Explore the ancient beauty and turbulent past of Southeast Asia during this scenic orientation tour through Vietnam. Your tour begins with a stop at Hue, the Imperial City of the Nguyen Emperors, where you will see the Royal Citadel, take a relaxing ride aboard a dragon boat on the Perfume River and visit the Heavenly Lady Pagoda. Following a visit to the tomb of Tu Duc and Conical Hat Village, you will be transferred back to the pier and ship.
Leave the ship for Hue, or Thuan Hoa the Imperial City of the Nguyen Emperors. Surrounded by the rice fields of Central Vietnam between the fertile Red River and Mekong Deltas, this prosperous city was selected as the headquarters of the Nguyen Lord in the 16th century. In 1802, Hue was named Vietnam's capital city following Nguyen Anh's defeat of the Tay Son, and ascension to the throne as Gia Long. During his reign, King Gia Long (1762-1819) was credited with building and fortifying Hue, thus laying the groundwork for successive kings and future generations.
Upon arrival in Hue, you will proceed for an inside visit to the Royal Citadel. First constructed by Emperor Gia Long in 1801 and enhanced by Emperors since, the Royal Citadel is almost 6.2 miles in circumference, with walls that are more than 19 feet high and 65 feet thick. The moat encircling the entire Royal Citadel is more than 75 feet wide, with a depth of 13 feet. The Royal Citadel's 10 original entrances today serve as roads and bridges in the Citadel area where people live and farm. You will view the splendid architecture of the Noon Gate, a site where past kings would announce the names of new Doctors of Philosophy, and the new calendar. From here, you will proceed to the Palace of Supreme, whose regal red gold columns and lavish furnishings have been restored to their original grandeur. Next, you will walk to the Imperial Enclosure where the Emperor's official functions were carried out; essentially, a citadel within a citadel. The Forbidden Purple City was reserved for the private life of the Emperors. From 1802 to 1945, 13 Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty ruled from the Forbidden Purple City of Hue.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will embark a dragon boat for a relaxing cruise on the Perfume River.
Along the way, a stop will be made at the Heavenly Lady Pagoda, or Thien Mu Pagoda. The symbol of the city and one of the holiest pagodas in Vietnam, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda was constructed in 1601 by Lord Nguyen Hoang, governor of the Thuan Hoa Province. In the 1960s, however, the pagoda served as a hotbed of anti government protests. Today, by contrast, the pagoda is a serene place where novices tend to the bonsai garden and monks deliver incantations in the main temple.
Next, you will visit the tomb of Tu Duc, Emperor of Vietnam from 1848-1883. He is regarded as one of the more decadent and cruel Vietnamese Emperors. Although he was a dedicated Confucian, his unusually indulgent lifestyle included lavish feasts, more than 100 wives and girlfriends, tea made with water collected as dew from lotus leaves, and more. The Tomb of Tu Duc was constructed between 1864-1867, and is among the more grandiose tombs in Hue City and the surrounding areas. In an attempt to foil grave robbers, his body was never interred inside the tomb, and all involved in his burial were beheaded. The location of his body and treasures remain unknown to this day.
Your tour concludes with a visit to the Conical Hat Village, or Phu Cam Village, in Phuoc Vinh, where most villagers live and practice their craft. Made from rattan, palm leaves and bamboo, these colorful hats often depict Hue City scenes that include the Truong Tien Bridge, Thien Mu Pagoda, Ngu Binh Mountain, a boat on the Perfume River, or the charming girls of Hue City. In addition to offering protection from the sun and rain, these hats are somewhat of a fashion statement among the women of Hue City, and serve as an endless source of inspiration for poets and writers.
Check in at Royal Riverside Resort. Enjoy dinner and overnight in Hue.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will depart for Hoi An, the World Cultural Heritage town. On the way to Hoi An, stop by the marble mountain to see how workers spend months on each artistic object of marble.
Hoi An was once Vietnam's principal trading center reaching its zenith in the 17th and 18th centuries. The town's architecture boasts a fascinating mix of Vietnamese, Chinese, Hinduist, Japanese, and Portuguese influences. You will take a guided walk through the local market, Hoi An museum and a traditional merchant's house, built to withstand floodwaters in the rainy season. You will also see the Japanese covered bridge and Phuoc Kien Temple, devoted to Thien Hau, Sea Goddess. During your visit, some time will be made available to stroll through the town at your leisure.
Lunch will be served at a very good local restaurant with a local beer or a soft drink.
After lunch, visit the Cham Museum, founded by the French Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient in 1915, to see a unique collection of Cham arts. This charming but rather primitive museum has an extensive collection of sculptures and history of the Cham people. The exhibits depict four different periods: My Son, Tra Kieu, Dong Duong and Thap Mam. Following a guided tour of the museum, take a pedicab to visit the lively Han Market and XQ workshop.
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Ha Noi (by VN 1516 16:30 - 17:40). Upon arrival at Noi Bai airport, meet your tour guide and transfer to a local restaurant.
Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant & enjoy a water puppet show. Check in & overnight at 5 star Daewoo hotel.
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel. Hanoi is a city not to be missed. Boasting glorious French colonial architecture and numerous lakes, the city is the jewel in Vietnam's crown, a little known blend of east and west with bicycle cluttered streets and a nation of people reluctant to join the frenetic atmosphere of their southern counterpart, opting for a more reserved and relaxed way of life. You will arrive in Hanoi's imposing Ba Dinh Square which is dominated by the impressive marble and granite tomb where the father of the country lies in state. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is closed on Mondays & Fridays and the last visits are scheduled at 10:00am during the remainder of the week.
Leaving your coach, you will make a walking tour of the area around the mausoleum. Visit the uncle Ho. Continuing your walk, you will next pass the former French Governor's Residence and the tranquil lotus ponds at the entrance to Ho Chi Minh's Cottage. In stark contrast to the neighboring residence, this cottage is a simple teak building designed in harmony with the surroundings and in the style of the ethnic hill tribe homes. Further on, you will come to the rebuilt 'One Pillar Pagoda', it's origins shrouded in legend. Rejoin your coach to continue your discovery of Vietnam's capital.
Next you will visit the Temple of Literature, dating from 1070, it is dedicated to Confucianism. In 1076, Vietnam's first national university was built next to the temple. Enjoy walking through the tranquil five walled courtyards and see the pavilion where 'men of letters' once recited their poetry.
Next, visit the former prison for American pilots during Vietnam war. You'll have a chance to see where the Senator John McCaine and former Ambassador to Vietnam used to stay at after being shot down.
After lunch at a local restaurant, your drive continues past the Hoan Kiem Lake where you will see a tiny island in the middle of the lake which is perched the Ngoc Son pagoda. The lake is also known as the Lake of the Restored Sword, and you will hear the legend that is the origin of this name.
Then you are free to explore the main streets of the old quarters and do some shopping. The streets here were named after the tradesman that worked them - such as Tin Street, Paper Street or Silk Street.
The tour ends with a return drive to the port to rejoin the vessel.
Overland Program Step by Step:
8.30 am Meet your tour guide & driver at the pier for the transfer to Hue
10.15 am Visit the citadel
11.15 am Take a dragon boat ride
12.00 noon Visit Thien Mu pagoda
12.45 pm Lunch at a local restaurant. Choice of one soft drink, one local beer or one bottle of water
2.00 pm Visit Tu Duc tomb
3.00 pm Check in Royal Riverside Resort
7.00 pm Dinner at the resort includes a local beer or a soft drink
Remainder of evening at your leisure
7.00 am Buffet Breakfast at the hotel
8.00 am Leave for Hoi An
10.15 am Visit a marble workshop
10.45 am Drive to Hoi An
10.15 am Visit Hoian town including museum, market, pagoda, Japanese covered bridge and old homes. Free time to shop around the town
12.00 noon Lunch at a local restaurant. Choice of one soft drink, one local beer or one bottle of water
1.45 pm Visit Han Market & XQ workshop
2.45 pm Visit Cham museum
3.15 pm Transfer to the airport for the flight to Hanoi by VN 1516 (16:30 - 17:40)
6.00 pm Arrive at Noi Bai airport. Meet your tour guide & transfer to a local restaurant for dinner. Choice of one soft drink, one local beer or one bottle of water
8.00 pm Enjoy the water puppet show
9.00 pm Check in at Daewoo hotel. Overnight at hotel
7.00 am Buffet Breakfast at the hotel
8.00 am Transfer to Ba Dinh square
8.20 am Visit Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
8.50 am Walk to the Stilt house & inside visit
9.20 am Walk to One Pillar Pagoda & inside visit
10.00 am Drive to Temple of Literature & inside visit
10.30 am Drive to Hoa Lo prison & inside visit
11.15 am Transfer for lunch at local restaurant. Choice of one soft drink or local beer
12.30 pm Drive to Hoan Kiem lake
12.45 pm Visit Ngoc Son temple
1.00 pm Free time at the old quarter
2.30 pm Drive to Ha Long Bay
6.00 pm Rejoin the ship
Please Note: The order of sites visited may vary to avoid congestion. The timings indicated are only approximate, and are given here for general reference purposes
Expected Weather: 30 - 34 C
What to Bring: Casual clothes
Currency: USD or Local Vietnam Dong
Electricity: 220 Volt
Luggage: 1 Small Suitcase
Documents and Visa Requirements: Passport
Accommodation: Royal Riverside resort in Hue & Daewoo in Hanoi
*Pack one small overnight bag for your overland trip with light clothing. No dress code restrictions
*US dollars are popular and accepted everywhere. USD 1 = 20,000 Vietnam Dong
*Take sun protection and a hat. Wear comfortable shoes to climb on the rocks and for your trip
*Pull-overs and shorts are acceptable
*Times are approximate & order of sites may vary
*Please do not check in your valuables, documents, portable computers, cameras, electronic gadgets. They should always be in your handbag
*Insect repellent, sun block, hat, Caps are very important for this trip
*1 Night accommodation at Royal Riverside Resort in Hue and at Daewoo Hotel in Ha Noi
*Meals: two breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners with one local beer, one mineral water or one soft drink
*Transfers and guided sightseeing in climate controlled buses as indicated in the itinerary
*Bottled water will be provided on the buses
*English Speaking Guide
*Cruise the Perfume river
*Domestic Flight to Ha Noi
*Extra drinks at meals
*Mini bar consumption in the rooms, personal laundry, telecommunications and any other items of personal nature