Discover Vietnam’s breathtaking natural beauty, abiding tradition, and hospitable people. Begin your tour in French-accented Hanoi, and visit the Temple of Literature and the Ancient Quarter. Cruise along the islands and islets of Ha Long Bay. See local life up close on a walking tour of a farming settlement. Cruise the Perfume River to peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda. Travel to Can Tho in southern Vietnam and explore the storied Mekong River Delta’s tributaries and floating markets. Your journey concludes in vibrant Saigon with tours of Reunification Palace, the History Museum, and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Discover Angkor Wat’s temples on an optional extension to Cambodia.
Depart U.S for Hanoi, Vietnam
Appropriate in-flight meal service provided.
En route to Hanoi, Vietnam
Appropriate in-flight meal service provided.
We arrive in the Vietnamese capital today then transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned.
This morning’s orientation tour of this French-accented city features Hoan Kiem Lake; the marvelous Temple of Literature (c. 1070); infamous Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War; and the narrow streets of the diverse Ancient Quarter. Following an afternoon at leisure, this evening we attend a traditional water puppet performance then gather at a local restaurant for a welcome dinner. B,D
We continue our discovery of this culturally rich city with a walking tour of the Ba Dinh Square complex of sites, including the marble and granite mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace, and thousand-year-old One Pillar Pagoda. This afternoon we get a taste of local life when we visit the lively Long Bien produce market then we take a cycling tour of nearby villages. A highlight: a visit to an artists’ community where we have the opportunity to meet painters in their studios. Returning to Hanoi, tonight we dine in the home of a gracious local family. B,D
Hanoi/Ha Long Bay
Early this morning we depart for Ha Long Bay, a breathtaking waterway sprinkled with 3,000 islands and islets, and surrounded by a fairytale landscape of limestone cliffs, secret grottoes, and hidden caves. Our boat tour includes lunch on board and stops to explore this dramatic landscape on foot. Tonight we dine at our hotel overlooking the bay. B,L,D
Ha Long Bay/Da Nang
We fly this morning to Da Nang, Vietnam’s third largest city, situated on the south central coast. Upon arrival, we tour the acclaimed Cham Museum, which celebrates the Cham people’s Hindu legacy with a fine collection of sculpture and artifacts dating from the 7th to 15th centuries. After we reach our beachfront hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure in this splendid setting. B,D
Da Nang/Hoi An
This morning we visit nearby Hoi An, where a succession of Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese traders helped to build an architecturally diverse and colorful village where many ancient traditions still hold sway. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An’s Old Town is a charming car-free pedestrian zone lined with tailors, shops, and art galleries. This afternoon is at leisure to either remain in Hoi An on your own or return to our beachside resort for a relaxing interlude. B,L
A morning walking tour of a nearby farming settlement reveals the daily life of a local community up close. Here rice paddies occupy every spare patch of ground, water buffaloes plow the fields, and villagers ride to market with produce piled high on their bicycles. Later we enjoy a cooking lesson and dinner in Hoi An. B,D
We depart this morning by coach for the ancient imperial city of Hue, whose palaces, temples, and tombs evoke its past grandeur as home to emperors and mandarins. We explore the Imperial City – enjoying a traditional cyclo ride along the way – housing the Forbidden Purple City complex where emperors lived with their families and now a UNESCO site. We also visit the busy Central Market. Tonight we enjoy a special Hue dinner, with traditional music. B,D
This morning we cruise along Hue’s Perfume River to peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda, a Buddhist monastery that ranks among the city’s oldest and most important monuments. After admiring the seven-story octagonal tower, we visit the palatial Tomb of Minh Mang (c. 1840), with its pavilions and courtyards modeled after the Ming Tombs of China. This afternoon we see the tombs of Tu Duc, a gem of royal architecture; and Khai Dinh, an elaborate mix of ancient and modern, European and Asian. B,L
Today begins with an early morning flight to Saigon. Upon arrival we board a motorcoach for the three-hour drive south to the Mekong River town of Cai Be then on to the busy river port and provincial capital of Can Tho. B,D
Can Tho/Mekong Delta
We rise early for today’s journey by boat to the bustling floating market at Cai Rang, one of the region’s largest. Then we go ashore to visit the Old Can Tho market. After lunch at a local restaurant, we travel by motorcoach to the upper reaches of the storied Mekong. Here we board motorized sampans for an up-close look at river life as we explore the maze of tributaries and inlets. B,L
Today we travel by coach to Saigon, arriving in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Our afternoon tour includes the former Presidential Palace, which served as the South Vietnamese government’s wartime headquarters. Now called Reunification Palace, it was here that the first Communist tanks rolled in to Saigon on April 30, 1975. We also tour the History Museum, with its excellent collection of art and artifacts of the indigenous peoples of Vietnam. B,L
This morning we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the infamous underground network from which North Vietnamese forces operated in wartime. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner. B,D
Depart for U.S.
Following a day free for independent exploration, late this afternoon we depart for the airport and our overnight flight to the U.S. Our rooms are reserved for our late check-out. B
We arrive in the U.S. and connect with our flights home.
This tour fundamentally changed my perspective on the world by showing us the country’s complex history and international relationships.
- Eric Jacobsson, 2015
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