Arrive in bustling Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. As passengers will be arriving at various times today, there are no planned activities. Some suggestions include: Taking a walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter – a maze of streets, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry. In the evening attend a performance at the famous Water Puppet Theatre. Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) or Ho Chi Minh’s 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). You will have a scheduled group meeting in the evening around 6pm. Please check at the reception desk or look for a G Adventures notice board with details of the actual meeting time. At this meeting your CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance, double check your Vietnam visa and complete some other paper work. Please note that most nationalities requires a visa to enter Vietnam, please double check this with your travel agent or local Vietnamese Embassy. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members. We overnight in the city center of Hanoi. Our hotel is located in an Old Quarter. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free-Wifi and computer terminals are available in the hotel.
This morning, we begin our day enjoying a filling breakfast at KOTOs. Meaning "Know One,Teach One", KOTO is a training restaurant for disadvantaged Hanoi youth. You'll dine in the knowledge that not only are you enjoying some of the most delicious food in town, but that your contribution is really making a difference to the future of these smiling young faces! Afterwards, leaving our main luggage at the hotel and taking only what we'll need for this evening, we 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, we board a junk boat, our 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 motorized, 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. Approx travel time: Private bus Hanoi to Halong Bay: 4 hours
After a light breakfast we continue to cruise around the Bay to finding more secluded areas to enjoy. We follow this with an early lunch, before returning to land and heading back to Hanoi. Later in the day we catch our short flight to Hue (**Please note that the Hue airport will be closed from April 1-December 31, 2013. As a result, all tours operating during this time will fly to Danang and then drive approx. 2 hours to reach 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 4, we meet our local guide and take a tour of the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. The Citadel was closely modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and was almost totally destroyed during the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. It is now being faithfully restored thanks to the generous funding by UNESCO. 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. Our hotel in Hue is located within walking distance of the many shops and restaurants in the downtown Hue area. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Wifi is also available. Approx travel time: Private bus from Halong Bay to Hanoi: 4 hours Flight from Hanoi to Hue: 1 hour Transfer from Hue Airport to hotel: 20 minutes (Please note that in peak periods we may be required to spend an extra night in Hanoi and catch an early flight to Hue on Day 4. This still allows a full day of sightseeing in Hue). Please note that the Hue airport will be closed from March 20-November 20, 2013. As a result, all tours operating during this time will fly to Danang and then drive approx. 2 hours to reach Hue.
We 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. Hoi An itself is a charming small town 30km south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look almost exactly as they did a century ago. More than perhaps any other place in Vietnam, it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. We undertake 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. During your time in Hoi An, you may like to visit a local tailor and be fitted for some very reasonably priced clothes. Alternatively, you can organise an optional day tour to My Son, a major Cham site around one hour outside of Hoi An. These historical ruins are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If all of this sounds too strenuous, you can always spend the day by the pool or head to the nearby Cua Dai beach, a flat bike ride away. During our stay in Hoi An we have the chance to test our cooking skills at a Vietnamese cooking school, and of course tasting the fruits of our labours afterwards. Approx travel time: Private Bus from Hue to Hoi An: 4 hours
A short early morning flight takes us to the Vietnamese beach resort of Nha Trang. The rest of your day is free - perhaps ride the longest cable car in Vietnam, head to the local hot mud springs for self indulgence or sit back and soak up some sun on the beautiful sandy beach. This evening we meet for a sunset cyclo ride through Nha Trang, perhaps followed by a seafood dinner at one of the town's sea front restaurants. On Day 9 we head out on a boat trip to explore the beautiful South China Sea. We head to a local island for a short walk to learn more about the life of local fishing families before re boarding our boat in time to enjoy a lunch of fresh seafood. The afternoon is made for relaxing. Swim from our boat, or choose to pull up to one of the many small beaches in the area. Our hotel is located just a block from the beach near shops and restaurants. The hotel has comfortable twin and double rooms with air conditioning. Approx travel time: Private bus to Danang Airport: 45 minutes Flight from Danang to Nha Trang: 45 minutes Transfer from Nha Trang Airport to Hotel: 30 minutes
Today we catch our flight to Ho Chi Minh City, discover the infectious energy of Vietnam’s biggest city that when known as Saigon, was once the capital of South Vietnam and remains the country’s commercial center. 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. We spend one night in Ho Chi Minh City. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel is well located in near the Benh Than Market, backpackers area, war remnant museum and within walking distance to all the French colonial buildings. Free wifi and computers are available in the lobby. Approx travel time: Transfer from Hotel to Nha Trang Airport: 30 minutes Flight from Nha Trang to HCMC: 40 minutes Transfer from HCMC Airport to Hotel: 1 hour
This morning we travel by private minivan south to the 'rice basket' of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta where we'll experience a different lifestyle from what we've seen elsewhere in Vietnam. We take a boat to further explore the intricate waterways whilst visiting small cottage industries, such as bee farming. We can stop along the way for you to try a local lunch, such as the local delicacy elephant fish. A short ride in a Xe Lam (tuk tuk) brings us to our local homestay, surrounded by fruit trees. Here you can relax in a hammock while sipping on a coconut and watch life on the river or take a bicycle around the area led by your local guide. Tonight, our hosts will prepare an included traditional southern Vietnamese dinner for you to feast. Our lodgings at the homestay are basic tonight. Our homestay will provide each person with a mattress, clean linen and mosquito nets. Approx travel time: Private bus from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta: 2-3 hours.
This morning we enjoy an included breakfast this morning before boarding a boat to My Tho harbour, from there we will travel by bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Arriving by midday feel free to explore the many sites you did not get the chance to see earlier. Try your hand at bargaining amongst the vendors of the Ben Thanh Market or hit the high end shops around the Opera House. Tonight we spend our final night as a group reminiscing over our journey through Vietnam with an included dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner you may want to enjoy a cocktail whilst viewing the city traffic from above at the iconic Rex Hotel. Approx travel time: Boat from Mekong Delta to My Tho harbour: 20 minutes My Tho harbour to Ho Chi Minh City: 2 hours
After breakfast on day 13, the tour ends and you are free to depart at any time. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEOs performance. We value your input into what we could improve to make this trip even better and of course love hearing about what we are already doing well! You will be sent a post tour email on your return with details on how to go in line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance.