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Junk boat cruising, Halong Bay
Hanoi – Halong Bay. Take a moment to picture in your mind some two thousand rugged karst islands dappled with lush vegetation seeming to float on top of pristine emerald coloured waters and you have the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. This morning a scenic drive will take us to this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will enjoy a junk boat cruise.
Based on traditional designs, these wonderful vessels combine oriental style with modern luxury. Soak up the panoramic views from the sundeck as the boat gently plies its course, opt for a swim in the divine waters or hop in a row boat for a visit to 'Dark & Bright Lagoon'. Tonight, there's a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served – delicious for even the pickiest of eaters!
Hidden grottoes, Halong Bay
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue. Wake up to the peaceful serenity of Halong Bay this morning, followed by a calming Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional Vietnamese massage. After exploring a hidden grotto beneath towering cliffs, we will sail to the port for our journey back to Hanoi.
Arriving back in the capital we will enjoy a cyclo (rickshaw) ride through the famous Old Quarter, made up of an complex maze of intertwining alleyways and backstreets lined with small houses, handicraft workshops and street food vendors, for a quintessential Vietnamese experience. Later its back to the hotel for some time to refresh and relax before heading to the trains station in the evening to board our overnight journey (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) to Hue on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line.
Imperial Hue - Cycling
Upon arrival to Hue we will make our way to the hotel for check-in and a hearty breakfast in preparation for the day ahead. Gearing up we will hop on our bikes for a cycle out to the old Imperial Citadel where we’ll discover the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin. We will then continue our bike ride 12 kilometres into the countryside to the eccentric Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings. Here we’ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. If time permits we will also cycle to Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the most iconic landmarks in Hue.
Road of the Ocean Clouds - Cycling
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Setting out in the early morning we will take to the back roads on our bikes, cycling past rice fields, small villages, colourful markets and fish farms en route to Thuan An Beach. Here we will cycle along the coastal road, taking in Cemetery City and a village famous for its fish sauce. After three hours of cycling we will arrive at Phuoc Tuong Pass where transport will be waiting to take us to Lang Co beach for lunch and some well-earned relaxation. After lunch we will continue on to Hai Van Pass by transfer, taking in amazing views with time for a photo stop. If you’d like to continue cycling we can hop back on our bikes and follow a coastal road into Hoi An.
The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a bygone era. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here. Upon arrival we will enjoy a short walking tour through its streets and in the evening will enjoy the ambience of the town.
Tra Que Village - Cycling
A bicycle ride into the countryside, will take us to a local farm in Tra Que village. Here, we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens by raking, sowing and watering greens. Later we will cook a lunch made up of local delicacies and will enjoy our culinary masterpiece while soaking up the clean air and country views. Cycling back to Hoi An in the afternoon we will make a stop at Nhat tomb and Ba Le well. Spend the rest of the day at your own leisure.
My Lai, Beach & Port - Cycling
Today we will venture off the beaten track on our bikes to discover the day-to-day life of the local people here. Passing through fishing villages, shrimp farms and rice paddy fields we will make our way to Bach Dang river pier, where we’ll board a cruise of the stunning Thu Bon River. Disembarking at Duyen Hai we will continue our journey by bike on back roads through Binh Minh, Binh Dao and Binh Trieu to Tam ky town where we will stop for lunch.
Later we will take a short bus ride to the Dung Quat Oil Refinery Area, travelling over dirt tracks and paved roads through the countryside passing through charming villages en route. We will continue on to Sa Ky Fishing Port My Khe Beach and My Lai, where we’ll pay our respects at a memorial dedicated to the villagers who lost their lives here during the Vietnam War. After visiting the memorial and a museum we will head back to Hoi An by bus.
Cruising the Mekong
Hoi An - Saigon. An early morning flight will take us to Saigon today, where we will then continue on to the Mekong Delta by road. Known as the ‘Rice bowl of Vietnam’, the Mekong Delta is brimming with rice paddy fields, colourful fruit orchards, enchanting villages and bustling floating markets. Travelling by sampan from Vinh Long, we will cruise downstream through a maze of waterways, witnessing the activity of everyday life along the way. Passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children playing in the water, we will stop to visit some of the local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Later we will enjoy lunch in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Mekong & Saigon
Can Tho - Saigon. This morning we will pay a visit to the colourful floating market of Cai Rang. Here vendors have their boats piled high with goods, from melons, pineapples and fresh greens, to sacks of rice and children’s toys. Browse, barter and admire the hundreds of brightly coloured boats lining the banks here before continuing back to Saigon by road.
Once called the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, old and new collide in this modern city as gleaming sky scrapers, glamorous restaurants and designer shops stand side-by-side with colonial era landmarks and post-war remnants. Here we will enjoy a walking tour of the city taking in some of Saigon’s most famous landmarks, including the impressive red-brick Neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, the central Post Office and the sobering War Remnants Museum. Spend the remainder of the evening at your own leisure – Saigon has plenty of fun to offer all ages!
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