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Classical tours
Ho Chi Minh Trail to the South China Sea
Posted date 22/02/2008 at 03:42:18 (Viewed 23683 time)

Ho Chi Minh Trail to the South China Sea
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour by Cyclo
Day 3: To Halong Bay
Day 4: Halong Bay, return to Hanoi
Day 5: Traditional village visit
Day 6: Cuc Phuong National Park
Day 7: To Vu Quang National Park along the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Day 8: Phong Nha Cave
Day 9: Dong Hoi to Hue via Hien Luong & Thach Han Bridges (The DMZ)
Day 10: Hue Sightseeing
Day 11: Hai Van Pass, China Beach & Hoi An Sightseeing
Day 12: Hoi An boat trip, Vietnamese cooking demonstration
Day 13: My Son World Heritage Site
Day 14: Hoi An to Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 15: Saigon city sights
Day 16: Scenic drive to Dalat
Day 17: Dalat city sights
Day 18: Dambri Waterfall, Saigon
Day 19: Cai Be, Tein riverboat trip
Day 20: Saigon, floating market
Day 21: Depart Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Detail Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Arrival in Hanoi followed by a transfer to our centrally located hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore Hanoi's tree-lined streets and wide boulevards. Tonight we have our orientation meeting and overnight in Hanoi.

Day 2: Hanoi City Tour by Cyclo
Today our visits include the Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and One Pillar Pagoda. After lunch we continue our sightseeing with the Fine Arts Museum, The Temple of Literature and The Hanoi Hilton (once a political prison and used by American pilots from 1964 to 1972). We also enjoy a tour of the old quarter by cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle rickshaw), the best way to explore this busy place. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 3: To Halong Bay
An early departure today to Halong via Ha Bac Province, which is the cradle of Buddhism in Vietnam. We board our boat and have a seafood feast lunch. We spend the afternoon exploring the bay, which consists of thousands of islands and islets formed by wind and water. The many limestone rock formations make for beautiful scenery and wonderful photos.We stop and visit Surprising Cave and Luon Grotto before dinner. We spend the night on the boat.

Day 4: Halong Bay, return to Hanoi
This morning we will continue to explore Halong Bay by boat. For early risers, the sunrise from the upper deck is a lovely way to greet the day from the water. We may see the fishing boats returning after the night fish. After breakfast, for anyone who wants to explore by kayak, the option is available at an additional cost. After a seafood feast for lunch, we return to the pier and then back to Hanoi. This evening we attend a water puppet performance and dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 5: Traditional village visit
This morning we take a short drive along the Red River for a ferry crossing to the traditional village of Binh Minh. We visit the village market and then walk to the Buddhist Pagoda dedicated to the female Buddha with 1,000 eyes and hands. We also visit a Taoist Temple dedicated to Chu Dong Tu and hear the emotional love story of Chu Dong Tu and his wife. After lunch, we drive to Bat Trang pottery village and take a walk through the workshop to observe how these well-known ceramics are made. We return to Hanoi and there is free time before dinner. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 6: Cuc Phuong National Park
We depart Hanoi and drive to Cuc Phoung National Park, the first national park of Vietnam, established in 1962. It is home to over 1983 types of plants, 89 animal species and over 320 types of birds. We first visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Center, which was also the first wildlife center in Vietnam. We may see Delacour's langurs, Cat-ba langurs and gibbons. We continue our exploration of the park with a hike. We will split into 2 groups, an easy hike to Sau Tree or a longer hike to the One Thousand Year Old Tree. Overnight Cuc Phuong National Park.

Day 7: To Vu Quang National Park along the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Depart Cuc Phuong for our scenic drive to Vu Quang National Park. During our drive, we pass along the infamous Ho Chi Minh trail, with several stops to enjoy the scenic beauty and photograph the beautiful mountainous landscape. Arrive late afternoon in Vu Quang. Dinner and overnight in Vu Quang National Park.

Day 8: Phong Nha Cave
We depart for Dong Hoi, once again driving along the infamous and beautiful Ho Chi Minh trail. Enjoy a boat ride on the Son river to visit Phong Nha Cave, one of the longest caves in Vietnam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cave holds traces of the Cham people, the rulers of central Vietnam before the 17th century. Admire the beautiful limestone rock formations found in the area. After lunch we continue to Dong Hoi. Afternoon is free to enjoy Dong Hoi. Dinner and overnight Dong Hoi.

Day 9: Dong Hoi to Hue via Hien Luong & Thach Han Bridges (The DMZ)
Morning to relax. After lunch we drive from Dong Hoi to Hue, along Highway 1 into the DMZ (The Demilitarized Zone). We first stop at Hien Luong Bridge before continuing on to visit the Vinh Moc Underground Village, which is different from the more famous Chu Chi tunnels, as these tunnels and caves were used for living and not fighting. The Vinh Moc tunnels have also not been altered for tourists. We stop at Thach Han Bridge en route to Hue, where the USA and Vietnam exchanged POWs in 1972. Overnight in Hue.

Day 10: Hue Sightseeing
Today we sightsee in Hue, the most important of the ancient capitals of Vietnam. We visit Dai Noi Citadel and view this fantastic structure, based on Chinese designs in Beijing. We will also visit Thien Mu Pagoda and the Royal Tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. After lunch we visit the local Dong Ba market and take cyclos to explore the ancient streets of Hue. Overnight in Hue.

Day 11: Hai Van Pass, China Beach & Hoi An Sightseeing
DeohaivanToday we drive to Hoi An via the spectacular Hai Van Pass. We stop at the Cham Museum in Danang and have lunch at beautiful China Beach.
In the afternoon, we arrive in Hoi An - a ''iving museum'' because of its well-preserved architectural styles. This afternoon we have a walking tour of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quaint pastel buildings line the streets, interspersed with colorful temples, small art galleries and meandering canals. We visit Hoi An Museum, a Chinese pagoda and an ancient Japanese Bridge. Dinner and overnight in Hoi An.

Day 12: Hoi An boat trip, Vietnamese cooking demonstration
Optional early morning visit to the fish market. After breakfast we enjoy a morning boat trip on the river to observe local life. We have lunch in a local restaurant in town. This afternoon we visit an orphanage or a local school (depend on day of the week). An optional walking or biking tour can be arranged if time permits. This evening we enjoy a Vietnamese cooking demonstration and try our hand at some appetizers, followed by dinner. Overnight Hoi An.

Day 13: My Son World Heritage Site
We drive today to the holy land of the Cham people, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son. The My Son ruins cover a large area and have beautiful groups of ruins of Cham towers and Hindu Temples.From the 3rd to the 13th century, there were 74 towers built by the Northern Cham (also referred to as the Betal Nut Clan). This afternoon is free to explore Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.

Day 14: Hoi An to Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnels
We travel today to Da Nang to catch our flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Upon arrival, we explore the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, the Vietcong's underground tunnel system that, at one time, stretched as far as the Cambodian border. The network consists of over 130 miles of tunnels in the Cu Chi district alone; parts of which are several stories deep. There are trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens ' all under ground!Parts of this remarkable tunnel network have been enlarged and upgraded and are now open to the public. Return to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) for dinner and overnight.

Day 15: Saigon city sights
This morning we explore the sites of this fast paced city. Highlights include: Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic post office, the War Crimes Museum, and Reunification Hall. Lunch in Saigon. Afternoon free. Dinner and overnight in Saigon.

Day 16: Scenic drive to Dalat
We enjoy a long scenic drive to Dalat; along the way passing the villages of Bao Loc, Di Linh and Duc Trong. We visit the floating houses on Langna River and continue on to Bao Loc. We visit a local family and a workshop that raises silkworms to produce silk. This whole area is known for its successful economic policies and has vast plantations of coffee, tea and mulberry.

After lunch we will visit the Dambri waterfall and continue on to Dalat via Di Linh and Duc Trong. Crossing the mountain pass of Preen there are impressive views of Dalat with its French villas and colorful flowers. Dalat was a former hill station of the French colonials, and is known to the Vietnamese as the '€œCity of Flowers'. Dinner and overnight in Dalat.

Day 17: Dalat city sights
This morning we explore Dalat's sights: the colorful market, 'œCrazy House' the former Palace of the Emperor Bao Dai, and the Flower Garden. After this we will walk or bike around Xuan Huong Lake. We then have a relaxing stop at a coffee and tea house before enjoying free time to visit the local market. Dinner and overnight in Dalat.

Day 18: Dambri Waterfall, Saigon
After breakfast we journey back to Saigon. We stop for lunch in Bao Loc and try to return to Saigon before the heavy rush hour traffic. Dinner and overnight in Saigon.

Day 19: Cai Be, Tien riverboat trip
We drive today from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Cai Be in Tien Giang Province. Upon arrival we board our boat to travel on the Tien River to the Cai Be floating market. During the day we get on and off the boat to explore local villages where we can see coconut candy, dried longan, rice cakes and fish sauce being made. We will also visit a local house that has a beautiful bonsai garden on our way into Vinh Long Province. We overnight in Can Tho.

Day 20: Saigon, floating market
We visit Cai Rang market this morning by boat. Cai Rang is a wholesale market and the sellers hang their products over their boats with a stake to advertise what is on sale. Afternoon free in Saigon. Farewell dinner and overnight in Saigon.

Day 21: Depart Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
We depart for the airport to board our international flights homeward.

Rice paddies tended by farmers in conical hats, a two-thousand-mile coastline with sandy beaches and mountains covered in the vibrant greens of lush tropical vegetation. Welcome to Vietnam, one of Southeast Asia's most beautiful countries.

We begin in Hanoi, amidst shaded streets, French colonial architecture and the surrounding lakes of the downtown core. At Halong Bay, we travel on turquoise waters amid spectacular, cliff-faced islands and warm water. We spend the night on the bay and enjoy incredible seafood feasts before returning to Hanoi for a famous water-puppet show. Heading south, we visit the first national park in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong. We explore Hue, the former ancient capital modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. We visit the Citadel, Vietnam's Forbidden City and the local Dong Bay market. Traveling over the spectacular Hai Van Pass, we stop at China Beach before arriving in Hoi An. In Hoi An, a restored open-air museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, we savor the international character of the region's history.

We learn about the Cham people at My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before flying south to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and exploring the famous Cu Chi tunnel complex and the Mekong Delta. Explore Dalat, the 'œCity of Flowers', including a visit to a silkworm workshop. See Dalat's "Crazy House", the former palace of the emperor Bao Dai. Enjoy a riverboat trip on the Tein River and overnight in Can Tho. Our adventure concludes in the bustling city of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

Fact File:
21 land days
Maximum 16 travelers
Start in Hanoi, finish in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
All meals included
Includes 1 domestic flight

Overnight boat trip on Halong Bay
Explore Cuc Phuong and Pumat National Parks
Visit the Phong Nha Cave - a UNESCO World Heritage Site
See China Beach
Discover My Son World Heritage Site
Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta

Comfortable hotel/lodges with private washrooms. Features 1 night on a boat on Halong Bay.
Tags: Ho_Chi_Minh_Trail_to_the_South_China_Sea  
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