This trip is a great introduction to Vietnam for first timers to the country. You get to...
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Transport - Overnight train, minibus and overnight boat
Accommodation - Hotels (11 nts), overnight sailing junk (1 nt), overnight trains (2 nts)
Meals - 12 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 1 Dinner
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Upon arrival in Hanoi you make your way to your hotel and check in. This evening there will be an important welcome meeting and your group leader will have left information on where and when this will take place with the hotel reception. Hotel - 2 nights
Please note - airport transfers are not included for Land Only passengers but can be booked separately. Please enquire at time of booking.
After a good night's sleep, you set out to explore the fascinating city of Hanoi. In the morning you will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his house on stilts and the museum. You'll then hop on a cyclo for a tour through the ancient '39 streets', where you will discover an amazing array of shops selling everything under the sun, from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, embroidered tablecloths and CDs. The remainder of the afternoon has been left free for you to explore at your own pace and get used to the new sights, sounds and smells that Vietnam has to offer you. Venture into the Old Quarter, stroll the city's tree-lined boulevards, or enjoy the tranquility of the lakes. In the evening you reunite with your group for a traditional water puppets show.
Please note that the day you visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum may change, depending on the day that your trip starts in order to avoid closures.
This morning you meet the children of the Blue Dragon Charity and enjoy breakfast with them, before driving on to the World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx. 4hrs). Upon arrival you board your private boat and head out on a cruise around some of the 2,000 limestone peaks. Lunch is served aboard the boat and is likely to be delicious fresh seafood that was caught in the bay. During the cruise you will have plenty of opportunities to swim in the famed waters of the South China Sea, as well as explore caves that are filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Sailing Junk - 1 night (LD)
On board the sailing junk, you will sleep in air conditioned twin bed cabins, with private facilities. There is a dining room and bar on board.
Dong Trieu Ceramics Factory
Leaving the magical atmosphere of Halong Bay behind, you return to Hanoi by bus (approx. 3.5hrs). En route you stop at Dong Trieu Factory to see the locals working on the traditional art of ceramics. You may like to buy some of their wares and take an authentic piece of Vietnam home with you, or you may simply like to admire the work and craftmanship that goes into making the pieces. Once back in Hanoi there will be a chance for more exploration. You might like to head back to the Old Quarter to sample a traditional meal of pho. In the evening you head to the train station to board your overnight train to Hue. Overnight train - 1 night
Conditions on the train are basic, but this is the best way to travel long distances with the locals. You will typically be in four-berth compartments (occasionally you may be in six-berth depending on seasonal variations), in which there are bench seats that pull out into sleeping bunks. Bedding is provided although you may prefer to take your own sleeping sheet. On occasion genders in the compartments may be mixed and sometimes you may be sharing with local travellers or people not in your group. Most trains have a simple dining carriage, but you may like to stock up on fresh bread and fruit during your free time before boarding the train.
Your train pulls into Hue early in the morning and you find yourself in another World Heritage Site. The pace of life here is slow and tranquility prevails in Vietnam's former imperial capital. You will visit some of the city's famous sights, such as the Imperial Citadel, one of the Nguyen Emperor's tombs, the famed Thien Mu Pagoda and also if not in festival time enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River. With two full days here, there is plenty of time to explore the city's many other Buddhist pagodas, outlying handicraft villages and the busy Dong Ba Market. Enjoying a coffee at one of the atmospheric riverside coffee shops at sunset is a simple highlight and and experience not to be missed. Hotel - 2 nights
Travelling by bus, you leave Hue and head south through coastal rice paddies to the fishing village of Lang Co. The route then becomes more mountainous and you drive over the spectacular Hai Van Pass. Watching the scenery slip by past you during the journey really gives you a sense of Vietnam's variety. In the afternoon you arrive at the once major river port of Hoi An (approx 4hrs driving time) and take an orientation tour.
Recently declared a World Heritage Site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. It's also a shopping mecca and there is plenty to browse amongst, such as original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and plenty more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring and there is a huge variety of fabrics to choose from. Simply bring an item of clothing, or a photo of what you want and you'll be amazed at how quickly and accurately it's produced. Be sure to also indulge in the local cuisine, seafood is a speciality here and the beaches are perfect for taking some time out to relax. If you want to explore slightly further afield, why not take a day trip to My Son, the ancient city of the Champa (additional charge). Sitting in the shadow of Cat's Tooth Mountain, this cluster of enigmatic ruins features intricately carved towers, tombs and religious tablets. Hotel - 3 nights
Boarding the Reunification Express once more, you will marvel at the breathtaking scenery that will pass by during the journey to the beachside city of Nha Trang. Although it's long, it's an interesting journey and a chance to check out the stunning countryside as well as befriend local travellers approx. 10hrs)
A major highlight for a lot of passengers who go on this trip, is the boat cruise in Nha Trang. You will be treated to a seafood lunch and offered plenty of chances to swim in the warm, turquoise waters of the South China Sea. For the early risers among you, tai chi on the beachfront is an experience not to be missed (additional charge). Nha Trang is very much a resort town and it boasts restaurants, each of which offers a fabulous range of cuisines and you will find that seafood dominates a lot of the menus. There is also a variety of bars and a good nightlife.
In the evening of day 12, you had back to the station to board your second overnight train of the trip, bound for Ho Chi Minh City. Hotel - 2 nights overnight train - 1 night
Ho Chi Minh City
You will arrive early into the economic hub of Ho Chi Minh city. Your hotel is located close to the huge and historic Ben Thanh Market and the city's main shopping district, so there is plenty for you to discover on your own this morning. In the afternoon you regroup for a city tour, which includes entry to the War Remnants Museum.
The next day you set off on a day trip to the Mekong Delta. En route to My Tho you'll stop by a local brick-making factory and learn more about the small cottage industry of salt making. Make the most of this opportunity to wander around this remote village and discover how the local people here live. For lunch, you'll visit a nearby garden restaurant in the heart of the delta, where you can try some of the regions specialities, such as the famous elephant ear fish. Having eaten your fill, you board sampans (small rowing boats) and paddle past the rows of water coconut trees that line the Delta. You then board your main private boat and take a cruise through some of the more major waterways, finally arriving in Ben Tre Town. Your minivan will be waiting for you here and will take you on to a candy factory where you can satisfy your sweet tooth, sampling some of the local sweets for which this region is famous. You'll then return to Ho Chi Minh City for an afternoon of last minute shopping and sightseeing before your final night's dinner. Hotel - 2 nights
The tour ends today. Check out time from the hotel is midday, but if your flight is later it is possible to arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
10% off selected departures on this trip
Discount is off the 'without flights' price. Offer valid on selected departures before 31 Aug 2013. When booking online the discount will be applied post booking. One of our travel consultants will call you back to confirm your discount. * Price in the price panel are before discount.
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