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Initial Vietnam Itinerary
December 1-18, 2024
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1
We will start our long journey from the US by flying into Hanoi.
Vietnam, here we come!
Yay! We've finally landed in Vietnam! We'll check into our "home" for the next four nights in the city of Hanoi. We will be staying right in the Old Quarter, the historic center of Hanoi. We may be arriving late at night so there are no events planned for this day.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 2
Arrive in Hanoi
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3
Today we'll have a low key day as we adjust to the time change. You are free to sleep in, get out to explore, relax at home...whatever you need. We will then meet up with our tour guide(s) in the evening for a Street Food Experience (making food safety a top priority.) Our tour guide(s) will be college students who are anxious to improve their English. By touring with these lovely young people, we will have the opportunity to learn about their culture and their dreams, while helping them improve their chances of a profitable career.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4
After having breakfast at home, we will meet up with our student guides again to tour the city. This morning we will tour the Old Quarter of Hanoi. After lunch, we will participate in an authentic cultural/culinary experience. We will visit a local home, shop at a typical market and learn how to prepare a Vietnamese meal...and, of course, enjoy meal we have just prepared!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5
Today we'll spend the day with our student guides touring the Temple of Literature, Hao Lo Prison Museum (known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the war), and Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum. After the tour, we will dine at a restaurant whose mission is to help youth living in poverty, teaching them skills that will enable them to make a living in the hospitality field. It is called KOTO, which stands for Know One, Teach One. Read more about KOTO here.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6
Overnight on a boat in Bai Tu Long Bay
We are in for a real treat today as we head to Bai Tu Long Bay (the less-touristy option to Ha Long Bay). We have an early start as the tour van picks us up at 7:30am to travel toward the coast. We'll arrive in Bai Tu Long Bay by noon and head out on a wooden "junk boat" (below) for an over-night tour. We will have lunch while cruising to magnificent bay, explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son Cave, enjoy relaxing, swimming or kayaking on a white sandy beach at Hon Co Island. After a full day, we will each have our own cabin for a peaceful night floating on the bay.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7
Back in Hanoi
We'll wake to the morning view of the Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee. We'll have breakfast in the fresh air, then head out on a rustic row-boat to visit Vung Vieng fishing village. After lunch on board, we will disembark and drive back to Hanoi for our last night in the city.
We'll enjoy a traditional water puppet show performed by local artists.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8
Sung Village CBT
We leave Hanoi today to embark upon a truly authentic Vietnamese experience. We'll be visiting a community-based tourism site (CBT) in Da Bac, staying in Sung Village. Sung Village is situated in the mountains, with stunning views and friendly local people. Home to the Dao Tien ethnic group, this village still preserves its pristine scenery and local culture. Click here for a more detailed itinerary of the Da Bac trip. This is the only accommodation where we will be sleeping in dorm-like rooms (just for 2 nights). We have reserved the whole space so we should be able to spread out and not sleep right next to each other. Definitely worth it for the experience!!!
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9
We will continue our stay at Da Bac as outlined on the itinerary (see link under "Sunday").
The detailed itinerary outlines our morning at Sung Village. After lunch, we will return to Hanoi to catch a plane to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We'll check in to our new home for the next 4 nights.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10
Once again, we will be shown around the city by student tour guides. We'll visit Independence Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Saigon Central Post Office, Ben Thanh market, War Remnants Museum, Jade Emperor Pagoda and more. There's so much to see!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11
Today is a free day to do as you please. Some may want to stay home and relax, others may want to explore a museum or some other local site not in our itinerary, while others may want to go to the beach. The choice is yours.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12
Today we will drive out of the city to visit the Cao Dai Temple. Cao Dai Temple is the center of Caodaism, an indigenous Vietnamese religion combining the teachings of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. The temple is famous for its unique architectural style reflecting its blended traditions and is truly breathtaking.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13
Today we leave our home in Saigon and head south to the Mekong Delta. We'll be spending three nights at a CBT in Can Tho where accommodations will be a little rustic but we each get our own room. (Click here for photos.) We'll have a relaxing afternoon by the pool or curled up on a hammock with a good book.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14
This is one day that I am willing to get up at an unreasonable hour. Today we visit the floating market, a site not to be missed. We'll leave at 6am as that it the best time of day to experience the market. In the afternoon, we can do an easy bike ride in the country and have lunch along the way.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15
After having breakfast, we will get a short cooking class to make some typical Vietnamese cakes. The afternoon will be free time to relax before heading home tomorrow or to venture out on another excursion. The choice is yours.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 16
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 17
Sadly, our trip comes to an end and we head home from Can Tho airport after experiencing both city life and traditional country life in Vietnam. We've spent time with indigenous people and learned about their culture. We have experienced the amazing beauty of Vietnam. Friendships have been formed and perhaps we'll travel together again some day. Safe Travel!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18
Kindred Woman Traveler
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