Vietnam: A Tapestry of Beauty, History, & Traditions

Experience a country still unspoiled and quite unique in the world. Meet the cultured, attractive, and hospitable people of Vietnam in a variety of settings…from the entrepreneurial spirit of the Vietnamese in the markets of fast-moving Ho Chi Minh City, to the spirit of the past in the tranquil Temple of Literature in Hanoi. View the diverse architectural styles, a legacy of a long history of foreign invasions, in these two cities, as well as in Hue and Hoi An. Travel through highland plateaus and narrow coastal plains with stunning limestone scenery, and marvel at the beauty of Ha Long Bay on a luxury boat. Though often associated with hardship and war, today you will find Vietnam a serene and peaceful place to visit.

Degree of Difficulty - Three Paws

Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.

Weather Reports - When To Go

Vietnam enjoys a diverse climate, but it is generally agreed that high season is November to March, and July & August. Vietnam lies in two monsoon zones – the winter monsoon from October to March when it can be damp and chilly in the north and dry and warm in the south, and from April to October when the summer monsoon brings hot, humid weather to the whole country except for those areas sheltered by mountains. Given these variables, best months to visit are April, May and October.

Days 1/2

LOS ANGELES/HANOI

Board your overnight flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s fascinating capital city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks with a French colonial feel, stretching along the banks of the Red River Delta. PAN PACIFIC HOTEL HANOI. (Meals Aloft)

 

Days 3/4

HANOI

Begin your exploration with a tour of the home and Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of modern Vietnam. Take an afternoon walking tour of the lively Old Quarter, and view scenic Hoan Kiem Lake, containing an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda. Before dinner, see a performance of the world-famous Water Puppet Theatre. Next day, enjoy a lecture on “The Culture and Educational System of Vietnam” at the Long House, a traditional setting at the Museum of Ethnology. In mid-morning, join a Tai Chi master on the shore of the West Lake or in an ancestral pagoda for an initiation to Tai Chi. Discover the Temple of Literature before visiting the small pottery village of Bat Trang, founded in the 16th century, and featuring over 800 family-operated and industrial kilns fired with wood and coal. Tonight, savor a gourmet meal by Didier Corlou, a renowned chef and member of the French Culinary Academy, for the perfect fusion of Vietnamese specialties and French gastronomy.  PAN PACIFIC HOTEL HANOI. (B,L,D Daily)

 

Day 5

HANOI/HA LONG BAY-LAN HA BAY CRUISE

A most scenic drive through the countryside to Lan Ha Bay, reveals a fast-changing agricultural and industrial region. Board the Orchid Cruise and start on your exploration of Ha Long Bay, the Emerald Bay of Vietnam and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This vast bay was the inspiration for generations of Vietnamese poets, and is filled with more than 3,000 limestone ‘peaks’ of karsts that jut from the deep blue water as far as the eye can see. Explore untouched areas that are not on the normal tourist route. Enjoy an up-close look at the daily life of Vietnamese fishermen. Try your hand at kayaking or enjoy a swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Ba Trai Dao area.  Watch the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin from the top deck of your boat and join a traditional cooking class.  Your newly-built boat has private cabins with en suite facilities, ample public spaces, and a spacious dining room serving Vietnamese cuisine.  ORCHID CRUISE. (B,L,D)

 

Days 6/7

HALONG/DA NANG/HOI AN

Start your day early with an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sun deck. Then head out in canoes to explore the bay in the area where the Sang Toi cave is situated. After brunch aboard the boat, head to Hang Kenh Communal House, built in 1717, and the local flower and seafood market.  Drive back to Hanoi for your flight to Da Nang. Drive to Hoi Han, a picturesque riverside town and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy dinner at Brother’s Café. After dinner, a local master will join you to introduce ancestral games and teach you their basic rules. Next morning, enjoy coffee at the Hai Scout Café and then proceed to Hoi An Market to experience the sights and smells of this colorful market. At the Red Bridge Restaurant and Cooking School, enjoy a demonstration of fruit and vegetable carving and help prepare five traditional dishes for lunch. As this beautifully-preserved historic city is best seen on foot, your afternoon walking tour will include the Tran Family Chapel, built more than 200 years ago, Quan Thang House, one of the town’s oldest homes, and Phung Hung House, where one family has resided for more than eight generations. Tonight, enjoy a one-hour massage.  HOTEL ROYAL HOI AN MGALLERY COLLECTION. (B,Brunch,D; B,L)

 

Days 8/9

HOI AN/HUE

Pay a visit to China Beach, a place of rest and recreation for US soldiers, on your way to Hue. In the afternoon, take a boat excursion on the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda with its gardens scented with orchids, frangipani, and jackfruit, and alive with the flutter of white and crimson butterflies. Continue to the Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, considered the most beautiful of Hue’s many pagodas and tombs. The next day, depart by bicycle to the Thanh Toan village, located 7km from Hue city center. The day is dedicated to learning the technique of rice cultivation, the center of economic activity in this region since the 16th century. Then prepare lunch using local ingredients in a homestay kitchen. In the afternoon, see the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled, in part, on the Forbidden City in Beijing. LA RESIDENCE HOTEL & SPA. (B,L; B,L)

 

Days 10/11

HUE/HO CHI MINH CITY (FORMERLY SAIGON)/CU CHI TUNNELS/MEKONG DELTA

A morning flight takes you to Ho Chi Minh City, which has once again become the effervescent economic center of Vietnam. Upon arrival, drive to the Cu Chi tunnels and visit the ‘underground city,’ an immense network of connecting underground tunnels which were of great importance to the Viet Cong.  In HCMC, attend the circus ‘AO Show,’ launched in 2013, where young acrobats will fascinate you with their rendition of Vietnamese way of life. Next day, travel south to the Mekong Delta, where life on the water has remained unchanged for centuries. Stop by the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a temple and a sanctuary for orphans and other needy children. Then, board your boat and explore the narrow, mud brown waterways and fertile islands. See the step by step process of the making of Vietnam’s well-known coconut candy. Return to HCMC and enjoy dinner on board the Bonsai Cruise for a sensational discovery of HCMC by night.   SOFITEL PLAZA HOTEL SAIGON.  (B,L; B,L,D)

 

Days 12/13

HO CHI MINH CITY/EN ROUTE/LOS ANGELES

Visits to Notre Dame Cathedral, Unification Palace, Opera House, City Hall, and the Central Post Office will showcase the Parisian architectural style, and the historic highlights of this fascinating and vibrant city. The War Remnants Museum memorializes the nation’s struggles against the West and will surely be a powerful experience, guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Enjoy a farewell dinner at a nearly 100-year-old French villa.  Next morning, transfer to the airport for your return flights home. (B,L,D; B, Meals Aloft)

 

POST-EXTENSION TO CAMBODIA

Explore the mysteries of the ancient temples and monuments of Siem Reap, including the largest temple in the world – Angkor Wat. Unlike other Khmer temples, it faces west and is inspired by 12th century Hinduism. Other ancient wonders include Angkor Thom with its stunning Bayon temple, Ta Prohm, known as the ‘Kingdom of Trees,’ and Banteay Srei, the citadel of women. 

Prices starting at $3,995. For further booking, date, and pricing info please contact info@classicescapes.

Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.