The Mekong Delta Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 359

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day free at your leisure.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

This morning visit Ba Dinh Square where silent sentries guard the marble and granite mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state. After visit Ho Chi Minh humble house of stilts and the famous One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature. A short drive into the countryside leads us to Van Giang village, where we'll attend a cooking demonstration hosted by a local family. After a delicious lunch we return to Hanoi and embark on a cyclo (rickshaw) tour of the winding alleys that make up the atmospheric Ancient Quarter, otherwise known as the 36 Streets of Hanoi. This evening enjoy witnessing a traditional Water Puppet show performance.

The Huc Bridge

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Early this morning journey north to Halong Bay (approx 4 hours drive), stopping for refreshments en route. UNESCO Listed Halong Bay is undoubtedly one of Vietnam's most spectacular regions. Thousands of karst limestone and jungle covered peaks and isles, rise dramatically out of the emerald waters of the bay. Spend the day cruising around the islands on board a traditional Junk boat. Stopping to explore caves and coves and to swim in the emerald waters. You can also take a rowboat to visit the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into the daily life of the local people. Enjoy a scrumptious buffet lunch and set dinner whilst onboard.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 4: Halong Bay - Sapa

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 and you will have time to freshen up your room booked from 15.00 – 18.00 before boarding the our train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) to Lao Cai.

A lady from one of the hill tribes near Sapa

Day 5: Sapa

After an early arrival in Lao Cai we take a short drive to Sapa and take breakfast before visiting a local market. We then take a leisurely walk to Cat Cat village, home to the famous Black H’mong tribe and pay a visit to a local family. Continuing on we visit Cat Cat waterfall for lunch. Once back at the main road we drive back to Sapa for the evening.

A local child in Sapa

Day 6: Sapa

This morning we head to the Lao Chai Vilage and begin a walk to Ta Van village - home to the Dzay tribe for a rest and a picnic lunch. After lunch we continue our walk through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai. This is a village of the Red Dao tribe, who dress in beautiful embroidered trousers topped with bright red turbans and chunky silver jewellery. Before we head back to Sa Pa we visit another beautiful waterfall for a refreshing end to the day.

Villagers in Sapa

Day 7: Sapa - Hanoi

Today is spent at leisure in Sapa. Why not take a walk up to the Sapa radio tower where you can get spectacular views of the surrounding rice paddies, terraces and the valley. Sapa also has a local market where you can buy souvenirs and try your hand at haggling. This evening we climb aboard our train back to Hanoi.

Day 8: Hanoi - Hue

An early arrival into Hanoi we then proceed to the famous Quang Ba Flower Market where you will witness one of the most frantic and colourful markets in the world. Afterwards we take a stroll to Truc Bach Lake where you will witness locals doing their morning Tai Chi and other exercises as the sun comes up. On the way to the hotel we visit a local restaurant for breakfast. The rest of the day is at leisure so you can properly explore Vietnam’s buzzing capital. Day use room has been booked 12.00 – 18.00 for use before boarding the our train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on he ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 9: Hue

Arriving into Hue we have a hotel breakfast before embarking on our tour. 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. 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.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 10: Hue

Today we enjoy our drive west to Special Forces Camp A Luoi then proceed north through the A Shau and Da Krong Valleys to the Da Krong Bridge, where we turn west on Route 9. Da Krong Bridge is one of the main branches of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which leads south to the A Shau valley and the infamous "Hamburger Hill". After a tasty lunch in Khe Sanh village, we spend ample time exploring Khe Sanh Combat Base, just east of the Lao border, was the site of a U.S. base which fell under attack in early 1968. When ready we drive for the night. (OVERNIGHT AT DONG HA IN 2* Huu Nghi hotel - 68 Trang Hung Dao Str, Dong Ha Town Tel:(+84 53) 3852 361)

Hue Citadel

Day 11: - Hue

Today we enjoy exploring all the major historic war sites of DMZ. Highlights will include, Hien Luong Bridge, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Truong Son National Cemetery and Camp Carroll. Later, we drive back to Hue.

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Day 12: Hue - 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 can if you like stop for a walk along China beach and visit peaks of the Marble Mountain. Arriving in Hoi An, 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.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 13: Hoi An - Nha Trang

Today we transfer you to Danang train station, here you embark the day train to Nha Trang (Train SE1 - DEP:-10:46 - ARR:-20:28) Upon arrival, our local driver will transfer you from Nha Trang station to your Nha Trang hotel.

Day 14: Nha Trang - Saigon

A day of leisure and indulgence as we cruise through blue clear waters amongst the islands off Nha Trang. We take drive to Cau Da port where we will embark on our boat. We cruise to visit the Tri Nguyen Aquarium, a small world of many sea species of local province at Mieu Island. We will then head out to Mun Island where you have the chance for swimming and optional snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. Lunch stop is at the fishing village of Lang Chai where there is time to explore further before boarding the boat back to Nha Trang harbor. After that, you will transfer to Nha Trang station for the night train to Saigon. (by Golden train 19h00 - 05h00 am next morning)

Day 15: Saigon

Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for early check in. Spend the day at leisure in this exciting city with its gleaming sky scrapers, expensive restaurants, bars and designer shops, which stand in stark contrast to the ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and ramshackle markets.

Po Ngar Cham Towers in Nha Trang - by Bruno (BRA)

Day 16: Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, though still referred to as Saigon to all but city officials is Vietnam's most lively, modern and cosmopolitan city. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the city, visiting Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque Cathedral, the Central Post Office Building, Dong Khoi Street, formerly the center of haute couture and Chinatown. This evening consider sampling some of Saigon's acclaimed gourmet restaurants and bars.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 17: 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 in Vinh Long. The evening is spent with the family, learning about life in the Delta. (OVERNIGHT FAMILY HOME STAY)

Day 18: 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 car to the town of My Tho to visit the Vinh Trang pagoda, before returning to Saigon.

Day 19: Saigon

Enjoy a day trip to Cu Chi Tunnels. Here we go underground to explore the vast network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters, see booby traps, trap doors you can opt to pay locally to test your skill with an AK 47 at the firing range. Returning to Saigon and the remainder of the day is free.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 20: Saigon

Sadly your last day with us with your departure airport transfer.