VIETNAM

Overland Highlights

16 days

Highlights include a water puppet show, an overnight stay on a Junk boat, kayaking on Halong Bay, a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, and discovery trips to Nha Trang Bay, Cu Chi Tunnels, Cao Dai Temple, the Mekong Delta and My Son - the holy land of the Cham people. Plus cyclo journeys through Hue and Hoi An, a local cooking class and dinners hosted by nuns in Dong Thuyen Pagoda and with a local family in their home in Dalat.

Day 1: ARRIVAL - HANOI

Upon arrival at Hanoi airport you will be met by our guide and transferred to your hotel

Day 2: HANOI

Begin with a morning discovery tour of Hanoi, a peaceful city with beautiful trees and lakes and a thousand years of history and culture. Traveling by cyclo to get the best overview of some of the most beautiful parts of the city, we'll visit the Old Quarter to observe the daily activities of local people, then drive over to the French Quarter to experience first hand why this city is often called "the Paris of the East". Then onto the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, Presidential Garden, the House on Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda before stopping by the Temple of Literature - the very centre of culture in Hanoi. In the afternoon, take in the Ethnology Museum, then back to the heart of Hanoi for a walking tour around the Old Quarter, by the local Markets and the always bustling narrow streets. The tour concludes with a wonderful water puppet show - a unique art of the Vietnamese people from the Red River Delta

Day 3: HANOI - HALONG BAY

A morning departure to Halong Bay through the Red River Delta and then transfer to the Indochina Sails boat to enjoy a welcome drink and check into your cabin. The picturesque Bay has almost 2,000 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. Enjoy a deluxe lunch and cruise to Titop Island where you can take a short trek to a nearby summit for panoramic views of the bay, go swimming on a quite beach or relax on the sundeck. Then onto the Bat Cave area where you can either take a kayaking trip to the nearby Bat Cave, lagoon and surrounding waters or visit the largest floating fishing village in Halong Bay and interact with local fishermen. Then tour the village before getting back on board to enjoy some pre-dinner cocktails by sunset. In the evening, you can watch a movie in the dining room or join the crew for some squid fishing

Day 4: HALONG - THO HA - HUE

Greet the day with some Tai Chi exercises and watch the sunrise over the bay. Coffee, tea and breakfast pastries will be served in the dining room before we cruise to the Surprise Cave area to explore one of the most beautiful Caves in Halong Bay featuring an awe inspiring collection of stalagmites and stalactites. Back to the boat for a final glimpse of Halong Bay while cruising to the dock with a set menu or buffet brunch served in the dining room. On the way back we visit Tho Ha - the village famous for it's pre 20th century terracotta products. Zigzag through Tho Ha's narrow alleys and explore the incredible old houses constructed from terracotta. Walk through the village cemetery to the dike, where you can take in a great view of the village over its lake, before driving to Noi Bai Airport for a flight to Hue

Day 5: HUE

A morning cyclo trip from our hotel over the famous Trang Tien bridge and through Dong Ba market will take us around the ancient citadel of Hue to absorb the rhythms of daily life and the architecture of this famous, picturesque town. At the gate of the Imperial Citadel we take to our feet for a walking tour of the inner area where the Nguyen Dynasty once ruled. This will take in the Flag Tower, Noon Gate, the Nine Dynastic Urns, the Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace and the Forbidden Purple City. In the afternoon we discover the impressive architecture of the Tu Duc Tomb and learn about its history. Then back to the hotel for some leisure time before a special vegetarian dinner with the nuns at Dong Thien Pagoda

Day 6: HUE - DANANG - HOI AN

Drive to Thien Mu pagoda, the symbol of Hue city and then take a walk around Kim Long Village where you can visit the original ancient houses of the former Mandarin and mingle with local people in the village. Then onto Danang where we visit the famous Cham Museum and its incredible selection of sandstone sculptures from the 4th to 13th centuries. Onward to China Beach before arriving at our final destination for the day, Hoi An, for a quick orientation walk to the town before settling into the hotel and relaxing with some free leisure time

Day 7: HOI AN

First we visit the Thang Loi Handicraft workshop where you can explore the traditional handicrafts of Hoi An, such as wood carving, mat weaving, lantern making, silk worm raising, spinning and weaving, table cloth making and embroidery. Then we begin our walking tour of Hoi An ancient town, from the secrets of small alleys to the typical, atmospheric Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street. Visit the Japanese Cover Bridge and drop by the most well known and authentic ancient house in town - Tan Ky. Then take a walk along the Nguyen Thai Hoc to the local market and the Phuc Kien Congressional Assembly Hall. You'll have some free time to explore and go shopping before heading off on a cyclo trip to Cam Nam Village, taking in the Cam Nam Bridge and the many sights along the Thu Bon River. Don't forget your camera as the scenery along the river bank is spectacular and much of the area is untouched by tourism. We conclude the cyclo trip at a beautiful canal covered by water coconut trees where we embark on the boat that will take us up the Thu Bon River and back to Hoi An in time for sunset

Day 8: HOI AN - MYSON - HOI AN

An early start takes us to My Son, the holy land of the Champa kingdom, to absorb the ancient atmosphere of this complex of nearly 70 different towers. My Son was recognised as a World Heritage listed cultural site in 2000 and you can find some of the most impressive brick sculptures in the world here and learn about the influences of Hinduism on the local culture. The afternoon is free for shopping and further discovery of Hoi An before attending a cooking class at Morning Glory Restaurant

Day 9: HOI AN - DANANG - NHA TRANG

Morning transfer to Danang Airport for the flight to Nha Trang - the dynamic ocean town beside one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Upon arrival at Nha Trang we check into the hotel and relax! The rest of the day is free leisure time to discover the town on your own or lounge on the idyllic beach

Day 10: NHA TRANG

We depart in the morning for an excursion to the stunning bay of Nha Trang. Our first stop is at Mun Island, one of the reserved islands in the area where you can spend time swimming, snorkeling or taking a ride on the glass-bottomed boat to explore the beautiful underwater life of the bay. Nha Trang is the best place in Vietnam for coral, various species of sea creatures and crystal blue water. Then we have lunch on Tam Island, relax on the beach or get active with some water sports like para-sailing, canoeing and jet-skiing. On the way back, we visit Tri Nguyen Aquarium and then back to town via the fishing village of Mieu Island

Day 11: NHA TRANG - DALAT

A morning drive to Dalat, the city of flowers, takes us right through the beautiful scenery of the highland. After checking into our hotel we take an orientation walk to the city centre, the market of Dalat and the famous XQ embroidery workshop

Day 12: DALAT

Drive to Robin Hill, then take a cable car to Thien Vien Truc Lam to soak in the panoramic views of the city. Explore Thien Vien Truc Lam, a centre of Buddhism in Vietnam, before driving back to the city for a short walk along Tran Hung Dao street, adorned with French Villas and renowned for its great atmosphere. For train enthusiasts, we'll stop by Dalat Station, one of the most beautiful train stations in South East Asia, where you can still see an original steam locomotive. Then onto Linh Phuoc pagoda and the vegetable farm nearby. In the evening you'll have the unique experience of a home hosted dinner with a local family in Dalat

Day 13: DALAT - SAIGON

Visit the Chicken village of the Lat people before driving to Lien Khuong airport to catch our flight to Saigon. Upon arrival we take a tour to Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post office. Then in the afternoon it's the Ngoc Hoang Pagoda, where hundreds of local people come to burn incense for good luck, prosperity and happiness. We finish off the day with a trip to the History Museum for an enlightening look at the 4000 year history of Vietnam

Day 14: TAY NINH AND CU CHI TUNNELS

Visit Tay Ninh - the headquarters of Cao Dai - the local religion fusing a combination of Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity and Buddhism. On arrival we take in the impressive holy temple of Caodaism, before attending the mid-day mass. After lunch in a local restaurant we drive to Cu Chi, the famous network of tunnels that were used as the base from which the Vietnamese mounted their Tet Offensive in 1968. The Cu Chi Tunnels consist of more than 250km of underground tunnels and the main axis system has many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters, and entrances to other tunnels

Day 15: CAI BE - VINH LONG

Start with a drive from Saigon to Cai Be, where we visit the Cao Dai Temple before embarking on another boat trip to the colourful Cai Be Floating Market. Then onto some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and the process for drying longans. After enjoying lunch at a superb villa in a luxuriant garden by the river, we cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep. On the way, you can observe the typical activities of Mekong Delta rural life and then we proceed to Vinh Long, passing beautiful landscapes along Dong Phu canal, Binh Hoa Phuoc and the An Binh islands famous for their fruit orchards. Stops on the way can be made at Tam Ho bonsai garden to taste the local tropical fruit and enjoy some authentic traditional music performed by local farmers. On the way back to Vinh Long, we'll visit the local brick and pottery factory, then back to the bus for our return to Saigon

Day 16: SAIGON - DEPARTURE

Free leisure time until transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your departure flight. Tour ends

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