Cultural Discovery

Vietnam: The Pearl of Indochina

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Vietnamese girl standing in field Map of Vietnam trip

Vietnam is a country of immense beauty and immeasurable sadness. Join us as we journey from the island-studded waters of Ha Long Bay to Imperial Hue, perfectly preserved Hoi An and the lush tributaries of the Mekong Delta. With exclusive activities ranging from a culinary tour of Ho Chi Minh City’s morning market to making paper lanterns with artisans near Hoi An, this trip is dazzling in its diversity.

The Trip

Day One – Saigon Arrival

Our local guide will meet and greet you upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City – formerly Saigon, the city located on the right bank of the Saigon River. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city, the greatest port, and the commercial and industrial centre of Vietnam. It is the focus of the country’s highways, railroads, and Mekong Delta waterways. On the way from the airport to the city, the tour guide will provide an overview of the city and the sightseeing program for the coming days. Check-in to the hotel and the rest of the time you will be at leisure. Meals: None
Accommodation: Caravelle / Deluxe room

Day Two – Saigon City Tour & Cu Chi Tunnels

In the morning, meet your guide to visit many of the interesting sites and landmarks in Saigon City. First stop is Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral and the French built Post Office nearby, and then proceed to see the Reunification Palace, formerly the Presidential Palace governed by the US-pro government of Republic of Vietnam. Visit the War Remnants Museum, which primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Enjoy lunch at leisure and then drive to the Cu Chi district, 50 km to the Northwest of Saigon City. The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels that were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War. They were the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968. After the visit, we return to Saigon. Enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Caravelle / Deluxe room

immerse your senses...

See

the wild profusion of limestone islands scattered across Ha Long Bay

Smell

the rich aroma of traditional Vietnamese drip coffee and sweetened milk

Taste

the supernal flavour of lemon grass chicken with a dash of kaffir lime

Touch

the air while practicing tai chi at sunrise with the locals on Swan Lake

Hear

the moving incantation of Buddhist monks at prayer at Ni Vien Hanh pagoda

Day Three – Saigon – Mekong Delta – Cai Be Market

Leave your hotel at 7:30 for a 3-hour drive to Cai Be with a stop en route at Trung Luong Bonsai garden for a tea break. Upon arrival, board a motorized boat to see a small family-run rice paper making business before visiting the lively floating market of Cai Be. Then continue by boat towards Vinh Long province to see the diverse fish traps used locally for fishing. After cruising along small shady canals, step ashore and take a chance to watch a typical music show of the Mekong cultural life. Lunch will be served in a bonsai garden and afterwards we will take a walk for about half an hour to enjoy the rural peaceful atmosphere of the countryside life. On the way we can also stop en route to learn more about fruit trees. Drive back to Saigon for the night. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Caravelle / Deluxe room

Day Four – Saigon – Nha Trang

After a late breakfast you are free to spend the morning at leisure until the transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport. Fly approximately one hour to Nha Trang City – “The Top 100 Best Beach & Bay City in the World” ranked by the Forbes and Conde Nast Leisure & Travel Magazine. Nha Trang is a popular seaside resort known for its palm-lined white sand beaches and clear turquoise water. Some islands in Nha Trang are paradise for those who are interested in snorkeling and scuba diving. Arrive in Nha Trang, and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is free at your leisure to indulge in the amenities of the resort. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Ana Mandara Resort / Sea view room

Day Five – Nha Trang Island Trip

Experience the coast of Nha Trang aboard a boat as you set out in the morning for the first stop at the Tri Nguyen Aquarium. Venture out to Hon Mun Island for swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear waters. From here, continue to Hon Tam Island where you have the choice of relaxing on the beach or trying out a variety of water sports. Your lunch stop is at the fishing village of Lang Chai where there is time to explore before boarding the boat back to Nha Trang harbour. If time permits, you may visit the Po Nagar Towers, an outstanding example of ancient Cham architecture and then tour around Dam Market before returning to the hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Ana Mandara Resort / Sea view room

local diversions...

Culinary Delights

Vietnam cuisine offers up a delectable array of exotic flora, fauna and fruit for consumption. The star fruit, for example, has a distinct taste and is often used in cooking. The fruit is green when young, turning yellow to almost orange and slightly translucent when ripe. When sliced cross-wise, the pieces look like five distinct-angled stars. Consequently, the fruit is a must in certain Vietnamese dishes as garnishes. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.

Fun Facts

The conical leaf hat, or in Vietnamese, non la, is hand-woven with palm leaves and bamboo, then coated with attar to keep it clean, smooth, and waterproof – helping to protect from sun and rain in tropical Vietnam.

Cultural Moment

The pagoda is situated on Ha Khe Hill, on the left bank of Perfume River, 5 kilometers from Hue. Thien Mu, the name of the pagoda originated in a legend saying that an old woman appeared on the hill; she told the local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang, on hearing that, commanded the construction of the pagoda on the hill and named it the “Heavenly Lady”. The pagoda is built in an octagonal shape with seven tiers, enshrining the bronze cast statues and housing precious items. The surrounding area is adorned with flower gardens and beautiful plants.

Day Six – Nha Trang at leisure

Today you will be free to enjoy the resort and surroundings on your own. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Ana Mandara Resort / Sea view room

Day Seven – Nha Trang – Danang

After a relaxed breakfast, the morning is at your leisure until you transfer to the airport for the one hour flight to Danang City, famous for China Beach and the former R&R for US servicemen. Upon arrival transfer to Hoi An, visiting the fascinating Cham Museum, China Beach and the Marble Mountains en route. Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Its buildings and street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce these unique heritage sites. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Life Hoian / Junior Suite River view

Day Eight – Hoi An Walking & River Tours

Set out this morning to explore the city. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, Hoi An was one of South East Asia’s major international ports and today it still retains that special old-world feel. Enjoy a walking tour through the Old Quarters to see the town’s landmarks of Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient Assembly Hall, Phuc Kien Temple and then take a scenic river trip along the Thu Bon River. Visit ceramic village of Thanh Ha, carpentry village of Kim Bong and Dai Chiem Estuary. Hoi An is also famous for its large number of tailor shops, so if you want to have a new wardrobe made up, this is the time to do it. Meals: Breakfast
Accommodation: Life Hoian / Junior Suite River view

Day Nine – Hoi An – Danang

After breakfast around 09:00am, a well-known Hoi An chef from the Pho Hoi garden restaurant will take you to the colourful central market to introduce some Hoi An dishes and their ingredients by way of a walk through the market. After buying the food, head to the Pho Hoi garden restaurant for an interactive cooking demonstration of three typical Vietnamese dishes; followed by a lunch that you have created. In the early afternoon, transfer to the airport for your one-hour flight to Hanoi. The capital city of Vietnam is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. Transfer to your hotel in the city centre and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation: Sofitel Metropole / Opera room

Day Ten – Hanoi – Halong Bay

Depart this morning for Halong Bay, travelling through the stunningly scenic countryside. The wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive sights. Board the Halong Jasmine and set sail through the bay while lunch is served. Cruise the waters through thousands of sculpted limestone islands rising from the waves like dragons’ teeth. After lunch, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay dotted with Halong Jasmine golden sails, and go swimming on a quiet beach or sunbathe on the sundeck. Later this afternoon, visit a small fishing village with the opportunity to interact with fishmen who have been living in the bay for almost three generations. At sunset, kayak or take a bamboo row boat to discover a water tunnel with many coral reefs in a scenic lagoon. Back on board Halong Jasmine , enjoy cocktails while watching the sunset and later unwind at Jasmine restaurant. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Jasmine junk / join-in boat / Deluxe cabin

Day Eleven – Halong Bay Cruising

After breakfast, transfer to your smaller day-trip boat with private crew and cruise to the bay’s most untouched areas. Enjoy swimming on quiet beaches, visiting water tunnels, fishing villages or kayaking. Lunch served on board by your private chef. Return to the mother boat for the night. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Jasmine junk / join-in boat / Deluxe cabin

Day Twelve – Halong Bay – Hanoi

Wake up in time to enjoy the sun rising over the bay. After breakfast, visit the beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay as you cruise back to the dock. Transfer back to Hanoi for the night. Meals: Brunch
Accommodation: Sofitel Metropole / Opera room

Day Thirteen – Hanoi departure

Today is yours to spend at leisure and take in Hanoi until your transfer to Noi Bai airport for the return flight home. Meals: Breakfast

The Details

Image of Buddhist monks looking over ancient building

Level of Activity: Moderate – Suitable for most ages and abilities, with activities ranging from city walking to strolls through streets and along nature paths.

Start: Saigon, Vietnam
Finish: Hanoi, Vietnam

What’s Included:

Trip Operator: Horizon & Co. (but not limited to), is Canada’s leading boutique travel company. Horizon designs and stages authentic and deeply personal travel experiences that are carefully choreographed to induce a life-long memory. In addition to offering published trips on seven continents, Horizon builds private custom trips for discerning individuals and small groups.

Duration 12 nights / 13 days

TO BOOK YOUR TRIP: Contact Chantal Farand-Viau by calling 416-617-4868 or via email at chantal@entre‑amiesgetaways.com.

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