If you're flying into Hanoi today you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel. The afternoon is at leisure to start exploring Hanoi, with a group meeting being held in the hotel foyer at a time indicated in your final documents. In the evening we will enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant, allowing us to sample specialty dishes of the north. After dinner, we have tickets to see a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppet theater. Water Puppet Theatre was traditionally performed during the monsoon months when rice farming was not possible, becoming a very popular and beloved art form for local people, with the stories reflecting life in the Red River Delta. Water Puppet Theatre is an important vehicle for local people to pass down stories of their daily lives, culture and mythology to younger generations, and performances are extremely popular among locals and visitors alike.
Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, visit the Temple of Literature the first university of Vietnam built in 11th century. Take a walk through Ba Dinh Square where you'll see the Presidential Palace, President Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the National Assembly Building from the outside. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010, the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long Hanoi is a relic of a succession of dynasties. Dating back over a thousand years to the Chinese Tang dynasty, Hanoi's ancient citadel was the home of Vietnamese sovereigns going back to Dai Viet, when Hanoi was known as Thang Long. You will visit the ruins of royal palaces, a revolutionary bunker and the archeological site.
In the afternoon visit the Museum of Ethnology, which gives an excellent overview of the country's ethnic groups, their customs and ways of life. The highlight here is the large, beautiful outdoor area featuring genuine houses and compounds as built and used by the many different ethnic groups. You then drive to Hanoi center to explore the lively Old Quarter of Hanoi and Dong Xuan Market. This bustling heart of Hanoi has been a commercial centre since King Ly Thai To built his palace there in the 11th century. Skilled craftsmen started to migrate and artisan guilds were formed on the famous "36 Streets". Previously, each street carried the name of the item produced and sold there, and many still have the same names. This is a place you must see to experience Hanoi, where you will find shopping and cultural/historical sites all wrapped into one.
To discover Hanoi's streetside night life, join this walking tour and taste the varied flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. You will have the chance to encounter Hanoi's local specialties such as Bun Cha & Cha Ca. Begin your tour at a local Hanoi market to see the wide range of beautiful produce available. Then proceed into the Old Quarter to sample the many available types of cuisine before concluding your night life excursion. Drop off at your hotel.
Overnight in Hanoi
Following breakfast, you departure from Hanoi and transfer by private vehicle to Hoang Su Phi. Upon arrival you enjoy the rest of day at leisure, stroll around to nearby villages or just relax.
Overnight at Pan Hou Village
After having breakfast, start your trek to Nam Nghi, known for hundred years old tea trees. You follow the trek through terrace fields, village of Red Dzao people and tea hills till your village where we spend the night.
Overnight at homestay in Ta Ho Pien Village
Trekking duration: approx.5 hours
Early morning wake up for ones who want to enjoy fresh air, peaceful life atmosphere of the mountainous area. Today you trek through forest, rice terraces, bamboo hills and along the stream. Stop at any place to capture nice shots of scenery.
Overnight at Pan Hou Village
Trekking duration: approx. 5 hours
After breakfast with our host family we say goodbye and begin our drive back to Hanoi, enjoying the scenery as we make our way back to the capital. Once we arrive back, the rest of the afternoon will be free at leisure to rest or explore Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.
This morning we drive towards the coast where we'll board the traditional 'junk' boat that will be taking us through Halong Bay. Our overnight cruise through this magnificent natural environment will surely be a highlight of the trip. While onboard our junk boat today we'll be cruising through this labyrinth of emerald waters studded with towering limestone islands, eating a fresh seafood lunch and spending the afternoon swimming, kayaking and exploring some of the secluded beaches, caves and grotts in the area. After coming back onboard for dinner we'll spend the night aboard in our own private cabins.
Overnight aboard boat.
In the morning, you continue with the cruise through different parts of Ha Long Bay, passing many islets and grotts. You will reach the pier around noontime and have the transfer back to Hanoi, stopping en route at Bac Ninh to visit Dinh Bang Communal House. Considered the most beautiful communal house in the north of Vietnam, its construction started in 1700 and ended in 1736. You will learn about the important role of communal houses in the local spiritual life, and have a chance to admire its beautiful carvings and architecture.
We will have day rooms at the hotel for our group to use, before we board the Reunification Express for our southbound train to Hue in the evening. The overnight accommodation aboard the train is four person sleeper cabins where you sleep in comfortable berths swaying to the timeless rhythm of the railroad.
Overnight on train
You travel overland through beautiful countryside of Mekong Delta to Cai Be. On arrival, you take a boat ride in Mekong River to visit local workshops where you can see how rice paste, coconut candy, poprice and popcorn are made. The rowing boat then will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals to see traditional houses made of wood and palm tree leaves and local people's daily life activities. The cruise will end at Vinh Long where you'll be transferred to Can Tho, the hub of the Mekong Delta and its largest city.
Overnight in Can Tho
This morning, you drive to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which is located about 70km northwest of Saigon. The tunnels were part of an underground network, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960's. 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 Vietnam War must have been like. Drive back the city.
You explore city's grand boulevards, visiting the Reunification Palace, the former palace of President Thieu and his predecessors. Now, this building is a museum and venue for Government official receptions. Inside you can visit the President's room. Nearby is the Central Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 1883 and is one of the city's major landmarks. Neo-Romanesque in form, the Cathedral is the major seat of the Catholic religion in modern Vietnam. The rest of the day is free at leisure to explore the Ben Thanh Market.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Today we drive to Ho Chi Minh City, breaking up the journey with stops at Dambri Waterfall and the Bao Loc tea farm. After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City and checking into our hotel, the rest of the day is free at leisure to start exploring the city.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Start your visit with King Palace, a French colonial villa constructed in 1929 which was used by Bao Dai the last King of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1949 to 1955. Continue to Da Lat Railway Station, a unique work of architecture combining European style with the steep roofed design of Vietnamese stilt houses. You will take a 7km ride on the restored locomotive to Trai Mat, enjoying the relaxing scenery of Da Lat's unique greenhouses and flower gardens along the route. Visit Linh Phuoc Pagoda, a unique example of one of Vietnam's fantasyland glass-and-ceramic mosaic structures. Refurbished in 1996, the present temple features a huge golden Buddha statue in the main hall, and three floors decorated wall-to-ceiling with fanciful murals. It also boasts a great bell tower with one of Vietnam's largest cast bronze bells.
Visit XQ Historical Village, which houses a collection of valuable embroidery artworks. Here you will enjoy splendid modern interpretations of Vietnam's embroidery tradition, as well as pieces in the classic style. The Crazy House is thus named for its undeniably unique twists and turns, roofs and rooms; it's an architectural jigsaw puzzle. Like in a fairy tale castle, you will stumble upon enormous animal sculptures, and no window is rectangular or round. This curiosity is always an enjoyable visit don't forget your way back out! The rest of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight in Da Lat
Note: The train only departs when there're 15 passengers. In case there's not enough passengers we'll take the drive to Trai Mat instead.
You will arrive mid-morning into Hue. Hue is known for the magnificent architecture of its Royal Tombs, pagodas and temples built by the Nguyen Dynasty along the picturesque setting of the Perfume River. The royal relics of the Nguyen Emperors on the outskirts of the city are an easy ride from your hotel. Visit Thien Mu Pagoda. This 7-storey octagonal tower is a symbol of Hue. Behind the pagoda are peaceful gardens and, somewhat incongruously, the old Austin car which transported the bonze Thich Quang Duc to Saigon in 1963 for his self-immolation.
This afternoon, you will visit the old Imperial Citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. The imperial city at Hue is the best-preserved remnant of a vast citadel and royal quarters that once existed on the site. Here you can see the ravages of time and war on what was the carefully designed capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. Built in the early 19th century by armies of conscripted labourers under Emperor Gia Long, the citadel was surrounded by a ten kilometer moat, and earthen walls formed the outer perimeter. Emperor Tu Duc's Tomb is a sprawling compound centred around a lake and including numerous separate memorials connected by pleasant walkways. The major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. Along the way you'll have chance to see workshops making conical hats and incense.
Overnight in Hue
This morning our guide will accompany us on a leisurely bicycle ride along Hoi An's country back roads. We'll gain insights into daily life in the region as we meet and watch local rice and vegetable farmers at work in the scenic farming villages we pass through. We'll then board a boat for a river cruise where we'll get to meet local fishermen and have a go at traditional net fishing and paddling the unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boats. The rest of the afternoon will then be free to explore Hoi An at our leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Today we drive southward to Hoi An, hugging the South China Sea coastline and enjoying a mix of rural and coastal landscapes, especially along the scenic 21 km spur of the Hai Van Pass. We'll stop to admire the scenery along the way, and once in Danang we'll visit the Cham Museum and the Marble Mountains, a collection of five hills sitting over Danang city, the largest of which contains caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built through the centuries. We'll then take a stop at My Khe Beach (China Beach) before continuing on to Hoi An. Upon arrival in the afternoon, we'll enjoy a walking tour of the ancient buildings and narrow winding streets of Hoi An's World Heritage Listed old quarter, taking in the Chua Ong pagoda, the 400-year old Japanese covered bridge, and ancient Chinese ancestral houses and assembly halls. You're going to want to make sure you've got the camera ready because Hoi An is a photographer's dream: narrow cobblestoned streets lined with little shops (with hundreds of colourful lanterns lighting up each night); canals bobbing with rows of wooden boats; mustard-yellow French colonial terrace houses clad in green lichens; Heritage Listed Japanese and Chinese architecture; cafes, bars and restaurants aplenty; and busy street food stalls pumping out fragrant Vietnamese classics. Hoi An is also famous for its large number of skilled clothing tailors, so if you get in early, you can have a whole new wardrobe made for you here!
Overnight in Hoi An.
Transfer to the wharf and enjoy the cruise though some of the narrow and picturesque canals and waterways by small boat. Visit the Cai Rang floating market with its hordes of small vendor boats. Take in the sultry scenery and witness the daily activities of the locals who live along these Mekong canals. Disembark and visit the ancient house in Binh Thuy area. The ancient house is nearly 140 years old. You then will join your vehicle for a 4-hour-drive back to Ho Chi Minh City
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
This morning is free at leisure until the time to transfer to Da Nang airport for a short flight to Da Lat, a beautiful town in the Central Highlands developed by the French colonialists as a health resort and hunting center. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Da Lat.
In the afternoon, your sightseeing in Da Lat includes Central Market where you will be bewildered with a riot of multi-colored flowers as well as various kinds of fresh vegetable and mouthwatering fruit. Continue to visiting City Flower Garden which boats various kinds of flowers. End the day by strolling along Xuan Huong Lake which is located at the centre of Da Lat.
Overnight in Da Lat
The morning is free in Ho Chi Minh City where our journey concludes. If you are flying home today you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure.