Arrive in bustling Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.Today is arrival day so no activities are planned.Look out for a Welcome Note in reception from your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) with details of your meeting,normally at 6pm, your first chance to meet the other families in your group. If you have time take a walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter – a maze of streets, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry.
This morning we take a Cyclo ride through the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter contains the original layout of Hanoi, before it began to sprawl outwards into the city it is today. We will 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 is closed October-November). This evening we take in a performance at the famous Water Puppet Theatre. Vietnamese food is one of the world’s most delightful of cuisines, enjoy some of the finest at Little Hanoi.
A 3-4 hour drive from Hanoi brings us to Halong Bay. Thousands of limestone islands rise dramatically from the waters of Halong Bay; further, these limestone karst formations are hollowed by intricate caves. Aboard a sailing junk, visit some of the islands and caves and perhaps take a swim at Tip Top Beach, followed by a peaceful night beneath the stars. In the morning continue the cruise to Man's Head Island and Tortoise Island and visit Luon cave by small bamboo boat. After an early lunch on board we head back to Hanoi with time for shopping or further sightseeing until the overnight train to Hue (approx 13hrs).
We arrive mid morning and will transfer to our hotel. Hue was once the imperial capital. We take a tour of the Citadel which also contains the Forbidden Purple City, modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. Badly destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968, a significant restoration project has occurred. A great idea in Hue is to take a trip into the countryside by car or better still motorbike.
On the morning of Day 6 we take a scenic drive to Hoi An. Driving past Lang Co Beach and over the Hai Van Pass.(approx 4 hours) The picturesque port town of Hoi An, once known as Faifo, was an important trading town with strong south Chinese influence and connections. Explore this living museum of a town including the Museum of History and Culture, the Tan Ky house, the Japanese bridge the Fujian Assembly Hall and lunch at a riverside restaurant to sample some of the local delicacies. Hoi An is also a shopping mecca for tourists in the region – tailors can produce virtually anything overnight – clothing, silk lanterns, lacquer ware and other crafts abound. And for sun worshipers,Cua Dai beach is 4kms from town.
A short flight takes us to Ho Chi Minh City, the sprawling metropolis that once was the capital of South Vietnam and remains the country’s commercial center. We take a short Cyclo tour passing some of the cities main sights stopping for some tradional Vietnamese food.You can also visit the Thien Hau and Giac Vien pagodas and stroll through the immense Benh Tan Market. Continue if you wish with a visit to Reunification Palace, the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975.Or better still leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and head to the Saigon Water Park.
Drive south of Saigon and the change of pace down in the Mekong Delta. Thousands of small islands and inlets are formed down here as the mighty Mekong river splinters up before reaching the South China Sea. A boat trip through floating markets and small villages shows a different side of Vietnamese life. Be amazed at how the locals rely on the Mekong for everything! We will spend the night in a small village down in the delta with a great chance to interact with the locals.
Return in the afternoon to Ho Chi Minh City for some last minute shopping before we have our last night dinner together.
Depart Ho Chi Minh City at any time on day 12.