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Insider's Vietnam

Vietnam, Southeast Asia

from $5,980* per person 17 Days March
Luxury accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Asia Transpacific Journeys 18 people max
  • Hanoi airport, vietnam
  • Active & Adventure trips
This in-depth journey captures the very essence of Vietnam. Down-to-earth rural, decadent dynastic and buzzing urban scenes combine with local-style locomotion and the most luxurious hotels in Vietnam for a dynamic, insightful examination of a nation striking a balance between communism, capitalism, Confucianism, bygone colonialism and feudalism. You'll experience it all at ground level, as you explore Viet Cong strongholds, temples, shrines, tribal markets, lavish tombs and ancient forbidden cities on this comprehensive Vietnam group trip.
VIETNAM GROUP TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

    Upscale resorts and boutique hotels in Vietnam
    Tour leadership by an expert on Asian culture
    Cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) tour of Hanoi
    Overnight train to the lush highlands of the North
    Cycling to remote villages to meet the Tay, Red Dao, Xa Pho and Hmong tribes
    Sea kayaking and overnight cruise in Halong Bay
    Dinner in graceful garden setting of private royal mansion
    River cruise on the Mekong Delta, with rural village stops

Locations visited/nearby

Vietnam, Southeast Asia

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1 testimonial about the provider, Asia Transpacific Journeys:

  • Reviewer:
    We had a superb time and it couldn't have gone more smoothly. We had excellent guides everywhere-they met us on schedule, they took great care of us and showed us the personality of their own counries. Thanks again for putting together a trip that gave us a lot of people contact. It was truly memorable!
    5

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Itinerary

Day 1 U.S./Hanoi
Depart the U.S. for Hanoi.

Day 2 Hanoi
Upon arrival in Hanoi, you’ll be met and transferred
to your historic hotel located in the heart
of Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter. Hanoi is a
serene city of lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant
parks and grand French architecture.
Your hotel, The Metropole, is an award-winning
French colonial hotel in the heart of Hanoi, near
Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera
House. Boasting a classical white façade, original
wrought iron detail, and a lush courtyard,
the hotel is one of the region’s few remaining of
its era, recently restored to its former glory. This
evening is at your leisure to relax and dine on
your own. Overnight Sofitel Metropole.

Day 3 Hanoi
After breakfast and an orientation meeting,
head out to explore beautiful Hanoi. Visit the
Confucian Temple of Literature, site of the first
university in Vietnam, and a serene spot in the
midst of this bustling city. Stop at a local market,
the beaux arts-style Opera House, the One
Pillar Pagoda, and lovely Quan Thanh Temple.
This afternoon enjoy lunch at a favorite restaurant.
Then visit the Ethnology Museum, then
take a cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) tour of Hanoi’s
colorful Old Quarter, with its narrow streets,
charming shops and unique architecture.
This evening attend a water puppet show,
an ancient Vietnamese form of entertainment
that enables the puppeteers to
control their marionettes by levers hidden
under the water. Skits generally enact
ancient folklore and legends that are
rural in origin, and the theme of water is
often present, as it defines so much of
Vietnam’s landscape. Enjoy a welcome
dinner tonight. Overnight Sofitel Metropole
(B,L,D)

Day 4 Hanoi/Overnight Train
Today enjoy a free day to wander the
shops, galleries, and boulevards of Hanoi,
the “Paris of the East.” A late check out
will be arranged so that you’ll have the
use of your room.
This evening after dinner, transfer to the
train station to board the restored Victoria
Express to Lao Cai (in the far north near
the Chinese border). This train offers
comfortable carriages, a restaurant car,
air-conditioning, wood paneling, oversized
windows, comfortable seats and ample
space for luggage. We’ll have dinner before
we board the train for our overnight journey.
Overnight on board the Victoria Express –
Superior Cabin (Please note that private cabins
aboard the Victoria Express may not be availbale.)
(B,D)
Some of your luggage may be left in Hanoi during
the Sapa and Halong Bay portion of this trip.

Day 5 Sapa/Bicycling
On arrival we will
transfer to a local
restaurant for
breakfast and then
take a full-day
bicycle trip into the
Sapa Valley, a place
of fantastic beauty,
with sculpted rice
paddies blanketing
the hillsides.
Glimpse the mistshrouded
slopes of
the Hoang Lien Son
Mountain Range and
perhaps the peak of
Mount Fansipan. We
will cycle into the
Sapa valley and experience the fantastic scenery
of mountains and rice paddy fields along the
way. Visit the Black Hmong village of Su Pan
and then continue mostly downhill to the Tay village
of Ban Ho, where we enjoy lunch and have
time to explore the village and take a swim in
the river. After lunch we can walk up to Red Dao
village of Nam Toong. Here we will visit the local
school and a Red Dao house. After exploring
Nam Toong we walk back to Ban Ho where our
transport is waiting to take us back to Sapa to
check into our luxury hotel, situated on a ridge
with magnificent views over the valley and surrounding
mountains. The evening is free to dine
on your own. Overnight Victoria Hotel (B,L)

Day 6 Sapa
Enjoy a free day to explore on own. Your Tour
Leader can suggest many wonderful options for
explorations, or simply choose to relax. Overnight
Victoria Hotel (B)

Day 7 Sapa/Overnight Train
This morning visit a local tribal market, one of
the smallest and most traditional markets in the
area. Flower Hmong, Tu Di, Tay and Giay ethnic
minorities come to buy and sell local products
such as produce, tools, and fabric for clothing.
After exploring the market, we will explore the
Black Dao village of Sin Lung Chai. We will head
back to Muong Khuong and have lunch in a local
restaurant. This afternoon we’ll have use of
Thien Hai Hotel in Lao Cai to freshen up before
boarding our overnight train back to Hanoi.
Overnight Victoria Express – Superior Cabin
(Private cabins may not be available.) (B,L,D)

Day 8 Halong Bay
On arrival in Hanoi this morning we’ll transfer to
the Flower Garden Hotel and have use of standard
rooms to freshen up and enjoy breakfast
before our 3-hour drive to famous and magnificent
Halong Bay for a 2 day/1 night cruise. At
Halong harbor, board a Chinese junk, a classic
refurbished wooden sailing ship. Set sail on a
join-in cruise through the limestone cliffs and
emerald waters of Halong Bay, giving you the
chance to take in the stunning scenery of this
UNESCO World Heritage site. While on board, you
will be served a sumptuous fresh seafood lunch.
There will be opportunities to swim and explore
the limestone caves by sea kayak. When the sun
sets, we will drop anchor for the night, near a
remote island. This classic junk has a lovely dining
room, bar, and private bedrooms with showers.
Overnight Paradise Junk (B,L,D)

Day 9 Halong Bay/ Hué
After breakfast, explore a new location by kayak
and then cruise back throughout the islands.
Enjoy lunch on board and arrive at the Halong
harbor around noon. Disembark and return to
Hanoi late this afternoon in time for your flight
to Hué, the last imperial capital of Vietnam.
Fly Hanoi to Hué. Transfer to our hotel, La
Residence. Perfectly located on the banks of the
Perfume River in the city center, this is Hué’s
premier address, the renovated 1910 Résidence
Supérieure de l’Annam colonial administrative
building. It features lovely French colonial
architecture and stylish, art deco-inspired decor.
Settle in and enjoy a relaxing evening on your
own. Overnight La Residence Hotel & Spa (B,L)

Day 10 Hué
This morning, depart on a private one-hour boat
trip up the Perfume River past some dreamy
countryside and charming scenes of Vietnamese
life to the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s
oldest and most beautiful Buddhist temples. In
one corner of the grounds, note the aged, pale
blue Morris automobile, which transported a
local monk to Saigon where he immolated himself
in 1963 in protest against the anti-Buddhist
laws of the Ngo Dinh Diem regime.
Continue on to the Imperial Citadel, and the
vast, ancient Forbidden Purple City, which was
heavily bombed during the 1968
Tet offensive. It has been largely
rebuilt and is immensely impressive,
providing insight into the
achievements and excesses of
feudal Vietnam. Around noon
we’ll stop for a lunch of Hué
specialties at Y Thao Garden,
which, in addition to outstanding
cuisine, is known for its collection
of ceramics and glassware.
We’ll continue our exploration
of the Royal Tombs. With their
vast, well tended botanical gardens, beautiful
open-air pavilions and numerous shrines, they
were built to provide the seven Nguyen Emperors
noble burials as well as comfortable after lives.
The tombs of Minh Mang and Tu Duc are the
most elegant, while that of unpopular Khai
Dinh is the most unusual. It features
extravagant French colonial influences—
reflective of his reign that
colluded with the French in the early
20th century—at the back-breaking
expense of the peasantry. Next visit
Dong Ba Market, one of the most
colorful in Asia. In one area a sea of
conical hats stretches as far as the
eye can see, while in others colorful
fabrics, fish vendors, and produce of
all descriptions delight the senses
This evening attend a private dinner in the
rich garden setting of Tha Om Garden House.
Overnight La Résidence Hotel & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 11 Danang/Hoi An
This morning, we’ll depart Hué for the drive
along the coast to the quaint town of Hoi An. On
the way, ascend Hai Van Pass (also known as
the Sea of Clouds), with its spectacular views
of the coast. Stop to visit a school and enjoy a
drink at Lang Co Beach.
Arrive in downtown Danang early this afternoon
and visit the open air Cham Museum. This small
museum displays an array of artifacts from the
Hindu kingdom of Champa, which began in the
second century in central Vietnam. Continuing
south, make a stop at China Beach (My Khe),
a former R&R spot for US soldiers, where you
will have lunch at the luxurious Furama Resort
around noon. Arrive in Hoi An, and enjoy a
walking tour of the town’s old district, an architectural
gem filled with narrow winding alleyways.
For hundreds of years this was the most
flourishing port in the country and attracted
traders and influences from China, Japan and
Europe. The town retains an old-world air, and
many ancient buildings remain intact; it is still
possible to wander here and imagine oneself
in another age. Highlights of our walk will
include the Japanese Covered Bridge, the local
produce market, Tang Ky House and the Fukhien
Association. The town is a haven for local artists
and there are galleries galore. Hoi An is well
known for its tailors, with over 60 shops in town
making custom fitted clothing for a fraction of
what it costs in the west. Check into our beachside
resort, Hoi An’s best, a new deluxe resort
in the French colonial quarter, right on the river.
Rooms combine modern flair with Asian design
elements. The evening is free to relax and dine
on your own. Overnight Life Resort (B,L)

Day 12 Hoi An/Cycling Countryside
Escape the masses today on a bicycle tour
through the surrounding countryside (optional).
Bike to Thanh Ha pottery village to visit a
ceramics workshop where artisans use age-old
techniques. Continue to Tra Que, an herb-growing
village, stopping en route to visit the tombs
of Japanese traders from centuries past. The
country road to Tra Que winds through rice paddies
and rural landscapes. At Tra Que see the
traditional gardening of herbs and vegetables.
This is a glimpse into rural life that few travelers
see. Return to Hoi An with the rest of the
afternoon free to explore and dine on your own.
Overnight Life Resort (B,L)

Day 13 Hoi An
Today is free to relax and explore on your own.
Overnight Life Resort (B)

Day 14 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Early this morning transfer to the airport. Fly
Danang to Ho
Chi Minh City
(the locals still
refer to it by its
former name,
Saigon). Upon
arrival, set out on
a city tour. Visit
the Reunification
Hall and the site
of the former
U.S. Embassy.
Then see the War
Remnant Museum,
the Notre Dame
Cathedral and
the General Post
Office, designed
by Gustave Eiffel
of Tower fame.
After lunch at the Indochine restaurant, walk
among the frenzied merchants of Cholon market,
and visit Thien Hau Pagoda, one of the most
celebrated temples in Saigon. This afternoon,
we’ll transfer to our hotel in the city center for
check-in and time to relax. We’ll reconvene for
dinner tonight at one of our favorite Saigon
restaurants. Our hotel, the Caravelle, one of
Saigon’s premier properties, superbly located
overlooking the Opera House, amidst a profusion
of shops and great local restaurants. You may
opt to end the day with a drink at the rooftop
bar of the Rex Hotel, where journalists would
congregate during the Vietnam War for “the Five
o’clock Follies” (official government briefings).
Overnight Caravelle Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 15 Mekong Delta/Saigon
This morning we’ll transfer 2.5 hours to our
Mekong Delta junk Cai Be Princess for a full
day’s excursion on the water. We’ll discover the
natural beauty and splendor of the Mekong.
We’ll stop to observe life in a typical Mekong
town, cruise through canals, and disembark to
explore the pristine and relatively unknown area
of Phu An hamlet by boat, foot and bicycle. We’ll
return to Saigon with enough time for a relaxing
evening and dinner on your own. Overnight
Caravelle Hotel (B,L)

Day 16 Cu Chi/Saigon
This morning after breakfast, we’ll travel to
the infamous Viet Cong stronghold at Cu Chi.
The hundreds of miles of underground tunnels
here often confounded American troops during
the Vietnam war. Sections are open to tourists
where you can climb in and get a feel for the
harsh conditions faced by the thousands of
Vietnamese who lived and fought in these tunnels.
This excursion provides amazing insight
into how the Vietnamese won the “American”
war. Return to Saigon, arriving in time for a free
afternoon and dinner on your own. Overnight
Caravelle Hotel (B,L)

Day 17 Home/Extend
This morning, transfer to the airport. Fly home,
or begin a private extension, perhaps to a sublime
beach in southern Thailand. (B)

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