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

Vietnam Explorer 14 Days

Vietnam Explorer 14 Days trip will introduce you the best of Vietnam with many interesting activities from off the beaten path trekking to mountainous biking, from river rafting to sea kayaking…The tour includes classic sightseeing at must see destinations…

About 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas – a complicated network of wetlands and tropical forest nearly 74,000 hectares in two sections bisected by a river, the larger about fifty or sixty kilometres across in both directions. Its bio-diversity is considerable with over fifty endangered species listed in the ‘Red Book’ including the Javan Rhinoceros, the Siamese Crocodile and the Indochina Tiger. Of particular interest is its large bird population – well over three hundred species have been identified so far.

There are several trails through the forest. Although they avoid the deeper areas that are the habitat of the rarer species, they are well designed and offer good opportunities to see a wide range of flora and fauna. The best time to visit Nam Cat Tien National Park is the dry season from December to late May.

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City arrival (Dinner, Guide)

Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a Welcome dinner. In the evening, you’ll have 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). You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City – Nam Cat Tien National Park (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you to Cat Tien National Park, about 150 kilometers or a 3 ½ hour drive. Then you will check into the park and have lunch at Cat Tien National Park Restaurant. In the afternoon, you will take a jungle trek (8 kilometers) to see the abundant fauna and flora in the Park or bird watching option if you’re a professional birder. The best bird watching guide in Southern Vietnam works at Cat Tien.

After dinner, an hour jeep night cruise into the forest for the wild life spotting. You’ll be equipped a good pair of binoculars to see monkeys, deer and other small mammals. You’ll stay overnight in the guesthouse in the centre of the park.

About 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas – a complicated network of wetlands and tropical forest nearly 74,000 hectares in two sections bisected by a river, the larger about fifty or sixty kilometres across in both directions. Its bio-diversity is considerable with over fifty endangered species listed in the ‘Red Book’ including the Javan Rhinoceros, the Siamese Crocodile and the Indochina Tiger. Of particular interest is its large bird population – well over three hundred species have been identified so far.

There are several trails through the forest. Although they avoid the deeper areas that are the habitat of the rarer species, they are well designed and offer good opportunities to see a wide range of flora and fauna. The best time to visit Nam Cat Tien National Park is the dry season from December to late May.

Day 3: Nam Cat Tien - Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you will take the morning jungle trek out to Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) and back (10 kilometers). You will have lunch in the park before departure to Dalat. You will enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way with coffee and tea plantations, jungle blanketed valleys and pine forested hills (250 km or 4 hr drive).You will then check in to hotel and dinner at one of the great Dalat cafes and back to hotel for a good night's rest before next day's adventure.

Day 4: Trekking around Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After a sustaining breakfast and a drive from Dalat to Tiger Falls, you’ll begin hiking down a succession of waterfalls. The first section of the trail takes you through steep-sided pine forest heading downhill to Lang Bian River. By the time you arrive, you’ll probably be ready for a rest break beside of the falls and if you wish, a cooling splash in the water. A further 1½ hour mainly following the river reveals human activities in the form of coffee plantations and suspension bridges. The land is farmed by the K’oho and their sub-groups, the Lat and the Chil people. Together, they make up the largest ethnic minority population in the area

From there, we hike uphill to a viewpoint offering a panorama of the valley below with lunch and a rest on the mountaintop. Then it’s downwards for a while before climbing upwards to the neighbouring peaks to a remote village accessible only by foot. It’s a good example of the privations and benefits of the lives of isolated rural minority peoples, their homes, work and culture.

After a hike through the rolling hills, another waterfall and several small market gardens you’ll see Tiger Falls in the distance. Then it’s a well-earned rest in the car as you return to Dalat!

Please note that this is a six-hour trek along a rugged trail demanding plenty of physical strength and stamina. However, the exceptional alpine scenery makes the trek well worth the effort. The area was first documented in 1893 by Dr. Alexander Yersin, a student of Louis Pasteur and a revered figure in Vietnam. His wanderings in the area and his love for the area led him to establish the hill-station that is now Dalat

Alternative for Day 4:

Option 1: Dalat City tour from the back of a motorbike (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Today will be devoted to Dalat and its surroundings. The city is quite compact, but its hinterland extends well beyond, so we suggest a tour on the back of a motorbike. You’ll visit the Linh Phuoc Pagoda and an embroidery workshop in an attractive garden setting. Alternatively, you could visit Dalat’s railway station instead of the embroidery workshop. After lunch, Emperor Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, the Crazy House and Dalat market are on the itinerary. The day will end at a café at about 4.00 p.m.

Option 2: Dalat biking and hiking (approximately 30km)

After breakfast, you’ll cycle on trails along the lakes, then hike to the top of Pinhatt Mountain. This mixed activity combines a great off-road ride on single track through pine forest with a hike up to one of the best lookout spots in Dalat. You’ll then cycle down to Tuyen Lam Lake, ditch the bikes before hiking up the mountain, have lunch and then ride back up to Dalat.

Day 5: Dalat - Buon Ma Thuot (Breakafst, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

In the morning, you’ll drive to Buon Ma Thuot. Fifty kilometres before reaching this small Highlands city, you’ll visit Buon Juin, a M’Nong ethnic minority village where you’ll have lunch. After a rest, you’ll clamber into a dugout canoe to cross Lak Lake. Upon arriving at M’Lieng village and another clamber – this time it’s an elephant. Once you’ve got a good grip, he or she will plod through the clearings and undergrowth for half an hour or so and then take you back to Buon Juin. Although the elephants are fully tame, they do have a mind of their own, so don’t be surprised if your mount decides to cool you down with a shower half-way. Then it will be time to complete your journey to Buon Ma Thuot where you’ll spend the night.

Day 6: Buon Ma Thuot - Gia Long Waterfall - Fairy Pond - Lower Day Sap Waterfall - Buon Ma Thuot (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

This morning, you’ll drive to the other bank of the river to hike for about two kilometres. After clambering down a slope, you’ll be able to bathe in the ‘Fairy Pool’, a small natural swimming pool with a sandy bottom. From there, you’ll hike a further six kilometres to Lower Dray Sap waterfall where your picnic lunch will be served beside the cascade. In the afternoon, you’ll return to Buon Ma Thuot City to visit the local Ethnology Museum and A Co Thon village, home of many Ede ethnic minority people. You’ll spend the night in Buon Ma Thuot.

Both waterfalls are spectacular and little visited, but their settings are different. Gia Long is surrounded by lush vegetation. Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam, built a bridge across the falls - the remains are still visible among the undergrowth. The forest on the other side of the falls is old, with huge trees and full of birds. Dray Nur falls are larger and more powerful, but the area is comparatively barren with only a few trees. Huge black boulders lie in a jumble at the bottom. Gia Long has a few small bamboo huts for overnight stays and a small shop. Dray Nur has no development at all.

The Ethnology Museum is small, but has some interesting exhibits relating to the ethnic minority groups in the immediate area.

A Co Thon village is remarkable. Despite its location almost in the centre of the city, surrounded by Kinh ethnic majority households and farms, the Ede people’s traditional buildings and many of their ethnic customs are still prominent. During the 1950’s, French Catholic missionaries helped the Ede families to update their homes to include modern conveniences and standards of hygiene, and more efficient farming techniques, but simultaneously retaining their traditions of architecture and ceremonial. The result is one of the very few examples of ethnic groups that have achieved a comfortable standard of living in the Vietnamese social mainstream without being assimilated. Ask your guide to let you hear some Ede music – its very unusual and very closely linked to traditional rituals.

Day 7: Buon Ma Thuot – Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

You will be free until the driver arrives to take you to Nha Trang. The rest of the day will be free at the leisure.

Day 8: Full day group boat trip in Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, a minivan will take you to board a boat for your whole-day cruise to some of the small islands in the bay. You’ll anchor off Mun Island for snorkeling to see colourful corals and a variety of marine life. You’ll then be taken to Mot Island for lunch on board and ‘music entertainment’ with a wine and fruit party, followed by a visit to Hon Tam Island for some leisure time when you can swim, parasail or kayak (on your own account). In late afternoon, you’ll return to the mainland and be driven back to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Nha Trang.

The boat trip is something of a party cruise. Your boat will be staffed by Vietnamese crew members who act as guides, cooks and musicians. Plenty of wine is included (Vietnamese wine - very good after the first few glasses). The coral around Mun Island is good, provided you swim away from the area where the boats tie up.

Day 9: Nha Trang – Hoi An (Breakfast, Guide)

You’ll be free until a short boat ride whisks you to the mainland where your car and driver will be waiting to take you to Cam Ranh Airport for your flight to Danang. 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. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure. 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: Walking and Photographing Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, you will enjoy a walking tour with first stop is the bustling fish and vegetable market and then you will go through the Old Quarters to see the town's landmarks of Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient Assembly Hall, Phuc Kien Temple. After that, you will get on the boat to cruise along the river to enjoy the scenery along the Thu Bon River and the general view of Hoi An Ancient Town then you will the Kim Bong pottery and carpentry villages to learn the traditional way of making clay products and fishing boat building. Hoi An is well known for souvenir shopping with great prices and also famous for its large number of tailor shops, so if you want to get a cloth tailor made to measure, this is the time to do it. You will spend the night in Hoi An.

Day 11: Hoi An – From Farmer to Fisherman Tour - Hanoi (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 then being transferred to the airport to take the flight to Hanoi. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

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 12: 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.

Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, ranks amongst the world's most attractive and interesting cities. It was first the capital of Vietnam in A.D. 1010, and though the nation's capital moved to Hue under the Nguyen dynasty in 1802, the city continued to flourish after the French took control in 1888. In 1954, after the French departed, Hanoi was declared Vietnam's capital once again. The remnants of over 1,000 years of history are still visible here, with that of the past few hundred years wonderfully preserved.

Alternative for day 12: 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 13: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

You’ll arrive 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 14: Halong Bay – Hanoi Departure (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 connect with your departure flight.

Inclusive

  • 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: Nha Trang – Danang, Danang - Hanoi, 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

Exclusive

  • International flight tickets and airport tax.
  • Visas
  • Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Insurance.
  • Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
  • Compulsory meal (if any)
  • Alternative in blue

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