Mai Chau Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 79

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, perhaps the most graceful, atmospheric and exotic capital city in Asia. Airport to hotel arrival transfer. The remains of the day offer 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.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

We visit Ho Chi Minh complex; home to his mausoleum, garden, house and a museum which traces his life and work. We continue with a short visit to the famous One-pillar-pagoda nearby. Then we heading to the historical Temple of Literature, one of the first universities in Vietnam and school of Confucianism founded in the 11th century. We will visit to Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. This afternoon, we tour Ethnology Museum, which gives an excellent overview of the country's ethnic groups, their customs and ways of life. Then we head to the centre to enjoy an interesting cycle ride to explore the lively Old Quarter of Hanoi where we also enjoy an hours shopping on Hang Gai Street.

The Huc Bridge

Day 3: Hanoi

Cooking class - After breakfast at your hotel, our waiting guide and driver will transfer us to one bustling local market to get the overview of Vietnam ingredients and local food. Our chef will introduce you to some of the vendors, demystify the ingredients, encourage you to taste and assist you with purchasing items for the cooking lesson later. Many photo opportunities will be available in this bustling, vibrant and colorful scene. On a local family arrival, the friendly and enthusiastic h host shows us her beautiful house and herb garden before learning some of Vietnam’s well-known dishes.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 4: Hanoi - Mai Chau

Pick up and transfer to Mai Chau. Enjoy beautiful landscape along the road. Arrive in Mai Chau and have time at leisure.

Ladies enjoying a bike ride in Mai Chau

Day 5: Mai Chau - Hanoi

Enjoy a two-hour biking in the pretty valley with a patchwork of rice paddies, farms and stilt houses. The area is the home of many ethnic minorities, including the Muong and the Thai. Return to Hanoi later in the day.

Day 6: Hanoi - Halong Bay

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.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 7: Halong Bay - Hue

Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we sail back to port. Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon, enjoy your hotel room to freshen up before boarding the overnight train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on he ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 8: Hue

Arrive in Hue in the morning, hotel check in and breakfast. Today's city tour includes the 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.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 9: Hue - Hoi An

Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds) with stops along the way, which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. This afternoon enjoy bicycle tour around Hoi An Quarter visiting the Ancient Quarter, Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 10: Hoi An

Free day Hoi An.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 11: Hoi An

Free day Hoi An.

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

Day 12: Hoi An - Saigon

Transfer to Da Nang airport for departure flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Stop to visit to Marble Mountain. On arrival in to Ho Chi Minh City, you will be met and transferred to hotel.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 13: Saigon

Pick up at 8.30am at your hotel then we drive 70kms Northwest of Ho Chi Minh city to visit Cu Chi tunnels. We then drive back to Ho Chi Minh City for a half day city tour taking you to visit the Reunification Palace, the former palace of President Thieu and his predecessors. Nearby is the Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883 and one of the city’s major landmarks. Neo-Romanesque in form, Notre Dame is the major seat of the Catholic religion in modern Vietnam. We continue to the War Remains Museum, where you can learn a lot about the Vietnam War.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 14: Saigon

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. Transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City.

The Peoples Committee Building at night in Ho Chi Minh

Day 15: Saigon

Departure transfer to the airport.