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22 Day, Absolute Vietnam


From £3,679.00 per person


Based on 2 adults sharing, all flights & taxes, tours including English speaking guide and meals where outlined. See itinerary for full inclusions.

Overview

Stretching over 3,200 kilometers in length with countless mountains, rivers, forests and beaches, Vietnam is one of Asia’s most diverse and fascinating countries. Introducing you to the country’s three main regions, this Vietnam tour starts with the natural splendor and majesty of the north, continues to the historic charm of the central provinces before concluding with the beauty and the vibrancy of the south.

Day 1: UK departure Day 12: Hue
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) arrival Day 13: Hue – Hanoi
Day 3: HCMC Day 14: Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Hanoi
Day 4: HCMC – Tay Ninh – Cu Chi – HCMC Day 15: Hanoi – Duong Lam
Day 5: HCMC – Mekong Delta – HCMC Day 16: Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa
Day 6: HCMC  – Dalat Day 17: Sapa
Day 7: Dalat – Nha Trang Day 18: Sapa – Hanoi
Day 8: Nha Trang Day 19: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Day 9: Nha Trang – Hoi An Day 20: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Day 10: Hoi An – My Son  – Hoi An Day 21: Hanoi departure
Day 11: Hoi An – Danang – Hue Day 22: UK arrival

Itinerary

Daily, in depth tour itinerary.

We have put this tour together to feature some of our favourite hotels, however alternate accommodation options are available be it of a higher or lower standard.


Day 1, UK Departure

Depart UK for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Day 2, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Upon arrival your guide will greet you and transfer by private car through the city to your hotel for check-in.

Overnight: Saigon at The Hotel Majestic (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 3, Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Sightseeing in Saigon
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Nearly everywhere there is an encounter between traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands toe to toe with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.

Visit Cholon (Chinatown)
Cholon is the large Chinese neighbourhood to the west of the city in District 5. Cholon means ‘Big Market’, a good indication of the importance the Chinese have traditionally played in Vietnam’s economy.

Visit Thien Hau Pagoda
Thien Hau Pagoda was built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. The pagoda is one of the most active in Cholon and is dedicated to Thien Hau. It is said that she can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to wherever she pleases.

Visit the Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine
Visit Fito Museum which displays more than 3,000 objects, including a collection of knives and boat-shaped grinders used to chop and grind medicines. The oldest item in this collection was fished out of the Red River and dates back to the 6th century. The museum also has collections of items used in ancient pharmacies including medicinal kettles and cups, medicinal scales, mortar and pestles, and alcohol jars. Learn how to grind medicine, watch a documentary about the history of Vietnamese traditional medicine, and taste a cup of linh chi tea before leaving the museum.

Visit Ben Thanh Market
The Ben Thanh Market is the central market of Saigon and the market and the surrounding streets make up one of the city’s liveliest areas. Everything commonly eaten, worn or used by the average resident of Saigon is available here.

Visit War Remnants Museum
The War Remnants Museum exhibits collections of weapons, photographs and memorabilia from two Indochina wars along with the original French ‘Guillotine’ brought here in the early 20th century.

Visit the Reunification Palace
Reunification Palace, the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, was stormed by tanks on the 30th April 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state.

Visit Central Post Office
The Central Post Office is a French-style building with a glass canopy and iron frame right next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam.

Visit the Opera House
The colonial-era Opera House is today one of the main places for cultural exchange. May be viewed from the outside only.

Visit City Hall (Hotel De Ville)
City Hall, also known as Hotel de Ville, was completed in 1908, and is at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With it’s ornate gingerbread facade it looks like the town hall of a French town.

Overnight: Saigon at The Hotel Majestic (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 4, Ho Chi Minh City – Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City – Tay Ninh – Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City

Excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels and Tay Ninh (Full day, tour will start early morning)
From Saigon, drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Never discovered by American forces, these tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the Vc, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.

Afterward, go to Tay Ninh, the birthplace of the unique Cao Dai religion, a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam and native Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. Every day at noon, worshipers garbed in colourful robes flock to the Cao Dai Great Temple to participate in the daily prayer sessions, which visitors may respectfully observe from the upper balconies. (Note: shortly before and during the annual Tet festival (Vietnamese New Year) the daily ceremony of the priests in Tay Ninh may be cancelled without prior notice). Return to Saigon.

Overnight: Saigon at The Hotel Majestic (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 5, Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City

Excursion to Cai Be with a boat trip to Vinh Long (private) (include Lunch, full day) (9 hours)
From Saigon, drive into the heart of the Mekong Delta to Cai Be Town Pier at 10.30am. You’ll be welcomed on board and fresh towels will be served. Stop at local home factories to observe the traditional procedure of making rice ice paste, coconut candies and other specialties.

Enjoy lunch at “Le Longanier”, a superb Indochinese villa located by the river, in a lush tropical garden surrounded with fruit plantations. Proceed to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be to discover beautiful landscape along the river. Visit to Ancient Mandarin House dating from 1890 with personal welcome by the House Owner.

Proceed to Vinh Long, passing beautiful landscapes along Dong Phu canal, Binh Hoa Phuoc and An Binh, the islands that are famous for fruit orchards. Make a stop at An Binh ancient church or Tam Ho’s nursery garden on the way back. Crossing Co Chien River, the excursion ends at Vinh Long Pier 4.00 Pm. Disembark and return to Saigon.

Overnight: Saigon at The Hotel Majestic (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 6, Ho Chi Minh City - Dalat

Ho Chi Minh City – Dalat

Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City domestic airport for the 40-minute flight to Dalat. Dalat is located 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City. Established as a hill station at the beginning of the century, Dalat is reminiscent of an alpine town with its French chalets and pine forests.

Sightseeing in Dalat
Visit Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
Explore Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, a 25 room villa that was contructed in 1933 and is filled with artefacts from decades and governments past. Of interest are the engraved glass map of Vietnam given to the Emperor in 1942 by Vietnamese students in France and the life size bust above the bookcase of Bao Dai himself.

Visit the Cremaillere Railway
The Cremaillere Railway is a cog railway linking Dalat and Tham Cham from 1928 to 1964, until it was closed due to the war. The line has now been repaired and now operates as a tourist attraction, running eight kilometres to Trai Mat Village and back.

Visit Xuan Huong Lake
Xuan Huong Lake is located in the centre of Dalat, it was created by a dam in 1919. The lake is circumnavigated by a path. The majestic hilltop Palace Hotel overlooks the lake from the south.

Overnight: Dalat Hotel Du Parc (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 7, Dalat - Nha Trang

Dalat – Nha Trang

Leaving Dalat after breakfast, descend to the coastal city of Nha Trang. Drive on a panoramic route down a lush mountain pass to the coastal plains of Central Vietnam. The highland crops of coffee, tea and vegetables are replaced with that of tobacco, grapes and rice as the road descends into a dry climate. Follow the coast past salt ponds and vivid green rice fields to Nha Trang.

Sightseeing in Nha Trang
Visit Yersin Museum
The Alexandre Yersin Museum which is located within the Pasteur Institute. This museum commemorates the lifelong work of one of the area’s most famous scientists who helped to cure diseases in the area during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Visit Xq embroidery workshop
Founded in 1996, Xq has many imitators these days, but none of the competition comes close to matching it for quality. Enter this workshop, you can see masterpieces unraveling before your eyes upstairs where artisans embroider for hours on end. Some of the embroidery is so realistic that it resembles photographs.

Visit Long Son Pagoda
Long Son Pagoda was founded in the late 19th century and continues to hosts resident monks. The entrance and roof are decorated with mosaic dragons constructed of glass and ceramic tile. At the top of the hill behind the pagoda is the huge white Buddha seated on a lotus blossom.

Overnight: Nha Trang at the Evason Ana Mandara (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 8, Nha Trang

Nha Trang

Excursion by boat for snorkeling on Mun island
Take a boat to Mun Island, a Marine Protected Area recognised as “One of the Most Beautiful 29-Bays in the World”. Here you will see over 350 species of coral and many kinds of beautiful fish . Snorkel at Mun island at different sites.

Enjoy local basket boat and explore the life of fishermen at Mieu fishing village. Then come to Bamboo resort for a special seafood lunch, Relax and swim at bamboo island till the time you want to come back to the hotel.

Your afternoon is at leisure to explore Nha Trang at your own pace.

Overnight: Nha Trang at the Evason Ana Mandara (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 9, Nha Trang – Hoi An

Nha Trang – Hoi An

Transfer to Nha Trang domestic airport for the 50-minute flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, drive 40-minutes to Hoi An. Hoi An is a destination with two faces – the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses; and the beach with its new resorts and long stretch of clean white sand.

Sightseeing in Hoi An
Hoi An, a picturesque riverside town, was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This walking tour includes many of the town’s highlights. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.

Near the bridge is Sa Huynh Museum which houses exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An’s history. Wander into the Tran Family Chapel, a 200 year old house built for worshiping ancestors. Visit Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans in the Hoi An area and is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen. Also enter into a Lantern Making Workshop to see how the frame is made and the silk cloth put onto the lantern.

Overnight: Anantara Hoi An Resort (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 10, Hoi An – My Son - Hoi An

Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An

Excursion to My Son
Journey to My Son, the former religious centre of the Champa Kingdom, a sophisticated civilization which held sway over the region from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Today, all that is left are five archaeological sites from different periods, in a beautifully green setting of hills and winding streams. After a brief visit to the Visitor’s Centre for an overview of Cham history and culture, visit each ruin in turn, walking along forested paths.

Afternoon at leisure.

Overnight: Anantara Hoi An Resort (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 11, Hoi An – Danang – Hue

Hoi An – Danang – Hue

Enjoy this morning at leisure before leaving Hoi An for Hue.
Drive from Hoi An to Hue along scenic mountain roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Highlights along the way include the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of North and South Vietnam; Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the East Vietnam Sea; and the large coastal city of Danang.

Visit Cham Museum
The Cham Museum houses probably the best collection of Cham art to be found anywhere in the world. There are more than 300 artefacts in the museum, many dating to the 4th century. There are beautiful sculptures reflecting the 1000 year Cham period.

Overnight: Hue at the Saigon Morin Hotel (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 12, Hue

Hue

Sightseeing in Hue
Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century.

Visit the Old Imperial City by cyclo
Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 kilometres and were surrounded by a wide moat.

Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure.

Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Residence (Dien Tho palace) where the Queen mother lived, visit Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns, among other sites. Finally visit the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum.

Excursion to Thien Mu Pagoda and Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang with boat trip
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue’s most widely recognizable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting.

Visit the Imperial Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh
Khai Dinh was the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty and was constructed between 1920 and 1931. It sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village. It has a long staircase flanked by dragons. There are ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes.

Overnight: Hue at the Saigon Morin Hotel (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 13, Hue – Hanoi

Hue – Hanoi

This morning you will be transferred to Hue’s airport for the short flight to Hanoi. On arrival explore Vietnam’s capital on an escorted full day city tour.

Sightseeing in Hanoi
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shop houses invite an exciting exploration by walking, while it’s many beautiful public spaces – lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments – give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals.

Visit the Temple of Literature
The Temple of Literature has a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and this monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. In one courtyard, giant stone tortoises bear stele on their backs, listing the accomplishments of graduating scholars.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex
Start the exploration of the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex with a stroll past the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh (closed Mondays, Fridays, and during September and October).

View the outside of the Presidential Palace and then walk through the park to the Ho Chi Minh Stilt House where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows. Continue to the miniature 11th century One Pillar Pagoda which was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954 and to the Ho Chi Minh Museum where displaying more than 120,000 documents, objects and films about President Ho Chi Minh’s life and revolutionary work.

Visit Ho Tay Lake (Westlake) and Tran Quoc Pagoda
Ho Tay Lake is also called the Lake of the Mist and covers 583 hectares. Named by the Song Dynasty (Chinese). the lake carries several legends. Also stop for a visit at the Tran Quoc Pagoda on the shore of the lake.

Visit Quan Thanh Temple (on Truc Bach Lake)

Visit the Museum of Ethnology
The Museum of Ethnology brings to life the astonishing ethnic diversity in Vietnam, with art and artefacts from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country. Inside the museum are detailed descriptions of minority groups, with examples of their traditional clothing and way of life. Outside are faithful reconstructions of traditional longhouses, cemeteries and other distinctive ethnic buildings.

Visit the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter holds over a thousand years of history and remains one of Vietnam’s most lively and unusual places, where one can buy anything from a gravestone to silk pyjamas. Explore by walking to the maze of back streets with fascination wonderment at every turn and there are endless things to buy from wool clothes, cosmetics, gold and silver jewellery, silk clothes and herbal medicines.

Visit Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and the Rising Sun bridge
Hoan Kiem Lake (Hoan Kiem means Lake of the Returned), is a lake in the historical centre of the Hanoi capital. It is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as a focal point for its public life. Legend has it that King Le Loi handed a magic sword called Heaven’s Will which brought him victory in his revolt against the Chinese Ming dynasty back to the Golden Turtle God in the lake. The Tortoise Tower (Thap Rua) standing on a small island near the centre of the lake is linked to the legend.

The Ngoc Son Temple was erected in the 18th century. It honours the 13th -century military leader Tran Hung Dao who distinguished himself in the fight against the Yuan – Mongol invaders, Van Xuong, a scholar and Nguyen Van Sieu, a Confucian master and famous writer in charge of repairs made to the temple in 1864. Jade Island is connected to the shore by the wooden red-painted Huc Bridge (The Huc, means Morning Sunlight Bridge).

Visit a Water Puppet Show
See a Water Puppet Show, a fantastic art form originating in northern Vietnam, best seen in Hanoi.

Overnight: Hanoi at Hotel de l’Opera (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 14, Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Hanoi

Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Hanoi

Excursion to Tam Coc (Dry Halong Bay) with boat trip and sightseeing at Hoa Lu and Bich Dong Pagoda
Journey southwest towards Ninh Binh province to pay a visit to Hoa Lu, the initial capital of Vietnam. Witness the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80), and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009).

The ancient Hoa Lu Citadel (most of which has since been destroyed) once covered an area of three square kilometres. Continue to Tam Coc, known as Dry Halong Bay. This area is famous for its breath taking scenery, where dramatic limestone formations rise sharply out of green rice paddies and wetlands.

Embark on a small, hand rowed sampan, and begin your journey along green waterways. The name Tam Coc means three caves and you will pass under a sequence of three caves: Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Coi as your boat glides past green rice fields and lotus ponds. After the tour, stop at nearby Bich Dong Pagoda before returning to Hanoi.

Overnight: Hanoi at Hotel de l’Opera (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 15, Hanoi – Duong Lam – Hanoi

Hanoi – Duong Lam – Hanoi

Excursion to Duong Lam via Mia Pagoda for cycling
By vehicles from Hanoi to Duong Lam Village, a purely agricultural village of the Northern Red River delta where still preserve many hundred-year-old houses. It will be your unique experience as you walk along tiny ancient alleys. Arrive in Duong Lam village after for about two hours. visit Mong Phu temple, the only hamlet whose original village entrance gate remains intact. Have some talks with the locals in their ancient houses where your lunch will be provided.

After lunch, take the bike and start cycling to the Mia Pagoda (other hamlet in Duong Lam village). The pagoda is built in 15th century containing 287 statues of different sizes. Bike then to Ngo Quyen temple and Phung Hung temple. These are two places are dedicated to Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung, the two National Heroes of Vietnam. Cycle back to Duong Lam village and transfer back to Hanoi.

Overnight: Hanoi at Hotel de l’Opera (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 16, Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa

Hanoi – Lao Cai – Sapa

Private Cooking Class at Hanoi Cooking Centre with a market visit
On arrival at Hanoi Cooking Centre (Hcc), try a cup of La Han, a special Vietnamese tea, followed by a brief introduction to Vietnamese cuisine and the highlights of traditional meals. Take a short walk to the Chau Long Market to see the wet goods, unusual tropical fruits, livestock and silk worms. Then head back to Hcc to start the cooking class and to enjoy the delicious dishes.

Rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

This evening transfer to Hanoi train station for the overnight train to Lao Cai, the gateway to Sapa.

Overnight on the train in a soft sleeper compartment.

Day 17, Sapa

Sapa

On arrival in the border town of Lao Cai transfer to the former hill station of Sapa. In the terraced hills and mountains of this area, the scenery of the expansive green landscape is enlivened by the colors of its hill tribe population.

By vehicle from Lao Cai to Sa Pa with sightseeing at Cao Son Market (Wednesdays only)
Visit the market at Cao Son, one of the smaller and more local markets in the area, frequented mainly by the colourful Flower Hmong, so-named because of their elaborately embroidered clothing.

Breakfast at local restaurant

Visit Sa Pa town
Take a walk around the town of Sa Pa, a former colonial mountain retreat. Stroll through parks and squares while enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery. On clear days, it is possible to see the summit of Mount Fansipan, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.

Overnight: Sapa at Victoria Hotel Sapa (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 18, Sapa – Hanoi

Sapa – Hanoi

Excursion to Cat Cat and Ta Phin with trek
This tour takes guests down a winding road to the Black Hmong village of Cat Cat which is nestled among beautiful mountain scenery. Wander through the village, visiting the traditional houses and observing the rural way of life. Afterwards, continue to the handicraft village of Ta Phin, inhabited by the Red Dzao, known for their distinctive red headscarves.

In the late afternoon transfer back to Lao Cai before taking the night train back to Hanoi. In Lao Cai you’ll have use of a hotel room so you can freshen up before the overnight train trip.

Overnight on the train in a soft sleeper compartment.

Day 19, Hanoi – Halong Bay

Hanoi – Halong Bay

Arrive early in Hanoi where a hotel will be available for breakfast and to freshen up before heading to Halong Bay by road. Following breakfast, leave Hanoi for a 3hr 30mins drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way.

Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.

Overnight: Halong Bay, Paradise Cruise Junk, Deluxe Cabin

Day 20, Halong Bay – Hanoi

Halong Bay – Hanoi

Enjoy your morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi.

The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore Hanoi.

Overnight: Hanoi at Hotel de l’Opera (Bed & Breakfast)

Day 21, Hanoi & Departure

Hanoi & Departure

Enjoy some free time for last minute purchases or simply relax before your transfer to Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport for your flight back to the UK.

Day 22, UK Arrival

Day 22, UK Arrival

Your flight arrives back to the UK. Time to start planning the next amazing trip!!

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