Culture program - Vietnam
Vietnam at a Glance
Day 1: Arrive Hanoi, Vietnam
CHÀO MU'NG! Welcome to Vietnam and Hanoi! You are met on arrival at the Hanoi airport, and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore this is a vibrant metropolis, teeming with energy and activity.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi full day sightseeing (B)
Blending the modern with the mystery and charm of past centuries, Hanoi offers an air of elegance and harmony with nature. This morning's sightseeing begins with a visit to the Van Mieu or Temple of Literature. The temple dates back to 1070, and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius. Note the peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways; this is one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next, continue to the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, containing a museum and Ho Chi Minh's final resting place. See the Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where he lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Nearby, sitting in a lotus pond, view the miniature One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot. Made out of a single large tree trunk, it was originally constructed in 1040, and then rebuilt after destroyed by the French in 1954. Drive to West Lake in the center of the city, to see the beautiful 6th century Tran Quoc Temple. Midday, take a break for a light and local lunch featuring "Pho" (noodle soup) - a savory Hanoi specialty. In the afternoon, we pay a somber visit to the infamous Hoa Lo prison, built by the French colonists, to host Vietnamese political prisoners. During the Vietnamese War, it was used by the North Vietnam, and dubbed the "Hanoi Hilton" by American prisoners. Today, the only part of the prison still exists as a history museum. Next, enjoy a walking tour through Hanoi's Old Quarter - the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, highlighting more than 1000 years of history. Explore the network of narrow alleyways known as 'The 36 Streets." This is a wonderful place to watch the local life and purchase items from fabrics to crafts, to exotic medicines. Each street was named to reflect the specialized trade of the merchants - such as silk traders, jewelry, etc. Take a break at a local coffee shop to experience the popular Hanoi pastime of sipping coffee and watching life in the neighborhood. Your tour ends with a visit to the charming Buddhist Ngoc Son Temple, or Temple of the Jade Mountain. Walk across the painted red wood bridge to explore this center of peace and harmony.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 3: Hanoi to Halong (BL)
Today, drive to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a 1500 km2 area of picturesque islands shrouded in mist, floating villages and pearl fisheries. Take a relaxing four-hour boat excursion aboard a traditional Chinese-style wooden junk. Cruise on the emerald waters between dolomite islets and some of the 3,000 craggy limestone cliffs dotted with breathtaking caves and grottos. Sail by rock formations with such names as Stone Dog and Incense Burner (Dinh Huong), and stop to explore the Thien Cung or Sungsot Cave to view the beauty of the surreal and subterranean world of stalagmites and stalactites. A wonderful seafood lunch is included during your cruise of this mystical bay.
Overnight in Halong.
Day 4: Halong to Hue (B)
This morning, drive to Hanoi airport for your 1-hour flight to Hue.
This afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel, a vast 400-hectare complex built in 1800's, it was modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, with a 9.6 km wall and surrounding moat. Though it was destroyed through war, today you can still see the monuments to life during the 19th century Nguyen Dynasty. View the Flag Tower and the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, one of the tenentrances to the complex. In the spacious courtyard area, see the Dien Tho Palace (the Palace of Supreme Harmony) and Thai Hoa Palace (throne hall) where the Emperor would meet foreign rulers and other high-ranking dignitaries. Explore the heart of the Imperial City, site of the ‘Tu Cam Thanh' (Forbidden Purple City). Only members of the royal family, the Emperor's concubines, and trusted senior mandarins were allowed inside to these various palaces and the Emperor's private apartments. Then see the Thai Hoa Palace, Hall of Mandarins and see the original Nine Dynastic Urns. Your sightseeing tour ends with a visit to the large and popular local Dong Ba market, that sells local food dishes and the symbolic Vietnamese bamboo Phu Cam conic hats, called Non.
Overnight in Hue.
Day 5: Hue-Hoian (BL)
This morning, cruise by boat down the Perfume River to see the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda), an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower that has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. Visit the Tomb of Tu Duc. The longest reigning Vietnamese emperor, Tu Duc designed and built this elegant tomb during his lifetime, using it as a retreat for meditation, reading and theater performances. Stop at a local home, and enjoy a repast of local dishes with the family, then visit a village where they produce the trademark Vietnamese coco hats. In the afternoon continue by road to Hoian, stopping en route at a fishing village near Lang Co Beach, and at dramatic Hai Van Pass to admire the spectacular views. Hai Van is the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south of Vietnam. Before reaching Hoian, explore Danang: visit the Cham Museum, with the largest collection of Cham artwork and sculpture in the world, Marble Mountain, whose peaks represent the five elements of the universe. Passing the curving beaches and clear blue lagoons of the My Khe Beach (Danang), you arrive in the picturesque riverside town of Hoi An by late afternoon.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 6: Hoian at leisure (B)
Previously known as Faifo, Hoian was an ancient port town and is now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today is at leisure to relax or explore the village on your own. Hoian is one of the best places to discover the genuine Vietnamese architecture. Take a cyclo ride through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Quarter, and spend time mingling with the local vendors at the Hoian Market.
Overnight in Hoian.
Day 7: Hoian to Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta (B)
This morning it is a short drive to Danang airport for your morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). You are met upon arrival, and taken into the heart of the Mekong Delta (Ben tre) for a boat trip on the Mekong River. Cruise amid ageless scenes of rural Vietnam seeing farmers cultivating crops by hand and picturesque riverside structures built on bamboo stilts. Continue along the smaller waterways and canals, stopping at the Mekong River Island to visit the local orchards and cottage industries. Watch how the delta residents make traditional treats such as dried longyans, rice pancakes and puffed rice candies, natural honey and honey wine, and their famed coconut candy (Ben Tre)with a chance to sample the local delicacies.
Back to Ho Chi Minh City. Take a brief sightseeing tour to discover a city where colonial buildings and traditional temples stand beside the emerging modern skyline. See Chinatown and the Thien Hau Pagoda, dedicated to the sea goddess, and the 19th century Emperor of Jade (Taoist) Pagoda, full of elaborate deity carvings. Learn about Vietnam's recent history at Reunification Palace, formerly the South Vietnam's Independence Palace, until stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975. Drive along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), into heart of old colonial Saigon to reach the colorful Ben Thanh Market where you have time to explore the hundreds of stalls teeming with silks, spices and assorted souvenirs.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 8: Depart Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Your tour ends today with your transfer to the Ho Chi Minh City airport for your departing flight.