Vietnam Revealed 

02 - 17 September, 2017  

Escorted by Rick Wood  



SEPTEMBER 2107

Sat 02 – Auckland - Saigon
Depart Auckland on Air New Zealand for Saigon, Vietnam. On arrival we are met by our local guide and driver and transferred to our hotel for two nights’ accommodation. Saigon, also known as Ho Chi Minh City, is the most dynamic city of Vietnam where modern high-rise buildings sit next to ancient temples. The evening is at your leisure. Overnight in Saigon.
Sun 03 – Mekong Delta
vietnam-mekongdelta
In the morning, we commence a trip to the famous Mekong Delta. Upon arrival in Ben Tre, we take a boat trip on the Mekong River. Our first stop is a brickworks to see how bricks are made in their traditional handy method. The bricks are ‘soil brick’ molded from clay, arranged inside a kiln and become brown after baking. We will visit a coconut processing workshop located along one of the many canals. We travel up natural ‘scissors creeks’ and take a short walk to a family workshop run by women who make traditional sleeping mats. Here we will enjoy some local fruit and tea and chat with the local people to learn about their rural life. Next we take motor carts on shady roads, pass rice fields and vegetable plantations to get a touch of real life from the farming peasants. Lunch is served at a local family in Ben Tre. In the afternoon we take to rowing boats for an excursion along Water Palm Creek. We return to the pier and transfer to Can Tho for overnight accommodation. (B,L)
Mon 04 – Can Tho - Hanoi
This morning we visit the Cai Rang Floating Market to take in the daily activities of the locals who live on the Mekong River Banks. We also visit the ancient house of Huynh Thuy Le and the temples of Can Tho.After lunch we transfer to the airport and catch oure flight to Hanoi. ‘Xin chao’, welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam! We are greeted by our guide and driver at Noi Bai International airport and transfer to our hotel. Depending on the time we arrive we can either relax at the hotel or take an evening walking tour of the city to discover the unique flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. Overnight Hanoi. (B)
Tue 05 – Hanoi
vietnam-hanoi
Option: Wake up early, grab our cameras and head out to Hanoi’s biggest flower market in Quang Ba. Enter Quang Ba Flower Market to see and smell many beautiful and exotic flowers. This is a fantastic spot for photographers to catch some exceptional and colourful scenes. On our way back to the old centre we visit the banks of Truc Bach Lake. Every morning, the local people gather at Truc Bach Lake to practice Tai Chi, do their daily fitness exercises or play badminton. We can join in or simply observe this oasis of peace and serenity in the middle of the city centre. Skip breakfast at the hotel this morning and join the locals in the streets for a bowl of Pho. This aromatic beef noodle soup is without a doubt Vietnam’s most famous dish. After breakfast we start our city tour with a visit to The Presidential Palace (formerly Palace of the Governor-General of French Indochina, Ho Chi Minh’s house-on-stilts and nearby One Pillar Pagoda. We then visit the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010. Hanoi is actually a relic of a succession of dynasties dating back over a thousand years to the Chinese Tang dynasty. Hanoi's ancient citadel was also once the home of Vietnamese sovereigns dating back to Dai Viet, when Hanoi was known as Thang Long. We will visit the ruins of royal palaces, a revolutionary bunker and the archeological site. This afternoon visit the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius, and was built in the 11th century. It was the first university in Vietnam and students still come here to burn incense. Here we will find a peaceful atmosphere tinged with incense smoke, and sunken lotus ponds populated by fish and turtles. The evening is free on our own for discovering Hanoi ancient old quarter. Overnight in Hanoi. (B)
Wed 06 – Hanoi - Ha Long Bay
Breakfast at hotel before we head out to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At noon we arrive at Bhaya Cafe at Tuan Chau Island and board the Bhaya Classic to start our 2 night cruise of the fabulous Ha Long Bay. Once on board we enjoy welcome drinks and a briefing about our next day’s itinerary and safety demonstration from the cruise manager. We begin the cruise with a lunch buffet as the boat heads towards South East Halong Bay passing by Chicken Crock and Tiptop Island. At mid-afternoon arrive at Dark and Bright Lagoon which we visit by either rowing boats or kayaks. Anticipate the chance to see Cat Ba Langur, one of the rarest langurs left. Return to the boat for a swim, relax on sundeck or indulge ourselves with a massage (spa services can be booked in advance with extra cost). The bar opens at 5pm for Happy Hour and a traditional food cooking demonstration on sundeck (or in the restaurant if weather does not allow). Dinner with set-menu is served in our restaurant and the evening is free for time watch movies, go squid fishing, or enjoying the pleasant surroundings of the bar. Overnight on boat. (B,L,D) Note: Cruise itinerary is subject to change depending on the weather and water conditions of the day.
Thu 07 – Ha Long Bay
vietnam-halongbay
For those who are keen we start our day pre-breakfast with a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck with complimentary tea and coffee. A wonderful buffet breakfast is served in the dining room. At about 0830 we arrive in Cat Ba Island where we take to bicycles and cycle to Viet Hai village to meet the village people, and explore the tropical jungle with a local guide. Optional electric cart service is available (at an extra cost). Take your swimming gear as there will be time for swimming and kayaking at Three Peach Beach followed by a wonderful buffet lunch while the boat cruises toward Bai Tu Long Bay. At midafternoon we transfer to Vung Vieng Fishing village to discover this fascinating area while seated on rowing boats manned by the local people. Back to our boat for relaxation onboard and ‘happy hour’ before dinner with set menu served in the restaurant. The evening is free to relax, read, watch movies or try fishing. Overnight on boat. (B,L,D) Note: Cruise itinerary is subject to change depending on the weather and water conditions of the day.
Fri 08 – Hal Long Bay - Hanoi
Start off our day with a pre-breakfast Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck with complimentary tea and coffee followed by a light breakfast. After breakfast we make an excursion to Surprise Cave, one of the biggest caves in Halong Bay, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Then back to the boat for a buffet brunch while the boat heads back to harbor. Around late morning we disembark at Tuan Chau Marina and transfer by coach back to Hanoi. On the way we make a brief stop at Yen Duc village to get a glimpse of the village surrounded by rice fields, its traditional houses and daily life activities that bring a true experience of Vietnam countryside. We also stop to view Canh Huong Pagoda and enjoy a water puppet show in a local village pond. Overnight in Hanoi. (B,L)
Sat 09 – Hanoi
Being homeland of “Quan Ho” singing – folk songs of Red Delta River, Bac Ninh is also homeland of many traditional handicraft villages. We start our day by heading to Hoi Quan, a rattan weaving village in Bac Ninh to visit a weaving factory and see how the locals earn their living and to try our hand at weaving rattan placemats in their traditional ways. Following is a visit to Dong Ky Wood Village where we visit a Dong Ky communal house and see its sophisticated wood architecture that was built by 37 skilled artisans, nearly 300 years ago. Later on we take a short walk to another ancient house made of wood where the host will show you his wood factory. It’s time to enjoy “Quan Ho” singing, an intangible cultural heritage site by the UNESCO in 2009 where we have a unique lunch in the Dinh Bang Communal House. Transfer back to Hanoi. At around 1630 we take a walking tour from our hotel to discover the unique flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. This is our chance to encounter Hanoi’s local specialties such as Bun Cha & Cha Ca. We begin our tour at a local Hanoi market to see the wide range of beautiful produce available then proceed into the Old Quarter to sample some other different types of cuisine. We eventually conclude our tour when our taste buds are well and truly sated. Overnight at our hotel. (B,L,D)
Sun 10 – Hanoi - Danang - Hoi An
Morning transfer to Hanoi Airport for our flight to Danang. Here we are met at our local guide and travel down to the wonderful seaside of Hoi An, a World Heritage site designated by UNESCO in 1999. On arrival we make a tour of the ancient streets of Hoi An, lined with Chinese traders’ homes and wooden houses reincarnated as restaurants, cafés, and outlets for local artists, craftsmen and tailors. We explore the beautiful 16th century Japanese Bridge. Hoi An's unique fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture is well displayed here, in what is arguably Vietnam's most tourist-friendly town. Overnight in Hoi An. (B)
Mon 11 – Hoi An
vietnam-hoian
Our day fills up with very interesting activities. We start with the fantastic experience of visiting local farming and fishing communities. For those who can, jump onto bicycles and take a beautiful scenic route through the rice paddies of outside Hoi An and share in the daily work of local farmers, maybe hoeing in the fields, harvesting the crops, or even riding a water buffalo! (Alternative transport will be provided for those not wishing to cycle). Boating along a calm river leads us to a peaceful fishing village where we can observe and try our hand at fishing net making and in particular paddling the unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boats. The rest of the day is spent exploring coconut-palm flanked waterways of a past war and hear of the extreme conditions endured by soldiers on both sides. Back to Hoi An and the rest of the day is free to enjoy the beaches nearby. Overnight in Hoi An. (B)
Tue 12 – Cham Island
 vietnam-chamisland
Today we take a wonderful boat excursion from Hoi An to Cham Island. We arrive at Lang Village, and stroll around the village with local guides to learn about the island's history. After visiting the Marine Protected Area and other sites, we continue to Chong Village and enjoy its winding road and amazing sea views. Back to Hoi An in the afternoon. Overnight in Hoi An. (B) Note: Boat tour is subject to change depending on the weather and sea conditions of the day.
Wed 13 – Hoi An - Hue
vietnam-hoian-hue
After breakfast we leaving Hoi An and head out to Hue, the Vietnam’s last feudal capital. Hue is widely known for its magnificent architecture, mystical pagodas and royal tombs spread around many small villages and the surrounding hills. En-route, stop at Cham Museum which houses a collection of stone sculptures from the Hindu-practicing Cham Civilization. It’s the artistic quality of the figures; Shiva, garudas, nagas, lions, monkeys, elephants and some examples of the ancient Hindu icons of fertility, that make this museum worth to visit. We then drive to the colorful incense and conical hat making village to see the production process and to try our hand at these traditional crafts. Continue to Tu Duc Tomb where Tu Duc began planning his tomb long before his death in 1883. The major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a palatial retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. The rest of the day is free at leisure. Perhaps explore Dong Ba Market, or board on a cyclo or simply have a rest at the hotel. Overnight in Hue. (B)
Thur 14 – Hue
This morning we commence a trip to Hue Imperial Citadel, recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993. Here we will explore the Imperial Citadel in depth which is closely modeled along the lines of the Forbidden City in Beijing. We enter the Purple Forbidden City at Ngo Mon Gate which was reserved only for the Nguyen royal family from the 18th century until the mid-1900s. In the afternoon we visit an over 100-year-old An Hien house, a house once of a descendant of a great mandarin under the time of Gia Long King. The housekeeper will provide conduct a short tour for us and provide more information about the house and local culture. Then we head out to Thien Mu Pagoda, a nicely located pagoda overlooking the Perfume River and the beautiful landscape beyond. If we are lucky, we could observe the Pagoda’s praying ceremony and experience local religious life. Overnight in Hue. (B)
Fri 15 – Hue - Saigon
vietnam-saigon
This morning we transfer to the airport and fly to Saigon and settle in to our hotel. This afternoon takes us on a walking tour following the Graham Greene’s Trail which takes us on a journey from colonial to modern Saigon. Sites include the Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883. Most materials for Notre Dame Cathedral were imported from France. Neo-Romanesque in form, it is a major center of Catholicism in modern Vietnam, and one of the city’s major landmarks. Next to the cathedral stands the Saigon Post Office, a classic French colonial structure, which is still functioning today and features huge ceilings, a giant portrait of Uncle Ho, and many beautiful details. Continue along the former Rue Catinat to the Hotel Continental, made famous in the novel and film, the ‘Quiet American’. Our final stop is at Caravelle Hotel. This hotel and its bar were home to many foreign reporters and secret agents during the Vietnam War. We head up to its rooftop bar to try one of Saigon’s many local beers and cocktails and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Overnight in Saigon. (B)
Sat 16 – Cu Chi Tunnels - Saigon - Auckland (or Siem Reap extension)
vietnam-cuchitunnels
Morning head out for the visit to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. After an introductory video, viewing various mantraps, the remains of an American tank and numerous bomb craters, we will spend time exploring the maze of tunnels to see how the Viet Cong survived in this underground network. Back to Saigon in the afternoon and for your last minute shopping in Saigon beforewe transfer to the airport for our evening overnight flight on Air New Zealand back to Auckland or onwards to Siem Reap. (B)
Sun 17 – Auckland
Arrive Auckland.

PRICE PER PERSON:

4990.00 share twin/double, 5890.00 single

** Prices are ex Auckland **

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES
  • Economy class airfares ex Auckland
  • Domestic flights within Vietnam
  • All accommodation and sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • Meals as specified (B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner)
  • Ha Long Bay 2 night cruise with all meals
  • Services of English speaking guides
  • Tour escort from New Zealand
  • 2 bottles of mineral water per person per day
TOUR PRICE EXCLUDES
  • Meals (other than mentioned in the programme)
  • Drinks
  • Visa to Vietnam USD50 per person
  • Mineral water beyond that supplied
  • Tipping – allow USD3-5 per day
  • Early check in or late check out
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional excursions and activities
  • Additional transfer required due to any emergency situation
  • Items of a personal nature (Phone calls, laundry, beverages etc)


OPTIONAL CAMBODIA EXTENSION – 4 DAYS

Sat 16 – Saigon – Siem Reap
 vietnam-siem-reap
Chom reab suor! Welcome to Siem Reap, Cambodia. You are greeted by your guide and driver at the International airport for your transfer to the hotel. Free time at leisure in the evening. Overnight in Siem Reap (B)
Sun 17 – Siem Reap
After breakfast at hotel, start your morning with the visit to Angkor National Museum, which is an archaeological museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artifacts, also to provides information and education about art and culture of Khmer civilization, with collections mainly dated from Khmer Empire's Angkor period circa 9th to 14th-century. Most of the artifacts are discovered in and around the Angkor archaeological sites nearby. The museum is located in Vithei Charles de Gaulle No. 968, Siem Reap, Cambodia, on the way between downtown Siem Reap to northern road leading to Angkor ancient city. This is a great start to understand about Angkor empire before you really visit the Angkor temple complex. Explore the amazing temple complex and spend most of the day in what this UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, surrounded by an 8m high wall. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. Continue to Bayon Temple in the exact centre of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur, its exterior gallery walls featuring extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. You also visit the Ta Prohm Temple, unlike most other Angkor temples, has been left just it was when rediscovered: a photogenic and atmospheric maze of trees growing out of temple ruins amidst jungle surroundings, making it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors. In the evening, enjoy a traditional Apsara music dinner in one of the good local restaurants in Siem Reap. Overnight in Siem Reap. (B,D)
Mon 18 – Siem Reap
Morning transfer to Bantey Srey, stop on the way to visit Bantey Srey Butterfly Centre then arrive at Bantey Srey Temple, the citadel of the women, displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art. Bantey Srei is built largely of red sandstone, an ideal medium for the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves, unusual among Angkor era structures, are miniature in scale. In the afternoon you further explore Angkor Wat, easily the most famous and best-preserved of all temples within the Angkor complex. It is a massive three-tiered structure crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. The centre piece of any visit to the temples around Siem Reap, Angkor offers many iconic sights for amazing pictures. This evening enjoy a special treat with a performance from PHARE. The Cambodian Circus has long been famous for their performances, and this NGO teaching street kids to become circus artists is a regular at international circus conventions worldwide. Enjoy their interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society. Overnight in Siem Reap. (B)
Tue 19 – Siem Reap - Saigon - Auckland
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Kompong Kleang floating village is, in fact, a settlement of over 20,000 people where houses tower up to ten meters above the water. Greeted by waves of the friendly locals, you can glimpse Cambodia’s countryside culture and traditional family lifestyle. Enjoy a picnic lunch in Kompong Kleang. Transfer back to Siem Reap and enjoy your free time for shopping until transfer to the airport for your departure flight to Saigon, then connect to your flight to Auckland. (B,L)
Wed 20 – Auckland
Arrive Auckland

PRICE PER PERSON:

1200.00 share twin/double, 1650.00 single

** Prices are ex Auckland **

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES
  • Return economy class airfares ex Saigon inc all taxes
  • 3x nights accommodation based on a deluxe hotel
  • Transportation in modern air conditioned coach
  • Entrance to Angkor Wat
  • Meals as stipulated (B -breakfast, L -lunch, D -dinner)
  • Local English speaking guide
  • All other entrance fees and sightseeing
  • 2x bottles of mineral water per person daily
TOUR PRICE EXCLUDES
  • Visa fee on arrival – USD25.00 per person
  • Travel insurance – compulsory
  • Tips – budget USD10.00 per person per day

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