Hanoi –Mai Chua –Ninh Binh – Halong Bay – Hanoi – Phong Nha National Park – Hue – Bho Hoong - Hoi An – Nam Cat Tien National Park – Hoi Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Hoi Chi Minh City
Hanoi, the country’s modern capital, is a mishmash of architectural styles, modern hustle bustle and sites of historical interest. You’ll begin with a chance to reflect upon some recent history at the Mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh is preserved, as well as his private residence. The Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university founded in 1070, is our next stop where you can look around the buildings and relax in the lovely gardens. After this, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the city’s colourful streets and tempting markets at your leisure.
After the noise and whirl of the city, it will be a welcome break to head into the fertile valleys and relatively untouched scenery of Mai Chau. After an afternoon exploring the idyllic mountaintop surroundings and fascinating Mo Luong (Soldier) cave you’ll be treated to a performance of music and dance by the native Thai ethnic group, whose culture has remained largely unchanged over the centuries in isolation. The next day, a scenic hike will take you around the surrounding jungles and bamboo forests to the various ethnic minority villages that nestle in this mountainous region. Next, head to Tam Coc Town and board your private sampan for a boat trip through the cave formations and lotus fields of the peaceful Thung Nang Valley, until you reach a quaint pagoda from where you will take a gentle bike ride back through rice paddies and rural villages.
On your return, you will embark upon a cruise of the UNESCO World Heritage protected Halong Bay, an area of great natural beauty. Have a go at squid fishing, disembark to explore one of the floating villages, or just watch the world go by with a glass of wine in hand. Returning to Hanoi you will take a flight to Phong Nha National Park in central Vietnam. Phong Nha is home to an awe inspiring system of caves set amongst the park’s towering peaks and untamed jungle. You can swim in a natural hot spring where water issues spectacularly forth from a nearby cavern. From here, you will pay a visit to the historical citadel town of Hue, set on the banks of the Perfume River, before making your way to stay with the Co Tu ethnic minority in the stunning central highlands. After Bho Hoong spend a few well earned days relaxing and exploring the redbrick colonial town of Hoi An and enjoy uninterrupted rainforest at Nam Cat Tien National Park. Expect jungle treks and the chance to visit a Bear Rehabilitation Centre. Boat trips, hikes and night time wildlife spotting trips are all on offer, as well as a journey to Crocodile Lake to watch beautiful birds and, if you’re very lucky, the critically endangered Siamese crocodile. After a final brush with nature at a gibbon rescue centre, it’s back to the buzz and whirl of city life—Ho Chi Minh City to be precise.
Ho Chi Minh City is home to a whole host of must-sees, both cultural and historical. Explore the markets, pay a visit to the former Presidential Palace and take a humbling trip to the Chu Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong to survive and fight during the Vietnam-American War. Not only is HCM City, or Saigon as it is still colloquially known, a hub of cultural sights but it also serves as a gateway to the Mekong Delta, the tropical palm-fringed river that provides an adventure in the form of a tranquil overnight cruise to complete your travels.
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