Departure Date: 10/10/2019
Vietnam is a country filled with captivating natural beauty coupled with tranquil village life and today is known as an outstanding travel destination that offers many different and wonderful travel experiences. The areas of Hanoi, Halong Bay, the northern mountainous regions, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, the Mekong Delta along with the beaches on the coast lines and the islands are all just waiting to be explored.
Day 1: Hanoi arrival
Day 2: Hanoi
Day 3: Hanoi – Hoa Lu - Hanoi
Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Day 5: Halong – Hoi An
Day 6: Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An
Day 7: Hoi An – Hue
Day 8: Hue
Day 9: Hue - HCMC
Day 10: HCMC – Mekong Delta - HCMC
Day 11: HCMC departure
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Arrive in Hanoi where you will be welcomed by your guide and transfered to the hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi. Distances and journey time: Noi Bai International Airport to your hotel in Hanoi (35km): 60mins
Day 2: Hanoi (B)
The capital of Vietnam, a city that celebrated 1.000 years in 2010 has countless fascinating cultural and historic sites and our days’ tour will visit the highlights. See the grand and solemn mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside; closed Mon & Fri & from Oct-Nov), the ‘icon of Hanoi’ - The One Pillar Pagoda, the beautiful Temple of Literature, West Lake’s Tran Quoc temple and Quan Thanh pagoda as well as the fascinating Ethnology Museum, the bustling Old Quarter and at the end of the day - a water puppet performance.
08h30 depart from your hotel for the Temple of Literature. In 1076, Vietnam's first university Quoc Tu Giam, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Visit The One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049, next. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (Viewed from outside; closed Mon & Fri & from Oct-Nov)
Continue to picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) 700 meters to the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism.
In the afternoon visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), which is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam.
At the end of the afternoon visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter which is also known as the ‘36 streets’. Take a walking tour through the charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you.
Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.
Overnight in Hanoi. Distances and journey time: Routes can change subject to client’s interest.
Day 3: Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Hanoi (B, L)
Depart from the hotel early this morning for a 2-hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam's first capital, Hoa Lu. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80) and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). The ancient Hoa Lu Citadel (most of which has since been destroyed) once covered an area of three square kilometers. If time permits after visiting Hoa Lu take a half-hour walk up one of the surrounding limestone karst hills, the climb is rewarding with spectacular views.
In the late morning depart for Tam Coc Town for a Vietnamese lunch, along the way stop to take photographs of local villages and the stunning landscape. After lunch board your private sampan (see options for Tam Coc sampan trip below*). As the boat gently slices through the water notice the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields giving rise to the area’s other name, 'Halong on Land'.
If you are feeling adventurous, climb up to Bich Dong Pagoda on teh nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain, dating back to 1428 which is comprised of three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. Return by sampan to Tam Coc town before returning to Hanoi.
*Option 1: Trang An Boat Option (in replace of Tam Coc):
Situated near Tam Coc, Trang An is a nature reserve similar to Tam Coc however less visited. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river which passes through a series of caves (one which takes 15-minutes to pass through in darkness). An ‘eco tourism’ area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.
*Option 2: Thung Nang Boat Option (in replace of Tam Coc):
Similar to Tam Coc though not as spectacular, Thung Nang is off the tourist trail and a pleasant alternative. Pass through a cave, fields of lotus (in summer) and reach a quaint pagoda before returning on the same route. Note: Please be aware that some women on boats may try to sell local products to tourists. Guests should refer to their guide if this situation makes them uncomfortable. Overnight in Hanoi. Distances and journey time: Hanoi to Ninh Binh (100km): 2hrs
Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B/L/D)
The scenery of Halong Bay where thousands of limestone islands jut out of the emerald sea, sculpted into bizarre shapes is truly an iconic image for Vietnam. An overnight boat trip is the best way to enjoy this Vietnamese must-see. After breakfast leave Hanoi for a 3h30 min drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way.
Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board. Overnight on Halong Bay. Distances and journey time: Hanoi to Halong Bay (160km):3hr30 mins
Day 5: Halong Bay – Noi Bai Aiport – Danang – Hoi An (B)
The sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (also brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly back towards port. Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi or Haiphong.
En-route visit Thanh Chuong Palace, the home and studio of Thanh Chuong, of the most celebrated painters in Vietnam. More a living space than a museum, the Palace is an architectural gem showcasing Vietnamese traditional cultural objects, exquisite antiques and remarkable structures.
After the visit it’s a quick transfer to the airport for the short flight to the central port city of Danang. On arrival in Danang transfer 40-minutes to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. Overnight in Hoi An. Distances and journey time: Routes can change subject to client’s interest.
Day 6: Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An (B/L)
Today, you will spend half day visiting the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Here, 40 km southwest of Hoi An in a lush green valley, are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. On the way back to Hoi An you will stop to visit Tra Kieu, which is formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum originated from here.
Upon your return to Hoi An, take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchants’ houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market. Hoi An is a destination with two faces – the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses, and the beach with its new resorts and long stretch of clean white sand. In keeping with Hoi An’s heritage as a trading port, the town’s tiny shop houses now host a range of craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. Overnight in Hoi An.
Distances and journey time: Routes can change subject to client’s interest
Day 7: Hoi An – Hue (B)
Enjoy this morning at leisure before leaving Hoi An for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. It’s mesmerizing tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. The ancient Citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern. The Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war but retains a sense of grace and majesty even today.
Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
Overnight in Hue. Distances and journey time: Hoi An to Hue (150km):3 hrs
Day 8: Hue (B)
08h30 depart from your hotel in Hue. Start your day at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. From here take a cyclo through dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. It is full of lotus flowers in summer and there are many local style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study. After exploring the ruins of this wonderful monument depart for Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River Constructed in 1601, the 21-meter tower is the centerpiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. On the pagoda grounds is the famous Austin car a resident monk drove to Saigon in 1963 to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self immortalization is one of the most well known images of the war.
Continue to the former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb that is located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds.
Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb designed in a traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Before heading back to your hotel take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market with your guide. The market is another of the 'must see' sites in Hue, the stalls are teeming with color and a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life. Overnight in Hue. Distances and journey time: Routes can change subject to client’s interest
Day 9: Hue – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Transfer to Hue Airport after breakfast for your short flight to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals. A full day city tour takes place in Cholon, the Chinatown district, where you will discover the area’s markets, shops and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda - all dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Visit Vietnam's first traditional medicine museum, the FITO Museum, with an amazing collection of 3,000 items relevant to the development of traditional Vietnamese medicine. Implements used to prepare indigenous herbs and objects commonly found in traditional pharmacies can be seen in the galleries as well as ancient books and documents on traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Head back to the city centre to visit Ben Thanh Market where an incredible display of fresh produce is offered. Simply stroll through the market exploring the variety of goods for sale. In the afternoon visit the War Remnants or History Museum (choose which one you would most like to see) and the former Presidential Palace Stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. At the end of the afternoon head back to your hotel.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Note: History Museum is closed on Mondays. Distances and journey time: Routes can change subject to client’s interest
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B/L) Leave the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and drive deep into the Mekong Delta on this Cai Be day tour. Upon arriving in Cai Be, disembark the boat when reaching Tan Phong Island and start a very interesting cycling tour immersing yourself in nature through small villages and narrow roads. Ride along the pathways and take the opportunity to visit local families making traditional products like handicraft items made from water hyacinth, roofs made from palm leaves, hammocks made from coconut ropes, and rice papers.
Enjoy lunch with specialties of the Mekong Delta in the ambience of an ancient house. After lunch, walk through the narrow lanes of a local market where you can enjoy the hustle and bustle before getting on board and continue cruising on the Mekong River. Witness everyday life in the watery world passing by while sampling local fresh fruits. Leave the boat to visit local businesses like a family-run rice wine making and rice mill factory and interact with the host learning about their daily lives. At the end of the tour, drive back to Saigon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Distances and journey time: HCMC to Cai Be (100km): 2hrs
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City Departure (B)
Departure day. At leisure until transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for onward flight.
*****END OF SERVICES*****
Flights from Johannesburg via Dubai to Hanoi and from Ho Chi Minh via Dubai to Johannesburg, approx. airport taxes, 10 nights accommodation in a shared double/twin room, meals as indictated in the itinerary, an English speaking guide, Tours and transfers as mentioned in in the itinerary by a private air conditioned vehicle including entrance fees and the boat trip as per the intinerary.
10 Nights from R35,947 pps
These offers are brought to you by Travel Counsellors (Pty) Ltd. Valid: 10 October - 31 December 2019. Offers are per person sharing. Rates for other periods are available on request. Packages are subject to availability, seasonal surcharge; high season supplements, flight price increases and currency fluctuations. Packages excludes: items of a personal nature, meals, drinks, tours and entrance fees not included in the itinerary, tips and travel insurance. Supplier's terms and conditions are available on request. Additional information available on request. Valid for SA residents only. Terms and conditions apply. Prices and information correct at time of publishing. E&OE.