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The Essence of Vietnam

Discover Vietnam’s delightful mélange of culture and history on a compact, insightful journey. Explore Ho Chi Minh City’s historic monuments then glide across the waters of the Mekong Delta. After a stop in sleepy Hoi An, travel to bustling Hanoi and cap off the adventure with a Halong Bay cruise.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Exploring the city of Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh city
  • Exploring the lively floating market in Mekong Delta
  • Cruising the peaceful Lan Ha Bay
  • Experiencing the local life in rural area of Chau Doc and My Tho

Unforgettable moments

  • Driving through the countryside of Mekong Delta region
  • Strolling around the century-old town of Hoi An
  • Wandering the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as the “36 streets”. 
  • Cruising the beautiful Lan Ha Bay, admiring the sunrise & sunset on the bay

Nature exploration

  • The authentic nature of the countryside in Mekong Delta region
  • The amazing atmosphere of Lan Ha bay and the surrounding

Culture experience

  • Learn about the never-fading culture of Hanoi and the century-old town of Hoi An
  • Learn about the peasant culture in Chau Doc and Can Tho

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City

Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the center of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride.

Free to stroll around the town for your own exploration.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Notes

Check out the Ho Chi Minh City travel guide

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Day 2 - Ho Chi Minh City Exploration

Depart the hotel for a full day Ho Chi Minh City tour. Head to Cholon, the Chinatown district, to discover the area’s markets, shops, and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda - dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Visit Vietnam's first traditional medicine museum, the FITO Museum, with an amazing collection of 3,000 items relevant to the development of traditional Vietnamese medicine. Implements used to prepare indigenous herbs, and objects commonly found in traditional pharmacies can be seen in the galleries as well as ancient books and documents on traditional Vietnamese medicine.

Head back to the city center to visit Ben Thanh Market where an incredible display of fresh produce is offered. Simply stroll through the market exploring the variety of goods for sale.

This afternoon visit the War Remnants Museum,  History Museum (closed Mondays) or the former Presidential Palace, Stroll to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall (a vehicle will be waiting at all times). At the end of the afternoon head back to the hotel.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Notes

Route can change subject to client’s interest.

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Day 3 - Ho Chi Minh - My Tho - Chau Doc

After breakfast, departure for My Tho, where you will enjoy a boat cruise as well as rowing sampans (rowboats) up the river.

After lunch, we will leave My Tho for Chau Doc. 

Along the way we will stop for a visit at the Crocodile Farm where we will have the chance learn about crocodile incubation and other interesting facts about crocodiles and their hatchlings. We will then check into a hotel before visiting Sam Mountain and the Cave Pagoda. 

We will stay overnight in Chau Doc. 

Notes
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Day 4 - Chau Doc - Can Tho

We will begin with a morning boat trip to visit the Floating Fish Farm, the Floating Village and the Cham Weaving Village. After experiencing the floating village and floating fish farm, we will leave Chau Doc for Can Tho. There, we will check-in at a hotel before having dinner at a nice restaurant. We will spend the night in Can Tho. 

Notes
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Day 5 - Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh

After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and travel by boat to Cai Rang Floating Market. Floating markets are a staple of life in the Mekong. This is where many of the natives make their living by selling or bartering their goods. On the way back to Ho Chi Minh City, we will visit Dong Tam Snake Farm, the largest of its kind in Viet Nam. Departing Can Tho, we will have lunch at the Mekong Rest Stop before returning to Ho Chi Minh City.

Notes

Can Tho to Ho Chi Minh City (171km): 3.5hrs

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Day 6 - Ho Chi Minh // Da Nang - Hoi An

After breakfast transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the short flight to the central port city of Danang. 

On arrival in Danang transfer to Hoi An, which was a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle have changed little over the years.

Rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An.

Notes
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Day 7 - Hoi An Exploration

Be enchanted by the historic wonders and sleepy charm of UNESCO-heritage Hoi An. Spend a half day with a local guide, exploring the ancient town. 

Explore former merchants’ homes, colorful communal halls, narrow lanes lined with traditional houses and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge. Leave the crowded venue behind and discover some untouched stories in the beautiful old town.

Meander down the small alley to discover an ancient house where the art of healing through martial art is passed down through generations. This healing method is the master’s invention, combined between Qigong, Tai Chi, and traditional Vietnamese martial art. Have a chance to learn some basic steps under the guidance of the master.

Finally, visit a cozy home to taste a typical dessert of locals and relax before heading back to the hotel.

Afternoon is free at leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An.

Notes

Check out the Hoi An travel guide

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Day 8 - Hoi An - Da Nang // Hanoi

Transfer to Danang airport for the short flight to Hanoi.

On arrival, transfer to hotel.

This afternoon visit the Temple of Literature. In 1076, Vietnam's first university Quoc Tu Giam was established within a temple to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.

Next, visit The One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (Viewed from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Jun - Aug)

Wander the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as the ‘36 streets’. Take a walking tour through charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It is a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around.

Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely North Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.  
Overnight in Hanoi.

Notes
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Day 9 - Hanoi - Lan Ha Bay

Leave Hanoi after breakfast for a 2-hour transfer to Hai Phong City with a 15-minutes stop on the way. Arrive at Got Pier towards noon then proceed with check-in formalities. Welcome aboard, followed by lunch while cruising towards the bay. Spend the afternoon enjoying some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or relaxing onboard with panoramic views of the karst limestone formation. Complete the evening with dinner served onboard.

Overnight on Lan Ha Bay.

Notes
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Day 10 - Lan Ha Bay - Hanoi

Wake up to the fresh morning amidst the bay and have breakfast (brunch on some boats) while leisurely immersing in the serene setting of the spectacular rock formations. Proceed to checkout as the cruise arrives towards port.  Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi.

Notes
  • This tour may be subject to change depending on weather conditions.
  • From Hai Phong to Hanoi (140km): approx. 2hrs
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Day 11 - Hanoi - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

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Vietnam BLOG ARTICLES

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The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture and may also serve to educate those who have an interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

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Backpacking Vietnam… If you are seeking epic adventures, unique experiences, mouth watering foods and ancient historical sights; Vietnam is the place for you. Once upon a time, the very mention of Vietnam conjured up images of war-torn destination but now Vietnam is a backpacker haven and travelling in Vietnam is a popular part of many Southeast Asian adventures.

Backpacking Vietnam offers an incredible opportunity to get off the beaten track… Explore dramatic mountains in the North, stop in for some corn wine and a friendly chat with the locals before heading south to party the night away…

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Backpacking in Vietnam is a great choice for backpackers on account of the super cheap cost of living and the plentiful adventures.

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When you travel through Southeast Asia these days, it is hard to imagine that tourism was almost non-existent just a half century ago. Here is the story of how hippies, guidebooks and banana pancakes helped to create one of the most famous backpacker routes in the world.
 

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Lantern Festival is celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar (usually falls around mid-February of Gregorian calendar). The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. 

Originally, the holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. In some other Asian countries such as Thailand or Laos, the festival is celebrated around late October or early November to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent & the beginning of the festive season.

During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. 

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