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14 Days - The Vietnam Explorer

This program provides an in-depth look at Vietnam. Begin in Hanoi, the modern-day capital of Vietnam that still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shophouses invite exploration by cyclo, while it's many beautiful public spaces - lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments - give it an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Scenic Halong Bay, located on the South China Sea, is home to beautiful limestone islands and floating fishing villages, best explored aboard a traditional wooden boat. In Hue, history comes alive in it's many ancient temples, imperial buildings, and French-style edifices. From Hue traverse the spectacular Hai Van Pass to visit Danang, a coastal city of ancient origins which served as major U.S. air base during the war. The ancient town of Hoi An is a highlight of any visit to Vietnam. It's colorful shophouses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese, and Japanese traders. A different side of Vietnam can be seen with a visit to Nha Trang, the country's most beautiful resort town featuring miles of beautiful beach. Beyond seeing the sights, it is a wonderful place to soak in the atmosphere over cocktails in a beachfront bar or cafe. Nestled in the mountains is Dalat, a former colonial hill station with an abundance of colorful parks, lakes, gardens, and waterfalls. It's ever temperate climate has earned it the name of "City of Eternal Spring." We complete the journey in Saigon, Vietnam's largest city and a vibrant metropolis teeming with energy, activity and motion.

Day 01: Arrive Hanoi
Arrive at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport and transfer by sedan to your hotel in Hanoi.

Day 02: Hanoi
Full-day private tour of Hanoi City including a ride through the Old Quarter by cyclo (rickshaw). Visit the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House, Hoan Kiem Lake, and view colonial landmarks such as the Opera House and St. Joseph's Cathedral. A highlight today is a fun ride through the streets of the Old Quarter by cyclo. Finish the day by seeing a Water Puppet Show, a fantastic art form originating in Northern Vietnam but best seen in Hanoi. (breakfast).

Day 03: Halong Bay
Travel by sedan from Hanoi to picturesque Halong Bay. Upon arrival at the pier set sail for an overnight trip aboard a luxury traditional wooden junk, passing dramatic limestone islands and quiet fishing villages in the most scenic of settings. Pass the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, Oan Lagoon, Mat Quy (Monster Head) and Am Tich (Teapot) Islets and Vung Vieng fishing village. Visit the fishing village by row boat, then enjoy free time back on board for activities such as swimming, sunbathing, or a traditional massage. In the evening after dropping anchor is Happy Hour and a Vietnamese cooking demonstration followed by dinner. Lunch and dinner is served onboard the cruise. (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Day 04: Halong Bay - Hue
Greet the day with Tai Chi on the sundeck while tea and coffee are served. The boat weighs anchor to cruise through the bay passing beautiful spots like Trong (Drum), Trinh Nu (Virgin), then exploring Surprise Cave (Sung Sot). After lunch onboard disembark and return to Hanoi to catch your onward flight to Hue. (breakfast, dinner).

Day 05: Hue
Hue, located in central Vietnam, was established in the 17th century and served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. We start our exploration with a leisurely boat cruise down the Perfume River to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower and Hue's most widely recognizable monument. Cruising further into the countryside visit the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. Afterwards tour the Old Imperial City, where visits include the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Beijing. Sights here are the Flag Tower, Ngo Mon Gate, Dien Tho Residence where the Queen mother lived, Thai Hoa Palace, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns. (breakfast, lunch).

Day 06: Danang - Hoi An
Journey from Hue to Danang over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views of the coastline. Half-way between the two lies the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the dividing line between the climate zones of north and south. In Danang visit the Cham Museum, and pass Non Nuoc Beach, a famous spot for U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. Continue to Hoi An, with a visit to the Marble Mountains en route. (breakfast, dinner).

Day 07: Hoi An
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. As it is free to explore on foot, today is open to wander through the cobbled streets and take in the sights at your own pace. Visit the bustling central market and small harbor, pay a visit to Sa Huynh Museum featuring exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history, and cross the famous Japanese Covered Bridge. There are plenty of shops to explore, with a good selection of art stores and tailors. In the evening there are many excellent restaurants and bars to choose from. (breakfast).

Day 08: Nha Trang
Travel to Nha Trang, one of Vietnam's most beautiful beaches. From Hoi An drive to Danang Airport to catch your flight to Cam Ranh Bay, then transfer to your hotel in Nha Trang. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. (breakfast, dinner).

Day 09: Nha Trang
Explore Nha Trang, with visits to Po Nagar Cham Towers, Lang Son Pagoda, the French-gothic style Nha Trang Cathedral, and Bao Dai's Villas, former retreat of Vietnam's last emperor, set on three hills with brilliant views of the South China Sea, Nha Trang Bay, and Cau Da dock. (breakfast, lunch).
Day 10: Dalat. Travel overland to Dalat, a charming former colonial hill station. The balance of the afternoon is free. (breakfast, dinner).

Day 11: Dalat
The sightseeing program today starts with a stroll around the French District, whose atmosphere is reminiscent of a provincial town in France. Continue to whimsical Hang Nga Art Gallery, nicknamed "Crazy House" by the locals for the caves, giant spider webs and a concrete giraffe incorporated into the building's design. Other sights include Bao Dai's Summer Palace, the Flower Garden, and Cremmaillere Railway Station. Finish the day outside Dalat with a cable car ride over fields and scenic countryside to Truc Lam Pagoda, a boat ride around Tuyen Lam (Paradise) Lake, and a visit to Datanla Falls, one of the most naturally beautiful falls in the region. (breakfast).

Day 12: Saigon
Fly to Saigon, Vietnam's largest city. Tour the Reunification Palace, followed by a visits to the War Remnants Museum, Emperor of Jade Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Central Post Office. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall and old Opera House, and finish at central Ben Thanh Market. (breakfast).

Day 13: Saigon
Embark on an excursion to Tay Ninh, birthplace of the Cao Dai religion, an interesting fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and native Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. After a visit to the Cao Dai Great Temple, continue to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an important Vietcong base during the war. Walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the Vietcong, and even venture inside the tunnel if you choose. Return to Saigon in the late afternoon. (breakfast).

Day 14: Depart Saigon
Following breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Tan Son Nhat International Airport. (breakfast).

Our deluxe Vietnam tours are carefully designed to provide a unique experience in the destination, promote cultural understanding and exchange, flow smoothly from place to place, allow time for relaxation and exploration on your own, provide maximum value, and very importantly to be enjoyable. The itinerary can be modified to suit your tastes, time frame, budget, and special interests. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]

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