This amazing itinerary combines the must-see sites of Vietnam with something a little different – a trip out to the beautiful and largely undiscovered rural region of Mai Chau.
Trip highlights: - Experience the ancient and traditional art of water puppetry in the bustling capital Hanoi - Light trekking in the stunning Mai Chai region and Cuc Phuong National Park - An exploration of Ho Chi Minh City’s colonial boulevards and historic architecture - Visit the famous Demilitarized Zone that divided the former North and South Vietnam - Cruise through the stunning Halong Bay in a wooden junk boat
Ideal for active people who enjoy exploring and getting away from the main tourist sites. This is a busy itinerary and as with all of our holidays will be tailor-made to suit.
DAY 01: START IN HANOI You will be met by your guide when you arrive at the airport. You will then be transferred to your hotel in the heart of the city.
DAY 02: HANOI A short orientation tour of this wonderful city. Tour the streets of Hanoi aboard your own private cyclo (rickshaw). In the evening you will experience a unique and traditionally Vietnamese performance art – water puppetry. Marvel at the craftsmanship of the colourful puppets and the skillful manipulating by the artists as they control the puppets behind a “water stage”. DAY 03: MAI CHAU Travel overland by private vehicle to Mai Chau, driving over mountain passes until the green, fertile valley of Mai Chau comes into view.
Upon arrival in Mai Chau, you will have lunch and then the afternoon is spent exploring local villages on foot. These villages have a strong Thai cultural influence which you will discover as you see the locals going about their daily lives, in particular working in the rice fields, planting and harvesting (depending on the season).
DAY 04: MAI CHAU AND CUC PHUONG Take a short trek to Xa Linh village where you can meet the H’mong ethnic minority group. The H'mong people have a rich and fascinating history and unique clothing, art and farming traditions, and they have retained much of their traditional way of life.
In the afternoon you will visit Cuc Phuong, the largest national park in Vietnam. The park boasts a stunning array of flora and fauna and is one of the most important sites for biodiversity in the country. DAY 05: MAI CHAU AND CUC PHUONG Spend the day exploring Cuc Phuong National Park. You will trek for about 15km at a relaxed pace, taking in the beautiful surroundings. The winding jungle trails will pass century-old trees, rare plant life and stunning vistas of the park.
After lunch you will be transfered back to Hanoi by road in a private vehicle.
DAY 06: HALONG BAY You will transfer to Halong Bay by road and board your junk boat that will take you out into the beautiful archipelago made up of 1969 islands that is famed for its picturesque ocean karst topography. Cruise past craggy peaks and small, beach-fringed islands and visit glittering stalactite caves. Dinner will be served on board where you can sit back, relax and watch the sun set behind the karst peaks of the bay. DAY 07: HUE After visiting a small fishing village in the morning, you will return back to Halong Bay harbour and be met by your guide, then transferred back to Hanoi.
You will then fly to Hue, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
DAY 08: HUE Combine a relaxing Perfume River Cruise with some of Vietnam’s most important historical sites, including the ancient Imperial Citadel and the serene Thien Mu Pagoda. In the afternoon you will also have the chance to visit Tu Duc and Khai Dinh’s tombs.
DAY 09: HUE Experience the remnants of war in this sadly tragic region still known by many as the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone). Throughout the war in the 1960's and 1970's the DMZ region became one of the heaviest bombarded regions in the history of warfare. Today, whilst there is little physical evidence of what was, the region remains scarred from its effects. An alternative to visiting Khe Sanh near the Lao border is to the fascinating tunnels at Vinh Moc.
DAY 10: HOI AN Travel overland to Hoi An via the Hai Van “Cloudy Pass”, a spectacular three-hour coastal drive with stunning views of the azure ocean and dazzling coastline of central Vietnam. En route you will visit the Cham Museum and the Marble Mountains for a photo stop.
DAY 11: HOI AN Take a private walking tour of Hoi An Old Town, where your guide will introduce you to the charming architecture reminiscent of traders of a bygone era – Japanese, French, Chinese and Indian. Visit ancient village houses, the unique Japanese Bridge and stroll along the picturesque waterfront.
DAY 12: HOI AN Today is at leisure in Hoi An.
DAY 13: HOI AN Learn how to make some classic Vietnamese dishes at the Red Bridge Cooking School. You will first visit a local market to learn about the vegetables and herbs used in Vietnamese cuisine, as well as bartering for your ingredients! You will then return to the school and be shown how to prepare some famous Vietnamese delicacies before having a turn yourself.
DAY 14: HO CHI MINH CITY Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, where you will be met by your local guide and transferred to your centrally located hotel. DAY 15: HO CHI MINH CITY This morning you will have a guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City including visits to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame cathedral, the fascinating History Museum and the former Presidential Palace, where you can explore the underground communication tunnels.
After lunch you will head out of the city to visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a vast underground network of tunnels used by the Vietcong during the American War.
DAY 16: MEKONG DELTA A full day trip to the Mekong Delta region will include a transfer to Cai Be, which is known for its large floating market. Smaller sampan boats will take you on an exploration of smaller tributaries and local villages, where you can sample some local fruits.
DAY 17: FLY HOME Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City airport for your flight home.
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