Arrive in Hanoi airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 2/ Hanoi, Vietnam’s Capital City – Private water puppetry (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in the city. Drive through Hanoi French Quarter passing by Opera house and Hoan Kiem Lake. We visit Van Mieu, a famous historical and cultural relic consisting of the Temple of Literature and Vietnam’s first university. visit the Presidential Palace (façade only) and stop to visit the One Pillar Pagoda. Now we enjoy a traditional cyclo ride through the Hanoi Old Quarter. Lunch will be served at local authentic Vietnamese restaurant. Take a rest at a local café and enjoy local style coffee.
We end the tour at a mini stage of one famous puppeteer – Mr. Phan Thanh Liem – in Hanoi. We not only get to watch the 30-minute water puppet show but are also encouraged to handle the puppets. Then have a warm talk with the puppeteer to learn more about the culture and story of the unique art originated in Vietnam's wet rice civilization. Return to hotel and free at leisure.
Day 3/ Dương Lâm ancient village – Dong Ho painting village (B,L,D)
This morning we take a journey to Duong Lam village, a trip that traces back to the origin of Vietnam's culture and traditions. This is also a great chance explore the architecture of ancient houses while wandering along its narrow alleyways. Visit the temples dedicated to the two kings born there and chat with locals living in the ancient houses. Walk around the village to discover the daily life and farming practices of Vietnamese locals along the terraces. Stop in two ancient houses: the biggest ancient houses which were built between 200 and 400 years ago. Visit Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung temples, places dedicated to two national heroes Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung. Then drive to visit Mia Pagoda (other hamlet in Duong Lam village), built in 15th century to admire 287 statues of all sizes. Along with them are famous sculptures such as the statue of Buddha in the Himalayas and the statues of the Eight VajraDeities. Enjoy lunch at local restaurant.
After lunch, we continue drive to BacNinh Province to visit Dong Ho folk - a painting village that is an essential element of the "Tet"- Vietnamese Lunar New Year. The art gallery of famous artist Nguyen Dang Che. Return back to Hanoi late afternoon. The rest of evening is free at leisure.
Day 4/ Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
In the morning, you will take a scenic drive to Halong and transfer by tender to the deluxe junk at Dinh Vu (Hai Phong)/TuanChau Island. Discover treasures such as fascinating caves, pristine beaches, picturesque floating villages, and dramatic rock formations rising up out of emerald water as we sail across the Bay of the Descending Dragon. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon on board. Dinner is onboard.
Day 5/ Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hue (B) VN 1545 HAN/HUI 6:00P 7:10P
There is a Tai Chi demonstration on the sundeck for early risers. Enjoy the buffet breakfast while sailing across thousands of islets. Cruise ends at Dinh Vu (Hai Phong)/TuanChau in late morning. Drive back to Hanoi airport for a flight to Hue.
Arrive and transfer to hotel in Hue. The rest evening is free at leisure.
Day 6/ Cultural and traditional villages – Hue City tour (B,L,D)
Morning, Aodaigo ladies in traditional Áo Dài dresses meet you at hotel lobby and we ride eastward along the city river to Thanh Toàn tile-roofed Bridge, about 8 km from Hue city. We will enjoy the peaceful scenery of the countryside with farmers working on their glowing rice fields. Talk to friendly local people in the small market and learn more about their daily life.
Then we continue ride to a tiny village of Thanh Tien on the outskirts of Hue to witness a tradition of paper flowers craftsmanship that has been handed down from one generation to another for more than 300 years. The village is particularly famous for its lotus flowers which come in all the colors of the Rainbow. We will stop to visit a family and learn about making a paper flowers. We then ride back to town and have lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon, visit the former Imperial Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda, a UNESCO World Heritage site and symbol of Hue. Tonight, enjoy a traditional tea ceremony and authentic Vietnamese dinner with the Tuyet Nguyen family. This special engagement is an opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese culture and traditional customs.
Day 7/ Phuong Duc Casting village – Trúc Chỉ Garden, Bamboo Paper Artwork – Tu Hoan Pagoda (B,L)
After breakfast, visit Phuong Duc traditional copper casting village located 4km west of Hue city. The craft had long been practiced at a basic level by ethnic minority groups in the nearby central highlands region, but its development in the vicinity of Hue may be traced back to early 17th century when several bronze casting families from Northern Vietnam moved south. Some of them later settled in Phuong Duc village on the opposite bank of the Perfume River.
Continue visiting Trúc Chỉ Garden of the artist Phan Hải Bằng. The art of truc chi is about making paper from bamboo according to traditional methods. In Sino-Vietnamese, truc means bamboo and chi means paper. Truc chi is a combined name that artist Phan Hai Bang gives to the products he invented. You will have the opportunity to learn more about a new form of art created by talented and dedicated artists. Lunch will be served at local restaurant.
After lunch, visit Tu Hoan – small pagoda with the elder nun. Feel the peace and calm when we enter the pagoda. Help in making some kinds of favourite Hue cakes, then enjoy the cakes and tea while talking with the nuns. Visit Dong Ba market before driving back to the hotel for relaxing.
Day 8/ Hue – Danang – Hoian City tour (B,L)
Morning, we drive through Danang enjoying the beautiful scenery as we travel over the spectacular Hai Van Pass. We then stop to visit the Cham Sculpture Museum before arriving in Hoi an. Arrive in Hoi An, lunch and check into the hotel. Afternoon is free at leisure or you can have optional biking to visit Thanh Ha pottery village. In the 16th and 17th century Thanh Ha was a thriving village, providing earthen wear to many provinces in central Vietnam. The buildings located in the Old Town are constructed by bricks, tiles and floor slabs made by the village of Thanh Ha. We stop at the village and learn about its history and the current pottery made in the village. Back to hotel for relax. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 9/ Hoi An street food – Traditional handicrafts workshops – À Ố Show (B,L)
This morning, we have a walking tour visiting the colorful local Hoi An market where we can meet and chat with local merchants about their food. Continue walking along busy narrow streets of Hoi An town to the Ancient House where we will enjoy refreshments and taste a wide selection of local delicacies. We will also explore the historic riverside town with stops at the Quan Cong Temple, Phuoc Kien Pagoda, Japanese Covered Bridge, Quang Dong Pagoda. Enjoy workshops of traditional handicrafts where we learn how to make a silk lantern that we can bring home.
Late afternoon, we take a boat on Thu Bon River where you can enjoy the busy daily life of Hoian locals.
At 6pm, we enjoy 60-minute À Ố Show at Hoi An Performing Centre. The Show with 4 versions (A O Show, My Village, Teh Dar, and The Mist), performed by young talents who want to share the passion and dreams of upholding Vietnamese cultural heritage through performances and other forms of arts. Dinner at local restaurant in town.
Day 10/ Kim Bong – Cam Kim and Cam Thanh Villages (B,L) – biking option
Bike along the country roads witnessing the rice paddies with water buffalos, countryside sceneries, and Vietnamese rural life. Cam Kim is a scenic rural island still less touristic. We make the first stop at a boat building workshop where you can see how wooden boats are made by skillful hands of the workers. The second stop is Huynh Ri carpentry workshop where you will see the artisans creating unique crafts. The next visit is a family who makes rice-noodle in traditional ways. Final stop is a sleeping mat workshop. We will have opportunities to interact with local people and learn more about their daily lives and work.
Continue visit Cam Dong village where we can experience walking or cycling on the floating and bamboo bridges. Lunch with a local family. After lunch, we will experience paddling the unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boats amongst the waterways of a coconut palm paradise in Cam Thanh Village. Return to hotel and the rest of day is at leisure.
Biking approximately 15 kilometres.
Day 11/ Hoi An – Danang – Saigon (B) VN 7101 DAD/SGN 11:35A 1:05P
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Saigon. Pick-up and transfer to hotel check-in. The rest of day is free at leisure.
Day 12/ Grain Cooking Class – Saigon City tour (B,L)
Morning, we will join “Grain by Luke Nguyen cooking class”. Grain studio has its own fresh market on site. You will have hands on cooking 4-course meal helping you gain a new-found confidence that will inspire you to cook Vietnamese cuisine at home. Lunch will be prepared on your own and served at the cooking class. It will be a learning Vietnamese cultural and culinary experience. (Notes: no class on Sundays.)
Afternoon, take half day city tour featuring the War Remnants Museum, City Post office, and the Reunification Palace. Visit the Fine Art Museum and enjoy local coffee at the Art Cafe before heading to Ben Thanh Market. The rest of day is at leisure.
Day 13/ Saigon – Mekong Delta (B,L)
Today, we drive to the rural town of Cai Be. Upon arrival we take a boat to visit small villages and stop at local workshops to see how pop-rice, rice-paper and coconut candy are made. Then the boat takes us deeper into the countryside through smaller canals to Tan Phong Island to visit workshops where people make country cottage roofs from coconut palm leaves. They also export products such as baskets, bags, hats, and wallet from water-hyacynth. We have the option to take a walk or bike on the island. We have lunch at a local house and enjoy Southern Vietnamese folk music. After lunch, have a short rest before driving back to Saigon late afternoon. Evening is free on your own activities.
Day 14/ Saigon –Departure (B)
Morning is at leisure until transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport for departure.