Mai Chau Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 82

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Hello Hanoi! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure before your welcome dinner!

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 2: Hanoi - Mai Chau

We depart Hanoi today and transfer to Mai Chau enjoying the stunning scenery and landscapes en route. Mai Chau is just 135km from Hanoi and yet far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Nestled in a picturesque, lush green valley, Mai Chau is a wonderful place to relax and get off the beaten track to enjoy northwest Vietnam’s spectacular scenery. Mai Chau is pre dominantly inhabited by the warm and friendly White Thai people, although the colourful Sunday market brings in people from different minorities, who live in the mountains and come to trade their goods and enjoy traditional dancing. You have the wonderful experience of spending tonight with a local family. Enjoy the remainder of today at leisure or get to know your homestay family.

Ladies enjoying a bike ride in Mai Chau

Day 3: Mai Chau - Hanoi

This morning, enjoy a biking tour in the pretty valley, covered in a patchwork of rice paddies, farms and stilt houses. As usual you’ll find an array of locally produced handicrafts and traditional clothing for sale but the locals here have adopted a refreshing soft sell approach. Later today, say goodbye to your host family as we return to Hanoi.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay

You will be collected from your hotel today for the scenic drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Upon arrival embark on your cruise and enjoy a welcome drink followed by a cruise debriefing. Savour a delicious Vietnamese lunch on board as we cruise past the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha. You can visit a local fishing village by row boat before returning to your boat to enjoy some free time for relaxation. Tonight, a Vietnamese cooking demonstration and a fresh seafood dinner.

The Huc Bridge

Day 5: Halong Bay - Hue

Wake up to the fresh air, gentle breeze and amazing views of the bay this morning. Start your day perfectly with some relaxing Tai Chi on the sundeck before we continue cruising past some beautiful spots including Trong, Me Cung Caves and Coc Ngoi Islet. We explore Sung Sot Cave before returning for brunch on board. Disembarking later today we return to Hanoi for a cyclo tour of the charming Old Quarter followed by a walking tour of the 36 streets. You will have the use of a day room in Hanoi to freshen up before boarding the overnight train to Hue.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 6: Hue

Early check in arranged today! 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. 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.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 7: Hue - Hoi An

This morning, continue south to the picturesque riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour drive takes you along the South China Sea coastline with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port. Today, Hoi An is a quaint riverside town, renowned for its silk and popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailors shops and numerous cafes. We visit Marble Mountain en route and this afternoon enjoy a 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.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 8: Hoi An

Today enjoy a full day tour which gives you an insight into the lives of the farming and fishing communities in this beautiful region. Begin your adventure by cycling out into the countryside to the village of Tra Que. This charming little settlement is famous for its sweet scented green vegetables that spice up Hoi An’s famous delicacies. You learn the history of the village and the cultivation of the vegetables. Continue with a walk and join the farmers in preparing the land and planting some crops. Finish off your village experience with a fun cooking demonstration. Later, return to Hoi An with stops en route at Nhat Tomb and Ba Le Well.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 9: Hoi An

Spend today at leisure, relaxing in Hoi An. Alternatively, opt to take a day trip to My Lai (arranged locally).

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

Day 10: Hoi An - Can Tho

Transfer to the airport in Danang this morning and catch your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred directly to Cai Be to embark on your cruise on the Mekong Delta. Sightseeing begins with a visit to Cai Be's colourful floating market and a visit to some local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. Soak up the riverside views as you cruise along the Mekong canals. Discover beautiful landscapes, observe typical Mekong delta rural life on the remote islands and enjoy a tasty lunch at a local restaurant. Disembark at Ba Bon Bridge and transfer to Can Tho for overnight.

A woman rowing a boat to Can Tho floating markets

Day 11: Can Tho - Saigon

Rise early for a morning boat trip to the extraordinary floating market at Cai Rang. Observe boats jostling for position as the locals engage in frenetic trading and be sure to have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities. Later, we return to Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 12: Saigon

This morning we take a guided tour taking in the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral. We also visit Dong Khoi Street and the Opera House and this afternoon is free to enjoy at your leisure.

Day 13: Saigon - Phnom Penh

This morning we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels - a vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters during the 1960’s. Often lead by a relative of a Viet Cong fighter in green fatigues you’ll walk the bush trails discovering grass covered trapdoors, ingenious, yet gruesome booby traps and hidden underwater entrances in rivers. Later, we drive to the border where you will meet your Cambodian guide and transfer directly to Phnom Penh. Todays visitors find a bustling, multicultural city.

Day 14: Phnom Penh

We head out for a sightseeing day in Phnom Penh today. First up we visit the National Museum, Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famous for its lavishing decorated silver floor and several Buddha statues made from precious metals and stones. We continue on to visit Toul Sleng, a frightening reminder of the horros of the Pol Pot regime before continuing out of town to visit the famous Killing Fields. Once the site of the execution of thousands of people and now a peaceful stretch of countryside.

Day 15: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

Spend time at leisure this morning before your flight to Siem Reap. With its picturesque location, Siem Reap is an ideal base to explore Cambodia's legendary Angkor Temple complex. We visit 12th century Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Starting at the South Gate, take a walk along the ancient city wall to see the lost temple of Prasat Chroung. Continue on to the spectacular Bayon temple, where you are surrounded by the smiling faces of numerous Buddhas. Also visit the Terrace of the Elephants, the Royal Palace and the Terrace of the Leper King. This afternoon we visit Angkor Wat, a visually and architecturally stunning complex, Angkor Wat is the centrepiece of any visit to the temples of Angkor.

Day 16: Siem Reap

We continue our sightseeing today with a visit to the temple of Banteay Srei. We also visit Banteay Samre, East Mebon, Pre Rup and Ta Prohm, similar in design to the later Jayavarman VII temples of Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei. This quiet, sprawling monastic complex is only partially cleared of jungle overgrowth. Intentionally left partially unrestored, massive fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the towers and corridors offering some of the best ‘tree-in-temple’ photo opportunities at Angkor.

Day 17: Siem Reap

Today your exciting Asian adventure comes to an end after breakfast, hotel check out and a transfer to the airport for your flight home.


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