Day 1: Arrival at Hanoi (GP). Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before enjoying a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi (B, L, G). In the morning, you guide will take you to the International Friendship Village for Vietnamese veterans and Orange Agent victims. They look forward to visitors, and will be glad to talk about their daily life and the handicraft skills that they have acquired in the Village’s workshops. In the afternoon, visits to the History Museum and Army Museum will present a Vietnamese perspective of the years of conflict. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Many of our customers are apprehensive about visiting the Friendship Village, especially those with direct connections to the conflict. Most of the residents in the village are damaged, disfigured, or deformed in some way, but it’s a joyful place. The level of care is remarkable, thanks to a dedicated staff and volunteer helpers. Almost invariably, our visitors enter with misgivings, and leave with their hearts uplifted. We work closely with village and support their endeavours – perhaps you might like to assist this worthy cause.
Day 3: Hanoi (B, L, G). In the morning, you’ll visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the Women’s Museum. The grandeur of the mausoleum is a strange contrast to the simple stilt house where Hoi Chi Minh lived and worked. The Woman’s Museum features the ‘long-haired army’, the hundreds of thousands of women who fought and died alongside their menfolk. The afternoon is free for you to wander around Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarter. Your overnight stay will be in Ha Noi.
Day 4: Hanoi/Pleiku/Kon Tum (60 km) (B, L, D, G). After a morning flight to Pleiku, you’ll be picked up at the airport and transferred to Kontum town. After lunch, you’ll visit its Seminary and Wooden church, pop into the delightful nearby orphanage, and meet some of the members of the Bahnar ethnic group who live in Konklor, KonJori and Konkotu villages. Dinner will be in Konkotu village, listening to traditional Gong music and watching Xoang dancing, and sampling the local rice wine fermented in, and drunk from, a large earthenware jar. Your overnight stay will be in Kontum.
Day 5: Kon Tum/Kham Duc (195 km) (B, L, D, G). A morning drive follows the route of the Ho Chi Minh trail, now expanded to become Highway 14, to DakGlei district. En-route you’ll pause at the American Phuong Hoang (Phoenix) Airfield in Dakto, Charlie Hill and a SeDang ethnic people’s village. You’ll then visit PleiCan base, close to the point where the borders of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia meet, and DakSeang Airfield, before driving to DakPek. After lunch, you head northwards to Kham Duc district. En-route, you’ll visit GieTieng ethnic people’s villages and the DakChe waterfall. After crossing the meandering Lo Xo pass, you’ll arrive in Kham Duc. Your overnight stay will be in Kham Duc.
In each wartime destinations, your guide will be a specialist in the history of the area and the places where battles took place and the locations of bases, bunkers and other points of interest. Please note that, wherever possible, we try to locate war veterans and civilians to provide a Vietnamese perspective on the conflict – when this occurs, it’s invariably a moving experience greatly enjoyed by both sides. However, if you feel uneasy about direct contact with those that were once your enemy, let us know and we’ll brief your guide accordingly.
Day 6: Kham Duc/Quang Ngai (200 km) (B, L, D, G). After breakfast, your car will take you from Kham Duc to Quang Ngai, visiting the Chien Dang Towers en-route. Dating from the 10th century, these are good examples of the remarkable architecture of the Champa Kingdom, and are close to a local beach. Your overnight stay will be in Quang Ngai.
Day 7: Quang Ngai (B, L, D, G). My Lai village, site of the infamous ‘My Lai Massacre’ in 1968 is fifteen kilometres from Quang Ngai. Apart from its Museum, the shattered remains of the foundations of burnt-out homes and trees scarred by bullets are a silent record of the terrible events of March 16th, 1968. After lunch, you’ll have a chance to swim and sunbathe (weather permitting) at a nearby beach. On the way back to Quang Ngai, you’ll drop in on one of the villages near My Lai to watch the locals making conical hats in a now peaceful rural setting.
Your overnight stay will be in Quang Ngai. My Lai is an evocative place. Despite its serenity and peaceful appearance, many visitors are deeply affected by the experience. If you would prefer to avoid the unpleasant memories associated with the atrocities, please let us know and we’ll replace the visit with an alternative activity.
Day 8: Quang Ngai/Hoi An (B, L, G). In the morning, you’ll drive 125 km to Hoi An. After checking in at your hotel and lunch, you’ll have a guided visit to the Ancient Town of Hoi An. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An. Hoi An Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage area. An ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina, Hoi An was a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings. The original traditional street pattern still exists, as does the quay that once welcomed ships from all over East Asia and beyond. Many remained there for months at a time, waiting for favourable trade winds to carry them home.
There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost. Hoi An town is five kilometres from Cua Dai Beach - part of what was known as China Beach and used for rest and recreation by American GIs during the Vietnam War. The white sand beach is fringed with palm trees, overlooks the South China Sea, and easy to reach.
Day 9: Hoi An/My Son/Hue (B, L, G). After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel to take you to the World Heritage My Son Sanctuary, show you the remains of the remarkable brick towers, and explain their origins and purpose. After lunch, your car will arrive to drive you to Hue. On the way, you'll cross the high mountain pass of Hai Van. The views from the top are excellent – you should be able be able to see Lang Co beach, village and the lagoon far below. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
Day 10: Hue/DMZ/Dong Ha (B, L, D, G). In the morning, your car and guide will take you northwards to Quang Tri province to tour the wartime ‘Demilitarised Zone’, better known as the DMZ. On the way, you’ll visit the Old Citadel of Quang Tri, La Vang church and Dong Ha town for lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the Doc Mieu Base, Hien Luong Bridge and the Ben Hai river battle sites. You’ll also visit the Vinh Moc Tunnels (these are more authentic and easier to enter than those in Cu Chi. They have been preserved more of less in their original form). You’ll spend the night in Dong Ha town.
Day 11: Dong Ha/DMZ/Hue (B, L, G). After breakfast, your car will take to what was once the Con Tien firebase, and to Truong Son national cemetery, Camp Carroll, the Rock pile, Dakrong Bridge, the Ho Chi Minh trail, and the ethnic minority village of Bru Van Kieu. After lunch at Khe Sanh town, you’ll visit the Khe Sanh combat base, Lang Vay Special Forces Camp and the Laos/Vietnam border before returning to Hue.
Day 12: Hue (B, L, D, G). Your morning will be taken up by a cruise along the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda followed by a visit to Emperor Minh Mang’s Royal Tomb. After lunch, you’ll visit Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb. The two mausoleums span the long reign of the Nguyen King’s imperial dynasty – the contrast is stark. From there, you’ll return to Hue to visit one of city’s ‘garden houses’ and then return to your hotel to freshen-up. In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses.
Each Royal Tomb reflects the personality of the ruler. The most majestic is that of Emperor Minh Mang, a staunch follower of Confucianism with many wives, concubines and a small army of children. Planned by the Emperor and built shortly after his death, it is opulent and exotic, and laid out in formal Chinese style.
In complete contrast to Emperor Ming Mang’s flamboyant creation, the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is an unprepossessing concrete construction on the side of a wide valley. Its interest lies in the uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features, the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration, and the striking views from the courtyard in front of the mausoleum.
The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.
Day 13: Hue/Hanoi (B, GP). You’ll be free in the morning until an afternoon flight takes you to Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi for your departure or transfer flight. Trip ends.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room
- Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above
- Boat cruise as programme
- Road travel in an appropriate private vehicle
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme
- Lunches and dinners, as specified, in the best local restaurants, picnics where suitable restaurants are not available.
- International, domestic flight tickets and airport tax
- Dinners, except as specified above
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses
- Others not mentioned
- High season surcharge (if any)
- Gala Dinner (if any).
Prices vary depending on level of accommodation, group size and dates of travel. Contact us to customize a vacation itinerary and price to meet your needs and budget.
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