Day 1 Hanoi
Upon arrival, meet up with your guide then transfer to hotel for check-in.
Day 2 Hanoi (B)
With ochre-coloured colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of charm. Start the tour at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. Behind the Mausoleum, you can see Ho Chi Minh's House. The simple house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked is made of wood and enjoyed a tranquil setting, with a view of a lotus pond. Ho Chi Minh’s belongings are on display and you can walk up the steps of his house to see his bedroom. A short walk from the mausoleum is the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda – resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Wind your way afterwards to the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, for an overview about Hanoian culture and appreciation of ancient Vietnamese architecture.
Day 3 Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Mai Chau (BL)
A two hour drive into Ninh Binh province will bring you to Hoa Lu ancient capital. It was the first centralised feudal state in Vietnam at the end of the 10th century. After arrival in Hoa Lu, continue drive to Van Long eco-tourism area, an astounding place of natural beauty. A 2 hour boat trip along the river offers stunning scenery of local villages dotted among the limestone karsts and caves. Bring along binoculars as you might encounter some rare langurs or birds. Lunch is at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, take 4.5hr drive from Van Long to Mai Chau offering a splendid vista of valleys covered in lush vegetation and stilt houses inhabited mainly by the H’mong and White Thai ethnic groups.
Day 4 Mai Chau (BL)
After breakfast, drive 45 minutes to Xalinh village inhabited by the H’mong hill tribe. Take a stroll for two hours along mountain trails. Optional visit Pa Co primary school, any local gifts to them will be appreciated. Stop along the way to observe local traditions which you may encounter. Return to Mai Chau for lunch at your hotel. Afternoon, opt to enjoy a relaxing walk to the nearby Thai villages of Pom Coong and Lac. There you have some time for handicraft shopping from the local artisans, strolling around or enjoy a cup of coffee with the friendly villagers.
Day 5 Mai Chau – Hanoi (BL)
After breakfast, enjoy a free morning to unwind, swim in the pool and take in the beautiful surroundings. There is an optional two hour cycling tour ride on a local bike or another trek through the valley. Lunch at the Lodge before driving back to Hanoi.
Day 6 Hanoi – Ha Long (BLD)
Embark on a 3.5 hour drive to Halong Bay with a quick rest stop at Hong Ngoc Center – the best place to stop and stretch your legs en route. Board your junk upon arrival. After a relaxing break, enjoy a fresh seafood lunch while cruising through the UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing sculpted limestone islands as they rise from the turquoise waters. Explore Sung Sot grotto where stalactites hanging from the high ceiling takes on numerous shapes and forms. Relax at a beach before returning to the boat for dinner. Overnight on junk
Day 7 Halong – Hanoi – Danang (B)
Set sail on a small bamboo boat to explore Luon cave, where the cliffs are reflected in the clear water and time seems to have stood still. Return to the junk and enjoy brunch on board while cruising back to the boat docking station, then transfer back to Hanoi with a light snack provided en route. Opt to stop at one of the last survivors of pottery village amidst the modern pressure to industrialize. Upon arrival in Ha Noi, transfer to airport for flight to Da Nang. When arriving in Da Nang, meet up with your guide then transfer to your hotel in Hoi An.
Day 8 Hoi An – My Son (B)
My Son is one of the foremost Hindu temple sites in South East Asia. For the Cham civilization that ruled Central Vietnam from the 2nd to the 13th century, My Son was an important religious site and place of worship. A 1.5-hour drive from Hoi An will bring you to My Son where there are 20 monuments still standing today. The temples are set in a verdant valley surrounded by hills and overlooked by the impressive Cat Tooth Mountain. Stroll around this UNESCO listed temple complex to learn about the Cham culture, architecture and civilization before returning to Hoi An.
Day 9 Hoi An - Hue (B)
Half day walking tour HoiAn: Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port. Today, this World Heritage-listed ancient town boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrianized streets and unique cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past. The narrow lanes are ideal for a guided walking tour. There is plenty to visit including the old merchant’s houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings; and the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day or two.After check-out, meet up with your guide at hotel then transfer overland to Hue via Hai Van Pass. Upon arrival, continue transfer to hotel
Day 10 Hue (B)
Half day Hue city tour: Hue served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. With splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel, the city retains its royal charm. Drive from your hotel to the pier where you will embark on a half-hour boat trip on the picturesque Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Standing on the riverbank with its seven-storey tower, the pagoda is a sight to behold. Continue by boat to visit the Royal Tomb of Minh Mang. He was the second Nguyen Emperor, very powerful and distrustful of Western religions. As previously noted his interest in architecture brought major new construction to the Imperial City as well as this large garden with its lakes and pavilions, all in Chinese tradition. Here we see once more many of the frangipani trees, with their fragrant white blossoms which remain in perfect state for days after falling to the ground.
Day 11 Hue – Saigon (B)
Free leisure time in the morning until transfer to airport for departure flight to Saigon. Upon arrival, meet up with your guide then transfer to hotel for check-in. Remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Day 12 Saigon (BL)
Start early in the morning, drive to the Cao Dai Great Temple. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, with Christianity and Islam thrown in for good measure. The elaborate temple’s architecture reflects the combination of religions. Visitors are welcomed inside the temple to observe the colourful service at midday. There is a viewing balcony which affords excellent views and photography is permitted. A Vietnamese lunch is served at a simple, local restaurant. Transfer back to Saigon in the afternoon. Upon arrival, head out of the city centre on a short 6km drive to District 5 to visit Thien Hau temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honour the Goddess of the Sea. The temple’s ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshippers from the local Chinese community come to offer their prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom. Return to your hotel.
Day 13 Saigon – Ben Tre – Can Tho (BL)
Depart for a 1.5 hour drive from Saigon to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Take in the lush surroundings of rice paddies and fruit farms alongside the highway as you leave behind the busy city. Arrive at the waterfront pier and embark on an enjoyable motor boat excursion, take a glimpse at the Delta scenery, houses built on stilts and local fish farms along the way. Upon arrival at Turtle island, visit a local house and be introduced to the owner, sample freshly picked fruit and coconut milk while relaxing in the natural surroundings of fruit orchards. Chat with your host and stroll through the garden to get an insight into daily farming life. Take some time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the village observing tropical gardens along the way. You will have the chance to see a family run business where they make coconut candy directly in front of the pier. Continue on your journey by sampan, be paddled by a personalised rower while you take the time to discover the maze of small canals. Bid farewell to your friendly boat rower, take a short stroll through a shaded area of coconut gardens before reaching a rest-stop to enjoy a cup of honey tea and a traditional folk song performance. Lunch will be served at My Tho, taste some local delicacies before continuing on a two hour drive to Can Tho. Arrive in Can Tho at your hotel where you will be free at leisure this evening.
Day 14 Can Tho – Saigon (BL)
This morning, rise early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong. Board a local boat and explore the colourful Cai Rang floating market, where many boats laden with fruit, vegetables and fish jostle for trade. Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters or tie their goods to a tall pole attached to their boat so that buyers can see from a distance what is being sold. This memorable experience makes for many excellent photo opportunities. Relax and enjoy the cruise back to the hotel where we will freshen up before we check-out and return to Saigon. Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant along the way.
Day 15 Saigon (B)
Leisure time until transfer to airport for your departure flight.
2012: 08 OCT ; 05 NOV ; 03 DEC
2013: 14 JAN ; 18 FEB ; 18 MAR ; 15 APR