Upon arrival, your local guide will greet you at the airport, then transfer to the hotel for check-in.
After you settle in, your guide will meet you again for a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake. Located at the heart of the city, the lake is a symbol of the capital and also a center stage of the daily life of Hanoians. From morning to night, in all weather, the shores of the lake come alive and become a place for walking, gathering, and meeting. People come here to do their morning exercises, chat with friends, or go fishing. Also called the "Lake of the Returned Sword," it is a place imprinted with legends. According to the most well known tale, King Le Loi received a magical sword from the lake’s sacred turtle. His task was to chase the Chinese out of Vietnam, and once completed, the giant turtle took back the sword to return it to its divine owners, hence the name “Lake of the Returned Sword”.
You will also have time to visit the charming Ngoc Son Temple, standing on an enticing islet connected to the banks of the lake.
In the morning at 8:00 AM, your Minsk and driver will be ready for you right outside of the hotel. Sitting on the back of a Soviet-era Minsk motorcycle, you will travel via backstreets to some virtually unknown parts of Hanoi; ride through the maze of narrow, zigzagging alleyways; have opportunities to interact with local people; and experience the good, the bad, and even the quite weird aspects of the city, just as it is. Travel through the black-market section of Hanoi, meet a local in a remote area of the city, and then continue around all of the must-see highlights of the capital before stopping at West Lake to experience the local food.
Return to your starting point via the famous Long Bien Bridge, and have time to take some pictures. During the tour, try traditional Vietnamese dishes from finger foods to the legendary egg coffee.
In the afternoon, explore the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature — also known as the first university of Vietnam. You will have time to stroll through the shaded paths of Van Mieu Park to appreciate the architecture of this historical site. Experience the burning incense ceremony in a temple or pagoda in Hanoi Old Quarter. Many Vietnamese people believe that when incense is burned, the smoke creates a bridge to connect them to family members who have passed into the spirit world. Take part in a small ceremony, and enjoy an experience that will help you understand the importance of incense at temples and pagodas.
Hanoi - Lan Ha Bay
In the morning, travel to Halong and arrive around noon. Embark on a cruise in the must-see Lan Ha Bay, a part of Halong Bay. This world-famous bay is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam, with its giant rock islets covered in luxuriant vegetation overlooking the waters. Halong Bay includes some 1,900 islands and islets of rocky peaks, often uninhabited and unvisited. This scene creates a spectacular marine landscape, which earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in 1994. You will be served lunch and dinner aboard with excellent and freshly caught seafood from the bay.
Lan Ha Bay - Hanoi
Early in the morning and depending on the season, wake up to enjoy sunrise over the aquamarine waters of the bay. The cruise will tour around the bay until you disembark at the end of the morning.
Return to Hanoi around 2:00 PM, and enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Hanoi - Avana Retreat
In the morning, depart from Hanoi to Mai Chau, passing along charming little roads. The road ascends gradually until you end up in the middle of a landscape of mountains set at a medium altitude. Upon arrival in Mai Chau, check into Avana Retreat.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, and participate in some activities available at the retreat.
- Stilt House Museum Visit: Join a 30-minute museum tour with a guide to gain a better understanding of local culture. In winter, come in the evening to roast corn by the fire and enjoy a cup of traditional tea with other guests.
- Craft Workshop: Make bamboo crafts, and learn to weave on traditional looms in hands-on lessons with local artisans.
- Tribal Dance: This participatory show involves a dance performance along with traditional music and costumes.
- Outdoor Cinema: During the summer, the sun casts Avana in a dreamy glow. Enjoy a favorite seasonal pastime at the resort — open-air cinema.
Overnight Avana Retreat.
Half-day Nature Walk
In the morning, start your walk from Avana, and witness the beautiful countryside surrounding the resort. Feel the peace emanating from the majestic green forests, the deserted country roads, and the verdant rice paddy fields, and gain insight into local life by meandering through local villages. Admire the picturesque landscape of the area.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Overnight Avana Retreat.
Mai Chau - Hanoi - Phong Nha
In the morning, visit the surrounding areas by foot before the trip back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Dong Hoi City.
Upon arrival in Dong Hoi airport, meet your local guide, and transfer to Phong Nha. Arrive in the evening, and check into your hotel.
This morning, transfer to the headquarters of the local rangers, where you will receive a briefing on safety and what to expect during your day.
Then, drive to Elephant Cave, and walk deep into the jungle of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. After a short hike to the impressive cave, continue to Ma Da Valley. Witness the amazing blue-colored Ma Da Lake, where you will stop for lunch.
Enjoy a barbecue lunch and time to relax and swim in the lake.
In the afternoon, continue your hike to Tra Ang Cave, where you will gear up to swim into the furthest reaches of the cave. Enjoy the green and cool underground river systems with pristine stalactites of various shapes and colors. After this experience, hike along the Ho Chi Minh trail to meet your driver, and transfer back to your hotel at the end of the afternoon.
Phong Nha - Hue
After breakfast, travel from Dong Hoi to Hue. En route, pay a visit to the DMZ to explore the area’s most famous sights like the Vinh Moc Tunnel — a strategic site during the Vietnam War. Descend into an underground village, which was dug by the population who occupied it for two years, to explore a system of three-floor tunnels consisting of small cells, kitchens, toilets, wells, and a hospital where seventeen children were born. You will then visit the famous Hien Luong Bridge, as well as the Doc Mieu Base — the closest American base to the DMZ. The last stop of the day will be the Quang Tri Citadel before returning to Hue.
In the morning, pay a visit to the majestic Imperial Citadel of Hue, built in 1804. Remarkable for its fortress-like look and entrenched in the heart of the city, the Citadel occupies a perimeter of more than 10 kilometers. Inspired by the fortifications of Vauban, it is composed of three parts: the Capital City (Kinh Thanh), the Imperial City (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden City (Cam Thanh). Although it was largely destroyed in 1968 during the Vietnam War, many endowments have been used to restore and revive this invaluable heritage site.
Continue your journey to the tomb of Minh Mang, which began in 1840 during the reign of Minh Mang and was completed by Emperor Thieu Tri, who succeeded him on the throne after his death. Admire its very particular architecture in a charming landscape, with 40 buildings arranged along a 700-meter long axis surrounded by hills, fragrant pines, and lakes. Return to Hue at noon.
In the evening, arrive at the jetty where your private wooden boat will be waiting for you. Climb aboard, and enjoy a private dinner cruise while admiring the magical, shimmering beauty of the Perfume River as the city lights reflect on the waters. Breathe in the fresh night air while indulging your senses with this unique experience.
Hue - Hoi An
In the early morning, pay a visit to Chuon Lagoon (part of the famous Tam Giang Lagoon). Upon arrival, board a boat to cross the lagoon. Discover the true charm of the region, and learn more about the way locals catch fish. After returning to the mainland, take a road that meanders between the beach and the lagoon to reach An Bang Cemetery, also named "the city of ghosts." Once arrived, visit this incredible place where colorful graveyards are bigger than houses. This is the perfect moment to learn about the Vietnamese worshiping culture and the recent population movement of local people after the Vietnam War. Return to Hoi An in the early afternoon, traveling via the panoramic "Hai Van Pass" route.
In late afternoon, you will visit Hoi An Ancient Town. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it offers you a glimpse into what a Southeast Asian trade center looked like hundreds of years ago. Meander down narrow lanes framed by many old houses and see local people trading at the market, visit the famous Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple and Tan Ky Trading House. Discover the harmony of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese and French architectural elements in this fascinating town (duration 2hrs)
In the morning, enjoy an up-close and authentic experience of Vietnamese life in the countryside with an excursion in an open-air Jeep. The car has no air conditioning, but the open air is always pleasantly fresh. You will have a chance to get an insider’s glimpse into local life in Central Vietnam while visiting a fishing village and a bustling market, abundant with a plethora of local products. The landscape along the way is as stunningly beautiful as it is charming and peaceful, with lush fields of rice and corn and magnificent mountains in the background. If you wish, you will be able to take a break under the shade of coconut trees, sip fruit juice, and enjoy the country's fresh air.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the ancient town at your own pace.
Hoi An - Danang - Ho Chi Minh City
In the morning, travel to Danang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh city.
Upon arrival, your local guide will greet you at the airport. Transfer to city central, where you will set off to visit the historical sites of the city, including the old post office, built in the French Indochina era; Notre Dame Cathedral; and Dong Khoi Street — a wide avenue lined with luxurious shops and hotels.
At the end of visit, travel to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, and enjoy the rest of the day free
Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Tre - HCMC
In the morning, depart from Ho Chi Minh City to explore Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. Upon arrival, embark on a boat, and start cruising on one of the arms of the Mekong River.
Make a quick stop in a local coconut candy factory before walking through a brick factory and a local coconut factory, where the coconuts are opened by hand. Continue to cruise on the river and on a smaller canal surrounded by coconut trees. Then, visit the coconut gardens of a local house, where you will be able to taste some tropical fruits. Continue on a smaller boat through the canal rowed by a local oarsman. After disembarking, hop on a bicycle to discover the countryside, before stopping for lunch in a beautiful local restaurant to taste some traditional dishes of the Mekong region.
In the afternoon, walk to a small jetty where your boat will be waiting, and then cruise back to Ben Tre. At the end of the tour, you will travel back to Ho Chi Minh City by car.
Take the final day at leisure and check out by 12:00. Transfer to the airport for your outbound flight.