Best of Vietnam 12 days

Best of Vietnam 12 days
Journeys: Hanoi - Millennium capital of VietnamNinh BinhHalong BayHueHoianHo Chi Minh cityMekong Delta
Duration: 12 days / 11 nights
Tour code: CLA01

This journey allows you to have a panoramic view of Vietnam from its northern to the south. It takes in many of nation’s main attractions: the millennium Capital of Hanoi, the ancient capital of Hoa Lu, Halong Bay, the ancient citadel of Hue, the charming town of Hoi An, Saigon or the capital of South Vietnam other times, the Mekong Delta.

Day 1

Hanoi arrival (30km - around 45 minute drive)

Arrival at Noi Bai Airport, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Today is free at your leisure to rest or explore your own the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
It is very nice to walk in the "quarter of 36 corporations" and get lost in the innumerable alleys of old Hanoi!
The old quarter was name "quarter of the 36 guilds" because each of its streets was (or  is still ) a craft cooperative, or guild. There are, for example, Hang Gai (Hemp Street), Hang Ga (Chicken Street), Hang Bac (Silver and Gold treet) and so on. This place, full of history, is a place of trade and commerce unique in South East Asia.
Overnight at hotel.
Day 2
Meals: B, L

Hanoi - city tour

Breakfast at hotel, start your journey to the highlights of Hanoi at the Ho Chi Minh Complex. This famous site contains the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum) is the centerpiece of the Ho Chi Minh Complex, consisting of the Mausoleum (closed every Monday and Friday), the Presidential Palace , the House on stilts, the One Pillar Pagoda. On foot, you go from one site to another by passing over this imposing rectangular square which allows you to step back in front of the impressive mausoleum.
Note: The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is usually closed for one month between September and December of each year when the remains of Ho Chi Minh are sent to Moscow for restoration. In this case, the visit of the Mausoleum of Uncle Ho is done only outside.
Next, head onward to the Temple of Literature, which is well known as the first university of Vietnam. Constructed in 1070, the gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a relaxing glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
For lunch, you are invited to discover one of the Hanoi specialties in a typical restaurant.
In the afternoon, you change the atmosphere by visiting the Museum of Ethnology (closed every Monday).
The Museum of Ethnology is certainly one of the most interesting in Vietnam. Created in November 1997 at the time of the Francophonie summit, it became a must-see attraction of Hanoi. Vietnam is a multi-nationality country with 54 ethnic groups. The Viet (Kinh) people account for 87% of the country’s population and mainly inhabit the Red River delta, the central coastal delta, the Mekong delta and major cities. The other 53 ethnic minority groups are scattered over mountain areas (covering two-thirds of the country’s territory) spreading from the North to the South.
We continue to visit the Restored Sword Lake (Hoan Kiem Lake) and Ngoc Son Temple.
Relive Hanoi of the 50s with a cyclo tour (Duration about 1h00). Allow the rhythm of the pedals, discover the buzzing alleys of the ‘36 streets’ area - a place with unique charm and incessant activity: craftsmen, shopkeepers, tinsmiths, jewelers, calligraphers, carpenters, rattan or leather, notice also vendors of fans, votive objects, lacquers, silks, mats, paper, pipes, etc.
Enjoy a water puppet show for a look at traditional performance art in Vietnam
Overnight at hotel in Hanoi
Day 3
Meals: B, L

Ha Noi - Van Long - Hoa Lu - Tam Coc (90 km, 2.5 hours’ drive)

After breakfast, take the road towards Ninh Binh. Upon arrival, you will begin exploring this area known ‘Halong on Land’ by a boat ride through caves at the Van Long eco-tourism area (1.5 hours).
Close to Cuc Phuong National Park, the Van Long Nature Reserve is a site of exceptional beauty, with its flooded rice paddies surrounded by limestone karst peaks. These are the same limestone karsts that you find in Halong Bay, as in the whole of this region, which giving rise to other name, ‘Halong on Land’. You visit the reserve on board a small bamboo boat, which a rower maneuver skillfully... with his feets.
Your relaxing boat ride on a peaceful river passing through the reserve offers an unreal landscape of rainforests and centuries-old mountains reflected in the water. Van Long also allows you to observe a number of exotic bird species in their natural habitat.
To discover one of the most beautiful regions of Vietnam in the greatest respect of the environment, we invite you to ride a bike, for an unforgettable stroll. You will be able to observe the local life and the work on the fields which evolve depending on the seasons.

Enjoy a Vietnamese lunch at local restaurant.
You will then visit Hoa Lu - the ancient capital of Dai Co Viet (former name of Vietnam) where the temples of Emperor Dinh and Emperor Le (> 1 hour) are located.
After visiting Hoa Lu, you go to the Tam Coc village where you will check in a hotel near the site of Tam Coc - Bich Dong, in order to refresh before a bike ride to discover the simple life of peasants and visit the Bich Dong pagoda.
Overnight at hotel in Tam Coc
Day 4
Meals: B, L, D

Ninh Binh – Halong bay (180km - 3,5 hour drive)

After an early breakfast at hotel, transfer to Halong passing through the beautiful landscapes of the Red River Delta.
Along the way, you will be able to observe Vietnamese country life: farmers working in the rice fields, buffaloes grazing along the road, bands of ducks, small towns with colorful houses and overloaded shops ...
Arrival in Ha Long around noon. On board your junk. You will be in your air-conditioned cabin equipped with a private bathroom (hot water, cold water, toilet). A lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself.
Halong Bay includes 2000 limestone islands and islets. Most of them  are uninhabited and pristine because of the stiffness of the peaks. This set creates a spectacular marine landscape to Halong Bay, which was listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site in  1994. According to Vietnamese legend, these peaks would have appeared after a dragon's tail beat in the sea to defend Vietnam against the Chinese invaders.
The cruise one night on board will be one of the unforgettable moments of your stay. You can swim from the boat and enjoy the meals prepared by the crew.
Overnight on board the boat in Halong Bay. We advise you to go to bed early to enjoy the magnificent scenery of sunrise over the Bay the next morning.
Day 5
Meals: B, L

Halong - Hanoi - flight to Hue (about 1 hour flight)

Depending on the season, you can enjoy an early morning bath before breakfast on board and admire the sunrise from the upper deck or from your cabin.
The vessel continue to cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards the port. A brunch will be served before disembarking your junk or lunch will be organized in a restaurant (depending on the program of the junk).
Return to Ha Noi. We transfer directly to the airport for flight to Hue.
Upon arrival at Phu Bai airport, the guide in Hue will pick you up, transfer to hotel for check in. Overnight at hotel in Hue.
Day 6
Meals: B, L

Hue - city tour

After breakfast at hotel, depart for a day of exploring the imperial city of Hue.
Begin your journey at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945 - Duration: 2 hours.

The citadel was built for 30 years from 1804 under the command of the first Emperor of Gia Long. It was a fortified town and consists of three parts: the capital city, the imperial city and the forbidden city, as well as more than 100 original architecture buildings spread over many sectors. The citadel was partly destroyed in 1968 during the Vietnam War, but many donations permitting nowadays to make revive this invaluable heritage.
For lunch, discover the traditional local cuisine
Afternoon, head onward to Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River.
Continue to former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds.
Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb designed in traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue.
Before heading back to your hotel take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market and pass many fantastic eating spots where visitors have a chance to sample some local delicacies.  Overnight at hotel in Hue.
Day 7
Meals: B, L

Hue - Hoi An

After enjoying breakfast, we take the coastal road to Hoi An over the scenic Hai Van Pass (120 kms - Duration: 3,5h). The peak of the pass lies perpetually shrouded in clouds.
Through Danang, you will visit the Cham Museum (1 hour) which contains the most beautiful collection of Cham sculptures in the world  - more than 300 original pieces dating from the 7th to the 15th century.
Arriving to Hoi An, we have a half-day to explore  Hoian ancient town, a former trading port that welcomed Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th and 18th centuries. Today Hoi An is famous for its restored architecture, homemade silk, expert tailors and delicious noodles and seafood.
Take a leisurely walking on pedestrian streets and visit Chua Ong Pagoda, dating back to 1653 and built in honour of the Chinese general Quan Cong, who is worshipped by many as a symbol of loyalty and justice.
Next stop at Phuc Kien Assembly Hall to see the Jinshang Temple, which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors. From there it’s a short walk to Tan Ky House, a 200 year old ancestral house and finally, stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. The beautifully built bridge doubles as a temple and is a major landmark of Hoi An.
Overnight at hotel in Hoian.
Day 8

Hoi An

Today you are free to relax or discover Hoian by yourself. You might like to take a boat ride with one of the local women across the Thu Bon River. Perhaps you would like to hire a bicycle and head off on a scenic ride to Cua Dai beach, about 4 km away. There's even the chance to improve your culinary skills with a Vietnamese cooking lesson.
Overnight at hotel in Hoian.
Day 9

Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh city

Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to dynamic Ho Chi Minh city.
Upon arrival, the guide in Ho Chi Minh city will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City is the most modern, lively and westernized city in Vietnam. The city was marked by various occupations of the colonial era. Because of its ideal geographical position, close to the Mekong river delta, Cambodia and Laos, it has always been a very commercial city and hardly ever sleeps.
Your discovery of the capital of the South cannot be made without a visit of the colonial structures: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall.
Then you go to the east of the city, where located the Chinatown of Cholon, to discover the area’s markets, shops and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda - dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Enjoy this unique, lively and colorful atmosphere.
Overnight at hotel in Saigon
Day 10

Ho Chi Minh city – Ben Tre - Ho Chi Minh city

In the morning, depart from your hotel and drive approximately two hours to Ben Tre –a gateway to the Mekong Delta.
Upon arrival in the town of Ben Tre, you will board a small boat. This trip provides a look at a wide variety of the life and scenery on Vietnam River from the peaceful Delta.  On the way you will see daily activities of local people along the river as fishing, water transfering…….. You will stop at brickwork to see how to make bricks in handy traditional style by printing and baking. Visit one of plenty of coconut processing workshops located along canal. Turn on natural scissors creeks where they look smaller and smaller to go to village. Take a walk to family workshop making sleepmats and enjoying some fruits.
You continue your discovery of the surroundings by bike, pass by green rice fields and vegetable plains to be able to touch on realy life and find out  about tropical culture from Peasants . Enjoy lunch at a riverside restaurant.
Afternoon, you take rowing-boat along water palm creek, then boat back to the Pier.  You will transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving in the late afternoon.
Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11

Ho Chi Minh city - departure

Free until transfer to the airport for your departure flight. Note that  hotel check-out time is 12 noon, and check-in time for international flights is usually minimum two hours prior to departure.
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