Treasures, History and Culture of Ancient Lands

Join a small group or create your own itinerary to experience the seldom seen treasures of ancient and modern cultures, urban and rural landscapes, delicious cuisines, elegant art and handcrafts, and gracious hospitality.  Start in either the north - Hanoi, or the south - Ho Chi Minh, and journey through Ha Long Bay, the old cities of Hue and Hoi An, the hill station of Da Lat or the beaches at Nha Trang and Phu Quoc.  Don’e leave without the overnight trip in the Mekong Delta.

Extend the trip with excursions to Cambodia to the stunning spires of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, and the royal capital of Phnom Penh, or the ancient, charming Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos.  Along the way see all the sights, and enjoy the unique activities that delight you and enhance your understanding of these rarely visited spots.  See the Vietnam Photo Albums for additional photographs of each location, and the detailed lists of Vietnam Resources.

Experiences - unique and irresistible to be added to your itinerary as desired:
Cham Island off the coast of Hoi An:  snorkeling, swimming, jet skis, barbecue lunch on this uninhabited island
Saigon River Cruise accompanied by traditional music and martial arts performance
Private luxury train ride from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay with on-board massage
Dragon boat races on Hanoi’s West Lake
Indochina themed dinner at the History Museum
School visit to take supplies, computing equipment, water filters
Perfume Pagoda Festival - Huong Son Mountains Feb, May - scenic boat trip and hike up to Huong Tich Pagoda
Service projects at “East Meets West” school projects
Luxury Cuisine in Vietnam - 12 days of culinary exploration, culture, history, beaches, and lovely hotels
Ha Giang walk in the northeastern highlands to see hill tribes near China
Tet Festival - February

Custom Trips
Custom, private trips with daily departures.

Read the itinerary below for ideas to start your planning.

Day 1  Hanoi Arrival
Arrive in Hanoi for a welcome at the airport and transfer to a hotel in the bustling old quarter. Tour the Ethnographic Museum in the afternoon to see unusual Hill tribe village homes, and displays of tools, and costumes of the ethnic minorities of Vietnam.  Gather at a traditional restaurant in the Old Quarter for a welcome dinner.

Day 2  Hanoi City Tour
In the early morning, enjoy a walking tour of the old quarter to see the produce market and the street life as Hanoi workers and families start their day.  Return to the hotel for breakfast, then continue with visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, The One-pillar Pagoda, Hoan Kiem Lake, the old "Hanoi Hilton" Prison, and the exquisite Temple of Literature and the Fine Arts Museum.  In the late afternoon, enjoy the traditional water puppet show.  Dinner in the Old Quarter before transfer to the train station for the overnight train to Sapa.  

Day 3 Sapa
Arrival in Lao Cai railway station in the early morning. After breakfast, travel by car to Sin Cheng market, north of Lao Cai, through the rural countryside. Arrive in Sin Cheng in time for the active, bustling market. After visiting the market, cruise to Bao Nhai Bridge on the Chay River to experience the picturesque scenes on the river banks. Transfer by car to Sapa and the Victoria Sapa Hotel.  

Day 4 Sapa to Lao Cai  
Enjoy today’s beautiful excursion in Sapa valley through rice terraces and villages of Black H’mong and Red Dzao, through a small track to the village of Ta Van and Lao Chai to a scenic spot for a picnic lunch en route.  Return to the hotel in Sapa in the afternoon to shower, change, gather luggage before transfer to Lao Cai station for dinner before the night train to Hanoi.

Day 5 Hanoi to Ha Long Bay
Arrive in Hanoi in early morning, and transfer to the hotel for showers and breakfast before driving to Ha Long Bay through rural Vietnam, stopping to discover rural Vietnamese life, rice paddies, water buffaloes, children biking and walking to school, and ancient temples.  Arrive at the bay around noon to board a traditional wooden junk and begin the exploration of magical Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage site and one of Southeast Asia’s premier destinations. During a wonderful fresh seafood lunch the junk will motor to the outer bay to kayak or motor through the floating village, the World Heritage floating museum. Return to the junk as the sun sets and enjoy cocktails and dinner on board.  Overnight on board the comfortable and charming junk. 

Day 6  Ha Long Bay Kayaking
Kayak to beaches and through caves to internal lagoons in the morning, depending on tide and weather.  Lunch on board, followed by mid-late afternoon kayak to the small, exquisite Ba Ham Temple near the outer bay.  Enjoy a ceremony with the shaman from the floating village at the temple, and then kayak to a nearby beach for a seafood picnic on the beach with local musicians.  Overnight on board the comfortable and charming junk. 

Day 7 Ha Long Bay to Hue
Enjoy a spectacular dawn over the bay and breakfast on board. Cruise back to Ha Long bay area, enjoy a picnic lunch and then transfer directly to the airport for the flight to Hue, Vietnam’s traditional capital. Welcome at the Hue airport and transfer to the hotel for check in.  Dinner on your own and overnight at the hotel.

Day 8  Hue City Tour
In the morning, visit the Imperial Citadel and the tombs of Tu Duc. Experience the traditional, imperial Vietnamese cuisine during lunch at famed Y Thao restaurant.  In the afternoon, take a relaxing cyclo tour through Hue’s rural countryside, arriving at a unique, Japanese-style tiled bridge for fruit and tea. Dinner on your own.  Overnight at the hotel.

Day 9 Hue to Hoi An 
Board a traditional sampan early for a cruise up the placid Perfume River to visit the traditional Thien Mu Pagoda on the bank of the river, stopping to see a traditional garden build according to the precise rules of geomancy.  After exploring the pagoda, board a traditional sampan to visit Minh Mang mausoleum.  In the afternoon depart by car for Danang via the scenic Hai Van Pass to enjoy the spectacular panorama of the central coastline from the pass.   Arrive at Hoi An, a charming, well preserved village, and another of Vietnam’s world heritage sites. Dinner on your own.  Overnight at the beach front hotel.

Day 10  Hoi An - Tra Que Village
Start the day exploring the lanes and ancient houses and temples of Hoi An, including the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung hung trading house.  Hop on a bike for some easy cycling through the rural scenery of Hoi An to a small vegetable planting village on the banks of Tra Que lagoon.  This village is known for special aromatic herbs, and we will join in some gardening, selecting herbs and vegetables for a cooking class to prepare local specialities for lunch.  Return to Hoi An in the afternoon for leisure time to shop, have a massage, or relax at the hotel pool.  

Day 11  October 8, 2010 Hoi An - Danang - Sai Gon 
In the morning, transfer to the airport for a flight to Saigon (the central district of Ho Chi Minh City).  After welcome at the airport and transfer to the hotel, cross on the local’s ferry to Thu Thiem to visit a Buddhist orphanage and enjoy lunch at the pagoda.  After lunch, return to central Saigon to see the old Saigon post office, Notre Dame cathedral, the Reunification Palace, War Museum and the old Chinatown market.

Day 12 Saigon–Cu Chi - Saigon
After breakfast, depart by van for a drive through the country to the amazing tunnel network built by Vietnamese fighters during the American War.  Return to Saigon for lunch and an afternoon with a guide for shopping or a walk around the central quarter.  

Day 13 Sai Gon - Cai Be - Can Tho
Depart from Sai Gon to Cai Be on the Mekong by van, stopping on the way to visit Vinh Trang pagoda.  Board the renown Bassac boat at noon for a welcome drink, an introduction to the boat by the crew, and a delightful lunch while watching the Mekong river industry and life as the boat progresses through Cho Lach canal and their traffic of sand and rice barges, fruit drying plants and wooden ship building yards. In the afternoon, visit a village on the banks of river Mang Thit for tea and fruit, walking paths through orchards, gardens, and rice fields.  Back on board, relax and enjoy sunset before an elegant dinner on board.  Set anchor just downstream from the little Tra On floating market.  Overnight on board the boat.

Day 14  Can Tho - Saigon
Arise early for photos of sunrise on the Mekong Delta and the produce laden boats on their way to the Tra On floating market. Then depart towards Can Tho for transfer onto a local skiff to visit the Cai Rang floating market, the nearby arroyos and gardens before returning to the Ninh Kieu pier in Can Tho, arriving in late morning for some free time at the local markets before lunch at a local riverside restaurant. AFter lunch, return to Saigon for late afternoon arrival at the hotel.

Day 19 Saigon out
Enjoy Saigon at leisure until transfer to the airport for flights home or to your next destination.

For more information, please contact Silk and Stones Travel.

Check Resources, Packing List, Application and Terms and Conditions for additional help planning your trip.  Consider an extension before or after your trip to Cambodia, Laos, Sapa, Myanmar, Singapore or Bangkok.  

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Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam