This guided holiday give you the chance to see the best of Vietnam in an easy going small group, exploring the real Vietnam whilst staying in funky, centrally located, 3 star hotels. See all the main sights, at a leisurely pace with time to explore places which interest you or just to shop. Our friendly English speaking Vietnamese guide looks after you throughout while revealing to you the fabric of Vietnamese life, history and culture.
Ultimate Vietnam Tour
Tour Code: ULTI
Duration: 13 Days 12 Nights
Meals: as indicated
Day 1: Hanoi (D)
Today you are welcome to arrive in Hanoi at any time. On arrival your English speaking guide will meet you as you exit the arrivals area at Hanoi airport for the transfer to your hotel.
Late afternoon you’ll discover the bustling old quarter on a cyclo before dinner at a local restaurant for you to discover the cuisine and meet the rest of your tour group.
Day 2: Hanoi (B, L)
An early start this morning to bring you a unique and magical insight into Vietnam’s people on a “Good Morning Hanoi “tour. Hanoi’ites begin their day early with many taking part in exercise around the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. Your walking tour visits the lake where you will see residents enjoying Tai Chi, exercise and meditation. You’ll get to see the inner city ‘old quarter’ as its narrow streets begin to fill up with the bikes and people of Hanoi as their day starts – a fascinating look at two sides of the city and daily life
We then return to the hotel for breakfast and to freshen up. Then it’s on to visit the cities main historical sites including a photo stop outside Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and a visit to his house, where he preferred to live simply, which are splendid reminders of the great man who once led this country. Our last stop is to the Women’s Museum for an insight into the cultural beliefs of Vietnam including the role women play in Vietnam’s culture and its history and the traditional costumes of different ethnic communities.
We stop for lunch at KOTO–an opportunity for us to support a fantastic organisation, KOTO is a not-for-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.
Late afternoon and evening is at leisure – you may wish to visit the Temple of Literature (opposite KOTO) or simply explore Hanoi’s narrow streets and the fascinating old quarter – we recommend seeing the Water Puppet Theatre (not included) – a colorful form of traditional entertainment.
Day 3: Halong Bay (B, L, D)
Departing Hanoi this morning, we travel through rice fields and small towns to Halong Bay. Here we board a traditional junk boat for a boat trip through the magical seascape of Halong Bay which includes stops at various islands and caves.
For those who wish,time is spent anchored for a swim or optional kayaking is available (payable to your guide).
Overnight is on board your cruise boat in air-conditioned cabins with dinner on board.
Day 4: Halong Bay to Hue (B, D)
Awake to the sunrise over Halong Bay for breakfast on the cruise back to Halong by late morning, where we head back to Hanoi with a stop to visit a local village popular for embroidery and textile products.
Late afternoon arrive Hanoi for an early dinner before transferring to Hanoi airport for the evening flight to Hue. Transfer on arrival in Hue to your hotel.
Day 5: Hue (B, L)
Your tour begins with a boat trip along the beautiful river – Perfume River, to the Thien Mu Pagoda. Built more than 500 years ago the pagoda is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the country. Here you will see the vehicle that the monk Thich Quang Duc drove to Saigon in before committing his act of self-immolation in protest against the government in 1963.
Returning to Hue you will visit the World Heritage listed Citadel. This impressive edifice has a 10,000m circumference and is made up of three ramparts; Kinh Thanh (Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel) and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel). The main gate to Imperial Citadel is where the last king of Vietnam, Bao Dai, abdicated in August 30th, 1945.
Following your exploration of the Citadel you will enjoy lunch at a local pancake restaurant before a visit to the tomb of the Emperor Khai Dinh with its unique artwork and mosaics made from glass and ceramic fragments. During Khai Dinh’s reign many western influences began to seep into the country and this is evidenced by the mixture of Western and Asian architecture of his tomb.
Day 6: Hai Van Pass (B, D)
This morning we travel over the spectacular Hai Van Pass, once rated by National Geographic as one of the 50 ‘must-do’ journeys in the world. Stunning views await you of Lang Co Beach and out to the South China Sea as we take the winding mountain road.
Just after leaving Hue we make a brief stop at Duc Son Pagoda. Run by Buddhist Nun Thich Nu Minh Tu. The Temple not only gives shelter to disadvantaged children, including Orphans and the homeless, the nuns have also created favourable conditions for the children to attend classes and go on to higher education. A brief visit allows you to see the wonderful work and the temple.Active Asia supports causes around Asia including this orphanage.
Continuing on we traverse the spectacular Hai Van Pass with a photo stop at the top, and a stop at the location of China Beach, the famous TV series and home to the American forces R&R post during the war. Continue on to charming Hoi An.
During the 17th and 18th centuries Hoi An was a major Asian trading centre and is now one of the most popular places to visit in Vietnam with its charming cobblestone streets and old shop houses. A wonderful town for getting clothes tailor made or for buying art and souvenirs, Hoi An also boasts an excellent beach 5km from town, which can be reached by hiring a bicycle or grabbing a taxi.
Tonight experience some of the local specialties with dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7: Hoi An – My Son (B, L)
Today begins with a tour to My Son – these ancient ruins were the home to the Cham people and are perhaps the longest inhabited archaeological site in Indochina. From the 4th to the 14th century AD, the valley at Mỹ Sơn was a site of religious ceremony for kings of the ruling dynasties of Champa, as well as a burial place for Cham royalty and national heroes.
Back in Hoi An for lunch before a short walking tour introduces you to this ancient town’s old shop houses and the Japanese covered bridge. Late afternoon and evening is at leisure to enjoy this popular and magnificent town. Your guide is available to assist.
Day 8: Hoi An (B)
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy Hoi An. Shop, relax at the beach or beside the pool, enjoy the great local restaurants, get clothes tailor made or explore the ancient buildings.
NOTE: Optional activities are available including a half-day cooking class where you’ll get to learn all about the delicious Vietnamese cuisine and how to make popular dishes – or a cycle tour with your guide to the surrounding countryside, farms and home industries around Hoi An (payable to your guide).
Day 9: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) (B, D)
We then transfer to Danang Airport for the morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), on arrival transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Discover this vibrant city’s landmarks with a visit to the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral and the Ho Chi Minh Central Post Office, two major French colonial landmarks. Then visit the War Museum – a stark reminder of the US-Vietnam War. You will then visit a traditional medicine museum where you’ll discover the use of natural herbs and traditional medicines.
Tonight we head out for a street food tour of Saigon’s famous dishes, before enjoying dinner at a local BBQ restaurant.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) (B, L)
Today we head out of Saigon to visit the Cu Chi tunnels one of the few intact monuments to the Vietnam War. Beneath the ground lie 200km of underground tunnels, dug by hand and inhabited by the Viet Minh during the US war. A video of the tunnels in use is shown, before walking around the area to view some of the tunnels, field kitchens and hospital. Crawl inside and experience life in the tunnels if you wish!
On the return to Saigon visit a lacquer ware workshop to view how this intricate art work is made, and stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
Late afternoon and evening is at leisure for you to enjoy Saigon’s many cafes, restaurants and markets.
Day 11: Mekong Delta (B, L, D)
2-day Mekong Delta Tour. A visit to the Mekong is one of the best ways to experience rural life. Driving through beautiful agricultural areas to the Mekong offers a great glimpse into local life. At My Tho town we board our boat to explore some of the myriad of estuaries and islands including home based industries such as coconut candy making, orchards and bonsai gardens where we get to sample the wonderful array of fruit.
Back at our vehicle we transfer to Vinh Long where we board a boat to the home of a local family.
After arriving and checking in at the lodge, an optional bike ride for another chance to travel through the countryside.
TIP! You are welcome to pack a small bag and leave your main luggage at the hotel for your return.
Day 12: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) (B, D)
After breakfast a visit is made by boat to the Cai Rang floating market. The Mekong is a main tributary where the produce grown in the area is shipped and traded. Masses of boats ply their wares in the early morning by boat. Return to our coach late in the morning for the drive back to Saigon by road.
A farewell dinner tonight at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant, gives us the chance to share stories and celebrate our experiences.
Day 13: Farewell (B)
Sadly today is the end of your tour. We include a transfer to the airport for your outbound flight.
TIP! In Asia, tipping is recognition of service, although a minimum is expected.
We do ask you to be generous to your guide – the size of your tip shows your appreciation.
We ask a minimum of US$4.00 per person per day for your guide and US$2.00 per person per day for your driver(s); however feel free to recognize the job he/she has done on tour.
Includes: Private transfer, English speaking guide for whole tour, all accommodations include breakfast daily, meals as indicated, entrance fees, domestic flight tickets in tour, wet towel and mineral water.
Excludes: International tickets, visa, insurance, drinks, personal expenses and gratuities.
Please contact us for more details.