Tailored from £8,000 per family excl. flights
14 days Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay
14 days Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay
Starting in busy, bright and bustling Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), you visit the Reunification Palace and the fascinating Notre Dame Cathedral. You also crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels and journey down the Mekong Delta, passing colourful floating markets. On a small island in the delta, we spend a night in a homestay with a local family – a real highlight. From the laid-back beach town of Nha Trang, you explore the offshore islands by boat and snorkel amongst the colourful coral in the warm waters of the South China Sea. You also discover ancient Hoi An and the charming northern capital, Hanoi, before heading to spectacular Halong Bay.
On arrival in Saigon, we will meet you at the airport (SGN) where you should look out for your personalised Wayfairer Travel welcome sign. You will be transferred to your hotel for the night on a B&B basis. If you arrive early your local guide will meet you at an agreed time and take you out to get your first sights and sounds of this remarkable city.
Officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after reunification in 1975, most people here still prefer to use the old name, Saigon. Once referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Saigon, with its unofficial population of around 8-9 million, is Vietnam’s largest city and stands in stark contrast to the capital, Hanoi. This morning, we drive to the outskirts of the city before cycling along rural roads past rice fields to the former Viet Cong stronghold of Cu Chi Tunnels. Begun by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong, Cu Chi’s tunnels were constructed to conduct covert operations and then quickly hide from the enemy. Returning to Saigon, we will visit the Reunification Palace (formerly South Vietnam’s Presidential Palace), War Remnants Museum (with its graphic depiction of the horrors of war), the French built Notre Dame Cathedral and the Gustav Eiffel designed Central Post Office. The afternoon is at leisure – perhaps an optional visit to the excellent Dam Sen Water Park to splash around with the kids?
We can leave some luggage behind at our hotel before heading south into the Mekong Delta. The Mekong River begins its journey in the high plateau of Eastern Tibet and, after winding its way some 4000+ km’s through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos & Cambodia, it reaches Vietnam and divides into 9 channels (the Vietnamese refer to the Mekong Delta as “Cuu Long” – which means 9 dragons) and hundreds of tributaries before emptying into the South China Sea. The Mekong Delta is one of the most fertile regions on earth and home to some 20 million people. The best way to see the Delta is, of course, by boat and we join ours at the small market town of Cai Be. As we cruise the canals, rivers and backwaters, we’ll discover how the local people lead their lives here and go about their daily business. We’ll cruise past a congested flotilla of boats selling all manner of fruit and vegetables at Cai Be’s floating market. We’ll visit some family-run industries, which include a rice paper, popcorn, popped rice & coconut candy factory. Continuing our journey, we arrive at our simple home-stay situated on an island in the middle of the Mekong River. Dinner tonight will include the Mekong Delta’s famous “Elephant Ear Fish” as well as a number of other Mekong specialties.
The morning begins with a walk along the island’s trails and a sampan ride through some of its small creeks and canals. Our riverboat carries us back to Cai Be and we take the bus from here returning to Saigon in the afternoon.
This morning, we drive to the former Viet Cong stronghold of Cu Chi Tunnels. Begun by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong, Cu Chi’s tunnels were constructed to conduct covert operations and then quickly hide from the enemy. There are reputed to be around 200 kilometres of underground tunnels within the area, and in some places they even managed to penetrate the perimeters of nearby US military bases. We’ll actually be given the opportunity of crawling through a section of the tunnels while we’re here, and learn how the brave men and women of Cu Chi built underground hospitals, kitchens and meeting rooms during their struggle for a unified Vietnam. This afternoon, we transfer to the airport for the flight to Nha Trang.
With fabulous sunny weather for most of the year, crystal clear blue waters surrounding a string of offshore islands, a beach that spans the 6km length of the city and some fantastic seafood, it’s little wonder that Nha Trang has become Vietnam’s premier beach resort. We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the sun & sand by day and vibrant nightlife in the evening during our time in Nha Trang. This morning, we’ll head onto the water for a boat cruise around the offshore coastal islands. Bring a towel and bathers because there’s time for swimming and snorkelling. For lunch, our crew will serve up a sumptuous feast of freshly caught seafood and other delights for non-seafood eaters. An interesting optional excursion may include a visit to Thap Ba Hot Springs for the chance to soak your bones in soothing pools of hot, mineral rich mud.
Today is at leisure but Nha Trang is an ideal place to relax, either by the hotel pool or at the nearby beach across the road. You might like to take an optional excursion to visit the Po Nagar Cham Towers or visit to Thap Ba Hot Springs for the chance to soak your bones in soothing pools of hot, mineral rich mud. There are also a couple of water parks where the kids can splash about. This evening, we board our overnight sleeper train and head north to Da Nang. (N.B: This is a local train and conditions on board are generally quite basic. Also, breakfast is not always available on the train, so it is recommended that you purchase some supplies before boarding in Nha Trang).
There is no rail link into Hoi An so we disembark at Danang and drive the remaining distance to Hoi An. It should only take us about 45 minutes and on the way we’ll pass the massive former US airbase that was, in 1968, the busiest airport in the world with all manner of aircraft coming and going in support of South Vietnam’s war effort. The ancient and historic town of Hoi An was for three centuries one of the most important ports in Central Vietnam, visited by sailing ships from all over the world seeking trade in silk, ceramics and, spices. In Hoi An, we include a walking tour of the Old Town where you can visit an Ancient House, a Chinese Assembly Hall, the Japanese Covered Bridge and a Museum. In your free time, you can rent bicycles and set off to explore the surrounding countryside, take a boat trip on the Tu Bon River, relax on the nearby beach, enjoy the wonderful cuisine on offer at some of the town’s numerous cheap cafes, or have some clothes made up. Hoi An has nearly 100 silk shops offering same-day service for tailor made clothes at low prices.
We leave today free for relaxation or shopping – Hoi An is a shoppers paradise with all kinds of wonderful items on offer. It is also famous for its clothes tailors. There is also Cua Dai Beach 5kms away, this makes a pleasant cycle or we can assist in other travel arrangements.
This morning, we transfer to Danang where we visit Marble Mountain and China Beach. Note: Appropriate footwear (runners rather than thongs) should be worn for the walk up Marble Mountain. The walk takes about an hour and involves climbing approximately 200 steps. After the morning activity, we transfer to Danang Airport in time to catch a flight to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi, we make our way to our hotel in town. This evening, we enjoy a performance of Hanoi’s famous Water Puppets - kids and parents will be equally delighted!
Although there has been a permanent settlement here since the 3rd Century A.D., the city of Hanoi can trace its origins back to 1010 B.C., when Emperor Le Thai To moved his capital from Hoa Lu to this site. This afternoon, we enjoy a city tour, showcasing some of Hanoi’s most interesting attractions. We begin by visiting the One Pillar Pagoda which is near to the Soviet-inspired Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. One Pillar Pagoda was first constructed in 1049 and is one Hanoi’s oldest structures. If it doesn’t look that old, it’s because the French blew it up in 1954 as a parting gesture and the current building is a replica. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070, it was Vietnam’s first institute of learning and the place where candidates for the position of Mandarin were examined. Finally, we’ll visit the Hoa Lo Prison, better known to many as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. These days the prison serves as a museum and a reminder of the Vietnamese who were incarcerated here by their French masters and, later, American pilots shot down over North Vietnam airspace during the Vietnam War. The afternoon is free to wander around and one of the best places to do this is the city’s Old Quarter, situated to the north of the Hoan Kiem Lake – a great (and easy) place to get lost in for a couple of hours.
Halong Bay became firmly entrenched as one of the “must see” sights of Vietnam after the filming of the 1992 French movie, “Indochine” (starring Catherine Deneuve) and later the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” (starring Pierce Brosnan), The images of red sailed junks navigating through the 3000+ limestone karsts (islands) jutting out of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. It’s approximately a three-hour drive from Hanoi to Halong port where we board our boat and head out into the bay enjoying a seafood lunch (non-seafood also available) on the way. During the cruise, we will stop to visit a cave and, in the warmer months, there is a chance to enjoy a swim and maybe do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved). After we have moored up in the bay for the night, our crew will busy themselves preparing a sumptuous dinner whilst, weather permitting, we watch an incredible sunset. Conditions are more communal compared to staying in a hotel, however, it is a wonderful experience to be spending a night on the bay. All boats have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and bedding and towels are provided.
After breakfast and perhaps an early morning kayak, we continue sightseeing and cruising around Halong Bay, before returning to port and driving back to Hanoi. Tonight is our chance to celebrate the end of a terrific family journey through a beautiful country.
Today is your departure day and after breakfast we transfer you back to Hanoi (HAN) airport for your departure. You have has an extraordinary insight into Vietnamese culture and this is a family adventure no-one will ever