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 Leisure – Family with Kids 14 Days

This family friendly journey is designed especially for those traveling with babies, offering perfect accommodations to enjoy a very special family vacation. All of Vietnam’s highlights are featured in this journey that offers a myriad of local delights and less moving from place to place, offering a manageable pace and ample leisure time to relax and enjoy this spectacular land of timeless charm. Complimentary services for babies are provided at every leg of the tour, including an option for baby sitters upon request, as well as strollers, car seats, cribs and diaper service.

Hanoi Vietnam – The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments alongside. Hanoi may have shrugged off several former names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon”, but it hasn’t forgotten its past, as sites such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison attest. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city, which is easily explored.

Showcasing sweeping boulevards, tree-fringed lakes and ancient pagodas, Hanoi is Asia’s most atmospheric capital. Just don’t expect a sleepy ambience. It’s an energetic city on the move, and Hanoi’s ambitious citizens are determined to make up for lost time.

Halong Bay Vietnam was recognized as a World Natural Heritage Site by Unesco, Imagine 2000 or more islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Halong translates as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’, and legend claims the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon from the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

Hue Vietnam – Another of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the ancient capitol of Hue. Comprised of some 300 buildings.  Hue is a system of citadels, palaces, tombs of the kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, the royal court , folk architecture, temples, shrines, and gardens. In addition, Hue Royal Music Court is the Music Academy Vietnam. Where the most talented musicians of Vietnam are trained.

Hoi An’s town centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protecting its unique Chinese, Japanese and European influenced architecture for future generations. Motorised traffic is banned for several days a week on its narrow streets. As darkness falls, all electricity is switched off. The town begins to glow, illuminated by hundreds of beautiful traditional silk lanterns.

We say: ‘Hoi An is a truly remarkable destination, combing culture with beach and relaxation. We love to cycle the maze of quiet lanes that run between the old town and Cua Dai beach. You may get lost, but you can be sure a friendly farm hand will point you in the right direction… if your Vietnamese isn’t up to asking, just try sign language!’

Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam’s bustling largest city sets the cultural and economic pace for the country. The former Saigon boasts charming French colonial architecture and wide boulevards, usually thronged and choked with traffic. Taxis are an option for seeing the sprawling city. The War Remnants Museum shows the Vietnam War through Vietnamese eyes. Don’t miss the impressive Jade Emperor Pagoda. Go to the frenetic Ben Thanh Market for food, flowers or frogs or tour through the Mekong Delta, past rice paddies and houseboats.

The Cu Chi Tunnels – No stay in Ho Chi Minh City is complete without a visit to the infamous Cu Chi tunnels – a tunnel network originally over 250km in length and up to three levels deep in places

The tunnels played a huge part in the Viet Cong’s victory over the Americans, allowing the Viet Cong to control a large rural area surrounding Ho Chi Minh. The Vietnamese used the tunnels to move their men and artillery around, making it difficult for the U.S. to locate them. Today, some of the remaining tunnels have been opened to tourists, offering a unique insight into what underground life must have been like during the ‘American’ war.

The district of Cu Chi itself was the most bombed and generally devastated area in the history of warfare at that time. It was declared a ‘free fire zone’ by the US, meaning that artillery fire fell on it at night and that bomber pilots were encouraged to drop unused explosives and napalm on the area before returning to base.

The Mekong Delta – The area is both riparian and deeply rural, but it’s also one of Vietnam’s most densely populated regions, with nearly every hectare intensively farmed. Visitors can dwell on southern charm in little-visited riverside cities, sample fruits traded in the colourful floating markets, or feast on home-cooked delicacies before overnighting as a homestay guest. Mangrove forests, sacred Khmer pagodas and off-the-beaten-track attractions round out the picture.

Many people make their living by fishing the waters, and selling their catch at the floating markets. One of the Delta’s most enchanting – and often surreal – characteristics, the markets can be found throughout the major waterways. You may have to get up early to see them at their best, but they’re so emblematic of Southern Vietnam, and a wonderful, lively experience. It would be a shame to miss them for the sake of a lie-in!

Experiences & Attractions

  • Take time to explore Hanoi & Hoi An’s ancient streets and historic buildings, filled with charming boutiques, famous attractions and delectable cuisine.
  • Cruise amongst thousands of limestone islands in Halong Bay and skim the waters together in kayaks.
  • Discovery the daily life of a local in rural villages
  • Share traditional wine or tea with locals and sip a bowl of steaming hot Pho in the best-known restaurants.

Vietnam Leisure – Family with Kids 14 Days

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 (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. 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. Followed by a visit to the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake.

After lunch, you’ll drive to the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups in anticipation of your trip to Sapa. The bustling Old Quarter is 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. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.

We’ll arrange your programme to avoid the busy times at popular destinations, but if there’s anything you particularly want to see, let us know.

* Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum opens in the morning only and closes on Mondays and Fridays. Other museums close on Mondays.

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After breakfast, you will be transferred 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 – 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 5: 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.

Day 6: 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. 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 7: Cyclo-rickshaw ride and Thu Bon River cruise in Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Today, you will have breakfast at the hotel and then embark on a walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. A well-known feature in this port town is the Japanese covered bridge with its own temple and statuary. You’ll amble through the historic streets and observe the mossy houses, including the Phuc Kien Congressional House. Most of Hoi An’s historic houses have been maintained in their traditional design, with brick exteriors and wooden interiors. And after many centuries of maritime trade, the town boasts a multicultural air: Traders from Persia, Arabia, China, Japan, and India, as well as the first Christian missionaries to reach Vietnam, have all left their mark.

After lunch, you will get on an optional cyclo-rickshaw ride through a rural area of Hoi An, followed by a Thu Bon River cruise. You'll travel by cyclo-rickshaw to Cam Nam village, view Hoi An's historic cityscape from a different vantage point during a cruise along the lovely Thu Bon River, and sample a slice of daily life at the central market. You will spend the night in Hoi An.

Day 8: 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 8:

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 – Planting vegetable (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, you’ll be met at your hotel and driven to Tra Que village, where you’ll be introduced to one of the local families who will take you to their fields. Your first job will be helping to water the vegetables, a fine opportunity to feel what it’s like to use a bamboo shoulder-pole to carry water. It takes quite a bit of skill as well as strength. A good photo opportunity, if nothing else!

Next, the farmers will take you to get collect seaweed at the Tra Que lagoon, after which you’ll help to prepare and eat a Vietnamese lunch with the family. In the afternoon, you’ll be shown how to cultivate and scatter seeds and harvest the produce. It’ll be an exhausting day, but there’s no better way of gaining an insight into the life of Vietnamese peasant families. Your overnight stay will be in Hoi An.

Tra Que is a small village about three kilometres northeast of the old town on the bank of Tra Que lagoon. The villagers rely upon market gardening for their livelihood, and supply much of Hoi An’s vegetable produce requirements.

Day 9: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Guide)

You’ll be free in the morning until your car and driver arrive to take you to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive, a private car will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city centre. After checking in, you’ll be free for a preliminary wander around District 1. Your overnight will be in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 10: 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 11: 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 12: Ho Chi Minh City - Vinh Long - Can Tho (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll travel to Cai Be where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long established cottage industries. Later, a rowing boat will carry you through the maze of the Mekong Delta’s myriad channels to connect with the real life of the local people, visiting a local house and listening to live music performed by local artists. You’ll then drive deeper into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho. Upon arrival you’ll call in at the Munir Ansay – an ancient Khmer style pagoda renowned for its unique structural decorations. You’ll then continue to your hotel in Can Tho where you’ll spend the night.

Munir Ansay Pagoda has many statues and pillars with sophisticated decoration; the main gate was built in the shape of the towers illustrative of Angkor architecture.

Day 13: Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast and a boat cruise, you’ll arrive at Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong Delta. Both the journey and the market provide insights into the rural Mekong Delta lifestyle.  On your return to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll stop by the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang Pagoda, 3 km from My Tho centre.  You’ll arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon with time to freshen up in your hotel before the evening.

Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned for its architectural mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. Located on a 2 hectare block with 5 buildings, 2 ornamental yards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues (especially the 18 arahants, wooden statues carved in 1907), the pagoda will give you a deeper look into the relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs.

Day 14: 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.

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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