Xin Chao and welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam! With large boulevards, tree lined lakes and French inspired architecture Hanoi is blessed with charming atmosphere. You will be met by an Emerald Waterways representative and be transferred to your hotel. This evening meet your Tour Director for a tour briefing and then enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Two Night Stay: Hanoi
This morning visit historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (view from outside) and learn about the man who liberated his country from French Colonial rule. See Ho Chi Minh’s former home then the iconic One Pillar Pagoda. Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university established to educate royalty. Being over 900 years old with well-preserved architecture this is a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Take a walking tour through Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter. Consisting of bustling streets and lanes named after the products sold in each street, it is an area oozing with character and is a great way to see local life in Hanoi. Finish with a stroll around picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ngoc Son Temple in the middle of the lake. EmeraldPLUS: Stop for lunch at KOTO restaurant, a unique restaurant that trains and educates disadvantaged street children in English and hospitality skills. EmeraldPLUS: Attend a traditional Water Puppets performance. Dating back to the 11th century, the Water Puppets are a unique Vietnamese art form. After the show we take you backstage to meet the puppeteers and get an intimate look at this fascinating art form.
Hanoi – Halong Bay
Travel to Halong Bay and join your luxurious traditional style junk. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning scenery. Thousands of karst limestone pillars rise dramatically out of the emerald water creating a surreal but incredibly beautiful seascape. Settle in for an unforgettable overnight cruise through the bays and islets of this magnificent region. After a sumptuous lunch, visit a fishing village and discover more about the main livelihood of the locals in the area. In the evening enjoy the breath-taking surroundings as you relax on board. Discover More: Take the opportunity to view this spectacular landscape from the air with a 45 minute seaplane flight from Hanoi over Halong Bay (must be prebooked, additional cost). Overnight Stay: Bhaya Classic Junk or similar
Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hoi An
After breakfast visit an islet to explore one of the many caves with their impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations. Sail back to the mainland leaving the majestic scenery behind. Transfer to Hanoi and take your flight to Danang where you will be picked up and transferred to the historic port town of Hoi An. From the 17th to 19th centuries Hoi An was a thriving port that saw trade from all parts of Asia as well as Europe. Today it is a well preserved town full of shops, great cuisine, history and architecture. Three Night Stay: Hoi An
Hoi An’s old town is closed to cars so is great for exploring on foot. This morning take a short guided walking tour through the World Heritage listed ancient town. See old merchants houses, a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese architecture, including the beautifully carved Japanese Covered Bridge as well as the Assembly Hall of the Chinese Congregation. EmeraldPLUS: Join the Lifestart Foundation, an organisation that assists the underprivileged in becoming self-sufficient through the production of traditional handicrafts. Receive an engaging and interactive glimpse into local life in Vietnam as you visit the studio of a local painter who will teach you the art of Vietnamese painting. Afterwards, enjoy a lantern making class. Silk lanterns line the streets and are a fixture in the local homes and shops of Hoi An. You will have the opportunity to learn about Vietnamese life through interesting discussions with the class instructor and Lifestart members. The afternoon is free for you to discover this wonderful town.
Today is free to explore Hoi An and it’s surrounds. Wander the streets, visit the shops and markets, relax by the river or on the beach. Discover More: Learn how to cook like a local at a Vietnamese cooking class, or tour the historic ruins of the Champa Kingdom at My Son (additional cost).
Hoi An – Hue
Drive along one of Vietnams most scenic roads travelling over the Hai Van pass with views of the picturesque coastline and quaint villages. Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. On the banks of the Perfume River, Hue hides secrets of an impressive past with a plethora of cultural sights. Visit the Imperial Citadel, a wonderfully historic structure that was the seat of the former Nguyen Dynasty. Modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City, it houses the emperor’s residence, temples and palaces. EmeraldPLUS: Cyclos are a Vietnamese institution and are a fun and relaxed way to get around. Experience a traditional cyclo ride through the Dai Noi or ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. Board a boat for a tranquil ride down the Perfume River to Hue’s most significant and iconic temple, the Tien Mu Pagoda, a seven story octagonal tower that is a Buddhist Temple. EmeraldPLUS: Royal cuisine under the Nguyen Emperors’ banquets were legendary, and tonight we live like an Emperor of Hue and dress up in royal costume for an Imperial banquet. Savor an unforgettable dinner with typical royal dishes which gives a glimpse of the city’s splendid past. Overnight Stay: Hue
Hue – Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. More commonly known as Saigon, it is a city with a turbulent and colourful past, although today it is the country’s commercial centre with over eight million inhabitants and four million motorbikes. Tonight enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Two Night Stay: Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Tunnels
EmeraldPLUS: Travel from the city, through the countryside to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. An ingenious network of over 200km of underground tunnels, they were built by the Viet Cong guerrillas as a means of protection, communication and deception against both the French and American forces. At its peak, the network included sleeping quarters, kitchens, meeting rooms and hospitals serving more than 18,000 fighters. Join a Vietnamese Veteran and learn of the wars, strategies, atrocities and the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese which eventually led to the defeat of their enemies. See traps, bombs, weapons, tanks and if you dare, you can even go underground and experience what it was like to be a guerrilla. Hear fascinating stories from first-hand experience to allow a real insight into one of the most famous wars of our time. Return to Saigon and spend the afternoon exploring the city. Discover More: Evening street food walking tour introducing you to some hidden culinary delights of Ho Chi Minh City, or discover Saigon old and new with a tour of modern, traditional and historical sights (additional cost).
Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Be guided on a city tour of Saigon, visit Reunification Palace and learn the fascinating tale of the North Vietnamese tanks rolling through the gates and seizing the Palace on the morning of April 30 1975, signifying the fall of Saigon. From there stroll to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Saigon Post Office, bustling Dong Khoi Street, Opera House and City Hall. Finish at the War Remnants Museum which provides a graphic insight into both the French and ‘American’ wars in Vietnam. (book flight after 4pm if undertaking Ho Chi Minh city tour). Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City airport for your onward flight. We hope you enjoyed your tour of South East Asia and hope to see you again soon!