The Ultimate History & Culture Tour

16 Days - From £2,470 per person

This is the ultimate private history and culture tour of Vietnam – it take you right into the heart of this ancient and magical Kingdom. From ancient dynasties and the Vietnam War to understanding the culture today, it is both an educational and inspirational journey through the country. Highlights include understanding the war history in Saigon, learning about propaganda through art, visiting the ancient town of Hoi An (where you will even meet a former tiger hunter) and visiting the demilitarised zone in the centre. It also takes in the capital of Hanoi, the magical mountains of Sapa and finishes with a cruise on Halong Bay.

Day 1 - Welcome to Vietnam!

Welcome to the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) in the south. Your private driver and guide will meet you at the airport and take you to the Hotel Majestic, a fitting beginning to your historical and cultural journey. Built in 1925, the state-owned, five-star Majestic is a genuine historical fossil with period charm, good service and a brilliant rooftop bar with river views. (Colonial pool view deluxe room)

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Day 2 - Explore the historical wonders of Saigon

After breakfast begin a private historical tour of city, passing the former American embassy and visiting the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and General Post office. We will take you to the War Remnants Museum, which has an incredible collection of photography from the Vietnam War. After, enjoy a coffee or cocktail on the roof of the famous Rex Hotel. The final stop is the lively Ben Thanh Market before enjoying your evening at leisure.

Day 3 - Take an arts tourand meet a war photographer

This morning you will visit a private collection of houses with colonial era artworks and a gallery, which has the largest private collection of propaganda art in Vietnam, followed by the HCMC Fine Arts Museum – with an excellent wartime artist collection where you can see the difference between pre and post re-unification art. Finally, you sill stop at one of the city’s leading contemporary art galleries before enjoying your afternoon at leisure.

Day 4 - Fly to the quaint beach town of Hoi An

This morning you will fly to Da Nang, and be driven 30 minutes to Hoi An. Enjoy a private walking tour of this charming small town made of hundreds of historic houses, congregation halls and pagodas. Highlights of this Unesco-heritage listed town include the Japanese Covered Bridges and a 200 year-old Tan Ky House – not to mention the many delectable restaurants. Spend tonight at the lovely Essence Hotel (deluxe room with balcony).

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Day 5 - Meet a historic tiger hunter

After breakfast, we will drive you to a beautiful traditional house made with wood carvings and mother of pearl in a nearby village. Here you will meet a specialist in traditional medicine and a former tiger hunter, who will explain how he used to catch tigers in the past, using a net. You can enjoy a picnic lunch in the rice paddies and talk to the locals before returning to Hoi An to enjoy the afternoon at your leisure.

Day 6 - Enjoy Hoi An at your own pace

We have left today free for you to soak up this glorious beach town at your own pace. Hoi An has it all; delicious cuisine, fabulous tailors and shopping and a beautiful beach just 4km away. We haven’t organised anything for you so you can explore and sunbathe as you please. If you would like to spend longer here on the beach just let us know and we can revise the itinerary.

Day 7 - Travel to Hue by motorbike

Take one of the most scenic journeys down the Vietnam coastline this morning, over a beautiful pass, and along miles of coast as you make your way from Hoi An to Hue by motorbike. You will be driven by experienced motorcyclists (or you can travel by car). We’ll make a day of it stopping for fabulous seafood, visit mountain caves and a fresh cool spring, before reaching Hue and checking into the historic La Residence Hotel (superior river view).

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Day 8 - DMZ Tour by Army Jeep

Today you will explore the old border area of the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone), which divided South and North Vietnam. Some of the fiercest battles occurred here and you will visit key sites including Dong Ha, home to a US Marine Combat Base, as well as Doc Mieu Base, the McNamara Fence, Hien Luong Bridge and Ben Hai River. You will have a chance to see how the Vietnamese people survived the War by visiting the Vinh Moc Tunnels – known as “the Underground City” where an entire village lived. Return to Hue tonight.

Day 9 - Explore the ancient capital of Hue

This morning you will explore the ancient capital of Vietnam including the Forbidden Purple City, constructed under the Emperor Gia Long in the early 19th century. Afterwards, board a dragon boat and sail down the Perfume River to visit the striking Thien Mu Pagoda, then visit tombs of the emperors TuDuc and Khai Dinh. If time permits you can enjoy a short cyclo ride to Dong Ba market before catching a flight to Hanoi. Tonight you will check into the Viethouse (deluxe room).

Day 10 - Explore the hidden charm of Hanoi

Today you will explore Hanoi like a local; walk down the capital’s winding streets with a private walking, try local street food and have a local whipped coffee in a hidden coffee shop before exploring Hoa Lo Priosn where American and French POWs were once held and the Temple of Literature built in 1076. Finish your day walking down the city’s railway tracks and then stop for a home brewed beer, the renowned Bia Hoi.

Day 11 - Explore the mountainous beauty of Sapa

This morning you will be met by your guide and driver at Sapa Station and enjoy a morning of trekking near Thank Kim. You will walk through through splendid rice paddy terraces and hill sides with valley views – expect to see  water buffalos, goats or mountain pigs on the way, which belong to the nearby Tay and Red Dao minorities. After lunch you will visit Ban Ho village, and meet the local Tay minority population before checking into the scenic Topas Eco Lodge (exec bungalow).

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Day 12 - Enjoy a second day in Sapa

This morning, take a short walk through the town of Sapa and along a dirt trail through beautiful gardens and lush pine forests. You will then pass through the Black H’mong ethnic minority village of Ma Tra before continuing through paddy fields and more spectacular scenery. During the walk, you will also be able to visit a local school. This evening you will catch the night train back to Hanoi and check into the Viethouse in the early hours.

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Day 13 - Enjoy Hanoi at your own pace

You may be a little tired this morning after your early morning train ride so we have left today as a ‘recovery day’, where you can explore the winding streets of Hanoi at your own leisure. You may wish to visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum, nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US POWs during the Armerican War. We will give you our special guide full of ideas for the day. Spend a second night at the Viethouse.

Days 14 & 15 - Board a cruise on Halong Bay

On Day 15 you will join your cruise companions in an air conditioned mini bus and travel four-hours east to Ha Long Bay, a beautiful emerald green bay pierced by hundreds of towering lush islets as far as the eye can see. Here you will embark on a wonderful two-night cruise. Treasure Junk is a wonderful boat as it takes a different route to the rest of the crowds on the bay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included each day, as is swimming and kayaking. (Superior cabin)

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Day 16 - Bid farewell to Vietnam

Rise early to make the most of the short morning on board and visit a floating village in Halong Bay. You will return to Hanoi with your cruise companions and from here you can catch your international flight home. We recommend flying after 6.30pm tonight. Bon voyage!

DETAILS:

This itinerary costs from £2,470 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £500 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

INCLUDED:

  • Prices start from £2,470 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Cruise has breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • Private transfers (air-conditioned vehicles)
  • All entrance fees with service of English speaking guide for excursions
  • Lunch on Days 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11
  • Internal flights (two)
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered