Day 1: New Zealand –– Hanoi
Depart New Zealand for Hanoi International Airport (HAN). Upon arrival, travellers are met and transferred to the hotel for check in.
Day 2: Hanoi (B, L)
Leave your hotel this morning for a city tour of Hanoi and take in sights including the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh complex, and Tran Quoc Pagoda. The rest of the day is at your leisure. An option here is to explore the Old Quarter and its shopping, bars and restaurants.
Optional tour: Hanoi Street food (Dinner included) – An afternoon walk around Hanoi’s Old Quarter to gain insight into local customs and lifestyle. Be treated to a taste of North Vietnamese cuisine such as stuffed pancake, banh mi, sticky rice balls, and egg coffee.
Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Travel by coach to the rich farmland of the Red River Delta and arrive at Halong Bay. A World Heritage-listed site since 1994, Halong Bay is made up of a sprinkling of islands and wind- and wave-eroded grottoes. Aboard a ship and be ferried for a closer look at the bay’s limestone islands and caves. There is an opportunity to visit some of the hidden grottoes, tucked beneath the towering cliffs.
Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi –– Hue (B,L)
Wake early to participate in Tai chi on the ship’s top deck or to watch the sunrise over the bay’s islands. Sip a cup of coffee or tea on deck before clambering into a rowboat and exploring the nearby isles. Return to the junk for breakfast and enjoy the rest of the morning aboard. A light lunch is served and then it is back to the mainland for the return drive to Hanoi airport. Take the short flight to Hue in the late afternoon. A hotel transfer is waiting upon your arrival.
Day 5: Hue (B,L)
Visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long today. Once the centre of power for the Nguyen dynasty, the citadel holds attractions including Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City. Later, board a boat for a trip on the Perfume River and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda where a vegetarian meal is prepared and served by local nuns. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 6: Hue – Hoi An (B)
Say goodbye to Hue as you move towards Hoi An. The itinerary today takes you to the Hai Van Pass, which, as well as once forming the boundary between the kingdoms of Dai Viet and Champa, marks the border between the varying climates of north and south Vietnam. The pass also acts as a weather shelter for Da Nang. On the other side of the pass is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Hoi An.
Day 7: Hoi An (B)
Become acquainted with the charm of Hoi An by exploring this popular town by foot. See an old merchant home, the Hoi An market, a local Chinese temple, and the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge dates to the 1590s and was built by the town’s Japanese community as a link with the Chinese quarters. You will have free time in the afternoon.
Day 8: Hoi An (B)
A free day. You might continue exploring the Hoi An Ancient Town, or you can make your way towards the beach for a dose of sand and surf. Or, simply hang out by the hotel pool.
Day 9: Hoi An – Danang –– Nha Trang (B)
Today, there is a short flight from Da Nang to Nha Trang, a popular beach city. There is a hotel transfer upon arrival, and the rest of the day is spent at leisure exploring this seaside stay.
Day 10: Nha Trang – Islands and Snorkelling Tour (B,L)
Prepare for a day of hopping between Nha Trang’s islands and beaches. The first stop is Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island, which showcases many species of sea life. Strap on a snorkel for a trip to Mun Island, a great spot for peeking into the world of colourful coral and fish. Keep an eye out for the local swallows that nest in the caves. There are opportunities to swim, relax and take up water sport activities on Mot Island, Tranh Beach or on a smaller island dubbed ‘Mini Beach’. Visit a local fishing village on your way back to the mainland, where a hotel transfer awaits.
Day 11: Nha Trang –– Ho Chi Minh City (B)
There is some free time before a transfer to the airport for a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. The remainder of the day is at leisure once you have been transferred and checked in at the hotel.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Cu Chi Tunnels (B, L)
A half-day tour of Ho Chi Minh City starts after breakfast. Highlights on this excursion include Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, War Remnants Museum, and Ben Thanh Market. In the afternoon, travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This tunnel labyrinth was built by guerrilla Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War and were used to hide during bombing raids and to stage surprise attacks. The tunnel system is one of Ho Chi Minh City’s top sights and it provides a unique perspective into this 20th century conflict.
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (Cai Be – Vinh Long) (B,L,D)
A post-breakfast pick-up transfers you to Cai Be. On arrival, embark on a cruise and relax with a refreshing welcome drink. The cruise makes stops along the way, allowing you to visit villages where rice and coconut products are produced. There will also be an opportunity to walk through orchards and sample tropical fruits. Lunch is served aboard the boat while cruising to Can Tho. Head back to shore in the afternoon and explore more villages by foot or bike. Return to the boat in the evening for dinner and enjoy an evening on-board.
Day 14: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Set an early alarm to wake in time to see dawn on the Mekong River. Disembark the cruise and then be transferred by small boat to the floating market at Cai Rang. You will return to Ho Chi Minh City by bus.
Day 15: Ho Chi Minh City –– New Zealand (B)
Make the most of free time before an airport transfer to board a flight back to New Zealand.
Day 16: New Zealand
Arrive home today.