Best known for their historical monuments, ancient relics and fine examples of local culture, the central coast Vietnamese cities of Hue and Hoi An are both recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Many of these areas are surprisingly still intact and trips to both cities hold promise for great times and memories.
Starting in Hue, Vietnam’s capital from 1802 to 1945, you’ll enjoy many sites that reflect the city’s rich history, while others are more focused on relaxation and soaking up the area’s natural beauty. Highlights include a cyclo tour of the ‘Old City’, Tinh Tam Lake and Khai Dinh’s Tomb.
The ancient port town of Hoi An was once the largest harbor town in Southeast Asia. Its well-preserved structures from the 15th to the 19th centuries are perfect examples of architecture that blends local and foreign influences, making the town a popular destination. A cycle tour of the local farm region of Tra Que village and a walking tour of UNESCO Hoi An are sure highlights.
There will also be several instances during this trip where you can decide for yourself how you want to pass the time. Whether its a quiet moment to relax and have a spa treatment or an exciting speedboat excursion, the choice is yours.
Day 1: Hue arrival (Guide Pickup)
On arrival at Hue Airport your tour guide will welcome you and take you to hotel. You will spend the night in Hue.
Day 2: Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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.
Alternative for day 2: Cycling to get closer to Hue’s lifestyle (B, L, G)
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 overnight accommodation.
Day 3: Hue – Hoi an (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
Early morning, you will depart the centre of Hue and travel along quiet country lanes to Thanh Toan Bridge, passing by villages, quaint shrines and endless rice fields along the way. Built two centuries ago the covered bridge is unique in that only two exist in Vietnam (the other being in Hoi An). Built as a tribute to the villagers by the wife of a high ranking Mandarin, the bridge has survived storms, floods and wars. Anytime it was damaged, the villagers always contributed to repair, renovate and preserve it. Next to the bridge is the local village morning market which can be explored if you desire.
After visiting Thanh Toan it’s an hour’s drive north to the 500-year-old village of Phuoc Tich. Once famous and prosperous because of its pottery, the village has dozens of homes that are from 100 to 200 years old and several old temples, pagodas, worship halls and communal houses still remain. Many imprints of Champa and ancient Viet cultures are still preserved such as lingas (a very complex symbol of Hinduism). The religious culture of the village is seen via families, which have their own ancestor worship halls, each worshiping five direct generations. Enjoy a family style Vietnamese lunch in one of the houses in the village.
Following the visit of Phuoc Tich drive back to Hue then south to Danang City via the scenic fishing village of Lang Co and over the impressive Hai Van Pass where spectacular views are to be had up and down the coast. In Danang, you will visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world. Then, continue the drive to Hoi An where you will spend the night.
Day 4: 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 the ancient town
In the afternoon, you will visit the ancient port town of Hoi An. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. A walking tour is the best way to see the wooden-fronted houses that once belonged to the town’s prosperous merchants, the Japanese-covered Bridge and the wonderful market as well as the many silk, handicrafts, antique shops and galleries.
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.
Day 5: Hoi An Cooking Class (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll be picked up at 9.00 at your hotel to travel to the local market to purchase ingredients. You’ll then be greeted by a local restaurateur who will teach you how to cook some of Hoi An’s traditional cuisine.
In the afternoon, you’ll be free to stroll around the Ancient Town or travel to Cua Dai Beach. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 6: Hoi An Departure (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you to the airport for the departure flight.
- 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.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Boat cruises as specified in the programme.
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- 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.