Day 1: Good morning Hanoi. Welcome to Hanoi, we will meet and take you to your hotel, check in your hotel then today is free at your leisure, to rest or explore around at your own pace. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi. Depart at 8:00 am, after checking out, from your hotel by van. We will begin our day by visiting Uncle Ho, learning about his great life at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Presidential Palace, and his residential place. Next stop is the nearby Temple of Literature. The site of Vietnam's first University, built in twelfth century, to teach the royals the Confucius theory. Here we will also have a chance to see a traditional music performance. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant for a taste of authentic Hanoi Pho. In the afternoon, choose one from the numerous museums or temples around Hanoi (Museum of Ethnology, Woman's Museum, History Museum or Quan Thanh Temple).
A late afternoon walk around Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi's fascinating Old Quarter for some great fun, shopping, and street side traditional food. This is your chance to be part of typical Hanoian style and its traditional Vietnamese culture. We finish our relaxing but informative day by attending a Water Puppet Show, a favorite experience for all visitors to Vietnam. We can help you get back to your hotel if you wish, but often our guests would just rather spend the early evening enjoying a drink with a view of the city. Dinner on your own. Retire to your hotel for the night. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3: Hanoi - Tam Coc - Hoa Lu - Sapa. Pick-up from your hotel is at 8:00 am, we have a 2 hour drive (110 km South) to the city of Ninh Binh, also known as the Inland Halong and the Ancient Capital. It will be an exciting day highlighted, by a 2 hour boat ride in a hand- woven bamboo row boat down the Tam Coc streams enjoying spectacular scenery surrounded by rice paddies and towering limestone mountain peaks. After lunch served at a local riverside restaurant we make a short transfer (4 km) down a peaceful country road to Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s ancient capital eleven centuries ago. Here, there are two temples dedicated to King Dinh and King Le, the founders of the ancient capital during the 10th century. Return to Hanoi around 5:00 pm. And 8:30 pm transfer from an prearranged meeting spot to the station for your night train to Sapa. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Sapa – Ta Phin. The train arrives in Lao Cai at about 6:30 am where your Heritage guide will welcome you. Then take a morning drive through the clouds by car/van to Sapa (about 1.5 hours). When you arrive in Sapa you will be taken to a local restaurant for a morning shower and breakfast. Then we will take a short ride from Sapa to our trekking base where we start our trek through terraced rice fields and Hmong villages. Chances to meet and talk with locals working in the fields are plentiful. We will break for a picnic lunch en route then continue trekking to Ta Phin village of the Dao people. Your Dao host family will warmly welcome you to their traditional home where we will share in an ethnic style dinner and stay the night. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: More trekking and back to Sapa. At the first of gleam of daylight, you will see and hear the sounds of morning village life. You can join them in some of their activities, like feeding the animals, cleaning the houses, gardening or preparing breakfast. After breakfast, we will complete our trek on valley route to the main road (4 hours) linking Lao Cai and Sapa. Alternatively, for this long trek, you can choose a short morning wander around the village for about 1 hour, resulting in more time spent with the host family and other villagers. For both options, you will be supported by our car/van back to Sapa (30 minutes). When we arrive back in Sapa we will check in to the hotel, shower, and break for lunch. At 2:30 pm we will visit the gardens of beautiful Ham Rong mountain and take part in a traditional ethnic music performance put on by the ethnic minority people. Then return at your own leisure with free time to discover the secrets of this colorful town. Overnight at the hotel in Sapa town. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Sapa - Tam Duong. Morning preparations, breakfast, check-out, then it is time to take a wonderful journey by jeep. We will go up and over Tram Ton pass and then descend, zig-zagging to the valley below. The views on this trip are absolutely incredible! Our destination is Tam Duong, but before we get there we will visit Binh Lu and see hill tribe people carrying with them their hand crafted products or leading animals on the way to market. You will be free to wonder around but please be respectful of the people here as they are reluctant to have their picture taken without permission. This area has not seen many tourists. We will have lunch here, then continue through the untouched villages with frequent stops to visit and talk to the locals. Overnight in Tam Duong. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Tam Duong - Sapa - Hanoi. Breakfast then back in the jeep for the uphill climb back to Sapa. Time for capture yesterday's missed photographs of this fabulous areas. If this day falls on Sunday then 2 beautiful markets can be visited on our way. You will return to Sapa in late afternoon and finally depart for the Lao Cai train station at 5:30 pm. The train leaves Lao Cai at 8:50 pm and arrives after a pleasant sleep in your first class, shared AC soft berth to Hanoi by 4:30 am.
Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay. When you arrive in Hanoi a very short walk will get you to a prearranged hotel for you to shower and a take a short rest before we start our next day. At 8:00 am we will pick you up, by private mini-van, at the hotel and begin our journey to Halong city. After 3.5 hours driving and viewing simple, country side, rice paddy life, we arrive at the at port. Board your private boat, an authentic Chinese Junk, and start your amazing cruise through this World Heritage Site. Lunch is served on board, a selection of the freshest seafood. We visit "the amazing cave", followed by a swim in the tranquility of Halong Bay and its emerald water. We will cruise further into a quiet area where we will anchor and stay overnight. Dinner and relax as the sun sets. Then you are free to swim in the phosphorous water, retire to your cabin, or fall asleep under the stars amidst the magic of Halong on the top deck. Hotel for shower. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi. Wake up early in the morning for a great sunrise and a breath of fresh ocean air. Breakfast served on boat then we do a leisurely cruise through thousands of seemingly never ending islands. These are great opportunities to capture some amazing photographs. We stop to visit a floating fishing village and listen to some legendary stories of the fisherman's daily life. Take one last swim somewhere in the middle of the bay to refresh before cruising back to the Halong city pier. By noon we be ashore and break for lunch at a local restaurant. Then we hit the road back to Hanoi. We arrive and finish our tour at your hotel by 5:00 pm. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Hanoi. Today is your free day in the Hanoi capital and all of its fascinating historical charm. Spend your day relaxing or shopping. Some suggestions include waking up early (about 6:00 am) and joining in the some exercise around Hoan Kiem Lake; or taking a cycle tour around the Old Quarter for a different point of view; or visiting the numerous markets, shopping, and trying all of the street side traditional foods. Board your 11:00 pm night train, AC soft sleeper to Hue. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Hue. Arrival in Hue at 10:00 am then transfer to your Hotel. After morning preparations we will go on a relaxing cycle or bicycle tour. We will also visit the Forbidden Purple City and Dong Ba market. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Hue - Hoian. Getting started at 9:30 am from your hotel, we walk and transfer to the boat dock for cruising on the Perfume River viewing the city and the tranquil villages on the riverbank. Walk up to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, overlooking the Perfume River and the beautiful scenery beyond. Take some time here to learn about the influences of Buddhism in Vietnam. Leave Hue in the evening by a mini van for Hoian. From here it will take us about 4 hours to get to Hoian. There is fabulous sightseeing en route and we may make stops at: Lang Co beach, Hai Van pass, Cham Museum, and the Marble mountains. Then onto Hoian, overnight here. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 13: Hoian. The center of Vietnam is home to many of World Heritage Sites and Hoian is one of them. Here in this ancient town of Hoian, 30 km south of Danang, lies on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Occupied by early western traders in the 16th century, Hoian has a distinct Chinese atmosphere with low, tile-roofed houses and narrow streets. The original structure of some of these streets still remain almost fully intact. All the houses were made of rare wood, decorated with colorful lacquered details and panels engraved with Chinese characters. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Hoian - Nha Trang. Breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the airport in Da Nang for noon-flight to Nha Trang. A taxi takes you to your hotel, it is free to chill out on the beautiful white sand beach. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Nha Trang. Morning pick up from hotel and transfer to the boat station (45 minutes). Hop on the boat and begin a day on the water. The first stop will be at Mum Island. This is one of the best places for snorkeling in Nha Trang. Hold your breath for as long as you can and dive deep into this colorful world of fish and coral. Next stop, Tam Island, for sun bathing and relaxing on the off shore beach. Lunch will be served at a nearby fishing village with a selection of fresh seafood. After the lunch we will visit Tri Nguyen Aquarium then take the boat back to Nha Trang city. Free time in the evening and overnight at your hotel. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 16: Nha Trang - Saigon. We take an early flight this morning at 7:45 am, arriving to Saigon at 8:40 am, transfer down town and check-in at our hotel before our city tour of this bustling Saigon started. Visit the Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon; stopover at Thien Hau, a 150 year old Chinese Temple; then to a Lacquer wares workshop and the Jade Emperor pagoda. In the afternoon visit the War Remnants Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office, we’ll drop you off at your hotel around 5:30 pm. Includes: (B).
Day 17: Tay Ninh and the Cu Chi tunnels. Departing Saigon at 8:30 am from your hotel for a morning excursion to Tay Ninh to the Great Cao Dai Temple (a place to worship a mixture of Buddhism, Confucius, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity). We see the noon mass at the temple (1 hour). Lunch in Tay Ninh. In the afternoon we visit the Cu Chi outdoor museum to learn about the infamous tunnel systems of the Viet Cong. Take this opportunity to get a unique understanding of the guerrillas underground fight strategies during the war and crawl through 50 - 100 meters of the 200 km tunnel system. On the way back to Saigon, local rice paper workshops, and views of Vietnam country side and paddy fields are pleasant sights. We’ll drop you off at your hotel around 5:30 pm. Includes: (B).
Day 18: Saigon - Mekong Delta. Depart Saigon at 8:00 am from your hotel. Head south to Cai Be. Upon arrival at 10:30 am, board a boat for a journey through the Mekong's floating market. See how river life goes on here, watch the trading between merchant ships and local farmers. Alive and exciting. Cruise through the secluded canals and cross the Mighty Mekong to an island where we will stop to enjoy fresh seasonal fruit before boating to Vinh Long. Back on the bus for our trip to Can Tho to overnight. Includes: (B).
Day 19: Can Tho – Saigon. An early start for a boat trip to Cai Rang floating market, then we have some distance to cover. First a cruise, then a walk on a quiet country road taking in the magnificent scenery and getting a little bit closer to the locals as they go about their daily routine. We take a trip by "xe loi" which is a local colonial-era cab pulled by motorbike and tour the country side. In the afternoon we head back to Saigon. At your same Saigon hotel by 6:00 pm. Includes: (B).
Day 20: Free day in Saigon. Breakfast at the hotel then a day at your leisure in Saigon. Today is a great day for you to relax, shop, take a cycle tour, and finish any last preparations before you take your flight home the next day. Includes: (B).
Day 21: Departure Saigon. Breakfast at hotel. Depending on your flight you may have sometime for some more shopping. Then we will transfer you to the airport for your flight home.
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