Day 1 London - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport for a scheduled Vietnam Airlines flight to Ho Chi Minh City, which may touch down in Frankfurt.
Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City
Following an early morning arrival into Ho Chi Minh City we transfer to the Renaissance Riverside Hotel (4T+), where an early check-in has been arranged. Although the name of Vietnam’s largest city officially changed in 1975, the city is still widely referred to as Saigon. Behind the bustling activity of this city, you will find wide boulevards and fine French colonial buildings together with more modern expansion, as the city continues to shape itself as a contemporary commercial city. This afternoon we take a tour including the former Presidential Palace, where tanks bursting through its gates symbolised the fall of Saigon in 1975. It is now preserved as a museum. We also see the Opera House and City Hall, and visit the Central Post Office, designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel.
Day 3 Ho Chi Minh City
This morning we head out to the Cu Chi district to visit the vast underground tunnel complex from where the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla activities. You will learn about the construction of this network and of the extreme difficulties of living in this harsh subterranean environment. The afternoon is free for you to relax before we enjoy an included evening cruise on the Saigon River with dinner.
Day 4 Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be
We pay an early morning visit to the Cai Be Floating Market by boat, where bamboo poles hung with produce adorn vendors’ sampan boats to attract custom. Visit a Cao Dai temple before heading to the Mekong Delta, formed by myriad distributaries of this major river whose source lies in China over 2,500 miles away. This fertile area is known as the ‘rice basket’ of Vietnam and throughout the day you will see the local farming community in their daily life, tending to their paddy fields and fruit plantations. Upon our arrival in Cai Be we board a motorboat for our introduction to life on the river. After lunch we continue our explorations of the region by boat. We stay overnight at the Mekong Riverside Resort (3T).
Day 5 Cai Be - Hoi An
We spend some time in Chinatown before transferring to the airport for our flight to Danang. Upon arrival we transfer to Hoi An and the Hoi An Historic Hotel (3T+), our base for a three night stay.
Day 6 Hoi An
This morning we head out into the countryside to visit a local village, before returning to the ancient trading port of Hoi An. The historic town, now listed by UNESCO, was one of the busiest harbours in Asia until gradual silting up of the Thu Bon river forced trade to nearby Danang. Hoi An was then left relatively untouched, resulting in an outstanding centre of 19th century architecture. The best way to explore is on foot, especially as cars are banned from its historic centre. We will visit the unique Japanese bridge and a Chinese communal house.
Day 7 Hoi An
Today, we explore the brick temple ruins at My Son, which translates to ‘Beautiful Mountain’. This site was the religious centre of the Champa Kingdom for hundreds of years and is inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. We tour the temples, get an insight into Cham culture, and learn how even this remote site was not immune to bombing during the Vietnam War. Following our return to Hoi An, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.
Day 8 Hoi An - Hue
This morning we travel overland to Hue, the former epicentre of Vietnam. Indeed no fewer than thirteen Nguyen Dynasty Emperors ruled the country from this city, which is intersected by the Perfume River. Later, much of the city was destroyed during the Vietnam War, due to its location close to the former border between North and South Vietnam. This afternoon we visit the contrasting tombs of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, which are located in the hills that overlook the city. We also visit Tu Hieu, one of Hue’s most revered Buddhist monasteries and pagodas. We stay for two nights at the Indochine Palace Hotel (4T+).
Day 9 Hue
We visit the Imperial Citadel, where UNESCO is assisting in the restoration of this important site, which was originally modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City. Later we take a short boat trip, before visiting a market located where the Dong Ba Canal joins the Perfume River - local life is very much in evidence. The afternoon is free for you to make your own explorations.
Day 10 Hue - Hanoi
This morning we travel to the airport for our flight to Hanoi. Following our arrival we transfer to the city, located on the bank of the Red River, which has been inhabited for over 1000 years. The city is known for its French colonial-style buildings, boulevards and parks, together with ancient structures from the city’s origins. Our tour today includes the Temple of Literature and passes by Hoan Kiem Lake before a walking tour of the Old Quarter, made up by the city’s original 36 streets, once the commercial centre of the city, and still a thriving community of sellers. Our base for a three night stay is the Hilton Hanoi Opera (4T+).
Day 11 Hanoi
We commence our tour this morning centring on Ho Chi Minh, known as ‘Uncle Ho’ by his followers. We visit his simple stilted home, a museum dedicated to his life, and the imposing mausoleum where his body lies in state. In the same area we also visit the One Pillar Pagoda, a Buddhist temple that originally dates back to the 10th century. Our last visit today is at the ancient Hanoi Citadel, recently listed by UNESCO. The afternoon has been left free to explore. Tonight we enjoy a stunning water puppet performance. The stage is a pool of water in which the puppeteers must stand and manoeuvre the dancing puppets attached to bamboo poles.
Day 12 Halong Bay
Halong Bay is undoubtedly Vietnam’s most famous image; thousands of bizarrely-shaped limestone karsts, often jungle topped, are dotted throughout this vast bay. The best way to observe these is of course on the water and our comprehensive cruise presents many viewpoints, and a short visit to a cave will also be available. After our fascinating excursion we return to Hanoi.
Day 13 Hanoi - In flight
The majority of the day is free before our evening transfer to Hanoi Airport for a scheduled Vietnam Airlines flight to London, which may touch down in Frankfurt.
Day 14 London
Arrival at London Heathrow Airport where you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.