- Vietnam Extension8 days from $5,260
Experience the extraordinary history, traditions, and flavors of Vietnam on this eight-day extension, traveling from elegant cities to the idyllic coast. In the ancient trading port of Hoi An, shop for fresh ingredients at a local market before cruising downriver to take part in a hands-on cooking class. Explore the spectacular imperial city of Hue, seat of the Nguyen dynasty, viewing lavishly decorated temples and elaborate gardens. Cruise among the pinnacles of the newly opened Lan Ha Bay aboard a traditional junk boat, and cap off your journey amid the tree-lined boulevards and monuments of Hanoi.
Fly to Da Nang, then transfer to Hoi An. Once an important trading port for spices and ceramics, Hoi An has remained largely unchanged for over 200 years. The city’s well-preserved historic district—a UNESCO World Heritage site—offers a chance to step back in time along narrow, lantern-lit streets and ancient canals. Check in to our hotel, then set out on a walking tour to visit former merchants’ houses and the 16th-century Japanese Covered Bridge, a symbol of the city. View intricate wood carvings at the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, then shop for spices and colorful silks at a local market. Continue exploring on your own before gathering for dinner at our hotel.
This morning, delve into a bustling market with our guide and select fresh produce and other ingredients that you will use to cook a Vietnamese meal. Board a traditional boat and travel along the river to a local cooking school for a hands-on class utilizing the ingredients you selected, then sit down to savor the dishes you’ve prepared. This afternoon, explore Hoi An on your own and perhaps sample more of the city’s local delicacies.
Weather permitting, drive through the Hai Van (Sea Clouds) Pass, named for the mists that rise off the ocean into the lush green hills. Enjoy panoramic views of the coastline before descending to the fishing village of Lang Co, located on a sand bar in Lang Co Bay. Continue to Hue, a former imperial capital spread over the banks of the Perfume River. Enjoy a home-cooked lunch in a restored royal residence, then check in to our riverside hotel. This afternoon, explore the legacy of the Nguyen dynasty, which ruled Vietnam from the early 19th to the 20th centuries. Enter the walled citadel which shelters of the Imperial City and its inner sanctum, the Purple Forbidden City. Marvel at bright red and gold temple interiors and intricate landscapes in the gardens.
This morning, continue exploring the city’s imperial history. At the burial compound of Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, pass through three gates and climb three stone terraces to enjoy views of three elegant bridges over a network of lakes. Then drive to the elaborate Tomb of Khai Dinh, built for the 12th Nguyen emperor on the slopes of Chau Chu mountain. Khai Dinh’s close relationship with the French colonial government is evident in the tomb’s opulent blend of Eastern and Western architectural styles. On the banks of the Perfume River, marvel at the seven-story Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Hue’s best-preserved religious monuments. The afternoon is free to explore at your leisure before gathering to savor distinctive Central Vietnamese cuisine for dinner.
Transfer to the airport this morning and fly to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Check in to our hotel situated in Hanoi’s elegant French colonial district. This afternoon, enjoy a guided cyclo tour through the colorful streets and markets of Hanoi’s old quarter and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Spend the day exploring this charming city of ochre-hued colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards, and scenic lakes. Begin at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument of marble and granite which serves as the final resting place for the Vietnamese leader. Then marvel at the One Pillar Pagoda, an ancient temple constructed on a single pillar rising from the water, intended to resemble a blossoming lotus. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the Temple of Literature, where Vietnam’s first university was established in the 11th century to educate the children of the elite. Learn about the confluence of Confucian philosophy and architecture in the temple’s design as you stroll between courtyards. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore on your own.
After breakfast, head east to the coastal city of Haiphong to embark on an overnight cruise through tranquil Lan Ha Bay, adjoined to HaLong Bay. Board our ship, built in the style of a traditional Vietnamese junk, and set sail on the bay's turquoise waters. Glide past dramatic limestone towers draped in green, and secluded crescents of sand sheltered by steep cliffs. In the afternoon, choose to disembark for a short drive or bicycle ride to a nearby village to learn about the rhythms of daily life on Vietnam's northeast coast. Later, enjoy dinner onboard and watch the glimmer of ships’ lights reflected in the calm waters of Lan Ha Bay as night falls over this surreal landscape.
Rise early to catch the sunrise over the water and enjoy a late breakfast onboard. Disembark in Haiphong and return to Hanoi. In the afternoon, visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Vietnam's many unique ethnic groups. Step into traditional-style homes and learn the intricate processes behind styles of art unique to each tribe. The following morning, transfer to the airport to connect with your return flight home.