26 February 2017
10 nights fr £1459ppIncludes flights
An 11 day tour taking in the sights, local history and culture.
It is always well worth getting a close up look at what makes a country tick and on this 11 day tour of Vietnam you will not only see all the highlights of this fascinating country but will get a great insight into its colourful history, customs and traditions. You will begin in the north of the country and end up in the south visiting and exploring great cities like Hanoi and Saigon, cruising in spectacular Halong Bay, having time to walk around lovely historic cities like Hue and Hoi An and experiencing life on the Mekong Delta. And throughout this guided tour you will stay in deluxe rooms in top notch hotels and in luxurious cabins on a boat.
After arriving at Hanoi you will be met and transferred to you hotel in the Ba Dinh district of the city. There will be time to go exploring before an evening meeting with your experienced tour leader who will give a briefing about the delights to come over drinks when you can meet the rest of your group.
Begin your discovery of the city with a walking tour through the Old Quarter - 36 ancient streets where you can watch the daily bustle of life around the markets. Continue to the Ho Chi Minh Quarter and visit the humble house on stilts where Uncle Ho, as he is affectionately known, ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969.
This morning you journey east to Hon Gai, gateway to beautiful Halong Bay. The bay is considered to be Vietnam's greatest natural wonder and has assumed an important position in the country's legend for centuries. On arrival transfer to a boat for a cruise out into the bay while enjoying a special seafood lunch. On this trip you will visit incredible caves on some of the 3,000 islands before settling down to a sumptuous dinner as the sun sets. Overnight on board.
Today you rise early to make the most of Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After breakfast, visit more of the spectacular islets and caves that make this area so unique and then head back to Halong City, enjoying a tasty seafood lunch en route. In the afternoon return to the Hanoi. This afternoon you may like to take a walking tour of the Hanoi backstreets to visit some local markets and specialty food stores. You will have the opportunity to try some local dishes and in the process learn more about daily life and culinary customs and habits of the Vietnamese people. Sample “ Che” a local dessert type drink made with sugar cane, green bean, black bean, glutinous rice, and lotus seed. Maybe try Banh Tom or “shrimp cake”, a local Hanoi specialty, in a small food alley. Sit at a local street side bar for some refreshing local beer “ Bia hoi” and before sampling the very delicious “Banh Cuon”, a pan cake made with chicken and pork.
Today, transfer to the airport for the flight to Hue. Located on the banks of the perfume River, Hue was Vietnam’s capital throughout the Nguyen Dynasty, as a centre of Vietnamese Buddhism and scholarship and finally as the setting for some of the Vietnam War’s most bloody fighting, Hue provides a unique window into Vietnam and its complex past. Begin your exploration of this city by visiting the tomb of the former emperor Tu Duc. From here you shall visit the impressive home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors (1802-1945), the Citadel. Much of the Citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968 but is gradually being restored. From here visit the much revered and tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s oldest and most beautiful religious monument.
This morning you take the train south to Danang, a picturesque and fun way to travel. You will transfer from here to Hoi An. The World Heritage Listed old town of Hoi An was Vietnam’s most active trading centre over many centuries and has been largely preserved. The architecture of the city reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Hoi An is also the town where French Missionary Alexandre De Rhodes introduced Catholicism to Vietnam as well as the Romanised script that has become the standard Vietnamese script. Arrive for lunch before taking a local market and backstreets tour of Hoi An to learn about local produce when you join some of the students from Streets cafe. This is will help them learn language and interaction skills as part of their accredited training with the New York Culinary Institute. Enjoy a small tasting menu of some of the products at the Streets Cafe. This afternoon you will also see an old merchant house, a Chinese assembly hall and the Japanese Covered Bridge in the Hoi An old town.
Today is free for you to explore beautiful and lively Hoi An. You may also wish to take in the beach, the choice is yours.
This morning you will have a little free time in Hoi An before transfering to the airport for your flight to Saigon - Vietnam’s commercial capital and a city of extraordinary energy. Despite its rush to modernity, Saigon, as it is still known, is a friendly and welcoming place with many reminders of its turbulent past and a palpable momentum towards the future.
After a local breakfast of delicious noodle soup you will travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels are located in an area known during the Vietnam War as the ‘Iron Triangle’ on account of the strength of its communist insurgency. Established as a means of waging guerrilla war against superior French and later American fire power; the tunnel network stretches over 250km (155 miles) and extends to three levels underground, providing a remarkable insight into the method and determination of Communist forces during the Vietnam Wars. This morning begin a walking tour of Saigon’s famous and historic city landmarks. Transfer back to Saigon for lunch where you may like to try ‘Pho’ (pronounced ‘fur’) the delicious Vietnamese noodle soup. In the afternoon take a tour of the Reunification Palace (formerly the Presidential Palace) and War Remnants Museum. Finish the tour with a walk through the heart of the city see the Notre Dame Cathedral and Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), walk past the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, and Municipal Theatre.
This morning we'll be heading by speedboat to the 'Rice Bowl' of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta. We'll explore narrow canals and stop along the way to see the sights, including a colourful local market, Buddhist temples and a pagoda from the Cai Dao religion, a bizarre sect combining a mix of all the world’s great religions, including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. We'll get a real insight into the lives of the local people by visiting workshops, villages eventually having lunch at a family home. After a delicious lunch featuring some local specialties, including Elephant Ear Fish, we'll return to Saigon in the afternoon. This evening you have a chance to say farewell to your travelling companions with a goodbye dinner.
Today there may be some time for last minute sightseeing or shopping before you are taken to the airport for your onward flight or flight home. This Vietnam Insight Tour is a great way to experience the country for the first time or for travellers who want to get to know more about this enchanting place.
Standard Rate fr £1248pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated