength, a carefully staged programme will release them into the wild.

Day 6: Hue free (Guide pickup)

Arrival in Hue in the late morning, you will be met your guide and taken to your hotel. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure. You will spend the night in Hue.

Day 7: Cycling to get closer to Hue’s life (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

In the morning, you’ll cruise on the Perfume River eastwards to the rural area where you’ll collect your bicycles to ride to a local market, temple, and some cottage industries making conical hats. Getting back to the town, your route will take you to the Ngoc Son garden house. The present owner, a famous Hue historian, will welcome you and provide an introduction to his own royal family history, and Hue’s traditions and customs.

Lunch will be at another garden house where the owner will prepare typical Hue food. The menu will include an example of the heavily decorated Royal Food of the Imperial Court. From there, you’ll cycle up to the western part of Hue to visit An Hien garden house with its grand orchard where the owner grows fruit trees brought from all over the country. You’ll then visit some of other cottage industries of Hue – you can choose whatever interests you: incense sticks, carpentry or Hue’s cakes and confectionary. You’ll spend the night in Hue.

The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.

Day 8: Cycling Hue to Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - Cycling distance: 80km

A classic cycling trail for people with average fitness - taxing, but not exhausting! You’ll be driven to the coast, about 18km (or 2O minutes) beyond Hue’s city limits. The first 40km is off the beaten track along a picturesque lane shaded by coconut palms running alongside a peninsula from Thuan An beach to Vinh Loc. A pause to explore the hundreds of ancestral tombs scattered across the high sand dunes is a welcome break.

Upon reaching the end of the peninsula, a local ferry will take you across the Perfume River’s estuary and, after reaching dry land, the route takes you a further 11km arrive at Highway 1. At this point you have two options – brave the traffic on Vietnam’s busiest road or be transferred to the start of today’s three hill climbs. Unless you enjoy following heavy juggernauts belching diesel fumes, we recommend the latter!

After the first two moderate climbs, each about 3km, a break to relax, sunbathe, splash in the azure waters of Lang Co beach and seafood lunch, you’ll be ready for the Hai Van Pass. You’ll ignore the tunnel, full of commercial traffic and noxious gasses, in favour of the 11km mountain road. Since the tunnel was built, it’s very quiet - the gradient is manageable and the views breathtaking!

Finally, you’ll then be transferred the rest of the way to Hoi An Ancient Town, a historic old port and trading post where you’ll spend the night.

Hoi An town is a UNESCO World Heritage area. An ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina, Hoi An was a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings. The original traditional street pattern still exists, as does the quay that once welcomed ships from all over East Asia and beyond. Many remained there for months at a time, waiting for favourable trade winds to carry them home.

There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost.

Day 9: Hoi An rural life (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - Cycling distance: 25km

This morning, you can choose to have breakfast at your hotel or outside in the Town with ‘Cao Lau‘ (a typical Hoi An dish made with fresh noodles, meat and sauce). You’ll then ride a bicycle through the rural scenery of Hoi An to a small village located on the banks of the Tra Que lagoon, three kilometres northeast of the old town. You’ll join local people in their daily work of planting and watering vegetables. You’ll then return to the old town to learn how to make silk lanterns at a local house. You’ll also be able to view the complex process of creating Hoi An-style lanterns. Your lunch will be prepared by the family.

Your afternoon will be free for strolling in the town, lazing on the beach, or whatever takes your fancy. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.

Day 10: Hoi An - My Lai (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - 47km cycling

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll drive along Highway 1 to Quang Ngai and My Tra Hotel, your overnight accommodation. Your bicycles will be waiting for you. The first stage is gentle - quiet country lanes leading to the coast and fishing villages. A short 2km ascent to the top of Thien An Mountain offers striking views of the surrounding countryside with time to visit an ancient Pagoda dating back to 1650 and still an active place of worship. The monks living in the pagoda are always welcoming - have a small donation ready!

The gradient is now downhill towards the site of the infamous My Lai massacre, now a shrine dedicated to the unarmed 550 villagers, mainly women and children, slaughtered by the Americans in March, 1968. Many were raped, beaten, tortured, or maimed before they were killed. A museum and gardens commemorate the event, but the silence broken only by the sighing of the breeze in the trees is its own memorial.

After a guided tour to reflect on the war, the quiet roads take you to the beach for relaxation and perhaps a swim. After a picnic lunch, you can loop round through the fishing villages to return to Quang Ngai or, if you’re tired, take the direct route back to your hotel.

Day 11: My Lai - Quy Nhon (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - 73km cycling

Today, the serious cycling begins, hence an early breakfast! A drive takes you to the start point, 99km south of My Lai. The first section meanders alongside the coast from Binh Duong, Tung Giang and Ty Phuoc on a small provincial road passing many villages, far from the main highway. There’ll be plenty of time to dismount to experience the warmth and friendliness of Vietnamese people. The surface varies from reasonable to rough, so the support vehicle may have to detour to avoid hazards. Eventually, you’ll arrive at Tuy Phuoc, 9km to Quy Nhon City, your destination and accommodation. You can cycle this last stage if you wish, but you may prefer to be driven as this the section of the road is quite busy.

Day 12: Quy Nhon - Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - 67km cycling

Another early start and a transfer well away from the main highway! The day’s route mostly follows the lanes and tracks alongside the Reunification Express railway. The first stage will be on an isolated but well-surfaced road. The gently rolling terrain and views of the Highland foothills make a splendid backdrop for the potbellied pigs and barefooted children dashing across your trail as you pass ethnic minority and Vietnamese communities’ en-route. You’ll be quite a spectacle for the villagers, so expect plenty of offers of hospitality.

As your ‘off the beaten track’ route begins to converge with the highway, you’ll transfer to four-wheel transport and head to Nha Trang where you’ll spent the night, stopping at Dai Lanh Beach for a dip and refreshments on the way.

Day 13: Full day private boat trip in Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) 

After breakfast, your guide will arrive and take you to visit the museum at the Institute of Oceanography, the largest such research body in Vietnam, to learn about ongoing research projects, view their marine exhibitions and get a taste of the variety of Vietnam’s marine wildlife, before boarding a wooden boat for a full-day cruise to some of the small islands in the bay.

Your boat will stop for you to visit and take pictures at Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island. You’ll then anchor off Mun Island, the first marine park of Vietnam, and do some snorkelling to discover the beauty on the ocean floor, or view coral reefs and tropical fish by glass-bottom basket boat (weather permitting), followed by a snack of wine and fruit served on board.

Lunch will be served on Mini Beach on Mieu Island, followed by free time for swimming, sunbathing or water sports (at your own expenses).

In the middle of the afternoon, you’ll cruise to other side of Mieu Island to try out rowing a local basket boat and explore the life of fishermen at a local fishing village, before cruising back to the mainland and returning to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Nha Trang.

You’ll cruise on a private boat with Vietnamese crew members who are eager to introduce the beauty of Nha Trang Bay. En route, wine and tropical fruits are available. Snorkelling gear is available on board. There is good coral around Mun Island, provided you swim away from the area where the boats tie up.

Day 14: Nha Trang - Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)  - 60km cycling

An early start today! After the first short leg south to Cam Ranh (40km – about a two-hour ride) you’ll meet a remote uphill mountain road heading for the Central Highlands and Dalat. The long hill climbs and descents, winding forest roads and wild scenery are challenging, but the reward is stunning scenery. Gradually, the coastal plains fall behind as you climb 1000m where the vegetation gives way to pine forest and a more arid environment. Eventually, Dalat comes into view and soon you reach the hotel where you’ll spend the night.

Dalat is an odd sort of place. Established as a hill resort at the beginning of the last century, it attracted homesick French colonials longing for the city’s spring-like weather and pine forests. Today’s architecture is a mix of standard Vietnamese dwellings and European style villas, many in art deco style. Vietnamese people call it the ‘romantic city’, but the name owes more to comfort of the cool temperature than rings and roses where nuptials are concerned.

The ‘romantic’ epithet has another side! When you explore the city, you’ll soon realise that it’s Vietnam’s capitol of kitsch. Look for the Crazy House, the plastic swans on the lake, the Dalat Cowboys, the Mad Monk and other whimsy.

Day 15: Cycling in Da Lat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - Cycling distance: 30 km

After breakfast, you will jump back on the saddle and explore the city on your bike. You will visit to the King Bao Dai’s Palace, a summer palace for the last king of Vietnam; Hang Nga crazy house, a special architecture that crazily combines between modern art and the call of the nature; the Old Da Lat Train station and then the Truc Lam Zen Pagoda overlooking to the beautiful Tuyen Lam Lake.

Free for the rest of the day to explore the Da Lat market and enjoy the walk around the Xuan Huong Lake.

Day 14: Da Lat - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide Pickup)

After breakfast, you’ll set off for Ho Chi Minh City – the early part of the journey takes you through attractive scenery and large coffee plantations. You’ll arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the early afternoon. Your overnight stay will be in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 16: Cycling to Cu Chi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide) - approximately 30km

A morning drive will take you out of the crowded area. You’ll then mount your bike and start a 30 km ride through the countryside to see how rural people live and work. You’ll have opportunity to view occupations such as cashew nut farming, duck breeding, rice farming and production of rice paper, a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. You’ll reach the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used by both the Vietminh and the Viet Cong to suddenly materialise as if from nowhere, launch a lightning ambush, and vanish equally rapidly. In the afternoon, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City.

 Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City Departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)

Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight.

Note: This is a sample itinerary with Pristine Asia picks of places, activities, accommodation and services. You can actually make changes to have it fit your travel needs the best. Please, contact us for further suggestion.

Inclusive

  • Free Vietnam Visa Invitation letter.
  • Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
  • Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above.
  • Train tickets to Hue with air-conditioned soft four-berth cabin, good local standard.
  • Boat cruise as programme. For Ha Long Bay, you’ll cruise on a high quality private wooden boat good facilities and an experienced crew. The boat will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
  • Road travel in an appropriate private vehicle for transfer and back up when cycling as itinerary (supplement luggage van to carry bike and baggage).
  • The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
  • Lunches and dinners, as specified, in the best local restaurants, picnics where suitable restaurants are not available, and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
  • Good quality touring cycles for all cycling days in the programme.
  • Drinking water for cycling days as itinerary.
  • Snack, soft drink and local fruits for cycling days.
  • Simple first aid kit.
  • VAT and other taxes.

Exclusive:

  • International flight tickets and airport tax.
  • Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Insurance
  • Surcharges for peak season (if any)
  • Compulsory meals (if any)

 

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