Duration: 10 Days/9 Nights
Price from: $670
Experience the essence of Vietnam from Saigon to Hanoi: Saigon famed as the “Pearl of Far East”, amazing cruise in Mekong Delta, funny cooking class in Hoian. A collection of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites awaits you: walking around in Hoian Old Town and My Son site, historic citadel of Hue, incredible cruise in Cat Ba Island - Halong Bay. Relax with a meditation zen at pure atmosphere in Hue or leisure discovery with authentic landscapes in Mai Chau or Van Long.
Itinerary in brief:
Day 1: Saigon – Arrival
Day 2: Saigon – Discovery Tour
Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta Cruise
Day 4: Mekong Delta - Saigon – Danang – Hoian
Day 5: Hoian – My Son
Day 6: Hoian – Cooking Class – Cycling Tour
Day 7: Hoian – Danang – Hue
Day 8: Hue – Discovery
Day 9: Hue – ZEN meditation – Hanoi
Day 10: Hanoi - Mai Chau
Day 11: Mai Chau
Day 12: Mai Chau – Cuc Phuong National Park – Van Long
Day 13: Van Long - Cat Ba Island
Day 14: Cat Ba Island - Hanoi
Day 15: Hanoi – Departure
Day 1: Saigon – Arrival (-/-/-)
Welcome to Saigon, Vietnam !
You will be met and greeted by our local tour guide at Saigon International Airport, transfer to the hotel for check - in. The rest of the day is at leisure. Overnight in Saigon. Check - in time: 02:00 PM.
Day 2: Saigon – Discovery Tour (B/L/-)
AM: Discover Hochiminh city (formerly Saigon), the biggest economic center in the country: visit Opera house, Notre Dame cathedral, Post Office, War Remnants Museum, a lacquer workshop. Lunch at local restaurant.
PM: leisure time for your relaxation. Overnight in Saigon /Hochiminh city.
Optional: Saigon Food street tour by vespa in the evening to get inside the live of local people in Saigon.
Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta - Cai Be - Can Tho (B/L/D)
Today we leave behind the bustling city of Saigon for an incredible cruise on Mekong River to explore the Mekong Delta deeply by boat.
12:00 welcome on Bassac boat to enjoy 2 days/1 night cruise and discover the hidden treasures of Mekong Delta: cycling on small paths connecting hamlets, rice paddies and tropical fruit orchards, visiting local family industries and relaxing on the sun deck. Dinner and overnight aboard Bassac.
Day 4: Saigon – Mekong Delta (B/L/-)
Early morning wake up to witness the daily activities of local inhabitants while Bassac boat heads out to Cai Rang floating market.
Cai Rang floating market, the biggest in Mekong Delta, gathers all boats of traders to sell and buy tropical fruits from surrounding provinces. The most bustling time lasts from 07:00 AM to 09:00 AM where you can indulge into the real atmosphere of daily trading activities.
10:00 we say goodbye to the crew of Bassac boat at Ninh Kieu pier to join our car. Continue our journey to Binh Thuy ancient house to see the décor for “ The Lover” movie.
Drive back to Saigon Airport. Lunch at local restaurant on the way.
Fly to Danang
Meet on arrival at Danang Airport, transfer to Hoian for check in at the hotel. Leisure time. Overnight in Hoian.
Day 5: Hoian – My Son (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel,
Depart for My Son (60 km from Hoian). My Son was the royal city of Cham Empire between 4th – 16 centuries, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. My Son valley was the spiritual centre of the ancient Cham civilisation, in the same way as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobudur in Indonesia and Pagan in Myanmar. A religious sanctuary since the 4th century, its history is reflected in the temples and towers that remain. It is also the home of the Museum of Cham Sculpture, which records the development of the culture and history of the Cham people through their elaborate sculptures and carvings.
Drive back to Hoian for lunch.
After having lunch, discover Hoian ancient town, known to early Western merchants, the city was one of the major trading centers of Southeast Asia in the 16th century. Hoian has a distinctive Chinese atmosphere with low, tiled-roof houses and narrow streets. Many of the houses were constructed of rare timbers and decorated with lacquer panels engraved with Chinese characters and pillars carved with ornamental designs. Visit historic merchants and community houses, places of worship and Japanese covered bridge, Hoian central market. Accommodation in Hoian.
Day 6: Hoian – Cooking Class – Cruise on Thu Bon river – Tra Que village (B/L/-)
08:15 AM We start the day with a welcome drink at Hai Café (98 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An Ancient Town) - our meeting point.
Visit Hoi An’s colourful market, and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and learn about all the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson later.We board the Red Bridge boat for a leisurely cruise (25 minutes) along the Hoi An River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. This is a chance to view local river life, so make sure your camera is handy.On arrival, we explore the cooking school’s herb garden, before learning about some of Hoi An’s and Vietnam’s well-known dishes. The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours – the Red Bridge chefs first demonstrate each dish before we prepare the same dish ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration). After the lesson, we sit down and eat what we have cooked.
01:00 Enjoy a relaxing cruise back to Hoian old town.
Then ride a bike to Tra Que Village for its famous aromatic herbs which are necessary ingredients for cooking local specialty.
Back to the hotel for refreshment. Overnight in Hoian.
Day 7: Hoian – Danang – Hue (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel
We leave Hoian for Hue by passing Danang. Visit Marble mountain and Cham museum on the way. Lunch at local restaurant.
The scenic 2 hours and half drive via Hai Van (Cloud pass) offers spectacular views of mountains, the sea, idyllic beaches and villages. Check –in at the hotel. Leisure time for your relaxation. Overnight in Hue.
Day 8: Hue – Discovery (B/L/-)
Today we explore Hue, the former Royal city of the 13 ruling Nguyen dynasties: visit the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden city, Tu Duc King tomb, Minh Mang King tomb. Enjoy a boat trip on the Perfume River to discover Thien Mu pagoda, the wonderful architectural structures for religious worship in Hue.
Lunch at local restaurant. Accommodation in Hue.
Day 9: Hue Cycling – ZEN & Meditation – Hanoi (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel
08:30AM we ride a bike from the hotel for a special zen and meditation day to immerge and indulge into local atmosphere. You will find “Bliss in mind and body”, learn how to meditate and practice yoga:
Greetings and Qigong performance
- Introductions of architecture and the spiritual meaning
- Instruction of 4 movements of qigong
- Enjoy brown-rice tea, dried ginger jam after qigong lesson
- Watch instruction of meditation and experience meditation
- Discuss culture, meditation etc. with the owner
- Spiritual retreat before lunch, enjoy lunch
- Wash hands with herb cream and do walking meditation
14: 00 farewell to the zen house.
Continue our cycling in the rural area of Hue.
Afterward, transfer to Hue Airport for flight to Hanoi.
Meet on arrival at Hanoi Airport, transfer to the hotel for check in. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 10: Hanoi - Mai Chau (B/L/-)
Breakfast at the hotel
We leave behind the noisy capital of Hanoi for Mai Chau valley (150 km - 3h30 by car approximately)
Mai Chau is located in Hoa Binh province, approximately 150 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh. Many minorities, including the Thai ethnic group, live in Mai Chau. Stilt houses border both sides of the roads as you approach Mai Chau. The houses are quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished bamboo-slat floors. The kitchen is located in the center of the house; the cooking as well as the making of the colorful tho cam, the material used by Thai minority to make their clothes, takes place in the kitchen. The windows are large and decorated with patterns. Each house also has a pond to breed fish.
On the way, visit a local market - Luong Son which is not touristy, where you have local people trading their daily products.
Upon arrival, check in at the resort and have lunch there.
In the afternoon, hike toward small villages of Thai minority group with houses on stilt, ponds of fish and rice paddies.
Overnight in Mai Chau.
Day 11: Mai Chau – cycling (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel
AM: Ride a bike to explore the surrounding villages. Then back to the resort for lunch.
PM: Relax and rest. Overnight in Mai Chau.
Day 12: Mai Chau – Cuc Phuong – Van Long (B/L/-)
Depart for Cuc Phuong National Park.
Upon arrival, visit the Primate Relief and Turtle Rescue Center where you will discover the work done to save endangered animals in the area.
Departure for a hike through the splendid rainforest, where you will see ancient trees as well as limestone caves formerly inhabited by pre-historic people.
Then drive to Van Long for lunch at local restaurant.
Afterward, enjoy an amazing cruise to explore Van Long natural reserve for watching the wildlife.
Overnight in Van Long.
Day 13: Van Long - Hai Phong - Cat Ba Island (B/L/D)
Breakfast at hotel.
08:00am depart for Cat Ba Island (150 km east of Hanoi). We admire the scenic landscapes of Red River Delta while taking the national road N10 connecting Ninh Binh, Nam dinh, Thai Binh and Hai Phong provinces.
12:00 check in on Orchid Cruises, a luxury cruise at Got ferry pier and head out to Cat Ba Island. Enjoy lunch whilst cruising into limestones, small beaches and quiet Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island are less touristy than Halong Bay.
Relax on the beach or swimming in the clear water there. Dinner and overnight on board.
Day 14: Cat Ba Island – Hai Phong - Hanoi (B/-/-)
Early morning wake up and breath the fresh air from the sea. The nature is bucolic and idyllic with limestones and islets.
A Tai chi exercise on board helps you relax all senses of your body.
Enjoy a light breakfast while the cruise continues sailing in the bay.
11:00 disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
Upon arrival, explore Hoan Kiem lake and a short walk in the Hanoi Old quarter to observe the daily life of local people.
Attend a performance of water puppet show. Check in at the hotel. Leisure time. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 15: Hanoi – Departure (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel,
Leisure time until transfer to Hanoi International Airport for flight to go home. Tour ends. Check - out time: before 12h00.
Prices: from US$ 1468 per person.
Please contact our Tour Managers to book "Essence of Vietnam" today.
Airfares (Subject to change by the carrier without prior notice)
Domestic airfares & airport taxes Saigon – Danang/ Hue – Hanoi: US$ 230/ person Economy Class on Vietnam Airlines
Essence of Vietnam features luxury services at reasonable prices: charming hotels and resorts throughout Vietnam, fine dinning restaurants, personalized customer care and so on. We pay attention to small details to offer you wonderful moments of life memories while you are on holiday with us.
Please contact our Tour Managers to receive more assistance and advice today.
Mr and Mrs Kelton have just come back, and have come into the office and told us what a wonderful time they had. They were very impressed with all the arrangements that were made, and were particularly pleased with the standard of care they received, especially when Denise was ill.
They asked me to make special mention of their guide “Thomas” who looked after them in Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Sapa: all the guides were very good, but he in particular was very caring.
Thank you so very much for taking such good care of my clients: I hope to use your services again in the future!
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