Mai Chau Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 250

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi - the ‘Paris of the Orient’. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

Spend this morning at leisure in Vietnam's charming capital city. This afternoon enjoy sightseeing includes the Museum of Ethnology, which is widely acknowledged as the best in the country. Also visit Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city - the temple has a fascinating history dating back to the 13th century. Then enjoy a one-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! After exploring the Old Quarter watch a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets.

The Huc Bridge

Day 3: Hanoi - Mai Chau

Mai Chau is only four hours drive from bustling Hanoi but feels worlds apart. This morning transfer into the lush mountains, which are home to remote hill tribes, such as the White Thai, H'mong, Zao, Muong, Tay, Hoa and Viet, and visited by surprisingly few tourists. Arriving at your lodge at noon, check-in and have lunch. Mai Chau offers incredible panoramic views of the lush , picturesque valley, which is dotted with stilt houses. This afternoon there is an optional cycling tour through the valley or you can simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Back at the lodge, enjoy a tasty dinner and a traditional dance performance.

Ladies enjoying a bike ride in Mai Chau

Day 4: Mai Chau - Hanoi

After breakfast, you can take a walk to two nearby Thai villages - Pom Coong and Lac, to see traditional village life and meet the locals who are warm and welcoming, and famous for their handicrafts - particularly embroidery. Lunch is served back at the lodge before returning to Hanoi late afternoon.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay

This morning transfer from your hotel in Hanoi to Halong City, the drive takes about 4 hours, stopping off for a refreshment break en route. Upon arrival meet the crew of your traditional Junk boat at the dock and embark upon a scenic cruise to the famous limestone peaked islands of Halong Bay and on to Bai Tu Long Bay which is every bit as beautiful as Halong. Aside from the cave visit and swimming, there is also a chance to explore this stunning area by sea kayak. Returning back to the Junk for a scrumptious dinner.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 6: Halong Bay - Hoi An

Wake up to spectacular views of the bay. Cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng, where you can gain a fascinating insight into everyday life on the bay. Cruise back to the dock arriving in Halong around noon and transfer back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Hoi An.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 7: Hoi An

This morning enjoy a half day 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. Spend the remains of the day at leisure in this charming town.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 8: Hoi An

Enjoy an exciting full day tour. Begin your adventure by cycling out into the countryside through emerald green rice paddies. After a short ride arrive at the village of Tra Que here you will be introduced to the history of the village and the cultivation of the vegetables. Continue with a walk around the vegetable garden and join the farmers. Finish off your village experience with a fun cooking demonstration. Later, return to Hoi An and board the Eco Tour boat for a river cruise to meet and engage with local fisherman. Return to hotel when complete.

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

Day 9: Hoi An - Saigon

Transfer to the airport in Danang and take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the remains of the day at leisure in this vibrant and historic city.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 10: Saigon

In the morning travel north west of the city to visit the historic Cu 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. Returning to Ho Chi Minh City early afternoon and enjoy lunch before embarking on a city tour. Major attractions include the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 11: Saigon

Today enjoy a half day cooking class, which includes a hands-on lesson on how to shop for and cook authentic Vietnamese cuisine. The day begins with a visit to Ben Thanh Market with your chef. After the market visit, transfer to “Mai Home” (Saigon Culinary Art Centre); where you will learn the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine during a cooking class. After you have completed your lesson, you can sit down and enjoy the tasty fruits of your labour!

The Peoples Committee Building at night in Ho Chi Minh

Day 12: Saigon - The Mekong Delta

The morning begins with a drive through the beautiful Mekong Delta to the town of Cai Be, famous for its floating markets. After touring the markets, board a private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways and canals to Vinh Long. Here, enjoy a sumptuous Delta lunch including the popular 'Elephant ear fish' at the home of a Bonsai gardener, before continuing to explore the tributaries and canals of the Delta. Towards the end of the day, arrive at the home of a local family where you will spend the night. The evening is spent with the family, learning about life in the Delta.

Day 13: The Mekong Delta - Saigon

Rising to the sounds of life on the Delta, have an early breakfast before boarding a riverboat to cruise to Vinh Long town, stopping along the way to visit local cottage industries. Then, transfer by vehicle to the town of My Tho to visit the Vinh Trang pagoda, before returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Spend your final evening at leisure and perhaps sample one of the city's many gourmet restaurants.

A street trader in Saigon by William Cho

Day 14: Saigon

Your Vietnam adventure comes to an end after breakfast and hotel check out today. Included transfer to Ho Chi Minh Airport for your onward flight home.