Private Tour of Vietnam
Vietnam : Voyager Tour
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With its wide boulevards, ancient pagodas and tree-lined lakes, Vietnam’s capital is also the country’s most atmospheric and beguiling city. There is an energy and charm here arising from the genteel mix of French colonialism and Asian grace and tradition. Enjoy a showcase of synchronised t’ai chi at Hoan Kiem Lake; stroll around the lively Old Quarter with its narrow streets with traders and hoards of scooters weaving in and out, and don’t miss the chance to see a water puppetry show at the Thang Long Puppet Theatre. Other places to visit include the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Perfume Pagoda temple complex and the Hanoi Opera House in the heart of the French Quarter.
Ha Long Bay
Imagine thousands of soaring forested islands rising out of emerald waters and you have a vision of the breathtaking beauty that is Ha Long Bay. Ha Long (declared a World Heritage Site in 1994) means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ with the legend telling of a massive dragon descending from the mountains, gouging out crevasses and valleys and as it charged towards the coast. Once it settled down, the legend goes the area filled up with water leaving only the pinnacles visible. The best way to to view these wondrous islands and explore their caves is via a boat cruise, with options ranging from luxury (think an opulent Chinese-style junk boat) to budget.
Beguiling and beautiful, the former capital of Vietnam is still revered as a cultural and religious centre, and achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 1993. The city owes its charm in part to its setting on the Perfume River, but more significantly, to its many ancient temples and palaces – all vestiges of the last remaining Vietnamese dynasty, the Nguyen dynasty. The 19th century Hue Citadel, otherwise known as The Imperial City, should be high on your ‘to-see' list (you will need a day to get through the entire complex); while scattered along the riverbank are myriad more shrines and stupa, including the Thien Mu Pagoda with its octagonal tower. Bathe in a number of mineral hot springs, take a boat trip along the river, or take a ‘food tour’ of the superb eateries in town.
This coastal city in central Vietnam was a favourite with American soldiers during the Vietnam-US War, mainly for the R&R opportunities it offered by way of China Beach, located to the southwest. Da Nang is situated on a long thin peninsula and offers about 30km of shoreline - crystal clear lagoon waters on its one side and beach on the other. Naturally there are plenty of water activities on offer, including fishing, water-skiing, diving and yachting, while visitors interested in culture can pop into the Museum of Cham Sculpture, or stroll down the Han Riverfront to see how the city is developing. Day trips to Nui Son Tra (Monkey Mountain), the Ba Na Hills and the five Marble Mountains are must-dos.
Hoi An, on Vietnam’s central coast, is enchanting. This once-bustling port town offers a colourful blend of French, Chinese and Japanese-influenced architecture, canals, bridges and temples, and the lack of noisy traffic (no cars are allowed on the main streets) means you can discover the town in relative peace and quiet. Its waterfront area is alive with boutique hotels, eateries, tailor shops, and art and craft shops. If you have time, try to fit in a visit to the ruins of My Son Sanctuary, an ancient Hindu tower temple complex, get custom-made clothing created by a local tailor and pick up one of the many beautiful locally-made Vietnamese lanterns.
Ho Chi Minh City
The perfect complement to the more serene Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has a pulsating energy that is impossible to resist. Attractions include the bustling Ben Thanh Market, where vendors sell everything from food, sweets and spices to tobacco, souvenirs and clothing - including custom-made suits, and Nha Hang Ngon, where you can taste traditional street food served up from food stalls in a leafy garden. Other notable sites and experiences include the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Jade Emperor Pagoda for its statues and woodcarvings, the War Remnants Museum, and the Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda, said to be the only pure Taoist temple in Vietnam.
Mekong River Delta
The Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam is comprised of a 60,000km long web of interconnected waterways which spans across three Vietnamese provinces. This lush, tropical delta is dominated by Southeast Asia’s mightiest river, the Mekong. The Mekong splits in Cambodia into two main rivers, the Bassac and the First River, then in Vietnam into a more complex system, creating a maze of small canals, rivers and arroyos. Exploring these rivers and their numerous tributaries by boat is an ideal way explore the Mekong Delta at a leisurely pace and provides an opportunity to experience the truly unique Mekong River lifestyle. The area is brimming with small craft villages, Khmer Pagodas, magnificent mangroves, picturesque orchards and some remarkable floating markets.