Hanoi’s Colonial-era charms, rich cultural traditions and vibrant modern spirit will enhance your travels through Vietnam and Southeast Asia. We include your choice of deluxe or luxury hotel, chauffeured transfers, and sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide.
Day 1 – Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam
Upon arrival at the airport, you’ll be met as you depart the plane by our Fast Track arrival staff, escorted though immigrations and chauffeured to your choice of hotel in the heart of the city: Choose the deluxe InterContinental or the Sofitel Legend Metropole - a luxury landmark in the historic French Quarter.
Day 2 – Private Sightseeing
This morning your personal car, driver and guide will be waiting to show you the highlights of their home town. Begin your sightseeing at the impressive Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a grand monument of marble, granite and precious hardwoods. Continue to the Presidential Palace, a Beaux Arts landmark built between 1900 and 1906, and then delve into much earlier chapters of Vietnam’s history at the distinctive One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature – founded nearly 1,000 years ago.
In the afternoon, your private city tour continues at the Museum of Ethnology where extensive exhibits offer fascinating insight into the 54 ethnic peoples that call Vietnam home. Then hop aboard a traditional pedi-cab for our Cyclo Adventure through the city’s charming Old Quarter. Admire the lovely Colonial-era architecture as you travel along busy streets still named for the vendors that have traditionally sold their goods here; indeed, many markets along Tin Street and Bamboo Street still specialize in these same wares!
Then continue to Ngoc Son Temple, set on a tiny island in the middle of picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. Enjoy this lovely setting as your engaging guide shares a colorful Vietnamese legend about a mighty emperor, a magic sword and a mythical turtle! End your day with a Water Puppet performance, a traditional and uniquely Vietnamese art form which started centuries ago, possible in the nation’s flooded rice fields. Meals B
[Note: The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every afternoon and on Monday and Friday. The Museum of Ethnology is closed on Monday and the Vietnamese New Year.]
Day 3 – A Free Day in Hanoi
This entire day is yours to enjoy, relax and explore as you wish. If you prefer additional organized sightseeing, you can pursue your own interests with any of these available privately-guided tours:
Ba Vi + Duong Lam: This full-day excursion takes you into the scenic countryside outside of the city and into the lushly forested mountains and valleys of Ba Vi National Park. Ascending to nearly 4,000 feet in elevation, you’ll see terraced farmlands and embark on a guided walk through the cloud forest. Continue to the historic village of Duong Lam where a home-hosted lunch promises congenial conversation, traditional cuisine and insight into local life. A cycling tour through the village is a delightful way to discover Duong Lam’s ancient temples and pagodas. After sightseeing, your car, driver and guide will take you bring you back to your hotel in Hanoi.
Hoa Lu and Tam Coc: Traveling with your private car, driver and guide, this full-day tour begins with the ancient ruins of Hoa Lu, the 11th-century capital of a once-mighty Dynasty. This archaeological site may not be as extensive or impressive as the ruins of Angkor or Ayutthaya, but its dramatic setting in a fertile valley surrounded by steep limestone mountains is quite spectacular. After lunch in a local restaurant, you’ll continue to Tam Coc, where the magnificent scenery is often compared to Ha Long Bay and Guilin. Boarding a small boat to meander down the river is a perfect way to delight in the region’s emerald green rice paddies, towering limestone peaks, steep soaring cliffs and hidden caves. Return to the riverbank and travel back to Hanoi with your private car, driver and guide.
Perfume Pagoda: This full-day excursion begins with a morning drive into the scenic countryside to Duc, a small village on the banks of the tranquil Yen River. Punctuated by timeless scenes of rural life along the river, a gentle one-hour cruise brings you to the starting point of a mountain path that leads to the Perfume Pagoda. Inaccessible by road or vehicle, this remote complex is comprised of numerous Buddhist temples and shrines that have been built into the slopes and cliffs of Huong Tich Mountain. After touring the complex, you’ll walk back down the mountain and return along the river to Duc where your car and driver will be waiting to make the drive back to Hanoi. Lunch is included. For an additional cost, a cable car is available for those who do not wish to ascend the mountain path to the Pagoda.
Evening Culinary Tour: Our in-the-know resident expert will take you on a privately guided culinary adventure to experience the city’s vibrant food scene. Bustling by day, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is equally lively come nightfall as city residents head out to enjoy the many food vendors and cafes that line these historic streets and alleyways. Begin with a locally brewed draft beer and then set out along the quarter’s colorful streets as your guide answers questions and shares insight into the exotic foods being offered. Take in the tempting aromas arising from the sizzling woks and steaming pots and decide which dishes you’d like to sample – grilled meats, vegetable skewers, noodles and rice dishes are just some of the many options. End the night at one of Hanoi’s most popular ice cream parlors and then return to your hotel.
Traditional Handicrafts Villages: Set out this morning with your private car, driver and guide for the village of Bat Trang. Set on the outskirts of Hanoi, this traditional Vietnamese village is celebrated for the skill of its ceramic artists. Visiting one of the many workshops and studios, you’ll see the creation process firsthand and learn how local families have been creating fine pottery and porcelain for nearly 400 years. Next you’ll journey to the banks of the Duong River to visit But Thap Pagoda, founded in the 17th century. After a midday break to enjoy lunch on your own, you’ll continue to Van Phuc, a charming village known for its long tradition of silk weaving and dying. After learning about the production process, you’ll have time to browse through the village’s handicraft shops, galleries and studios before returning to your hotel in Hanoi.
Vietnamese Art in Hanoi: This expertly-guided half-day tour begins in a local café popular with the city’s arts community. Enjoy a cup of coffee as your engaging guide offers insight into Vietnam’s history – especially as a context for the city’s arts scene. At the National Museum of Fine Arts, housed in a former French convent, you’ll discover an impressive collection that traces the history of Vietnamese art from the Colonial-era through the 20th century – including works that illustrate how European styles fused with traditional local painting to give rise to modern Vietnamese art. War time sketches and propaganda posters from the Indochina wars are also fascinating! After visiting a city gallery and learning about the contemporary arts scene, you’ll stop by a stunning Colonial-era villa that now houses a vibrant arts-exhibition space and café. A chance to view the current exhibit is enhanced with a lively presentation about the works of modern-day Vietnamese artists.
Day 4 – Depart Hanoi
You’ll be chauffeured to the airport or rail station for your onward journey. Meals B