VN - T 13: THE COLONIAL ERA, 14 days (L)

Saigon - Dalat – Nha Trang – Hoi An - Danang - Hue - Hanoi – Dien Bien Phu


Day 1              Saigon


Arrival in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City): meet on arrival at the airport, transfer to the hotel and free at leisure

Overnight in Saigon


Day 2              Saigon


After breakfast, sightseeing in Saigon and Cholon (Chinatown)

Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, with the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life visible everywhere. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, City Hall, Opera House, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Pagoda by cyclo and Giam Lam Pagoda.

Overnight in Saigon


Sightseeing in Saigon:


NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL: built between 1877 and 1883, it is set in the heart of Saigon's government quarter. It has a neo-Romanesque form and two high square towers, tipped with iron spires. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary.


CENTRAL POST OFFICE: a French-style building with a glass canopy and iron frame, situated next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam.


CITY HALL: completed in 1908, also known as “Hotel de Ville”, and located at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With its ornate gingerbread facade it looks like the town hall of a French town. (May be viewed from the outside only).


WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM: collections of weapons and photographs from two Indochina wars are exhibited along with the original French 'Guillotine' brought here in the early 20th century.


BEN THANH MARKET: the central market of Saigon, its surrounding streets make up one of the city's liveliest areas. Everything commonly eaten, worn or used by the average resident of Saigon is available here.


BINH TAY MARKET: Cholon's main marketplace, much of the business conducted here is wholesale.


THIEN HAU PAGODA: built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. The pagoda is one of the most active in Cholon and is dedicated to Thien Hau. It is said that she can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to wherever she pleases. Sightseeing in Cholon (Chinatown) by cyclo


CHOLON: this is the huge Chinese neighborhood to the west of the city in District 5. Cholon means 'Big Market', a good indication of the importance the Chinese have traditionally played in Vietnam's economy.


BINH TAY MARKET: Cholon's main marketplace, much of the business conducted here is wholesale.


THIEN HAU PAGODA: built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. The pagoda is one of the most active in Cholon and is dedicated to Thien Hau. It is said that she can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to wherever she pleases. There are street markets, sidewalk cafes, and sleek new bars. The city churns and bubbles. Yet within this teeming metropolis are 300 years of timeless traditions and the beauty of an ancient culture. To the west of the city is District 5, the huge Chinese neighborhood called Cholon, which means 'Big Market'.


Day 3              Saigon


After breakfast at the hotel, excursion to My Tho with boat trip on the Mekong - MY THO: capital of Tien Giang Province. The economy is based on fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, longans, and citrus fruit. Enjoy the boat ride on the Mekong River and visit to an orchard on an Island with a stop at the Vinh Trang Pagoda.

Overnight in Saigon


MY THO: capital of Tien Giang Province. The economy is based on fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, longans and citrus fruit.


MEKONG DELTA: this is the southernmost region of Vietnam, formed by sediment deposited by the Mekong River. Silt deposits extend the delta shoreline at the mouth of the river by as much as 79m per year. The area is known as Vietnam's 'bread basket' and produces the rice, which feeds the entire country. Visit one or two of the islands with traditional handcrafts, bee farms and coconut candy production.


DRAGON ISLAND: the island has many longan orchards, which can be visited and the lush, palm fringed shores of the island are lined with wooden fishing boats.


PHOENIX ISLAND: until his imprisonment and the consequent dispersion of his flock, the coconut Monk (Ong Dao Dua) led a small community on this island.


VINH TRANG PAGODA: a beautiful and well-maintained sanctuary, this is the oldest pagoda in the delta. The charitable monks here provide a home to orphans, disabled and other needy children.


Day 4              Saigon – Dalat


After breakfast at the hotel, by vehicle from Saigon to Dalat. Arrival in Dalat, continue sightseeing in Dalat. Dalat is in a temperate region dotted with lakes, waterfalls, evergreen forests and gardens. It is by far Vietnam's most popular honeymoon spot.

Overnight in Dalat


Sightseeing in Dalat:


XUAN HUONG LAKE: this manmade lake is located in the center of Dalat and circumnavigated by a pedestrian path. The majestic hilltop Palace Hotel overlooks the lake from the south.


HANG NGA ART GALLERY: nicknamed the 'Crazy House' by locals, this guesthouse, café and art gallery is run by the gallery's designer, Mrs. Dang Viet Nga, who lived in Moscow for 14 years. The architecture of the place is undeniably unique, with whimsical touches such as caves, giant spider webs, and a concrete giraffe.


FRENCH DISTRICT: a small delightful area for strolling, reminiscent of a provincial town in France.


CAM LY FALLS: the grassy areas around the 15m-high cascades are the habitat of horses and Dalat cowboys.


DALAT CATHEDRAL: built between 1931 and 1942 for use by the French residents and holidaymakers. Inside, the stained-glass windows bring a hint of medieval Europe to Dalat.


FLOWER GARDEN: established in 1966 by the South Vietnamese Agricultural Service and renovated in 1985. Flowers represented include hydrangeas, fuchsias and orchids. Overnight in Dalat. Journey northeast along Highway 20 past Bien Hoa, Bao Loc and Duc Trong.


Day 5                   Dalat


After breakfast at the hotel, continue sightseeing in Dalat. Visit Cremaillere Railway, Bao Dai’s Summer Palaces, Valley Of Love and Lat Village

Overnight in Dalat


CREMAILLERE RAILWAY: a cog railway linking Dalat and Tham Cham from 1928 to 1964, until it was closed due to war. The line has now been repaired and now operates as a tourist attraction, running 8km to Trai Mat Village and back.


BAO DAI'S SUMMER PALACE: a twenty-five-room villa constructed in 1933 and filled with artifacts from decades and governments past. Of interest are the engraved glass map of Vietnam given to the Emperor in 1942 by Vietnamese students in France and the life-sized bust of Bao Dai.


VALLEY OF LOVE: named the Valley of Peace by the Emperor, its name was changed in 1972 by romantically minded students from Dalat University. Paddleboats, canoes and motorboats are available for rent. Local delicacies (jams, candied fruits) are on sale here as well. Excursion to Lat Village


LAT VILLAGE: the nine hamlets of Lat Village (population 6000) are at the base of Lang Bian Mountain. The ethnic groups to be found here are the Lat, Chill, Ma and Koho. The people eke out a living growing rice, coffee, black beans and sweet potatoes. Overnight in Dalat.


Day 6              Dalat - Nha Trang


After breakfast at the hotel, traveling by vehicle from Dalat to Nha Trang, along the way visit Chicken Village, Phan Rang and Cham Towers. Arrival Nha Trang, sightseeing in Nha Trang the most beautiful municipal beaches in Vietnam and at the Seawater Aquarium by boat

Overnight in Nha Trang


CHICKEN VILLAGE: the village inhabitants belong to the Koho minority. The place takes its name from a huge concrete statue of a chicken, which sits squarely in the center of the village.


PHAN RANG: a city famous for its production of table grapes in a semi-arid region. Many of the houses on the outskirts of town are decorated with Greek-style grape trellises.


CHAM TOWERS: the area's best-known sight is the group of Cham towers known as Po Klong Garai. One can see Cham towers dotted about the countryside 20km north of Phan Rang.


PO NAGAR CHAM TOWERS: built between the 7th and 12th centuries, the site was used for Hindu worship as early as the 2nd century AD. The towers serve as the Holy See honoring Goddess Yang Ino Po Nagar, the Goddess of the Dua clan, which ruled over the southern part of the Cham Kingdom covering Kauthara and Pan Duranga.


OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTE: founded in 1923, it has an aquarium and specimen room open to the public. The 23 ground floor tanks are home to a variety of colorful live marine specimens, including seahorses.


SEAWATER AQUARIUM: Mieu Island with an important fish-breeding farm where over 40 species of fish, crustaceans and other marine creatures are raised in 3 separate compartments.


LANG SON PAGODA: founded in the late 19th century, this pagoda still has resident monks today. The entrance and roof are decorated with mosaic dragons constructed of glass and ceramic tile. At the top of the hill behind the pagoda is the huge white Buddha seated on a lotus blossom.


NHA TRANG CATHEDRAL: built in the French Gothic style and complete with medieval-style stained glass windows, it stands on a small hill overlooking the train station.


Day 7              Nha Trang - Danang - Hoi An


After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for flight from Nha Trang to Danang. Greeting at Danang airport and transfer to Hoi An - one of the world Heritage city in Vietnam.


Sightseeing in Hoi An to discover the historic town which used to be a prosperous seaport city during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Known as Faifo to early western traders. Its sizable community of foreign merchants resulted in a unique architectural style with Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese influences.

Overnight in Hoi An


It is best to visit some of the following sites of Hoi An by walking around and/or by cyclo.


Sightseeing in Hoi An:


QUAN CONG TEMPLE: founded in 1653, the main altar is dedicated to Quan Cong, whose partially gilded statue is in the central altar at the back of the sanctuary. Stone plaques on the walls list contributors to the construction and repair of the temple. The temple was open to all Chinese traders or seamen and is dedicated to Thien Hau – it’s a small Chinese style temple with a lintel gate, a rockery courtyard and lucky animals depicted in statuary.


PHUOC KIEN PAGODA: Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese 'clans' that were established in the Hoi An area. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau (Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen).


JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE: the first bridge on this site was constructed in 1593. It was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. The bridge was provided with a roof so it could be used as a shelter from rain and sun.


TRAN FAMILY CHAPEL: this house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from the family members. The Tran family traces its origins to China and moved to Vietnam around 1700. The architecture of the building reflects the influence of Chinese and Japanese styles.


SA HUYNH MUSEUM: located near the Japanese covered Bridge, it contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history.


PHUNG HUNG HOUSE: one family has been living here for already 8 generations. The house is a combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style.


Day 8              Hoi An - Danang - Hue


After breakfast at the hotel, depart Hoi An to Danang, journey south along Highway 1 past Dien Ban and Hoa Vang. Sightseeing in Danang, China Beach and at the Marble Mountains. Afternoon, traveling from Danang to Hue – Journey along Highway 1 past Danang, Lang Co and the Hai Van Pass (pass of the Ocean Clouds), passing through many fruit orchards, small villages of red-tiled, you can enjoy spectacular views of sky and sea. Arrive in Hue, the royal city of Vietnam’ last ruling dynasty. Transfer to hotel

Overnight in Hue


Sightseeing in Danang:


CHAM MUSEUM: founded in 1915 by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, the open-air collection of Cham sculpture is the finest in the world. Many of the sandstone carvings are breathtaking.


CHINA BEACH: made famous in the American TV series of the same name, it stretches for many kilometers north and south of the Marble Mountains. During the war, American soldiers were airlifted here for 'rest and relaxation'.


MARBLE MOUNTAINS: five stone hillocks, once islands, made of marble. Each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. When the Champas ruled this area, these same caves were used as Hindu shrines


HAI VAN PASS: the pass crosses over a spur of the Truong Son Mountain Range that juts into the South China Sea. It is an incredible mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views.


Day 9              Hue


After breakfast at the hotel, take boat trip on the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda

Afternoon, visit Tomb Of Emperor Minh Mang, sightseeing at the Imperial Tombs of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Hall of the Mandarins, Nine Dynastic Urns and Forbidden Purple City

Overnight in Hue


THIEN MU PAGODA: just outside of Hue, on the bank of the Perfume River, this was a hotbed of anti-government protest during the early 1960s. Behind the main sanctuary of the pagoda is the Austin motorcar, which transported the monk Thich Quang Duc to the site of his 1963 self-immolation. Sightseeing in the old Imperial City


IMPERIAL CITY: located in the Citadel, it was built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City in Peking. There are numerous palaces and temples within these walls, as well as towers, a library and a museum.


NGO MON GATE: the principal entrance to the Imperial Enclosure, facing the Flag Tower. The central passageway with its yellow doors was reserved for use by the emperor, as was the bridge across the lotus pond.


THAI HOA PALACE: built in 1803 and moved to its present site in 1833, Thai Hoa Palace is a spacious hall with an ornate roof of huge timbers supported by 80 carved and lacquered columns.


HALLS OF THE MANDARINS: these buildings, in which the mandarins prepared for court ceremonies held in the Can Chanh Reception Hall, were restored in 1977.


NINE DYNASTIC URNS: these were cast in 1835-36. Traditional ornamentation was then chiseled into the sides of the urns, each dedicated to a different Nguyen sovereign.


FORBIDDEN PURPLE CITY: this was reserved for the personal use of the emperor. The only servants allowed into the compound were eunuchs, who would pose no threat to the royal concubines. (Today the site is in ruins). Sightseeing at the Imperial Tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh


TU DUC TOMB: Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled Hue more than 100 years ago, built his tomb when he was still alive and used it for meditation, reading and theater performances. There are pavilions in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The tomb was constructed between 1864 and 1867. Tu Duc, who was the longest reigning Emperor, lived a luxurious life.


KHAI DINH: this was the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty and was constructed between 1920 and 1931. It sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village. It has a long staircase flanked by dragons. There are ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes.


Day 10            Hue – Hanoi


After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Hue airport for flight from Hue to Hanoi. Arrival in Hanoi meet on arrival at airport transfer for discover the old quarter by cyclo (2-3 hrs) It is also called "36 streets," most of which are named after the crafts or merchandise traditionally sold there.

Overnight in Hanoi


Day 11            Hanoi


After breakfast at the hotel, full day sightseeing in Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks, is the capital of Vietnam. It is a very attractive city with French style buildings and less traffic than other cities in Asia. Visit One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Opera House, ST Joseph Cathedral, and enjoy Water Puppet Show before transfer back to hotel for good night sleep

Overnight in Hanoi


ONE PILLAR PAGODA: built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. Constructed of wood on a single stone pillar, it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom.


TEMPLE OF LITERATURE: founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, who dedicated it to Confucius in order to honor scholars and men of literary accomplishment.


HOAN KIEM LAKE: right in the heart of Hanoi, this lake contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda, topped with a red star.


HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: in the tradition of Lenin and Stalin before him and Mao after him, the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh is a glass sarcophagus set deep in the bowels of a monumental edifice that has become a site of pilgrimage. (Closed Mondays and Fridays).


OPERA HOUSE: a magnificent 900-seat opera house built in 1911. (May be viewed from the outside only).


ST JOSEPH CATHEDRAL: a neo-Gothic cathedral finished in 1886, it is noteworthy for its square towers, elaborate altar and stained-glass windows. Visit a water puppet show


WATER PUPPET SHOW: a fantastic art form originating in northern Vietnam, best seen in Hanoi. The Municipal Water Puppet Theater is located on the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake.


Day 12            Hanoi - Dien Bien Phu


After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu. Arrival Dien Bien Phu meet on arrival at airport by our local guide, transfer to hotel, free at leisure (Relaxing walk to explore neighboring streets is recommend)

Overnight in Dien Bien Phu


Day 13            Dien Bien Phu


After breakfast at the hotel, sightseeing at Dien Bien Phu, the site of the battle, which defeated the French and ended their colonial control of Indochina. It is one of the most remote parts of Vietnam in the Muong Thanh Valley and is surrounded by steep heavily forested hills. Visit several high light places.

Overnight in Dien Bien Phu


DBP MUSEUM: The site of the battle is now marked by this museum.


BUNKER OF DE CASTRIES: the headquarters of this French commander have been re-created, with old French tanks and artillery pieces nearby.


MINORITIES: the whole area is inhabited by Montagnard people, which include the white and black Thai, Hmong, Zao and Muong.


Day 14            Dien Bien Phu


After breakfast at the hotel, free time at leisure before transfer to the airport for flight from Dien Bien Phu to Hanoi


End of Services    **Note: Itinerary subject to change due to flight schedules.





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