Complete Vietnam Experience 21 Days

Complete Vietnam Experience
Highlights: Explore the engrossing underground network of Cu Chi Tunnels Cruise the waterways of the Mekong Delta on a private sampan ride & visit Cai Rang colorful floating market to learn about local life. Cruise to outlying islands of Nha Trang Bay and snorkel to explore the marine life Visit the sights of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An on foot Enjoy a cyclo ride of Hanoi's Old Quarter to learn about traditional Vietnamese architecture Visit Sapa, trek between villages, rice terrace fields and experience an authentic weekly ethnic market. Spend a night cruising Halong Bay aboard a traditional Junk

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City [formerly Saigon]

Upon your arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be smilingly met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 2: Sights & Sounds of the Bustling City (B, L)

Today you'll embark on a guided city tour, starting with the War Remnants Museum - a real eye-opening part of Vietnam's proud history; followed by the Reunification Palace; the former South Vietnam Presidential Palace; the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office, as you  get your camera working overtime peeking into the past of Vietnam's biggest, most energetically progressive city. After a tasty lunch at a local restaurant, continue with a Chinatown walking tour through the back streets to be part of the local daily life. Stop off for a visit to Thien Hau temple, which was built in the early 19th Century in tribute to the goddess of seafarers. Delve deeper into Chinatown by visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Market (or Ben Thanh market) for an insight into where the locals actually shop. Then you'll be back at your hotel in time to have a bit of a stroll around the city centre, or simply relax.Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 3: Explore the Mekong Delta  (B, L)

This morning you'll head south to visit of Cai Be colorful floating market cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. Then, an optional stop can be made at local workshops where you can see how to make rice paper, coconut candy and pop-rice, pop-corn ...Visit a handicraft village where you can see how they make rice-net for spring-rolls, fish sauce & soya sauce, cooking salt, sewing coconut-leaves for cottage roof. Later, a rowing boat will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals to enjoy peacefulness of the Delta. You will also see traditional houses made of wood and palm tree leaves and see some activities of the local farmers with an opportunity to interact with them and see how they catch fish or pick up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta. A tasty lunch will be served at a local restaurant. Afternoon walk around and then enjoy some fresh fruits while listening to the traditional music. The trip today also takes in some gentle cycling along village paths to see the local farms, houses, real life and the ancestral ways to pick up fruits in Mekong Delta. The cruise will end at Vinh Long city where you will drive to Can Tho in the heart of the Mekong Delta for overnight stay.

Day 4: Mekong Delta's Colorful Floating Market - Ho Chi Minh City  (B, L)

Today an half hour boat cruise will take you to visit the vibrant Cai Rang floating market to experience a special type of market in which all purchasing activities take place on boats and ships. Then continue to small a canal to visit a fruit garden where your guide will show you around before having a plate of delicious fruits. Return to Can Tho and observing the rural life and the lush vegetation along the riverbanks. Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City with lunch en-route, arriving in the late afternoon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Note: Cai Rang market is one of the three biggest markets (Cai Be, Phung Hiep, Cai Rang) in the Mekong Delta. You can visit the market at any time of the day but it is most crowded and busy from sunrise to 9:00 am.

Day 5: Visit Cu Chi Tunnels - Afternoon Flight to Da Lat  (B, L)

This morning a 1,5-hour drive will take you to Cu Chi Tunnels where you will visit the amazing network of underground tunnels was used during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong. This huge construction was a habitation for villagers in the war time. With 3 levels of depth, it was never discovered by the US during the Vietnam War despite its proximity to Saigon. Visit the fighting tunnel system with your local guide. Return to Saigon after lunch for a late afternoon flight to Da Lat On arrival, pick up and transfer to your hotel in the downtown. Overnight in Da Lat.

Day 6: Da Lat - A Cultural Discovery Day (B, L)

Today you will begin the city tour with visiting Truc Lam Zen monastery, uniquely Vietnamese form of Zen founded during the Tran Dynasty in 13th century, which overlooks the Tuyen Lam lake; visit Bao Dai’s Summer Palace where the last Emperor of Viet Nam - Bao Dai stayed and ruled the country between 1949 and 1954; next up is the 'Crazy House' designed by a talented architect living in Dalat where you will find art, architecture, feeling and imagination are well blended.

Afternoon visit Dalat Railway Station - remarkable with  its architecture and its old steam locomotive; Linh Phuoc Pagoda which is carved with tens of thousands of beer bottles and broken ceramics. Return to the city centre to visit Dalat Historical Village (XQ Da Lat Su Quan) - a traditional embroidery workshop which is delicated to creating and exhibiting fine embroidered artworks. Your trip today finishes with a pleasant stroll around the centre market to learn about local produce in this highland city.
 Overnight in Da Lat.

Day 7: Da Lat - Road Transfer to Nha Trang (B)

After breakfast, leave Da Lat for Nha Trang with stop en-route at Ngoan Muc Pass and later visit the Po Klong Garai Cham tower - one of the most stunning and undamaged community towers of Cham people in Ninh Thuan Province. Upon arrival in Nha Trang, check in your hotel and free time of leisure. Overnight in Da Lat.

Day 8: Nha Trang - Islands and Snorkeling  (B, L)

Today enjoy a boat trip cruising on the Nha Trang Bay. Your first stop is the Tri Nguyen Aquarium on the Mieu Island. You then head out to Hon Mun Island - the best island for snorkeling where you can see lots of live colorful corals and fish. You will also be able to see caves in which the sea swallows make their nest. Continue to Mot Island and or mini beach for relaxing, swimming. Your lunch today is served either at Mot Island or on the boat prepred by the crew. In the afternoon, return to the shore with stop en-route visiting a fishing village. The remainder of the afternoon will be your own! Overnight in Nha Trang.

Day 9: Nha Trang - Free Day of Leisure (B)

A free day in Nha Trang to explore at your own! Overnight in Nha Trang.

Day 10: Nha Trang - Flight to Danang - Transfer to Hoi An  (B)

Afternoon transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to Danang. On arrival, pick up and transfer to your hotel in the downtown of Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 11: Hoi An's Ancient Town - Guided Walking Tour (B, L)

After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby to give you a proper show-around of the old town. You'll start a walking tour with a lion's share of places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls; the museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you'll meander through tiny streets studded by houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures. After such gallivanting, your time will be your own to wander around or getting amongst some retail therapy. The remainder of the day will be your own! Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 12: Free Day of Leisure in Hoi An (B)

A free day to spend as your wish! Overnight in Hoi An.

Apart from exploring Hoi An's World Heritage architecture & colourful market on foot, you might visit My Son ancient ruins; attend a cooking class at a riverside restaurant; or join other travelers to get up close and personal to daily farming and fishing life. For early risers, why not capture the real Hoi An by joining a 4-hour photography tour led by a local expat expert? If you want to go below, hop on a boat to Cu Lao Cham Island for a fun and relaxing day to explore exotic coral reefs and marine life [best between March & September]. If you'd like any of these activities to be included during your free time in Hoi An, just let it be known during your enquiry, or ask one of the Travel Specialists.

Day 13: Drive North to the Imperial City of Hue, River Cruise & Royal Tomb (B, L)

This morning you'll drive north to the Royal City of Hue with en-route stop to visit either the Cham Museum in the city centre OR the famous Marble Mountain, which stands for the five essential elements that establish nature. Continue the scenic route to Hue, enjoy the view of the coast line and Danang from the top of the Hai Van Pass (Pass of the Clouds) makes your journey interesting and have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities. In the afternoon, you will cruise the Perfume River by a dragon boat to serene Thien Mu Pagoda and drive to visit the majestic Royal Tomb of King Ming Mang or King Khai Dinh. Return to your hotel by road just before sunset. Overnight in Hue.

Note: You might consider a candle-lit dinner set in a garden house which is a traditional feature of Hue's culture. Both the garden house and the cuisine are great introduction into Hue's culture.

Day 14: Visit Imperial Citadel of Hue & Welcome to Hanoi  (B, L)

After breakfast, you'll spend the full day for a city tour of Imperial City of Hue, firstly with the ancient walled Citadel including the former Imperial Palace. You'll then visit the Dong Ba market to learn about local produce and specialties of Hue. You might get some great deals done at the local Dong Ba Market. Afternoon flight to Hanoi. When you arrive at Noi Bai International airport in Hanoi, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be your own at leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 15: Hanoi City Discovery Tour (B, L)

This city tour of Hanoi takes in essential sites which will commence from your hotel lobby at 08.30 am. In the morning, you'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex including the Mausoleum, his former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Museum; The Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070.

After lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, you'll continue visiting the Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority peoples; enjoy a cyclo ride for 1 hour touring through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! The day finishes with a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets. 
Overnight in Hanoi.

Note: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed all day on Monday and Fridays, as well as from 1st October to 30th November (approx.) for annual conservation.

Day 16: Hanoi - Lao Cai - Sapa - Hike Through Rice Fields  (B, L)

After an early breakfast, drive to Lao Cai then to Sapa on the new National Highway which take you through beautiful landscapes of northern Vietnam. You will arrive in Sapa for check-in and lunch at a local restaurant. The afternoon is devoted to a beautiful hike through the breathtaking scenery of Muong Hoa valley. At 09.00 AM, your trip begins with a short transfer by road toward Muong Hoa valley. Start your hike by descending into the valley, which is the largest rice paddy terraced among Sapa area. Your guide will share with you interesting information about Vietnam agriculture as well as rice cultivation in the area. If you visit the valley sometime in between May and October, you will be able to observe and experience how the local planting and harvesting, one of the most important activities in their daily life. The hike takes you from Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority to Ta Van village of Giay minority including a visit to the local Catholic Church. After visiting Ta Van, return to Sapa with time to stroll around the town. Overnight in Sapa.
 
Tour summary: Road transfer approx. 5 hour/ Hiking and village visiting 2,5-3 hours/ Grade 1 of 5.

Day 17: Visit Cat Cat & Y Linh Ho Villages  (B, L)

After breakfast, you will be met up at your hotel by local guide and driver who transfer you downhill to Cat Cat village. Enjoy beautiful landscape and scenery along the road. Upon reaching a waterfall and a hydroelectric station, take a short break before continuing our hike on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraced fields. The area is still covered by rain forest under the protection of Hoang Lien National Park. You will arrive in Y Linh Ho village inhabited by Black Hmong people. Return to the main road where your vehicle will pick you up and transfer back to Sapa for lunch. Afternoon is free at leisure to explore the town.
 
Note: This tour can be organized the whole year around: Landscapes is lively beautiful from May to September thanks to rice and corn farming.

Tour summary: Road transfer approx. 20 min/ Hiking and village visiting 3-4 hours/ Grade 2 of 5.

Day 18: Bac Ha [Sunday Market] - Visit Ban Pho - Lao Cai - Road Transfer to Hanoi (B, L)

After breakfast, visit Bac Ha Sunday market which is a very typical market with great opportunity to discover the local life. The market is particularly lively and colorful with the flower Hmong wearing traditional costumes. You can find everything at different corners: buffalo, pigs, horses, chickens, dogs, tobacco, pepper, vegetables, herbs, fabrics ... in short all products made from fields and at home. Later, hike through villages of Ban Pho which is located in a valley with fascinating landscapes inhabited by the flower H'mong minority. After lunch drive back to Hanoi for overnight accommodation.

Note: Bac Ha market is on Sunday so you should choose suitable starting date of the trip to incorporate this colorful ethnic market. Alternatively, there’re other markets in the area and worth visiting including: Coc Ly Market on Tuesday, Can Cau Market on Saturday.

Day 19: Cruise the Legendary Halong Bay [Join with other travelers on the cruise]  (B, L, D)

This morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and start a 3,5 scenic drive to Halong Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world's largest marine limestone 'karst' landscape. Enjoy the landscape of the Red River Delta countryside and have a short break en-route. Meet the crew upon boarding the traditional wooden junk, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads towards the secluded islands. Visit a fishing village by a rustic rowing-boat, meet the local people and pass through the floating school and pearl farms. Return to the junk refreshed and and relax on sundeck with a drink to watch the sunset. Enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner under the stars. Overnight on a wooden junk in Halong Bay. 

Day 20: Halong Bay Cruising - Return to Hanoi  (B, L) 

Enjoy an early morning swim/Taichi (if weather permits) followed by breakfast. You will visit a famous ancient limestone cave in the middle of the bay where you’ll discover magnificent stalagmites and stalactites as you walk along the lit paths on a guided tour. Enjoy a tasty brunch while cruising back to the main harbor Pier where your private vehicle will be waiting for you and transfer you back to Hanoi, arriving at around 16.00. The remainder of the day will be all yours to stroll around the Old Quarter of Hanoi and its raucous streets full of traditional vendors and artisans, or if you prefer, simply relax. Overnight in Hanoi.   

Day 21: Depart Hanoi (B)

Your time will be your own until being picked up to head to Noi Bai Airport for your onward journey or departure flight.

Prices & Hotels

Price is from~US$ 1480 per person
All prices are per person, valid till December 31, 2016. 
10% discount on total cost will be applied during summer time (July 1 - August 30, 2016)
Prices Include:
- All pick-ups and transfers by private vehicles with experienced drivers.
- 19-night accommodation in Twin/Double share basis, and 1 night on a traditional junk in Halong Bay.
- Experienced local English speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Domestic flight ticket: Ho Chi Minh City - Da Lat, Nha Trang - Danang and Hue - Hanoi (economy class by Vietnam Airlines, inclusive of domestic airport taxes)
- Lunches and Dinner as indicated in the programme
- All entrance fees as mentioned in the programme
- Private sampan ride in the Mekong Delta and in Hue
- 1 hour cyclo ride & First class water puppet tickets
- VAT and all other taxes
Prices Exclude:
- Entry visa to Vietnam
- International flights and airport taxes
- Other meals, drinks, tips and other personal expenses or services not mentioned on the program.
- Travel Insurances
- Peak season surcharge between Dec 20, 2015 - Jan 10, 2016
- Gala Dinner on Dec 24 & Dec 31, 2015