Panorama of Vietnam
Day 1: Arrive in HANOI/NOIBAI (Flight TBA)
Arrive in Hanoi, exit the immigration and walk out of the terminal to look for a welcome signboard with your name on it. Meet with our guide and transfer from the air-port to the hotel. Check in the hotel (after 2PM); relax for your jet leg. Afternoon we take one hour cyclo to see the bustling Old Quarter of Hanoi. Evening, enjoy welcome dinner at the local Vietnamese restaurant, the Indochine.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi (D)
Day 2: Craft villages: Dong Ho and But Thap pagoda
This morning we drive to the Wood block painting village Dong Ho, where you can see some of the artists who preserve the 500 years old traditional art, then drive along the beautiful dyke to visit But Thap pagoda.
Free time to walk around the hotel area.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi (B, L)
Day 3: Hanoi City tour
Todays full day city tour of this charming capital Hanoi with ochre-colored colonial style buildings, tree-lined avenues and many lakes. Set out to visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument made of generous amount of marble and granite. This is where the preserved body of Uncle Ho may be viewed (close on Mondays and Fridays), continue visiting the lotus-shaped – One Pillar Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot). Then visit the first University of Vietnam founded in 1070 – Temple of Literature. Continue on to visit the most ancient Tran Quoc pagoda by the beautiful West Lake. We will visit local food market where you can learn about Vietnamese ingredients and cuisine. Have lunch with a Hanoian family. After lunch visit the wonderful Ethnology Museum to understand about Vietnams 54 ethnic groups. In the evening we will enjoy Water Puppet Show, the unique art of Northern Vietnam. .
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi (B,L)
Day 4: Hanoi Halong Bay
Check out hotel. After that, drive around 3,5 hours to Halong City with a coffee break en route at Sao Do handicraft center. Arrive by noontime at the dock; get on board your deluxe junk with a welcome drink is waiting. Enjoy a delicious seafood lunch while cruising through the bay recalling the famous LIndochine film and the charming actress Catherine Deneuve. Later afternoon, opportunity to do swimming. The rest of the day will follow the cruise itinerary. Around 0630pm, docking for overnight and enjoy dinner on board.
Accommodation: Onboard in Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Day 5: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Get up early to catch the sunrise on the bay and enjoy Tai Chi on the sun-deck. After breakfast, we depart for a visit to the splendid Sung Sot grotto with a quick glimpse at the nearby fishing village. Enjoy early lunch on board while cruising back through Halong bay to the pier. Arrive at the pier around 10:30am and its time to say goodbye to the crew. Transfer back to Hanoi for the night.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi (B)
Day 6: Hanoi – Mai chau. Homestay, very basic
Check out hotel, then enjoy a scenic drive to Mai Chau in Hoa Binh province where a few ethnic groups of Thai and Tay still maintain their customs for ages. Upon arrival, check in into the house of the village chief before hiking around the community to explore the local houses on stilt, weaving, and other daily activities. In the evening, enjoy a Mua Xoe dance with the White Thai teenagers, followed by an interaction and drinking home-made Ruou Can wine.
Accommodation: Homestay in Mai Chau. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Mai Chau – Hanoi then train SE3 to Hue leaving Hanoi 2300hrs
Morning say goodbye to the hospitable family and drive back to Hanoi. The rest of the day is at leisure so that you can have time to wander around on your own to explore the old quarter community. Late afternoon, transfer to the train station for a night train ride to Hue on Reunification Express.
Overnight on train (soft sleeper berth, air-con). (B)
Day 8: Hanoi/Hue by train SE1 @ 2300/1037+
Upon arrival in Hue, the former Royal capital where the Nguyen Dynasty once ruled Vietnam during the period 1802-1945, meet with another local guide and transfer to the hotel. Begin the sightseeing in Hue by taking a dragon boat upstream boat cruise on the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda, the most religious monument of Hue, visit the octagonal tower and interact with the monks about their life and experiences in growing rice and vegetables at the pagoda. After this visit, transfer by road to the restored Royal home of artist Vinh Tu for a royal lunch. After lunch, check in hotel before we continue to visit the Imperial Citadel complex. We end the day with a walking tour through the colorful Dong Ba Market. This evening you will have your guide at disposal to experience the local food. Dinner is not included
Accommodation: Hotel in Hue (B, L)
Day 9: Hue/ Danang / Hoi An
After breakfast, check out hotel and drive to visit either Khai Dinh or Tu Duc royal tomb. Lunch in Hue before leaving for Danang via Hai Van cloudy pass. On arrival in Danang, visit Cham Museum before continuing to Hoi An for the night.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hoi An (B, L)
Day 10: Hoi An
Morning, we enjoy a walking tour of Hoi An including the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation founded in 1786 (the Phuc Kien Pagoda), Tan Ky House built almost 200 years ago, and the central market to have an overview about food and raw materials in Hoi An. Lunch is on your own. Afternoon is at leisure for your own further exploration of Hoi An ancient town or follow your guide to visit the nearby Tra Que village where the locals grow organic herbs for supply of Hoi An.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hoi An (B)
Day 11: Danang/Ho Chi Minh by train SE1 @1126/0520+
Free at leisure until transfer back to Danang railway station for a ride from Danang to Ho Chi Minh. Lunch and dinner on own.
Accommodation: overnight train (soft sleeper berth, air-con). (B)
Day 12: Arrive in HCM city, formerly Saigon by train SE1 @ 05.20hrs
Early morning, arrive in Saigon. Although its the largest and busiest city in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City retains the old charm of its graceful colonial French style and structures. On arrival, meet with another local guide and transfer to Cu Chi tunnels to visit the underground village built during the wars. Afternoon, drive back to Saigon with lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, orientation tour around Saigon city with visit to the Reunification Palace, the former US Embassy before 1975, the French ambiance Saigon Central Post Office, and the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral with its two high towers.
Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon (B)
Day 13: Saigon Can Tho via My Tho
After breakfast, set out on an excursion to My Tho in the Mekong Delta. Enjoy a 2-hour scenic drive passing paddy fields and tributaries. On arrival, board our private motorized boat for a river cruise on the upper part of the Mekong River for a taste of agriculture life on the mighty Mekong River visiting a fish raising village then entering Vam Xep canal with beautiful scenery of water palm. Disembark the boat to stroll around Quoi An fruit orchard visiting a fruit dry kilns and coconut craft home. Cheer up your trip with a short horse-drawn cart ride along the village road. Upon arrival at Ben Truc Phong Phu garden, sample Mekong delta fruit while enjoy local traditional music, opportunity to interact with the local people to understand the local daily river life, followed by a row boat to explore the water palm canals. Lunch on an island. Back to the big boat and transfer back to My Tho. Continue another 3-hour drive to Can Tho for the night.
Accommodation: Hotel in CANTHO (B, L)
Day 14: Can Tho
Rising to the sounds of the Delta coming to life for another day, we breakfast and start our trip with a boat cruise on sparking streams along the endless waterway of mighty Mekong River to the colorful Cai Rang floating market. There will be hundreds of boats loaded with fruits, vegetables and fish jostling for trade. Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters. We visit the lush orchard of My Khanh and are treated to a delicious tropical fruits with an opportunity to interact with local people. Back to your hotel for relaxation or continue to stroll for about 7km along narrow walk path around My Khanh towards Giai Xuan, Nhon Ai villages with stops en-route to visit local homes. Lunch and dinner on own.
Accommodation: Hotel in Can Tho (B)
Day 15: Can Tho Saigon
After breakfast, check out hotel and drive back to Saigon.
Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon (B)
Day 16: Sai Gon
Free to relax or to do your last shopping.
Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon (B)
Day 17: Departure
Free until transfer to the airport for departure flight.
End of services. (B)
Hotel accommodations with daily breakfast
Private airport transfers and transportation on tour
Sightseeing with different local English speaking guides
Admission fees and permits as per the itinerary
Private boat cruises/ cyclo
Private twin share cabin on Huong Hai Junk
Train ticket HAN-HUI, DAD-SGN
Meals as indicated
Special activities/interaction as indicated
Other meals with drinks
International departure airport tax
Others items not mentioned in the inclusions column
Prepared by Duc on June 4, 2007
Updated by Duc on June 13, 2007; September 5, 2007