Day 1: Depart for Vietnam
Flight departs for Hanoi, Vietnam.
Welcome to Hanoi, perhaps the most graceful, atmospheric and exotic capital city in Asia. Arrive at French Quarter and spend the afternoon on a guided walking tour where you will see many restored colonial buildings, government offices & embassies.
After breakfast explore the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. The motorbike-swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. The maze of rambling streets are framed by narrow front tube houses and we may have a chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offered by the pavement vendors. Our tour of the area is undertaken by a quintessentially Vietnamese experience from aboard a cyclo (rickshaw). Visit the Ba Dinh Square, home of the mausoleum built to honor Ho Chi Minh, a revered figure in Vietnam. Behind this impressive site and standing in stark contrast is Minh’s simple house that sits on stilts. Admire the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Take in the well-preserved traditional architecture at the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, founded in the early 11th century.
This morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay. The tour continues to Thien Cung Cave before returning to dock. Before returning to Hanoi we will visit Hoa Cuong Fishing Village.
Day 5: Hanoi/Ho Chi Ming City
Venture to the countryside to Ky Son village. Come to know life here as you embark on a stroll or a bike ride through the village. Next, learn about local culinary traditions during a cooking demonstration with a local chef before a lunch highlighting regional cuisine. En route to Duong Lam village, meet villagers and see their unique historic homes and communal places of worship. Enjoy a visit to the Mia Pagoda. Stop at the humble Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung temples, built by the locals in the 8th and 10th centuries to honor their kings. Fly to Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast take a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City, previously named Saigon. Visit the city’s central area, District 1 which features wide boulevards and French colonial architecture, including the cathedral Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City Square, Saigon Opera House, and the Reunification Palace, the city’s most prominent landmark. Visit the night market of Ben Thanh.
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast travel to the Cu Chi tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels below Ho Chi Minh City that connect to a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. These tunnels were expanded during the Vietnam War and used as refuge during that time. Return to the city and visit the Vietnam History Museum, Fine Arts Museum and the War Remnants Museum, which exhibits various war relics, fighter aircraft, and imagery of the Vietnam War. Next stop is the Bitexco Financial Tower, the tallest building in the city, where you will have spectacular views of the city from the Saigon SkyDeck. Enjoy some free time to explore the six floors of stores, a cinema complex, and restaurants.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast embark on a city tour and learn about the fascinating history that is immortalized in the ornate Buddhist temples and pagodas. This tour features stops at the Emperor Jade Pagoda, Ba Thien Hau Temple, and Giac Lam Pagoda, one of the old Pagoda’s in the city.
Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City/Mekong Delta
After breakfast depart for Mekong Delta. Arrive to Cai Be, where you will board a boat that takes you to the floating market! You will also visit a coconut candy & crispy rice cake factory. You will enjoy lunch with a local farmers in Tan Phong Island known for its fresh fruit. Spend the rest of the afternoon in small boats exploring the shallow canals of the island before traveling to Can Tho.
Day 10: Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast we board a boat and travel to the Cai Rang Floating market. During the visit you will have a chance to board the merchants boat. Return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy some free time for souvenir shopping. Sightseeing dinner cruise
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive to airport & check in for flight to the U.S.