01: Arrive Saigon
Chào ban! (Welcome in Vietnamese) Upon arrival to one of Vietnam’s largest cities we are met and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1500 hrs.
Overnight: Grand Hotel, Saigon (3 nights)
Day 02: Saigon
We have a whole day to explore some of the most interesting sites, including the beautiful neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Opera House also known as “Saigon Concert Hall’, the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its colorful and mysterious ambiance, the Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh Market. We also visit Binh Tay Market, and finally Thien Hau Pagoda, one of the most active in Cholon. (B)
Day 03 Saigon/My Tho/Saigon
Today we take an interesting excursion to My Tho, the capital of Tien Giang Province. The town of My Tho lies on the left side of the Mekong River and just a two-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. You will enjoy a cruise on the Mekong River and then ride on a hand-rowed sampan through small inlets under a green canopy of water-coconut trees to catch a glimpse of the daily activities of the local people. A visit to an orchard to observe the rural life style while sipping coconut juice & enjoying seasonal fruit before returning to Saigon. (B)
Day 04: Saigon/Danang/Hoi An (Flight/Drive)
We are transferred to the airport for a short flight to Danang where we start our tour with the Cham Museum. Founded in 1915 by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, it has the finest open-air collection of Cham sculptures in the world. China Beach, made famous in the American TV series of the same name, stretches north and south of the Marble Mountains. The Marble Mountains consist of 5 stone hillocks made of marble and each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves, in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. We continue to Hoi An, a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports from the 17th to 19th centuries.
Overnight:Boutique Hoi An Resort, Hoi An (2 nights) (B)
Day 05: Hoi An/Tra Que/Hoi An
One of the keys to the flavor of Cao Lau, the famous dish of Hoi An is fresh vegetables grown from Tra Que village, located on the banks of a lagoon. Here we will have a chance to become a local farmer joining the farm works among the villagers in Tra Que vegetable garden, learning how they grow and prepare vegetables. Then visit a local home for a cooking demonstration. Learn how to cook and prepare some of Hoi An specialty dishes such as Bánh Xèo (crepe filled with shrimp, meat and bean sprouts), Cao Lầu (a local specialty of noodle soup), and Tam Hửu (rice rolls filled with salad, steamed shrimp and pork). Of course, the best part is that we get to savor the dishes we have made. Afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the enchanting port town of Hoi An to visit the ancient structures comprising the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, residential houses, assembly halls, historic and ancient pagodas, shops offering silk lanterns, paintings and high quality ready to wear clothing. (B, L)
Day 06: Hoi An/Hue (Drive)
A scenic drive to Hue begins this morning. Upon arrival, our afternoon tour includes the 19th Century Imperial City that was for a long time the cultural and intellectual center of Vietnam. Our tour includes the Citadel that was built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City in Peking. Ngo Mon Gate is the principal entrance to the Imperial Enclosure and faces the Flag Tower. The Forbidden Purple City was reserved for the personal use of the emperor and the only servants allowed into the compound were eunuchs. Evening is free to mix and mingle with the local Hue people.
Overnight: Gerbera Hotel, Hue (2 nights) (B)
Day 07: Hue
A jaunt to Tu Duc Tomb, once the Royal Palace of Tu Duc, begins today’s tour. Constructed between 1864 and 1867, its pavilions are framed in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The Khai Dinh Tomb, the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty, sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village and houses a long staircase flanked by dragons and decorated with stunning ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes. Located just outside of Hue on the bank of the Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda was a hotbed of anti-government protests during the early 1960s. The Emperor Minh Mang Tomb complex built in 1840, is known for its magnificent architecture, military statuaries and elaborate decorations. It is perhaps the most beautiful of Hue's pagodas and tombs, a fitting end to a spectacular day. (B)
Day 08: Hue/Hanoi (Flight)
We are transferred for our short flight to Hanoi, a city of lakes. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a charming city of peaceful shaded boulevards, French style buildings and public parks. Enjoy the afternoon of Hanoi city tour. Visit to the Ethnology Museum (closed on Monday). Return to Hanoi downtown. Stop at Hanoi Opera House. Take a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake. Take photos at Hanoi Post Office, City Hall, Flower Garden & Ly Thai To Statue. Visit St. Joseph Cathedral, a striking neo-Gothic cathedral noteworthy for its square towers, elaborate altar and colorful stained-glass windows. Take one-hour pedicab ride around the Old Quarters of Ha Noi. Visit Bach Ma Temple and Ma May Ancient House. Last stop at Hang Da Market before checking in the hotel.
Overnight: Sunway Hotel, Hanoi (1 night) (B)
Day 09: Hanoi/Ha Long Bay (Drive)
This morning we depart for Ha Long Bay. Boarding and check-in with welcome drink at noon, then the cruise starts through Cho Da, Dinh Huong, Ga Choi and Hoa Cuong limestone islets while a lunch is being served on board. Then visit Sung Sot Grotto, the “Cave of Surprises”, before taking a swim in Titov Beach or Soi Sim Beach’s pristine waters. The vessel then cruises further to reach its overnight anchorage location near Ho Dong Tien or Luon Cave. Enjoy the magnificent sunset from the sundeck or while swimming. In the evening enjoy a scrumptious dinner on board while soaking in the peaceful setting of the bay.
Overnight: Pelican Junk, Ha Long Bay (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 10: Ha Long Bay/Hanoi (Drive)
This morning we board a small boat, which will be taking us to visit Luon Cave. Back on board for lunch before arriving at the pier. Return drive back to Hanoi. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight: Sunway Hotel, Hanoi (1 night) (B, L)
Day 11: Depart Hanoi
This morning we depart Vietnam with pleasant memories of this historic and artistically rich country. Transfer to the airport for the departure flight out. Check out time is by 1100 hrs. (B)