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Welcome to Hanoi, perhaps the most graceful, atmospheric and exotic capital city in Asia. Airport to hotel arrival transfer.
Good morning - The remains of the day offers free time for you to explore the wide tree lined avenues, beautiful lakes, ancient pagoda’s and thriving, historic old city, all easily navigated on foot.
This morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay. Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng. Tonight, there's a Vientnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. We sail back to Hannoi and dis-embark thenbrieflyexplore the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. The maze of rambling streets are framed by narrow front tube houses and we may have a chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offers by he pavement vendors. Our tour of the area , a Vietnamese experience from aboard a cyclo.
After breakfast we embark on an exciting city tour of Vietnam's capital. We finish the day with a stroll across the red bridge over Sword Lake to the beautiful Ngoc Son. In the evening, transfer to the Railway station to take the overnight train on Reunification Express to Hue (4 berth shared cabins) Overnight on train (soft sleeper in AC cabin of 4 berths, one berth per pax). The cabins and the services on the train are very simple and far to reach your expected standard. So please be well prepared for the Train, which is a very nice adventure.
Arriving into Hue we have a hotel breakfast before embarking on a sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin. In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here we’ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. En route we stop for a walk along China beach and visit peaks of the Marble Mountain. Reaching the summit of Thuy Son Mountain (Mountain of Water), we enter the naturally formed grottoes-cum- Buddhist sanctuaries. Onward to Hoi An. The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. On a short walking tour where we’ll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchants’ homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practises and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.
A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. It’s also possible to take an optional excursion to the most holiest and evocative of Vietnam’s Cham sites, My Son or to Quang Ngai, the site of the My Lai massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the Vietnam War and the story is told through photo presentation on a walk through the village.
Early morning flight to Saigon. 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.
Early today we visit Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet-Cong in their struggle to keep control of the region during the 1960’s. After a short video presentation we take an exciting walk around the many bush trails and see trapdoors, booby traps, living areas, weapon factories and kitchens that were used and lived in during the war. We can also safely crawl through sections of the tunnels, that have been widened for the tourists and stand in the middle of bomb craters that are still just as defined as the day they were created. At the end of the visit you can opt to fire weapons of the era (including the M16 ‘s and AK47) on the firing range.
Today we head out to explore sizzling Saigon. Starting off with the Reunification Palace - former residence of the President of South Vietnam until the fall of Saigon on April 30th 1975. The building is now a museum and a popular wedding venue. We’ll take a look in the famous ‘War Room’ where the North Vietnamese army took control in 1975. Next we explore Giac Lam Pagoda, Saigon’s oldest and one of it’s most beautiful temples. Later on we take a journey through Vietnam’s medical history at the FITO Museum. This is Vietnam’s first traditional medicine museum with an amazing collection of over 3000 items. Our last stop of the day is Ben Thanh Market, where you can shop till you drop and master the art of haggling for just about anything!
Today marks the end of our tour and after breakfast we will transfer you to the airport for your onward departure flight