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Welcome to the lively commercial city of Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is a remarkable collection of modern luxury and historic culture, from the glittery skyline to the banks of the Saigon River.
Upon arrival at Tan San Nhat international airport in Ho Chi Minh city, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in. Then you have a half-day tour of the city. You find the continual presence of elegant architecture that dates back to the 19th century and the French Colonial power.
One of the trademark buildings that bring charm to the broad avenue in the city center is the Central Post Office. The building is located next door to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The church’s twin steeples rise 190 feet into the air. The Central Post Office was built in the later 19th century and contains looping arches and an intricately designed marble floor. You feel like you have been transferred to central Paris until you see the large portrait of Ho Chi Minh that hangs at the far end of the building and watches over the gallery. The artistic and polished structure was designed by Gustav Eiffel and continues to be filled with opulent painted maps and antique charm.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
The day begins with the sensual aroma of fresh brewed Vietnamese coffee. Vietnam is one of the largest exporters of coffee in the world, and the scent seems to fill the morning air. You can enjoy the rich, almost velvety, flavor the way many locals do, by adding the sweetness of some condensed milk. Soon your private guide meets you at your hotel and prepares you for the coming day. Today you will explore the local markets of the city and enjoy a cooking course under the guidance of a chef. Your guide takes you through Ben Thanh Market. The pathways are lined with stalls that boast spices and flowers, hats and handmade wooden toys. Eventually, you come to the food district and find the colors of the product to be almost overwhelming. The chilies burst with reds and yellows. The limes are a beautiful green. The scent of ginger and mint brush the air. You pick up the necessary ingredients for your next meal. You don’t know what you will be making, but you can still taste the following delicious flavors.
When you arrive at your cooking class you are greeted, your guide tells you about the local ingredients, their flavors, and what you should add to the dishes you will be cooking, and then you enjoy the delicate flavors of your food.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Breakfast at the hotel, you will visit Cu Chi. Cu Chi Tunnels are a robust network of subterranean passageways that extend over 75-miles. When you come to the Ben Duoc site, you find a measurement of the network. Your guide explains to you the history and efficiency of the tunnel system that dates back to the late 1940s. The walls are narrow and dark. You can feel the cold air emanating from underground. A portion of the tunnels at Ben Dinh has been enlarged for you to more comfortably make your way into the earth and find the command center waiting. The command center has been recreated to display what life and times were like during the Vietnam conflict. Maps are pinned and marked. Signs hang on the walls. You can imagine soldiers sitting around the single long table and eating their rations.
Then back to the city center, the Reunification Palace is waiting for your visit. The palace was completed in the 1870s with a façade that extends over 240 feet. When you enter the palace, and come to the basement, you are intrigued by the décor that recreates an old war room, from the desk to the walls. Old communications devices remain intact and in working order, which adds an ambiance to the room that is more than just decoration. Maps surround the room, each marked with positions of various regiments. It’s as if you have stepped back in time and left behind the modern city.
Overnight at Ho Chi Minh City.
Depart from your hotel it takes two hours of a pleasant drive to Ben Tre Province. On arrival in Hung Vuong Pier, hop on a motorized boat on Ben Tre River – one of the tributaries of Mekong River while sight-seeing vigorous activities along the river such as fishing or water transferring. Our first stop is at brick kiln to see how bricks are traditionally made by printing and baking. Continue to visit one of the many coconut processing workshops located along the canal. Return to the boat and go through natural scissors creeks to a village to enjoy some local fruits and to see how locals produce sleeping mats. Take a motorized cart (tuk-tuk) or bicycle on shady paths, with beautiful green rice fields and vegetable plains on two sides. This gives you a chance to be able to get close to the local lifestyle and find out about the typical culture from interacting with the peasants. Have lunch at a local riverside restaurant. After lunch, we take a rowing-boat along the beautiful water palm creek before returning to the motorized boat and head back to the pier where you will be transferred back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
The charming city of Hoi An awaits you today. After breakfast, you depart from Ho Chi Minh City by air and arrive in Danang. A private transfer will have you in the classic riverside city of Hoi An ready to take you through the town’s beauty, from its delicate flavors to its fascinating architecture. The city sat alongside the Thu Bon River and was once the center of Central Vietnam’s trade in the 16th and 17th century, focusing on silk, porcelain, pepper, and cinnamon.
The spiced aromas continue to grace the air. You come to the Tan Ky House that was built over 200 years ago. The structure contains influences of both Chinese and Japanese architecture. In the sitting area, you find the ceiling supported by three progressively shorter beams. The carvings of crossed sabers are wrapped in silk. The back of the house is set against the river and was rented out to foreign merchants. The house is both charismatic and quaint in a city known for its historic charm.
Then, you have a walk through historic Hoi An. The streets are lined with Chinese paper lanterns that light up the dim early mornings and nights. The Thu Bon River flows gently alongside the city. Visit the Japanese covered bridge, Chinese assembly hall. There are numerous art galleries, souvenirs and tailor shops where you can get some express made-to-order clothes. The next stop is to a lantern craftsman's home in the old streets. Here you will have a brief introduction to the history, shape, and color of the lanterns as well as stages of making them. You can then try to make and decorate one on your own, and keep it as a souvenir of your time in Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
The charming riverside city of Hoi An will always be a precious and delicious memory. You make your way over to the remarkable view at Hai Van Pass. You can see where the sweeping emerald mountains slope down to the azure sea. The city is situated alongside the atmospheric Perfume River. It was the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th and 20th centuries.
After lunch, visit the Imperial Citadel where Kings of Vietnam’s last feudal dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945, including the Flag Tower, Nine Holy Cannons, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Nine Dynastic Urns, Forbidden Purple City.
Overnight in Hue.
After breakfast, you will step onto a dragon boat and cruise down the Perfume River. The boat’s front displays a colorful dragon with wide, sharp teeth that scares away wicked spirits. You come to a hill that overlooks the water. You see the Thien Mu Pagoda rising from atop the knoll. It stands over 63 feet tall and was constructed in the mid 19th century. Then visit Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb. The complex was completed in 1931 after 11 years of construction. The tomb is a rectangular structure that leans against the mountainside and stands atop 127 steps.
In the evening, you have a wonderful time to enjoy a taste of royal Viet Nam at Ancient Hue restaurant where offers you an experience of dining at this hidden, unique complex of traditional homes in an elegant.
Overnight in Hue.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be escorted to Phu Bai airport for a 1-hour flight to Hanoi city. Meet your guide and head to your hotel.
This afternoon, you will visit the iconic sites of the city. Explore Van Mieu- Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature & Vietnam’s first university). Constructed in the 11th century, Van Mieu- Quoc Tu Giam, with its colorful gardens and well-preserved buildings, offers a historical glimpse into Vietnam's past. Continue to visit One Pillar Pagoda is a historic Buddhist temple that was constructed in the 11th century. It hovers over the serene waters of a lotus pond. The temple is quaint but impressive. It feels so far removed from the movement of the city even though you are in the city’s center. Next up, we walk slowly through the narrow and busy Hanoi Old Quarter. It is where each street is named after the specific goods it once sold.
Then, enjoy a Water Puppet show - a uniquely Northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from the rural life and episodes of national history.
Overnight in Ha Noi.
Today you will have the opportunity to indulge in the bright and crisp flavors of a cooking course. Your guide will tour you through the old quarter whose streets date back a millennium. The aromatic scent of herbs fills the long stretch of pathways that wind through the ancient market. Bicycles roll along the narrow streets. After you visit the local market, you will follow your instructor’s demonstration, imitating the steps, methods, and flavors in search of the perfect combination of succulence and acidity. In the evening you will enjoy a meal at KOTO. The atmosphere is elegant, and the staff is friendly. One of the main draws of the restaurant is its charitable program that teaches underprivileged youth the art of cooking and the ins and outs of the hospitality industry. Overnight in Ha Noi.
Depart from your hotel to Ha Long Bay – a UNESCO World Natural Heritage. This is where thousands of magnificent limestone islets and grottoes rise from the clear emerald Gulf of Tonkin. Upon arrival, have a welcome drink on board before your check-in. Lunch with fresh seafood will be served while the boat is cruising through many stone islets, floating villages, and small beaches. Visit a floating fishing village, talk and meet local villagers before swimming or relaxing on the sundeck. Dinner will be ready at the time the boat anchors at a quiet designated overnight area.
Overnight on board in Halong Bay.
You wake up in the early morning in Ha Long Bay, a fantastic and unforgettable moment you will have. Breakfast is served while the junk boat cruises around Ha Long Bay. We will pass by many islets named by their shapes such as Dog, Incense Urn, Fighting Cock, or Finger islets. The boat will make a stop at Surprise Cave so you can explore this stunning attraction of Ha Long Bay. Brunch is served on boat while the junk boat continues cruising towards the wharf. Be ready to disembark from the boat at about 10.30am before a bus ride back to Ha Noi. En-route, stop at a famous traditional ceramic craftsmanship village named Dong Trieu. Arrive at your hotel in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Hanoi
Breakfast at the hotel and have some free time before heading to the airport for departure.