Friday, May 27, 2016
9:58 PM 0 comments
See the highlights of southern Vietnam during three days, including Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta and the Cu Chi Tunnels. You’ll arrange your own overnight accommodation in the former Saigon, but during the day you’ll benefit from the knowledge of a private local guide who accompanies you to notable city landmarks like the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. Ride a boat to an island on the Mekong River from My Tho and visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, then finish with a trip to the underground war tunnels. Round-trip hotel or airport transport by private vehicle and three lunches are included.
Meet your friendly guide upon hotel or airport pickup and set out on your private tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Travel in the comfort of an air-conditioned car or minivan to Chinatown (Cho Lon) to visit the district’s top attractions, including Quan Am Pagoda and Thien Hau Temple, before descending on Binh Tay Market and numerous tea-houses in search of specialty goods.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and spend your afternoon with a sightseeing itinerary that hits major landmarks in the southern capital, once called Saigon. Peruse the popular exhibits at the War Remnants Museum (formerly the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes) to learn about the impact of the Vietnam War on local inhabitants.
Afterward, drive to the Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) and discover the history of this former presidential residence up until the Fall of Saigon, which ended the war.
If time permits, make quick photo stops at Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, two architectural gems built by the French on Saigon Paris Square in the late 19th century.
Then test your bargaining skills (with help from your guide) at Ben Thanh Market, the city’s lively central market. Marvel at the array of foods, textiles, cosmetics and other goods that are neatly divided among various sections.
Your evening is free for you to spend at your leisure.
After pickup from your hotel in the morning, you’re taken on a 2-hour drive to My Tho, a prosperous town in the Mekong Delta that’s known for its extensive orchards and immense rice fields.
Visit Vinh Trang Pagoda, a not-to-be-missed sanctuary teeming with flowers, shrubs and lotus pools among gorgeous gardens. After crossing a river bridge, walk with your guide through the intricately designed gate and stroll around the complex, where towering Buddha statues stand or sit amid the extensive grounds. Admire the decorative motifs of the structures made with mosaic tiles and carved and gilded wood, and perhaps meet some of the monks who maintain the peaceful temple.
Then embark on a boat ride on the mighty Mekong River, enjoying lunch en route to an island, where you’ll visit a fruit orchard and learn about regional produce.
Your day trip ends with return to Ho Chi Minh City and drop-off at your hotel.
Meet your guide at your hotel in the morning for a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing complex of underground tunnels used by guerrilla fighters during the Vietnam War.
After the comfortable drive, your subterranean exploration begins with a short film documenting the role of the tunnels as a strategic military base by the Viet Cong. The vast underground network that once connected villages and housed living quarters, hospitals, conference rooms and kitchens is today preserved as a memorial park.
Descend with your guide into a narrow passageway to explore a section of the labyrinth open to tourists, and get a picture of what life was like below ground during wartime.
After you walk back to your private car from the forest, return to the city for lunch at a local restaurant, followed by free time for your own activities before you’re transferred to your hotel or the airport.
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Airport pickup (upon request)
Transport by air-conditioned vehicle
Food and drinks, unless specified
Thursday, November 26, 2015
7:15 AM 0 comments
The private tour to Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai is a great day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Visit Tay Ninh, home of the unique Cao Dai sect which is a mix of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. After lunch, visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing underground labyrinth from which the Vietnamese fought during the American/Vietnam war.
The private tour begins with a visit to Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border, home to the unique Cao Dai sect, whose patron saints include Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo and Winston Churchill to name a few. The religion is an odd mix of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. The trip to Tay Ninh is combined with a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border and was three levels deep. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life in the war must have been like.
The tour includes a local Vietnamese lunch.
7:12 AM 0 comments
Travel to the heart of the Mekong Delta on this small group adventure tour from Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll board a private long-tail boat, experience the diversity of the Mekong waterways first hand as you explore fish farms, exotic fruit farms and dine on traditional Mekong Delta food.
Travel to the city of My Tho, a 2.5 hour journey, by air-conditioned mini-coach. A former naval base, My Tho is now a bustling port city in the Mekong Delta. The area is the final destination of the Mekong River which winds its way from Tibet, China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and finally Vietnam. An incredibly fertile region its prime industry is food production, producing approximately half of Vietnam’s total agricultural output. Life for villagers in the area revolves around the rivers and canals that make up the delta, people are more likely to transport by river than by road.
Upon arrival into My Tho boat pier you’ll board a private boat for a cruise on the Mekong River. On the boat ride your local guide will take you to visit an island with lush tropical gardens where you’ll have a chance to sample tropical fruit. You’ll continue to another island in the Mekong Delta, you’ll learn more about another cottage industry, coconut candy. Your local guide will take you to a coconut candy factory and explain the process of making this sweet. You’ll have a chance to visit local villages in the area and learn more about the traditional lifestyles, culture and customs of people who call the Delta their home. Continue by Xe Loi (motorized cart) to a bee farm where you’ll transfer to a smaller rowing boat allowing you to get deeper into the smaller canals of the Delta.
Sample the local Mekong cuisine at the Diem Phuong Restaurant where lunch is served. After lunch you’ll return to My Tho for the journey back to Ho Chi Minh City.
7:10 AM 1 comment
Visit top attractions of Ho Chi Minh City on this half-day private sightseeing tour of Vietnam’s largest city. Choose a different itinerary depending on your selection (morning or afternoon tour). With a professional guide you’ll discover historical sites, cultural centers, museums and markets of Chinatown (Cholon) or the French Quarter. Travel by private car and get oriented to the city formerly known as Saigon! Round-trip hotel transport and a Vietnamese meal are included.
Opt 1: Chinatown: Binh Tay Market, Thien Hau Temple and War Remnants Museum
After hotel pickup, your private guide will take you to District 5 to immerse you in the bustling life of Chinatown. Experience the vibrant rhythm of one of Ho Chi Minh City’s busiest and most colorful areas — Binh Tay Market. At this major hub for local merchants, watch Vietnamese farmers barter for goods.
Next is Thien Hau Temple, built in the early 19th century. The temple is dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of seafarers, for her protection during Chinese migration to Vietnam. Visit the pagoda’s shrines and shops in the center of Chinatown, where the Hoa (Chinese minority) reside.
The last stop on your private tour is the War Remnants Museum, which relates to the American phase of the Vietnam War. See displays of old military equipment and other related objects as well as larger exhibits including an F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter.
After lunch, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel by private vehicle.
Opt 2: French Quarter: Reunification Palace, Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Central Post Office and Ben Thanh Market
After hotel pickup, your private tour begins at the century-old Reunification Palace, which witnessed the growth of Ho Chi Minh City during peacetime and throughout the Vietnam War until its end in 1975.
Continue to the nearby French colonial area, including a stop at the impressive Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, a famous cathedral located in Paris Square. Discover the magnificent neo-Romanesque architecture as you take in the tranquil atmosphere inside.
At the opposite is Central Post Office, one of the oldest buildings in Ho Chi Minh City, learn about this significant landmark — the busiest post office in Vietnam. Admire the neoclassical-style of the post office interior as your guide points out the painted maps of former Saigon, once the capital of South Vietnam.
Take a look at the embroidery workshop of XQ Vietnam Company before a visit to Ben Thanh Market, a lively market in District 1, where your guide can help you barter for goods.
After dinner, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel by private vehicle in the early evening.
7:07 AM 0 comments
Take a scenic journey by luxury speedboat to the mangrove forests of the UNESCO-listed Can Gio Biosphere Reserve. This full-day eco-adventure takes you from Ho Chi Minh City past canals of the Mekong Delta, stopping at a lively riverside market. You’ll explore Giant Bat Lagoon by rowboat, visit a crocodile reserve, trek through mangrove jungle, observe gibbons and monkeys, and enjoy bird watching with a knowledgeable guide. A chef serves a traditional Vietnamese lunch. Numbers are limited to 14 people, ensuring an informative experience with a small group.
Once the target of chemical warfare and now resplendent with acres of mangrove forest, the UNESCO-designated Can Gio Biosphere Reserve, located south of Ho Chi Minh City, is teeming with wildlife and biodiversity.
After meeting your guide in your hotel lobby, you’re transferred to Ho Chi Minh City’s central pier in the morning. Then depart by luxury speedboat for the lush, green tributaries of the Mekong Delta. A light breakfast of pastries or sandwiches, tropical fruit and Vietnamese coffee is served on board as you relax in spacious comfort during the approx. 2-hour journey into Can Gio.
En route, your small-group tour visits the bustling Can Giuoc Market, which provides great photo of a traditional riverside market scene where you can sample the local produce. After you depart, the slow-paced agricultural world of the Mekong Delta begins to give way.
Cruise past a tapestry of green paddy fields, tropical fruit trees and water palms and move into a landscape of mangrove trees looming overhead. Once inside the reserve, listen as your guide discusses one of Vietnam’s most important ecosystems, which provides a habitat for 52 flora species and 200 fauna species.
Visit traditional fishing hamlets, where fishermen knot their nets by hand by the river, and then take to the tranquil waters of Giant Bat Lagoon by rowboat. After a short, guided trek through the mangroves, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch at a private riverside location, including fresh spring rolls, lemongrass chicken and a delicious Mekong Delta specialty.
In the afternoon, arrive in Vam Sat Eco Park, where you can visit a crocodile reserve (and feed them via a fishing rod if you wish) to learn about the once-plentiful crocs that were hunted to near extinction. Be sure to keep an eye out for gibbons and monkeys swinging from trees in their natural habitat. Enjoy crab fishing and bird watching for local and migratory species, including painted storks and duck-billed pelicans, or take another mangrove jungle walk with your guide.
At the end of your full-day tour, depart Can Gio’s mangroves for Ho Chi Minh City, arriving back at the central pier where you’re taken back to your hotel by air-conditioned vehicle.
7:01 AM 0 comments
Zip along the Saigon River by luxury speedboat to the Cu Chi Tunnels, round-trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Select an early or late morning departure and enjoy a peek at traditional life along the riverbanks on this half-day tour. Then descend underground with a guide into a vast network built by resourceful guerrilla fighters during the Vietnam War to provide supply routes, food and weapon caches, living quarters and hospitals. Breakfast and lunch, or dinner (depending on departure selection), and unlimited refreshments are included with round-trip transport. Numbers are limited to 14 to ensure a personalized experience on this small-group tour.
Meet your guide and small group upon hotel pickup in the early or late morning (depending on selected departure time) and transfer by air-conditioned vehicle to Ho Chi Minh Pier. Then board a luxury speedboat made of high-quality teak and sink into soft furnishings as your vessel slips away. Relax like a VIP while your captain effortlessly speeds you over the Saigon River toward the countryside and to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. Within 15 minutes, the banks of the river change from city sprawl to lush jungle.
Take advantage of great photo ops of life along the riverbanks as your eco-friendly boat navigates the shallow, jungle-fringed canals past water hyacinths, leaving a small wake that minimizes any impact on the local environment. During the 1-hour journey, your knowledgeable guide explains rural traditions and aspects of life along the waterway.
Depending on departure option selected, enjoy unlimited refreshments with a light breakfast of sandwiches or pastries, fresh tropical fruits and Vietnamese iced coffee, or enjoy a late-morning snack, served on board.
Arrive at the historic Cu Chi Tunnels before the larger bus groups, then watch a short introductory documentary before you follow your guide into the winding, underground network. You have approximately 2 hours to explore the Cu Chi site, which includes weapon and booby-trap exhibitions.
Inside the narrow passageway of an authentic Viet Cong tunnel — part of a 75-mile-long (121-km) complex now preserved as a war memorial park — visit different underground bunkers featuring kitchens, meeting rooms, ammunition depots and hospitals. View a bullet-riddled tank and discover secret entrances hidden by fake termite mounds and other ingenious disguises. Learn how the VC defended the tunnels from American bombs and infiltrators, and marvel at a huge crater formed by an American B-52 bomber.
Try the local cassava root that sustained Viet Cong guerrilla fighters for years during the Vietnam War (known in Vietnam as the American War) and attempt to imagine what living here was like. After your tour, you can feast on fried spring rolls, chicken and beef dishes, and soup as you enjoy an authentic, traditional Vietnamese lunch by the river. If you’ve selected the later tour, you’ll enjoy a provided dinner.
After your meal, depart Cu Chi and return by speedboat to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival at the central pier, you will be driven back to your hotel.
6:44 AM 0 comments
Experience rural life in Vietnam with a boat ride on the Mekong Delta! This day trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be takes you to tranquil fruit orchards, a candy factory and Cai Be Floating Market before a visit to Tan Phong Island for a cooking lesson. You’ll learn the art of Vietnamese cuisine and interact with the locals as you bicycle around the village – a great getaway! Enjoy personal attention from your guide on this small-group tour, limited to 12 people.
After pickup from your hotel, transfer by air-conditioned vehicle to the town of Cai Be, located approximately 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. On the way, stop to take photos of the beautiful landscapes and typical farmers working in the rice fields.
Upon arrival in Cai Be, hop on a motorboat with your small group and visit the Cai Be Floating Market, established in the 19th century on the Tien River. Observe locals trading fruit and other wholesale goods, hung from poles aboard boats and rafts, in the bustling floating market. Then, disembark for a short walk to a coconut candy factory and tour the facility to learn how the sweets are produced.
You’ll have the opportunity to purchase some candy before meandering with your guide around the small villages of the Mekong Delta. Visit a fruit orchard and plantation, and listen to traditional southern Vietnamese music called don ca tai tu,which combines elements from court music and folk music.
Afterward, cruise along the Mekong Delta to Tan Phong Island. Here, join your small group in a half-day cooking class with your guide. You’ll learn to prepare Vietnamese dishes from several regions as you discover the many cultural influences at play in Vietnamese cuisine. Try your hand at making savory specialties like fried elephant-ear fish, grilled steak cooked in a bamboo cylinder, grilled fish in banana leaf and fish braised in a clay pot.
Enjoy your delicious creations with your fellow food lovers before hopping on a bicycle to ride along the village path. Pass fruit orchards and a bonsai garden as you explore the neighborhood with your guide and mingle with the local villagers. Your day trip ends with a boat ride back to Cai Be and return to your Ho Chi Minh City.