Ma Pi Leng Pass (Road Dong-Van Meo Vac)



Oriental Bridge Transvietnamese :
Tours of the 3 Regions of Vietnam from Hanoi to Saigon
or vice-versa in a Private Vehicle with Chauffeur and Guide.

Our Transvietnamese take you in a comfortable private vehicle through the 3 regions of Vietnam. The following tours star in Hanoi and end in Saigon but, of course, they can be done from the South to the North. We propose to you 4 Transvietnamese :

« The Classic » is a 13-day itinerary regrouping the main tourist sites of Vietnam : Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon and the Mekong Delta.

« The Magical 15 » of 15 days includes the sites of the Classic, and adds in the North the beautiful valley of Mai Chau and the famous « Halong Bay on Land » of Tam Coc (Ninh Binh)

« The Magical 18 » of 18 days includes the sites of the Magical 15 and 3 free days: Hanoi, Tam Coc and Hoi An

« The Breathtaking » is a 22-day dream tour adding to all the sites of the Magical the entire northern region alongside the Chinese border, with its maze of mountains, lime peaks, deep valleys, canyons, and its numerous minorities in tribal costumes : h'mongs, lolos, yaos, thaïs, etc. whom you meet all days long and in great number in famous markets such as the Saturday Flower h'mong market of Can Cau or the Sunday one in Bac Ha, Dong Van and other villages. The high points of the northern tour are the markets, the mineral desert of the extraordinary region of Dong Van/Meo Vac, the Ban Gioc Waterfalls north of Cao Bang, and Babe Lake.


Our rates include all the elements mentioned in the tour descriptions:
They do not include the international flights and the visas, the free meals, your drinks and personal expenses, and your personal insurance.

Except otherwise specified, the rates include accommodation in excellent 2-star hotels. Please do not hesitate to ask us for the rates including 3-star hotels and over.



"THE CLASSIC" : THE ORIENTAL BRIDGE 13-DAY TRANS-VIETNAMESE
Ha Noi – Halong Bay – Hue – Hoi An – Saigon


Day 1: HA NOI

Your guide welcomes you at Hanoi Airport, to transfer you to your hotel. Relaxation and you then visit Old Hanoi, with its bustling 36 Guild Streets and the charming Ngoc Son Pagoda on the edge of Lake Hoan Kiem. Diner of traditional Vietnamese food and night in your hotel.


 
 
Day 2 : HA NOI AND THE WATER PUPPET THEATER

After breakfast, we continue the tour of Ha Noi: Palace of the General Governor during the French, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (except Monday and Friday), his stilted house, the One-pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Temple of Quan Thanh, and the Pagoda of Tran Quoc. Lunch in a typical Hanoi restaurant. In the afternoon, visit of the magnificent Museum of the Minorities of Vietnam, followed by the magical Water Puppet show. Diner and night in Ha Noi.


Day 3: HA NOI – CAT BA – LAN HA BAY - HALONG BAY IN A PRIVATE JUNK

  Our English-speaking guide meets you at your hotel for the transfer from Ha Noi to Cat Ba Island. Arrival in Cat Ba around 12:00, boarding on our own elegant private junk Oriental Sun. Seafood lunch while the junk starts sailing through Lan Ha Bay, a protected site part of Cat Ba National Park.

We then enter Halong Bay, sailing towards isolated islands, cruising through passages inaccessible to larger boats. Swimming and/or kayaking weather permitting. Visit of the Hang Ca Lagoon, accessible by a small craft through a tunnel. Delicious seafood diner and night on board in Lan Ha Bay.

   


Day 4: LAN HA BAY - HA NOI

    Breakfast on board; we sail through Lan Ha Bay, approaching islets and peaks as close as possible. Visit of a fishing village, swimming and kayaking. Lunch on board.

We disembark in Cat Ba around 12:00, and then return to Ha Noi. Diner and night train Ha Noi-Hue.
 


Day 5: HUE - THE IMPERIAL CITY AND THIEN MU PAGODA

  A driver and guide welcome you at the railway station and take you to your hotel, where we have breakfast.

We then take you by cyclo-pousse in front of the spectacular Mid-day Gate, the entrance to the famous Hue Imperial City and its Purple City, the Vietnamese equivalent of Beijing Forbidden City. Immense complex of magnificent buildings : the Humanity and Virtue Gates, the Throne Hall, the Temple of the Cult of the Nguyen Emperors, the Queen Mother Palace, etc. The guided visit lasts 3 hours.
 
Mid-day Gate
 

We then board a small boat which sails up the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda (Pagoda of the Celestial Lady), in front of which you have lunch in the boat. Visit of the pagoda. Return to your hotel and diner at the excellent restaurant La Carambole.


Day 6: HUE - THE MAUSOLEUMS OF THE GREAT DYNASTY OF THE NGUYEN EMPERORS

    We spend the day visiting the astonishing Tombs of the Great Dynasty of the Nguyen (1802-1945). Those tombs are in fact magnificent mausoleums, with pagodas, temples, small lakes, etc. Some were even used by the emperors as occasional residence.

We first visit two sites without tourists : the Tiger Arena, where the emperors organized fights between a tiger and an elephant, and 100 m farther away, the charming Voi Ré Temple, dedicated to the only two elephants which lost.

We continue on a small road and arrive at Minh Mang Tomb, famous for its magnificent landscaping. We then cross the Perfume River and visit Khai Dinh Tomb, with its astonishing interior mosaics.

 

Lunch followed by a small detour to another rarely visited site, the Van Canh Belvedere, a hill from which we enjoy a magnificent view of the Perfume River and surrounding mountains. We then visit the nearby Tu Duc Tomb, a luxurious complex designed by the emperor himself. Before returning to the hotel, we stop at the very charming Tu Hieu Pagoda, where over 80 monks still live. Return to your hotel and diner of Hue specialties in the sumptuous Ancient Hue Garden-Restaurant, located in the ancient aristocratic district of Kim Long. 2nd night in your hotel.


Day 7: HUE - HOI AN
  Departure from the hotel after breakfast, to take the Mandarin Road and climb the famous Pass of the Clouds. We stop in Danang to visit the world famous Cham Museum.

We then drive down to the Portuguese Old Town of Hoi An. Lunch in a restaurant of delicious local cuisine, followed by the visit of the Old Town of Hoi An, where you can admire the architectural treasures of that World Heritage site: the Japanese Bridge, the common houses (hoi quan), the 19th Century old houses, and the temples and pagodas. Diner of local specialties at the excellent restaurant Dao Tien and one night in a Hoi An hotel.
 
The Japanese Bridge
 

Day 8: THE CHAM RUINS OF MY SON - HOI AN - SAIGON

After breakfast, we take you to the fascinating Cham site of My Son, another World Heritage. Hidden in a luxuriant valley 55 km West of Hoi An, it counts 20 towers out of the original 68, which were probably the sepultures of the kings of the Champa Kingdom (11th to XVth Century).

Return to Hoi An for lunch. Free afternoon to stroll through the town and shop. Free diner and drive back to Danang to take the flight to Saigon. Night in Saigon.



   
Day 9: VISIT OF SAI GON

In the morning, visit of the fascinating Chinese district of Cho Lon, a kind of Chinatown in the west of the city. Half-a-million Vietnamese of Chinese origin, the Hoa, live there. The district name is significant; it means Great Market.

Commerce dominates all the district activities. We visit the Cha Tam Church, several Congregation  temples:  Thiên Hau, Tam Son Hoi and Nghia An Hoi Quan, and the Binh Tây Market. We have lunch in a restaurant of traditional Chinese food.
 

In the afternoon, visit of the city monuments: the Municipal Theater, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace, the Pagoda of the Emperor of Jade, and the Binh Tay Market. If you wish (many photos are not for sensible persons), we visit the War Remnants Museum, which displays among many others the photographs made famous by international reporters.  If you chose that solution, there is no visit of the Central Post and the Municipal Theater for lack of time.


 
Day 10: CAO DAI TEMPLE OF TAY NINH AND THE CU CHI TUNNELS

Departure from your hotel around 8:00 to drive through the peaceful Vietnamese countryside, direction Tay Ninh (96 km), where we arrive around 11:00 and visit the astonishing Cao Dai Temple.

We then stay on the balcony overlooking the nave, to attend the magical 12:00 mass, with its priests in bright color robes and its magnificent choir. Lunch in Tay Ninh.
 
Le temple Cao Dai de Tay Ninh
 

We then drive through a scenery of plateaus and rubber plantations and arrive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a maze of 230 km of tunnels dug into the hard soil, and the site of years of ferocious battles during the Vietnam War. Stroll through the forest to admire the ingenuity of the camouflages and visit the war museum (the booby trap section is frightening); a very edifying historical visit! Return to your Saigon hotel around 18:00.


 
On the Mekong
 
Day 11: THE MEKONG DELTA : SAIGON - BEN TRE - CAN THO

Departure from your hotel around 8:00. We cross part of the Mekong Delta to arrive in the Island of Ben Tre. Boating on the Ben Tre River to observe the life of the local people (visit of markets, small brick factory, coconut treatment factories, etc.). The boat continues on canals to reach Cai Son and Nhon Than, where we visit a family mat workshop. Stroll in the peaceful countryside and lunch in the home of Mr. Hai Hao.


 

After lunch, we take a row boat on canals lined with water palm trees. Return to the car to take the small road No. 57, through orchards and Bonsai farms; we then take a ferry and arrive at the town of Can Tho, where we have diner and spend the night in an elegant riverside hotel.


Day 12: THE MEKONG DELTA : FLOATING MARKET OF CAI RANG - XEO QUYT - SAIGON

  We go then to the famous Cai Rang Floating Market, where we sail among the large barges loaded with produces and the small boats of the buying retailers. Return on the road to drive to Xeo Quyt, where we visit an amazing complex of small canals and forts built by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. Stroll through luxuriant swamps.

After lunch, return to Saigon with visit of a Cao Dai temple on the road.
   

Day 13: FREE TIME AND DEPARTURE

Free time for personal discoveries and shopping. Transfer to Saigon Airport for your return flight.


Rates per person in dollars

1 pers. 2 pers. 3 pers. 4 pers. 5 pers.
$3178 $1945 $1638 $1491 $1491




"THE MAGICAL 15" : ORIENTAL BRIDGE 15-DAY TRANS-VIETNAMESE :
Ha Noi – Halong Bay – Tam Coc - Hue – Hoi An – Saigon – Mekong Delta


Day 1 to 4:

Same programme as the previous tour except that, on Day 4, you have diner and spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 5: HA NOI - MAI CHAU (BAN LAC)

    Morning departure to Hoa Binh. Stops on the road to admire the magnificent panorama, first on top of the pass, then on the descent overlooking the superb valley of Mai Chau.

Arrival in the White Thai village of Ban Lac, where you settle for the night in a delightful family’s traditional stilted house.

You spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through the villages and the rice fields. Return to Ban Lac for diner and one night at your Thai home.
 


Day 6: MAI CHAU - HOA LU - TAM COC

  Departure from your hotel at 9 AM, direction Hoa Lu. Visit of the two superb temples of Hoa Lu: Dinn Thien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh.

We then drive on 15 kilometers of small roads through the lime peak maze, one of our little “secrets”, and arrive in Tam Coc at the hotel Chez Loan, in the serenity of the rice fields, the best address in the region!

Delicious lunch of local specialties, followed by the visit of the Bich Dong Pagoda and Thai Vi Temple. Around 16:00, when the tourist groups have left, boating on the 3-tunnel river through lime cliff canyons, one of the “Must Do” of Vietnam.
   

Evening free to visit the numerous shops where the embroideries are hand-made and sold. Delicious diner chez Loan (Vietnamese fondue), followed by the transfer to Ninh Binh Railway Station to board the night train to Hue.


Day 7: HUE - THE IMPERIAL CITY AND THIEN MU PAGODA

 
Mid-day Gate
  A driver and guide welcome you at the railway station and take you to your hotel, where we have breakfast.

We then take you by cyclo-pousse in front of the spectacular Mid-day Gate, the entrance to the famous Hue Imperial City and its Purple City, the Vietnamese equivalent of Beijing Forbidden City.

Immense complex of magnificent buildings : the Humanity and Virtue Gates, the Throne Hall, the Temple of the Cult of the Nguyen Emperors, the Queen Mother Palace, etc.
 

We then board a small boat which sails up the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda (Pagoda of the Celestial Lady), in front of which you have lunch in the boat. Visit of the pagoda. Return to your hotel and a delicious diner at the excellent restaurant La Carambole.


Day 8: HUE - THE MAUSOLEUMS OF THE GREAT DYNASTY OF THE NGUYEN EMPERORS

  We spend the day visiting the astonishing Tombs of the Great Dynasty of the Nguyen (1802-1945). Those tombs are in fact magnificent mausoleums, with pagodas, temples, small lakes, etc. Some were even used by the emperors as occasional residence.

We first visit two sites without tourists : the Tiger Arena, where the emperors organized fights between a tiger and an elephant, and 100 m farther away, the charming Voi Ré Temple, dedicated to the only two elephants which lost.

We continue on a small road and arrive at Minh Mang Tomb, famous for its magnificent landscaping. We then cross the Perfume River and visit Khai Dinh Tomb, with its astonishing interior mosaics.

   

Lunch followed by a small detour to another rarely visited site, the Van Canh Belvedere, a hill from which we enjoy a magnificent view of the river and surrounding mountains. We then visit the nearby Tu Duc Tomb, a luxurious complex designed by the emperor himself. Before returning to the hotel, we stop at the very charming Tu Hieu Pagoda, where over 80 monks still live. Return to your hotel and diner of Hue specialties in the sumptuous Ancient Hue Garden-Restaurant, located in the ancient aristocratic district of Kim Long. 2nd night in your hotel.


Day 9: HUE – HOI AN

Departure from the hotel after breakfast, to take the Mandarin Road and climb the famous Pass of the Clouds. We stop in Danang to visit the world famous Cham Museum.

We then drive down to the Portuguese Old Town of Hoi An. Lunch in a restaurant of delicious local cuisine, followed by the visit of the Old Town of Hoi An, where you can admire the architectural treasures of that World Heritage site: the Japanese Bridge, the common houses (hoi quan), the 19th Century old houses, and the temples and pagodas. Diner of local specialties at the excellent restaurant Dao Tien and night in Hoi An.


 
Day 10: THE CHAM RUINS OF MY SON - HOI AN - SAIGON

After breakfast, we take you to the fascinating Cham ruins of My Son, another World Heritage Site. Hidden in a luxuriant valley 55 km West of Hoi An, it counts 20 towers out of the original 68, which were probably the sepultures of the kings of the Champa Kingdom (11th to XVth Century).

Return to Hoi An for lunch. Free afternoon to stroll through the town and shop. Free diner and drive back to Danang to take the flight to Saigon. Night in Saigon in the excellent 3 star Mai Hotel.
  Cham Site  


Day 11: VISIT OF SAI GON

    In the morning, visit of the fascinating Chinese district of Cho Lon, a kind of Chinatown in the west of the city. Half-a-million Vietnamese of Chinese origin, the Hoa, live there. The district name is significant; it means Great Market.

Commerce dominates all the district activities. We visit the Cha Tam Church, several Congregation  temples:  Thiên Hau, Tam Son Hoi and Nghia An Hoi Quan, and the Binh Tây Market. We have lunch in a restaurant of traditional Chinese food.
 

In the afternoon, visit of the city monuments: the Municipal Theater, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace, the Pagoda of the Emperor of Jade, and the Binh Tay Market. If you wish (many photos are not for sensible persons), we visit the War Remnants Museum, which displays among many others the photographs made famous by international reporters.  If you chose that solution, there is no visit of the Central Post and the Municipal Theater for lack of time.


 
Day 12: CAO DAI TEMPLE OF TAY NINH AND THE CU CHI TUNNELS

Departure from your hotel around 8:00 to drive through the peaceful Vietnamese countryside, direction Tay Ninh (96 km), where we arrive around 11:00 and visit the astonishing Cao Dai Temple.

We then stay on the balcony overlooking the nave, to attend the magical 12:00 mass, with its priests in bright color robes and its magnificent choir. Lunch in Tay Ninh.
 
Le temple Cao Dai de Tay Ninh
 

We then drive through a scenery of plateaus and rubber plantations and arrive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a maze of 230 km of tunnels dug into the hard soil, and the site of years of ferocious battles during the Vietnam War. Stroll through the forest to admire the ingenuity of the camouflages and visit the war museum (the booby trap section is frightening); a very edifying historical visit! Return to your Saigon hotel around 18:00.


 
On the Mekong
 
Day 13: THE MEKONG DELTA : SAIGON - BEN TRE - CAN THO

We first ride to the Island of Ben Tre. Boating on the Ben Tre River to observe the life of the local people (visit of markets, small brick factory, coconut treatment factories, etc.). The boat continues on canals to reach Cai Son and Nhon Than, where we visit a family mat workshop.

Stroll in the peaceful countryside and lunch in the home of Mr. Hai Hao.
 

We then take the road to Cai Be and arrive at the very beautiful Mekong Lodge Eco-Resort, which spreads its bungalows amid luxuriant gardens alongside the Tien River. Relaxation, delicious diner and night in a bungalow.


Day 14: THE MEKONG DELTA : FLOATING MARKET OF CAI RANG - XEO QUYT - SAIGON

  We go to the famous Cai Rang Floating Market, where we sail among the large barges loaded with produces and the small boats of the buying retailers. Return on the road to drive to Xeo Quyt, where we visit an amazing complex of small canals and forts built by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. Stroll through luxuriant swamps.

After lunch, return to Saigon with visit of a Cao Dai temple on the road. Diner and night in Saigon.
   


Day 15: SAIGON AND DEPARTURE

Free time for personal discoveries and shopping. Transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your return flight.


Rates per person in dollars

1 pers. 2 pers. 3 pers. 4 pers. 5 pers.
$3652 $2256 $1907 $1706 $1706


"THE MAGICAL 18" : ORIENTAL BRIDGE TRANS-VIETNAMESE OF 18 DAYS :
Hanoi –Halong Bay – Mai Chau - Tam Coc - Hue – Hoi an – Saigon - Mekong Delta


This tour is the same as the Magical 15, but more relax with with the addition of 3 free days: Hanoi, Tam Coc and Hoi An.


Rates per person in dollars

1 pers. 2 pers. 3 pers. 4 pers. 5 pers.
$3782 $2421 $1972 $1771 $1771





"THE BREATHTAKING" : THE ORIENTAL BRIDGE 22-DAY TRANS-VIETNAMESE
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Bac Ha – Ha Giang – Dong Van - Meo Vac – Bao Lac – Cao Bang
(Ban Gioc Waterfalls) – Ba Be Lake – Hanoi – Tam Coc - Hue – Hoi An –
Saigon – Mekong Delta


This extraordinary tour, which we are the only one to propose, takes you, apart from a 2-day cruise of Halong Bay in a private junk and a visit of classic sites (Tam Coc, Hue, Hoi An), to rarely visited regions such as the breathtaking valleys and mountains of Dong Van / Meo Vac / the Ban Gioc Waterfalls north of Cao Bang, and Lake Babe.

We recommend that the tour starts on a Monday, to see the Saturday Flower H'mong market in Can Cau, in the mountains north of Bac Ha, a Tuesday, to see the extraordinary Sunday Bac Ha market, or a Thursday for the Tuesday Coc Ly Market.

Day 1 to 4: HA NOI AND HALONG BAY

Same programme as the 13-day tour except that you spend the night of Day 4 in your Ha Noi hotel.


Day 5: HA NOI - BAC HA

Departure for Bac Ha, the capital of the Flower H’mongs. We follow a beautiful road to reach the mountains that the H’momgs covered with rice and corn terraces, a titanic task which took them centuries. Diner of local specialties and night in your Bac Ha hotel.


 
Day 6: FLOWER H'MONG MINORITY MARKET - HA GIANG

After breakfast, visit of one of the fascinating Flower H'mong minority markets: Coc Ly on Tuesday, Can Cau on Saturday, or the stupendous Bac Ha Sunday market, where you will mingle with thousands of minority women in their incredibly colorful costumes (it takes between 4 and 6 months to hand-make one).

if there is no market day, the driver takes you to Can Cau among the magnificent mountains of the region north of Bac Ha. After lunch, we take mountain roads to Ha Giang, capital of the most astonishing region of Vietnam. Diner and night in a hotel of bungalows on the river.
 
Flower H'mongs of Bac Ha
 


Day 7: HA GIANG - DONG VAN

 
Palace of the King of the H’mongs
After purchasing the mandatory permit at the Immigration Office, we take another breathtaking road, which leads to Dong Van through a series of long passes and deep valleys. Visit of the weavers hmong village of Lung Tam. Lunch in the small mountain town of Tam Son.

We then cross a landscape of pine forest and arrive at the astonishing Palace of the king of the H’mongs, a fortress built by a local chief allied with the French against the Vietminh, Vuong Chin Duc, and evacuated in 1950. Arrival in Dong Van around 18:00. Diner in a local restaurant and hotel night.
 


Day 8: DONG VAN – MA PI LENG PASS – MEO VAC – BAO LAC

  An absolutely unforgettable day! It starts with the visit of the market of Dong Van, where the locals shop before returning to their eagle nest and the Fort of Pu LO, from which we have a sweeping view of the entire region. We then take the most astonishing road in Vietnam, which climbs on 15 km up to the top of the Ma Pi Leng Pass, through a gigantic maze of lime peaks, “stone forests”, and canyons unique in the world.

We then go down into the valley of Meo Vac for lunch. After lunch, we continue this spectacular road and arrive in the small village of Bao Lac, where we have diner and spend the night.
   


Day 9: BAO LAC – CAO BANG

Spectacular road going from one valley to another through magnificent panoramas. In Thin Tuc, from the top of a pass, we will see one of the oldest tin mines in the world. We then descent to Cao Bang, nested between the Ré Dao River, where we have lunch. We then climb up to War Memorial, from which we have a sweeping view of the valley, and visit the Central Market. Diner and night in Cao Bang.


Day 10: BAN GIOC WATERFALLS AND THE NGUOM NGAO GROTTO - QUANG UYEN

  Another spectacular road climbs the Ma Phuc Pass and arrives at the magnificent Ban Gioc waterfalls, the closest you can come from the Chinese border: it passes through the middle of the falls and the river.

Before arriving to the waterfalls, we visit one of the most spectacular grotto in Vietnam, Nguom Ngao, which counts several kilometers of superbly-lit galleries and an huge 100-m room. We then arrive in the extraordinary site of the waterfalls, where we have lunch. Return towards Cao Bang ; we have diner and spend the night in a stilted Tay house of the small town of Quang Uyen.
   


Day 11: QUANG UYEN - CHO RA - BABE LAKE

    Another magnificent road through the mountains, to arrive at the village of Cho Ra. From there, a 17-km descent takes you down to the lake and the White Thai village of Pac Ngoi, where you are welcomed by Mr. Duy Tho amazingly friendly Thai family in their traditional stilted house.

If it’s hot, do like the local kids, just jump in the river. Delicious diner (Mrs Duy Tho is a true Cordon bleu) on the river terrace and one night in the family house.
 


 
Day 12: BABE LAKE - HA NOI

Breakfast on the river terrace, then short drive to the house owner’s boat, who takes you through the entire length of the 3 connected lakes (Ba Be - “3 bays”) and up the Nang River, to a traditional Thai village and the Dau Dang Waterfalls, a spectacular cascade between sheer rock walls.

Lunch in a house run by Pirate, renown as one of the best chefs of the region. After lunch, return to Pac Ngoi and Hanoi through a small mountain road, passing through the small towns of Bang Lung and Cho Chu. Diner and night in Hanoi.
 
Nang River
 


Day 13: HA NOI - HOA LU - TAM COC (“HALONG BAY ON LAND”)

  Departure from your hotel at 9:00 and drive to Hoa Lu (1h30). Visit of the two superb temples of Hoa Lu: Dinn Thien Hoang and Le Dai Hanh.We then drive on 15 superb kilometers of small roads through the lime peak maze, one of our little “secrets”, and arrive in Tam Coc at the Hotel Chez Loan, in the serenity of the rice fields; the best address in the region!

Delicious lunch of local specialties, followed by the visit of the Bich Dong Pagoda and Thai Vi Temple. Around 16:00, when the tourist groups have left, boating on the 3-tunnel river through lime cliff canyons, one of the “Must Do” of Vietnam.
   

Evening free to visit the numerous shops where the embroideries are hand-made and sold. Delicious diner chez Loan (Vietnamese fondue).


Day 14: TAM COC-PHAT DIEM-HUE

    After breakfast, short drive (15 mn) to the amazing Hang Mua Pagoda, perched on a high mountain, and from which you enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the entire region…at a price: climbing 450 steps (again, you will be alone, no other tours include that amazing visit).

Then, short ride through the rice fields and canals of the Delta, the center of North Vietnam Catholicism. Arrival for lunch at the stupendous –and, again, rarely visited- Phat Diem Cathedral (1891), a Sino-European architectural masterpiece of enormous proportions. Lunch near the cathedral and visit of the complex (bell tower, main building, and the 4 elegant chapels). Return to Tam Coc for another delicious diner and transfer to Ninh Binh railway station for the night train to Hue (air-conditioned 4-berth cabin).
 


Day 15: HUE - THE IMPERIAL CITY AND THIEN MU PAGODA

 
Mid-day Gate
  A driver and guide welcome you at the railway station and take you to your hotel, where we have breakfast.

We then take you by cyclo-pousse in front of the spectacular Mid-day Gate, the entrance to the famous Hue Imperial City and its Purple City, the Vietnamese equivalent of Beijing Forbidden City. Immense complex of magnificent buildings : the Humanity and Virtue Gates, the Throne Hall, the Temple of the Cult of the Nguyen Emperors, the Queen Mother Palace, etc.
 

We then board a small boat which sails up the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda (Pagoda of the Celestial Lady), in front of which you have lunch in the boat. Visit of the pagoda. Return to your hotel and a delicious diner at the excellent restaurant La Carambole.


Day 16: HUE - THE MAUSOLEUMS OF THE GREAT DYNASTY OF THE NGUYEN EMPERORS

  We spend the day visiting the astonishing Tombs of the Great Dynasty of the Nguyen (1802-1945). Those tombs are in fact magnificent mausoleums, with pagodas, temples, small lakes, etc. Some were even used by the emperors as occasional residence.

We first visit two sites without tourists : the Tiger Arena, where the emperors organized fights between a tiger and an elephant, and 100 m farther away, the charming Voi Ré Temple, dedicated to the only two elephants which lost. We continue on a small road and arrive at Minh Mang Tomb, famous for its magnificent landscaping. We then cross the Perfume River and visit Khai Dinh Tomb, with its astonishing interior mosaics.
   

Lunch followed by a small detour to a another rarely visited site, the Van Canh Belvedere, a hill from which we enjoy a magnificent view of the river and surrounding mountains. We then visit the nearby Tu Duc Tomb, a luxurious complex designed by the emperor himself. Before returning to the hotel, we stop at the very charming Tu Hieu Pagoda, where over 80 monks still live. Return to your hotel and diner of Hue specialties in the sumptuous Ancient Hue Garden-Restaurant, located in the ancient aristocratic district of Kim Long. 2nd night in your hotel.


Day 17: HUE – HOI AN
  Departure from the hotel after breakfast, to take the Mandarin Road and climb the famous Pass of the Clouds. We stop in Danang to visit the world famous Cham Museum. We then drive down to the Portuguese Old Town of Hoi An.

Lunch in a restaurant of delicious local cuisine, followed by the visit of the Old Town of Hoi An, where you can admire the architectural treasures of that World Heritage site: the Japanese Bridge, the common houses (hoi quan), the 19th Century old houses, and the temples and pagodas. Diner of local specialties at the excellent restaurant Dao Tien and night In Hoi An.
 
The Old Town of Hoi An
 


Day 18: THE CHAM RUINS OF MY SON - HOI AN - SAIGON

 
Ruines Cham de My Son
  After breakfast, we take you to the fascinating Cham site of My Son, « Vietnam’s Angkor Wat », another World Heritage. Hidden in a luxuriant valley 55 km West of Hoi An, it counts 20 towers out of the original 68, which were probably the sepultures of the kings of the Champa Kingdom (11th to XVth Century). Return to Hoi An for lunch. Free afternoon to stroll through the town and shop. Free diner and drive back to Danang to take the flight to Saigon. Night in Saigon.  


Day 19 : VISIT OF SAI GON
  In the morning, visit of the fascinating Chinese district of Cho Lon, a kind of Chinatown in the west of the city. Half-a-million Vietnamese of Chinese origin, the Hoa, live there. The district name is significant; it means Great Market. Commerce dominates all the district activities.

We visit the Cha Tam Church, several Congregation temples: Thiên Hau, Tam Son Hoi and Nghia An Hoi Quan, and the Binh Tây Market. We have lunch in a restaurant of traditional Chinese food.
   

In the afternoon, visit of the city monuments: the Municipal Theater, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace, the Pagoda of the Emperor of Jade, and the Binh Tay Market. If you wish (many photos are not for sensible persons), we visit the War Remnants Museum, which displays among many others the photographs made famous by international reporters.  If you chose that solution, there is no visit of the Central Post and the Municipal Theater for lack of time. 18:00.


Day 20 : MEKONG DELTA : SAIGON - BEN TRE - CAN THO

 
On the Mékong River
  Departure from your hotel around 8:00. We cross part of the Mekong Delta to arrive in the island of Ben Tre. Boating on the Ben Tre River to observe the life of the local people (visit of markets, small brick factory, salt marshes, coconut treatment factories, etc.).

The boat continues on canals to reach Cai Son and Nhon Than, where we visit a family mat workshop. Stroll in the peaceful countryside and lunch in the home of Mr. Hai Hao.
 

After lunch, we take a row boat on canals lined with water palm trees. Return to the car to take the raod leading to the small town of Can Tho, where we have diner and spend the night in a very beautiful family home.


Day 21: THE MEKONG DELTA : FLOATING MARKET OF CAI RANG - XEO QUYT - SAIGON

  We first go to the famous Cai Rang Floating Market, where we sail among the large barges loaded with produces and the small boats of the buying retailers. Return on the road to drive to Xeo Quyt, where we visit an amazing complex of small canals and forts built by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War.

Stroll through luxuriant swamps. After lunch, return to Saigon with visit of a Cao Dai temple on the road. Diner and night in Saigon.
   

Day 22: SAIGON AND DEPARTURE

Free time for personal discoveries and shopping. Transfer to Saigon Airport for your return flight.


Rates per person in dollars

1 pers. 2 pers. 3 pers. 4 pers. 5 pers.
$5402 $3189 $2601 $2364 $2364






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