Tour code:
OM/VN/CT/002
Country:
Vietnam
City:
Hanoi
Holiday Types:
Classic Tours
Duration:
10D9N

 

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  1675

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10D9N Essential Vietnam
Overview

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HANOI

DAY 2: HANOI

DAY 3: HANOI / HOA LU  / HANOI

DAY 4: HANOI / HA LONG BAY

DAY 5: HA LONG BAY / HANOI / HUE

DAY 6: HUE

DAY 7: HUE / HOI AN

DAY 8: HOI AN / DA NANG / SAI GON

DAY 9: SAI GON / MY THO - MEKONG DELTA / SAI GON

DAY 10: SAI GON / DEPARTURE

 

Itinerary

 

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HANOI

Arrive in Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam. The city was founded in 1010 on the right bank of the Red River and was then known as ‘Thang Long’, roughly translated as "Soaring Dragon." Hanoi is one of the most charming cities in South East Asia with its authentic street scenes, large shady avenues, numerous lakes, manicured gardens and well-preserved architecture. Transfer from Noi Bai airport to your hotel. Free evening. Dinner and accommodation included.

   

DAY 2: HANOI

The day is dedicated to a more in depth discovery of Hanoi beginning with a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. This imposing monument, dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam, was constructed from marble and granite and takes the form of a stylized lotus (closed Mondays and Fridays). Located nearby is Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda, a symbol of Hanoi. Continue your tour with a visit to the ancient Taoist Temple of Quan Thanh, where lies the genie protector of the city (or Tran Quoc Pagoda located on the shores of Lake West). Next visit the Temple of Literature, or van Mieu, a structure dedicated to Confucius. Constructed in 1070, the compound soon became first Vietnam’s university. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, where you will have the opportunity to sample some regional delicacies.In the early afternoon visit the renowned Museum of Ethnography (closed Mondays), which houses an interesting collection of artifacts relating to the mosaic of ethnic groups that inhabit Vietnam. Alternatively, visit the Museum of History (closed Mondays) which displays an array of exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the fight against French colonization. This afternoon’s touring will also provide the opportunity to see Hanoi’s famed old quarter from the seat of a cyclo. During your tour around the district you will see some of the areas original 36 streets which have always sold the same wares. Silver Street, Silk Street and Flower Street are just a few. During your adventure through this maze of streets you will see traditional ‘tube houses’, a style of architecture indigenous to this part of Hanoi. Next, visit the Temple of Jade at the centre of atmospheric Hoan Kiem Lake, otherwise known as the lake of ‘the restored sword’. Finish the city tour with a stop at the food market in Hang Be Street. This afternoon is free for a stroll along the boulevards of the old colonial quarter where you can view some of the best French architecture in South East Asia. In the evening, visit Hanoi’s water puppets theatre to attend a performance of the traditional show. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 3: HANOI / HOA LU  / HANOI

Depart Hanoi for Ninh Binh province and enjoy the drive through the luxurious vegetation of the Red River Delta. Continue on to Tam Coc and take a cruise up the river through karst hills and rice fields on a traditional boat, a photographer’s paradise. Sometimes referred to as ‘Ha Long Bay on land’, for some its beauty surpasses that of it’s coastal rival. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.Continue your tour with a journey through bustling villages, rice paddies and some beautiful limestone rock formations. Arrive at Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam for 41 years under the Dinh and Le dynasties (between 968 and 980). Discover beautiful shrines dedicated to the Emperor Le Dinh, the first ruler to unify the country. Aside from this important historical site, this region is also worth a visit for its rolling hills and picturesque rocky landscapes. Return to Hanoi. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 4: HANOI / HA LONG BAY

Depart Hanoi for the world famous Ha Long Bay, or bay of ‘the descending dragon’, a journey of approximately 3 1/2 hours. Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Ha Long Bay is a stunning limestone archipelago stretching over some 1500 square kilometers and comprising nearly 2000 islets. Board your junk for a memorable cruise through the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ gliding gently past fishing communities and hidden cave systems. Visit the ‘Cave of Surprises’, really a complex, where you can marvel at strangely formed stalactites and stalagmites. After anchoring at a nearby beach you can go for a swim or climb to the top of Thien Cung (Heaven’s) Island to get a panoramic view of the bay and surrounding islands. Delicious local seafood is served on board the boat, with other options available. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included. NB. Accommodation is on junk in private cabin (with air conditioning and shower).

 

DAY 5: HA LONG BAY / HANOI / HUE

After breakfast, continue your journey cruise through the breathtaking scenery of Bai Tu Long Bay. After disembarking, return to Hanoi by road in time for lunch. Enjoy a free afternoon exploring the city on foot or simply relax with a drink at the edge of Hoan Kiem lake. In the late afternoon transfer to Noi Bai airport for your flight to Hue. On arrival in Hue, transfer to your hotel and check in. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 6: HUE

The day is spent discovering Hue, capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 during the reign of the Nguyen dynasty emperors. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993, the Citadel is only one of many well-preserved historical sites in the city and its environs. Cruise in a sampan on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, or pagoda of the Heavenly Lady, a Buddhist shrine dating from the mid-seventeenth century. Located on the banks of the Huong River (Perfume River), it is easily recognizable by its octagonal tower. Continue your tour with a visit to the Citadel, seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Construction began in 1804 under the orders of the first Emperor Gia Long after the site had been selected using principles of geomancy (Feng Shui). The citadel was inspired by Vauban fortifications and is composed of three sections; the capital city (Thanh Kinh), the Imperial city (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden City (Cam Thanh). It was largely destroyed in 1968 during the fighting that engulfed Hue following the Tet Offensive. Today, efforts are being made to restore and preserve this invaluable piece of heritage. Next, take a walk through Dong Ba market that offers an array of goods and produce, ranging from fresh vegetables to conical hats. Lunch at a local restaurant provides an opportunity to sample some of Hue’s famously refined cuisine. In the afternoon visit the intricately decorated tomb of Khai Dinh, which contains a beautiful altar and a bust of the king. Next, visit Minh Mang’s mausoleum located on the left bank of the Huong River, which represents the perfect harmony between nature and architecture. Return to Hue. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 7: HUE / HOI AN

Depart Hue for Hoi An along Highway 1 which links Hanoi to Sai Gon. This drive is reputedly the most beautiful in all Vietnam, taking you past coastal fishing settlements, most notably Lang Co with its stunning lagoon backdrop. The drive also takes you over Hai Van Pass, or ‘pass of the ocean clouds’. En route you can stop in Da Nang for a visit to the informative Cham Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Cham artifacts in the world (optional). Also stopping in a village of stone carvers at the foot of the Marble Mountain – giving you a chance to climb to the top and view the secret Vietnamese wartime hospital in a cave. Continue on to the delightful town of Hoi An which stands on the banks of the Thu Bon river, some thirty kilometers southeast of Da Nang. Around the fifteenth century, this old port town in the kingdom of Champa was known as Faifo. Check-in to hotel on arrival.  Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. The afternoon is spent strolling through the narrow streets of this atmospheric old town. This former port, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of architectural gems that show a range of influences. Visit the Japanese covered bridge, the temple of the genie of water, the Fujian temple and the fish, meat and vegetable market. Around the seventeenth century Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in South East Asia, with Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, French and English merchants visiting the town in search of spices, lacquer ware, and ceramics. Enriched by the proceeds of this trade many merchants constructed beautiful homes. One can admire these charming houses along Tran Phu Street, one of the oldest in Hoi An. Architecture in the old town tends to show an integration of Sino-Japanese influences in a local style. Most buildings share the same overall plan; built on two levels, they are constructed like a tube between two streets that run parallel. In the late afternoon take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River for the chance to view some beautiful rural scenery, finishing at around sunset. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 8: HOI AN / DA NANG / SAI GON

Transfer to the airport for your flight from Da Nang to Sai Gon. On arrival in Sai Gon, transfer and check in to your hotel. Begin your exploration of this frenetic city with lunch at a local restaurant. Not only is Sai Gon the most important economic centre in Vietnam, it also has some very imposing colonial architecture which belies in fascinating past. Almost a hundred years of French rule bestowed the Central Post Office, a pearl of colonial architecture designed by Gustave Eiffel. Visit Notre Dame – Sai Gon’s beautiful cathedral. Continue your city tour with a visit to District 5, formerly known as Cho Lon or China Town. Cho Lon, or ‘big market’, with its congested streets is where most of the city’s ethnic Chinese population lives. The district lives up to its name in the form of Binh Tay wholesale market. Founded in 1778 the market sells a stunning array of goods and produce, ranging from fish to incense. Finish your city tour with a stop at Thien Hau temple, otherwise known as ‘Temple of the Heavenly Lady’, to marvel at its intricate friezes and coils of incense. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 9: SAI GON / MY THO - MEKONG DELTA / SAI GON

Depart Sai Gon by road for Mekong Delta and its gateway city of My Tho, located 72 km south west of the city. Board a riverboat for an excursion across the Mekong through islands covered with lush flora and small rural communities. Cruise to Thoi Son Island where you will have the opportunity to visit a local house and taste some of the fruits that are grown locally in the orchards. Parkway in orchards, tasting tropical fruits. Lunch is at a local restaurant where you will have the chance to sample a local specialty: ‘elephant ear’ fish. Conclude your tour of the Mekong with a stop at Vinh Trang pagoda, the largest and most remarkable pagoda in the delta. Return to Sai Gon. The late afternoon is free for you to do some last minute shopping on Dong Khoi Street. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and accommodation included.

 

DAY 10: SAI GON / DEPARTURE

Free day until departure. Enjoy a last stroll to admire the colonial architecture, visit the colourful markets or take a trip through the frenetic streets in a cyclo. Transfer to the airport for departure flight. Breakfast included.

 

NB: The itinerary can be run in reverse.


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