Take advantage of your proximity to explore three World Heritage sites
Experience the flavors and customs of Vietnam on an eight-day extension to explore the imperial capital of Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An, and spend a night sailing among Halong Bay’s spectacular limestone pinnacles—all UNESCO World Heritage sites. Plus explore the great city of Hanoi.
Hoi An, a vital trading center with China and Japan between the 16th and 18th centuries, retains its international flavor. The great Citadel and Forbidden City of Hue, Vietnam’s former imperial capital, evoke the grandeur of Vietnamese culture in remarkable fashion. The city of Hanoi has a lively old quarter, vibrant present-day culture and interesting monuments to Ho Chi Minh. And you’ll see the iconic pinnacles of some of Halong Bay’s nearly 2,000 islands—which we’ll explore on an overnight voyage on the Halong Jasmine.
You’ll travel in the company of a veteran Lindblad expedition leader and well-informed local guides, and you’ll learn a great deal about the many things you see.
We fly to Da Nang in the morning, then drive to Hoi An. Once a prosperous trading port, Hoi An has preserved its legacy very well, and its historic core, with its narrow streets, imparts the flavor of how life must have been centuries ago. After lunch, we check in to the fine Anantara Hoi An Resort. On our afternoon walking tour, we’ll visit old merchants’ houses, with Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese influences; the Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, with outstanding wood carvings; and the colorful market with stalls carrying specialties such as silk (which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day, if you wish). The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore on your own or just enjoy the amenities of the hotel. Dinner is included at the hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning offers you a different view of a local market, as you visit the stalls and participate in buying fresh produce that you will learn to cook in Vietnamese style. Then take a boat, seeing scenes of life along the river, to a cooking school, where you’ll have a hands-on cooking class, later dining on the dishes you’ve prepared. Even if you have no prior interest in cooking, it is bound to be enjoyable. There is time this afternoon for further exploration on your own, and you may wish to have dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L)
After breakfast we drive northward, climbing the Hai Van Pass, with a panoramic view of the central coastline, before dropping down to the fishing village of Lang Co, located on a sand dune. We continue to Hue, the imperial capital between 1802 through 1945 during the Nguyen Dynasty, where we have a home-hosted lunch at a restored royal home. We then check into our hotel, Art Deco-style La Residence, located on the Perfume River. In the afternoon, we visit the Citadel, including the great gates, palaces and residences of the Imperial City and Forbidden City. The architecture and furnishings here are extraordinary. Dinner tonight is at our hotel. (B,L,D)
This morning we visit the fine mausoleum of the emperor Minh Mang, whose structures were built along a network of lakes. We then drive to the elaborate Khai Dinh Mausoleum, whose architecture contains elements of eastern art and western design. We continue to Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument, with a seven-story tower situated along the river. Lunch is included at a local restaurant. The afternoon is free to explore. This evening, we have dinner at a fine restaurant, with cuisines in the distinctive Central Vietnamese style. (B,L,D)
We take a morning flight to Hanoi, where we check in to the Sofitel Metropole Hotel, recently chosen as one of Asia’s top three city hotels by Travel+Leisure readers. In the late afternoon, we tour Hanoi’s old quarter by “cyclo” to see its colorful streets, shops and markets, many selling the same wares they’ve sold for hundreds of years. We’ll also take in a performance of water puppetry, a distinctive northern Vietnamese folk art. Dinner this evening is on your own, with the chance for you to choose among local restaurants. (B,L)
After breakfast, we drive to the Vietnamese coast for our overnight sail on Halong Bay. As a special convenience, we've arranged for you to keep your hotel room in Hanoi, so you don't have to pack and unpack. At Halong Bay, we board the outstanding Halong Jasmine, built in the style of a junk, for an overnight sail on the bay. As we sail, we’ll see the dramatic limestone peaks for which the region is famous. We’ll cruise among them and have a chance to enjoy the myriad formations. In the afternoon we’ll take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay, or sunbathe on the deck. We spend the night aboard ship. (B,L,D)
Wake up early to catch sunrise on Halong Bay, with more time to take in the extraordinary landscapes. We’ll have a late breakfast on board, then disembark and drive back to Hanoi, returning to our rooms at the Sofitel Metropole Hotel. If time permits, you may want to stroll to nearby Hoan Kiem Lake. Our farewell dinner will be at a fine local restaurant. (B,D)
With ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of interest. We begin at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument of marble and granite, where Ho Chi Minh’s preserved body resides. A short walk away is the tiny One Pillar Pagoda, which rests on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. We will have lunch at a local restaurant. Then, continue to the Temple of Literature, the first university for sons of mandarins, for a look at Hanoi’s history and traditional architecture. The rest of the afternoon is free for further exploration, with rooms reserved until departure or for you to stay overnight if you wish. In the evening (or the following morning), we transfer to the airport for flights home. (B,L)
Extension Cost Per Person
Accommodations as shown in the itinerary, or similar; meals as shown in the itinerary, local flights Saigon/Da Nang and Hue/Hanoi, tips to local guides, to porters and to waiters for included meals, airport departure transfer.
Tips to waiters for meals that are not included, items of a personal nature such as laundry, Internet access and alcoholic beverages.
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