Arrival in Hanoi, greeting by our local guide on arrival at Hanoi airport. Transfer by vehicle from Hanoi to Halong Bay - Journey east along Highway 5 across Hai Hung Province and around Halong Bay.
Day 2 Halong – Hanoi
After breakfast at the hotel, boat trip Halong Bay (4 hrs). This four-hour boat ride explores Halong Bay, passing the islands of Trong, Mai, Am, Chen and Cong Troi (Heaven Gates). Stop at one of the islands and visit of one of the caves.
By vehicle from Halong to Hanoi Journey around Halong Bay to Hai Phong and west along Highway 5, across Hai Hung Province.
Overnight in Hanoi
HANG DAU GO: a huge, three-chambered cave, which is reached via 90 steps. The cave derives its Vietnamese name from the third of the chambers, which is said to have been used by Trang Hung Dao during the 13th century to store bamboo stakes used against the Mongol invaders.
BO NAU: the "Pelican" caves.
THIEN CUNG: "Heaven Palace."
Day 3 Hanoi
After breakfast at the hotel, 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.
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.
Day 4 Hanoi – Hue
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport for flight from Hanoi to Hue. Arrival in Hue: meet on arrival at the airport, process to visit in the old Imperial City, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Halls of Mandarins, Nine Dynastic Urns, Forbidden Purple City and Imperial Tomb of Emperor Tu Ducn
Free time to visit Dong Ba Market: a local market near the Imperial City
Overnight in Hue
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).
TU DUC TOMB: once the Royal Palace of Tu Duc, who ruled Hue more than 100 years ago, this tomb consists of 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.
Day 5 Hue - Danang
After breakfast at the hotel, excursion on Huong Giang River to the Thien Mu Pagoda with boat trip. Afternoon depart Hue for Danang - Journey north 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.
Overnight in Danang
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.
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.
LANG CO: a pretty, island-like stretch of palm-shaded sand with a crystal-clear lagoon on one side and many km of beachfront facing the South China Sea.
Sightseeing in Danang Vietnam's fourth largest city marks the northern limits of Vietnam's tropical zone, boasting a pleasant year-round climate.
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 American War, 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.
Day 6 Danang – Saigon
After breakfast at the hotel, excursion to 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.
Flight from Danang to Saigon
It is best to visit some of the following sites of Hoi An by walking around and/or by cyclo.
QUAN CONG TEMPLE: founded in 1653, this Chinese temple 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.
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 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town 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.
DIEP DONG NGUYEN HOUSE: built for a Chinese merchant, an ancestor of the present inhabitants, in the late 19th century. The front room on the ground floor was once a dispensary for Thuoc Bac (Chinese medicine).
TRAN FAMILY CHAPEL: this house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from 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.
TRADING CERAMICS MUSEUM: a museum offering a display of old Hoi An ceramics.
QUAN THANG HOUSE: one of the oldest and nicest houses in Hoi An. There are some especially fine carvings on the wooden walls of the rooms around the courtyard.
PHUNG HUNG HOUSE: the same family has been living here for eight generations. The house is a combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese styles.
QUANG DONG PAGODA: a small Chinese style temple with a lintel gate, a rockery courtyard, and lucky animals depicted in statuary, this pagoda was open to all Chinese traders or seamen and is dedicated to Thien Hau.
CHUA CHUC THANH PAGODA: founded in 1454 by Minh Hai, a Buddhist monk from China, it is the oldest pagoda in Hoi An. Among the antique ritual objects still in use are several bells, a stone gong two centuries old and a carp-shaped wooden gong said to be even older.
Day 7 Saigon
After breakfast at the hotel, sightseeing in Saigon and Cholon (Chinatown). Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, with the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life visible everywhere. 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'.
Afternoon, transfer to the airport for departure
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.
End of Services **Note: Itinerary subject to change due to flight schedules.