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Welcome to Hanoi! You will be met at the airport for transfer to your hotel in Hanoi. The rest of the day is free. Renowned as the ‘Paris of the East’, Hanoi is one of Asia’s most fascinating cities. Rich in culture and history, this diverse city draws on its influences from both French and Chinese culture. In the evening, enjoy dinner before attending a performance of a traditional theater art unique to Vietnam, Water Puppetry.
In the morning, commence your exploration of Hanoi by visiting the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university dating to 1070. The excursion continues on to Ho Chi Minh’s humble “stilt house” before visiting the French colonial Governor’s Palace and the 11th century One-Pillar Pagoda. Afterwards, there is a 30min drive to Van Giang Village to attend a cooking demonstration given by a local family. After the cooking demonstration, join the Vietnamese family in their home for a delicious lunch before driving back to Hanoi for a fascinating Cyclo ride.
Depart in the morning for the scenic three-hour drive through the countryside to Ha Long Bay, a natural wonder with thousands of islands rising out of the water. On arrival, embark on one of the vessels for an overnight cruise through the 3,000 limestone islands, many punctuated by caves and grottoes. Savor a delicious Vietnamese buffet lunch as the cruise heads to Bai Tu Long Bay passing the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, Oan Lagoon, Mat Quy (Monster Head) and Am Tich (Teapot) Islets. Take a row boat to visit the Vung Vieng fishing village.
Start the day with a Tai Chi class on deck. Enjoy fresh air and the gentle breeze of the bay this morning as you relax onboard the Junk. There will be more opportunities to swim and explore hidden caves before making our way to the port and stopping at Bat Trang ceramic village where you learn about the art of pottery and ceramics before transfer back to Hanoi. Up on arrival, you will have dinner before the night train to Hue.
In the morning, take a boat ride along the romantic Perfume River. Stop off at the Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the river to see the 7-storey Stupa. Continue on to visit the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang (1791-1841), built between 1841 and 1843. The Emperor’s mausoleum complex consists of 40 constructions (palaces, temples, pavilions etc.) designed on a symmetrical axis. Lunch is a special vegetarian meal with the nuns of Dong Thuyen Pagoda.
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the mausoleums of the Emperors Tu Duc (1829-1883) and Khai Dinh (1885-1925). On the way down to Danang, stop off for a refreshment break at Lang Co beach, one of the World’s most beautiful bays. Continue on to Danang to visit the Cham Museum. Afterwards, head to the World Cultural Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town. Check-in to your hotel. Enjoy some free time on a walking tour through the narrow lanes of the town, lined with century-old buildings and illuminated at night by hundreds of colorful lanterns.
In the morning, take a half-day excursion to My Son Sanctuary. My Son is s religious site dating back to the Kingdom of Champa, and also a burial place of Cham royals and national heroes. The My Son temple complex is one of the foremost remaining examples of Hindu influence in South East Asia and is the most prominent heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon is free in Hoi An Ancient town.
In the morning, transfer to Danang airport for the flight to Saigon, Vietnam’s vibrant southern metropolis. In the afternoon, discover the city’s most attractive sites, taking in the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office before ending the day with a visit to Chinatown. In the evening, have dinner at local restaurant
Explore the beautiful Mekong Delta today! Early this morning drive to Cai Be and board a traditional Sampan boat at around 10:00am. First stop on your scenic Mekong Delta cruise, is the colourful floating market of Cai Be, where traders in barges full of fruits and vegetables sell there goods. Continue cruising along the scenic Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. After lunch on the island we witness the rural lifestyle and daily activities of the delta inhabitants. Visits are also made to a few local home factories where we can see how rice paste, coconut candies and other regional specialties are made. Then, you will get transfer back to Saigon.
After breakfast we take a drive to Cu Chi where Viet Cong fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels as hideouts during the war. Visit the underground kitchens, secret trapdoors, living areas and meeting rooms. Continue to the town of Tay Ninh and visit Cao Dai temple for a very colourful, formal service. The Cao Dai religion is unique to Vietnam and the temple at tay Ninh is the centre of the religion. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, before returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Your last opportunity to visit the markets for those last minute souveniers before toasting your travel companions during a Farewell Dinner at a Vietnamese fine dining restaurant.
Morning at leisure to pack your suitcase with check out at midday. After lunch we visit the Reunification Palace and War Remnant Museum on our way to the airport as we check in on SQ185/30AUG departing at 1945HRS FOR Singapore and onto Johannesburg.