Essential Vietnam

Essential Vietnam

10 Days / 9 Nights

Price from$3,163

• Saigon • Mekong Delta • Hoi An • Hanoi • Halong Bay

Designed to capture the true essence of Vietnam, this fascinating journey takes you from the bustling city of Saigon to the timeless capital of Hanoi. Along the way enjoy a Mekong river cruise to observe countryside scenery and river life. See Hoi An with its grand architecture and quaint riverside setting. With ochre-coloured colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of charm. Unique guided excursions provide insight into the country's architecture and traditional cultures and introduce you to the friendly local people and spectacular landscapes. Perfect for the first-time visitor, or those looking for an unforgettable experience in under ten days.

Essential Vietnam map

Day 1: Saigon On arrival into Saigon, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2: Saigon Saigon is the country's commercial centre and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. A walking tour to admire Saigon's historic landmarks is a must. Transfer to Dong Khoi Street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville, which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon. Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris. Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustav Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower.

The former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American War, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Head out of the city centre on a short 6 km drive to District 5 to visit Thien Hau temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honour the Goddess of the Sea. The temple's ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshippers from the local Chinese community come to offer their prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom. Continue to FITO, the first museum of traditional medicine in Vietnam, offering an insight into how traditional medicine was used in the past, before returning to your hotel.

Day 3: Saigon > Cai Lay (Mekong Delta) > Saigon Depart early in the morning from Saigon and head two hours to the southwest. Along the way notice lush rice paddies and fruit farms emerging alongside the highway. Upon arrival in Cai Lay, board a charming wooden boat to enjoy countryside scenery and river life. Then stretch your legs a bit and hop on a bicycle for a short ride of about 7 km (over easy, level terrain) along narrow village lanes, past fruit orchards and local cottage industries. Locals will often greet you with a hello or "xin chao" as you pedal by. Arrive at the home of a tropical fruit farmer and have a walk around his orchard. Enjoy the opportunity to taste fresh fruit. Relax while enjoying the view from a small sampan boat as you are paddled slowly along tropical canals. Disembark and walk through a Mekong village to a local home and enjoy a home-hosted lunch of Mekong Delta specialties. After lunch, a short walk takes you back to your vehicle for the return trip to Saigon.

Day 4: Saigon > Danang > Hoi An Time at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your flight to Danang. On arrival, meet your guide and transfer by private car to your Hoi An hotel. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port. Today, this World Heritage-listed ancient town boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrian streets and unique cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past.

Days 5 & 6: Hoi An The narrow lanes of Hoi An are ideal for a guided walking tour. There is plenty to visit including the old merchants' houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400 year old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings; and the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk, which can be tailored into fashionable garments within a day or two. Lanterns, simple yet colorful items, are now an essential part of Hoi An culture. Lanterns here are hand-made by local artisans and are meant to bring good fortune. A recent revival of the art has been led by an experienced artisan who will give you a brief introduction to the history, shape, and colour of the lanterns as well as the stages of production. Try creating your own lantern and take it home as a souvenir.

Day 7: Hoi An > Danang > Hanoi Transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Hanoi. On arrival, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Day 8: Hanoi With ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of charm. Start your tour at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of "Uncle Ho" resides. A short walk from the mausoleum is the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda - resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Wind your way afterwards to the Temple of Literature, the first university for the sons of mandarins, for an overview of Hanoian culture and appreciation for ancient Vietnamese architecture. In the afternoon, visit the serene Museum of Ethnology, a 20 minute drive out of town that offers a fascinating insight into Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority groups. Drive back to central Hanoi for a walking tour through the Old Quarter to enjoy the bustling local life, then cap off the day with a show at the water puppet theatre - a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history.

Day 9: Hanoi > Halong Bay This morning embark on a 3.5 hour drive to Halong Bay with a quick rest stop at Hong Ngoc Centre - the best place to stop and stretch your legs en route. On arrival in Halong Bay, board your deluxe junk, settle into your cabin and prepare your appetite for an enjoyable lunch on deck. Mid-afternoon you will visit the mysterious atmosphere of Tien Ong Cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, then continue to the Cua Van fishing village, the largest community on the bay. This will allow a closer look into the lives of local fishermen before you transfer to a bamboo boat and are rowed slowly through the village with a museum and a school among the floating houses. Back on the boat, a cooking class is offered with the chef while your boat leisurely cruises. Or simply enjoy sunset cocktails and canapes on the top deck before being served a wonderful dinner on board.

Day 10: Halong Bay > Hanoi Wake up early and partake in a Tai Chi class which is held on the upper deck. Visit Soi Sim Island, where you can relax in the azure water of Halong Bay or climb up 200 steps for a panoramic view of the whole bay. Return back to the boat and cruise towards the port while brunch is served. Arrive at the jetty late morning and transfer back to Hanoi with a light snack provided en route. Opt to visit a traditional pottery workshop along the way. Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

• Tailor-made journey with English-speaking local guides • 8 nights' accommodation • 1 night aboard a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay • Flights Saigon > Danang > Hanoi • Transfers and transportation • Sightseeing and entrance fees • Mekong Delta and Halong Bay boat trips • 9 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner

Pricing (per person) $NZD

Type TWIN SINGLE

2021

4 Star from

3 Jan - 31 Mar

1 Apr - 30 Sep

5 Star from

3 Jan - 31 Mar

1 Apr - 30 Sep

-

-

$3,163

$3,076

-

$4,989

$4,555

-

-

$5,385

$5,218

-

$8,708

$7,905

Departs

Daily. Itinerary also operates in reverse.

Booking conditions

• Surcharges apply during TET Vietnamese New Year (February) and other public holidays • You may also add a night in Hue into this itinerary and fly between Hue and Hanoi - please enquire for pricing

Please refer to World Journeys terms & conditions.

Vietnam was everything that I had heard it to be and hoped it to be

We had a fantastic holiday - Vietnam was everything that I had heard it to be and hoped it to be. The hotels were all top notch - particularly The Metropole. The Boutique Hoi An was fantastic - a beautiful white sand beach, great pool area, and wonderful newly renovated rooms that were very big - and it was only a 5 minute shuttle to Hoi An itself. The Caravelle was really nice too - though the rooms a little dated. Wonderful breakfasts though. The guides we had were brilliant - it would be hard to do without them. The Ho Chi Minh city tour and Mekong Delta tour were great. The Hoi An walking tour was a bit of a waste of time - we kind of only got taken to places that people are pushing stuff on you to buy, but the farm tour (which I thought would not be great) was so much fun, and a great surprise as it included a cooking class. The tour of Hanoi was also great. The trip to Halong and the overnight cruise I loved - my two daughters and husband enjoyed it but felt there should have been wifi on the boat we were on!!! First world problem!! But I guess its something that is now really important. It appears they state on their website that wifi is available. Vietnam Air was great. Our only issue was on the Vietjet flight - we should have stuck with Vietnam Air - our flight from Hoi An to Hanoi was cancelled - no notification - and we had a rather long wait at the airport for the next one. But all in all a fab time was had by all of us. Thanks for your help with organising our trip!

Bennett family