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Arriving in Hanoi, you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the tree-lined boulevards, French Indochinese architecture and tranquil lakes of this unique city. Overnight in Hanoi.
This morning, a city tour introduces you to the historical and cultural highlights of Hanoi. Visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and his former residence on stilts, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature as well as Quan Thanh Temple and Tran Quoc around West Lake. This afternoon, visit the museum of your choice: the Ethnology, Army or National Fine Arts Museum. Take a break from walking as you explore the bustling streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter by cyclo, a chauffeur-pedaled tricycle. Depending on availability, end your day with a water puppet show, a traditional art form unique to northern Vietnam. Overnight in Hanoi.
Morning drive to visit Hoa Lu which was the capital city of Vietnam under the Dinh Dynasty between 968 and 980 AD and ancient sanctuaries and tombs can still be seen today. Apart from the historical importance, the area is naturally beautiful, referred to many as the “dry Halong Bay,” with limestone peaks and fertile green valleys. After lunch, take the amzing boat trip to visit Trang An grottoes which is a gathering of 31 valleys, 50 cross-water caves, and home to 600 kinds of flora and over 200 kinds of fauna, many of them in the Red Book of Vietnam. While rowing through Trang An grotto in the quiet, fresh air of the highlands, with only the sound of birds and the oars stirring the clear water and surrounded by magnificent forested mountains upon which graze white goats, visitors enjoy a heaven on earth. Returning to Hanoi in the afternoon. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast, depart for Halong Bay and take in the lush scenery as you drive through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta. Upon arriving in Halong, board your boat. Lunch will be served as you cruise amongst the bay’s rock formations and unspoiled pockets. As the sun sets, enjoy dinner onboard and your boat will anchor in the bay for the night. Overnight on Halong Bay.
This morning, watch the sunrise from the deck and enjoy a full breakfast (or brunch) as your boat sails back to the harbor. Depending on the availability of time after disembarking, your guide will take you to Hanoi’s Old Quarter for you to enjoy some time at leisure or drive straight to Noi Bai Aiport for your short flight to Danang. Upon arrival a private vehicle will be waiting for you for the 40-minute drive to Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.
Today will be spent discovering Vietnam’s rich cultural and historical heritage. The morning begins with a visit to My Son, the capital and religious centre of the Champa Kingdom, and Tra Kieu (formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel) to view the Cham ruins and artifacts. This afternoon, a walking tour of Hoi An’s ancient town centre will take you back in time to when its was a major trading port in Asia. Visit old shophouses, the 400 year-old Japanese Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market in this well-preserved town. Overnight in Hoi An.
Enjoy this morning at leisure before leaving for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Driving through Danang, stop to visit the Cham Museum that houses the finest collection of Hindu-Cham sculptures in the world. Continue driving along the scenic coast of central Vietnam, first ascending the Pass of Ocean Clouds for panoramic views of the surroundings before descending to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. Overnight in Hue.
Begin your day with a boat trip on the romantic Perfume River. Explore Hue’s best-known religious site, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. This afternoon, visit the Mausoleum of Tu Duc, which was originally built as a palace retreat before becoming the Nguyen emperors’ final resting place. End the day at Khai Dinh’s Tomb which boasts a traditional Vietnamese design with a European touch, making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Overnight in Hue.
Today, fly to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly known as Saigon. Begin your sightseeing tour of HCMC at the bustling Chinese district of Cholon, and continue to FITO Museum, Vietnam’s first traditional medicine museum, and Ben Thanh Market to see the wide variety of goods for sale. This afternoon, depending on your preference, visit either the War Remnants Museum or History Museum, and the former Presidential Palace. Finish the day with a stroll around the city’s colonial architecture, including the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat). Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Pick up at your hotel and transfer to Can Tho. Boarding at Can Tho at Ninh Kieu pier. Welcome drink, introduction to the ship and crew, check into the cabins. Departure downstream of the Hau river. Lunch on board while en route.
Tour near Tra On floating market. Turning into Nicolai canal, towards the Mang Thit and Co Chien rivers. Rest on the upper deck in a scenery of rice fields, sugar cane, woods on the near banks.
Visit of a village on the banks of river Mang Thit, an opportunity to appreciate the way of life and hospitality of the local inhabitants. Visit of the orchard or rice fields nearby.
Boarding back, complimentary drink as a welcome back on board. Rest on the deck or around the bar enjoying the sunset. The crew will serve dinner while the Bassac is cruising Mang Thit river towards her anchorage point for the night. The Bassac sets anchor for the night on river Mang Thit.
06:30 Departure towards Cai Be. The passengers take their breakfast while enjoying the scenery on the banks. The Bassac crosses Co Chien river then branches into Cho Lach canal for 30 minutes through the traffic of sand and rice barges, in a scenery of fruit drying facilities and wooden ship building yards.
Arrival in Cai Be, check-out and boarding of a local boat for a tour of Cai Be floating market and handicraft.
Leaving the board at Cái Bè where a private car and guide await you for additional sightseeing and exploration in Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast, check out the hotel and head to Phan Thiet which is 200km northeast from Ho Chi Minh City and lies south of Cam Ranh Bay on the southernmost stretch of Central Vietnam. Once a part of the Cham Kingdom, it’s now a perfect stop for beach holidays, an unremarkable town with a reasonable beach, some decent hotels, and a very good golf course. In a nice setting with white sand beaches and coconut trees, the beach resort of Phan Thiet is also endowed with amazing spots such as sand dunes, natural lakes and astonishing red canyons. Phan Thiet still has sizeable populations of Cham and Raglai ethnic minority groups. The former are a part of the area’s Cham heritage. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel, free time at leisure. Overnight Phan Thiet
Days free to explore the area including the fishing village of Mui Ne which locates at the far end of the beach, the village and several hectares of massive rolling sand dunes make a pleasant diversion from relaxing on the beach, swimming and windsurfing. The village is worth a visit for three reasons – firstly, very few tourists go further than the dunes, secondly, the small harbor is picturesque (there’s an excellent view from where the dunes road turns off) and thirdly, there’s an interesting pagoda where followers of Vietnam’s whale cult hold services and store skeletons of the massive sea mammals. Overnight Phan Thiet
Free at leisure until we transfer you back to Ho Chi Minh (Sai Gon) for your departure.
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