Vietnam Insider - 12 days



OVERVIEW
This tour is designed not only to take you through all the major highlights of Vietnam, but also offering a fresh and original flavor to each individual destination. Vietnam Insider showcases the country through the eyes of our specialist guides. Each and every moment has been carefully considered so that you will leave Vietnam with a deep understanding of the history, culture and natural environment, and also with the experience of something extra ordinary.
 
HIGHLIGHTS
• Exploring Hanoi from day to night time
• Visiting Mai Chau - a remote Vietnam mountain town with plenty of culture and natural wonders
• Cruising on a traditional junk boat through scenic UNESCO Nature Heritage Site Halong Bay
• Visiting the imperial city of Hue
• Strolling through the lantern-filled streets of Hoi An Ancient Town and learn how to make lantern by yourself
• Trying many authentic & quality Vietnamese cuisines on the trip

 

HANOI - HA LONG BAY - KY SON - DUONG LAM - HUE - HOI AN - DA NANG - HO CHI MINH - MEKONG RIVER - BEN TRE PROVINCE

DETAILED ITINERARY
 
DAY 1: HANOI – ARRIVAL

You are arriving in Hanoi capital, a city of over a thousand years. After greeting you at Noi Bai International Airport, our guide will escort you to your hotel.
Overnight in Hanoi.
 
Optional Sunset Cocktail & Dinner at The Clover Riverside Restaurant
Set in the lush green garden by the side of Red River with stunning view of the historic Long Bien Bridge, this elegant dining area enchants you with its romantic and charming ambience and views. Featuring inspiring cuisine and innovative dishes by The Clover’s Executive Chef and with the restaurant’s awarded Sommeliers on hand to provide recommendations for pairing meals with fine international wines, our gourmet restaurant will impress even the most discerning of diners.

The open-air lounge bar on the roof of the villa is the perfect setting for pre-dinner cocktails, or for relaxing with a cognac after a sumptuous meal at D’Clover Restaurant. Watch the sun setting over the beautiful Red River while enjoying enchanting views of the historic Long Bien Bridge, the Hanoi city skyline and the lush greenery along the riverside. With the scent of frangipani from the garden below this is a truly romantic setting for indulging all the senses and an idyllic location for your private parties.

Inclusions:  Private roundtrip transfer by car, English speaking guide, 1 x Classic Sunset Cocktail & Dinner at The Clover Riverside Restaurant (Set Menu).
    
 
DAY 2: HANOI INSIGHT CITY TOUR (B/L/D)

Good morning Ha Noi for early risers: If you have seen how busy & chaotic Ha Noi old quarter during the day time, let get up early for different looks of Ha Noi in the very early morning when most of the things are still asleep.
See empty streets gradually wake up with dog, cat, cleaners, morning food shops, and people doing morning exercise. Meanwhile, at the other side of the city, at Long Bien night market and morning dye flower market, you will see life is very busy even before dawn.
Around the Hoan Kiem Lake, you will see locals enjoy doing all kinds of morning exercise, you may wish to join in. Later on, you will have a traditional breakfast with beef/chicken noodle, and a cup of coffee at local shops. No doubt, this tour is fascinating for early bird photographers and local food lovers.
 
After breakfast, stroll down to a fresh and wet market where a huge variety of fresh products are bought and sold every day- a fundamental part of Vietnamese culture. Next, we visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology which successfully presents the recognition of Vietnam as a multi-ethnic country and promotes socio-cultural diversity. Continue to the Temple of Literature back to the center. It was constructed in 1070 under Ly Thanh Tong’s dynasty, first to honor Confucius and now to celebrate the doctorates and high-ranking scholars of Vietnam. Lunch at KOTO (refers to Know One Teach One) to support street and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.
 
In the afternoon, take a scooter tour to go inside Hanoi Old Quarter streets and visit the historic Long Bien Bridge while our guide explains why it is considered with such pride by Hanoians and is a symbol of our courageous capital after the many years of war. Then it is time for a cold beer (a cup of local draught beer at the sidewalk beer shop, dare you?), and to take a street food tasting tour. Exploring some more markets to get an overview of Vietnamese food, talk with food artisans, street vendors and eat tasty local food and drink. This tour is a great way to see the parts of Hanoi that most tourists don’t.
Back to your hotel in the late afternoon and overnight in Hanoi.
 
DAY 3: HANOI – MAI CHAU GREEN VALLEY (B/L)

You will leave Hanoi for Mai Chau. Our driver will take you through a beautiful mountainous province of Hoa Binh which is located in the Southwest of the capital of Viet Nam. Four hours on the way, you’ll see gorgeous scenery dotted with limestone and rice paddies while passing several small villages of Muong, Thai, H’Mong, and Dao people.  
Descending the last 14km of your first day of the tour on a steep mountain road into the stunning valley of Mai Chau, you will reach village of Thai Ethnic people. Your lunch will be served at a local Thai house.
After check in your hotel, take a short rest, then take an easy walk of 1-2 hours around the village and valley.
Tonight enjoy folk dance performance with charming Thai ladies at Mai Chau Ecolodge.
Overnight at Mai Chau Ecolodge.
  

DAY 4: MAI CHAU – HANOI (B/L)

After breakfast, check-out and follow your tour guide to visit another peaceful and scenic village. The village nested in the lush green garden, with mountain range at the back and a beautiful spring in the front. If you come here in Mar, May, Jun or Sep, Aug, Oct you will see lush green rice fields. The crops will be in early August and early December. There will be no crops during winter time, but you may see a lot of water buffalos on rice fields then.
The village is home for Thai Ethnic people as well, and this village not yet touched much by tourists. From here, you can take a walk through villages. Enjoy lunch at a local house then transfer back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.

Optional Private water puppet mini show with Talented Water Puppet Artist
Water Puppet, a unique traditional folk art formed in rice culture dates back from 11th century in the villages of the Red River Delta, is a special creation of the Vietnamese.
Phan Thanh Liem, a descendent of 7-generations-family doing water puppets contribute in Vietnamese water puppetry development. His father created the mobile water puppetry stage and “chu Teu” - a humorous farmer & narrator in any water puppet show. Liem himself has entertained both domestic and international audiences in the UK, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Canada, Italy and Poland over the past decades.
Visit Liem’s home, chat with him about Vietnam Water puppet via his family stories. Enjoy the very interesting water puppet show and later challenge your skill by practicing controlling puppet under the water. Save your joyful experience.
Inclusions:  Private transfer by car, English speaking guide, interesting mini water puppet show at Home of a Talented Water Puppet Artist

DAY 5: HANOI – HALONG BAY (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we leave Hanoi for Ha Long Bay – UNESCO World Natural Heritage – where thousands of spectacular limestone islets and grottoes rising from the clear emerald Gulf of Tonkin. After around 3.5 hours, arrival at the port, check in procedure. Enjoy welcome drink on board before having lunch. Relaxing time while the boat is cruising through many stone islets, floating villages, small beaches. Visit a floating fishing village, talk and meet with local villagers prior to your swimming or free time at your own on the sundeck. Dinner would be ready at the time the boat anchors off at a quiet designated overnight area. Overnight on board in Halong Bay.
Note: Itinerary is subject to change without prior notice according to weather conditions or local administration regulations. 
DAY 6: HA LONG – HANOI – HOME HOSTED LUNCH – FLY TO HUE (B/L)

Tai Chi class is available on the sundeck for early risers, then your breakfast served while boat continues cruising around Ha Long Bay. She would lead you through many islets named by its shapes such as Dog, Incense Urn, Fighting Cock, Finger and so on. Follow your boat staff to explore one of the most magnificent caves, then return to your boat to cruise towards wharf. Your vehicle is ready awaiting your disembarkation at approximately 1030 for direct transfer from Ha Long back to Hanoi.
On the way we will make a visit to a traditional house made by wood since more than hundred years with a lovely garden in the outskirt of Hanoi. You will be warmly welcome by the house owner who will prepare welcome drink, fruits and cookies for you. Be relax in the garden and enjoy an authentic Vietnamese home meal before continue transferring to Noi Bai Airport for flight to Hue.
 
Located on the bank of Song Huong- Perfume River, Hue, the capital of Thua Thien Hue province in Central Vietnam, is 700 km south of Hanoi, 1100km north of Ho Chi Minh City, and only a few miles from the sea. Until 1945 Hue was the national capital, the political, cultural and religious center of Vietnam under the control of Nguyen Dynasty. Most well-known for its historic values, Hue had been recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Be met by our guide at airport and go to your hotel for overnight.
 
DAY 7: HUE – EXPLORE HUE COUNTRYSIDE ON SCOOTER (B/L)

After breakfast, you will be picked up by motorbike and leave for Thanh Toan Village where has tile roofed bridge, one of the famous ancient bridges in Vietnam. On the way, you will see the rice fields, villages and some temples.
Upon arrival, we will visit a local market and our tour guide will introduce almost every type of product in market such as vegetable, fish, pork and offering. Then we will visit Thanh Toan bridge - attracts lots of tourists because of its old architecture and historical and cultural values. This tile-roofed bridge has been an inspiration to many local people and travelers, with its poems still being handed down or engraved right on the bridge. We will then process to a special impressive cemetery where you learn about burial custom and tomb’s architecture in Vietnam & Hue. Keep riding ahead to the tomb of Khai Dinh King. On the way, we pass by the remnant Nine Bases Zone – an important weapon store built by colonial French military in 1941.  Visit the tomb of Khai Dinh King - the 12th King of Nguyen Dynasty. The tomb is a blend of Western and Eastern architecture. 
 
Next, continue visit to Kim Long Village where preserves traditional garden houses in Hue. The Garden hides themselves after the evergreen hedges and you can listen to the echo of the past through the stories of the hosts and enjoy green tea and ginger jam.
Your lunch today will be at a typical Pagoda in Hue where you can get to know more about Vietnamese Buddhism while chatting with the monks (lunch in pagoda is merely vegetarian)
The next stop will be a local family that make many kinds of Hue traditional cakes. Warmly greeted by your host, seat down and learn how to make some traditional cakes such as Nam and Loc Cakes.
 
In the afternoon, take boat trip on Huong River, or better known as The Perfume River. The boat drops us off at the beautiful Thien Mu Pagoda which is also home to many young people who want to try out and learn from life as a monk. History of Thien Mu Pagoda, dating back from the year 1601. Continue the boat trip to visit the last resting place of the 12th King Khai Dinh, he left behind a magnificent and huge burial idyllically located in Chau Chu Mountain just outside of Hue, home to a mix of eastern and western architecture. It took 11 years and build his final resting place and was completed in 1931. Admire the beautiful sunset on the way back to your hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
 
DAY 8: HUE – IMPERIAL CITADEL – TRANSFER TO HOI AN (B)
After breakfast, we visit the Imperial Citadel where Kings of Vietnam’s last feudal dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945, including Flag Tower, Nine Holy Cannons, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Nine Dynastic Urns, Forbidden Purple City.
Return to your hotel to check-out. You will be free for your lunch before taking a land journey to Hoi An via the splendid Hai Van Pass, enjoy some stops for panoramic views. Reach the quaint Hoi An Ancient town in the late afternoon. The next visit is to home of a craftsman in the old streets. Here you’ll have a brief introduction to the history, shape and color of the lanterns as well as stages of making them. After that you can make a lantern by your own, decorate, pack and keep it as a souvenir of your time in Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
  
 
DAY 9: HOI AN – COUNTRYSIDE LIFE & HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN (B/L)
The morning excursion offers you a closer look into the countryside life in the outskirt of Hoi An Ancient town. Such an amazing experience with first on bike through picturesque villages, rice fields, water buffalos, water coconut gardens, then meet & talk with local villagers as you meet. Continuing with an exciting basket boat rowing on the water coconut river and learn how to catch crabs. Later on, we take motor boat ride on a stunning river to see how local fishermen catch fish, reach Tra Que organic village for a mini course of cooking class and enjoy tasty lunch prepared by your host.
In the midafternoon, take a guided walking tour around Hoi An Ancient Town. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Chinese Assembly Hall and the local market. There’re numerous art galleries, souvenirs and tailor shops where you can get some express made-to-order clothes if you like. Visit a
Enjoy the rest of the late afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 10: HOI AN  –  DA NANG – FLY TO HO CHI MINH CITY (B)
After breakfast, transfer to Danang airport for a jump flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
Once affectionately called the diamond of the far-east, Ho Chi Minh City is now the most populated city in Vietnam with modern office skyscrapers amidst Chinese style pagodas and food stalls along the street creating a dynamic urban area. Ho Chi Minh City’s architecture and lifestyle is the reconciliation between American and Chinese influence, just as historic as it is modern.
Upon arrival, take a quick visit to the Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office before going to your hotel to check-in. Rest of the day at your leisure to explore the city your way.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Optional Sophie Art Tour
Consider to take a closer look at Vietnam through the eyes of artists? Your special private guide for this tour will be an artist. The tour is designed by Sophie who studied, fought, witnessed and documented major changes in 20th and 21st century Vietnam. Sophie set herself a challenge to gather as much information as she could about Vietnamese art history from the internet, private libraries, old exhibition catalogues, books, magazines and by talking to artists, gallerists, curators, writers and researchers. This tour is not just for art lovers but for all those who want to gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s modern and contemporary history. You will have a chance to see private collections, museums and contemporary art spaces in Ho Chi Minh City.
Inclusions: Transfers by car, English speaking guide
  
 
DAY 11: HO CHI MINH CITY – MEKONG DELTA – LIFE ON THE MEKONG RIVER (B/L/D)

Today you will leave bustling city of Ho Chi Minh for two-day-one night at the charming Mango Home Riverside trip to explore live life along the Mekong River.
On arrival in Ben Tre, have lunch in Mango Home restaurant
After lunch, check-in room
Continue board the charming Mango Cruise for a glimpse at the Delta scenery while enjoying coconut juice.
The excursions including visit at the coconut processing, brick making shop, easy bicycle trip and stop at a coconut spirits factory. You also have chance to get closer to the local life with a visit to Mrs. Huong’s home. Her family live on fishing, shrimp and farming. Enjoy the tropical fruits and honey tea in her garden
Lastly, you will be warmly welcomed to humble home of a former Vietcong soldier who survived two years fighting the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh. Now he and his wife live on making rice paper which is the most famous specialty of My Long village. Have a chat with him and enjoy the crispy rice paper made by his wife, and see how it is made.
Spend rest of the day at Mango Home Riverside for swimming or relaxing. In the early evening prepare to join the cooking demonstration and have dinner at Mango Home
Overnight at Mango Home Riverside.
 
DAY 12: MEKONG DELTA – HO CHI MINH CITY (B)

Breakfast at Mango Home
Then take a boat trip 30 minutes then get off the boat to ride the bicycle to a local market of My Long, stroll around the market and then continue the cycling tour to Phong Nam village stop for a Cao Dai religious temple visit. After that you will go biking back to Mango Home. Check-out and drive back to  Ho Chi Minh City. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
 
DAY 13: HO CHI MINH CITY – DEPARTURE (B)

Your own leisure to explore the city further before departing to Tan Son Nhat International airport for your onward flight.

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