Halong Bay Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 296

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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

Today we commence our exploration of Hanoi by visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex, starting at the President’s Mausoleum. We continue to his humble “house on stilts”, see the French colonial Presidential Palace and the 11th century One-Pillar Pagoda. Afterwards we visit the Temple of Literature, the first Vietnam University dating to 1070. After some time for lunch we visit the Museum of Ethnology. Widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority peoples.

The Huc Bridge

Day 3: Hanoi - Sapa

This morning head to Hoan Kiem Lake which is the very heart of the city. Residents of Hanoi congregate around the lake early each morning to partake in Tai chi, aerobics and other light exercise. Enjoy a Tai Chi lesson with the locals and take a stroll around the lake before tucking into a traditional Vietnamese breakfast (Pho) at a café. After breakfast prepare yourself for a truly unique cooking experience! Vietnamese food is healthy, simple to cook and downright delicious this half day tour includes shopping, preparing, cooking and of course eating what you cooked. Tonight around 9 pm you transfer to the station for the overnight train to 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. After we 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

Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! Today enjoy the full day cruising with the stops of interest and leisure made.

Halong Bay at sunset

Day 8: Halong Bay - Hoi An

After breakfast and the mornings activities we disembark at our cruise centre in Tuan Chau. From here you transfer Noi Bai airport for the flight to Da Nang. Arriving in Da Nang we will drive you the short distance to Hoi An.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 9: Hoi An

This morning, we take a half day excursion to My Son sanctuary. It was the site of religious ceremony of Kings of the Champa dynasty, and was also a burial place of Champa royals and national heroes. The My Son temple complex is one of the foremost temple complexes of Hinduism in South East Asia and is the foremost heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. The afternoon is at your leisure to relax or explore as you wish.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 10: Hoi An

Spend a day at leisure on the beach or having clothes made by one of the expert, inexpensive tailors that Hoi An is famous for. In the evening, you might want to stroll Hoi An's romantic, silk lantern lit streets and dine in one of its fantastic riverside restaurants.

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

Day 11: Hoi An - Hue

This morning we drive to Hue. 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. In the afternoon we take a boat ride along the romantic Perfume River. We stop at Thien Mu Pagoda to see the 7-storey octagonal tower and an old Austin car which transported the bronze Thich Quang to Saigon in 1963 for his self-immolation. Continue your tour by boat to Minh Mang Tomb, built between 1841 and 1843. The Emperor’s tomb complex consists of 40 constructions (palaces, temples, pavilions etc) designed on a symmetric axis.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 12: Hue

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. Last stop of the day is the Dong Ba Market for some downtime strolling the interesting sights, sounds and smells.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 13: Hue - Saigon

This morning we make our way back to Da Nang airport for the flight Saigon. Arriving here our local guide is on hand to assist with transfer to your hotel. We then travel north west to visit the historic Chu Chi Tunnels which were a key battleground in the Vietnam War. Upon arrival watch a short introductory video on the construction of the tunnels before spending an hour exploring the maze of tunnels, accompanied by a 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.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 14: Saigon - Can Tho

Today we drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise Cai Be’s colourful and lively floating markets and continue downstream through the maze of waterways visiting local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island. After we transfer to your hotel on Can Tho island.

A woman rowing a boat to Can Tho floating markets

Day 15: Can Tho - Saigon

Early today we visit Cai Rang floating market and then drive to Saigon but not without stopping to enjoy a hearty lunch en-route. Afternoon free to enjoy Saigon and it's gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. (Overnight at the Golden Central Hotel)

A street trader in Saigon

Day 16: Saigon - Phu Quoc

Morning transfer to the airport for your the flight to Phu Quoc Island. Arriving here the hotel provides your transfer and check in assistance.

Days 17-18: Phu Quoc

Today and tomorrow is at leisure. You may also like to hire a bike and cycle along the road or relax at the beach which can easily be organized with your hotel.

Day 19: Phu Quoc

Transfer to the airport with the hotel shuttle bus in time for your flight to Saigon, arriving here you can connect to your flight back home.


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