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  • Romance of Vietnam Touring Holiday

    12 nights/13 days
    Hanoi – Sapa - Ha Long Bay – Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City

    During this twelve-night romantic tour, explore Vietnam, north and south, with a homestay, an overnight on a junk in Ha Long bay, an Emperor cruise in Nha Trang Bay and visits to markets in Saigon. You will meet local villagers, explore the remote region of Sapa, and then relax on an isolated peninsula in Nha Trang Bay.

    You can download a copy of this itinerary in PDF format here 

    Moon Garden Homestay visit • Visit local people at Sapa • Walk in the Hoang Lien National Park • Ethnic Sapa market • Ha Long Bay overnight cruise • Emperor cruise Nha Trang Bay • Museum of War, Ho Chi Minh City • Jade Emperor Temple • Ben Thanh market
    Day 1 Arrive Hanoi

    You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Time to relax, and then, in the evening, you will enjoy a welcome dinner at restaurant in a colonial building.
    Day 2 Hanoi to Ky Son and Moon Garden Homestay visit
    This morning, you are picked up and transferred by car to the Moon Garden Homestay in Ky Son village. This is about 50 kms from Hanoi and was originally a summer home for the family of a Hanoi-based architect, who specialises in the restoration of historic buildings and this is reflected in the design and furnishings of the homestay. There is a lovely central courtyard with outside seating, a 100-year old church, a small pond and a bonsai garden overlooking a lake and surrounding rice fields. Upon arrival here you will have some free time to explore the grounds and the village, and then you participate in a cooking class to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. You have lunch here and then enjoy a hand-spa treatment with traditional herbs, take a bicycle ride to discover the paths of Thang Thac Village and follow a local guide to explore the ancient village of Duong Lam and Mia Pagoda. Upon your return to Moon Garden, you will be treated to a traditional foot bath and can participate in a Vietnamese prayer ceremony. You are taken back to Hanoi in the late afternoon to spend the night in Hanoi.
    Day 3 Hanoi to Lao Cai and Sapa
    After an early breakfast, you are met and driven to Sapa on the new highway through Yen Bai and Lao Cai provinces. The highway takes you up the Red River Delta to the place the river enters Vietnam at Lao Cai City on the border with China. This part of the country includes some of Vietnam’s most spectacular scenery and these mountainous regions are home to many distinct hill tribes, including the H’mong and Dzao people. This region is cooler than other parts of Vietnam and it can be cool and foggy in January and February with average temperatures of about 10C, with the summer months of June to August being warmest but with rain. Your destination is Sapa, perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak. Sapa is in a scenic valley, surrounded by the mountains and with hillside rice terraces. The ethnic communities live in numerous villages, tucked away on the lower slopes of the valleys, and many villagers wear authentic traditional costumes. The driving time from Hanoi to Sapa is about 5 and a half hours. Lunch is included on arrival and then in the afternoon there is a short drive to the entrance of Cat Cat village, home to the Black H’mongs. The village is set in a beautiful valley just outside Sapa. You spend time exploring how the locals live, there are plenty of photo opportunities and then a walk uphill for about 2 kms to meet your car to take you back to Sapa and your accommodation.
    Day 4 Full day to explore the most remote area of Sapa
    Enjoy a hearty breakfast in anticipation of today’s walk. You are driven by car deeper into Hoang Lien National park to start a trek from near Sin Chai village. This is really ‘off-the-beaten-track’ with spectacular views of high mountains, waterfalls and deep valleys. The trails will soon lead you to the red Dao village of Nam Nhiu where you meet the villagers, enjoy a cup of green tea with them at home and learn about their daily way of life. You continue on the trail, leaving the village behind, and glimpse a panorama of the rice valley dotted with bamboo huts, used by farmers to sleep in during harvesting. Passing the rice terraces and a river you walk on a quiet road before reaching Nam Cang village. Lunch is served at a local home here. Nam Cang village is situated at the most remote area of Sapa. The Red Dao women wear the most colourful costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups. The people are very skilled at using herbs and local medicine as well as embroidery. You are accompanied by your guide as you explore the village and learn how the locals make writing rice paper, jewelry and embroidery. At 3pm you are transferred back by car to Topas Ecolodge. Here you might want to book a traditional Red Dzao herbal bath or enjoy a private hill top dinner. (The walking today is of moderate grade and last for about 3.5 hours).
    Day 5 Visit and ethnic market and return to Hanoi
    After an early breakfast, your car and guide will arrive to take you to a market frequented by ethnic minority peoples. Unlike the markets in tourist areas, the ones we choose are not only for buying and selling, but are meeting places for local people to exchange views. There will be plenty of colour and authentic costumes, but very little to buy unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertiliser. Lunch is taken at a local restaurant, then the car takes you back along the new highway to Hanoi. You should arrive here by late afternoon for the night.
    Day 6 Hanoi to Ha Long Bay
    After an early breakfast, depart by car for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. There you will board your boat, a private wooden junk that take you through Bai Tu Long Bay area. Your cruise continues to the bay’s most deserted areas with opportunities to swim at quiet sandy beaches on Hon Co island or to visit one of the least visited caves, Thien Canh Son. The route is designed to avoid the busy areas and includes a quiet location for your overnight on board. Your junk is one of the L’Amour junks, the best wooden boats in the Bay. They are modelled on old Chinese court vessels with three barge sails, a wide transom and rectangular superstructure. Each boat has only one cabin, which is air-conditioned and has windows overlooking the bay. The floor area is about 10m2 and the cabin is furnished with two twin beds or a double queen size bed. The interior panelling, floor and furniture are of hard wood. The cabin has a wardrobe, pillows, white cotton sheets and en-suite toilet and shower with a selection of toiletries. All meals, usually based on fresh seafood, are provided on board. Kayaking is available and is included.
    Day 7 Bai Tu Long Bay to Hanoi
    You wake to the fresh air of the bay with chance to relax on the sundeck or to swim. After breakfast your cruise continues to Vung Vieng fishing village with the chance to explore the village and the hidden lagoon in a rustic rowing boat. Check-out of the cabin and cruise towards the harbour while an early lunch is served. You dock about midday and then are transferred to Hanoi Noi Bai airport for a flight to Nha Trang. Once in Nha Trang you are picked up by car and taken to your hotel for the night.
    Day 8 Full day Emperor Cruise
    You are collected from your hotel at 8am to be taken to the port in Nha Trang where you board the Emperor Cruise’s junk. You are welcomed on board with an introduction to the junk, the bay and local culture. Your cruise takes you past the Tam, Mot and Mun islands in the bay with your destination being a secluded beach at Bai Cau in Dam Bay Lagoon, near the famous diving site on Mun Island. At the beach, you can snorkel, swim, fish, walk or kayak, in either a normal or glass-bottomed boat, or try a basket boat. Or, just relax at the Mango Bar on the beach enjoying the stunning vista of the sails of the junk against the blue waters of the bay. Lunch is served on boat with local beers, fine wine and premium spirits as the boat anchors near Hon Tam island, known for its tranquil lagoon and fish farms. After lunch, you cruise back to Nha Trang harbour passing Vung Ngan floating village, Vinpearl island, Tri Nguyen aquarium and catching a glimpse of the inhabited Mieu island, which is where you head this afternoon for walking tour to visit the local villages. Learn about the way of life of the villagers of the fishing villages, away from the mainland and interact with the friendly locals. You travel to the fish farms by basket boat and then head back to the junk by speedboat. On board the junk, enjoy refreshing coconut milk, the speciality of the region. Once you dock, you are transferred back to your hotel.
    Days 9 and 10 In Nha Trang
    You have two days at leisure in Nha Trang.
    Day 11 Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City
    Enjoy a morning at leisure before an afternoon flight to Ho Chi Minh City. After transferring to your centrally located hotel, you’re free to wander around District 1. A possibility is to extend your time in Ho Chi Minh City by one night in order to visit perhaps Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta or the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a thriving metropolis which has nevertheless preserved 300 years of traditions and ancient culture.
    For the evening, you have the option to see the A O Show. The A O show captures much of the uniqueness of Vietnam in the engaging style of contemporary circus. The hour-long show is a fusion of dance, acrobatics and live music with theatrical drama tracing the passage of Vietnam from a rural village culture to the modern, urban society it is today.
    Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City
    After breakfast your local guide will arrive to take you on a tour of Ho Chi Minh City. You visit the Reunification Hall, an early colonial masterpiece, built to accommodate the Governor-General of Indochina. You also visit the Museum of War Remnants (not for the squeamish) which provides a fascinating perspective of the ‘American War’. Another site visited is the Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam with superb effigies, carved panels of the descent to Hell, and also terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. After the sightseeing, there is time to rest and freshen up or visit the lively Ben Thanh market. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
    Day 13 Ho Chi Minh City Departure
    Enjoy the rest of your time until your transfer to the airport for your return or onward flight.
    Prices from about £4,390 per person
    • Return scheduled flights with Vietnam Airlines from London to Hanoi, returning from Ho Chi Minh City to London in economy class
    • Domestic flights from Hanoi to Nha Trang, Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City including airport taxes.
    • Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
    • Seven lunches and one dinner (as specified in the itinerary) plus full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay.
    • Private transfers and sightseeing tours in an air-conditioned car appropriate to the size of your party
    • Boat cruises as specified in the itinerary. All Ha Long boats are fully licenced and comply with current safety regulations.
    • Services of an English-speaking guide as indicated in the itinerary (free days or part-free days as well as transfers unless specified do not include the services of the guide).
    • Visas – our local agent in Vietnam offers a free visa service
    • Meals, except as specified above
    • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses
    • Camera fees where applicable
    • Insurance
    • There may be supplements for compulsory Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve gala dinners, sometimes payable locally
    The accommodation included in this tour is mainly 4 star except that it also includes more rustic accommodation in keeping with the romantic atmosphere of the tour. There is a homestay and the accommodation in Sapa is more basic, but there is little choice in this area. For other places, we can offer you upgraded hotel stays if you prefer but they will be quite a contrast to the rest. This twelve-night tour can be adapted with additional nights in any of the places, or combined with a beach stay at the end perhaps. Also, you are not confined to travelling with Vietnam Airlines and we can arrange for you to fly via other countries in the region, for example Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, which is useful if you want to combine a tour of Vietnam with a stay in another country.

    You can download a copy of this itinerary in PDF format here

    Vietnam Country Map

    Hanoi; Apricot Hotel Hanoi, 4-star, located in the city centre close to the Opera House, the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake – canvas with garden room.
    Sapa; Topas Eco Lodge, basic accommodation with twenty-five bungalows overlooking the valley. A good example of sustainable tourism – executive bungalow.
    Ha Long Bay; L’Amour Junk, a traditional junk.
    Nha Trang; Mia Nha Trang Resort, a 4-star beach resort in the slopes between Cam Ranh airport and Nha Trang – beach front villa
    Ho Chi Minh City; The Myst dong Khoi, a 4-star boutique hotel with charismatic modern design, harbouring relics of Saigon’s past – Saigon Signature Suite room.
    Options for more luxurious hotels, possible for us to book for you at a supplement, are:
    Hanoi: Sofitel Metropole Hotel
    Ha Long Bay; Paradise Peak cruise
    Nha Trang; Six Senses Ninh Van Bay
    Nha Trang; Lalyana Ninh Van Bay
    Ho Chi Minh City; Park Hyatt
    Ho Chi Minh City; The Reverie Saigon

    You can download a copy of this itinerary in PDF format here

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