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’s Splendor 18 Days

A specially designed tour that allows you and your family to get into Vietnam’s culture, nature and history in a short time frame. Joining the tour, you will be taken from the North to the South Vietnam, encompassing major tourist sites in each area which represent the most typical cultural features of Vietnam communities. In the North, after wandering around the 1000­year old Hanoi, the trip will continue to the northwest area to explore the unique cultural patterns of local ethnic people as well as picturesque sceneries of Sapa. Moving to the Central, the charming Hoian ancient town welcomes you to discover its cultural richness and traditional cuisine. Finally, the vibrant Ho Chi Minh City, immense Cu Chi tunnel, peaceful Mekong Delta in the South will complete the journey in memories.

Highlights:

  • Discover the ethic communities in the far northwest area,  their traditional products as well as enjoying the picturesque sceneries.
  • Stay on board of an elegant junk in Halong Bay, discovering the splendid natural wonder
  • Visit Hoian ancient town, exploring the local cuisine
  • Admire the immense underground system of Cu Chi tunnels to get to know about a heroic period of Vietnam’s
  • history
  • Join a cruise trip along the Mekong River, visiting floating markets and enjoying local specialties
  • A relaxing time in Mui Ne with its beautiful sandy beaches

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 – Lao Cai (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 before coming back to your hotel for refreshment. You will be free until the driver/guide arrives to take you to the railway station to catch the overnight at 21.00 pm to Lao Cai. You will spend the night on the train.

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: Lao Cai – Sapa market (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

You’ll arrive in the early morning then be picked will be picked up and taken to the local hotel to have breakfast and a short rest before continuing driving to Bac Ha market, which is one of the most interesting hill tribe markets in North Vietnam. Here you will observe and photograph Nung, Flower H'Mong, Black Dao and Dzay minority people buying and selling their local produce. After spending the morning casually strolling around and photographing the markets, you will visit a Flower H’mong village called Ban Pho.

After a picnic lunch, you’ll return to Lao Cai and continue your journey into the mountains to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. You’ll arrive with time to relax and stroll around the town.

After checking into hotel you can soak up the fresh climate as much as you want by spending time to wander around. The ethnic people are frequently seen in this hill town and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicraft.  You will spend the night in Sapa.

Although it’s quite a long drive, the landscape is attractive and the ethnic markets are a fascinating experience. Unlike those in the tourist areas, the markets that we choose are for not only for buying and selling, but are also meeting places for ethnic minority people to meet and exchange news. There will be plenty of colour and authentic costumes, but very little to buy as souvenirs unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertilizer!

The trips to ethnic minority markets must be on Tuesday (Coc Ly or Ban Cam market), Thursday (Lung Khau Nhin market), Saturday (Can Cau) or Sunday (Bac Ha, Muong Hum or Muong Khuong markets).

Day 4: Village Trek - Overnight Train to Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you will trek down the mountain to Ta Van village. Along the way you will photograph the magnificent terraced rice fields and local minority people going about their day-to-day activities. After an enjoyable picnic lunch, you will continue our trek, walking through a number of minority villages and getting up close to the terraced rice fields. You will take photograph the sunset over the terraced rice fields before coming back to Sapa town to refresh. In the afternoon, you will be transferred back to Lao Cai station to take night train back to Hanoi.  You will spend the night on the train.

Day 5: 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 6: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hoi An (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 Danang. When arrival, your guide will pick you up then take you to your hotel in Hoi An where you will spend the night.

Day 7: Hoi An Tours (Breakfast, 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. You will then take a river trip and you will enjoy the scenery along the Thu Bon River and the general view of Hoi An Ancient Town. It transforms itself at night, when many of the shops hang lanterns outside. You will transfer you back to the town and rest of time at your own leisure. 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 stay overnight 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 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 9: Hoi An free (Breakfast)

The day 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 10: 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 11: Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Cu Chi Tunnels. (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, your guide will take you to discover the city. Firstly, you will visit the War Remnants Museum. You will learn about Vietnam’s recent history at Reunification Palace then visit the nearby neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the City's Centre Post Office before passing by the ornate Opera Theatre and the City Hall. You will end up at the Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.

After lunch, you leave Ho Chi Minh City on an afternoon excursion for Cu Chi, situated 70km from Saigon. The Cu Chi Tunnel system was created around 1948 to assist the Viet Minh in their combat against French occupiers.  Construction and enlargement continued during American bombings and they were turned into an underground city with living areas, kitchens, storage, weapon factories and field hospitals. The Cu Chi Tunnels could house up to 10,000 people who lived underground for years, getting married and raising children. During the Vietnam ­ American War the entire area of Cu Chi was designated as a fire free zone yet was heavily bombarded. Since 1988, two sections of the tunnels are open for visitors to crawl through and better understand the war. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be - Tra On (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll travel to Cai Be in the very heart of the Mekong Delta. On arrival, you’ll embark on board Le Cochinchine and enjoy a delectable lunch and get acquainted with the crew, while the vessel starts its way to Can Tho via Cho Lach and Tra On.

On the way, you will disembark and make a pleasant walking or biking on the footpaths of the countryside to discover tropical fruit orchards and the local people's activities, especially somas orchards (orange grove) with its famer. The cruise continues to Tra On up the Mekong River, it is time to enjoy the magnificent sunset on the river.

The boat will anchor for the night. Your dinner and overnight stay will be onboard.

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

The noise of the floating market will wake you up early in the morning to enjoy the magnificent sunrise on the river. After breakfast, the cruise continues to Can Tho up the Bassac River.

Upon arrival at Can Tho, you will explore the Cai Rang market, one of the most bustling floating markets in Mekong Delta with hundreds of small boats barging and jostling for space as the owners attempt to sell their goods. A small boat will then take you through the palm-shaded creek to see local houses and green orchards.

You will disembark at around 10 AM for coming back to Ho Chi Minh City. Your lunch will be served at a local restaurant on the way back.

Day14:  Ho Chi Minh City – Nam Cat Tien (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After breakfast, you will depart to Nam Cat Tien, situated about 150km from Ho Chi Minh City. This park is located in the middle of three provinces: Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc and is home to over 600 varieties of plants, 240 types of birds and 50 species of mammals. You will arrive around lunch time then you will be taken to the resort in the park by electric car. After check-in you will have lunch at the restaurant of the Forest Floor Lodge overlooking the river and jungle. After that, you will trek into the jungle to discover its plant and animal life. Then you will have time to explore the park on your own, go for a cycle trip or just relax.

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.

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 15: Nam Cat Tien ­ Mui Ne (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Rising early to the sound of the forest and have breakfast before taking a trip to Bau Sau or Crocodile Lake 10km away, the jeep will take about 20 minutes from lodge to the starting point for your trek. From here you will start a one­hour, 5km long trek. You will then board a boat and paddle around the lake for an hour. You will see various birds, crocodiles and wild lotus before lunch. In the afternoon you will commence your journey to Mui Ne beach about 200km away. Check into your hotel. You will stay overnight at hotel in Phan Thiet/Mui Ne.

Phan Thiet town is undistinguished apart from an international hotel and a good golf course. Not far away is Mui Ne Beach, one of the best beaches in Vietnam and famous for its huge rolling dunes. There is a good range of hotels on the beach, some offering accommodation in bamboo villas and bungalows. Many have very attractive, well-kept gardens. Large trees and palms screen the hotels from each other creating a sense of seclusion. There are also plenty of restaurants along the beach road - a mixture of Vietnamese and international. Apart from an 18 km beach and places to stroll in the cool of the evenings, there's not much to do at Mui Ne apart from relaxing on the sand and swimming. Alternatively, you could choose to visit the golf course in Phan Thiet.

Day 16: to Day 17: Mui Ne (Breakfast)

Your time will be your own!

Day 18: Mui Ne - Ho Chi Minh City departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)

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

Inclusive

  • Vietnam Visa On Arrival pre-approved 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 – Danang, Danang - Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
  • Return train tickets: Hanoi – Lao Cai (air-conditioned soft four-berth cabin, good local standard in Fanxipan Train carriage or similar)
  • The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
  • Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All The Mekong Delta 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 The Mekong Delta
  • 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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