2011 Vietnam


January 8 Early arrival Hanoi
MH 752, 13:10, Laurence Barker, (Transfer by car)
CX 6727, 19:05 Emily Davidson, Linda Hacker, Margaret Cowden, Chris Larkin, Maxine Phillips, Julie Schwartzberg, Bonnie Genevich (Transfer: 16 seat bus)
Arrive Hanoi International Airport, where we will be picked up and transferred  to the Flower Garden Hotel +84 043 7152688.
Day 1 Sun January 09: Main Group Arrival Hanoi
For Early Arrivals: Breakfast at hotel. Afternoon Water Puppet Show.
VN 919, 17:30, 
Charles Lewis (Transfer by car)
Asiana 733. 22:10, John Armstrong; JAL 751, 22:20, Gail Jarratt (Transfer: wait for the arrival of the next group)
CZ 371, 23:15, Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins, Evelyn Rogers, Carrol Smith, Gretchen Quinn (Transfer: 16 seat bus)
Arrive Hanoi International Airport, where we will be picked up and transferred  to the Flower Garden Hotel +84 043 7152688.
No tour meal since most everyone will arrive after dinner time. There is a restaurant in the hotel if you arrive hungry. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2 Mon January 10: Recovery.
Breakfast at hotel (every morning). Morning free since you will undoubtedly be exhausted after the long flight. Depart hotel in afternoon for 1/2 day city tour: HOAN KIEM LAKE, located in the heart of  Hanoi, which contain an islet with the tiny TORTOISE PAGODA. By PEDICAB RIDE (one hour), visit the OLD QUARTER of Hanoi. It is also called “36 streets,” most of which are named after the crafts or merchandise traditionally sold there. If time permits, we will take some time for some shopping. Return to hotel, dinner, rest of the evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Buffet Dinner at Brother Cafe Hanoi Restaurant
Overnight in Hanoi Flower Garden Hotel
Day 3 Tuesday January 11: Tour of Hanoi.

Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks, is the capital of Vietnam. It is a very attractive city with French style buildings and less traffic than other cities in Asia. ONE PILLAR PAGODA: built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. Constructed of wood on a single stone pillar, it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom. TEMPLE OF LITERATURE: a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, this monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. In one courtyard, giant stone tortoises bear stele on their backs, listing the accomplishments of graduating scholars. HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: This commanding stone monument houses the embalmed remains of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnams national hero and is a pilgrimage site for many Vietnamese. Visitors file silently past his glass tomb to pay their respects. HO CHI MINH’S STILT HOUSE: Near the Mausoleum is the two room stilt house where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1948 until his final days. Visitors also pass the simple three-room bungalow where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked from 1954-8, which has been preserved in the same condition and may be viewed through the windows. After lunch at Vietnamese restaurant, Afternoon, visit: FINE ART MUSEUM,which is located just opposite the Temple of Literature and exhibits approximately 10.000 art works in 16 showrooms from Primitive Eras, Feudalism (11th-18th centuries), modern fine art to folk printing. Return to hotel, evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Wild Rice Restaurant)
Overnight Hanoi- Flower Garden Hotel
Day 4 Wed 12 Jan: Tour of Hanoi
Morning visit: HISTORY MUSEUM, which is housed in an elegant building from the 1930s, which used to be the museum of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme Orient; and includes exhibits spanning the entirety of Vietnam’s history including prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilizations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc-Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms. Then visit the MUSEUM OF ETHNOLOGY which brings to life the astonishing ethnic diversity in Vietnam, with art and artifacts from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country. Inside the museum are detailed descriptions of minority groups, with examples of their traditional clothing and way of life. Outside are faithful reconstructions of traditional longhouses, cemeteries and other distinctive ethnic buildings. Visit OPERA HOUSE and ST JOSEPH’S CATHEDRAL.Lunch at Vietnamese restaurant. Free afternoon.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch (Viet kitchen Spring Restaurant)
Overnight Hanoi- Flower Garden Hotel
Day 5 Thurs 13 Jan: Drive to Halong Bay and board Junk for cruise on Halong Bay 
Breakfast at hotel. Drive east about 3 hours to Halong Bay and board the Bai Tho Junk , a traditional Vietnamese junk, for an overnight cruise. These traditionally built junks have facilities of the highest standard, which include double cabins with bathrooms, a spacious dining room serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine, plus a large sun deck area. The first day’s itinerary passes Dinh Huong island, Ga Choi Island, Sung Sot cave, before stopping at Titov beach for a swim. Dinner is served on the boat as the sun sets.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (on board)
Overnight on Junk-  Bai Tho Junk
Day 6 Fri 14 Jan: Disembark Junk, and return to Hanoi for flight to Hue
Enjoy breakfast on board, while continuing to cruise around the waters of the bays, visiting MAN’S HEAD ISLAND, TORTOISE ISLAND and LUON CAVE. Return to the pier just before noon and disembark. Drive directly to Hanoi Airport where we’ will catch flight to Hue (VN247 20:00/21:10). Upon arrival, we will be transferred to our hotel for check in.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner (Vietnamese Restaurant)
Overnight in Hue-Celadon Palace Hotel, (+84-54) 3832 8888
Day 7 Sat 15 Jan: Tour of Hue
After breakfast at the hotel, take a tour of Hue- the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years.It was established in the 17th century. Visit the IMPERIAL CITY- this is in the Citadel and was built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City in Peking. There are numerous palaces and temples within these walls, as well as towers, a library and a museum; NGO MON GATE- this is the principal entrance to the Imperial Enclosure and faces the Flag Tower. The central passageway with its yellow doors was reserved for use by the emperor, as was the bridge across the lotus pond; THAI HOA PALACE- built in 1803 and moved to its present site in 1833, Thai Hoa Palace is a spacious hall with an ornate roof of huge timbers supported by 80 carved and lacquered columns; HALLS OF THE MANDARINS- these buildings, in which the mandarins prepared for court ceremonies, held in Can Chanh Reception Hall, were restored in 1977. NINE DYNASTIC URNS- these were cast in 1835-36. Traditional ornamentation was then chiseled into the sides of the urns, each dedicated to a different Nguyen sovereign; FORBIDDEN PURPLE CITY- this was reserved for the personal use of the emperor. The only servants allowed into the compound were eunuchs, who would pose no threat to the royal concubines; TU DUC TOMB: Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled Hue more than 100 years ago, built his tomb when he was still alive and used it for meditation, reading and theater performances. There are pavilions in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The tomb was constructed between 1864 and 1867. Tu Duc, who was the longest reigning Emperor, lived a luxurious life. Return to hotel, evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Royal Park Restaurant)
Overnight in Hue- Celadon Palace Hotel.
Day 8 Sun 16 Jan: Hue to Hoi An via Hai Van Pass and Danang
After breakfast and checking out of hotel, enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the PERFUME RIVER, stopping first at THIEN MU PAGODA, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue’s most widely recognizable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the IMPERIAL TOMB OF MINH MANG, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. After the boat ride, we will drive from Hue to Hoi An, over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Halfway between Danang and Hue lies the dramatic HAI VAN PASS, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam. Continue southwards passing LANG CO, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea. Continue south to Hoi An, stopping en route to visit the MARBLE MOUNTAINS: consist of 5 stone hillocks, once islands, made of marble. Each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. Lunch will be at Lang Co Beach Resort restaurant. Finish the drive to Hoi An, known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Check into hotel. Evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Lang Co Beach Resort)
Overnight in Hoi An-Swiss Belhotel Golden Sand Resort and Spa 84-510) 3 927 555
Day 9 Mon 17 Jan: Hoi An
Morning walking tour will include visits to a PRIVATE HOUSE, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the FAMILY CHAPELS built by prominent merchant or official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical CHINESE-STYLE PAGODA or ASSEMBLY HALL. Continue to SA HUYNH MUSEUM, located near the Japanese Covered Bridge, it contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An’s history. Visit a handicraft workshop in Hoi An where local products are being made by the industry itself. Finally, continue to the famous JAPANESE COVERED BRIDGE PAGODA, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. In the afternoon, board a local boat and cruise down the THU BON RIVER, enjoying the unspoiled countryside and stopping to visit a POTTERY VILLAGE and a WOODCARVING VILLAGE before returning to Hoi An harbour. Evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant
Overnight in Hoi An- Swiss Belhotel Golden Sand Resort and Spa
Day 10 Tues 18 Jan: Hoi An to Da Lat
Early morning, transfer to Da Nang Airport for flight to Cam Ranh (VN353 10:20/11:45). Upon arrival, we will drive about 3 hours to Dalat. DALAT is a charming former colonial hill station with an abundance of colorful parks, lakes, gardens and waterfalls. Its ever temperate climate has earned it the name and City of Eternal Spring.  Lunch at local restaurant. Check into hotel and take a short rest. In the afternoon, take a walking tour of Dalat. We will begin at XUAN HUONG LAKE, located in the heart of Dalat and a pleasant place for a stroll then stroll around the FRENCH DISTRICT, whose atmosphere is reminiscent of a Provencal town in France and visit the DALAT CATHEDRAL. Finally, visit the FLOWER GARDEN, with a profusion of colorful blooms, including flowers rarely seen elsewhere in Vietnam. Evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Local restaurant)
Overnight in Dalat-Ngoc Lan Hotel +84 63 838 838
Day 11 Wed 19 Jan : Tour to Lat Village and Lang Bian Mtn
Morning, travel outside the town to LAT VILLAGE, a group of nine villages located at the base of LANG BIAN MOUNTAIN. Five of the villages are of the LAT ethnic group, while the other four are Chill, Ma and Koho. Lunch at Vietnamese restaurant. Back to Dalat in late afternoon. Visit HANG NGA ART GALLERY, nicknamed the CRAZY HOUSE by locals. Evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch at local restaurant.
Overnight in Dalat-Ngoc Lan Hotel
Day 12 Thurs 20 Jan: Dalat- Saigon
After early breakfast, transfer to the Airport to take flight to Saigon (VN465 08:40/09:30). Upon arrival in Saigon, visit REUNIFICATION PALACE. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions . We will then drive to the historic center to visit EMPEROR OF JADE PAGODA, and drive by the CENTRAL POST OFFICE, the ornate CITY HALL (HOTEL DE VILLE), and the old OPERA HOUSE. We will end up at the central BEN THANH MARKET, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste. Check into hotel, evening free.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch (Blue Ginger Restaurant)
Overnight in Saigon –Rex – 84.8 38292185
Day 13 Fri 21 Jan:  Saigon- Mytho- Saigon
After breakfast at hotel, leave for excursion to My Tho, a bustling town in the rich agricultural region of the Mekong Delta. We will first visit the VINH TRANG PAGODA, a beautiful temple and a sanctuary for orphans and other needy children. Afterwards we will board a local boat to explore the MEKONG RIVER ISLANDS, stopping at a fruit orchard to enjoy fruit and tea while listening to local music and THOI SON islet. The trip also includes a brief sampan ride through the tiny waterways that thread the island. Return to Saigon in the late afternoon, evening free.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch at local restaurant.
Overnight in Saigon Rex
Day 14 Sat 22 Jan: Saigon departure & day in Saigon for those flying out on Sunday
Breakfast at hotel. Return flights:.
CS 766, 11:40: Emily Davidson, Linda Hacker, Margaret Cowden, Chris Larkin, Maxine Phillips,Julie Schwartzberg, Bonnie Genevich (Transfer: 16 seat bus)
MH 767, 18:55: Laurence Barker (Transfer by car)
Asiana 732, 23:50: John Armstrong; JAL 750, 23:55: Gail Jarratt (Transfer by car)
(Meal: Breakfast) Essentially a free day for those of you staying on. Undoubtedly our guide will have had some suggestions for us. Overnight in Saigon–Rex.
Meal: Breakfast at hotel.
Day 15 Sun 23 Jan: Second Saigon departure day
VN 952, 05:55: 
Charles Lewis (Transfer by car)
CZ 374, 15:10: 
Dale Fleishman & Ron Jenkins, Carrol Smith, Gretchen Quinn, Evelyn Rogers (Transfer: 16 seat bus)
End of tour