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Grand Tour of Vietnam 15 Days / 14 Nights

Grand Tour of Vietnam 15 Days / 14 Nights

Grand Tour of Vietnam 15 Days / 14 Nights

Grand Tour of Vietnam 15 Days / 14 Nights

Grand Tour of Vietnam 15 Days / 14 Nights

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Grand Tour of Vietnam | Discover its History, Art and People

Travelling from French colonial Hanoi and enchanting Halong Bay in the North, to the ancient town of Hoi An and the old imperial capital of Hue in Central Vietnam, before arriving in westernised Ho Chi Minh City, (formerly Saigon) in the South, you will discover fascinating insights about Vietnam’s history, culture and people on this 15 day Grand Tour of Vietnam.

Visiting pagodas, temples and tranquil villages along the way, and no less than 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you will take in the country’s incredible natural beauty; a verdant tapestry of spectacular karst peaks, mysterious caves, fertile deltas and otherworldly rock formations.

And as you travel, you will learn about a wide breadth of Vietnam's cultural history, with pre-dinner talks from your Expert, including: Vietnam Beyond the Headlines: Its Culture, Geography, History and People, Hoa Lu: A History of Vietnam's Ancient Capital, Royal Hue: Heritage of the Nguyen Dynasty, The Making of Saigon - Today's Ho Chi Minh City and The Mekong Delta in Ancient History.

With guided tours of traditional food markets, a cooking demonstration by a professional Vietnamese chef and opportunities to dine at authentic Vietnamese restaurants, you will not only taste delicious Vietnamese cuisine, but also learn how food is central to Vietnam’s story.

Including many special activities such as an American jeep ride to the ancient temples at My Son, a boat trip on the Mekong to Cai Be’s floating market, a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and his stilted house in Hanoi, as well as talks from your trip scholar, that cover a breadth of Vietnamese themes, this tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

You will stay in hand-selected 4 star accommodation and dine in authentic and reputable restaurants throughout.

Tour Highlights

Hanoi

  • Tour Thang Long Imperial Citadel, a historical site that blends northern influences of China and the ancient Kingdom of Champa and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Visit Ho Chin Minh’s mausoleum and the house on stilts where he lived from 1958 until his death in 1969

  • Discover Buddhist and Taoist pagodas, temples and deities as you stroll around Hanoi’s picturesque West Lake

  • Enjoy a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a bustling area of narrow streets and alleys, the charming Hang Be Market and Hoan Kiem Lake

  • Enjoy a North Vietnamese Water Puppet show performance, depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history

  • Taste authentic Vietnamese cuisine in authentic restaurants and whilst perusing traditional markets

Hoa Lu

  • Experience a drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu, visiting its citadel and temples of past Vietnamese Emperors

Ninh Binh

  • Enjoy a peaceful river boat journey passing through a valley of spectacular karst peaks and caves at Trang An Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • An unforgettable overnight cruise on Halong bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hoi An

  • Walking tour of ancient town of Hoi An (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

  • Watch a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking by a professional chef which is combined with a tour of Hoi An market and includes an overview of ingredients common in Vietnamese food

Hue

  • A city tour of Hue, the ‘Complex of Hue Monuments’, the former citadel of the last Nguyen Dynasty and a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
     

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) (Saigon)

  • Discover how European art fused with traditional Vietnamese materials and techniques to give birth to modern Vietnamese art during a tour of an art café

  • Visit the impressive  HCMC Fine Arts Museum, a stunning example of Sino-French architecture to learn how artists have been tools of government during resistance, revolution and the reconstruction of Vietnam as well as learn about Vietnam’s 90’s art market boom

  • Experience the AO show, that depicts a cultural story of both old and new Vietnam through dance and music, at the Municipal Theatre, a landmark building in the city

  • Enjoy a river cruise on the Mekong and a ride in a xe loi (a trailer towed from the back of a bicycle)

  • Visit an orchard of tropical fruits, owned by a Veteran from the Vietnamese war, who will tell stories from his life, as well as taking you in to his garden to sample the fruits

  • Take a boat tour of the famous Cai be floating fish market

  • Enjoy a relaxing ride in a sampan boat along tropical canals

  • Enjoy cuisine that only exists in the Mekong Delta in a 100 year old house with European and Vietnamese designs

  • Cruise up the Vinh Long river to the charming town of Sa Dec. French novelist Marguerite Duras lived here as a child, and decades later the town  provided the backdrop for the movie adaptation of her novel The Lover.

  • Get a first-hand look at the Vietnam-American war history with a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. As you are lead through the jungle you will learn about the ingenuity of the Cu Chi residents and even have a chance to crawl through the tunnels (if you wish)

  • View rice paddies, villagers drying noodles by the side of the road and other scenes of typical southern Vietnamese life

  • Enjoy a 2 hour relaxing sunset boat trip on Saigon river, seeing the most interesting sights of the city; everything from traditional wooden boats to larger seafaring vessels. Watch the sun set over the city.

Not included:

  • Flights

  • Travel insurance

 

 

 

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Day 1 Hanoi

Evening | Welcome Reception* with Drink and Introductory Talk by Your Expert | Welcome Dinner in the Hotel

This evening, attend a pre-dinner Introduction to the Tour from your Expert lecturer in a private function room of the hotel, detailing tours and activities you will be experiencing throughout your journey in Vietnam followed by a Welcome Dinner in the hotel's restaurant.

Overnight | in Hanoi

Meals included: D

*Please advise your Grand Cultural Tours Travel Adviser if you require a transfer from the airport to the hotel or pre-tour accommodation.

 

Day 2 Hanoi

Morning | Guided Tours of Thang Long Imperial Citadel, One Pillar Pagoda, Mausoleum and Stilted House of Ho Chi Minh and Buddhist and Taoist Temples

This morning you will visit Hanoi’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. Constructed on a Chinese fortress, the Citadel dates from the 7th century and was re-built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty. The historical site and remains reflect a unique South-East Asian culture between influences from China in the north and the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south.

You will also visit the One Pillar Pagoda, which was founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure is one of Vietnam’s smallest but most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of modern Vietnam's father figure, Ho Chi Minh, and the former president's house built on stilts, where he lived from 1958 to 1969. The house illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary.

Afterwards continue to Hanoi’s picturesque West Lake area and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) 700 meters to the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh which is dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities of Taoism.

Afternoon | Lunch at KOTO Restaurant | Visit Temple of Literature | Tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter | Hang Be Market | Water Puppet Show Performance

Enjoy lunch-for-a-cause at KOTO Restaurant. KOTO, or ‘Know One Teach One’, is supported by Street Voices, an NGO dedicated to offering a brighter future to disadvantaged young people in Vietnam. Each pupil in the KOTO training program study hospitality, English and life skills and gain essential experience working at KOTO restaurant.

After lunch, continue to the Temple of Literature, or Quoc Tu Giam. Built in 1076, The Temple of Literature was Vietnam's first university and was established to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Next, visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as the 36 streets. Take a walking tour through charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities.

Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely North Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.  

Evening | at Leisure

Overnight | in Hanoi

Meals included: B, L

 

Day 3 Hanoi

Morning | Introduction to Modern Vietnamese Art in Art Café | National Museum of Fine Arts | Presentation on Vietnamese Contemporary Artists

This morning transfer to a charming art café for an introduction to modern Vietnamese history from an Expert Local Guide.

The next stop is the National Museum of Fine Arts which is housed in an impressive former French convent. Beginning with artworks from the colonial era, your Art Tour Host will explain how European styles fused with traditional Vietnamese materials to give birth to modern Vietnamese art. Continue to the adjoining room where works made during the two Indochina wars are displayed. War time sketches, propaganda posters and impressive, government commissioned lacquer works will help visitors understand the essential role of artists in the revolution and reconstruction of Vietnam.

Art Tour Hosts

This tour is delivered by a resident of Hanoi with a wide art background, and is the result of extensive research, working with renowned researchers and historian, artists and gallery owners, curators and collectors. This tour will usually be conducted by either Fabiola Buchele or Bill Nguyen. Fabiola is an Austrian arts and culture journalist who moved to Hanoi three years ago from London to start the online publication & of Other Things which covers the alternative arts and culture scene in Vietnam. Bill studied art history in the UK before returning to his native Hanoi to work as an artist and is the co-founder of Manzi, one of the most influential contemporary art spaces in Vietnam.

The tour continues to Hanoi’s longest running galleries. Here visitors are invited to see the rapid changes Vietnam underwent after the war, with the arrival of a contemporary art market. Guests will also see the works of the first generation of young contemporary artists.

The final destination is a vibrant art space cafe housed in a stunning colonial era villa. Here you will have the opportunity to view the current exhibition, before being given a lively and informative presentation about the work of Vietnamese contemporary artists. The future of Vietnamese art and the next generation of Vietnamese artists are discussed. Afterwards transfer back to your hotel.

Afternoon | at Leisure

This afternoon is at leisure or join one of the following optional* tours in Hanoi. 

Optional 1*: Hanoi Street Food Tour with Guide

This afternoon, you explore Hanoi's Old Quarter food markets.

One of the best ways to discover Vietnam and to understand Vietnamese culture is to get to know more about its food. Vietnamese food is one of the most diverse in the world, and without doubt one its tastiest. In Hanoi, from markets to food stalls, and to coffee shops, food is everywhere.

Start your tour in the afternoon at one of the inner city’s finest local restaurants, where pho, Vietnam’s national dish, is served. There is a large choices of pho bo (beef noodle soup) and pho ga (chicken noodle soup).

Continue to one of the city's last remaining ‘wet markets’ where a huge array of fresh meat and produce is sold. In the morning the market is abuzz with shoppers buying what they need for the day’s meals. everything from fresh tropical fruits, an abundance of fragrant herbs, fresh meats, fresh flowers and even live fish and frogs are sold! At the market, you will be able to sample some of the available dishes before walking through the backstreets where small vendors set up their stalls along the road. Take a rest while enjoying excellent street food, including banh xeo, and bun cha (fresh rice noodles with grilled pork and herbs) or hoa qua dam (fresh fruits) and enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee or tea before returning to your hotel.

Optional Tour 2*: Ethnology Museum Tour with Guide

This afternoon, you will join a guided tour of the Ethnology Museum to learn, through tribal art, artefacts and everyday objects gathered across the nation, about the cultural heritage of 54 colorful Vietnamese ethnic communities. One of the highlights is the outdoor full size models of traditional ethnic houses.

Optional Tour 3*: Traditional Musical Performance at National Academy of Music

This afternoon you will enjoy a traditional Vietnamese musical performance by the National Academy of Music. This is the major institute that shapes most of the artists in classical or traditional music fields in Vietnam. You will gain an understanding of Vietnam's past through music, as well as have the opportunity to interact with the musicians and learn how to play the traditional musical instruments.

Evening | at Leisure

The rest of the evening is at leisure. Explore the Old Quarter by night, take in a show at the Opera House or perhaps even a tradional folk music performance of Vietnamese ca tru. Enjoy a dinner at any number of fine dining restaurants.

Overnight | in Hanoi

Meals included: B

*Options not included in tour price. Please request pricing from your Grand Cultural Tours Travel Adviser.

 

Day 4 Hanoi – Ninh Binh

Morning | Transfer to Hoa Lu for Guided Tour of Temples

Transfer through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu and its ancient citadel. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80), and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). 

After visiting Hoa Lu, if time and energy levels permit, you may choose to take a half-hour walk up one of the surrounding limestone karst hills to enjoy the spectacular views. 

Afternoon | Lunch Followed by Visit to Trand An Landscape with Boat Trip Through Caves

After lunch, visit Trang An Landscape Complex which was listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2014. Take a relaxing boat ride on a peaceful river, passing through a series of caves. Trang An is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, some of which are submerged, and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. As the boat gently slices through the water, notice the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields giving rise to its other name, Halong on Land. An ‘eco tourism’ dedicated area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.

Transfer to your hotel and the rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.

Evening | Talk by Your Expert Followed by Dinner the the Hotel

This evening at your hotel, you will join your Expert lecturer for a talk on the history and backgrounds about the area before your dinner.

Overnight | in Ninh Binh

Meals included: B, L, D 

 

Day 5 Ninh Binh – Halong Bay                                                                           

Morning | Transfer to Halong Bay 

Travel to Ninh Binh and Halong Bay, perhaps Vietnam’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The name ‘Ha Long’ means the dragon descending into the sea and owes its origins to a Vietnamese myth. The towering limestone karsts represent the dragon’s back, surrounded by jade green water, creating an unforgettable site. There are more than 1,600 limestone islands and islets with different shapes jutting out from the sea, most of which are still uninhabited.

Afternoon | Arrive Halong Bay | Check-in to Cruise Boat | Lunch Served During Cruise of Bay | Visit Selected Stops in Bay 

Arrive at the Halong Bay jetty around noon and proceed with check-in formalities before boarding a boat for your unforgettable overnight cruise on Halong bay. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served, while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy visiting some of the islands or just relax on board.

Evening | Dinner Onboard Cruise Boat

Towards the end of the day, the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations.

Dinner is served on board.

Overnight | Private Cabin Onboard Boat in Halong Bay

Meals included: B, L, D

 

Day 6 Halong Bay – Hanoi – Danang - Hoi An

Morning | Enjoy Breakfast Onboard Boat on Halong Bay

As the sun rises in the morning, enjoy breakfast (brunch on some boats) in the middle of Halong Bay as the vessel cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations towards the port.

Mid-morning the boat will return to shore.

Afternoon | Lunch | Transfer to Hanoi Airport for Flight to Danang in Central Vietnam 

Disembark and transfer to Hanoi Airport for the mid-late afternoon onward flight to Danang in Central Vietnam.

On the drive back to Hanoi airport, there will be a stop en-route where clients can have a quick simple lunch at their own expense.

On arrival in Danang transfer the short distance to the nearby historic town of Hoi An. Hoi An was a major Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years, making it a favourite destination for international visitors. Hoi An Ancient Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

Evening | at Leisure in Hoi An Ancient Town

Overnight | in Hoi An

Meals included: B

 

Day 7 Hoi An

Morning | Jeep Ride to My Son | Visit Cham Museum En-route

This morning, you will enjoy a ride in an open-air, fully renovated, American war-era jeep from Hoi An to My Son, home to the grand Champa Kingdom. Thanks to its 4 wheel-drive, the jeep is able to leave the main road behind and follow quiet rural lanes into the heart of the Vietnam countryside. Pass through farms, villages and ‘middle of nowhere’ places, all while enjoying fresh air and spectacular views.

Raise a few eyebrows from curious locals and stop as often as you like for photos. Visit a piglet market and learn about its history and purpose in village life. Reach My Son in the middle of the morning and set off on foot to the ruins. Venture around the paths, visiting the numerous ruins and soaking in the atmosphere of this historic site. You will stop by the Cham Museum to visit the world’s largest collection of Cham artefacts, housed in a French-colonial building.

Afternoon | Visit Bronze Casting Village | Drive Through Countryside to Hoi An | Walking Tour of Hoi An Ancient Town

Mid-day begin the drive back to Hoi An. Visit a bronze casting village and learn about the history of this ancient art and its importance in Vietnamese culture. Lunch at one of the traditional village houses. Resume the trip back to Hoi An through the countryside, its quaint villages and rice paddies where photo opportunities abound. 

Reach your hotel in Hoi An by mid-afternoon.

Enjoy a guided walking tour of Hoi An's ancient town centre visiting the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and a Chinese communal hall.

Evening | Talk by Your Expert | Dinner 

This evening, you will join your expert lecturer for a Talk about the history and backgrounds in the area before dinner at the hotel.

Overnight | in Hoi An

Meals included: B, L, D

 

Day 8 Hoi An - Hue

Morning | Vietnamese Cooking Demonstration by Professional Chef with Food Market Tour 

Discover the secrets of fragrant Vietnamese cuisine with a Vietnamese cooking demonstration.

This experience combines a tour of Hoi An market, explaining the ingredients common in Vietnamese food, with a step-by-step cooking demonstration from a professional Vietnamese chef. Learn how to select the freshest ingredients and essential sauces, as well as the cooking techniques that make Vietnamese cuisine renowned around the world. 

Afternoon | Lunch | Transfer to Hue (Capital of the Nguyen Dynasty) | Check in to Hotel | Enjoy the Nam Giao Ritual 

Enjoy a delicious 4-course lunch prepared by the restaurant.

After lunch, travel through Hai Van Pass to Hue, the former citadel of the very last Nguyen Dynasty.

Upon arrival in Hue, check in at your chosen hotel and take some time to relax.

Evening | Dinner at Hotel

This evening, you will join your Expert for a talk about the history and backgrounds about this charming ancient imperial city (takes place in a private function room at the hotel).

Overnight | in Hue

Meals included: B, L, D

 

Day 9 Hue

Morning | Guided Tour of the Complex of Hue Monuments | Transfer to the Thien Mu Pagoda | Visit the Austin Car Driven by the Monk, who in 1963, Set Himself Alight in Protest Against the Southern Vietnamese Regime

This morning travel to the UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Complex of Hue Monuments’.

The structures of The Complex of Hue Monuments are carefully placed within the natural setting of the site and aligned cosmologically with the Five Cardinal Points (centre, west, east, north, south), the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire), and the Five Colours (yellow, white, blue, black, red).  The Imperial Citadel is where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945 and reflects the pomp and ceremony of its dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, whilst retaining a sense of grace and majesty. To this day it remains an outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital.

Transfer by car to visit Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River. Constructed in 1601, the 21-meter tall tower is the centerpiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. Within the grounds of the pagoda is the Austin car made famous when, in 1963, a monk drove the vehicle to what was then Saigon, setting himself alight to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self immortalization was captured and was one of the most well known images of the war.

Afternoon | Lunch in Eco-resort | Transfer to Tu Duc and Emperor Khai Dinh's Tombs

Enjoy lunch at the restaurant in an eco-resort across from Thien Mu Pagoda.

Journey on to Tu Duc Tomb. Its design based on Chinese-influenced philosophy, Emperor Tu Duc's tomb, is said to be one of the most atmospheric ruins in Vietnam. It is the best representation of the Nguyen’s concept of the afterlife. It is said that the Emperor Tu Duc often came here to spend time to get away from the French pressure at court.

Continue your visit to Emperor Khai Dinh’s Tomb. Traditional Vietnamese in design with a European touch, it is unique among the many tombs of Hue. You will learn about the influence Emperor Khai Dinh took from his French counterpart during its design.

Head back to your hotel to relax.

The rest of the day is your free time at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s facilities (pool/ spa) or enjoy dinner at a nice local restaurant.

Evening | at Leisure

Overnight | in Hue

Meals included: B, L

 

Day 10 Hue – Ho Chi Minh City

Morning | Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City by Internal Flight | Visit War Remnants Museum

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City (often referred to by the locals as Saigon).

Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, you will enjoy a guided tour of the city, which will reveal the fascianting stories behind this vibrant metropolis.

Your program includes the War Remnants Museum where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and 'American' wars.

Afternoon | Lunch at Local Restaurant | Guided Visit of Reunification Hall and Other Major Sights of Ho Chi Minh City | Transfer to Hotel for Check-in

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to visit the Reunification Hall. Formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was seized North Vietnamese tanks on the morning of the 30th April 1975, as Saigon fell. This fascinating building is filled with history still fresh in the minds of many.

From here stroll to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City; the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), the Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel and check-in.

Evening | Talk by Your Expert Lecturer | Welcome to Saigon Dinner

This evening, you will join your Expert lecturer for a talk on ... in a private function room at the hotel.

Overnight | in Ho Chi Minh City

Meals included: B, L, D

 

Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City

Morning | Traditional Vietnamese Sweet Coffee with Introduction to HCMC Fine Arts Museum Tour

This morning enjoy traditional Vietnamese sweet coffee in an art cafe whilst you are given an overview of the tour of the HCMC Fine Arts Museum, a stunning example of Sino-French architecture.

Learn how artists have been tools of the government during resistance, revolution and reconstruction of a nation. The artworks from Northern and Southern artists demonstrate how politics led to Vietnam’s 90’s art market boom.

First stop is a private collection that houses colonial era works. Using images on a tablet you are invited to see how European styles fused with traditional Vietnamese materials and techniques to give birth to modern Vietnamese art.

The last stop on the tour is a contemporary art gallery which works with Vietnamese and international artists to nurture experimentation and create opportunities for emerging artists. End the tour with a final discussion about the future of Vietnamese art in an international context and what that means for the next generation of Vietnamese artists.

Afternoon | at Leisure 

This afternoon enjoy time at leisure, perhaps walk to Ben Thanh market for some souvenir shopping, or browse the shops along Dong Khoi street or simply enjoy the hotel’s facilities (pool/ spa). Around the centre, there are many nice coffee shops where you can stop by to get a drink and escape from the heat or sip a sundowner at a sky deck lounge to enjoy the panoramic view of Saigon.

Evening | Enjoy a Vietnamese Theatre Performance at the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City | Rest of Evening at Leisure

This early evening discover

Early evening walk with your guide to the Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as the Saigon Opera House to experience the AO Show, a modern cultural show which displays the finest Vietnamese heritage and culture through contemporary choreography and traditional music.  

Built in 1898 by the French architect Ferret Eugene, and restored in 1998 on the tri-centenary of the founding of Saigon, the Municipal Theatre has witnessed countless important events in the city’s turbulent history and is now certified as a ‘National Relic’.

Rest of evening at leisure. 

Overnight | in Ho Chi Minh City

Meals included: B

 

Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City – Cai Lay – Cai Be

Morning | Transfer to the Mekong Delta | Cruise on Mekong River | Cycle or Transfer by Vietnamese Xe Loi | Visit Traditional Workshops | Visit Family-run Orchard with Talk From War Veteran Owner

This morning you will be transfered to the Mekong Delta. On arrival board a boat for a 30-minutre cruise up the river to your starting point for your bicycle tour, alternatively, if you may wish to be transferred in a xe loi, a trailer towed from the back of a bicycle and only used in the Mekong Delta.

The leisurely 7km cycling trip takes you along shady back roads over tiny canals, past fruit gardens and sleepy villages . En-route stop at some traditional workshops which make turmeric spring roll paper and roof thatching made from the water palm tree.

Mid-morning visit a family run orchard where diverse tropical fruits are grown. The owner, a former war veteran, will share with you stories from his life, as well as take you into his garden to sample fresh tropical fruits. 

After bidding your host good-bye, relax while enjoying the view from a small sampan boat as you are paddled slowly along tropical canals.

Afternoon | Cycle or Take the Xe Loi to 100 Year Old Vietnamese/European Influenced House for Lunch | Transfer to the Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa

Disembark and continue cycling to a stunning 100-year old Vietnamese house which is architecturally a mixture between traditional Vietnamese and European designs. Here a Vietnamese lunch will be served consisting of dishes only found in the Mekong Delta. After your meal, bid farewell to the family before transferring to the Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa, which is perfectly situated overlooking the Mekong River.

Evening | Talk by Expert Lecturer | Dinner at Hotel

This evening, enjoy a talk by your Expert lecturer on ... in a private function room.

Rest of evening at leisure.

Overnight | at the Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa

Meals included:  B, L, D

 

Day 13 Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh City

Morning | Check-out of Hotel | Board Cruise on the Mekong to Vinh Long for Visit of Largest Brick Factory on the Mekong Delta | Continue Onwards to Sa Dec Town (Setting of the Novel, The Lover, by Marguerite Duras)

Check-out after breakfast transfer to your cruise ship before embarking upstream toward Sadec town.

Your first stop is the river town of Vinh Long where you will be guided around one of the largest brick and pottery factories in the Mekong Delta. In this traditional factory the process of making bricks and pottery is carried out by hand.

Travel onwards to Sa Dec, a charming, Mekong Delta town that has escaped the modernisation that has swept much of Vietnam. The town was immortalized by the French writer Marguerite Duras who lived here from 1928 to 1932.  Her novel, The Lover, went on to win the 1984 Prix Goncourt prize for literature. On arrival in Sa Dec, visit the charming Kien An Cung Pagoda and the former home of Huynh Thuy Le who is the main character in Marguerite Duras’ novel.  

Afternoon | Lunch in Sa Dec | Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

After lunch, you will be transfered to Ho Chi Minh for the night.

Rest of afternoon at leisure.

Evening | at Leisure

Overnight | in Ho Chi Minh City

Meals included: B, L

 

Day 14 Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City

Morning | Guided Tour of Cu Chi Tunnels

You will be transferred from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi district. Leaving the city behind, the scenery changes to views of rice paddies, villagers drying noodles by the side of the road and other scenes typical of southern Vietnam.

Get a first-hand look at the Vietnam-American war history with this half-day tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, 50 kilometres northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cu Chi Tunnels were an incredible underground network of tunnels constructed during the Vietnam War by Vietnamese resistance fighters (the Viet Cong). The tunnels served as living quarters and as supply routes and hospitals for thousands of guerilla fighters and played a significant role in strategic operations agains the Americans, including the Tet Offensive.

You will be guided through the jungle, whislt your Local Expert Guide explains the history of the war and the ingenuity of the Cu Chi people. You will even have a chance to crawl through the tunnels before returning to the city.

In the late morning return transfer to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.

Afternoon | Transfer to Saigon River | River Boat Cruise on Saigon's Canals

In the late afternoon, transfer to a jetty on the Saigon River that flows through the heart of the city. Board the river boat for the relaxing sunset boat trip with refreshments. Cruise through isolated canals, local neighborhoods, and some of Saigon’s most rapidly developing areas. This late afternoon cruise will allow enough daylight to see the most interesting sights both on and off the river. The experience highlights the contrast between the gridlocked city streets and the quiet waterways. Everything from traditional wooden boats to families living on fishing boats and larger sea fearing vessels can be seen. At the end of the cruise, watch the sunset over the city’s developing skyline.

Evening | Farewell Dinner at Waterfront Restaurant

Disembark at one of the finest waterfront restaurants and saviour delicious pan-Asian style cuisine and drinks whilst you soak up the atmosphere of the Saigon River at sunset during a Farewell Dinner.

Overnight | in Ho Chi Minh City

Meals included: B, D

 

Day 15 Ho Chi Minh City

Morning | End of Tour After Breakfast*

End of Tour.

Meals included: B

*Please advise a Grand Cultural Tours Travel Adviser at time of booking if you require a transfer to the airport or an extension to your stay. 

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  • Visa On Arrival Letter procedure fee (if requested)

  • 14 nights in 4 star hotel accommodation with breakfast

  • 10 x Lunches and 8 x Dinners (drinks not included)

  • All land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles

  • Services of a Trip Scholar throughout including 6 x pre-dinner talks and 6 x rental of conference room with pre-dinner talks

  • All boat trips and river cruises

  • English speaking local guides throughout

  • Internal Flight HANOI-DANANG/ HUE-HO CHI MINH  (Economy class)

  • All admission fees at attractions

  • Tips

 

Not included:

  • Vietnam visa* stamping fee at airport ($25 plus passport photo required).

  • International flights to/from Vietnam

  • Travel insurance

 

* Visa is compulsory and must be arranged in advance.

Local Expert Guides

Local Expert Guides

Our Local Expert Guides are experienced licenced tour guides with special access to museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions. 

Professional and gifted communicators with unparalleled local knowledge, each one specialises in bringing the past to life. 

For more information about our Expert Guides, please contact us on 020 8877 2883 to speak with a Grand Cultural Tours representative.

Hotels

You will stay in hand-selected 4 star accommodation throughout. 

 

Passports and Visas

Until the 30th June 2017, visa is not required for British, French, German, Italian and Spanish citizens with passport having at least six-month validity travelling to Viet Nam for up to 15 days for all purposes. We await further news as to whether this visa waiver for up to 15 days will remain in place after this date.

Click here to apply for a visa online via the official evisa website. 

Please refer to the Foreign Office website for entry requirements for Vietnam.

 

Foreign Office Travel Advice including Health & Safety Information

Click here for Foreign Office travel advice (for UK nationals). 

 

Airlines 

International flights are not included in the tour*. Click here for flight options with our partner flight company**. 

Major international airlines flying to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi include, Vietnam Airlines, Air France, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, China Air, Hong Kong Air, Cebu Pacific, Emirates, Etihad and many more.  Major airlines flying to Danang International Airport include Silk Air, Air Asia and Dragon Air.

Nha Trang’s Cam Ranh Airport and Phu Quoc are now International airports used for some long-haul charter flights.

*All domestic flights are included.

**There is no obligation to book flights through Flight Centre

 

Time zone

Vietnam is GMT +7 hours and does not operate daylight-saving system. 

 

Clothing

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and an umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun. 

Evenings in the north and the center can be quite chilly so bring a sweater and a good jacket especially from November to February.  Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other revealing clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries. Shoes must be removed before entering some religious building or a private home. It is therefore useful to wear shoes without too many laces and which can easily be taken off. 

 

Credit cards

Most credit cards are accepted in Vietnam. VISA and MASTERCARD are the most widely accepted. JCB and AMERICAN EXPRESS are also accepted in some outlets. Not all hotels, commercial centers, shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Please check with the cashier before making any purchases.  

Bear in mind that in some places a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases.

 

Electricity

Vietnam mainly uses 220V but in some areas, 110V is also used.  A mixture of flat and round 2-pin outlets are used throughout the country. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. 

 

Food

The cuisine of Vietnam comes as a pleasant surprise to many visitors and is definitely a part of theVietnam experience not to be missed. One of the characteristics of Vietnamese food is that it is always fresh, being bought the same morning straight from the market. Food is usually prepared with a minimum of oil and served with the ubiquitous fish sauce called nuoc mam. Typical Vietnamese dishes you can expect to try include pho, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, cha gio (nem in northern dialect), deep-fried spring rolls and goi ngo sen, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Due to the strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available however more so in Southern Vietnam.

 

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a pre-requisite for participating on a Grand Cultural Tour. If you do not currently have travel insurance and would like to contact our partner travel insurance company, please click here for more details.

 

Currency

The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnam Dong (VND). Click here for Foreign Office money advice.

 

Language 

The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. In big cities and in places with many tourists, people will speak basic English. The younger generation will be more adept at speaking English, while the older generation still speaks some French. Because Vietnamese has six different tones, it is a difficult language for most foreigners to speak despite the fact that the Roman alphabet is used in modern Vietnamese. The same word can have six different meanings depending on the tone used to pronounce it. Russian and Chinese are also spoken by some people.  

 

Weather

There is good weather somewhere in Vietnam all year round! Vietnam stretches over 2,000 km from North to South. The climate differs all year round from one region to another.

  • Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have distinct winter and summer seasons. The mainly dry winter lasts from December to March with average temperatures of 18-20°C but it can drop to as low 10’s at times. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30°C. 

  • Hue and Danang, in the center of the country, have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30's Celsius, but can experience some heavy rainfall between September and January.

  • Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28°C and a warm rainy season from May to November. In the rainy season, most rain comes in short, heavy bursts. 

Click here for the BBC's weather page for Hanoi and here for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

 

Reading list

Dates & Prices

Start Date(s) Price excluding flights* Single supplement

* Please click here for more information regarding flights for this tour.

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