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Vietnam Culture & Beach Break

Explore the main highlighted destinations in Vietnam while immersing in authentic experiences. Meet the locals, experience their daily lives and learn about ethnic history and culture. This includes an off-the-beaten cruise in Ha Long Bay enjoying the tranquility of a less touristy and more pristine bay. Dig deeper into Vietnamese vestiges, cuisine, and incredible sights before ending your holidays at the pearl island of Phu Quoc enjoying some of the best beaches of Vietnam

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • City tour of Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh city and learn about its unique history
  • Joining the cooking class with one of the most famous chefs in Hanoi
  • Learning about the traditional arts & crafts in Hue and Hoi An
  • Beach Break on the pearl island of Phu Quoc with some of the best beaches of Vietnam

Unforgettable moments

  • Strolling around the small street of Hanoi whilst the sea of motorbikes running around
  • Admiring the sunset & sunrise over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay
  • Admiring the life of local people living the ancient town of Hoi An
  • Crossing the “sea of cloud” Hai Van Pass and enjoying the panoramic view over the region

Nature exploration

  • The amazing nature of Ha Long Bay and surrounding area with plenty of water activities
  • The nature of central Vietnam when crossing the “sea of cloud” Hai Van Pass
  • The nature of Phu Quoc Island with some of the most authentic beaches

Culture experience

  • The busting culture of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city with the effect of western culture wave
  • The graving feeling of Hue, the ancient capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam
  • The pleasant culture of local people in Hoi An, the century-old town in central Vietnam

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Hanoi

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi.

Vietnam's capital races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all-around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – offering a glimpse into the resilience of ambitious, proud Hanoians.

Notes
  • Noi Bai airport - Hanoi (38km): 40min
  • Check out the Hanoi travel guide
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Day 2 - Hanoi - Culture & History

This morning be picked up at 08:30 at the hotel for an off-the-beaten-track Hanoi city tour. Drive pass the historical Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam in 1945.

Driver drops off at Lenin Garden – a communal space for locals. Enjoy taking an easy walk through before strolling through areas where family generational sewing shops line the streets and people still practice the old ways. Admire the daily life of local people in the alley of Hanoi.

Proceed to the millenia-old Temple of Literature and explore its role in the country’s past, as both a university and a temple.

If interested, make a stop at the last courtyard where Vietnamese traditional instruments contribute to an oriental feel. For music lovers, there are opportunities to play some notes under the guidance of the artists.

Towards the end of the tour, embark on a walk through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Witness the ancient commercial street names, mirroring the crafts and businesses dating back over a thousand years. Then stop at a Hanoian’s home for tea break and listen to family stories that stretch over decades.

Later this afternoon, take part in a hands-on cooking class with the charming Ms Ai, a renowned local chef. Shop for ingredients at the neighbourhood wet market and step into the kitchen of Chef Ai’s family home.  

Prepare and dine on authentic North Vietnamese cuisine during this afternoon of culinary and cultural discovery. Learn all about the secrets behind North Vietnam’s most popular foods. Using Chef Ai‘s recipes, slice, dice and cook delicious dishes. Enjoy the self-made dinner with Chef Ai.

Overnight in Hanoi

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Day 3 - Hanoi - Ha Long Bay

Pick up at your address in Hanoi at 8:30 by Van and drive to Halong.

Arrive at 12:00. At Halong port, our Crew welcomes you on Ha Long Cruise, enjoy welcome drink and check into your cabin. Lunch with seafood will be served right after.

At 13:00, boat starts 3.5 hours cruising into Halong Bay to see the amazing karsts with different formations: Mat Qui (Monster’s face) islet, But Moc islet, Cap De islet, Trong (Drum) cave, Trinh Nu cave, to a Floating Fishing village to see this unique way of life and then explore Luon Cave (from 16:40 to 17:30).

There will be lots of time for swimming, sunbathing. Enjoy a great sunset dinner and relax under the starlit sky before retiring to the comfort of your cabin.

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Day 4 - Ha Long Bay - Hanoi // Hue

Early risers can enjoy a morning view of Bay’s landscapes with a cup of tea, coffee, fresh fruits. Sitting on the upper deck, we can enjoy the breath – taking beauty of the rocky Islands rising from the crystal-clear waters of the Bay.

The quiet is almost eerie; we can hear birds singing, cicadas chirping ashore and the gentle lapping of the waves against our boat, the perfect soundtrack to accompany the fresh air and gentle breeze.

And then explore Sung Sot (Amazing) Cave (8:00 to 9:00), swim and relax at Titop Beach. At 9:24, boat start cruising back and brunch buffet will served from 10:30 to 11:30, check out procedure at 11:35. Arrive at harbor by 12:00 noon, and transfer directly to the airport to take the flight to Hue, the ancient capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam.

Arriving in Hue, transfer directly to your hotel in town.

Overnight in Hue

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Day 5 - Hue - History & Culture

Traditional craft and Innovative paper art scene

Bamboo is engraved in Vietnamese culture and daily life, providing protection and representing resiliency. In the countryside, bamboo is used for everything- from daily used items to musical instruments to ornaments. Drive 20-min north of the Citadel to visit a lesser-known village Bao La where locals still keep the traditional craft from bamboo down generations.

Then head to a workshop in the city and meet with an artisan who has integrated bamboo with traditional handicrafts to create revolutionary new art in Vietnam, that’s so-called Truc Chi art. Truc means bamboo and Chi means paper.  Learn how the artisans use Truc Chi to create handicraft items with the cultural characteristics of Hue. 

Hue city tour and private artifact museum

In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. Then, hop on a 15-min cyclo ride to Tran Dinh Son museum, the first private museum in Hue, right at a “nha ruong” - traditional Royal house, once belonged to the Mandarin of King Minh Mang to contemplate his grandson’s valued collection of daily used items.

Overnight in Hue

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Day 6 - Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and then take a 14:30 transfer to Hue via Hai Van Pass. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the center of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday.

Hoi An city tour

A walking tour is the best way to see this marvelous town. Visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market. Take a walk through the ancient town, seeing remarkably well-preserved traditional houses that have withstood 200 years of weather and war.

The tour today is more than a visual impression. Hoi An people is well-known for skilled tailors and leather craftsmen.

Overnight in Hoi An 

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Day 7 - Hoi An - Arts & Crafts

Paper mask & lantern making with artist

Begin with a walk through Hoi An Ancient Town to meet a paper mask artist at his workshop. His craft is steadily disappearing as newer forms of entertainment have gradually taken over. Learn how this artist contributes to the effort of preserving his craft for future generations.

Next, enjoy the process of making lanterns in the cozy atmosphere.  This hands-on experience offers a fun time together to gain knowledge and also get in touch with making a traditional Vietnamese lantern as a souvenir to bring home.

Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore hidden corners of the ancient town independently.

Overnight in Hoi An

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Day 8 - Hoi An - Da Nang // Saigon

After breakfast, take a morning drive to Da Nang airport for a flight to Saigon. Meet with the driver upon arrival and transfer to the hotel.

Once known as the ‘Pearl of Indochina’, Saigon boasts an enormous architectural wealth, mirroring its colourful history. From the pagodas, museums and European architecture of the city’s recent past to the growing number of skyscrapers, Saigon is like a trip through time. On the way to the hotel, make a quick stop at the city historic landmark of Saigon Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral (outside visit)

This afternoon, meet with a respected cultural and history expert and enjoy a guided tour through the Pearl of Indochina. Start with the French colonial area with a visit to the Archbishop's Palace and its more than 200-year-old house of prayer.

Continue through the ages and encounter a local who specialises in the stretch of time that cover the Vietnam war right until today. Visit Gia Long Palace, built in 1885 combining classical Baroque architecture elements with European and Oriental influences.

Walk over to the city’s oldest colonial-era apartment, built in 1886, and see what the young creative Vietnamese are up to from their funky boutiques and coffee shops. Sit down at one of the stylish coffee shops and interact with a local resident who moved here in 1975. During the ride back, there is an optional visit to a restored opium factory. Considering the importance of the opium trade in the first half of the last century, this is another interesting view on Saigon’s history and the city’s power struggles.

Overnight in Saigon.

Notes

Hue – Hue’s Airport (20km): 40 minutes // Saigon’s airport – City (12Km) : 30 minutes

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Day 9 - Saigon - Phu Quoc Island

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the flight to the pearl island of Phu Quoc, where you will spend the next 5 days to enjoy your Vietnam beach break.

Arriving on the island, check in your hotel.

Free for the rest of the day to enjoy the beach.

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Day 10 - Phu Quoc Island - Leisure Day

Free day at leisure at your own relaxation or explore the island by yourselves. 

There are plenty of water activities on spots if you wish to spend your day. Just check with your hotel or contact us for further detail.

Overnight on Phu Quoc Island

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Day 11 - Phu Quoc Island - Leisure Day

Free day at leisure at your own relaxation or explore the island by yourselves. 

There are plenty of water activities on spots if you wish to spend your day. Just check with your hotel or contact us for further detail.

Overnight on Phu Quoc Island

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Day 12 - Phu Quoc Island - Leisure Day

Free day at leisure at your own relaxation or explore the island by yourselves. 

There are plenty of water activities on spots if you wish to spend your day. Just check with your hotel or contact us for further detail.

Overnight on Phu Quoc Island

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Day 13 - Phu Quoc Island - Leisure Day

Free day at leisure at your own relaxation or explore the island by yourselves. 

There are plenty of water activities on spots if you wish to spend your day. Just check with your hotel or contact us for further detail.

Overnight on Phu Quoc Island

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Day 14 - Phu Quoc Island // Saigon - Departure

Free before taking the flight back to Saigon to connect with another onward flight back home or to the next destination.

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Vietnam BLOG ARTICLES

Hue Festival is a biennial celebration that takes place in Hue City. Here you can enjoy an array of cultural events, games, and performances held over the course of a week. Founded in 2000, the festival is held to preserve the traditional customs that have been practiced since the Nguyen Dynasty.

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On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

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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…

Many travelers opt to explore Vietnam by motorcycle. Vietnam is a big country and there are lots of Vietnam backpacking itineraries on offer… The most popular backpacking route is heading from Hanoi to Saigon.

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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The phrase ‘banana pancakes trail’ is the stuff of legend in Southeast Asia’s backpacker route. Along the banks of the Mekong, across many a dorm room and questionable dive bar, backpackers come to learn the story of the first tourists to travel ‘on the ground’, making a conscious effort to immerse themselves in local life. Decades later, their influence is having transformed the region: tourism here is now the fastest growing on Earth, receiving a quarter of total travelers worldwide. 

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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