Vang Vieng Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF 6

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Good morning Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your city centre hotel. Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’, Hanoi is the charming capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. Spend the remains of the day at leisure.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

We will visit Hoa Lu, once the capital of the Dinh and early Le dynasties n the 10th and 11th century. The sanctuaries were built in the 17th century. Come to see the stone pedestal of the royal throne, the bronze bells and the statues of the Emperors. Leaving Hoa Lu, we will head to Tam Coc which is known as Ha Long Bay on the rice fields. Upon arrival, we will take a sampan ride through a karts landscape to visit Tam Coc grottos. The sampan rower will drive the boat through shallow rice paddies and three splendid long grottos. Leave the sampans and visit a small temple, built in 13th century, called Thai Vy. Enjoy the lunch at the local restaurant before the drive back to Hanoi. Upon arrival, check in hotel and stay at leisure

The Huc Bridge

Day 3: Hanoi - Sapa

In the morning, we drive to the Ho Chi Minh Complex; containing the mausoleum of the nations founder Ho Chi Minh. Here, large crowds gather to pay their respects to the man they call ‘Uncle Ho’ as they silently file past his glass sarcophagus. The complex also contains the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the founding of the city in the 11th century. The pagoda, supported by a single stone pillar, is said to resemble a lotus blossom. The Presidential Palace and Uncle Ho's house on stilts can also be seen here. In the afternoon, visit Temple of Literature and Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son Temple. Enjoy 1-hour cyclo tour around the Old Quarter. This evening, board an overnight Livitran Express sleeper train from Hanoi to the border town of Lao Cai.

A lady from one of the hill tribes near Sapa

Day 4: Sapa

The train pulls into Lao Cai at approximately 06:00am this morning, transfer to Sapa for breakfast. Located 1500m above sea level, Sapa is a former French hill station, nestled in the rugged Tonkinese Alps and surrounded by lush valleys and verdant rice paddy fields. This morning take a light trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. Walking to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, you meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Zao, Hmong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets. Tonight you spend the night at the hotel in Sapa town.

A local child in Sapa

Day 5: Sapa - Hanoi

Start your morning with a hike to a beautiful waterfall before continuing on to a picturesque Red Dao village. Red Dao women wear giant red scarves around their heads and their clothing is embellished with colourful red embroidery and coins. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Sapa before returning to Lao Cai to board the overnight train back to Hanoi.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 6: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Upon arrival in Hanoi, freshen up before driving to Halong City (approx 4 hours), stopping for refreshments en route. At UNESCO Listed Halong Bay limestone peaks and forest clad islets, hidden coves and beautiful beaches await discovery! Board your Junk boat and cruise to the famous islands of Halong Bay and onto Bai Tu Long Bay, stopping to visit a cave and swim in the warm waters. There is a chance to explore more this stunning area by sea kayak. Return to the Junk boat for a tasty dinner and a memorable night in beautiful surrounds.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 7: Halong Bay - Hue

Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! This morning cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into local life. Cruising back to the dock arrive into Halong City around noon then transfer back to Hanoi to enjoy a one hour cyclo tour exploring the charming Old Quarter, visiting Hoan Kiem. . Afterwards, we enjoy the walking tour of the 36 streets in the Old Quarter before boarding your overnight train to Hue.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 8: Hue

Arrive Hue this morning and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city’s regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Created in the 19th century, the Imperial City was modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and holds many palaces and temples inside its giant walls. Many of the buildings were damaged by French aerial bombing and the Tet Offensive in 1968. Now it is slowly being restored thanks to generous funding by UNESCO.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 9: Hue

Today, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. Your tour begins after breakfast with the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. This evening, take a scenic boat cruise along the Perfume River.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 10: Hue - Hoi An

This morning, continue south to the riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour trip hugs the coastline along the South China Sea with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). We make a few stops along the way including China Beach for a lazy stroll and Marble Mountain. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 11: Hoi An

We start to ride a bicycle to a local farm in Tra Que village. Introduction to the history of the village, the cultivation of the vegetables as well as discovering about the use of vegetables in traditional Vietnamese medicine. You will take a trip around the vegetable garden and join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilizing it with seaweed from the local lake. Then spend the rest of the morning working the land in the time honoured way, before breaking to prepare lunch with a local family. After your lunch and the exertions of the morning, take an even more traditional Vietnamese post-prandial nap before learning how to harvest and wrap the vegetables. Around 15.00, bid farewell to your host family before riding back to Hoi An, on the way back stop at Nhat tomb and Ba Le well.

A local man in front of an ancient building in Hoi An

Day 12: Hoi An

Free day in Hoi An. Option activities offered to book and pay locally: - Half day cooking course (visit to market + cooking) - Day trip to My Lai - Day at the beach

An old lady farming at Tra Que Organic Farm near Hoi An

Day 13: Hoi An

Free day in Hoi An. Option activities offered to book and pay locally: - Half day cooking course (visit to market + cooking) - Day trip to My Lai - Day at the beach

Day 14: Hoi An - Nha Trang

Transfer to Da Nang airport for departure flight to Nha Trang. Up on arrival, transfer to hotel.

Day 15: Nha Trang

Free day in Nha Trang.

Day 16: Nha Trang

Free day in Nha Trang.

Po Ngar Cham Towers in Nha Trang - by Bruno (BRA)

Day 17: Nha Trang - Saigon

Transfer to the airport for flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel. Overnight Ho Chi Minh City - Ramana Hotel 4 star (Superior Room)

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 18: Saigon

Today enjoy a full day cruise excursion on the beautiful Mekong Delta, one of the world's greatest river systems. Early morning transfer to Cai Be - Phu An where you board the Cai Be Princess. First stop is the colourful floating market at Cai Be. Then visit some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The cruise continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island where you can observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. Disembarking mid-afternoon to Can Tho. Overnight Ho Chi Minh City - Ramana Hotel 4 star (Superior Room)

A street trader in Saigon

Day 19: Saigon

In the morning, we will visit Cai Rang floating market then travel back to Ho Chi Minh City for a guided tour including the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office and Dong Khoi Street, the Opera House and the Peoples’ Committee Building. Overnight Ho Chi Minh City - Ramana Hotel 4 star (Superior Room)

The Peoples Committee Building at night in Ho Chi Minh

Day 20: Saigon

Take a morning excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, north west of the city. This immense network of connecting underground tunnels, were used by the Viet Cong and one of the famous battle grounds in the Vietnam War. Watch a short introductory video on the construction of the tunnels before exploring the maze of tunnels, accompanied by the guide. Also on display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs from B52 bombers. Returning to Saigon later in the afternoon for free time. Overnight Ho Chi Minh City - Ramana Hotel 4 star (Superior Room)

A street trader in Saigon by William Cho

Day 21: Saigon - Vientiane

Departure transfer to the airport for flight to Vientiane. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. Vientiane is a fascinating capital, with a fusion of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, and American influences. This charming and easygoing city will provide a smooth introduction to Laos. After a short rest, an orientation walk of Lao Capital is a pleasant way to spend the day, strolling around some of the city’s most historical sites and seeing some of the French colonial architecture. We observe the sunset by the Mekong Riverside until the late evening and experience the city lifestyle of the local Lao people.

Day 22: Vientiane

After breakfast, we see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. We then continue to visit the COPE centre. After that on the way to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we stop enroute to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph. In the afternoon we transfer out to see the Buddha Park, a scattered enchanting collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures on the Mekong Riverside meadow, close to the Friendship Bridge. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years, which were created by a mysterious monk spreading his philosophy on life and revealing his ideas about the universe. A spectacular view of over the Mekong River at sunset is a perfect way to finish the day.

Day 23: Vientiane - Vang Vieng

Journeying northbound; we visit the busy and colorful market of Thalat where various hill tribes come to trade goods and buy previsions. A next stop of our trip is Vang Xang, famous for the archeological site dating back 11th century. We reach our final destination, the small and tranquil village of Vang Vieng, which is nestled on a bend of the Nam Song River. Its stunning scenery with a mixture of quiet water and limestone outcrops remains unspoiled, despite recent developments with the advent of tourism. After checking into your hotel we take a wander to catch our first glimpse of this peaceful hill town. OPTIONAL (book and pay locally): explore caves, go tubing or bike riding

Day 24: Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang

Heading 2km out of Vang Vieng town we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang, which was once used by the local people as a hideout from Chinese invaders. We also cross the river to Ban Huai Ngai, a very pleasant village where we can explore the different lifestyles of the locals. Leaving Vang Vieng, we wind our way through Kasi and Phoukhoune to Luang Prabang (roads are not so great but worth the trip). This town with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop has been claimed by UNESCO to be "the best preserved traditional city in South East Asia". There is little traffic on Luang Prabang roads and monks in orange robes scurry in all directions carrying umbrellas to shade themselves from the sun.

Day 25: Luang Prabang

AM: We explore, Wat Visoun, Wat Aham and Ock Pop Tock (Weaving centre). Later, visit the former Royal Palace, now a National Museum (close Tuesday). At sunset we climb the nearby temple-topped hill of Mount Phousi where you'll catch a lovely view over the town and the Mekong River. PM: We continue our excursion toward Khouangsi Waterfall, en route, we visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails. We return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. OPTIONAL (book and pay locally): Cooking Class at Tamarind Restaurant.

Day 26: Luang Prabang

Today, we enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. We then embark on a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside as well as explore the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Along the way, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where they make the local rice wine. On return, we take a short drive to Ban Phanom, a small village known for its hand weaving.

Day 27: Luang Prabang

Free time in in Luang Prabang. OPTIONAL (book and pay locally): Elephant ride, Cycling, Kayaking.

Day 28: Luang Prabang

Departure transfer to the airport.