A Taste Of Vietnam (31 January – 14 February 2014)

Cost:  AU$5083.00 per person share twin

Single Supplement Available on Request

pagoda_una_columna_pagoda_sinhcafetravel

Includes:

  • International air tickets and airport taxes to and from Vietnam
  • 01 Local English speaking guide fully escorting
  • 1 night in Halong on private charter board (included 01 lunch, 01 dinner & 01 brunch)
  • Accommodation in 4 star or similar style hotels
  • 4-berth soft-sleeper round-trip train ticket Hanoi-Lao Cai-Hanoi on Victoria Express/Livitrans Train
  • Join in cooking class at Hanoi Cooking Center
  • Private cooking class in Hoi An and Saigon
  • Boat trip in Mekong Delta with lunch included
  • Some Lunches and Dinners
  • Daily breakfast at hotels.
  • Transportation and touring as per the itinerary with entrance fees.
  • Welcome drink upon arrival at hotel
  • Fully Escorted with a minimum of 16 Travellers

Excludes:

  • International air tickets and airport taxes to and from Vietnam
  • Visa fees for Vietnam
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Drinks on meal(s)
  • Services not mentioned above
  • Personal expense
  • Insurance
  • Tipping

Itinerary:

31st January 2015: Depart Sydney, Arrive Hanoi
Depart Australia this morning for Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines via Saigon with our arrival in Hanoi slated for late evening. On arrival in Hanoi you will be met by a Travel Indochina representative and transferred to your hotel. Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and verdant public parks with a population of about four million. It is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and some have called it the Paris of the Orient. Its centre is an architectural museum piece, its blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a provincial French town of the 1930s. It is also home to a frenetic Old Quarter of trading streets where traditional and modern goods are traded from centuries old “tunnel houses” and narrow streets buzz with colour and activity

01st February 2015:  Hanoi
Enjoy a cyclo tour around Hanoi and Hoan Kiem Lake ( cyclo are not permitted in the 36 streets). Continue our look at Hanoi by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Quarter. We begin at the Old Citadel, walking along beautiful tree-lined boulevards until we get to Ba Dinh Square, visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and where Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. Ho Chi Minh is without question one of the great figures of twentieth century history and this morning we’ll take time to visit the „Ho Chi Minh Quarter‟ for a look at the life of the father of modern Vietnam. We visit the humble house on stilts from which „Uncle Ho‟, as he is affectionately known, ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. Lunch at Koto Restaurant. After lunch visit the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” – Hanoi’s former central prison made famous first for the incarceration of the leaders of Vietnam’s National Liberation movement and later US Air force pilots shot down over North Vietnam. The site of the prison was recently developed, however one wing has been retained as a museum. This evening a visit to the famous Water Puppet Theatre. This is perhaps Vietnam’s most famous performing art form. Vietnamese water puppets were invented a thousand years ago by farmers in the Red River Delta region near Hanoi to entertain themselves when the rains flooded their paddy fields. . ( Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

02nd February 2015: Hanoi – Sapa
Discover some of the secrets of Vietnamese food with resident chef Tracey Lister and her Vietnamese team. Your driver will pick you up from your hotel (either at 8.30am or 12.30pm) and drop you off at the Hanoi Cooking Center (HCC) where you will enjoy a cup of their special “La Han” Vietnamese welcome tea. Before commencing the class, you will be given a brief introduction to Vietnamese cuisine, focussing on some of the key ingredients of traditional meals. You then take a short walk to a local market with plenty of photo opportunities and the chance to try some of the

interesting and unusual items. Return to the cooking centre where you will prepare some dishes yourself under the close guidance of Tracey and her team. Finally, relax in the comfort of the HCC dining area, enjoying the meal you prepared along with some local beer or a glass of wine. Before you leave, visit the HCC shop where you can purchase some special Vietnamese culinary tools, books and spices before going home with a small gift from HCC. Rest of the afternoon is at leisure to self-explore. Late check-out from your hotel until 6.00pm. Transfer to Hanoi railway station for your overnight train to Sapa.

03rd February 2015: Arrival in Sapa
On arrival at Lao Cai train station you will be met for the 35 km drive up to Sapa, passing spectacular mountain scenery to finally reach this charming town, set amongst the highest and most beautiful mountains in Vietnam. After breakfast on arrival, your leisurely morning begins with a brief guided tour of Sapa town and the local colourful market. Coc Ly market, located in a mountainous area where the Flower Hmong mainly gathers to exchange their homemade products. The afternoon is free to relax or wander into town to explore things at your own pace.

04th February 2015: Sapa
Continue to explore Sapa and the surrounding area, including Cat Cat Village, a stunning waterfall and a hydraulic power station built in 1925 by the French. Cat Cat Village is the oldest of the Mong which preserves traditional handicrafts such as growing cotton, linen and textile and crafted jewellery. Especially, this place remains its unique traditions that other regions have no or no original existence.

05th February 2015:  Sapa – Hanoi
We leave Sapa town, trekking to Suoi Ho village to see tea plantations and cardamom gardens. Follow the buffalo trails to visit the hospitable villages of the Black Hmong minority people in Ma Tra. After passing a school and scenic views enroute, a picnic lunch will be served. After lunch we continue our trek to Ta Phin village to visit Red Dao people and handicraft shops. In the afternoon we will reach the road where your driver is waiting to transport you back to Lao Cai for the overnight train back to Hanoi. This evening you will board your overnight sleeper train back to Hanoi.

06th February 2015: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Arrive Hanoi early morning, commence on your journey east ( approximately 170km or 3 hours) to Hon Gai, the gateway to Halong Bay. En route we pass fields of busy workers farming their rice using traditional methods of cultivation. Halong Bay achieved international fame as a key location in the French film “Indochine‟ starring Catherine Deneuve. The bay has assumed an important position in Vietnamese legend for many centuries however and continues to capture the imagination of visitors. On arrival transfer to the port and board your boat for the cruise out to the Bay, enjoying a fresh seafood lunch on board along the way. Considered Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, Halong Bay boasts over 3,000 islands that jut out of the sea to provide a spectacular natural environment. We visit some of the beautiful cave and islets around the bay, then enjoy a sumptuous dinner on board before retiring to bed.

07th February 2015 : Halong Bay – Hanoi
We rise early to make the most of Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After breakfast, we visit more of the spectacular islets and caves that make this area so unique, then head back to Hanoi.

08th February 2015:  Hanoi – Hue
This morning transfer to the airport for flight to Hue in Central Vietnam ! Arrive Hue , transfer to your hotel. Hue is beautifully located on the banks of the Perfume River. As Vietnam’s capital throughout the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), as a centre of Vietnamese Buddhism and scholarship and finally as the setting for some of the Vietnam War’s most bloody fighting, Hue provides a unique window into Vietnam and its complex past. This afternoon visit the impressive home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors – the Citadel. Much of the Citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968 but is gradually being restored. Then travel to the much revered Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s oldest and most beautiful religious monument, and return to your hotel by dragon boat along the Perfume River

09th February 2015: Hue – Hoi An
After breakfast drive to the French influenced tomb of the twelfth emperor Khai Dinh. Completed many years after his death this is the most ornate of all the emperors‟ tombs. From her you shall drive to the magnificent tomb of the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Tu Duc, believed by many to be one of the most interesting and influential emperors of his time. Continue travelling south over the spectacular Hai Van Pass to Danang (110km). This drive is considered one of the most beautiful in Vietnam and takes you through a combination of both rural and coastal settings. Your first stop is the Cham Museum in Danang. The Cham people occupied this area of Vietnam from the 4th to the 17th century and in the museum you will find the best examples of Cham sculpture anywhere in the world. From Danang, travel further south to the Marble Mountains, a series of large marble outcrops which have acquired mythical significance over the centuries. The caves of the Marble Mountains have a number of sacred Buddhist shrines and once served as a former Communist guerrilla hospital during the Vietnam War. You may wish to make the climb to „heaven‟ for views across the ocean and surrounding countryside. Drive the short distance to the site of the former US „R & R‟ beach get away, formerly known as Non Nuoc Beach. Travel further south to Hoi An which was Vietnam’s most active trading centre over many centuries and has been largely preserved. The architecture of the city reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Hoi An is also the town where French Missionary Alexandre De Rhodes introduced Catholicism to Vietnam as well as the Romanised script that has become the standard Vietnamese script. This afternoon we take a walking tour of enchanting Hoi An visiting an old merchant house, the Hoi An Museum, a Chinese assembly hall and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

10th February 2015: Hoi An
We ride the bicycle (around 40 minutes biking in total) along the countryside of Hoian to Tra Que Organic Village, and walk through the market gardens where local farmer work their fields using the traditional methods of hundreds years ago. We pick fresh saw-tooth coriander, sweet lemon basil, and Vietnamese mint for our cooking class later, before trying a special basil tea at the local home. Bike back to the local market, and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this lovely busy market. Our guide will help you learn about all the ingredients to be used in cooking lesson later. Our professional chef will introduce you all ingredients, take you through the preparation, and explain the Hoian style of cooking. Then we join in a hands-on cooking from start to finish of 3 local dishes, after the class, we  will sit down in the lovely garden to enjoy what we have cooked. Rest of day at leisure.

11th February 2015: Hoi An – Saigon
Transfer to the airport for flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival into Saigon, you will be transferred to your hotel. Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s commercial capital and a city of extraordinary energy. Nowhere is Vietnam’s rush to modernise more visible. Despite its rush to modernity, Saigon, as it is still known, is a friendly and welcoming place with many reminders of its turbulent past and a palpable momentum towards the future. This afternoon begin a walking tour of Saigon’s famous and historic city landmarks. The tour will take you through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), past the Ho Chi Minh Square, Municipal Theatre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Following a tour of the Reunification Palace (formerly the Presidential Palace) and War Remnants Museum.

12th February 2015: Saigon – Mekong Delta Tour
This morning you will be met at your hotel at 8.30am by your guide for a full day tour traveling south from Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho, the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, the Delta is the most fertile region in the country, and the main producer of rice and tropical fruits. From My Tho, you board your boat and travel to one of the islands located in the middle of the Mekong River. On the island visit a fruit orchard and sample some of the local produce, before boarding a smaller sampan that winds along narrow canals. You will also have the opportunity to visit a local family’s house and enjoy their hospitality and share with them some tea or rice wine. After lunch (included) in My Tho return to Ho Chi Minh City by mid to late afternoon.

13th February 2015: Saigon Departure
This morning you will be accompanied by a local Saigonese chef to the Central Market to select ingredients for your cooking class at the Saigon Culinary Art Centre. The cooking class offered a hands on cooking course of traditional Vietnamese dishes, discover the culture of Vietnamese culinary art. The program of teaching is emphasized on the culture of Vietnamese gastronomy. Food lovers enjoy and learn the typical Vietnamese dishes, the dining etiquette, how to master a chopstick and savour your own culinary creation. Return to your hotel and the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Late check-out from your hotel at 6.00pm. Transfer to the airport for flight home.

14th February 2015: Arrival in Australia
Our flight home with Vietnam Airlines is due to arrive at 0915 this morning, at which point our programme ends.

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