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Suggested flights (not included in the cost of the tour) Thai Airways TG 911 departing London Heathrow at 11.50 hrs.
Arrive in Bangkok at 06.15 hrs and connect to TG 560 departing Bangkok at 07.45 hrs arriving Hanoi at 09.35 hrs. Transfer to the classical, French colonial-style Sofitel Metropole Hotel, where two nights are spent.
Lunch under own arrangements. Orientation cyclo ride (individual rickshaw) through the French Colonial Quarter. Continue to the home of an artisan who makes traditional water puppets for a performance of the water puppets. Dinner at the hotel.
Visit Ba Dinh Square and Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and his former residence. Continue to the Temple of Literature, founded in 1070 and a well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Vietnam’s first university was established within this temple. Head towards the Old Quarter to explore the bustling area known as 36 streets. Visit Hang Bac, Ma May, and Dong Xuan market.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Evening walk around Hoan Kiem Lake. Dinner at the Press Club.
Check out and drive to Halong Bay. Visit a pearl shop en route. Board a traditional Junk to take an overnight cruise around the bay. Halong Bay is the best-known natural wonder of Vietnam and is dotted with thousands of islands and bizarre rock sculptures rising steeply from the emerald waters to form an extraordinary seascape.
Following a seafood lunch on board visit Tien Ong Cave and Cua Van, a local fishing village. Cooking demonstration followed by dinner on board.
Morning Tai Chi demonstration. Optional visit to a beach followed by brunch on board. Disembark late this morning and transfer to Hai Phong Airport.
Picnic lunch on the coach. Take a Vietnam Airways flight from Hai Phong to Da Nang. Transfer to Hoi An and check in at The Anantara Hoi An, where three nights are spent. Located along the scenic Thu Bon River, The Anantara is in the French colonial quarter of the UNESCO world heritage town of Hoi An. This tranquil property, abundant with beautiful landscaped gardens is situated a five minutes’ walk from the colourful and bustling market. Dinner at the hotel.
Explore Hoi An on foot with a walking tour into the old quarter, which is extremely well preserved with an eccentric mix of architecture and a fascinating blend of temples, merchants’ houses and shrines. Take in the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the Chua Ong Pagoda.
Lunch at Brother Café. Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Dinner under own arrangements.
The next day, visit the lively food market before a cooking demonstration and lesson at Ms Vy’s cooking school, a local well-known chef. Lunch at the cooking school.
Afternoon at leisure. Dinner at Morning Glory restaurant.
Morning at leisure.
Lunch under own arrangements. Depart Hoi An for Hue, driving over the Hai Van Cloudy Pass to the port. On arrival in Da Nang visit the Cham Museum with its exquisite collection of 2nd to 15th-century artefacts before driving on to Hue. On arrival in Hue check in to La Residence Hotel and Spa, a graceful Art Deco building on the banks of the Perfume River, where two nights are spent. Dinner at the hotel.
Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, with its seven-storey tower and garden, before taking a trip on a dragon boat on the Perfume River. Continue to the Imperial Citadel of Hue the former imperial capital of Vietnam, built in the early 19th century.
Lunch at Tha Om, a restored royal home. Continue to explore the Citadel, visit the Imperial City royal palaces within the magnificent moated fortress and the Purple Forbidden City. Continue to the Royal Tombs of Mingh Mang and of Khai Dinh. Time permitting continue to Dong Ba Market. Dinner under own arrangements.
Morning visit to Tu Duc Royal Tomb.
Lunch at hotel. Transfer to Hue airport for a domestic Vietnam Airlines flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Transfer to the Caravelle Hotel where two nights are spent. Located in the heart of the commercial, shopping and entertainment district, the Caravelle is a comfortable haven from the exciting city. Dinner at hotel’s Nineteen restaurant.
Explore Ho Chi Minh City to see the city’s colonial past with its boulevards and mid-19th century buildings as well as the ornate Hotel de Ville, the Unification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at leisure. Optional visit to the Chu Chi Tunnels. Dinner at Cuch Gach Quan.
This morning take local expert Sophie’s Art tour of the Fine Arts museum, a private contemporary art museum and some contemporary art galleries.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Following late check out of the hotel, transfer to the airport. Suggested flights (not included) Thai Airways TG575 departing Hi Chi Minh City at 20.10 hrs arriving Bangkok at 21.35 hrs.
Connect to Thai Airways flight TG910 departing Bangkok at 00.15 arriving London Heathrow at 06.20 hrs.
The accuracy and efficiency of the whole trip was outstanding. My specific requests were closely observed.- AM, India