Hanoi – Ha Long Bay – Hai Phong – Ninh Binh – Cuc Phuong National Park – Son La – Dien Bien Phu – Vinh – Dong Hoi – Dong Ha – Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An – Qui Nhon – Pleiku – Buon Me Thuot – Nha Trang – Sai Gon
Day 1: Hanoi – Arrival ( D )
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport our guide who will accompany you to your hotel will welcome you. There are no activities planned for today but your guide will be able to offer advice and assistance as required. This evening your guide will return to your hotel to escort you to sample some of Hanoi’s superb cuisine. Overnight in Hanoi .
Day 2 : Hanoi ( B, L , D )
Sightseeing Hanoi (full day)
Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks, is the capital of Vietnam. It is a very attractive city with French style buildings and less traffic than other cities in Asia.
ONE PILLAR PAGODA: built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. Constructed of wood on a single stone pillar, it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom.
TEMPLE OF LITERATURE: founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, who dedicated it to Confucius in order to honor scholars and men of literary accomplishment.
HOAN KIEM LAKE: right in the heart of Hanoi, this lake contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda, topped with a red star.
HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: in the tradition of Lenin and Stalin before him and Mao after him, the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh is a glass sarcophagus set deep in the bowels of a monumental edifice that has become a site of pilgrimage. (Closed Mondays and Fridays).
OPERA HOUSE: a magnificent 900-seat opera house built in 1911. (May be viewed from the outside only).
ST JOSEPH CATHEDRAL: a neo-Gothic cathedral finished in 1886, it is noteworthy for its square towers, elaborate altar and stained-glass windows.
BAO TANG LICH: once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, is a building constructed of reinforced concrete completed in 1930. Exhibits include artefacts from Vietnam’s turbulent history including some from prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilisations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc-Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms. (Closed on Monday’s).Water puppet .Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 3 : Hanoi – Halong ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Hanoi to Halong Bay
Journey east along Highway 5 across Hai Hung Province and around Halong Bay.
Boat trip Halong Bay (4 hours)
This four-hour boat ride explores Halong Bay, passing the islands of Trong, Mai, Am, Chen and Cong Troi (Heaven Gates). Stop at one of the islands and visit of one of the following caves.
HANG DAU GO: a huge, three-chambered cave, which is reached via 90 steps. The cave derives its Vietnamese name from the third of the chambers, which is said to have been used by Trang Hung Dao during the 13th century to store bamboo stakes used against the Mongol invaders.
BO NAU: the “Pelican” caves.
THIEN CUNG: “Heaven Palace.”Overnight in Halong.
Day 4: Halong – Hai Phong – Ninh Binh ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Halong to Hai Phong
Journey west along the coast with good views of Halong Bay and its many islands.
Sightseeing Hai Phong
Hai Phong is Vietnam’s third most populous city. It is the north’s main industrial center and one of the country’s most important seaports. Time permitting, visit one or two of the most famous attractions in town.
DINH HANG KENH: a communal house on Pho Hang Kenh known for its 500 relief sculptures in wood. The surrounding area was once part of the village of Kenh.
DU HANG PAGODA: founded 3 centuries ago and rebuilt several times, this is a good example of traditional Vietnamese architecture.
By vehicle from Hai Phong (via Thai Binh) to Ninh Binh
Journey south on Highway 10 across Thai Binh and Nam Ha Provinces.Overnight in Ninh Binh.
Day 5 : Ninh Binh – Cuc Phuong National Park ( B, L , D )
Excursion to “Dry Halong Bay” by boat
‘Dry Halong Bay’ or Tam Coc, is best seen by rowboat via the Ngo Dong River. With these boats, visitors are able to enter the caves silently, making for a peaceful and unique experience.
DRY HALONG BAY: Also called Tam Coc, meaning “three caves”, it boasts exquisite scenery with huge rock formations rising from the rice paddies. The caves, Hang Ca, Hang Giua and Hang Cuoi, are 127m, 70m and 40m respectively in length.
By vehicle from Ninh Binh to Cuc Phuong National Park
Journey west in Ninh Binh Province towards the mountainous areas away from the flatlands. Overnight in Cuc Phuong National Park.
Day 6 : Cuc Phuong National Park – Hanoi ( B, L , D )
Sightseeing Cuc Phuong National Park
CUC PHUONG NATIONAL PARK: established in 1962, it is one of Vietnam’s most important nature reserves. The park’s primary tropical forest remains home to an amazing variety of animal and plant life. Several species were discovered here, including a tree and an endemic red-bellied squirrel.
KANH: Muong minority village in the Park.
CON MOONG CAVE: one of the park’s many grottoes where the stone tools of prehistoric humans have been discovered.
By vehicle from Cuc Phuong National Park to Hanoi
Journey north through the provinces of Ninh Binh, Nam Ha and Ha Tay on Highway 1.Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 7 : Hanoi – Son La ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Hanoi to Son La
Journey towards the Lao border, west along Highway 6 past Hoa Binh and Moc Chau.
Overnight in Son La.
Day 8 : Son La – Dien Bien Phu ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Son La to Dien Bien Phu
Journey west through Ban Vay and Tuan Giao.
TUAN GIAO: a remote town at the junction of Highway 42 to Dien Bien Phu and Highway 6A to Lai Chau.
PHA DIN PASS: located in Lai Chau Province (985 m above sea level), this area is mainly inhabited by white and black Thai and Hmoung (Meo).Overnight in Dien Bien Phu.
Day 9 : Dien Bien Phu ( B, L , D )
Sightseeing Dien Bien Phu
Dien Bien Phu was the site of the battle which defeated the French and ended their colonial control of Indochina. It is one of the most remote parts of Vietnam in the Muong Thanh Valley and is surrounded by steep heavily forested hills.
DBP MUSEUM: The site of the battle is now marked by this museum.
BUNKER OF DE CASTRIES: the headquarters of this French commander have been re-created, with old French tanks and artillery pieces nearby.
MINORITIES: the whole area is inhabited by Montagnard people, which include the white and black Thai, Hmong, Zao and Muong.Overnight in Dien Bien Phu.
Day 10 : Dien Bien Phu – Hanoi ( B )
Flight from Dien Bien Phu to Hanoi.Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 11 : Hanoi – Vinh ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Hanoi to Vinh
Journey south along Highway 1 through Hanam, Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa. Bomb craters and damaged buildings are still a dominant feature in this part of Vietnam. Nghe An and neighbouring Ha Tinh provinces are endowed with poor soil and some of the worst weather in Vietnam.
Excursion to Kim Lien and Hoang Tru
KIM LIEN: Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace. The house in which he was born in 1890 is maintained as a sacred shrine and is a favorite pilgrimage spot for Vietnamese people. Ho’s childhood home is a simple farmhouse, reflecting his humble background.Overnight in Vinh.
Day 12 : Vinh – Dong Hoi ( B, L , D )
By vehicle from Vinh to Dong Hoi
Journey south along Highway 1 past Ha Tinh. The highway follows the coast which is lined with sand dunes and beaches.
Excursion to Phong Nha Cave
Journey northwest across Quang Binh Province.
PHONG NHA CAVE: located in the village of Son Trach, there are meters of underground passageways filled with abundant stalactites and stalagmites. It was formed approximately 250 million years ago.Overnight in Dong Hoi.
Day 13 : Dong Hoi – Dong Ha – Hue ( B, L )
By vehicle from Dong Hoi to Dong Ha
Journey south along Highway 1. The highway follows the coast, which is lined with sand dunes and beaches.
Excursion to Vinh Moc Tunnel and Quang Tri Citadel
QUANG TRI: the town was once an important citadel city. During the war, it was heavily bombed and not many of the original buildings of the time are left.
VINH MOC TUNNELS: 2.8km of tunnels built by the villagers of Vinh Moc, who lived in one of the most heavily bombed places. The people began tunneling by hand into the red clay earth and made the tunnels their home.
By vehicle from Dong Ha to Hue
Journey southeast along Highway 1 past Quang Tri and Huong Dien.
QUANG TRI: the town was once an important citadel city. During the America War it was heavily bombed and few of the original buildings of the time are left standing.Overnight in Hue.
Day 14 : Hue ( B, L )
Sightseeing Thien Mu Pagoda and Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang with boat trip
THIEN MU PAGODA: just outside of Hue, on the bank of the Perfume River, this was a hotbed of anti-government protest during the early 1960s. Behind the main sanctuary of the pagoda is the Austin motorcar which transported the monk Thich Quang Duc to the site of his 1963 self-immolation.
TOMB OF EMPEROR MINH MANG: a complex built in 1840 by King Minh Mang, known for its magnificent architecture, military statuaries and elaborate decorations. It is perhaps the most beautiful of Hue’s pagodas and tombs.
Sightseeing Imperial Tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh
TU DUC TOMB: Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled Hue more than 100 years ago, built his tomb when he was still alive and used it for meditation, reading and theater performances. There are pavilions in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The tomb was constructed between 1864 and 1867. Tu Duc, who was the longest reigning Emperor, lived a luxurious life.
KHAI DINH: this 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 in Hue.
Day 15 : Hue – Danang ( B, D )
Sightseeing old Imperial City
IMPERIAL CITY: located in the Citadel, it was built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City in Peking. There are numerous palaces and temples within these walls, as well as towers, a library and a museum.
NGO MON GATE: the principal entrance to the Imperial Enclosure, facing the Flag Tower. The central passageway with its yellow doors was reserved for use by the emperor, as was the bridge across the lotus pond.
THAI HOA PALACE: built in 1803 and moved to its present site in 1833, Thai Hoa Palace is a spacious hall with an ornate roof of huge timbers supported by 80 carved and lacquered columns.
HALLS OF THE MANDARINS: these buildings, in which the mandarins prepared for court ceremonies held in the Can Chanh Reception Hall, were restored in 1977.
NINE DYNASTIC URNS: these were cast in 1835-36. Traditional ornamentation was then chiseled into the sides of the urns, each dedicated to a different Nguyen sovereign.
FORBIDDEN PURPLE CITY: this was reserved for the personal use of the emperor. The only servants allowed into the compound were eunuchs, who would pose no threat to the royal concubines. (Today the site is in ruins).
Visit Dong Ba Market
DONG BA MARKET: a local market near the Imperial City
By vehicle from Hue to Danang
Journey south along Highway 1 past the Hai Van Pass and Lang Co.
HAI VAN PASS: the pass crosses over a spur of the Truong Son Mountain Range that juts into the South China Sea. It is an incredible mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views.
LANG CO: a pretty, island-like stretch of palm-shaded sand with a crystal-clear lagoon on one side and many km of beachfront facing the South China Sea.Overnight in Danang.
Day 16 : Danang – Hoi An ( B, L )
Vietnam’s fourth largest city marks the northern limits of Vietnam’s tropical zone, boasting a pleasant year-round climate.
CHAM MUSEUM: founded in 1915 by the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient, the open-air collection of Cham sculpture is the finest in the world. Many of the sandstone carvings are breathtaking.
DANANG BEACH: made famous in the American TV series of the same name, it stretches for many kilometers north and south of the Marble Mountains. During the American War, soldiers were airlifted here for ‘rest and relaxation’.
MARBLE MOUNTAINS: Five stone hillocks, once islands, made of marble. Each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. When the Champas ruled this area, these same caves were used as Hindu shrines.
By vehicle from Danang to Hoi An
Journey south past the Marble Mountains and small villages.
Sightseeing Hoi An by cyclo
Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It is best to visit some of the following sites of Hoi An by walking around and/or by cyclo.
QUAN CONG TEMPLE: founded in 1653, the main altar is dedicated to Quan Cong, whose partially gilded statue is in the central altar at the back of the sanctuary. Stone plaques on the walls list contributors to the contruction and repair of the temple. The temple was open to all Chinese traders or seamen and is dedicated to Thien Hau – it’s a small chinese style temple with a lintel gate, a rockery courtyard and lucky animals depicted in statuary.
PHUOC KIEN PAGODA: Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese ‘clans’ that were established in the Hoi An area. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau (Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen).
JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE: the first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593. It was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was provided with a roof so it could be used as a shelter from rain and sun.
TRAN FAMILY CHAPEL: this house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from the family members. The Tran family traces its origins to China and moved to Vietnam around 1700. The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles.
SA HUYNH MUSEUM: located near the Japanese covered Bridge, it contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An’s history.
PHUNG HUNG HOUSE: one family has been living here for already 8 generations. The house is a combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style.Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 17 : Hoi An – Qui Nhon ( B, D )
By vehicle from Hoi An to Qui Nhon
Journey south along the coast and Highway 1 past Tam Ky and Quang Ngai. This region is one of the most arid in Vietnam. The nearby plains are dominated by rocky, roundish mountains and support some marginal irrigated rice agriculture.
Sightseeing Qui Nhon
THAP DOI: the two Cham towers have curved pyramidal roofs rather than the terracing typical of Cham architecture. Garuda torsos can be seen at the corners of the roofs in both structures.
LONG KANH PAGODA: Qui Nhon’s main pagoda, with the main sanctuary completed in 1946. In front of the large copper Buddha is a drawing of multi-armed and multi-eyed Chuan DE (Goddess of Mercy).
QUANG TRUNG MUSEUM: dedicated to Nguyen Hue, the second oldest of the three brothers who led the Tay Son Rebellion and crowned himself Emperor Quang Trung in 1788. The museum is known for its demonstrations of binh dinh vo, a traditional martial art that is performed with a bamboo stick.
QUI NHON BEACH: extends along the southern side of the anteater’s nose and consists of a few hundred metres of sand shaded by a coconut grove.Overnight in Qui Nhon.
Day 18 : Qui Nhon – Pleiku – Buon Ma Thuot ( B ,D )
By vehicle from Qui Nhon to Pleiku
Journey west along Highway 19 past Tay Son, An Khe and Mang Yang. The journey passes through the Kontum Plateau, an area in the central highlands inhabited primarily by Montagnards including the Jarai, Rengao and Sedang.
By vehicle from Pleiku to Buon Ma Thuot
Journey south along Highway 14 on the Kontum Plateau and past Phu Nhon.Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot.
Day 19 : Buon Ma Thuot ( B, L )
Sightseeing Buon Ma Thuot
Buon Ma Thuot is the capital of Dac Lac Province and the largest town in the western highlands. The region’s main crop is coffee, which is grown on plantations run by German managers.
ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM: there are 31 distinct ethnic groups in Dac Lac Province and the museum is a good place to get an understanding of these disparate groups. Displays feature traditional Montagnard dress, as well as agricultural implements, fishing gear and musical instruments.
REVOLUTION MUSEUM: this area saw a lot of fighting during the American War.
VICTORY MUSEUM: located in the central square of town, it commemorates the events of 10 March 1975, when VC and North Vietnamese troops ‘liberated’ the city. It was this battle that triggered the complete fall of South Vietnam.
TUA: the Ede hamlet of Tua is close to Buon Ma Thuot and here people raise animals and grow manioc, sweet potatoes and maize. Ede society is matrilineal and matrilocal (centred on the household of the wife’s family). Extended families live in long houses.
Excursion to Dray Sap Waterfalls
DRAY SAP FALLS: beautiful falls close to Buon Ma Thuot and located right in the middle of a hardwood rainforest.Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot.
Day 20 : Buon Ma Thuot – Nha Trang ( B ,L )
By vehicle from Buon Ma Thuot to Nha Trang
Journey east along Highway 26 down the mountains to the coast past Buon Mrong and Ninh Hoa.Afternoon at leisure.Overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 21 : Nha Trang ( B, L )
Sightseeing Nha Trang with a visit to the seawater aquarium by boat
Nha Trang is the capital of Khanh Hoa Province and has one of the most beautiful municipal beaches in Vietnam.
PO NAGAR CHAM TOWERS: built between the 7th and 12th centuries, this site was used for Hindu worship as early as the 2nd century AD. The towers serve as the Holy See honoring Goddess Yang Ino Po Nagar, the Goddess of the Dua clan which ruled over the southern part of the Cham Kingdom, covering Kauthara and Pan Duranga.
PASTEUR INSTITUT: founded in 1895 by Dr Alexandre Yersin (1863-1943). Today the institute coordinates vaccination and hygiene programs for the country’s southern coastal region. Dr.Yersin’s library and office are now a museum.
OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTE: founded in 1923, it has an aquarium and specimen room open to the public. The twenty-three ground floor tanks are home to a variety of colorful live specimens of local marine life, including seahorses.
LANG SON PAGODA: founded in the late 19th century, this pagoda still has monks residing on the premises. The entrance and roofs are decorated with mosaic dragons constructed of glass and ceramic tile. At the top of the hill behind the pagoda is a huge white Buddha seated on a lotus blossom.
NHA TRANG CATHEDRAL: built in the French Gothic style and complete with medieval style stained glass windows, it stands on a small hill overlooking the train station.
BAO DAI VILLAS: the former retreat of Bao Dai, Vietnam’s last emperor. Between the mid-1950s and 1975, Bao Dai’s Villas were used by high-ranking officials of the South Vietnamese government, including President Thieu. The villas are set on three hills with brilliant views of the South China Sea, Nha Trang Bay and Cau Da dock.
HON CHONG PROMONTORY: a narrow granite promontory that juts out into turquoise waters of the South China Sea. There are good views of the mountainous coastline north of Nha Trang as well as nearby islands.Overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 22 : Nha Trang – Saigon ( B, L )
By vehicle from Nha Trang to Saigon
Journey south along the coast and Highway 1 past Dien Khanh, Lam, Phan Rang, Phan Tiet, Xuan Loc and Bien Hoa. Ninh Tuan Province, where Phan Rang is located, is home to tens of thousands of descendents of the Cham people.
PO KLONG GARAI CHAM TOWERS: the four brick towers constructed at the end of the 13th century, during the reign of the Cham monarch Jaya Simhavarman III, were built as Hindu temples and stand on the top of a crumbly granite hill.Overnight in Saigon.
Day 23 : Saigon ( B, L )
Sightseeing Saigon and Cholon (Chinatown)
Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, with the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life visible everywhere. There are street markets, sidewalk cafes and sleek new bars. The city churns and bubbles. Yet within this teeming metropolis are 300 years of timeless traditions and the beauty of an ancient culture. To the west of the city is District 5, the huge Chinese neighborhood called Cholon, which means ‘Big Market’.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL: built between 1877 and 1883, it is set in the heart of Saigon’s government quarter. It has a neo-Romanesque form and two high square towers, tipped with iron spires. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary.
CENTRAL POST OFFICE: a French-style building with a glass canopy and iron frame, situated next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam.
CITY HALL: completed in 1908, also known as ”Hotel de Ville”, and located at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With its ornate gingerbread , it looks like the town hall of a French town. (May be viewed from the outside only).
OPERA HOUSE: built around the turn of the century and first renovated in the 1940s, the building housed the lower division of the National Assembly. Today it is a Municipal Theater and also known as the Saigon Concert Hall. (May be viewed from the outside only).
JADE EMPEROR PAGODA: was a key meeting place for Chinese secret societies. It has very colorful and mysterious ambience.
REUNIFICATION PALACE: this was the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president and was stormed by tanks on 30 April 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state.
WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM: collections of weapons and photographs from two Indochina wars are exhibited along with the original French ‘Guillotine’ brought here in the early 20th century.
BEN THANH MARKET: the central market of Saigon, which, with the surrounding streets, makes up one of the city’s liveliest areas. Everything commonly eaten, worn or used by the average resident of Saigon is available here.
GIAM LAM PAGODA: the oldest pagoda in Saigon, built at the end of the 17th century. Because the last reconstruction here was in 1900, the architecture, layout and ornamentation remain almost unaltered by the modernist renovations that have transformed so many other religious structures in Vietnam. Ten monks live in this pagoda, which also incorporates aspects of Taoism and Confucianism.
BINH TAY MARKET: Cholon’s main marketplace, much of the business conducted here is wholesale.
THIEN HAU PAGODA: 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.
Overnight in Saigon.
Day 24 : Saigon ( B, L )
Excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels and Tay Ninh
CU CHI TUNNELS: Cu Chi was an important base during the American War, because of its strategic location. The Vietcong built a 200km long network of tunnels connecting command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Dug out of hard laterite by hand tools without the use of cement, this amazing network was never discovered.
TAY NINH: this town serves as the headquarters of one of Vietnam’s religions, Caodism. The Caodai Great Temple at the sect’s Holy See is one of the most striking structures in all of Asia and was built between 1933 and 1955. The area’s dominant geographic feature is Nui Ba Den (Black Lady Mountain), which towers 850m above the surrounding plains.
Please note that 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.Overnight in Saigon.
Day 25 : Sai Gon – Departure ( B)
Today we have free time until transfer to airport for your flight to your home.
Tour Package Includes
+ Accommodation based on twin sharing occupancy
+ Water puppet show ticket in Hanoi
+ Meals as indicated in program,B=Breakfast,L=Lunch,D=Dinner
+ Private transfers serving throughout the tours with English or French speaking guide
+ All entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated in the program
+ Junk cruise in Halong bay,Nha Trang
+ Service charges, rooms tax and handling fees
+ All domestic flight tickets
Tour Package Excludes
+ Visa stamping fee
+ Travel assurance
+ Tips and gratuities
+ Personal expenses and other services which are not mentioned in the program.
+ International air tickets and airport departure taxes
+ Meals and drinks not mentioned in the program
+ One bottle of mineral water per person per day throughout the program !
+ Approval letter for single entry visa to Vietnam if requires !
+ Fresh tissue and some fruits while touring !
+ Tour can be modified,hotels changed to suit your tastes and budget
+ Minor program changes are sometime necessary, depending on road conditions and weather.