Day 1: New Zealand – – Hanoi
Today, depart New Zealand for Hanoi, Vietnam!
Day 2: Hanoi
Upon arrival to the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Day 3: Hanoi City Tour – – Lao Cai (near Sapa) (B,L)
This morning, we take a city tour of Hanoi and will explore attractions such as the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda) and Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. The rest of the day is at leisure. Why not explore the Old Quarter for shopping, bars and restaurants. You have free time until your transfer to the train station for your overnight journey to Lao Cai Province. You will be accommodated in a twin share sleeper cabin.
Day 4: Lao Cai – Sapa – Tribe Village Excursions (B,L)
Arrive at Lao Cai railway station in the early morning, then drive straight to your hotel for breakfast. The drive will take approximately one hour. Today we explore the beauty of Sapa, an incredibly charming place on the Hoang Lien Son mountain range near the Chinese border in northwestern Vietnam. Soft-trek through the villages and vibrant green rice fields to discover Lao Chai village, Muong Hoa Valley and the surrounding mountains and rice terrace fields. Next visit the Black H’mong village in Lao Chai, trek further to Ta Van village all while witnessing the simple way of life of the local village people. Return to Sapa town by car in the afternoon. Today requires comfortable walking shoes – while the trek is easy it will take approximately 3 hours.
Day 5: Sapa Trekking – Hanoi (B)
Today we continue exploring Sapa’s local life on foot. The soft-trekking to Suoi Ho village and Ta Phin village will take approx. 3 hours. Come prepared with your camera and money for local crafts along the way. In the afternoon you will return to Hanoi by road (approx. 6 hour drive). On arrival, check-in your hotel and enjoy the night at your leisure (approximate arrival is 9 pm).
Day 6: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Today you will travel by coach through the rich farm land of the Red River Delta to arrive at Halong Bay. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay’s spectacular scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty. Upon arrival, you will board you ship to visit the thousands of limestone islands filled with caves of all shapes and sizes. The sails of junks and sampans gliding along the clear and emerald waters of the bay form a magnificent scene that blends into the sky. You will also have the opportunity to visit some of the hidden grottoes beneath the towering cliffs.
Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi (B,L)
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands, a sight not to be missed! Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for breakfast then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy a light lunch before heading back to shore. Your driver will then meet you at the Halong jetty for your drive back to Hanoi.
Optional tour: Hanoi Street food (Dinner included) – Enjoy a walk around the Old Quarter in the afternoon and appreciate the local lifestyles as you wind through Hanoi’s streets. You will have a taste of Northern Vietnamese delicacies such as: stuffed pancake, banh my, stuffed sticky rice balls, the unique egg coffee and many more.
Day 8: Hanoi –– Danang – Hoi An (B)
Today you will take a morning flight to Danang and then transfer to Hoi An. On arrival at the hotel, the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this charming historic town, a UNESCO World Heritage listed town. As an important trading route during the 15th to 19th centuries, Hoi An is now a unique blend of culture, cuisine and architecture. Step back in time as you wander the narrow streets of this charming former trading port, with its ancient covered bridges and temples.
Day 9: Hoi An (B)
Today you will explore Hoi An on foot, visiting an old merchant’s home, Hoi An Market, a local Chinese temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge was first constructed here in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries, the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. Enjoy the afternoon at your leisure to wander through the town or relax at one of the many cafés along the picturesque Thu Bon River.
Day 10: Hoi An (B)
Free day at leisure – continue exploring the Ancient Quarter or head to the beach/swimming pool for relaxing.
Day 11: Hoi An – Danang – – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
This morning is free at leisure before your transfer for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Optional Evening Activity: Saigon Dinner Cruise. In the evening, enjoy an authentic Vietnamese dinner on board a Saigon River Cruise. The Saigon River flows from Cambodia through Southern Vietnam before merging into the South China Sea. Dinner on a river cruise offers the opportunity to witness another side of Saigon.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (optional) (B)
Enjoy a day of leisure to explore Ho Chi Minh City.
Optional Tour: Mekong Delta River Cruise. You board your comfortable wooden river cruise vessel around noon. After a refreshing welcome drink get shown the on-board facilities and your cosy cabin. As lunch is served, the boat starts cruising. Sit back and watch the fantastic scenery and the daily life of the Mekong people. In the afternoon you can disembark for a guided leisurely stroll through a village and the surrounding fruit orchards or rice fields. Meet the friendly locals and taste the local produce and fruits. Get back on board and enjoy a drink at the bar or relax on deck as the sun sets over the magnificent water landscape of the Mekong river.
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels (B,L)
After breakfast, you will have a half day tour of Ho Chi Minh City with highlights such as, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, War Remnant Museum and soaking up the atmosphere at Ben Thanh market, one of Ho Chi Minh’s liveliest areas.
In the afternoon, we continue on to Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, guerrilla fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels, using them to hide in during bombing raids and to stage surprise attacks. Today, the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction, giving visitors a unique understanding of what life was like during the Vietnam War.
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City – – New Zealand (B)
Today you are free at leisure before your transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Day 15: New Zealand
Arrive home today.