Passion Vietnam 15 Days 14 Nights
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HANOI (Meals: Dinner)
Arrive in Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam. The city was founded in 1010 on the right bank of the Red River and was then known as ‘Thang Long’, roughly translated as "Soaring Dragon." Hanoi is one of the most charming cities in South East Asia with its authentic street scenes, large shady avenues, numerous lakes, manicured gardens and well-preserved architecture. Transfer from Noi Bai airport to your hotel. Free evening.
DAY 2: HANOI (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The day is dedicated to a more in depth discovery of Hanoi beginning with a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum. This imposing monument, dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam, was constructed from marble and granite and takes the form of a stylized lotus (closed Mondays and Fridays). Located nearby is Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda, a symbol of Hanoi. Continue your tour with a visit to the ancient Taoist Temple of Quan Thanh, where lies the genie protector of the city (or Tran Quoc Pagoda located on the shores of Lake West). Next visit the Temple of Literature, or van Mieu, a structure dedicated to Confucius. Constructed in 1070, the compound soon became first Vietnam’s university. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, where you will have the opportunity to sample some regional delicacies.
In the early afternoon visit the renowned Museum of Ethnography (closed Mondays), which houses an interesting collection of artifacts relating to the mosaic of ethnic groups that inhabit Vietnam. Alternatively, visit the Museum of History (closed Mondays) which displays an array of exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the fight against French colonization. This afternoon’s touring will also provide the opportunity to see Hanoi’s famed old quarter from the seat of a cyclo. During your tour around the district you will see some of the areas original 36 streets which have always sold the same wares. Silver Street, Silk Street and Flower Street are just a few. During your adventure through this maze of streets you will see traditional ‘tube houses’, a style of architecture indigenous to this part of Hanoi. Next, visit the Temple of Jade at the centre of atmospheric Hoan Kiem Lake, otherwise known as the lake of ‘the restored sword’.
Finish, the city tour with a stop at the food market in Hang Be Street. This afternoon is free for a stroll along the boulevards of the old colonial quarter where you can view some of the best French architecture in South East Asia. In the evening, visit Hanoi’s water puppets theatre to attend a performance of the traditional show.
DAY 3: HANOI - HOA LU - OVERNIGHT TRAIN (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Depart Hanoi for Ninh Binh province and enjoy the drive through the luxurious vegetation of the Red River Delta. Continue on to Tam Coc and take a cruise up the river through karst hills and rice fields on a traditional boat, a photographer’s paradise. Sometimes referred to as ‘Halong Bay on land’, for some its beauty surpasses that of it’s coastal rival. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Continue your tour with a journey through bustling villages, rice paddies and some beautiful limestone rock formations. Arrive at Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam for 41 years under the Dinh and Le dynasties (between 968 and 980). Discover beautiful shrines dedicated to the Emperor Le Dinh, the first ruler to unify the country. Aside from this important historical site, this region is also worth a visit for its rolling hills and picturesque rocky landscapes. Return to Hanoi. After dinner in Hanoi, take the night train to Lao Cai.
DAY 4: LAO CAI - BAC HA - SA PA (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Arriving in Lao Cai in the early morning, begin your jeep exploration of this fascinating area with a visit to Bac Ha dye market, one of the most popular in the region. Held only on Sunday, the market is a focal point for many of the region’s ethnic groups. Groups such as the Flower H'mong, the Tay and the Thai come to trade wares such as silver jewelry and embroidered clothing. This spectacularly colourful market is justly well known for its many hand-made craft products. Lunch.
Depart Bac Ha for Sa Pa, en route visit the bridge of beauty "Cau Kieu" linking Vietnam and China before continuing. Arrive in Sa Pa late in the afternoon and enjoy some free time for exploration of this pretty hill station. At an altitude of 1650 metres, with a refreshing temperate climate, Sa Pa was founded by the French in an effort to escape the oppressive heat of summer in the coastal plains. Near the town is the imposing Mount Fan Si Pan (3143m), Vietnam’s highest peak. This region can indeed be called the roof of Indochina. Sa Pa itself is a town with a powerful draw for the regions inhabitants, many of them from ethnic minorities. Groups such as the H'mong, Red Zao , Tay and Dzay regularly visit the town. The town also retains some of its former colonial feel with many stately mansions set amongst the stunning mountain scenery. Finish your day with a tasty meal at a local restaurant.
- Option 1: Saturday: Replace Bac Ha market with a trip to Can Cau
- Option 2: Tuesday: Replace Bac Ha market with a trip to Coc Ly, where you can enjoy a cruise on the River Chay.
DAY 5: SA PA (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The day is devoted to a beautiful hike through the breathtaking scenery of Sa Pa valley. Start by road that descends in the wake of the street Cau May (6 km) En route, admire the rice terraces hidden behind mist of the morning, a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Follow a small track and cross the Muong Hoa River and pass well tended rice terraces on your way to the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai. Continuing through the colourful rice terraces you will reach the village of Ta Van Giay. As you continue your trek along the Muong Hoa River you will cross a small suspension bridge, roughly 2km from the settlement. Here you can discover a fascinating collection of rock carvings. These engravings depict some beautiful images of man, stilt houses and some beautiful decorative patterns. Lunch at a home in the village. Conclude your day’s trekking with a visit to the village of Giang Ta Chai. Return to Sa Pa.
DAY 6: SA PA / LAO CAI / HANOI (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Free day. You can visit the market daily Sa Pa where ethnic groups come to exchange their agricultural products or sell their traditional costumes facts carefully at the hands of women. Then you go to climb the mountain Ham Rong (Dragon jaw), where you can not miss the opportunity to take beautiful photos of the region. An interesting walk leads you to the theatre where you will have the opportunity to attend the spectacle of dancing five races of Sa Pa (optional for the group of over 10 persons).
In late afternoon, transfer to Lao Cai station Lao Cai. Dinner. Embarking on board the train to Hanoi (air-conditioned sleeper car, compartment 4 people to share). Overnight on board.
DAY 7: HANOI - HA LONG BAY (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Arrive in Hanoi at 5 am and transfer to the city for breakfast. Depart Hanoi early morning for the world famous Halong Bay, or bay of ‘the descending dragon’, a journey of approximately 3 1/2 hours. Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Ha Long Bay is a stunning limestone archipelago stretching over some 1500 square kilometers and comprising nearly 2000 islets. Board your junk for a memorable cruise through the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ gliding gently past fishing communities and hidden cave systems. Visit the ‘Cave of Surprises’, really a complex, where you can marvel at strangely formed stalactites and stalagmites.
After anchoring at a nearby beach you can go for a swim or climb to the top of Thien Cung (Heaven’s) island to get a panoramic view of the bay and surrounding islands. Delicious local seafood is served on board the boat, with other options available.
DAY 8: HA LONG BAY - HANOI – HUE (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
After breakfast, continue your journey cruise through the breathtaking scenery of Bai Tu Long Bay. After disembarking, return to Hanoi by road in time for lunch. Enjoy a free afternoon exploring the city on foot or simply relax with a drink at the edge of Hoan Kiem lake. In the late afternoon transfer to Noi Bai airport for your flight to Hue. On arrival in Hue, transfer to your hotel and check in.
DAY 9: HUE (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The day is spent discovering Hue, capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 during the reign of the Nguyen dynasty emperors. Declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993, the Citadel is only one of many well-preserved historical sites in the city and its environs. Cruise in a sampan on the Huong River (Perfume River) to Thien Mu Pagoda, or pagoda of the Heavenly Lady, a Buddhist shrine dating from the mid-seventeenth century.
Located on the banks of the Huong River, it is easily recognizable by its octagonal tower. Continue your tour with a visit to the Citadel, seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Construction began in 1804 under the orders of the first Emperor Gia Long after the site had been selected using principles of geomancy. The site is composed of three sections; the capital city (Thanh Kinh), the imperial city (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden City (Cam Thanh). It was largely destroyed in 1968 during the fighting that engulfed Hue following the Tet Offensive. Today, efforts are being made to restore and preserve this invaluable piece of heritage. Next, take a walk through Dong Ba market that offers an array of goods and produce, ranging from fresh vegetables to conical hats. Lunch at a local restaurant provides an opportunity to sample some of Hue’s famously refined cuisine.
In the afternoon visit the intricately decorated tomb of Khai Dinh, which contains a beautiful altar and a bust of the king. Next, visit Minh Mang’s mausoleum located on the left bank of the Huong River, which represents the perfect harmony between nature and architecture. Return to Hue.
DAY 10: HUE - HOI AN (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Depart Hue for Hoi An along Highway 1 which links Hanoi to Sai Gon. This drive is reputedly the most beautiful in all Vietnam, taking you past coastal fishing settlements, most notably Lang Co with its stunning lagoon backdrop. The drive also takes you over Hai Van Pass, or ‘pass of the ocean clouds’. En route stop in Da Nang for a visit to the informative Cham Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Cham artifacts in the world (optional). En route, stopping in a village of stone carvers at the foot of the Marble Mountain. Continue on to the delightful town of Hoi An which stands on the banks of the Thu Bon river, some thirty kilometers southeast of Da Nang. Around the fifteenth century, this old port town in the kingdom of Champa was known as Faifo. Check-in to hotel on arrival. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
The afternoon is spent strolling through the narrow streets of this atmospheric old town. This former port, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of architectural gems that show a range of influences. Visit the Japanese bridge, the temple of the genie of water, the Fujian temple and the fish market. Around the seventeenth century Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in South East Asia, with Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, French and English merchants visiting the town in search of spices, lacquer ware, and ceramics. Enriched by the proceeds of this trade many merchants constructed beautiful homes. One can admire these charming houses along Tran Phu Street, one of the oldest in Hoi An. Architecture in the old town tends to show an integration of Sino-Japanese influences in a local style. Most buildings share the same overall plan; built on two levels, they are constructed like a tube between two streets that run parallel. In the late afternoon take a boat ride on the Thu Bon River for the chance to view some beautiful rural scenery, finishing at around sunset.
DAY 11: HOI AN - DA NANG - SAI GON (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Transfer to the airport for your flight from Da Nang to Sai Gon. On arrival transfer and check in to your hotel. Begin your exploration of this frenetic city with lunch at a local restaurant. Not only is Sai Gon the most important economic centre in Vietnam, it also has some very imposing colonial architecture which belies in fascinating past. Almost a hundred years of French rule bestowed upon the city some pearls of colonial architecture. Visit the central post office, designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the Notre Dame Cathedral, inspired by its counterpart in Paris. Continue your city tour with a visit to District 5, formerly known as Cho Lon or China Town. Cho Lon, or ‘big market’, with its congested streets is where most of the city’s ethnic Chinese population live. The district lives up to its name in the form of Binh Tay wholesale market. Founded in 1778 the market sells a stunning array of goods and produce, ranging from fish to incense. Finish your city tour with a stop at Thien Hau temple, otherwise known as ‘Temple of the Heavenly Lady’, to marvel at its intricate friezes and coils of incense.
DAY 12: SAI GON - TAY NINH - CU CHI - SAI GON (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Excursion to Tay Ninh to visit the spectacular Cao Dai temple, the Cathedral of the religion of the same name. This sect, originating in Vietnam, draws freely from other philosophies of Christianity and Confucianism. The architecture of the cathedral is stunning, neither Eastern nor Western. You can attend the main ceremony at Noon (Remove your shoes before entering). Lunch at a local restaurant.
Continue to visit Cu Chi, where the Viet Cong confused the Americans through a miracle of primitive technology. The guerrillas escaped from their enemies through a maze of resistant bomb tunnels that span nearly 200 km. Most of these tunnels are too narrow for Western visitors, who usually, rapidly become claustrophobic. But a small portion of the labyrinth has been enlarged to give tourists a glimpse of the city underground Cu Chi. Back in Sai Gon at the end of the afternoon.
DAY 13: SAI GON - CAI BE - VINH LONG - CAN THO – MEKONG DELTA
Start early by road to Cai Be located 105 km south of Sai Gon. Now boarding a boat on the Mekong through the floating markets of Cai Be, where you can admire displays of fruits and vegetables. Explore islands, visiting factories where they prepared delicious sweets based small coconut, popcorns, rice cakes and so on. Lunch in a garden of bonsai or in an old house. You will enjoy the famous fish "elephant ear".
Continuation of visit by a small sampan ride through the shady canals to Vinh Long. You will cross over the parkway many small boats carrying fruits, vegetables, fish. Parkway in orchards, tasting tropical fruits. In late afternoon, transfer by road to Can Tho, an important rice in the Mekong Delta, known as the Capital of the West, located at the edge of Hau Giang, arm the southern Mekong. Dinner. At night, it is good to stroll on the docks Ninh Kieu, bordering the river.
DAY 14: CAN THO - SAI GON (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Parkway morning boat to the floating markets of Cai Rang, then continuation to the discovery of small channels through the islands covered with lush flora. Cycle the parkways and paths through orchards (optional), tasting tropical fruits. Lunch. Landing. Return to Sai Gon.
DAY 15: SAI GON - DEPARTURE (Meals: Breakfast)
Free day until departure. Enjoy a last stroll to admire the colonial architecture, visit the colourful markets or take a trip through the frenetic streets in a cyclo. Free until departure from hotel. Transfer to the airport for departure flight.
Trip cost included:
• Accommodation based on double sharing room with daily buffet breakfast.
• Meals indicated in the itinerary
• Transportation by A/C car as itinerary
• English speaking guide
• Entrance fees, boat trips & excursions
• 01 Bottle of pure water per pax per day (330 ml)/ 01 Cold tissue per pax per day
• Boat trip on Mekong River
• Domestic flight ticket
• Train ticket Hanoi - Sapa - Hanoi
• Reconfirmation of flight ticket
Trip cost excluded:
• Meals and drinks, except others mentioned
• International Flights, Airport tax, tipping and other personal expenses
• Visa stamping free upon arrival: 25 USD per person
HAVE A GREAT TRIP