Grand Tour Viet Nam 15 Days
Day 01: Arrival in Ha Noi (-)
Welcome to Ha Noi - the historic capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. Set on the banks of the Red River, Ha Noi is brimming with French colonial architecture, historic and religious sights. There and plenty of beautiful lakes, exquisitely arranged to make it one of the most graceful and charming cities in South East Asia. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
(Note: normal check-in time for hotels is 14:00. Please advise us if you require an early check-in)
Overnight in Ha Noi
Day 02: Ha Noi – City Tour – Overnight Train to Lao Cai (B)
08:30 This morning, depart on a sightseeing tour of the charming capital city. We begin at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (view from outside), an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite. It is where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. Next it is the nearby One-Pillar Pagoda, dating back to 1049, and then Ho Chi Minh's stilt house, which is just a few steps away. Then it is on to the sixth century Tran Quoc Pagoda –with architecture that is harmonized with nature. The pagoda complements the beautiful scenery around the lake. Finally, we visit the Temple of Literature - the first University in Vietnam, founded in 1070.
In the afternoon, we visit the Museum of Ethnology (closed Monday) that offers extensive exhibits from Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minorities. Then we drive to Hoan Kiem Lake for a relaxing rickshaw ride (cyclo) through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - known as the ‘36 Streets’. The Old Quarter is a labyrinth of roads, alleyways and marketplaces, bustling with local activities. Return hotel to refresh before boarding
Overnight on train.
Day 03: Lao Cai – Local Market – Sapa (B)
06:00 Early arrival in Lao Cai, meet our guide and driver for breakfast before driving to visit Can Cau market on Saturday (recommended). This is one of the largest markets in the region. It is a place where many ethnic groups such as Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Phu La and Tay in their best traditional costumes gather for the market and festive activities. You can buy homemade handicrafts and clothes, enjoy local food and taste a very special wine that is made from corn. We leave the market at noon and drive on to Sapa.
(Note 1: The market visit depends on the market day: Ban Cam on Tuesday/ Cao Son on Wednesday/ Lung Khau Nhin on Thursday / Can Cau on Saturday/ Bac Ha on Sunday)
(Note 2: In Sapa you can opt for an extraordinary staying experience at the Topas Ecolodge – a secluded eco-lodge that is located right on a beautiful hilltop, deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park. Each of the lodge’s 25 bungalows offer you a magnificent panorama of the towering peaks and endless valleys dotted with ethnic minorities’ villages. 45 minutes driving from Sapa town, the Topas Ecolodge is an absolutely perfect hide-away for escaping the hustle and bustle of the town.
Should you would like to overnight here, please contact us for arrangement. Extra cost involved)
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 04: Sapa – Trekking to Lao Chai & Ta Van Village (B/L)
08:30 Set out off for a spectacular trek through the stunning scenery of the Sapa valleys to the hill-tribe villages. Follow a small track, cross the Muong Hoa River and pass the rice terraces hidden in the morning mist to the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai. Depending on your physical condition, you can skip this part and transfer straight to Lao Chai village. From here we continue our trek through the colorful rice terraces to reach the village of Ta Van - home of the Giay ethnic minority. Enjoy our picnic lunch some in the village. After lunch, you can choose to end the trip and return Sapa or to continue walking through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai, a Red Dao ethnic minority village. Take a rest and refresh your spirits at the nearby waterfall, then start climbing to the main road where our driver will be ready to take you back to Sapa. This evening, transfer back to Lao Cai train station to catch our overnight night train return Ha Noi.
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 05: Sapa – Trekking to Heaven Gate & Sin Chai Village – Overnight Train to Ha Noi (B/L)
08:30 our journeys today starts with a drive to the Heaven’s Gate for a marvelous views of Mount Fansipan - the highest peak of Indochina. The trek begins with a descent on a dirt trail through a bamboo forest. The trail offers beautiful views of the wild natural environment and Sin Chai valley. Stop to enjoy a riverside lunch before continuing the trek to Sin Chai village which is inhabited by the black Hmong minority. Afterwards, we drive back to Sapa to freshen up and then onto Lao Cai for a night train back to Ha Noi. (Note: Today’s trek is quite hard in some parts along a narrow trail through the forest. Especially the steep descent from the mountain so it is not recommended for unfit people or families travelling with young children).
Overnight in Sapa.
Day 06: Ha Noi – Ha Long – Overnight Cruise (B/L/D)
This morning a scenic drive takes us to the magnificent Halong Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On arrival, board our deluxe cruise for an overnight journey into the Bay. As the boat sets sail on the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, prepare your appetite for an enjoyable lunch on deck. Stop to visit the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into the daily life of the floating communities in the bay. During the cruise, there will be swimming and a chance to explore the area by kayak (extra cost involved). Enjoy the sunset over the bay from the sundeck while our boat weighs anchor for the night. Dine tonight on a scrumptious seafood dinner onboard.
Overnight on board
Day 07: Ha Long – Ha Noi – Fly to Hue (B)
Rise early to enjoy the gentle breezes of the bay. Enjoy the fresh air and greet the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck. As our boat weaves slowly through strange-shaped limestone rock formations making its way back towards the port, enjoy a wholesome brunch. There's time to explore a hidden grotto, famed for its stunning stalactites and stalagmites of all kinds before our disembarking at noon. Meet your guide and driver then transfer to Ha Noi Airport for the flight to Hue. Opt to visit a traditional pottery workshop en route (extra cost involved) or return to Ha Noi for a light dinner if your flight schedules late in the evening.
Overnight in Hue
Day 08: Hue – City Tour Full Day (B)
Established as the capital of unified Viet Nam in 1802, Hue was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. 08:30 Begin the day with a quick stop at Dong Ba market - a great example of a local Vietnamese market. Stroll around to see the daily marketing activities and. Then we depart for the Imperial Citadel and spend time exploring the monument complex. The buildings inside the enclosure were heavily damaged by carpet bombings and bullets during the Tet Offensive in 1969, especially the Forbidden Purple City. Many of them have been recently renovated but not yet finished. Continue your journey on to Khai Dinh and Tu Duc tombs for an insight into the final resting places of the Nguyen Emperors. We stop to make visits to Incense & Conical Hat making workshops en-route. As the sun slowly sets over the horizon, enjoy the view (weather permitting) from a boat cruising the Perfume River towards the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda. Hop off the boat and finish the day with a last visit through the pagoda. Return hotel.
Overnight in Hue
Day 09: Hue – Da Nang – Hoi An – Walking Tour Half Day (B)
08:30 take a scenic drive to Hoi An this morning, climbing up to the Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Ocean Clouds”). Stop en-route to witness the spectacular panorama of the fishing village of Lang Co on the way down. Continue our drive on to Hoi An, passing Da Nang City and stop again to visit the Marble Mountain & Linh Ung Pagoda. Arrive in Hoi An at noon, transfer you for lunch at a local restaurant (your own account).
14:00, We take a walking tour through the narrow streets of the ancient town visiting the Chinese Assembly Hall, the 200-year-old Tan Ky house, and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge. The tour will give you a glimpse of Hoi An’s prosperous past - a bustling international trading port dating back to 16th century. Today, Hoi An is a quiet riverside town, renowned for its quaint architecture, delicious fusion cuisine and excellent 24h tailor-made service. It is a world heritage site listed by UNESCO.
Overnight in Hoi An
Day 10: Hoi An – Cycling to Tra Que Herb Village (Cooking Demonstration) (B/L)
08:30 A delightful cycling and cooking tour on the rural outskirts of Hoi An town will reveal the secrets of Hoi An’s cuisine and its traditional gardening methods. This morning, we hop on our bikes and travel to the organic village of Tra Que which is named after a widely used sweet scented herb. Walk through the herb gardens, where we'll have the opportunity to interact with local farmers and join them in their daily gardening activities. Rest and enjoy a special herbal drink before we get to know how to make "Cao Lau" and "Tam Huu" for today lunch. Finish the cooking session, sit and enjoy your own creations, then a leisurely cycle back to hotel.
(Note: None-biking program can be arranged if required)
Overnight in Hoi An
Day 11: Free At Leisure (B)
Spend the day at leisure for relaxing or further activities at your own pace. You may wish to cycle to the countryside or take a rowboat journey along the river to the ceramic & pottery villages or simply laying back on the beach. More options are to street down and browse for some souvenirs or have yourself a suit with Hoi An ‘s excellent 24h tailor-made service, or visit one of the town’s museums, such as the Museum of Trade Ceramics, or chill out at one of the town’s fantastic riverside bars.
Overnight in Hoi An
Day 12: Hoi An – Da Nang – Fly to Ho Chi Minh City – City Tour Half Day (B)
The morning we leave Hoi An behind and fly to the bustling and dynamic city of Ho Chi Minh. The locals still prefer to call it Saigon. It is the economic hub of the country with a huge variety of things to see and do. Upon arrival, transfer you for a half day orientation tour of the city‘s fascinating sights, including the sobering War Remnants Museum, the historic Reunification Palace, once the symbol of the South Vietnamese government until a tank crashed through the main gate and put an end to Vietnam War, and some of the colonial-era landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Post Office. Finally we visit the iconic Ben Thanh market - one of the city's oldest landmarks. This bustling market is a great place to buy local handicrafts, branded goods, Vietnamese art and other souvenirs.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Cao Dai Temple & Cu Chi Tunnel Full Day (B/L)
08:30 enjoy a morning drive through typical southern Vietnamese countryside to Tay Ninh - home to the Cao Dai religion, a unique religion that combines Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and Confucius. Joan of Arc and Julius Cesar are also honored. Upon arrival, visit Cao Dai Great Temple - an ornately decorated building with dragon-wrapped pillars, seven-headed cobras and sky blue ceilings. The most interesting part of the visit is to watch the temple's noon prayers. It's a captivating moment. Following lunch, we travel via The Cu Chi Tunnels on the way back. This immense network of 250km underground maze was not only a secret hide-out of local guerillas to escape from American attacks, but also a strategic place to launch sudden ambushes. Upon arrival watch a short document film of the whole construction before seeing various weapons and mantraps on display. There'll be chance for us to actually crawl through a tunnel and get thrills. We return to Saigon late afternoon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh – Cai Be Boat Trip – Binh Tien Farm Stay (Mekong Delta) (B/L/D)
Leaving the city behind, we journey two hours to the Mekong Delta town of Cai Be where we embark on a traditional wooden boat for an enchanting cruise. The tour begins with a visit to a local floating market where you'll see local products hung on an offering pole in front of boats. Then our boat continues the cruise through a meandering network of lush back waterways, pausing en-route to visit some local home factories. We’ll disembark and watch villagers making traditional rice paper, pop rice and coconut candy. Then we hop on a bike for an 8km ride along narrow shady paths through some villages. After crossing the river on a ferry, we carry on cycling and visit a brick factory. Next, we head to a local ancient house for lunch of Mekong specialties. After lunch, relax and enjoy a leisurely rowing boat trip along small canals back to the boat. We cruise back to mainland where our vehicle will transfer us to Binh Tien Farm Stay.
There is no better way to experience the real living of local people in Mekong Delta than staying a night with the local family, Binh Tien Farm Stay offers you a chance to explore absolute non-touristy places, to see real daily activities of the local people and to enjoy local dishes as authentic as you can get.
We’ll arrive in Binh Tien Farm Stay at around 11:00 where the Host Family will greet you with hospitality, lovely smiles and a homemade herbal drink! After getting to know the Host Family, you can take a rest by the pond, watching ducks swinging and surfing over the water lily or go discover the luxuriant garden with many types of tropical fruit trees, vegetable and flowers.
Later, pick up your bike we’ll cycling around the village passing vegetable farms and a fish pole store to see the daily lives of local people. We go back to the farm and help the hostess pick up vegetables for dinner. She will show you how to cook the dishes, and the menu will be different everyday depending on which ingredients available in the garden at that time. Dinner is one of the best opportunity you’ll have to sit down and have an intimate chat with host family about their lives over cups of rice wine.
Overnight in Binh Tien Farm Stay
Day 15: Binh Tien Farm Stay – Ho Chi Minh – Departure (B)
This morning, rise early and join your hostess to the local market buying some fresh ingredients for daily meal. On the way to the market you may see some small kids crying for their parents on their first day at school in front of a kindergarten. Return the farm for breakfast. After breakfast you can either go fishing, collecting cassava fruit, or try planting/harvesting the rice crops (seasonal activities), or simply relax on one of the hammocks that scattered around the farm in peaceful atmosphere. Life couldn’t get much better!
10:00 we’ll check-out and say farewell to your friendly host family and then head back to Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll have chance to travel on a local transportation called “Daihatsu” – a mini truck that preferred by local merchandisers & pupils. Travel with a Daihatsu is not only a much funny & enjoyable way, but also a great idea to have a better experience into the local life. We return to Saigon at noon.
The rest of the day is free for leisure. Perhaps a last minute walk along the chic shops of Dong Khoi’s street until transferring to airport for onward flight. We wish you a pleasant journey ahead and hope to see you soon.
Note: Should you would like a day-use room before boarding your evening flight or to extend your trip to one of Vietnam s best beaches such as Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, please contact us for arrangement. (Extra cost involved.)
END OF PROGRAM