Essence of Vietnam Trip Notes
At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.
Trip code : PACL
Trip length : 8
Trip starts in : Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Trip ends in : Hanoi, Vietnam
Maximum group size : maximum 16
- Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
- 'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay
"One year I came to Halong Bay almost 20 times, and it always has a different feeling. I like it even in the rain, even in the really hazy atmosphere. It’s a gift from nature. I think you will always want to come back and see it again, because it makes such an impression in your mind". Phong Tran, Peregrine local leader.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the welcome board or reception desk, located on the ground floor of the hotel, for information on your upcoming tour.
- This will advise you of your tour leader’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group's Welcome Meeting. Normally, the meeting is at 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Vietnam has to offer. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.
- Please note that your tour leader will collect your travel insurance details at the meeting, so please bring them with you. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Ho Chi Minh City's many fantastic eating spots.
Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
- Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. A short city tour takes you to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, and will allow you to admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings, such as the main post office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
- The bustling Binh Tay Market in Cholon (Chinatown) will offer you a new perspective on the city; you will see the abundance of fresh local produce that is such an important feature of Vietnamese cuisine.
- In the afternoon, you will head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of the district that covers an extensive underground network (approximately 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong.
- The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used extensively for refuge and storage and also utilised as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City.
- The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like (please note that this will be hot and sweaty and also a bit claustrophobic!).
Danang - Marble Mountain - Hoi An
- You will depart Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang today, where you will enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China Beach (locally known as My Khe Beach), enjoyed as an 'R & R' spot during the Vietnam War, lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains.
- The five peaks, which are actually limestone with marble outcrops, are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is rich. The Champas once used them for religious purposes, but in more recent times became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world.
- You will arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and settle in for your three-night stay in this historical ‘oasis’.
- Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by, before the river silted up. Today it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness about it. The tranquility and charm of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. It is a consistent favourite among travellers and staff alike. A tour will take you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
- You will enjoy a free afternoon to make the most of delightful Hoi An and its surrounding areas. The market is a good place to buy silk that can be made up into fine garments, all within a day. Close to town there is a nice beach, which can be reached easily by bicycle.
- You will be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to the capital.
- Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities. The northern capital is a quiet contradiction to its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, and exploration by foot or bicycle is recommended. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes from the city.
- You will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
- The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
- In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
- You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Halong Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
- The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular.
- You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim.
- Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to the usual hotel setting, but spending a night on the bay is such a wonderful experience. If the weather is obliging, the views at sunset are especially incredible.
- There are only limited numbers of cabins on each boat, so the Single Supplement does not apply on the Halong Bay cruise, as all accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
- All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
- You may also have the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) while on Halong Bay.
- In the morning you will sail back to the port, where you will disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
- Arriving back in the capital, you will have free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street, or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel?
- The tour will come to an end after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.
- Enjoy a destination in depth and comfort
- Tourist class hotels and family homestays
- Both private and local transport
- A number of included activities and meals throughout
- Fully trained and experienced leader.
Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.
On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!
- Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
- A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
- Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
- Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
- Many meals and adventure activities also included
- Fully trained and experienced local leaders
This tour is operated by our partners Peregrine Adventures
- The services of expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Saigon's Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Binh Tay Market; Cu Chi Tunnels; China Beach; Marble Mountain; and Hanoi's One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Temple of Literature
- Internal flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Danang (for Hoi An), and Danang and Hanoi
- Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay with accommodation in twin-share cabins with en-suite facilities and air-conditioning, and a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available)
- Lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training to underprivileged young people
- Free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hanoi
- Arrival transfer.
International flights, airport departure taxes, departure transfer, visas, insurance, other meals, any optional tours and activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.