The countryside is a stunning portrait of varied landscapes, from the waterways leading to the South China Sea to terraced green paddy fields with the hilly central highlands in between. To fully appreciate the region, this 20-days tour has been designed to accommodate everything that makes Vietnam special, giving you time to stay in the country's finest accommodation, both on land and water, whilst admiring the wealth of unique and vibrant sites on offer.
Day 1: Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City: Arrive in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, where your Exotissimo tour guide will accompany you from the airport to your hotel. The rest of the day you are free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight at The Palace Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City: A full day tour of the city begins with a visit to the Thien Hau Temple before continuing to the lively Binh Tay Market. See the incredible display of fresh produce on offer and enjoy the eclectic array of goods that are on sale. After lunch, visit the War Remnants or History Museum and the former Presidential Palace. From there, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall are all a short walk away. Overnight at The Palace Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City: Enjoy a morning drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Tay Ninh Province in the west of Vietnam to visit the Cao Dai Great Temple. After lunch in a local restaurant, visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the struggle for independence. You will return to Ho Chi Minh City later in the afternoon. Overnight at The Palace Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City: In the morning, leave Ho Chi Minh City for the Mekong Delta town of Cai Be, where you will board the Cai Be Princess boat for a tour of the Delta. Proceed to visit some local cottage industries before continuing to Dong Phu, Binh Hoa Phuong and Anh Binh; these evergreen islands on the Mekong River combine large networks of meandering rivers, crossed with countless arroyos. Lunch will await you at a superb colonial style villa located in a quaint village before boarding the boat once again for a tour of the landscapes along the river. After crossing the Co Chien, the boat will dock and from where you will head back to Ho Chi Minh City by road. Overnight at The Palace Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City - Dalat. Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City's domestic airport for your flight to Dalat. Established as a hill station at the beginning of the century, Dalat's French chalets and pine forests are more reminiscent of an alpine village than a town in Southeast Asia. An afternoon of sightseeing in Dalat takes in the art deco former summer residence of Emperor Bao Dai, the old Dalat Railway Station, Xuan Huong Lake, the Central Market and Lam Ty Ni Pagoda where a Buddhist monk, Vien Thuc, produces abstract paintings and writes poetry. Overnight at Novotel, Dalat. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Dalat - Phan Rang - Nha Trang: Leaving for Nha Trang after breakfast, you will visit the 13th century Po Klong Jarai Cham Towers perched high on a rocky hill surrounded by prickly pear cacti. After Phan Rang, travel through vivid green rice fields and salt ponds to Nha Trang, where an afternoon tour of the city includes the Po Nagar Cham Towers and Long Son Pagoda with its enormous white Buddha statue. Overnight at Melia Sunrise, Nha Trang. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Nha Trang: A morning boat trip on Nha Trang Bay visits some of the nearby islands where you will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the clear warm waters. After a fresh seafood lunch, return to shore. In the afternoon, explore Nha Trang at your own pace. Overnight at Melia Sunrise, Nha Trang. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Nha Trang - Hoi An: Transfer to Nha Trang's domestic airport for your flight to Danang. From here transfer to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries with a relaxed lifestyle that has changed little over the years. In the afternoon, take a tour of the ancient town centre to visit the homes of former merchants, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the exotic local market. Overnight at Hoi An Trails, Hoi An. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Hoi An - My Son -Tra Kieu - Hoi An: Today there is a half day trip to the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Set in a lush green valley, dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries provide a breathtaking site. On the way back to Hoi An stop to visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, that once stood as the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. On returning to Hoi An, the afternoon is free to relax, browse for souvenirs in art galleries and silk shops, or maybe cycle to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Overnight at Hoi An Trails, Hoi An. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Hoi An - Danang - Hue: Leave Hoi An for Hue by road, passing through Danang where you will visit the Cham museum, which holds the finest collection of Cham artwork in the country. After your visit, drive over the Pass of Ocean Clouds before dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co. Then, you will reach Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, to visit the ancient Forbidden City from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. Overnight at Park View, Hue. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Hue. After breakfast, take a boat trip on the romantically named Perfume River to visit Hue's best-known religious site, Thien Mu Pagoda, as well as the mausoleum of former Emperor Minh Mang. In the afternoon, visit the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. Enjoy some free time in Hue to explore its small streets and the Dong Da market. Overnight at Park View, Hue. Includes: (B).
Day 12: Hue - Hanoi: Transfer to Hue's airport for the short flight to Hanoi. Explore Vietnam's capital by an escorted, full-day city tour. Tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples make for a unique blend of east and west in this beautiful city. The tour includes such sites as Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Fine Arts Museum and the Temple of Literature. In the early afternoon, visit the Lake of the Restored Sword and the Old Quarter by bicycle, enabling you to witness and discover Hanoi's eclectic and mesmerizing streets. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show with traditional music. Overnight at Anise Hotel, Hanoi. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Hanoi - Hoa Lu - Hanoi: Leave Hanoi for rural northern Vietnam and the site of the county's first capital, Hoa Lu. After visiting the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel, take a sampan (traditional boat) on the river through rice paddies to the grottoes of the sacred Tam Coc Caves. Enormous limestone karsts jut out from the green rice fields giving rise to this place's other name, 'Halong on Land'. Overnight at Anise Hotel, Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 14: Hanoi. A special cooking class is prepared for you in the morning. Start with a visit to a local market accompanied by a chef to learn about Vietnamese ingredients and cuisine, followed by a cooking demonstration. After the class, lunch is served, enabling you to sample all the different dishes prepared during the demonstration. In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Ethnology where traditional houses of ethnic minority groups from across the country are displayed. Overnight at Anise Hotel, Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 15: Hanoi - Craft villages - Sapa: Today, leave Hanoi traveling south to Duyen Thai lacquer village where the whole process of lacquer production can be seen from start to finish. Continue to Van Phuc silk village to see silk cloth being produced on the loom using centuries-old techniques. In the afternoon visit Dong Ky wood village, where furniture inlaid with mother of pearl is made. At the end of the day, stop in Dong Ho traditional paper village, where 'giay do' paper is produced and painted. All the paper is made by hand and some still in the traditional method using only natural products. Return to Hanoi before boarding the night train to Lao Cai (Sapa, North-western Vietnam). Overnight on the train. Includes: (B).
Day 16: Sapa. You will arrive at Lao Cai train station in the early morning. From Lao Cai the road winds up the terraced hillsides to Sapa, a former French hill resort and home to some of Vietnam's most diverse ethnic groups. On arrival in Sapa, you will be transferred to your hotel for breakfast and the chance to freshen up. A morning walking tour of Sapa visits the busy market, whilst the afternoon visit features some nearby hill tribe villages. Overnight at Chau Long, Sapa. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 17: Sapa - Hanoi: In the morning enjoy a light trek to discover Sapa's lesser-known areas. Have the chance to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of mountain rice terraces, waterfalls and buffalo at work. Crossing rivers by suspended bridges you will witness people toiling the fields in Vietnam's traditional way before a free afternoon discover Sapa by yourself. Return to Lao Cai for the onward journey back to Hanoi by overnight train. Overnight on the train. Includes: (B).
Day 18: Hanoi - Halong Bay: On arrival at Hanoi train station, you will be served breakfast before heading to Halong Bay. Enjoy the great scenery of the surrounding farmlands of the Red River Delta including rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. On arrival in Halong, you will board the luxury Emeraude, a fantastic replica of a steamer that navigated Halong Bay's shallow waters a century ago. Halong Bay covers an area of 1,500 km over which thousands of limestone islands and grottoes rise from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Bac Bo. Climbing the steps up to the top of Titop islet will enable you to see breathtaking views over the entire bay. If you prefer kayaking, bathing or simply soaking in the sun then feel free to do so with a massage service and bar available on board. At night, the boat anchors away from the crowds at the Bay, enabling you to enjoy the quietness and romance of the region under the stars! Overnight aboard The Emeraude, Halong Bay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 19: Halong Bay - Hanoi: After a night on board the Emeraude, wake up early and see daylight filtering through the mist and towering rock formations, leaving you with a dream-like memory of your visit to Halong Bay. Enjoy a breakfast and perhaps join a Tai Chi class on the boat's deck before disembarking and heading back to Hanoi in the early afternoon. Finally, visit Tran Quoc pagoda and Quan Thanh temple, two famous Hanoi landmarks. A car will be available in the afternoon if you wish to take in some of Hanoi's boutique shops. Overnight in Hanoi. Includes: (B).
Day 20: Hanoi- Departure: Today is departure day. Enjoy some free time for last purchases or simply relax before the transfer to Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport and your onward flight. Includes: (B).
Note: This is simply a suggested itinerary, which can easily be customized to suit your schedule, budget, and interests. Please contact us to discuss your tailor-made travel requirements.
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