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This morning, we begin the day enjoying a filling breakfast at a training restaurant for disadvantaged Hanoi youth. Visit the famed Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum - the Mausoleum houses the remains of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of the unified Vietnam (the mausoleum and museum are closed in October-November).
Continue to the lush Mai Chau Valley where you'll stay in a rural lodge, the perfect base for exploration and learning about Vietnam's ethnic hill tribes. Options include a walking tour of the ethnic villages, cycling to the countryside, cooking class, rock climbing or kayaking at the Hoa Binh reservoir
Mai Chau has a population of around 47,500 encompassing various ethnic minority groups such as the White Thai, H'mong, Zao, Muong, Tay, Hoa and Viet. The Mai Chau hill tribe people are warm and welcoming, and famous for their quality handicrafts - in particular embroidering clothes.
Mai Chau offers a stunning vista of the lush, green Valley which is surrounded by stilt houses inhabited mainly by the White Thai ethnic group.
Return to Hanoi to explore Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) with a local guide and go on a cyclo tour of the Old Quarter. In the evening there is the option to attend a performance at the famous Water Puppet Theatre.
Travel by private bus to Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from emerald waters. It is one of the most scenic regions in Vietnam and has been nominated as one of the new 'Natural Wonders of the World'. On arrival in Halong Bay, board a junk boat, your home for the evening. This traditional wooden sailing boat offers a unique way of navigating the lime karsts of Halong Bay with all the comforts of a motorised, floating hotel. The boat crew will prepare an included seafood lunch and dinner to feast on.
All cabins are twin share and have an en-suite bathroom. The boat features an enclosed dining and sitting area and of course plenty of outside deck space to enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
After a light breakfast, continue to cruise around the bay to find more secluded areas to enjoy. Follow this with an early lunch, before returning to land and heading back to Hanoi. Later in the day, catch a short flight to Hue.
Founded as a royal city in 1687, Hue is the gateway to the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and remains one of Vietnam's major tourist attractions. This quiet city is widely known for the magnificent architecture of its citadel, royal tombs, pagodas and temples built under the Nguyen dynasty in a background of greenery on the banks of the Perfume River.
Early on the morning of day four, we meet our local guide and take a tour of the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. We follow this with a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of former Emperors by visiting one of the most impressive Royal Tombs.
Enjoy a scenic drive to Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and take a walking tour of the ancient town. On Day nine, dive into the oodles of noodles cooking class at a Planeterra supported culinary training school. Visit local markets to learn about noodles, then return to the school to cook lunch with the students. Day 10 is free to support a Planeterra project and spend an hour learning how to make your own traditional lantern and support local Vietnamese with chronic disabilities. Or visit local tailors, shop, or visit the nearby My Son ruins.
Next, you'll depart Hue by private bus for the scenic journey to Hoi An, via the Hai Van Pass, an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views of Lang Co Beach.
Enjoy a guided walking tour of Hoi An, a wonderful way to explore this small picturesque town. Strolling through the narrow winding streets of the ancient quarter, you will see the various Chinese Assembly Halls, Ancestral Homes, the Japanese Covered Bridge, and well-preserved Pagodas.
Ho Chi Minh City
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, legendary for the vital part they played during the Vietnam war. Tonight, spend the final night as a group reminiscing over your journey through Vietnam with an included dinner at a local restaurant.
On Day 12, head 80kms north west for our guided tour of the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War the local guerilla forces of the communist North, known as the Viet Cong, occupied an extensive network of tunnels totaling in excessive of 250kms throughout this region, fighting by night and hiding by day. The tunnels housed communication centers, headquarters, hospitals, storage depots and training centers. At Cu Chi you will experience the life of the Viet Cong soldier and even get the chance to crawl through one of the sections if you feel particularly adventurous.
During your free time you can take a tour by cyclo (rickshaw) to various sights around town. See Notre Dame Cathedral, Gustav Eiffel's Post Office, the Opera House, Rex Hotel, and town hall or you may wish to visit the War Remnants Museum or the Reunification Palace.
Ho Chi Minh City
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