We’ve taken some of our favourite excursions, off the beaten path locales and trendiest dining and drinking spots in Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) and thrown them together in a tantalizing 3-day Escape.
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City Arrival Upon arrival your guide will greet you and transfer by private car to your hotel for check-in.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City This morning visit a local home to learn how to cook. Start early at a suburban Ho Chi Minh City market with your host and then head back to the house to start your cooking, which you’ll eventually devour for lunch!
After lunch you will be aboard a personally-driven Vespa scooter! Our first stop is the Reunification Palace before visiting the Post Office, followed by Cathedral of Notre Dame (“Our Lady”). Next travel down Dong Khoi Street, and pass by the Opera House, now used as a Municipal Theatre. The next stop is the monument of Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death on June 11, 1963 to protest against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem administration. Then take a quick stop at Ho Thi Ky flower market before riding to the Funeral Home to get to know about Vietnamese funeral ceremonies & customs. Roll through Chinatown to Nhi Phu temple, built in a “Khẩu” (gate) architectural style with an open yard in the centre. Continue with a short walk through the alley full of tailor’s supplies. Then back to Nhi Phu temple to return to district one by bike. On the way stop at a Chinese Medicine shops for an explanation about “Thuoc Bac – medicine from herbs” or “Thuoc tàu – medicine from China” (B, L)
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City Departure Full day at leisure until you transfer to the airport for your next destination. (B)
Arrival and departure airport transfers.
Local English speaking guide.
Entrance fees for mentioned visits.
Meals as described in the itinerary – 2 Breakfasts / 1 Lunch.
Day 1 – Saigon to Can Tho – Meet your guide in the hotel foyer early this morning and embark on a drive south to Can Tho. This area may be Vietnam’s -rice bowl’ but fruit orchards and coconut groves also thrive here. We’ll stop to see all the different uses for coconuts and enjoy a bicycle ride to the home of a local antique collector, Uncle Six, who will show us how he climbs the coconut trees using just his bare hands. You can even try it if you want! A rowing boat will take us along the water palm creek giving us a glimpse of daily life on the delta. Lunch will be an assortment of delicious dishes cooked by one of the locals of the Mekong Delta. (L)
Day 2 – Can Tho to Chau Doc – This morning you will enjoy a boat ride to the floating market at Cai Rang where the merchants have a great way of showing off their wares. They simply hang a sample off the top of a long pole! We’ll explore by boat so we can get close up photos of the colourful boats piled high with seasonal vegetables and tropical fruits. And we can mingle among the merchants as they trade from boat to boat.
From Can Tho in the early afternoon, we drive to Chau Doc. For those who seek a sighting of storks, egrets and herons we have the perfect place – Tra Su Forest and you will also see insects, animals, reptiles and fish among the flooded mangrove forests, lotus blooms and cajuput trees. We’ll explore the picturesque waterways by motorboat and rowing boat, and we’ll climb to the top of the bird watching tower before arriving at Chau Doc in the late afternoon. (B)
Day 3 – Chau Doc to Kep – Enjoy an early start this morning as yoiu drive from Chau Doc to Xa Xia, where your guide will asset you with a smooth customs and immigration experience as yoiu enter into the Kingdom of Cambodia.
In Cambodia peppercorns from Kampot province have an excellent reputation for quality. Considered among the finest in the world with a refined and unique taste, this Cambodian crop is still highly sought after for its quality and pungency. Most pepper plantations (orchards) are located in the Kampong Trach district where pepper trees start bearing fruits after about three years and are usually harvested in January or February, depending on the weather and the temperature. Kampong Trach is a series of limestone caves carved into the side of the mountain and adorned with pagodas and shrines and the Kampong Trach Mountain has a perimeter of around 4000 metres and varies in height between 150 to 200 metres, with vines and trees clinging to life amongst the cracks in the rocks. At the base of the mountain, numerous caves can be found while just in front of the main cave is the famous Kiri Seila pagoda. In the late afternoon you will arrive in Kep. (B)
Day 4 – Kep to Rabbit Island -Meet your guide in the hotel foyer after enjoying breakfast and embark on a day tour to Rabbit Island. Only thirty-minutes by boat from Kep, it’s a hop, skip and jump to Rabbit Island. With no roads or the internet, it’s a great place to chill out and relax. Walk, swim, or just relax on the beach for the day. (B)
Day 5 – Kep to Phnom Penh – Depart your hotel in Kep after enjoying breakfast and visit The Kampot Museum. Opened officially in late January 2015 following a project which was advised by Olivier Duqu, the renovated building space boasts three permanent exhibits. A series of six illustrated panels chart the province’s history in Khmer, French and English with a display of photographs, and a few paintings, depicting life in the town under the French Protectorate. There are also are 14 artifacts provided by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts with statues and sculptures, some of which are Pre-Angkorian, originates from sites around Kampot Province. They are dedicated to Vishnu, and feature the ancient lingam and yoni symbols representing the unity of male and female. In the mid to late afternoon, you will arrive in Phnom Penh where your tour closes. (B)
Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City Arrival – On arrival at Ho Chi Minh Tan Son Nhat International Airport you will be greeted by our airport representative who will provide the private vehicle transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City Tour and Cu Chi Tunnels – This morning after enjoying breakfast at your hotel, meet your guide and enjoy the journey of 75 km from Ho Chi Minh City to The Cu Chi Tunnels – a complex of an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars. There is more than 200 km of tunnels, comprising a main axis system with many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and other tunnels. You have the chance to crawl through this amazing system of tunnels. For a more “thrilling” experience, you can even test your shooting skills on original AK47s and other guns from past war times (subject to a surcharge).
Enjoy lunch today at a local restaurant before you journey back to Ho Chi Minh. Your tour continues to visit places such as the Independence Palace (Reunification Palace), War Remnants Museum (closed Mondays). Afterward, stroll through the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City, the Old Saigon Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral inaugurated in 1880 became the spiritual and cultural crucible of the French presence in the Orient as was the Post office designed by Gustav Eiffel and resembling a grand railway station, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee (formerly Hôtel de Ville) which is one of the most photographed buildings in Vietnam – notable for its gardens, ornate facade and elegant interior lit with crystal chandeliers. Tonight you will enjoy a buffet dinner served on the Bon Sai Cruise. (B, L & D)
Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City to Con Tho – This morning you will leave the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City behind and drive and cruise deep into the Mekong Delta on this Cai Be day tour. Upon arrival in Cai Be, disembark the boat at Tan Phong Island and start a very interesting cycling tour on the backroads of small villages and be immersed in nature. Take the opportunity to visit local families making traditional products such as handicraft items made from water hyacinth, roofs made from palm leaves, hammocks made from coconut ropes, and rice paper.
Enjoy lunch with specialties of the Mekong Delta in the ambiance of an ancient house. After lunch, walk through narrow lanes of a local market and enjoy the hustle and bustle of activities. Then board your boat and continue cruising the Mekong River. Witness the everyday life of riverside communities and sample local fresh fruits along the way. Leave the boat for a while to visit local businesses such as family-run rice winemaking and rice mill factory and interact with the host and learn about their daily lives. In the late afternoon, following the river cruise, continue by vehicle to Can Tho. (B & L)
Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be (100km) 2 hours
Cai Be – Can Tho (180km) 4 hours
Day 4 – Con Tho to Chau Doc – Wake up early for a breakfast cruise to the colourful Cai Rang Floating Market bustling with wholesalers on big boats. Here, during the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The main items sold here are fruit and vegetables and every boat has a long upright pole at its bow from which samples of the goods for sale are hung. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even floating pho vendors. Afterward, you will enjoy the driving journey of 3-hour to Chau Doc and on arrival enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure. (B)
Can Tho to Chau Doc (120 Km): 3 hours
Day 5 – Chau Doc – After breakfast at your hotel meet your guide depart for a day of touring Chau Doc. Today you will visit Chau Doc’s local market which overlooks the confluence of three rivers, and later enjoy a boat to Chau Giang District where a tiny mosque serves the local Cham community. The Cham minority who dominated coastal Vietnam from the 2nd to the 9th centuries were originally Hindu however, became Muslim as a result of contact with Arab seafarers and merchants in the Middle Ages. In Southeast Asia, Islam was disseminated primarily by merchants who, following the monsoon winds, lived in various coastal towns for months at a time. The Chams also practice silk weaving and there is an opportunity to see them at work, also the architecture here is rather distinctive.
Visit a beautiful Khmer temple, and later visit the floating houses that double as catfish farms, now a huge industry for the country. Late this afternoon visit Sam Mountain, an important pilgrimage site that is frequently visited by pilgrims from all over the Mekong Delta. There are dozens of pagodas and temples around Sam Mountain and reaching the peak is the highlight of the visit. The views from the top are spectacular (weather permitting) and one can easily see Cambodia. (B)
Day 6 – Chau Doc to Phnom Penh – After breakfast at the hotel enjoy the speed boat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh (4-5 hours). Upon arrival in Phnom Penh around 13h00, you are warmly welcomed by our local English-speaking guide and be accompanied to the hotel for check-in. Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its turbulent history and more recent (and rapid) development, it still retains a colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap, is at once bustling but also laid back. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days of old and add to the allure of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.
Afterward, you will enjoy the tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation, and a fun way to explore this lively city. First, head to Wat Phnom, a small hilltop temple that marks the founding place of the city. Then continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze. The next stop is the National Museum, which was built in the traditional Khmer style. It houses the world’s foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from prehistory to the 17th century. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom’s cultural wealth. Besides, the roof space is home to a large bat colony! In the late afternoon, enjoy an atmospheric sunset river cruise with a coconut juice degustation on board while watching how Phnom Penh’s popular riverfront comes to life in the early evening. Phnom Penh has an excellent selection of restaurants for all tastes. Tonight, enjoy dinner at the renowned Foreign Correspondents’ Club located on the Riverside. The building is a colonial gem with great views of the confluence of the Upper Mekong, Lower Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers. (B &D)
Day 7 – Phnom Penh departure – Enjoy breakfast at your hotel and enjoy your final few hours in Phnom Penh at your leisure. At a pre-arranged time meet your driver in the hotel foyer who will provide the private vehicle transfer to Phnom Penh International Airport for your onward flight. (B)
Day 1 – Arrival into Ho Chi Minh City – Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City – Depart your hotel for a full day Ho Chi Minh City tour. Head to Cholon, the Chinatown district, and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda plus visit Vietnam’s first traditional medicine museum. Head back to the city centre to visit Ben Thanh Market. This afternoon visit the War Remnants or History Museum (choose which one you would most like to see) and the former Presidential Palace, Stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. At the end of the afternoon head back to your hotel. (B) Note: History Museum is closed on Mondays.
Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta return Ho Chi Minh City – This morning, leave bustling Ho Chi Minh City for the 2 hour drive to the delta town of Cai Be. On arrival board your boat for a cruise of Cai Be floating market. After visiting the market continue to a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Return to the boat for the cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep Island. Following your cruise drive back to Ho Chi Minh City. (B, L)
Day 4 – Ho Chi Minh City fly to Danang and arrive in Hoi An – After breakfast transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the short flight to the central port city of Danang and continue to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. Take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market. (B)
Day 5 – Hoi An to Hue – Leave Hoi An for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. In Hue visit the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. After exploring the ruins of this wonderful monument depart for Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River. On the pagoda grounds is the famous Austin car a resident monk drove to Saigon in 1963 to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self-immortalization is one of the most well-known images of the war. (B)
Day 6 – Hue to Hanoi -Start your day with a visit to the city’s vibrant Dong Ba Market to see it’s abundance of fresh produce. After exploring the market take a cyclo through the ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to relax. Continue to former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb designed in traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. From here transfer 30-minutes to Hue Airport for the 1-hour flight to Hanoi. On arrival transfer to your hotel. (B)
Day 7 – Hanoi to Halong Bay -After breakfast leave Hanoi for an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay. Arrive in Halong City late morning and board your traditional wooden junk or a classic colonial era replica steamship, The Emeraude, for the overnight journey into the Bay. Lunch will be served en-route. Towards the end of the day set anchor for the night. As the sun sets over the bay dinner is served on board with fresh seafood, salads, and fruits. (B, L, D)
Day 8 – Halong Bay to Hanoi –On your return to Halong City enjoy brunch as your boat weaves through strangely shaped limestone rock formations. Upon disembarkation your driver will meet you for the transfer back to Hanoi. In Hanoi, in the afternoon, visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), or as an alternative to the Ethnology Museum, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays). 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 and finish the day with a Water Puppet show. (B)
Day 9 – Hanoi –This morning depart your hotel for the Temple of Literature. Visit The One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049, next. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. Continue to picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) to the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism. At leisure for shopping until your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for onward flight. (B)
Please note domestic flights are not included in the price. Please contact your local travel agent for a price.
This 6 day tour balances cultural touring and beach time at an excellent price. You’ll spend two days in dynamic Ho Chi Minh City with an excursion to the famous Cu Chi tunnels and a city tour highlighting your stay. Then fly to Phu Quoc island for three days of beach bliss, relaxing by the sea.
Day 1 – Arrival into Ho Chi Ming City – Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and you guide with private car will transfer you to your hotel for check-in.
Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City City Tours & Cu Chi Tunnels
Travel northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and arrive at the Cu Chi Tunnels as your guide explains the history of the war, the ingenuity of the Cu Chi residents and the daily activities of the people. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for lunch and in the afternoon visit the historic Reunification Palace, the Old Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market. (B)
Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc – In the morning, depart for your flight to Phu Quoc. On arrival, the resort shuttle bus will welcome and transfer you to resort. The rest of day is free to relax by the pool or on the sandy beach. The island of Phu Quoc is one of Asia’s least developed beach destinations. The island’s clear waters, undiscovered beaches, forested interior and charming local character make for an ideal holiday escape. In general, dining and entertainment is confined to the resorts and while the lack of infrastructure may frustrate some travellers for most visitors this is one of Phu Quoc’s attractions. (B)
Day 4 – Phu Quoc
A full day at leisure in the resort or on the beach. (B)
Day 5 – Phu Quoc
A full day at leisure in the resort or on the beach. (B)
Day 6 – Phu Quoc to Ho Chi Minh City departure – The morning is at leisure before checking out. The resort shuttle bus will transfer you to the airport for your departure flight to Ho Chi Minh City. (B)
Please note domestic flights are not included in the costs. Please contact your local travel agent for a price.
Immersing you in a new culture from an insiders’ point of view, our Vietnam Insight tour offers discerning travellers an unforgettable journey of discovery. Beyond normal sightseeing, we showcase the country through the eyes of specialist guides, introduce you to intriguing locals and lead you off the beaten path to the heart of Vietnam.
Day 1 – Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City – Upon arrival your guide will greet you and transfer by private car to your hotel for check-in. This afternoon wind down and indulge in a chic city spa followed by a Vietnamese dinner in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s best restaurants. (D)
Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City – This half-day tour on a vintage Vespa will give you a unique look at familiar and not-so-familiar landmarks in modern-day Ho Chi Minh City. The tour begins in the early morning with a pickup at your hotel, our first stop is Tao Dan Park to catch the bird lovers club, the next stop is the monument of Thich Quang Duc , then take a quick stop at the colourful Ho Thi Ky flower market before riding to the Funeral Home to get to know about Vietnamese funeral ceremonies. Roll through Chinatown to Nhi Phu temple, continue through the alley full of tailor’s supplies then back to Nhi Phu temple to return to district one by bike. Visiting a local market before heading back to District 1 visit the Post Office, followed by Cathedral of Notre Dame (“Our Lady”). Moving then to the Reunification Palace and the historic Opera House (now the Municipal Theatre). The final stop is an outside view of HCM City People’s Committee (formerly Hôtel de Ville) which is one of the most photographed buildings in Vietnam before ending the tour at your hotel. This evening enjoy a private home dinner in Ho Chi Minh City. (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta – After breakfast, depart for the Mekong Delta, upon arrival in the Delta board the private ‘Song Xanh’, modelled after a traditional sampan. The boat’s small size allows you to discover the smaller canals and tributaries of this region. Continue to Can Tho stopping en-route at a Cao Dai Temple. Before sunset, the last stop is at a splendid 19th century house where an unforgettable dinner will be served. After dinner, proceed for one hour to Can Tho where your sampan will be moored for the night. (B, L, D)
Day 4 – Mekong Delta return to Ho Chi Minh fly to Danang and drive to Hoi An – cross the Mekong this morning on the way to Cai Rang Floating Market. After visiting the colourful floating market, you will return to Ho Chi Minh City’s airport for the flight to central Vietnam. From the Danang airport, it’s a 30-minute drive to the ancient port town of Hoi An. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. (B)
Day 5 – Hoi An – Pick up from hotel and from here ride a bicycle to a local farm in Tra Que Village. Take a trip around the vegetable garden and join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilising it with seaweed. Continue gardening activities such as raking, sowing, watering greens, picking greens etc. A walking tour is the best way to see Hoi An and you will visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and market. Sample the town’s delicate cuisine with lunch at the famed Brother’s Cafe. Dinner will at one of Hoi An’s best restaurants which serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. (B, L, D)
Day 6 – Hoi to Hue via Danang – Morning at leisure before leaving Hoi An for Hue for the 3-hour drive to Hue. Later today enjoy a vegetarian lunch at a Buddhist pagoda with monks. This intimate experience will allow you to gain knowledge on Buddhism in Vietnam. Dine tonight at the private ‘garden house’ This traditional style house, which is set in a large and attractive formal garden has connections with the ancient Hue Royal Imperial Court. (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Hue – Rise for an early breakfast followed by a visit to the city’s vibrant Dong Ba Market, then continue to the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. Depart to the Hue Royal Fine Arts Museum before enjoying lunch at the boutique Pilgrimage Village Resort. Following your meal continue to the Mausoleum of Tu Duc and at
the end of the day visit the tomb of Khai Dinh. (B, L)
Day 8 – Hue to Hanoi –After a morning at your leisure, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. This afternoon, visit Temple of Literature, next stop at picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda, and visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter. (B, L, D)
Day 9 – Hanoi – Hit the streets of Hanoi for a full day street food tour and cooking class. Continue to a local market within the city to learn about and taste some of the ingredients used in the local cuisine and to watch the buying and selling rituals of a Vietnamese market. Lunch at one of Hanoi’s best bún chả establishments, Bún Chả Chanh. A final stop at one of Hanoi’s renowned Bia Hoi. (B, L)
Day 10 – Hanoi to Halong Bay – After breakfast leave Hanoi for an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay and on arrival in Halong City late morning and board your traditional wooden junk for the overnight journey into the Bay. Towards the end of the day set anchor for the night. As the sun sets over the bay dinner is served on board with fresh seafood, salads, and fruits. (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Halong Bay to Hanoi – On your return to Halong City disembark and your driver will meet you for the transfer back to Hanoi. (B)
Day 12 – Hanoi to Duong Lam return to Hanoi – Depart your hotel at 0830 and travel west of Hanoi to Duong Lam village, a purely agricultural village of the northern Red River Delta which still preserves many hundred-year-old houses. For lunch enjoy a local style meal in a 100-year old house. After your meal, continue driving to Mia Pagoda (another hamlet of Duong Lam), built in the 15th century. On the way back to Hanoi stop at Tay Phuong Pagoda, one of the 1st pagoda’s built in Vietnam. Your farewell dinner will be held in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. (B, L, D)
Day 13 – Hanoi and tour departure – You’re private car and guide will be at your disposal before your transfer to Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport. (B)
Please note – domestic Vietnam airfares are not included in the price. Please contact your travel agent to obtain a price.
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