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Hanoi – Hue – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City
Hanoi – Hue – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive in the charming capital city of Hanoi, known for its tree-lined streets and French colonial villas. Get acquainted with the city by cyclo as you take a slow ride to visit the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature. Meet with a vintage photo collector who will share original photographs taken by his father that date back to the time of French occupation.
After an early breakfast, head to Hoan Kiem Lake to observe the typical morning of a Hanoian participating in activities such as Tai Chi and group exercises against a backdrop of ancient willows hanging over the lake. Afterward, meet with a local photographer who will guide you through the maze of the Old Quarter, known for its ‘36 streets of 36 wares’ named after the original 36 artisan guilds that date as far back as the 13th century. For a wonderfully eclectic glimpse into Hanoi street life, wander through the fascinating network of backstreets, fronted by narrow houses known as “tunnel” or “tube houses”, built to avoid taxes based on the width of their frontage onto the street.
Depart at dawn for a visit to a bustling Long Bien wholesale market which is active starting from 1am. Capture the vibrant scene of buyers and sellers engaging in the exchange of goods. Afterward, visit the historic Long Bien Bridge, built by the French in 1900. Walk along the bridge and capture the colourful view over the Red River and life below. Return to your hotel for a late breakfast. In the afternoon, visit a few of the handicraft villages situated in the Red River Delta including a visit to the famed ceramic-making village of Bat Trang.
A morning flight takes you to elegant Hue, the former imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty. Arrive in time for lunch at the historic garden house of Princess Ngoc Son built in 1921. Meet with a royal descendent who will offer insight into the history and the Feng Shui philosophy of the home’s architecture and design. Continue learning about Hue’s royal past with a short cyclo ride to the Forbidden Purple City where the royal family and seat of government once resided. Inside the Imperial City’s gate, there are ample opportunities to photograph the beautifully faded ancient buildings, ornately decorated pagodas and carefully manicured gardens.
Spend a half day in the ancient village of Phuoc Tich, founded in the 15th century and considered a national relic. Explore the quaint village where ancient houses and gardens remain largely unchanged. Meet with a local villager who specialises in the ancient craft of pottery that is distinct to the village. Afterward, enjoy a family-hosted traditional lunch in their ancient home built in 1880. Return to Hue with a stop at Tu Hieu Pagoda. Built in 1843, it is fine example of an ancient Buddhist pagoda set against a picturesque backdrop. Arrive in time to observe the evening chants before continuing on to a scenic viewpoint to capture the spectacular sunset over the Perfume River.
One of the most-photographed landscapes in Vietnam is the scenic Hai Van Pass. We take a local train from Hue to Danang which passes through local villages and rice paddies before skirting along the mountain pass, hovering directly over the East Sea. On your 103km/64mi journey, you will also have ample opportunities to capture the smiling faces of the local people on board. After arriving at the Danang Train Station, transfer to the former ancient trading port of Hoi An. Surrounded by tributaries and rivers, Hoi An is the perfect place for a boat cruise featuring intimate views of the river life of the fishermen.
Pay an early morning visit to the small yet bustling Hoi An Market to capture the lively and colourful activity of the wet market. The pedestrian section of Hoi An’s Ancient Town is perfect for exploring by foot. Wander the narrow alleyways and absorb the incredibly photogenic townscape with its ochre-coloured shophouses and ornate temples.
Transfer to Danang for your short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive in what was formerly known as ‘Saigon’ and witness the country’s most cosmopolitan city. An orientation tour of the city includes visits to the French colonial-style Old Post Office and City Hall, the Reunification Palace, and the War Remnants Museum for a different perspective of Vietnam’s most recent history. Enjoy an evening dinner and traditional dance performance at the elegant former US Ambassador’s residence.
Depart in the early morning for walking street photography tour. Joined by a locally-based photographer, you will be guided through a section of the city, exploring Saigon’s vibrant local life by walking through hidden alleyways and visiting a park and market. Join the locals for a typical breakfast of noodle soup and ‘ca-phe sua phin’ (drip coffee with condensed milk). Explore Saigon’s vibrant and frenetic nightlife on the backseat of a Vespa as you zip around town on an evening foodie tour.
Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City airport for your onward flight.