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Simply Vietnam
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13 Days / 12 Nights Trip | Ho Chi Minh City Tour, Boat Trip in Mekong Delta, Hai Van Pass to Hue, Cruise on Halong Bay

Simply Vietnam

Get ready for cultural immersion, local escapades, plenty of fun and un-pho-gettable times all rolled into one.
One trip, double the fun! 
 
From the temples of Siem Reap to the limestone karst wonderland of Ha Long Bay, and the beautiful old-world charm of Hoi An to the buzzing local vibrancy of Hanoi, experience the best of Vietnam with us. Explore a mix of ancient-modern cities, floating villages and colourful market streets that crackle with energy, eat steaming bowls of noodle soup, and enjoy plenty of good times with new friends in between.
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  • Duration
    10 Days
  • Starting From
    $1,108
    /person
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Explore
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Hoi An will completely charm you
Highlight #1
Hoi An will completely charm you
Paper lanterns line the streets and a small river flows through, with over 100 candle lit lamps floating on the water - it's as beautiful as it sounds.
Discover the hidden treasures of Hanoi
Highlight #2
Discover the hidden treasures of Hanoi
From pretty paper lanterns to glass jars of ancient herbal remedies, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, there's a surprise waiting around every corner.
Cruise the world-famous Halong Bay!
Highlight #3
Cruise the world-famous Halong Bay!
Thousands of limestone karsts rising like dragon's teeth from the sea; there's a striking sight everywhere you turn.
Cruise down the Mekong Delta
Highlight #4
Cruise down the Mekong Delta
See lush green mangroves, languid backwaters, and life in sleepy little villages glide by. From a fisherman casting his net out into the water to impossibly green rice paddies, you never know what moments of wonder are just waiting beyond the next bend.
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Itinerary

Join tour in Ho Chi Minh City; afternoon orientation walk in Old Saigon

Arrive Ho Chi Minh City and check-in at the hotel. The city is an eclectic mix of the traditional and the new, where pagodas and markets compete alongside the trappings of Vietnam's newly discovered entrepreneurial spirit. We take a short orientation tour on foot around Old Saigon, the heart of the city, including the prominent Hotel de Ville, whose ornate grandeur is today the home of the city's People's Committee, the Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the impressive French style edifice that is the GPO building.

In Ho Chi Minh City; Optional visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels or a boat trip in the Mekong Delta

No visit to Ho Chi Minh City would be complete without exploring something of its tragic recent history and the poignant reminders of what the Vietnamese refer to as the American War can still be seen amongst the buildings and artefacts of the old US Embassy, as well as the remarkable Reunification Palace and the emotive War Crimes Museum, which contains a fascinating, and at times chilling, reminder of the cost of the Vietnam War on the people themselves. Another option is to join an excursion out to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. Originally started during the French occupation of the country, the tunnels went on to achieve notoriety during the Vietnam War, when they formed an amazing underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops and were a major part of the Tet Offensive. This area was the centre of intense fighting during the war, much of it falling prey to the incessant carpet bombing, napalm and defoliants utilised by the Americans in an attempt to dislodge the Viet Cong from their underground shelters. There is little evidence of any of that now and the landscape has returned to something of its pre-war beauty, but exploring the tunnels of Ben Dinh and Ben Binh gives some idea as to the conditions that the Vietnamese and their American adversaries had to endure. Be warned, the tunnels are low and narrow and can be claustrophobic.

A full day's visit to the colourful Mekong Delta can also be organised, to witness locals barter for fresh produce at a floating market and to take a sampan through the small narrow waterways of the Delta.

Morning flight to Danang, drive to Hoi An and afternoon tour of the Old Town

This morning we transfer to the airport for our short flight to Danang in Central Vietnam. On arrival in Danang we will continue our journey by charter bus to Hoi An. On our way we pass the popular beach resort of My Khe, better known as China Beach, an area that during the Vietnam War was popular with the American GIs on RnR. Given the early hour of our arrival at the hotel we might not be able to check-in so we plan to store our bags, have breakfast (not included) then embark on a walking tour of Hoi An. First colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, by the 17th and 18th centuries Hoi An had become one of the busiest international trading posts in southeast Asia and, even today, it still retains the engaging charm of a medieval port, with many of its old buildings superbly preserved. Highlights include the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, a pagoda dedicated to the worship of Buddha originally built by the Vietnamese people in the 16th century and the 400 year old Japanese covered bridge. We end at the colourful riverside market, a perfect setting for exploring, the rest of the day is free to enjoy as you wish.

In Hoi An, free day to enjoy the Old Town, visit nearby beach or hire bicycles to explore surrounding countryside

Today is free to wander through the historic heart of this World Heritage Site at your leisure. An early morning visit to the fish market presents a riot of noise and colour that is perfect for some great photo opportunities and some choice local interaction. You might also like to pay a visit to the Japanese Bridge, Hoi An's emblematic symbol, believed to have been constructed to quell the violent rumblings of a restless monster, or perhaps explore the traditional wooden houses and Chinese temples that line the streets. There are numerous tailors shops in Hoi An providing an incredibly cheap and quick service and almost all visitors have at least one item made before they depart. Hoi An is also a great place to hire a bicycle as the roads are relatively quiet. There's a good beach just a few kilometres from the town or alternatively why not set out to explore nearby villages. Cooking classes are yet another option available in this popular traveller's hangout.

Drive along the coast via Hai Van Pass to Hue; free afternoon

This morning sees us heading along the coastal road towards the historic setting of Hué, crossing part of the Truong Son Mountains and travelling via the Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass. This stunningly scenic region once marked the boundary between Vietnam and the Champa Kingdom to the south and the journey should get us into the old imperial city around lunchtime, after which the rest of the day is free for personal exploration. Once the capital of Vietnam and an inspiration for poets and artists alike for centuries, Hué is divided by the waters of the Perfume River, which separate the city's 19th century citadel from the suburbs that radiate from the eastern shore and, even today, its easy air of leisurely ambience makes it one of the most engaging cities in the country to explore.

In Hue, optional visit to the Imperial Palace and cruise along Perfume River. Catch an overnight train north

With the better part of the day to enjoy the city, Hué offers a wealth of options to make the most of your time here. You could pay a visit to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hué. Dedicated to the Manushi- Buddha, the existing temple was constructed in the middle years of the 19th century, under the auspices of the Emperor Thieu Tri, and within its confines you can find a number of superb Buddhist statues, as well as an enormous cast bell that weighs in at over 2000kg and is reputed to be audible over 10km away. Another alternative is to spend some time exploring the Old Citadel that dominates the left bank of the Perfumed River. Built by the Nguyen dynasty (Vietnam's ruling emperors from the early 1800s to1945), the Citadel has formal moats and impressive ramparts that were constructed to be an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing. During the bloody conflicts of the Vietnam War, Hué was the site of some of the most destructive fighting of the Tet Offensive, most of the Inner City being totally destroyed during the month-long battle in 1968. The vast outer walls and the West Wing remain though and provide an eloquent reminder of the palace's former glory. Farther afield, amongst the forested landscapes of the Perfume Valley, you can find the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, the unique mausoleums of the emperors that provide an ideal destination to explore by bicycle. Later this afternoon we will then head for the railway station to board the overnight train north to Hanoi, Vietnam's vibrant and historic capital.

Early morning arrival in Hanoi; drive to Halong Bay to cruise through the turquoise waters aboard a traditional junk boat

Arriving in Hanoi in the early hours of this morning we disembark the train and transfer by road towards the Bay of Tonkin on Vietnam's northeast coast. Our destination is the breathtaking setting of Halong Bay one of Vietnam's, and indeed Southeast Asia's, most spectacular natural attractions, whose staggering beauty has seen it listed as one of the eight natural wonders of the world. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay presents a quite extraordinary vista of hundreds of limestone islands (over 1600 at last count) that rise from the jade green waters of the bay like the scales of some great submerged dragon. Indeed Halong means 'where the dragon descends to the sea' and local legends tells of a time when this rugged landscape was created by the pounding tail of a mighty dragon as he ran from the mountains into the glittering waters of the bay below. On arrival we will board our junk and set sail, threading our way through a flotilla of boats, junks and wooden sampans as they ply their way across the gentle waters of the bay. The plan for today is to sail through this stunning seascape, stopping off to swim and visit some of the limestone caverns that pepper the landscape. Later this evening we disembark from our boat and transfer to our hotel in the Bay.

Return to Hanoi; orientation walk of Old Quarter

Returning back to Hanoi your tour leader will then take those that wish on a short orientation tour of the city, wandering the streets of the city's Old Quarter, whose narrow streets are named after the various crafts and specialities of the city's artisans: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street etc. This practice dates back to the 13th century, when the city's original 36 guilds established themselves here, adopting a street each to differentiate them from their neighbours. The maze of alleys and streets present a fascinating venue to explore on foot and the area is known for its interesting 'tube' houses, where the narrow frontages give way to long rooms that stretch back from streets, whose pavements are littered with food sellers tempting passers-by with all manner of noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights from shoulder panniers. Later today there may be a chance to witness a remarkable performance of traditional water puppetry, a practice that dates back to the 15th century and is deeply ingrained into the cultural lives of the peoples of the Red River Delta. Set on a flooded stage, the stories tell tales of legendary heroes and everyday life, with dragons and unicorns sharing the stage with ducks and frogs, and even fireworks and naval battles.

In Hanoi; free day with option to visit the French Quarter or Hoan Kiem Lake

Architecturally styled like a French provincial town, with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses, Hanoi is a wonderfully nostalgic city to enjoy and amongst its more interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh was a spartan-living and scholarly man, who chose not to live in the Presidential Palace itself, but instead preferred a simple teak 2-storied stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. You can visit his museum and this austere mausoleum, said to resemble that of Lenin in Moscow, or perhaps taking another walk through the engaging streets of its Old Quarter. The city's French Quarter is a great place to explore by bicycle, its grandiose colonial architecture offering up a rich contrast to the more frenetic pace of the old city, whilst those looking to discover something more of the colonial wars might like to pay a visit to the Museum of Vietnamese Revolution or the Military History Museum.

Trip ends in Hanoi

Tour ends after breakfast. If you have time you may wish to take another wander through the fascinating Old Quarter or stroll along the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Return to Hanoi; orientation walk of Old Quarter

Returning back to Hanoi your tour leader will then take those that wish on a short orientation tour of the city, wandering the streets of the city's Old Quarter, whose narrow streets are named after the various crafts and specialities of the city's artisans: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street etc. This practice dates back to the 13th century, when the city's original 36 guilds established themselves here, adopting a street each to differentiate them from their neighbours. The maze of alleys and streets present a fascinating venue to explore on foot and the area is known for its interesting 'tube' houses, where the narrow frontages give way to long rooms that stretch back from streets, whose pavements are littered with food sellers tempting passers-by with all manner of noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights from shoulder panniers. Later today there may be a chance to witness a remarkable performance of traditional water puppetry, a practice that dates back to the 15th century and is deeply ingrained into the cultural lives of the peoples of the Red River Delta. Set on a flooded stage, the stories tell tales of legendary heroes and everyday life, with dragons and unicorns sharing the stage with ducks and frogs, and even fireworks and naval battles.

In Hanoi; free day with option to visit the French Quarter

Architecturally styled like a French provincial town, with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses, Hanoi is a wonderfully nostalgic city to enjoy and amongst its more interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh was a spartan-living and scholarly man, who chose not to live in the Presidential Palace itself, but instead preferred a simple teak 2-storied stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. You can visit his museum and this austere mausoleum, said to resemble that of Lenin in Moscow, or perhaps taking another walk through the engaging streets of its Old Quarter. The city's French Quarter is a great place to explore by bicycle, its grandiose colonial architecture offering up a rich contrast to the more frenetic pace of the old city, whilst those looking to discover something more of the colonial wars might like to pay a visit to the Museum of Vietnamese Revolution or the Military History Museum.

Tour ends in Hanoi

Tour ends after breakfast. If you have time you may wish to take another wander through the fascinating Old Quarter or stroll along the shore of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Inclusions

 Meals - Breakfast: 9, Lunch: 1

 Trip staff - Explore Tour Leader, Boat Crew, Driver(s)

 Transport - Bus, Boat, Taxi, Train

 Accommodation - 6 nights comfortable hotel, 3 nights simple hotel, 3 nights simple overnight train

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST

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Dates and prices

Start date

18 Oct 2020

End date

27 Oct 2020

4+ Spots left

10 Days / 9 Nights

$1,253

$1,108

Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

Start date

25 Oct 2020

End date

03 Nov 2020

5+ Spots left

10 Days / 9 Nights

$1,219

$1,108

Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

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This Trip Is Operated By Explore

At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Our authentic travel experiences explore the sights and culture of a country, with hand-picked accommodation that balances comfort and location. Our average group tour size is just 12; perfect for meeting new people and getting to the heart of our destinations.

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