Day 1: UK to Vietnam
Depart from your chosen UK airport and fly to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)
On arrival short transfer to your city centre hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi Tunnels
This morning we visit Saigon’s historic landmarks: Dong Khoi Street, previously Rue Catinat; Reunification Palace, where the Vietnam War ended in 1975; The Grand Building, today a Museum and Hall for official receptions; The impressive Notre Dame Cathedral and Central Post Office (designed by famous architect Gustave Eiffel) - legacies of France’s six decade rule from 1887 to 1954. Our last stop this morning will be the War Remnants Museum, a striking reminder of the so-called ‘American War’. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. This afternoon we drive out of Ho Chi Minh City to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels (around 90 mins drive). This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, is one of the most famous and historical aspects of the Vietnam War. Upon arrival we watch a short introductory documentary before following our guide into the war memorial park where you will have the opportunity to view and walk through one of the tunnels (not compulsory). Afterwards return to Saigon. Overnight in Saigon. (Breakfast and lunch included today).
Day 4: Mekong Delta
This morning we travel to My Tho in the heart of Mekong Delta (around 90 mins drive). We start with a visit to the Vinh Trang Pagoda before continuing to the centre where we take a leisurely boat ride along the river viewing the stilt houses, fruit plantations and fishing villages. At Tortoise islet we enjoy lunch in the orchard garden before continuing by boat to An Khanh, a less touristy attraction in Ben Tre. Here we transfer to hand-rowed sampan boats for a gentle meander along natural canals. Next we visit a family business which epitomizes the idyllic rural lifestyle and taste the delicious coconut candy and roam through the fruit plantation and village. Return to Saigon for our final night in the city. (Breakfast and lunch included today).
Day 5: Ho Chi Minh – Danang – Hoi An
Sampan, Mekong Delta
Morning transfer to the airport for our short flight (around 60 mins) to Danang. Continue by coach (around 45 mins) to Hoi An. This delightful, small, riverside city is famous for express tailor-made clothes, shoes, spectacles, jewellery and more. The tranquil old town is a Unesco World Heritage Centre where vehicles are barred at certain times of day. Once a major trading post, the pretty low-rise buildings have many influences including Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese and French designs. Today they house a myriad of shops, restaurants, coffee houses and bars.
On arrival we have a walking tour taking-in the tile-roofed Japanese Bridge, the taciturn Chinese Assembly Halls, ancient houses, and pagodas, and stroll into the market on the Thu Bon river. After lunch we check-in to our hotel near the old town. Overnight in Hoi An (Breakfast & Lunch included today).
Day 6: Tra Que Village - Thanh Ha Village
This morning we travel the short distance to Tra Que herb village to appreciate the local agriculture and the stunning scenery. We enjoy a foot soak before preparing a typical lunch with a local family. Continue to Thanh Ha Pottery Village, located by the bank of Thu Bon river, where we learn how to make real Hoi An pottery. Originating in the 15th century, this famous village produces pottery in all shapes and sizes from bowls, jars and pots, to animal shapes, the Taj Mahal and more. Overnight in Hoi An. (Breakfast & Lunch included today).
Day 7: Hoi An – My Son – Hue
Imperial City, Hue
After an early breakfast at the hotel we leave Hoi An and drive (around 80 mins) to My Son - a UNESCO World Heritage Centre located in a lush jungle setting, resembling an Indiana Jones film location. This tranquil and beautiful site, made up of dozens of tower temples and ancient artefacts, was once the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom, a unique culture originating from Indian Hinduism dating from the 4th to 13th centuries. From here we return to Hoi An for some free time. Mid afternoon we join our coach for the drive north to Hue (journey around 4 hours). Overnight in Hue. (Breakfast included today).
Hue, Vietnams capital from 1802 to 1945, was the country’s political, cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen dynasty. An abundance of historic monuments and its beautiful setting on the Perfume River earned the city Vietnam’s 1st Unesco listing.
Day 8: Hue – sleeper train to Hanoi
Check out of the hotel after breakfast and have full day sightseeing in Hué, discovering the charm of the city including the Royal Citadel, Forbidden City and the colourful Dong Ba Market. Around noon time, we shall embark on a special street food tour to discover the other side of Hue from sticky rice dumplings or a fried dumpling (Ram It) or Filtered tapioca dumplings (Banh Loc) to the well-known Hue beef vermicelli soup (Bun Bo Hue). The street food tour ends at a small restaurant with Sweet soup (Che), a scrumptious local delicacy made of various local ingredients or, if sweet soup is not your style, a Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. Mid-afternoon we transfer to Hue Railway Station to board the overnight sleeper train (sharing a 4 berth cabin, or upgrade to 2 berth use) to Hanoi. (Breakfast and lunch included today).
Day 9: Hanoi
Hoi An Cyclo
Early morning arrival in Hanoi continuing by coach to your hotel to drop off luggage. Free time to obtain breakfast (payable locally). Full day exploring Hanoi including lunch and visits to Ho Chi Minh Complex Mausoleum; Museum and Temple of Literature, an ancient collection of courtyards, gardens and architecture built in homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius; Hoan Kiem Lake and the Museum of Ethnology. Overnight in Hanoi. (Lunch included today).
Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise
This morning we head East to Halong Bay, the pride of the Gulf of Tonkin and a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site (around 4 hours drive). The road will pass by the Red River delta with green paddy fields and rural villages. In Halong we join our boat for a cruise in the stunning bay created by thousands of limestone rocks and karst grottoes. Overnight with dinner on the boat. All cabins have en suite shower room and toilet and air conditioning. (Breakfast, lunch & dinner included today).
Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Morning wake up with taichi-quan or yoga exercises guided by the crew (not compulsory). Breakfast/brunch served whilst cruising between Halong’s islets. Return to the dock and head to Hanoi arriving mid-to-late afternoon. Overnight in Hanoi. (Breakfast/brunch included on board).
Day 12: Hanoi – departure
This morning we transfer to Hanoi Airport for our return flight to the UK. (Breakfast included).
Day 13: Arrival in UK
Note: Order and times of events/excursions may be subject to change.