ITINERARY BY DAY
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL TO HO CHI MINH CITY
Welcome to Vietnam! On arrival to Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City be greeted by the guide and driver and transfer to the hotel.
Freshen and relax at the hotel, then enjoy dinner at Park Hyatt.
Overnight at the Park Hyatt.
NB: Additional activities can be arranged depending on arrival time.
DAY 2 – HO CHI MINH CITY
Experience the dynamic energy of Ho Chi Minh City on a memorable tour of its highlights. Still known as ‘Saigon’ by locals, the city is culturally distinct from the rest of the country.
There are many ways to explore this bustling city. None are as exhilarating as on the back of a Vespa scooter, though! Ride around with a professional driver while touring around the city. Along the way, stop at some of its most famous attractions in the city. highlights along the way.
Before departing on the tour, meet with the guide and enjoy a lunch of local Vietnamese food.
From there, head to the monument of Thich Quang Duc, the site of a tragic immolation by a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk which turned out to be one of the most memorable events during the Vietnam War.
Then take a quick stop at the colourful Ho Thi Ky flower Market before riding to a funeral home, an unexpectedly fascinating place to learn about Vietnamese ceremonies & customs.
Then roll through Chinatown to Nhi Phu Temple, built at the end of 17th century by immigrants from southern China. Although the exact construction date is unknown, an inscription on the pagoda’s ancient bell dates the pagoda to pre-1765.
Then hop on the Vespa again and head to District 1 for a visit to a Chinese medicine shop to learn about thuốc bắc, medicine from herbs or thuốc tàu, medicine from China.
After leaving Chinatown, drive to District 2 for a look at downtown Saigon from a different perspective: it’s modern side.
Visit a local market before heading back to District 1 for a look at two neighboring landmarks: the Post Office, which is famed for its colonial architecture, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which is famous for the same reason.
Then head to the remarkable Reunification Palace and the previous CIA Office before a drive down Dong Khoi Street (it means “people’s revolution”). Pass by the historic Opera House (now the Municipal Theatre) before enjoying a delicious lunch at one of the best restaurants in Saigon, Monsoon. Here, enjoy a wide array of specialties from around Indochina.
In the afternoon step off the beaten track and take a stroll to the oldest quarter of the city (car at disposal if needed). Explore Saigon’s well-kept secret – Antiques Street (Le Cong Kieu). Here, genuine antiques are mixed in with surprisingly well-made and cheap fakes: Aladdin oil lamps, carved wooden chests, Marelli copper fans, opium pipes, abacuses, etc. There is also a wide assortment of military cast-offs from the Vietnam War. Those who look hard enough can even find relics from the French Indochina era. Follow a typical street to reach the Beaux-Arts Museum, a superb neo-colonial building home to various modern arts. Explore the art galleries surrounding the museum, where local artists proudly display their talent.
After a memorable tour of the city, head back to the hotel. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
Overnight at the Park Hyatt.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch included. Dinner at own expense.
DAY 3 – HO CHI MINH CITY – CU CHI TUNNELS – DANANG – HOI AN
After breakfast in the morning, get a first-hand look at the Vietnam-American war history with a half-day morning tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Travel 1.5-hours northwest of Ho Chi Minh City and be led through the jungle while the guide explains the history of the war, the ingenuity of the Cu Chi residents and the daily activities of the people. Then have a chance to crawl through the tunnels and look at some relics of the war before returning to the city.
Enjoy a delicious Vietnamese lunch at Hoa Tuc, located in a famous courtyard of a previous Opium Factory.
After lunch, continue to Tan Son Nhat Airport for a 40-minute flight to Danang.Upon arrival be welcomed by the guide head on a scenic 30-minute drive to the ancient coastal town of Hoi An.
Freshen at the hotel before going on a walking tour to discover Hoi An’s historic charm. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday. A walking tour is the best way to see this marvellous and atmospheric town.
After checking out some of the town’s highlights and learning about its history, enjoy dinner at Mango Rooms, one of Hoi An’s best restaurants which serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. With a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations and a relaxing atmosphere this eatery has won the heart of many loyal and happy customers.
Then, be immersed in the romantic atmosphere of the old town as thousands of lanterns along the river are lit. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight at The Nam Hai Resort Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast on board. Lunch included. Dinner Included
DAY 4 – HOI AN STREET FOOD TOUR – FREE DAY
This morning, embark on an unique street food tasting tour. This is the perfect opportunity to experience Hoi An through its food. Visit a local market well off the tourist map then sit down to sample an astounding 36 local delicacies bought directly from the vendors. Nearly all dishes can only be found in Hoi An or Central Vietnam.
Then head to a colourful and friendly ‘wet market’ for a chance to meet and chat with stall operators and learn about the huge choice of ingredients on sale. Everything from silk worms to exotic fish can be found.
The final destination of the day is a comfortable restaurant where another tasting session takes place. Here, a wide selection of local delicacies will be tried. Learn the names and meanings of different local foods and ingredients as well as how they should be eaten. This tasting session provides a deeper understanding of Vietnamese cuisine and allows for the sampling of a huge variety of local foods with the added benefit that proceeds from the tour go directly back into the community.
After filling up on both local cuisine and travel experiences, the rest of the day is free to spend at leisure. Wander around the historic Ancient Town, visit one of the nearby beaches, or simply kick back and relax.
Overnight at the Nam Hai Resort Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast at the hotel. Lunch included. Dinner at own expense.
DAY 5 – HOI AN – HUE
Leave Hoi An after lunch (plenty of time to pick up those handmade items) for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Along the way, stop in the city of Danang to visit the Cham Museum. Learn about this fascinating culture before continuing on the journey. One of the highlights of the trip will be along the way: crossing the Hai Van Pass. This scenic mountain road is hailed as one of the most beautiful in all of Vietnam.
Arrive in Hue shortly after and check into a historic hotel.
After freshening up, head out for dinner at one of Hue’s beautiful garden houses known locally as ‘nha vuon’. These houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in large and attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court and the house’s traditional architecture has long been associated with the natural environment and the ancient tradition of ‘feng-shui’.
Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight at La Residence Hotel & Spa in Hue.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch independent. Dinner Included.
DAY 6 – HUE
After breakfast in the morning, be picked up from hotel by cyclo and head to dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax; full of lotus flowers in summer there are many local-style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study.
Continue by cyclo to Tay Loc Market which is located in the northwest part dai noi. This market is mostly for locals and is rarely visited by tourists.
From Tay Loc, transfer by to a beautiful pagoda which dates back to 1843. What is most interesting at the pagoda are the eunuch tombs from the former Royal Court which are only found here. If in Hue on Thursday or Sunday mornings between 09:00-10:00 watch a gathering of up to 20 Buddhist monks and nuns to pray and read scriptures. It’s a fascinating time, and highly recommended.
Then visit Ho Quyen, which was an arena where duels between elephants and tigers were fought for the entertainment of former Kings. The last fight was held here in 1904 and, although small, it’s still possible to climb the nearby ramparts and gaze down upon the area where the animals once fought.
At the end of the tour, visit the recently restored An Dinh Palace where magnificent murals can be seen, as well as the stunning façade where oriental and European designs are integrated.
Enjoy lunch in Hue at one of the city’s most renowned restaurants, Ancient Hue.
In the afternoon see the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang, which is located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds.
At the end of the afternoon, head back to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight at La Residence Hotel & Spa.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Lunch at Ancient Hue restaurant. Dinner at own expense.
DAY 7 – HUE – HANOI
After breakfast, be transferred to the airport for a Hanoi-bound flight. Upon arrival in Hanoi be met by the local guide and transferred to the hotel for check in before meeting a specialist street food guide and driver.
Continue to the centre of Hanoi, where the tour be mostly conducted on foot -so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
The expert guide today is a a local hospitality industry insider and food blogger with an enormous passion for Vietnamese cuisine, and a large following both in Vietnam and internationally. He has been creating awareness for locally-known street food dishes and creating cultural adventures since 2005, making him a genuine local authority on Hanoi’s food scene.
Stroll through Old Quarter, past the old east gate to Thanh Ha Market. Along the way, enjoy delicacies, strange food items and an explanation of Vietnamese food practices. This busy, eclectic market is alive with the sights and sounds of Hanoi and is the essence of Vietnamese culture.
Continue through the streets of the Old Quarter to Dong Xuan Market to sample some local treats such as pho tiu and bun dau. The guide will explain the routine of Vietnam meal times and indigenous/unusual ingredients eaten. Stroll up ‘food alley’ to see other dishes on offer.
From here visit the food sections of Hanoi’s main market, Dong Xuan. Here, see dried goods and aromatics -the essentials of Vietnamese cuisine.
Walk down to Hang Than Street to view ceremonial cake stalls and taste a special French-influenced dessert. An explanation on traditions and food gifts for celebrations will be given. Continue back into the Old Quarter to check out specially-treated fruit which are common snacks in Vietnam. Walk along Phung Hung Street through temporary market stalls and see the changing market scene in Hanoi and how modernisation is shaping tradition. At the end of the tour stop at one of the Old Quarter’s busiest (yet smallest) coffee shops for a well-earned sit down and coffee before transferring back to the hotel.
The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel. Street Lunch included. Dinner Independent
DAY 8 – HANOI – HA LONG BAY
Following breakfast, leave Hanoi for a four-hour drive through scenic countryside to Halong Bay.
Arrive at the jetty in Halong City for check-in formalities. Afterwards, be welcomed on a luxurious junk boat and enjoy lunch as the boat sets off into the legendary surroundings. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or relax onboard the boat while soaking up the incredibly scenic landscape that drifts by. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night. Enjoy dinner onboard before being lulled to sleep by the gentle swaying of the boat.
Overnight aboard on Paradise Peak.
DAY 9 – HA LONG BAY – YANGON
Rise to the sound of the sea gently lapping at the boat and bask in the incredible scenery of Halong Bay. Enjoy breakfast as the boat cruises back to Halong City, winding through incredible jungle-clad limestone rock formations along the way.
After reaching the jetty, meet with the driver and receive a private transfer to the airport in Hanoi for a flight to Yangon, Myanmar.
On arrival at the Yangon airport, be welcomed the tour guide and be assisted through immigration procedures. From the airport, transfer to hotel for check in and a chance to freshen up and relax.
Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening at The Strand, one of Yangon’s most acclaimed dining spots.
Overnight at The Strand.
DAY 10 – YANGON
Enjoy breakfast at the Hotel before beginning a day of sightseeing around Yangon.
Meet with the guide and driver at the hotel and head downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and cultural sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings, many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. Start at the Post Office, a lovely historic building, and walk to Sule Paya in the middle of downtown, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit Little India and Chinatown, a colourful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant where delicious Burmese cuisine is served in a clean, comfortable environment.
After lunch, visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-metre-long reclining Buddha. A visit to Kyaukhtatgyi provides a great overview of Buddhism with murals depicting the life of Buddha.
Continue to a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life: drinking tea! Select from an array of snacks and enjoy a coffee or tea while sitting amid businessmen, friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialize or conduct business.
Next the guided tour goes to Kandawagyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots. Here there’s a glittering Karaweik Barge, a replica of the former royal barge, and the vast lake with views of Shwedagon Pagoda in the background. Depending on the day of the visit, Kandawgyi may be busy with local families who come here on the weekend to relax in the fresh air.
From here, continue to Shwedagon Pagoda the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, local legend states that the original structure was built 2,500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The 8-sided central stupa is 99-metres-tall, gilded with gold leaf and is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Follow the guide around the massive complex and learn why the temple is so revered among locals.
Dinner this evening is at House of Memories Restaurant, an old colonial-style mansion with a fascinating history set in a beautiful garden. After dinner, wander through the house of the restaurant to see historic artefacts.
Afterwards, head back to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight The Strand
DAY 11 – YANGON – HEHO – INLE LAKE
After breakfast in the morning, transfer to Yangon Airport for a flight to Heho. Upon arrival, enjoy a one-hour scenic drive to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to the lovely Inle Lake.
Receive a private local motorbike ride to a luxurious hotel on the lake for check-in. Along the way, pass stilted villages, leg-rowing Intha fishermen and floating gardens anchored to the lake’s bottom with bamboo poles.
Check in to the hotel, a resort nestled near the lake’s shores. The stilted bungalows of the hotel offer spectacular views from their balconies.
After freshening up, hop on a private boat and head out onto the lake for a visit to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary. After checking the place out, head back to the hotel.
If there is time, stop for a coffee break (client’s account) at Inthar Heritage House. Not only are the cakes and coffees delicious, but the house also has a superb display of information about traditional Inthar culture and history.
Return to the hotel in time for sunset. This evening enjoy a traditional Shan-Style dinner served on lacquer plates at the hotel.
Overnight on Inle Lake
DAY 12 – INLE LAKE – INDEIN – INLE LAKE
Option: Wake up early, and visit the lake’s morning market on the way to Indein. The market rotates location on a 5-day basis and is a colourful spectacle with vendors gathering from the villages around the lake to buy and sell their wares.
Enjoy a relaxing boat trip along a small canal to the Pa-oh village of Indein. Explore the area on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school, and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. Alaung Sitthou is filled with picturesque ancient stupas and has magnificent views of the lake below.
Lunch today is a highlight of many people’s visit to Inle Lake. Stop at a village for a private lunch at an Intha house. Enjoy traditional Inthar dishes while sitting on cushions around a low table, a unique chance to learn about and experience traditional Intha culture firsthand.
Then visit the lake’s villages to learn about the cottage industries. Visit the weaving village of Inpawkhone where beautiful textiles are produced from silk and lotus roots. Continue to a cheroot factory where typical Burmese cigars are made by hand.
Return by boat to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon at the hotel.
In this evening, enjoy dinner at the Hotel.
Overnight on Inle Lake
DAY 13 – INLE LAKE – NYAUNGSHWE – HEHO – BAGAN
After a leisurely breakfast, check out of the hotel and transfer by boat to the town of Nyaung Shwe. Visit the local monasteries and nunneries as well as a colourful morning market where dozens of stalls are set up selling flowers, produce and other goods.
Enjoy lunch at Viewpoint Restaurant, widely regarded as having the best Shan food in Myanmar.
Then transfer to Heho Airport for the flight to Bagan. Upon arrival in Bagan transfer to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight in Bagan
DAY 14 – BAGAN
Begin today with a visit to the Nyaung Oo Market where dozens of vendors come to sell their fresh produce and products. The market is at its busiest early in the morning as the locals come to do their shopping. This is a great opportunity to observe the daily lifestyle of the friendly locals. Then continue to the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of later Myanmar stupas.
Next, visit Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas mural paintings. Continue to the elegant Htilominlo Temple, noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
Take a break midday to escape the heat and enjoy lunch at leisure.
This afternoon visit the New Bagan area and one of its many lacquer-ware workshops. Here, observe the traditional technique of making these handcrafted products from start to finish. The process takes incredible skill and patience and Bagan’s craftsmen are renowned for their fantastic lacquer products.
As today comes to a close, travel to the boat jetty and embark on a sunset cruise. Enjoy a cocktail and a stunning view of Bagan while cruising along the Irrawaddy River.
The remainder of this evening is at leisure.
Overnight in Bagan
DAY 15 – BAGAN – YANGON
This morning, continue Bagan sightseeing with a visit to Ananda temple, a masterpiece of early Burmese architecture. Nearby, Ananda Okkyaung is one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan period.
Travel by horse carriage among the temples starting at Ananda and pass dozens of monuments. Stop at will to take photos or explore hidden temples. The slower pace of the horse and cart is a relaxing way to see the wonders of Bagan from a different perspective.
After lunch at leisure, be transferred to the airport for a flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel.
This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner. The elegant Le Planteur Restaurant serves a variety of French and Asian cuisines, freshly prepared by top chefs.
Overnight in Yangon.
DAY 16 – YANGON DEPARTURE
This morning head to Bogyoke Market, also referred to as Scott Market, for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets. Browse the aisles of handmade goods, looking for the perfect souvenir of your Myanmar holiday. (note: Closed on Mondays and public holidays)
The remainder of today is at leisure for additional sight-seeing or shopping before transferring to the airport for the onward flight.
For those with more time we recommend joining one of our exclusive day trips to further explore the wonders of Yangon. Below are just a few ideas worth asking the travel consultants for more details about.
Art and Antiques Tour: This full-day tour reveals the city’s rich history through its art and antiques. Visit several antiques shops tucked away in a residential neighbourhood where the goods echo the years past. Dine at a 100-year old colonial house filled with furniture and remnants of General Aung San’s revolutionary period and spend the afternoon exploring the city’s art galleries.
Yangon for Foodies: Get a taste for Burmese food and culture with our half-day guided ‘Yangon for Foodies’ tour. Visit some of the city’s best fresh markets, sample tasty treats, sip a cuppa with the locals in a tea shop and enjoy a traditional curry lunch. From the sweet (fried donuts) to the strange (fermented tea leaf salad), get to try it all! (Lunch included)