Essence of Vietnam 10 Days

Essence of Vietnam
Highlights: Explore the engrossing underground network of Cu Chi Tunnels Cruise the waterways of the Mekong Delta on a private sampan ride & walk the village paths to learn about local life. Visit the sights of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An on foot Visit Vietnam's grandest Cham ancient ruins at My Son including the ancient towers, which were built in the fourth century Enjoy a cyclo ride of Hanoi's Old Quarter to learn about traditional Vietnamese architecture Spend a night cruising Halong Bay aboard a traditional Junk Sample delicious Vietnamese food all the way

Itinerary

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

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

Day 2: Cu Chi Tunnels Exploration & City Tour (B, L)

After breakfast, you will drive 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. After lunch, return to Ho Chi Minh City

Afternoon 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. Return to your hotel at around 18.00. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 3: Introduction to the Mekong Delta  (B, L)

At 8.00 AM, depart for a 2 hour drive to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Take in the highway as you leave behind the busy city. On arrival, take a boat on Ben Tre River – one of tributaries of Mekong River to witness lively activities along river such as fishing, water transferring. Stop at brickwork to see how to make bricks in traditional style by printing and baking. You will visit one of plenty of coconut processing workshops located along canal. Turn on natural scissors creeks where they look smaller and smaller to go to village. Take a walk to family workshop making sleep mats and enjoying some fruits. Later, take a motor-cart on shady village paths, passing by green rice fields and vegetable plains to be able to touch on real life and find out about tropical culture from Peasants. After lunch at a riverside restaurant, enjoy rowing-boat along water palm creek, and boat back to pier where you will be taken to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving at around 17.00. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Day 4: Flight & Transfer to Hoi An's Ancient Gems & Guided Walking Tour  (B, L)

Morning flight to Danang On arrival, pick up and transfer to your hotel in the downtown of Hoi An.

Afternoon, 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. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 5: Visit My Son Ruins (B, L)

In the morning, an hour drive will take you to the ancient Cham ruins of My Son. The route takes you through some incredible scenery and tiny villages that specialize in brass works, with little shops flanking the roadside selling big brass gongs. Upon arrival, guided visit the Tra Kieu capital which was the former administration center of Champa Kingdom. Discover the majestic ancient ruins at My Son including ancient towers which were built from the fourth century to fourteenth century. Walk around to see up to three groups of ancient temple and tower ruins set amongst hills and streams. Later return to Hoi An for lunch. The remainder of the day will be your own. Overnight in Hoi An.

Note: There are daily traditional dancing shows at 9:45 a.m. (except Mondays and included in entrance ticket price).

Day 6: 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 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 7: Good Morning Hanoi & City Tour  (B, L)

Morning flight to Hanoi. When you arrive at Noi Bai International airport in Hanoi, you'll be smilingly met and transferred to your downtown hotel to leave luggage. You'll then jump head-first into Hanoi's sights and sounds on a tour that covers all the essentials. You'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, which includes the Mausoleum, Uncle Ho's former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and The Temple of Literature, which, dating back to 1070, is Vietnam’s oldest university.

After lunch, explore the enthralling Museum of Ethnology, which contains an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Next, enjoy an hour-long cyclo ride winding 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.
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. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 8: Off to Legendary Halong Bay [Join with other travelers on the cruise]  (B, L, D)

In the early morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and start a 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 9: 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 10: 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. Be warned, though: you'll probably want to come back. Farewell from Vietnam!!

Prices & Hotels

Price is from~US$ 734 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, by shared shuttle between Hanoi and Halong Bay.
- 8-night accommodation in Twin/Double share basis, and 1 night on a traditional junk/cruise ship in Halong Bay.
- Experienced local English speaking guides
- Domestic flight ticket: Ho Chi Minh City - Danang and Danang 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
- 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