Short for VNM by abbreviationfinder, Vietnam is a country located in southeastern Asia defined on countryaah. Many films and documentaries have been made about this country which has undergone a number of difficult wars and challenges. However, there is nothing better than being able to take part in everyday life in a country that many people have a definite opinion of. Be prepared to re-evaluate these and invite the Vietnamese to your heart. Kindness is just one of the words that are significant to this people today. Curiosity is another. It’s never far to a smile when you meet people on the street, in the shop, at the market or the restaurant. Then we have the fantastic nature and all the sights this country has to offer. A life may be enough to discover all this. So start with this journey.
Vietnam – 17 days
Day 1 Departure from Sweden
Day 2 Arrival Hanoi .
Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will be met for a transfer to your hotel.
Day 3 Hanoi – Halong Bay
After a few hours of rest and breakfast, you will be picked up by your guide for the drive to Halong Bay (about three hours), one of the world’s most beautiful archipelagos. According to legend, the 3,000 islands, mountains and valleys were created by a giant dragon, whose tail movements formed valleys that were filled with water when he threw himself into the sea. Once there, you board your junk and sail out into the magnificent bay. Fish and seafood lunch is served on board while you enjoy the unique archipelago landscape. In the afternoon you stop for a short hike up one of the cliffs to take in the views of the landscape. You also have time to take a dip from the beach or just relax on the sun deck.
Day 4 Halong Bay – Hanoi
If you wake up early, you will be able to witness the magnificent sunrise in Halong Bay. You also have the opportunity to take part in a Tai Chi exercise on board before breakfast. During the morning you visit one of the typical limestone caves before you slowly cruise back to port. In the afternoon you return to Hanoi where you and your guide do a city tour by bicycle taxi through the old town. The day ends with a water puppet show at the Thang Long Theater.
Day 4 Hanoi – Hoi An
After breakfast pick up for transfer to the airport and further travel south towards Danang. Upon arrival, you will be met for a transfer to your hotel located on the beach just outside the city of Hoi An. The rest of the day on your own.
Day 5 – 8 Hoi An
Days on your own. Hoi An is one of Vietnam’s oldest cities – and so well preserved and beautiful that Unesco has it on its World Heritage List. Hoi An is calmer and quieter than other Vietnamese cities; stroll around and enjoy 16th century temples and pagodas and colonial architecture; visit the fish market early in the morning, look into the lively market. And order tailor-made clothes; Hoi An is known for its many and skilled tailors.
Day 9 Hoi An – Saigon
You will be picked up for transfer back to Danang and further travel by plane to Saigon. On arrival you will be met by our local representative for transfer to your hotel.
Day 10 Saigon
Together with your guide you make a full day trip around Saigon. There is almost anything to see here: 200 parades, the bustling Chinatown, the Historical Museum, Ben Thanh Market with everything from T-shirts to sun-ripened fruit and the Old Market with food, electronics and much more. You will also visit Cu Chi, the tunnel system dug by the Viet Minh in 1948 and later expanded by the Viet Cong during the war. There were storage rooms, dormitories, hospitals and schools. During the evening, we recommend that you indulge in the residents’ own evening entertainment – “di choi”, to stroll, or cross along the streets.
Day 11 – 12 Mekong – Sa Dec – Gieng
Even if you are in the middle of Vietnam, you will find French colonial architecture around you today as you take a step back in time through a guided tour on foot in the city of Sa Dec. You wander around the local market and visit the house where the French author Marguerite Duras once lived. The house, built in the late 20th century, is interesting in itself through the harmonious combination of Western and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles. Your time travel continues after lunch. You cross through the delta to the island of Gieng. On foot or by bike you visit the small church that was built in 1875 with materials imported from France. In the nearby monastery you meet the nuns and get a sense of how they act in the surrounding villages.
Hotel: Aqua Mekong
Day 13 Gieng – Chau Doc
Today you leave Aqua Mekong and travel with traditional sampans into the Tra Su Cajuput forest. Slowly you drive deep into the dense acacia forest. The 845-hectare reserve is a colony for about 70 bird species, including the rare oriental Ibis stork and the Indian snake-neck bird. In addition, it is possible to encounter bats, snakes and endangered turtles. The flora is also magnificent with over 140 specified species, many of which are of great value in traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Back aboard the Aqua Mekong, you sail on to the village of Chau Doc, By car you then take about 60 km to the 230 meter high Sam mountain, the highest point in the Mekong Delta, and home to dozens of pagodas along the mountainside. After a short walk up to the top of the mountain you have an outstanding view of the rice fields, the surrounding countryside and into Cambodia. You will not be alone up here because this is border territory. At the top is a military outpost, a legacy from the time of the Khmer Rouge that gives a somewhat outdated aura but also an insight into the tensions that prevailed during this horrific period. Here you also get the unique privilege of having a private audience with the venerable Mahayana Buddhist monks in the Long Son Tu temple. Hopefully a little more enlightened you will return down to the foot of Sam Mountain for a visit to the Lady Xu Temple, one of the most important religious sites in the Mekong Delta. According to legend, in the early 19th century the villagers found a statue of a woman from the 6th century in the forest. In 1820, they built a bamboo and leaf temple to honor her and in the hope that she would give them better crops and thus improve their lives. Even today, people from all over Vietnam make a pilgrimage to the marble statue of Ba Chua Xu to ask for her protection and blessing.
Hotel: Aqua Mekong
Day 14 Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong border post
In the cool morning hours you sail on to the Cambodian border. After about 90 minutes, you anchor up to take you to the beach with dinghies and a visit to the ingeniously carved Prek Bongkong Pagoda with its upturned naga tips and angels holding up the sloping red roof. The area is known for its “silk islands”. You visit one of the villages where the weavers allow you to walk among their looms and admire their skills. You get to see the whole process, from how the silkworms spin their cocoons, see silk thread being harvested and dyed and finally the finished product of Khmersiden. You return to Aqua Mekong and then continue to the border post at Vinh Xuong-Kaam Samnor for your passage into Cambodia.
Hotel: Aqua Mekong
Day 15 Phnom Penh
Today there will be a change of pace from the sleepy countryside to Cambodia’s hectic political and economic center.
You sail into Phnom Penh where the Art Deco buildings are still overshadowed by ever-rising skyscrapers, old three-wheeled cyclos compete for space on the streets with imported European sports cars. Buddhist temples, French colonial villas and the Royal Palace meet international business and a new generation of boutique hotels, chic shopping and cosmopolitan nightlife. Together, it creates an atmosphere that few other major cities can compete with. Today’s city adventures are carried out with motorized tuk-tuks and take you through the city’s most important historical sites, such as the Royal Palace which is still home to the reigning monarch and the Silver Pagoda. Right next door is the National Museum with the world’s largest collection of Khmer art. Large parts of the collection were brought here from Angkor Wat to prevent looting.
Hotel: Aqua Mekong
Day 16 Return
After breakfast transfer to the airport for departure to Sweden
Day 17 Return to Sweden