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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. Depending on your flight time today, we can arrange for you to join Sunday Mass at the Church in Hanoi (booked and paid locally for any transport required). Your tour leader or guide with host a welcome meeting in the evening.
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. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we sail back to port. Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. Our tour of the area is undertaken by a quintessentially Vietnamese experience from aboard a cyclo (rickshaw). Then transfer to the airport to take the evening flight to Hue. Upon arrival, our local guide will pick you up and transfer to the hotel for check in.
Today, enjoy 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 (booked and paid locally).
Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds). 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. The enormous cathedral like Huyen Khrong cave is illuminated by shards of light and the towering seated Buddha carved from the rock face is spectacular. Onward to Hoi An. On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, 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.
Free day in 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. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here. Day trips are on offer here to book and pay locally - see your guide).
Free day in Hoi An. Optional activities (book and pay locally): - Half day cooking course (visit to market and cooking) - Day trip to My Lai - Day at the beach
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. Transfer to the airport for Margaret & Thibault D'orlan DePolignac.
In the morning, we will proceed to visit Cu Chi tunnel, an underground village, which became legendary during the 1960s for its role in the Vietnam War. Located about 75 km northwest of Sai Gon, the tunnels were part of an underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the HCM trail near the Cambodian border to the Sai Gon River. Back to Saigon and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Departure transfer to the airport for Karen Martin, Michael Gilroy, David Gilroy, Juliet Hugenholtz, Judith Zarate, Juan Zarate, Elizabeth Gilroy, Jennifer Stevenson and Sonia Gilroy. Lisa Gilroy, Mark Lee, Mark Gilroy, Allison Gilroy, Donna Griffiths and John Griffiths are transferred to Mui Ne known as the Oasis of Vietnam.
Free time in Mui Ne.
Free time in Mui Ne.
Departure transfer from Mui Ne to the airport in Saigon for Lisa Gilroy, Mark Lee, Mark Gilroy, Allison Gilroy, Donna Griffiths and John Griffiths.