Vietnam Essentials | 8 Days / 7 Nights
Day 1: Hanoi – Arrival
Arrive at Noi Bai Airport, welcome by our guide and transfer to your hotel. The transfer distance is approximately 40 munites. Hanoi or “River‐bound City” as its name literally means is Vietnam’s capital with a thousand‐year‐old history dating back to 1010. The city’s fascinating beauty which is characterized by unique cultural relics, ancient streets of antique houses, elegant French colonial buildings, tree‐lined boulevards and romantic lakes has made it one of the most charming cities of Asia. Late afternoon, if time permitted, take an hour cyclo tour to discover Hanoi’s downtown including its Old Quarter of 36 ancient streets which are named after their residents’ traditional trades in the past such as silk, tin and fish, Trang Tien Plaza shopping center and the colonial French‐built Opera House, an elegant architectural landmark of Hanoi modeled after the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris. Evening at leisure.
Day 2: Hanoi – Full Day City Tour And Traditional Show.
Morning, start a city tour beginning with Ho Chi Minh Complex which features the life of Ho Chi Minh, the nation’s founder. At the complex, visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where the nation’s founder’s body is preserved (closed on Monday, Friday and through October ‐ November), the colonial Presidential Palace, originally the French Governor Office and a fine example of French architecture in Hanoi, and the rural style Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. Stop by one of Hanoi’s icons, the One Pillar Pagoda, built in the 11th Century in dedication to Avalokiteshvara or Buddha of Compassion and reminiscent of a lotus blossom rising from a pond. Continue to the Temple of Literature, known as the first university of Vietnam built in 1070 by the Ly Dynasty to honor Confucius, sages and outstanding Vietnamese scholars. Lunch at La Vong Restaurant (The Angler) with its famous signature dish “Cha Ca” made from river catfish fillets fried with herbs and onion, and is served with roasted peanuts and rice noodles. You will experience one of the best dishes in Hanoi and taste Hanoi local wine.
Afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long with its ruins and reconstruction, a UNESCO‐recognized World Cultural Heritage Site whose history dates back to 1010 and ranging over four dynasties of Ly, Tran, Le and Nguyen. Come to the West Lake, the largest lake of Hanoi and visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda of Hanoi, built in the 6th Century and located on an islet in the lake. Head back to the city’s central area to visit Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple located on an islet in the lake. Hoan Kiem Lake is the center point of Hanoi and home to a rare endangered giant turtle species. Its name “Returned Sword” comes from a legend of a sacred sword being lent to an ancient Vietnamese King by a holy turtle from the lake and later returned to the turtle. Discover special Vietnamese traditional art of water puppetry as well as Vietnamese folklore through a compelling puppet show at Thang Long Theatre. Shop or walk in the Old Quarter of 36 ancient streets prior to dinner with Vietnamese food at a local restaurant.
Day 3: Hanoi – Ha Long
Morning pickup from your hotel for transfer to Ha Long Bay, which is about 160 km or 3.5‐hour drive away. On the way, you will see some rural areas of the Red River Delta with plenty of chances to take photos of Vietnamese farmers working in paddy fields. Stop half way to visit a handicraft workshop of fine clothes and embroidered paintings. Arrive in Ha Long City at 11:30 AM and check in aboard the booked junk right after the welcome drink is served. Start cruising while having lunch on board and enjoy the mighty bay view. Ha Long Bay meaning Descending Dragon Bay in Vietnamese as legend has it that it was where a holly dragon landed down from sky. The bay, famous as one of the world’s wonders and heritage sites whose formation dates back 500 million years, consists of around 2,000 karst islands and islets scattered over an area of 1,553 km2. The bay cruise will continue with up close sighting of Dinh Huong Island, Ga Choi Island, Dog Island, Sail Island, a visit to Sung Sot Cave and swimming stop at Titov Beach. Relax to enjoy the bay view at sunset, have dinner after, go fishing at 09:00 PM and spend a night on board.
Day 4: Ha Long – Hanoi – Hoi An
Wake up at 06:30 AM and refresh your body and mind with a Tai Chi exercise on the sundeck. Tai Chi is an ancient internal martial art often practiced in soft and gracefully slow moves to enhance internal harmony and vitality. Have tea and coffee onboard before proceeding to Titov Islet or Soi Sim Island to trek and swim. Check out , have a buffet brunch while cruising back to shore. Disembark at 11:00 AM to transfer to Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi for flight to Da Nang (lunch en route on the way to airport). Arrive in Da Nang, welcome by our guide and transfer to Hoi An. Hotel check‐in and time at leisure.
Day 5: Hoi An City Tour – Beach Relaxation
Morning, start touring Hoi An to discover the ancient charm of a renowned World Heritage Site. Once a bustling maritime commercial port of Asia between 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An is now a peaceful town of exceptionally well‐preserved architecture, lifestyles and traditions. The town exemplifies a fascinating fusion of cultures between Vietnam and the outside world including China, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Highlights for sightseeing include the town’s iconic 400‐year‐old Covered Bridge with a small temple attached to one side as a prominent example of Japanese architecture, the Museum of Trade Ceramics which is an elegant Vietnamese style wooden house built in 1858 showcasing antique ceramic artifacts, the 200‐year‐old Tan Ky House typifying an ancient Chinese merchant residence, the Ong Temple built in 1653 by Chinese settlers to worship Guan Yu, an ancient Chinese general whose character stands for loyalty, bravery and justice. Last but not least, stroll through some villages and the vibrant local market to observe the local daily life still carrying an old‐fashioned touch from the past.
Day 6: Hoi An – Da Nang – Hue
Morning, transfer to Hue via Hai Van Pass (Ocean Cloud Pass). Enjoy a stunning headland‐and‐bay panoramic view from the pass, which for miles hugs the mountainside along the shoreline and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Stop by Da Dang City on the way to visit the once Buddhist sanctuary Marble Mountains and a Buddhist cave shrine on the mountain. Proceed to arrive in Hue and have lunch at a local restaurant. Hue, the former Imperial Capital of Vietnam for the 1802‐1945 period marking the end of Vietnamese feudalism, is known as a city of poetic beauty. It exemplifies a unique blend of a scenic landscape characterized by the Perfume River and surrounding mountains and an extremely rich historical legacy typified by numerous relics such as citadel, tombs and pagodas. Afternoon, visit Hue Citadel, a well‐known UNESCO‐recognized World Heritage Site, which is a 520 ha fortress‐like grand complex built in the early 1800s and featuring three enclosures separated by heavy ramparts namely Kinh Thanh Hue (Civic City) as the outer, Hoang Thanh (Royal City) as the middle and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden City) as the inner. Move on to Khai Dinh Tomb, the burial site of Khai Dinh, Vietnam’s second‐to‐last king, and the most elaborate compared to other kings’ tombs. The tomb shows a vivid European influence in architecture despite its Asian style.
Day 7: Hue – Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi Tunnels
Early morning, transfer to airport for flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly named Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city and economic center of Vietnam always bustled with activities of modern life. It is where businesses converge and shoppers indulge themselves into unlimited choices. However the city also carries with it a rich historical legacy in contrast with its dazzling glamor. Arrive in Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, welcome by our guide and transfer to visit Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels in Cu Chi district, 75 km Northwest of downtown Ho Chi Minh City, which were once a major underground hideout and resistance base of Viet Cong forces during the two wars against the French and later on Americans. The tunnels, entirely hand‐dug, formed a highly intricate network of interlinked multilevel passageways at times stretched as far as the Cambodian border and totaling over 120 km in length. Its complexity was beyond imagination containing meeting rooms, kitchens, wells, clinics, schools, depots, trenches and emergency exits all aimed for guerrilla warfare. The tunnels were deep and strong enough to withstand destructive bombings and self contained enough to outlast prolonged sieges. Lunch at a local restaurant
Afternoon, take a sightseeing tour of Ho Chi Minh City that includes the War Remnants Museum, which features a comprehensive collection of the machinery, weapons, photos, and documentation of Vietnam War with the both the French and Americans, Saigon Notre‐Dame Basilica, a neo‐Roman cathedral as a French‐built neo‐Roman cathedral, Saigon Central Post Office, former Presidential Palace, Thien Hau Pagoda which was built in 1760 to worship a female Sea deity and Cho Lon, the city’s China town.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh – Departure
Free time until transfer to Tan Son Nhat International Airport for departure