VIETNAM EXCLUSIVE: Detail Itinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVAL - HO CHI MINH
Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat Airport our guide will accompany you to your hotel and assist you with your checking-in. Whilst there are no activities planned for today, your guide will be on hand to offer any advice and assistance regarding your free time.
DAY 2: HO CHI MINH
After breakfast, we embark on a tour of the city including Cholon, the War Remnants museum and the Reunification Palace.
CHOLON is home to Saigon’s substantial Chinese population and also is the site for the largest market in Vietnam, the Binh Tay market.
THE WAR REMENANTS MUSEUM has a wealth of images from the wars, the most moving being a gallery entitled Requiem which is dedicated to Vietnamese and foreign journalists and photographers that perished during the French and American conflicts.
THE REUNIFICATION PLACE was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until April 30th 1975 when the North Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the front gates, bringing the American War to a dramatic end. Close to the Palace some of the best examples of French colonial architecture are represented in the forms of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. The ornate Notre Dame Cathedral dominates the business centre of town. Built by the French between 1877 and 1883, the stone used to create it was exported in its entirety from France. Next to the cathedral stands the Central Post Office, finished in 1891. For all its French colonial history, Ho Chi Minh City is by far and away Vietnam’s most modern city. It has numerous shopping malls, cinemas, discotheques and a bewildering number of bars and this evening we will have the opportunity to see just what the city has to offer at nighttime!. (B)
DAY 3 : HO CHI MINH - TAY NINH - CU CHI - HO CHI MINH
In the morning we have an excursion to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960’s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the American war in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life in the American War must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!) For those interested there’s even the opportunity to fire off a few rounds from an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range.
From Cu Chi we drive to Tay Ninh, the headquarters of the Cao Dai Sect, whose patron saints include Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo and Winston Churchill. The religion is an eclectic mix of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. The temple’s exterior is decorated with multi-colored dragons of all shapes and sizes. Above the main entrance is the all-seeing holy eye, the symbol of the Cao Dai sect. The interior is just as engaging as statues of Jesus Christ, Buddha and the Hindu god, Brahma, stand side by side. This evening we dine Saigon style for the “Last Supper.” (B)
DAY 4 : HO CHI MINH - MEKONG DELTA - HO CHI MINH
Heading out of the town we travel by roads to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s largest rice bowl. On arrival in My Tho we embark on a boat navigating around the intricate small canals in the delta region, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle close-up. The exciting excursion is passing through the lush green vegetation before arriving on an island. Here we have opportunities to visit some fascinating local industries, stroll through an orchard and taste many seasonal fruits. After feasting on a huge lunch we return to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off along the way to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Cho Lon, Saigon’s Chinatown, which is crammed with fascinating temples and mysterious, narrow lanes. O/N in Ho Chi Minh. (B,L)
DAY 5:HO CHI MINH - DANANG - HOIAN
An early morning transfer to airport for a flight to Da Nang. On arrival we are greeted and driven a short distance to Hoi An which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced down centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There are plenty to see in this tranquil and delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 years old Tamky House, the Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant market. We visit these sights on an enchanting walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls which reflect the town’s multi-cultural past. O/N in Hoi An. (B)
DAY 6: HOIAN - MY SON - HUE
Upon leaving Hoian we set off on a short drive to My Son, the holy land of the Cham people, which has recently been recorgnized as the world heritage site. After exploring this wondrous sight we continue our journey to Hue with stopover at the sensational Marble Mountains and the China Beach. The winding roads begin as we make our way up the spectacular Hai Van Pass. At the top of the pass we stop to admire a fantastic view north to Lang Co and south to Danang. Arriving in Hue we see the massive citadel, containing the Imperial City and the Purple Forbidden City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, however it is still fascinating to walk among the ruins. O/N in Hue.(B)
DAY 7: HUE
The beautiful riverside pagoda of Thien Mu which now becomes the symbol of Hue, and the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc are not to be missed. We include these in a half day cruise on the Perfume River which also gives us a taste of the scenic countryside as well as an enjoyable visit to the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang, in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes. After an impressive boat trip we enjoy a walk to the bustling Dong Ba Market that sells a wide variety of local goods and handicrafts. Along the way we pass many fantastic eating spots, all ideal for visitors to sample some local delicacies. O/N in Hue. (B)
DAY 8: HUE - HANOI
After breakfast we explore Hue on our own until transferring to the airport for a short flight north. Ha Noi, Vietnam’s capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The relaxing atmosphere is also a highlight of Hanoi. After checking into hotel, we have time visiting the beautiful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple, the picturesque West Lake and the Dong Xuan Market. A perfect way to finish the day is to enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. O/N in Ha Noi.(B)
DAY 9: HANOI - HALONG
This morning we enjoy a half day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex. This famous site contains the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace , the Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. Close to the complex is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of Hanoi. Upon leaving this area we continue to the Temple of Literature, well known as Vietnam’s first university and the History Museum which displays an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. The peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple and the bustling Dong Xuan Market are also visited before we travel by roads to Halong Bay,, passing through the secnic countryside. O/N in Ha Long. (B)
DAY 10: HALONG - HANOI
Today we embark on a boat for an exploration of Halong Bay. This exciting five hour cruise will provide us a spectacular view of the bay, which is dotted with some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. After a seafood lunch on board we return to Ha Noi, stopping en route at Dong Trieu pottery village. We arrive in time to see an evening performance of Hanoi’s famous water puppets. O/N in Ha Noi. (B,L)
DAY 11: HANOI - HOA LU - TAM COC - HANOI
The capital of Vietnam from 968 AD to 1010 AD during the Dinh and early Le Dynasties is Hoa Lu, which however has left its legacy in the form of two small temples, each one nearly a thousand years old. After two and half hour drive from Hanoi we visit these remaining structures, dedicated to the Dinh and Le Rulers, then climb 200 steps to the top of Ma Yen mount for a fantastic view over the surrounding areas. The next stop of our trip is Tam Coc which is surnamed “ Inland Halong Bay”. We take a boat trip on a river through the quiet and peaceful landscape of rice fields surrounded by limestone formations to the grottoes of Tam Coc. O/N in Ha Noi. (B)
DAY 12: HANOI - DEPARTURE
There is a free time to relax or further explore Ha Noi. The trip ends after your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure. (B)
+ Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
+ Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = dinner
+ Accommodation: twin sharing room at the below mentioned hotel or similar one
+ English or French speaking guide
+ flight mention in program
+ Entrance fee to indicated sights
+ Boat trip.
Other meals, tip, drinks, airport tax, single room supplement, personal expenses, travel insurance, visa, flight in/ out Vietnam, any optional additional tours or activities during free time.
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