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

Explore Ancient Treasures 14 Days

With its long coastline stretching from north to south, Vietnam boasts a diverse range of landscapes from spectacular mountains to pristine beaches. Its long history has shaped its diverse and rich cultural heritage. This journey, will introduce you to all these facets of Vietnam.  On this Vietnam Family tour you will discover, the ancestral treasures of Vietnam, while passing through most beautiful landscapes of the country. Be amazed by the diverse cultures and scenery you will encounter between the top and bottom of Vietnam.  In the north, you will have ample opportunity for your own discovery: strolling around Hanoi’s historic old quarter, cruising on the emerald water of Halong Bay, visiting the magical Tam Coc in Ninh Binh. In Central Vietnam, Hue offers a rare glimpse of an ancient imperial city while Hoi An retains the tender charm of an old riverside town. In the south, Saigon is waiting to cheer you up before you immerse yourself in the tropical vibrancy of the Mekong Delta, a world of fantastic floating markets.

Highlights:

  • Spend a night in a homestay, experience the daily activities and learn about local traditions
  • Take a hand­rowing boat trip through the beautiful landscape of Tam Coc known as “Dry Halong Bay”
  • Travel to the Gulf of Tonkin, board a traditional wooden junk and spend a night aboard in Halong Bay
  • Discover the Vietnam cultural heritage trail Hue – Danang – Hoi An Explore the bustling floating markets in the Mekong Delta

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. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. You will have time to relax before 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 Orientation (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast at your hotel, you will be taken to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and historical presidential relics and then the Temple of Literature nearby. Afterwards you will head to Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake. The Ngoc Son temple is set on a tiny island on the Hoan Kiem Lake and dates back to the 13th century. The lake itself is a picturesque focal point of Hanoi, frequented by tourists and locals alike. In the afternoon, you will visit   Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country which houses a display dedicated to Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority peoples. Then you will take 1 hour by cyclo ride through Hanoi's Old Quarters to experience daily life of people who are living in the oldest parts of the city. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum is closed every Monday and Friday (outside grounds and garden area will be open on these days) and normally closed from September 4 through November 5 for preservation and maintenance of the building.

On Mondays, the Museum of Ethnology is closed. If our tour of Hanoi is on a Monday, our visit to the Museum of Ethnology will be replaced by a visit to Hanoi's History Museum or Fine Arts Museum.

Day 3: Hanoi - Mai Chau (Breakfast, Lunch, Diner, Guide)

After breakfast, you’ll drive to Mai Chau, passing through mountainous landscape on the way. When you arrive, you’ll ‘check in’ to a stilt house in Pom Coong village, the home of a Thai ethnic minority group. After lunch, your time will be your own until your driver and guide arrive for a 15km journey to board a rowing sampan. You’ll paddle gently along the Ma River stopping en-route to visit some of the nearby ethnic minorities villages. In the late afternoon, you’ll return to Mai Chau to spend the night in a family’s stilt house.

Day 4: Mai Chau - Ninh Binh (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you can wander around the houses to see the daily life of local people. They specialise in weaving brocade products, and are happy to show visitors their skills. The village is operated as a community co-operative, set up by the people themselves.  In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Ninh Binh where you will spend the night.

Day 5: Ninh Binh - Hoa Lu – Tam Coc (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, your guide will pick you up to travel to Hoa Lu –the former capital of Vietnam. You will then visit two temples, one of them dedicated to Emperor Dinh and the other in memory of Emperor Le, followed by a brief visit to the remains of the Old Palace. Feel ready to star our cycling for one more hour to Tam Coc (12km), passing scenery of paddy fields or small stream. You will have lunch in Tam Coc, enjoy the taste of Vietnamese cuisine. After lunch at a local restaurant, you will visit Tam Coc (three caves), a peaceful valley among limestone ‘karst' hills, There, you will be rowed along a gentle river between paddy fields and through the caves. You will spend the night in Ninh Binh.

Day 6: Ninh Binh – Halong Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

In the morning, your guide will arrive to take you to Halong Bay, 178 km northeast of Ninh Binh. After a 5-hours drive through lush green rice paddies you are welcome on the traditional junk boat. The wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. Heading out of the town then you embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. This exciting cruise will provide you a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karsts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way you will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. You will stay overnight on the Junk Cruise

Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi - Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, you will visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Your driver will be waiting for you at the pier and drive you back to Hanoi airport to catch the flight to Hue. When arrival, your guide will pick you up then take you to your hotel to check in. This quiet city is widely known for the magnificent architecture of its citadels, palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples built under the Nguyen Dynasty. In the evening, you will make your own exploration to see Hue city by night. Overnight at hotel in Hue.

Day 8: Hue ­ Thuy Bieu Eco­village (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After breakfast, you will start the day with a leisurely boat trip on the poetic Perfume River. You will stop at Dong Ba Market to buy ingredients for the evening cooking class. En route, you will visit Thanh Tien village where paper flower are produced, Van Mieu Temple and Thien Mu Pagoda also known as “Heavenly Lady Pagoda”, the symbol of Hue city.  You will then continue the cruise toward Thuy Bieu eco­village, an ancient village situated on the bank of the Perfume River. The afternoon is reserved for cycling through the peaceful village, visiting several communal houses, ancient temples and the highlight: the garden­ house, a typical and unique feature of Hue. Soaking your feet in medicinal herb water followed by an excellent blind massage will refresh them after a day of sightseeing. In the evening you will take part in a cooking class. You will have a chance to prepare a typical Vietnamese meal for dinner with the instructions from our chef. Embark an elegant junk for a relaxed night on the river before transferred back to your hotel. You will spend the night in Hue.

Alternative for Day 8:

Option 1: Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

Your morning will begin with a cruise along the Perfume River to visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda which also gives you a taste of the tranquil countryside. From there, you’ll drive to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang. In the afternoon, your guide will take you to visit the Emperor Khai Dinh. After that, you’ll return to Hue to visit one of city’s ‘garden houses’ and then return to your hotel for refreshment.

In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. You’ll spend the night in Hue.

Each Royal mausoleum reflects the personality of the Emperor it commemorates. The most majestic is that of Emperor Minh Mang, a staunch follower of Confucianism with many wives, concubines and a small army of children. Planned by the Emperor and built shortly after his death in formal Chinese style, it’s opulent and exotic, and a good example of classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture.

The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is an unprepossessing concrete construction on the side of a wide valley. Its interest lies in the uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features, the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration, and the striking views from the courtyard in front of the mausoleum.

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.

Option 2: Cycling to get closer to Hue’s lifestyle (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, your bicycles will be at your hotel ready for you to ride through Hue’s rural villages towards the Thanh Toan Bridge (roofed in Chinese style). Nearby, a local market will provide you with views of daily life and local products. You'll then return to Hue’s city centre with en-route visit the Ngoc Son Princess ‘garden house’. It has an attractive family altar and the owner 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 lunch, your route will take you past the Imperial Citadel to visit some of the garden houses in Phu Mong Kim Long village, thence ride toward one of the handicraft villages in Hue’s hinterland that specialises in a single product range of traditional cakes - ‘banh it’ and ‘banh phu the’ before looping back to your hotel for refreshment.

In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. 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 9: Hue - Danang - Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you will drive to Hoi An, crossing Hai Van Pass where you will have magnificent view of the stunning long sandy beaches and stop at Lang Co to have a short break. When you arrive in Danang city, you will visit the fascinating Cham Museum and the Marble Mountains en route to charming Hoi An. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, Hoi An was one of South East Asia's major international ports and today it still retains that special old-world feel. Enjoy a walking tour through the Old Quarters to see the town's landmarks of Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient Assembly Hall, Phuc Kien Temple and then you will take a river trip to enjoy the scenery along the Thu Bon River and the general view of Hoi An Ancient Town. Visit ceramic village of Thanh Ha, carpentry village of Kim Bong and Dai Chiem Estuary. Hoi An is also famous for its large number of tailor shops, so if you want to have a new wardrobe made up, this is the time to do it. You will stay overnight in Hoi An.

Day 10: Hoi An – From Farmer to Fisherman Tour (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

The day starts with cycling the narrow roads through the countryside, passing by rice paddy fields, water buffalos, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work. You’ll then board a boat to the mouth of the Thu Bon estuary where the river meets the Cua Dai Sea and cruise along the coastline observing the lives of the local fishermen.

After joining the fisherman to try your hand at catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat, you will meander through the water palm coconut canal. During the American War, Viet Cong soldiers made use of this area as a highly effective hiding place from enemy attacks through their long struggle. Following an insightful visit to a local fishing village, you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch before cycling back to your hotel.

Thung Chai Basket boats, similar in style to coracles in use throughout the ancient world, are widely used throughout Central Vietnam, and are highly suited to the local terrain and lifestyles of local fishermen due to their relative light weight and portability, often doubling as a carrier for various handy items. Circular and constructed of bamboo and tarred for waterproofing, these small boats can typically carry up to five people, and represent a fun-filled opportunity to touch the authentic rural soul of Vietnam. As a precaution, life jackets are provided for your safety during this excursion.

Alternative for Day 10:

Option 1: Cooking Class in Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide at cooking class)

In the morning, you’ll join a cooking class at the Red Bridge Restaurant. After visiting a market to purchase ingredients, a boat will take you along Hoi An River to the restaurant where you can investigate its herb and vegetable garden before learning how to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes. After lunch at the restaurant, your time will be free. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.

Recipes:

  • Fresh Rice Paper Shrimp Rolls – including making rice paper.
  • Warm Squid Salad served in half a pineapple
  • Grilled Eggplant stuffed with market vegetables
  • Hoi An Pancakes (Banh Xeo)
  • Food Decoration - pineapple boat, three coloured flowers and Vietnamese hand fan

Option 2: Hoi An rural life (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you'll learn how to make silk lanterns at a local house. You'll have chance to view the complex process of creating Hoi An-style lanterns. Your guide will then take you on a bicycle ride 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. 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 11: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to drive back to Danang and take a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City formerly Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive, you will be taken to your hotel to check in before discovering the Story of Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to the War Remnants Museum, where you will hear about the city’s darkest and most tragic hours during the Vietnam War. The museum contains displays of military aircraft, weaponry and many photographs - some that are quite graphic in nature.

Next, the guide will take you to visit the Reunification Palace once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. You will see the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office. Then continue to the Central Post Office, designed and constructed by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel, and take a moment to send a postcard! Just behind the post office is the Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic Saigon landmark built by the French between 1863 and 1880. Today it’s a favored backdrop for Vietnamese wedding photographs.

You will take a short stroll along Dong Khoi Street to the Opera House which was used as a bomb shelter and also housed the Parliamentary Lower House. Restored in 1995 the Opera House has returned to its roots and is once again a theatre. You will end the day with a speedboat trip along the city’s ancient canals where life carries on unchanged before returning to your hotel as the sun sets on this fascinating city. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh ­ Cai Be (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide) 

After breakfast, you will visit Cho Lon Area, Vietnam’s largest Chinatown, in the morning. You will enjoy some shopping and sample the exotic cuisine then head to the Mekong Delta, considered the largest rice basket in Vietnam. Arrive at Cai Be, you will embark a boat and cruise to the Mekong Lodge, a charming eco resort located on the Mekong River bank. Lunch will be served in its beautiful riverside restaurant.  In the afternoon, you will take a boat trip through the orchards and canals or cycle to visit the orchards where you can taste various kinds of tropical fruit and communicate with the locals to learn more about their lifestyle. Your dinner and night will be at the Mekong Lodge.

Day 13: Cai Be ­ Can Tho (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)  

In the morning, you will take a boat trip through the winding waterways of Cai Rang floating market, the biggest and busiest floating market in the Mekong Delta. During this time, the river turns into a labyrinth of hundreds of motor sampans filled with fruit, vegetables, plants and food jostling for sale space. This is a perfect opportunity to take photos, talk with local and taste   tropical fruit.  Return to the Mekong Lodge for check­out, then cruise to Tan Phong Island to visit the Ba Kiet old house was build 1924 in the typical architectural style of the Mekong Delta region. After that, you will be transferred to Can Tho province where you will spend the night.

Day 14: Can Tho ­ Ho Chi Minh City Departure (Breakfast, Guide) 

After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you back to Ho Chi Minh City to take the departure flight.

Inclusive

  • Free Vietnam Visa invitation letter.
  • Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
  • Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
  • Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
  • Domestic flight tickets: Hanoi – Hue, Danang - Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
  • The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
  • Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All Ha Long Bay boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
  • Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
  • All sightseeing tickets.
  • VAT and other taxes
  • 24/7 hotline support guaranteed

Exclusive

  • International flight tickets and airport tax.
  • Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Travel insurance
  • Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
  • Vietnam visa stamp fee
  • Other services not mentioned above.
  • Alternative in blue

 

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