For anyone born before 1975, “Vietnam” brings back memories of the war that spanned parts of two decades. In the 40 years since the war ended, Vietnam has enjoyed a remarkable rejuvenation and has emerged as a highly popular travel destination known for its many layers of cultural diversity, a
deliciously complex cuisine, unspoiled natural beauty, and bustling cities with superb restaurants, live music, and five star hotels.
ARRIVAL HANOI, VIETNAM (D)
- Upon arrival at the airport in Hanoi(Noi Bai)you will be met by your private guide and the McKay team and transferred to the hotel for check in.
- The rest of the day is free at your leisure
- In the evening, you will have a welcome dinner in the city.
HOTEL DE L’ OPERA – Five Star
HANOI (B, L,D)
- You will be met at the hotel in the morning by your specialist street food guide and your private vehicle and driver who will take you on a walking tour of Hanoi More than 1000 years old, Hanoi has always had extraordinary charm, in part because of the French colonial influence still evident throughout much of the city.
- Photographers will love the jaw dropping scenery and opportunities to photograph local people at the colorful markets, as well as opportunities to try some fabulous food.
- Drive to the center of Hanoi to start your walking tour. Stroll through the Old Quarter, beyond the old east gate to Thanh Ha market. 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, with many opportunities to sample some local treats along the way. Your guide will explain the routine of Vietnam meal times and the indigenous ingredients as you stroll up ‘food alley’. From here you can visit Hanoi’s main market, Dong Xuan, where you will 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.
- At the end of the tour you can stop at one of the Old Quarter’s busiest (yet smallest) coffee shops for a well-earned rest and coffee.
- In the afternoon,you’ll be head to the picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. This is another wonderful spot for taking photographs It’s also a lively spot for getting great photos of the local people
- The last stop for today is Long Bien Bridge. It is not only famous for being a living historical relic but also for its great architecture designed by French architects from Daydé & Pillé. In the dry season, the alluvial patch below the bridge becomes an exceptionally photogenic spot, with rows of green banana trees and yellow maize.
HOTEL DE L’ OPERA – Five Star
- In the morning, you will travel to the remote, nearly untouched northern mountains to Sapa (5 hr. drive) to explore and photograph ethnic hill tribes, as well as the incredible scenery of idyllic villages and surrounding lush green landscapes. The people who live here are very photogenic as they wear colorful and intricately embroidered, traditional turbans, leggings, and jackets.
- In the afternoon you’ll travel through a beautiful valley, a route chosen because it has less tourist traffic, to visit Sa Seng Sau Chua commune, home to the Hmong peoples, who maintain their traditional lifestyle.
As you drive up Den Thang Mountain there will be several photo stops along the way to capture the beautiful landscapes of Hoang Lien mountain range and Muong Hoa valley, before arriving at their small hamlet over 5000ft high. You can take an easy walk to explore this charming hamlet, then head into the stunning valley of Sa Seng.
The Hmong live traditional houses surrounded by rock walls. You’ll have opportunities to photograph typical village scenes with pot-belly pigs, chickens, water buffaloes, children playing and Hmong women making fiber from hemp spinning, then weaving itto make their traditional costumes.
Hotel Victoria Resort and Spa – Five Star
- After breakfast you will head to a local market (Note: The market visit may be on your arrival day depending on the market day). Here you’ll see a different group, the Flower Hmong, as well asPhu La, Black Dao, Tay, and Nung hill tribes. The market offers a variety of local products, which cannot be found in other areas, and there is an animal market selling pot-bellied pigs,cows and buffalo.
- The tour continues with a short walk to another photogenic hill-tribe village, although this time you will also have the opportunity to visit some local homes to get more up-close and personal photos, and also learn about the daily life of these tribes,as well as their culture and traditions. After the visit you’ll head back to Sapa.
Hotel Victoria Resort and Spa Five Star
- This morning you’ll head back to Hanoi (5hrs). After having lunch you have another drive (3.5 hrs) to Ha Long B ay. You will arrive in Ha Long in later afternoon. This is a long travel day with stops for photographs as needed.
- The morning is free until check in to board your private boat at noon. Ha Long Bay, or the Bay of the Descending Dragon, is easily one of the most popular destinations in the country. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is both mystical and magnificent, an incredible feat of nature that almost never fails to impress. Today, you will have a private boat to travel on the Bay, giving you the freedom to capture the beautiful scenery at your own pace. Towards the end of the day the boat will set anchor for the night as the sun sets followed by dinner. Tonight you will sleep on board the ship, surrounded by the towering limestone rock formations. The day and night in HaLongis for many visitors, the highlight of their trip.
PRIVATE CHARTER BOAT – Overnight
- After getting your great sunrise shots on the sun deck, with a cup of tea or coffee, you’ll have breakfast in the fresh air while your boat heads back to the dock. Upon disembarkation your driver will meet you for the transfer back to Noi Bai Airport to catch your afternoon flight to Danang. Upon arrival in Danang you’ll be transferred to the ancient town of Hoi An.
- Start the day with a visit to the capital and religious center of the former Champa Kingdom, MySon. Here, in a lush green valley, there are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries.
- In the afternoon you’ll enjoy a walking tour of the ancient town center to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market.
ROYAL HOI AN M GALLERY – Five Star
After breakfast you’ll drive through Danang before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and drop down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
In the afternoon you’ll have a tour of Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. You can take great photos here of the tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors. You’ll start at the Imperial Citadel and then visit Khai Dinh’s Tomb, whichis traditionally Vietnamese in design with European touches, making it unique from the other tombs you’ll see.
Morin Hotel – Four Star
- In the morning you will be transferred to the airport for a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
- In the afternoon you will have a 2.5 hour tour of the dynamic city, taking a look at familiar and not-so-familiar landmarks, and learn aboutthe city’s culture, architecture, religious practices and fascinating history.
- The tour includes District 5, Saigon’s own Chinatown, known locally as Cholon. Check out the colorful, surrealistic Cai Dai Temple on the way and take a stroll through the fabric market. Visit the Silversmith Guild Hall before passing by the Francis Xavier Church where the Ngo brothers hid out during the coup against them.
- The last stop is the Chinese Community Spirit House to the goddess Thien Hau, protector of travelers on the sea. This is, without doubt, one of the most striking of its type in Saigon. To fulfill the spirit of one of the exhortations in the Spirit House, guests release finches.
- Before returning to your hotel, you might catch the sunset at the Bitexco tower from the 56th floor, the observation deck, where you are rewarded with a stunning 360 degree view.
Renaissance Hotel – Five Star
- This morning you leave bustling Ho Chi Minh City for a 2.5-hour drive to the delta town of Cai Be. There’s an option to stop enroute to visit Cao Dai temple, with its unusual architecture looking as though it could have come straight from a Walt Disney movie.
On arrival you will board your boat for a cruise of Cai Be floating market. This is a great photo opportunity. Here traders market their goods and live on the river. Then continue to a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Your last stop will be Dong Hoa Hiep Island to photograph the scenery and the daily life of the local villagers.
- Lunch will be local Mekong style serving specialties of the area.