Kick off this breathtaking journey in Vietnam’s capital. Pass through the picturesque Halong Bay, the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi Tunnel. Round off at the mighty Mekong Delta to explore floating markets and rural villages. This 8-day trip offers a fascinating insight to Vietnam.
Destinations: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Ho Chi Minh – Tay Ninh – Cu Chi – Vinh Long – Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pick up)
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 having tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture. 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.
Alternative for Day 2: Hanoi city tour by motorbike and street food (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city on the back of a motorbike. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum dedicated to his memory. After that, you’ll visit the bustling Old Quarter with its eclectic mix of architectural styles - traditional ‘tube’ houses, religious buildings, colonial houses, vernacular dwellings and modern concrete edifices.
The day also includes a ‘Street Life’ experience, also on the back of a motorbike. You’ll spend a couple of hours wandering around the back streets in and nearby the Old Quarter. A street food brunch is included – take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork). If you’re hungry, try two or three varieties – they’re snacks rather than a meal.
Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
You’ll arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, where you’ll be met and taken by car to your hotel to have breakfast and take a short rest before departure to Halong Bay. On the way, you will go through the scenic countryside. 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 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City (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 Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, your guide will meet you and escort you to your hotel. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City orientation (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, your guide will arrive to show you around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll visit the History Museum where there is a special exhibition of the 5th century ‘Oc Eo’ civilisation. (Alternatively, you’ll visit the Fito Museum (First Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine) is host to a large collection of relics, including traditional Vietnamese medicinal implements, and chronicles the history of medical practice in Vietnam from 2000 BC). The Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! The Binh Tay market and the China Town are worth a stroll to explore the local daily life and the culture mix.
You’ll also call in at the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
A morning drive will take you to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See in time, home to a unique religion combining the disciplines of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism and Geniism. The aim of this sect is to achieve a synthesis of all religions. Followers consider Joan of Arc, Rene Descartes, William Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Winston Churchill and Napoleon Bonaparte their respected saints or spirit intermediaries. You will arrive at the temple in time for the midday service giving you the chance to listen to chanting devotees. The temple’s exterior is decorated with multi-coloured dragons of all shapes and sizes.
After lunch, you will enjoy a scenic drive through idyllic paddy flatlands and countryside. Arrive to Cu Chi tunnels for a fascinating guided tour of this amazing three-floor labyrinth of underground passages stretching a staggering 250kilometres from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life in war was like. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City
Cao Dai is a ‘new’ religion unique to Vietnam with around a million followers. Both its creed and its architecture are remarkable and exotic. The service lasts about half an hour – the rituals are based upon an eclectic mixture of Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. Discreet photography is OK, but shoes must be left outside
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City – Vinh Long – Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will start the trip at 07:30 am and head for Vinh Long province. After boarding the beautiful traditional boat, you will have five hour to cruise along the river. It will take you through Vietnam’s most productive agricultural area. You will enjoy the beautiful landscapes of coconut palms, sugar-cane groves and fruit orchards from the vessel as you head to the Cai Be floating market. Here you can cruise through the colourful barges full of fruits and vegetables and then proceed to local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The trip continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. Along the way you will find the local people engaged in their daily tasks and see brightly coloured Khemer pagodas. Stops on the way can be made upon request for particular visits or photos making. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. After that, you will arrive at La Residence de Phu An resort where you will be welcomed and served Vietnamese culinary delights. You will then walk along a narrow canal to an air-conditioned vehicle that will transport you back to Ho Chi Minh City where you will stay overnight.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City Departure (Breakfast, Driver pick up)
After breakfast, you will be free at leisure until the driver arrives to take you to the airport to take your flight onward. End of service
- 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 (Please note: pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance, and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer arrangements)
- Domestic flight tickets: Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
- Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All Ha Long Bay boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary.
- Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
- VAT and other taxes
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Compulsory meal (if any)
- Alternative in blue