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Classic Vietnam


9 days 8 nights

Code VCT02

Category Vietnam Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16
  • Difficulty Level 1
  • Trip Starts From Hanoi
  • Trip Ends At Saigon
  • Accommodation Hotels
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Hanoi Halong Bay Hoi An Hue Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Dates & Prices

Overview

Amazingly exotic and utterly tempting, Vietnam is a country of astounding natural beauty, authentic culture, rich architecture, and heritage and simple lifestyle. The trip begins from the modern capital city of Hanoi, which still clings to the charm and mystery of its glorious past. We take a boating excursion through some of the 1,600 islands and islets of Halong Bay that forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars.

We learn Vietnamese cooking; enjoy traditional massage in a riverside village near Hue and explore its old Imperial past; browse streets of colorful shops in the merchant town of Hoi Ann (a UNESCO world heritage site); and explore the Thu Bon river and visit the pottery and woodcarving villages in the floating market of Cai Be. At Ho Chi Minh City, you will be amazed to visit the mysterious Chu Chi tunnels, a military base never discovered by the Americans during the war.

The trip concludes in Ho Chi Minh City, the former capital of South Vietnam that has a vibe of a modern city but feels reminiscent of colonial times and the war.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 ~ Arrival in Hanoi

Upon arrival, meet your guide and driver after completing immigration and custom formalitie and transfer to the hotel.

The rest for the day is your to rest or explore. Those who arrive in time can take optional electric car trip, with occasional photo stops, to Hoan Kiem Lake, Quan Su Pagoda, Silk Road, Hanoi Railway Station and Hoa Lo Prison, and then the Opera House.

A home-cooked meal in Hanoi:
If time permits, you will have opportunity to enjoy the home cooked Vietnamese meal! Late afernoon, you will be taken to a house in Hanoi where a local family will welcome you. After introductions, sit down and enjoy the delicious traditional meal prepared by your host. The dishes are prepared using freshly handpicked ingredients. While you eat, engage on conversation with the host family and learn about their cuisine, traditions and customs. Listening to their personal stories will give you an intimate insight into their life. After dinner, move upstairs to the cozy living room to relax and talk some more. You even have the chance to enjoy some traditional music played for you by your host on handmade instruments. 

Meals : Dinner
Day 02 ~ Sightseeing of Hanoi and afternoon transfer to Halong

This morning we explore Hanoi, the modern-day capital of Vietnam that retains the glory of bygone centuries. We begin from Ho Chi Minh Stilt House, a simple two-room residence of Ho Chi Minh who lived here from 1958 until he passed away in 1969. The house is preserved in the same condition as used by him, and can be viewed through the windows only.

Next, we continue to the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius. With series of walled courtyards and elegant gateways, it's one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university.

Now, we stroll the Old Quarter, a fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop houses. It is also known as 'The 36 Streets,' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics to crafts to medicines and even tombstones. The area is a handicraft lover's paradise and an interesting place to explore local life.

In the afternoon, we are transferred by vehicle to Halong Bay, which is about a four-hour drive across 105 miles of Vietnamese countryside. The bay is known for its scenic ocean karst topography; it is certainly one of the natural wonders of the world.

Overnight at hotel in Halong Bay

Meals : Breakfast
Day 03 ~ Cruise Halong Bay. Afternoon, transfer to Hanoi airport and flight to Danang

This morning we go on cruise through the bay. The traditional boat is called the "junk." We will cruise through various rock formations, named such as Stone Dog, Incense Burner (Dinh Huong), Fighting Cock (Ga Choi), and have lunch on board along the way. At the core of the islets, there is a wonderful cave to visit as Thien Cung (Heavenly Residence Grotto).

We disembark at Halong pier and are transferred by our vehicle to the Noi Bai Airport for evening flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel in Hoi An. 

 

 

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 04 ~ Hoi An: Sightseeing in Hoi An with a boat trip on the Thu Bon River

The finely preserved merchant town of Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving center of traditional crafts and a shopper's paradise, best explored on foot.

Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the small harbor where colorfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a private house where members of the same family have lived for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the family chapels built by prominent merchants and official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese style Pagoda.

Then to Sa Huynh Museum, located near the Japanese Covered Bridge, that contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history. Visit, too, a handicraft workshop in Hoi An that produces local artifacts. Finally, we visit the Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. 

In the afternoon, we board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River, enjoying the unspoiled countryside and stopping to visit pottery and wood carving villages before returning to Hoi An harbor.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 05 ~ Travel by vehicle to Hue

After breakfast, we set off on the scenic mountainous roads with spectacular coastline views – it is about 100 miles that we cover in about four or five hours. Half way, we cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, which is a dividing line between the climatic zones of northern and southern Vietnam.

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. 

Visit the Old Imperial City: 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 km 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, including a visit to the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 06 ~ Hue:Vietnamese cooking lesson and sightseeing

First thing, we embark boat from Toa Kham Wharf to cruise on the Perfume River. We stop at Dong Ba Market to purchase supplies and preferred ingredients for our cooking class later in the day. We will also stop to visit the picturesque Thien Mu Pagoda. At Thuy Bieu Village, a walking tour can include a visit to the garden house; an ancient ancestral temple; and visits with local people. We visit the families who make their living by making incense or joss paper – sheets of paper and paper-crafts made into burnt offerings used in Asian religions. Finally, we arrive at Thuy Bieu restaurant for our Vietnamese cooking class. An experienced Vietnamese Chef will guide us in traditional preparations of Hue dishes, which will be our lunch today.

You can also bath your feet in medicinal herb-water, a traditional therapeutic practice, and enjoy foot massage by blind masseuses. (This cooking lesson is provided by Thuy Bieu Restaurant and the precise schedule is subject to change).

Imperial Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc:The Imperial Tomb of Tu Duc was designed and built by the longest reigning Vietnamese emperor,Tu Duc, during his lifetime, and was used as a retreat for meditation, reading and theatre performances. Take some time to soak in the tranquil atmosphere, and wander among the gracefully proportioned pavilions, courtyards and lotus ponds.

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
Day 07 ~ Flight to Saigaon (Ho Chi Minh City)

After breakfast, we are transferred to Hue Airport 13 miles away for our 90-minute flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

Our driver will get us to our hotel and, after freshening up, we head for the Cu Chi Tunnels, the hidden military installation never discovered by American forces. Stretching more then 200 kilometers, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard clay, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter, and weapons factories. We will learn about the day to day life of the Vietcong, witness the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.

Dinner cruise aboard the Bonsai Cruise: In the evening, we enjoy a dinner cruise on Saigon River. The boat is traditional wooden barge that floats along the Saigon River. We enjoy delicious international buffet, amidst the live entertainment and the passing scenery.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Day 08~ Saigon- Full day excursion to Cai Be Floating Market with a boat trip to Vinh Long

From Saigon, we drive three hours into the heart of the Mekong Delta to Cai Be. There we board one of the local boats to explore Cai Be Floating market, a lively market of fruit and vegetable barges with a picturesque Catholic cathedral on the riverside. We continue along smaller waterways and canals, stopping at the Mekong River Island to visit orchards and local cottage industries and watch delta residents make traditional treats such as dried longyans, rice pancakes and puffed rice candies, with the chance to sample the local delicacies. Disembark at Vinh Long and return to Saigon.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 09 ~ Saigon seeing and afternoon departure

This morning, a half day to explore Saigon, a vibrant metropolis that blends modern life with traditional history. The emerging modern skyline stands next to 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.

We begin the tour from the historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. We’ll see classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall, the Old Opera House, and the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and Post Office. We will visit Reunification Palace, formerly known as Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president. It was stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975, signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Then to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam-American War, including photographic exhibitions and a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Afterwards we drive to the historic center to visit Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas.

Afternoon, transfer to the airport.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • 8 nights hotel accommodation.
  • Daily breakfast
  • All ground transportation by a private vehicle with driver.
  • English speaking local guides
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • In-tour airfares (Hanoi-Hue and Hue to Saigon)
  • Daily supply of bottled water

Trip does not include

  • Vietnam visa.
  • International return airfare to Vietnam.
  • Lunch and dinner
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, internet usage and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Travel insurance

Note on Itinerary

Tour programs are very much set and we do our best to adhere to the itinerary, but the sights listed should be taken as a general guideline that, given local circumstances, might differ in sequence or substance on a given day. You will be provided final trip dossier about seven or eight weeks prior the travel date.

Trip Activity Level

This trip is basically motor vehicle-based sightseeing with some boatingp excursions and some long days driving. Road conditions vary, but generally they are paved. Sightseeing or excursions usually start in the mid-morning, and you will be back to the hotel by late afternoon. The trip does not involve any serious hiking or physical challenges, and so travelers with generally good health conditions can enjoy the trip. Still, the fitter you are, the better you can enjoy the trip.

Hotels.

We offer two category of hotels-superior (4 star) and deluxe (5 star ) where possible and the best available where there are limited coices. Our preferred hotels ensure adequate amenities and facilities. You will have private bathrooms with running hot and cold water. 

Tour Guides

All tour guides are local and they change when you fly from one city to the other. They are local people with college degrees, government certifications, and experience with and knowledge of the destinations, their history, culture and reion. Our guides are, just as importantly, easy-going, detailed oriented, patient, and committed to a high level of customer service. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations that you would never find on your own, and make sure your tour unfolds without a hitch. Your guide will also deal with the bureaucracy and passport or permit control, carry all necessary documents and vouchers, and stay alert to road and weather conditions.

Vehicle

We use clean reliable, comfortable vehicles for all transfers and tours, often the Toyota Hiace microbus (capacity 8-9 persons) and Toyota Coaster Bus (capacity up to 20 persons); depending on group size, we might also use Japanese-made sedans, SUVs or minivans. We provide separate drivers and guides. Our drivers might speak little or no English, but they know the roads and are, in a pinch, mechanically skillful.

International and Internal Flights

The trip starts in Hanoi and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You can make your own arrangement or ask us for help. All internal airfares within Vietanm are taken care of by us and already included in the trip.

Passport and Visa

Your passport must be valid at least for six more months when you return home and make sure you have minimum 2 blank visa pages. You need to obtain Vietnam visa before the trip starts but now it's simple. US citizens now can apply electronic visa online. For information on application for evisa, please, visit the following official website of Vietamese government.

Vietnam eVisa

Booking Deposit and payment schedule

US$ 300 that can be paid by major credit cards or PayPal is requested at the time of booking. Balance payment is due before 90 days prior departure. Balance payment on credit card attracts additional 3.5% fee. During the tourist season, some hotels may request deposit to secure the booking and in that case, we will notify you and request for the second part payment before the deadline for the final payment.

Cancellation 

  • 180 days prior departure: No penalty unless stated as non-refundable.
  • 90 days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 300 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%

Cancellation and refund of air tickets cost will be as per rules and regulations of the concerned airlines plus a service charge of US$ 25 per segment will be levied. Cancellation terms and conditions of certain services may vary which will be informed per case to case basis. 

No refund or adjustment to other services will be made for any unused land or air services for any reason whatsoever, once tour begins. We highly recommend that all travelers purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Accomodation

Superior

Hanoi: Flower Garden or Adamas Hanoi

Halong: Royal Lptus or Halong Palace

Hue:Romance or Mooonlight Hotel

Hoi An:Hoi An Silk Village or EMM

Saigon:Muong Thanh Sai Gon Centre or Harmony

Deluxe

Hanoi:Hilton Hanoi or Nikko

Halong:Wyndham Legend Halong

Hue:Imperial or Indochine Palace

Hoi An:Sunrise Premium or Boutique Hoi An

Saigon:Equatorial or Rennaisance Riverside

Note: Hotels listed above are our preferred properties and are subject to availability.

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