Detailed Itinerary 2014
Day 1 - Depart U.S.
Depart the U.S. for Hanoi, Vietnam. The particulars of
your arrival are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.
Day 2 - Arrive in Hanoi
Upon arrival in Hanoi, claim your luggage and clear customs.
Your VBT representative will be holding a VBT sign and will help you transfer
to your Hanoi hotel.
VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel
Booklet that includes information and recommendations about what to see and do
in Hanoi during your stay.
Please note: This transfer has been pre-arranged by VBT and
does not require direct payment. Please confirm with the driver that this
transfer has been pre-paid—if the driver requests funds from you, this is not
your scheduled transfer and you should not take it.
Day 3 - Meet Trip Leaders / Heart of Hanoi exploration
VBT No-Air Package guests:
Please plan to arrive at your Hanoi hotel by 2:00 pm. If you are unable
to arrive before 2:00 pm, please contact VBT during regular business hours
(Monday–Friday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, ET) at 800-245-3868 to inform us of
your arrival time, or contact the hotel on the day the tour begins to let them
know when you will arrive. The hotel will pass the message on to your Trip
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, your morning is
free to do as you please. While choosing your activities for the day, you may
wish to keep in mind that a guided tour of the city is included later in the
program, featuring visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ba Dinh Square, the
exterior of the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh's house and One Pillar Pagoda.
You may wish to visit different sites on this day to avoid duplicate activities
later in the trip.
VBT Pre-extension guests: Greet the day on deck while the
sun rises over Halong Bay. After breakfast on the junk, visit a limestone
grotto and then cruise back to Halong city and Halong wharf. Transfer by
shuttle back to your hotel in Hanoi (a journey of approximately three hours),
where you join the main tour.
At 2:00 pm, all guests meet in the lobby for a guided
walking tour around this historic city of lakes, tree-lined boulevards and
French Colonial architecture. We'll shuttle to Ba Dinh Square, where former
president Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam's independence in 1945. We'll learn more
about the country's charismatic leader as we stroll through the nearby Ho Chi
Minh Mausoleum, where the carefully preserved body of “Uncle Ho” is on display.
We'll then contrast the opulent Presidential Palace with the simpler wooden
stilt home Ho Chi Minh chose instead for his official residence.
Before returning to the hotel, we'll explore the
lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda, the Perfume and the eleventh-century Temple of
Literature, Vietnam's oldest university.
Back at the hotel, join our VBT Trip Leaders provide a
briefing about what to expect during the week ahead. Then we'll enjoy a welcome
dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 - Explore Hanoi / Market tour / Truc Bach Lake
Sleep in today or join an early-morning stroll around Hoan
Kiem Lake, where Hanoi residents gather daily to run, play badminton and
practice Tai Chi. Then return to the hotel for breakfast before embarking on a
tour of the city.
First, we'll visit the Hang Be and Dong Xuan markets. Rather
than one all-encompassing supermarket, in Vietnam groceries are sold by
individual “specialists.” Accordingly, marketplaces are organized by types of
venders in various “aisles”. With the guidance of a professional local chef,
we'll stroll through the marketplaces, learning about all of the items you'd
find in a typical Vietnamese pantry. Embrace the opportunity to practice a bit
of Vietnamese by haggling with the vendors.
For lunch, we head to a local restaurant to sample the fresh
flavors of some of the ingredients we just browsed. Then we shuttle to Thanh
Nien Causeway and stop at Truc Bach Lake. Here, we take a walk to see where
John McCain’s A-4E Skyhawk was shot down before walking part of the scenic West
Lake, the largest lake in Hanoi. Look out onto the water to spot row boats and
fisherman reeling in the day's catch.
We'll return to our hotel in the late afternoon, just in
time for a swim or a nap.
Dinner tonight is in a local restaurant.
Day 5 - Fly to Hue / Walk along the Perfume River to Ming Mang Royal Tomb
After breakfast, explore Hanoi on your own before
transferring to the airport for our flight to Hue.
One of the country's most beautiful cities, Hue served as
Vietnam's capital from 1802 to 1945, during the Nguyen dynasty. Fittingly, our
discoveries begin with a visit to the tomb of Ming Mang, the second Nguyen
emperor. We'll shuttle to the Perfume River, where we'll walk along a quiet,
scenic road to reach the sprawling tomb complex, which contains more than 40
palaces, pavilions and pagodas.
Tonight we'll feast on local specialties in the hotel's
Day 6 - Visit Hue's countryside / Thien Mu Pagoda / The Imperial City / Garden House
of Ngoc Son
This morning we'll shuttle to the starting point of our
walk. We'll amble along quiet country roads, through villages that offer
fascinating views into local life. We will have an opportunity to visit a
school and to hear about education in Vietnam. Then, we'll join villagers in
their home and share a taste of local favorites, such as steamed rice pancakes,
before visiting Thien Mu Pagoda.
Next, we'll explore the former home of the last Vietnamese
Imperial Dynasty, the ancient Imperial Citadel. A UNESCO World Heritage Site,
the sprawling complex contains a smaller section—modeled after the Forbidden
City in Beijing, and appropriately known as the “Forbidden Purple City”—that
remained off-limits to all but members of the royal family and the eunuchs who
Later, we'll recharge with a tea break in the garden house
of Ngoc Son, which was the former residence of the Princess Ngoc Son, daughter
of Emperor Dong Khanh. The house is still owned by a direct descendant of the
Imperial Court, Mr. An. This is one of the best examples of a traditional
garden house, a unique feature of Hue. It has been maintained so that it
remains largely in its original form, complete with a valuable collection of
artifacts from the days of the Empire.
Tonight, we get another view of the city's splendid past.
Our dinner venue is a garden restaurant comprised of five authentic 19th- and
early 20th-century Hue houses.
Day 7 - Lap An Lagoon / Hai Van Pass / Hoi An Ancient Town
Our day will be filled with dramatic scenery as we travel
from Hue to Hoi An. After an hour's drive we stop in the Lang Co area for a
walk along the Lap An Lagoon, enjoying splendid views of Hai Van Mountain and
Lang Co Bay as we stroll. We'll also have the opportunity to meet with local
fishermen and learn more about life in rural Vietnam.
From Lang Co we shuttle into Hoi An, driving through the
dramatic Hai Van Pass, known for its precipitous, winding road and splendid
panoramic views of the sea and surrounding farmlands.
Once we arrive in Hoi An, we'll check into our comfortable
and well-located resort.
Hoi An has been appointed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO,
particularly due to its Old Town, which is an exceptionally well-preserved. A
thriving seaport from the 16th through 18th centuries, the architecture of Hoi
An was greatly influenced by its trading partners, which included China, Japan
Directly from our resort we head out to explore this
charming town on foot. We start with a walk around An Hoi Island and its local
food market. We'll see the new town, and its dramatic contrasts to its historic
counterpart. Later we'll venture into
Old Town to discover the local market, Tan Ky House, and a Chinese temple.
We'll also visit one of the city's most iconic landmarks, the Japanese Covered
Bridge, which was built five centuries ago and is recognizable by its
undulating tile roof.
Choose one of the many restaurants within walking distance
of our resort for dinner on your own this evening.
Day 8 - Tra Que Village / Independent exploration
Our walk this morning brings us the outskirts of Hoi An,
among lush rice fields rife with water buffalo. We'll begin by walking from our
resort to Nguyen Duy Hieu Street, passing through narrow roads along the Thu
Bon Riverto reach the Ba Le local market. We'll continue into the countryside,
spending some time exploring the village of Tra Que, which is well-known for
the superior quality of the vegetables and herbs grown here. We'll meet the
farmers and learn about their lives and their crops.
We'll transfer back to Hoi An for an included lunch, then
you'll have time at leisure to enjoy the resort's spa, shop, or to enjoy that
book by the pool. Tonight, you are free to enjoy dinner on your own at one of
the many open-air restaurants on Bach Dang, the waterfront road in Hoi An.
Day 9 - Fly to Saigon / Spa visit
Enjoy breakfast and a leisurely start to the day. In the
late morning, we transfer to Da Nang and enjoy lunch at a restaurant known for
its noodles before continuing to the airport for our flight to Saigon.
Upon arrival, we'll transfer to our centrally located hotel,
a comfortable home base for exploring Vietnam's liveliest city.
Now, it's time to relax. After settling into the hotel, we
visit a nearby spa for an included treatment. Our group will split into two,
with a choice between two different therapeutic massages: hot stone or
aromatic. Whichever you choose, you might find yourself returning tomorrow to
try the alternate massage.
Perhaps your relaxed state will persuade you to walk to the
end of the street and the Caravelle Hotel. Its rooftop bar offers an entertaining
view of the city's streets, made particularly delightful with a cold, local
beer in hand and the sunset in front of you.
Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 10 - The Mekong Delta / Visit to the floating market
This morning, we shuttle (a drive of approximately 1.5
hours) from Saigon into the Mekong Delta, an area known as Vietnam's “rice
basket.” To really see the delta, we'll be traveling via three-wheeled
motorbike taxis, sampans (small wooden flat-bottom boats), small cruise,
ferries, and, of course, our own two feet. We'll meet Mrs. Huong and her
family, as well as Mr. Sau Tuong and his relatives. Fishing, farming and light
industry all take place in between the canals and rivers of the delta. We will
have an opportunity to witness life unfold before us as we walk under the shade
of coconut palms and ferry across this vast water world.
We stop for a relaxing lunch in comfortable surroundings,
sampling the specialties of the Mekong Delta.
In the afternoon, we'll transfer back to Saigon
(approximately 2 hours).
Tonight, try another one of Saigon's wonderful restaurants
for dinner on your own.
Day 11 - Explore the Cu Chi tunnels / Independent exploration
After breakfast, we'll shuttle approximately one hour north
of Saigon to the Cu Chi Tunnels a 75-mile-long underground maze where the
Vietcong quite literally dug themselves out of harm's way. We meet with a
former member of the Vietcong, who offers a different perspective on what is
known here as the “American War,” before exploring the passageways themselves.
After our visit, we'll shuttle to nearby Ben Nay for lunch, then return to our
hotel, where you'll have some free time for independent exploration.
This evening, we visit the former home of a U.S. Ambassador
to Vietnam, and meet the current owners, during a special farewell dinner.
Day 12 - Discover Saigon / Fly to U.S. or begin Post-trip Extension to Cambodia
This morning, set out on a walking tour to visit the former
Presidential Palace, the site of the former U.S. Embassy, Notre Dame Cathedral,
City Hall (Hotel de Ville), the Historical Museum or the War Remnant Museum,
and the Rex Hotel, famous for the regular press briefings that cynically became
known as the “Five o'Clock Follies” during the Vietnam War. Enjoy a final lunch
together in one of the city's great restaurants before spending some free time
shopping or exploring on your last day in Vietnam.
VBT No Air Package guests: Your trip ends in the late
afternoon at our Saigon hotel. You are responsible for your own transfer to the
Saigon airport for your flight home. You can book a taxi (approximately $6-$9
US, depending on traffic) directly from the hotel. Please confirm the fare with
your driver in advance to ensure the most direct route to the airport
(approximately 30 minutes, 7.5 miles).
VBT Air Package guests: Your afternoon is at your leisure
and dinner is on your own. Then, meet in the hotel lobby three hours prior to
your flight departure (subject to change per required check-in time at the
airport) for transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to the Saigon airport for your
flight home. Most flights depart just before midnight. You arrive one day later
in the U.S.
VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: Meet in the hotel lobby
three hours prior to your flight departure (subject to change per required
check-in time at the airport) for your transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to
the Saigon airport. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, Cambodia, claim your luggage and
clear customs. Then meet your VBT representative, who will be holding a VBT
sign. He or she will help you transfer (approximately 20 minutes) to your
hotel, the Sofitel Phokeethra Royal Angkor Resort. VBT provides you with City
Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and
recommendations about what to see and do during your stay.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are
finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you
extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to
the airport will be at your own expense.
Day 13 - Arrive in the U.S.
You will arrive back in the U.S. today.