17 days / 16 nights
Duration
Vietnam
Destination
Buon Me Thuot, Can Tho, Da Lat, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Soc Trang
City
VAD-SC2
Tour Code

This long 17 days tour will guide you off the beaten track through the most charming and unexplored destinations in Southern Vietnam: Mekong Delta and the Central Highlands. Your Mekong Delta trip will start in a very fancy way, on the deck of a cruiser boat and on these days you will explore the main highlights of this welcoming land. Discover the cultural ethnic variety, get impressed the first time you are in a floating market, learn about the rich history of this land by visiting the most important archeological sites in the area, enjoy the legendary welcoming character of southern Vietnamese people!

The second part of this trip will be in a different environment, as we will travel from the lowlands to the highlands. Get warm while visiting one of the most sparsely populated areas in Vietnam and learning more about the Montagnards and its unique culture! The final part of the trip will take you to Nha Trang, a beautiful coastal destination and Dalat, an old French hill station considered as the most romantic city in Vietnam.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Ho Chi Minh City
DEPARTURE TIME 8AM
RETURN TIME
WEAR
INCLUDED
Domestic air ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku
16-night accommodation including breakfast (includes 2 days/1 night-cruise (departs only on even number days)
Meals as indicated in the itinerary
Private tour with English Speaking Guides
All entrance fees, boat excursions as per itinerary
A/C vehicle for land tour & transfers
Meet & Greet & airport transfers
NOT INCLUDED
International and other domestic air ticket
Visa
Other meals not mentioned in the itinerary
Drinks, tips and other personal expenses
Extra charge for Christmas, New Year or Public Holidays
1

Day 1: Arrive Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

CHÀO MU’NG! Welcome to Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon)! You are met on arrival at the airport, and transferred to your hotel. Ho Chi Minh City is where colonial buildings and traditional temples stand beside the emerging modern skyline.

This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the downtown. Learn about Vietnam’s recent history as you pass the Reunification Palace, formerly the South Vietnam’s Independence Palace, until stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975. Drive along the Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), and into the heart of the old colonial Saigon to see the old French colonial Post Office and visit the historic Notre Dame Cathedral. Continue to Chinatown and see the Thien Hau Pagoda, dedicated to the goddess of the sea.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore this vibrant, teeming metropolis.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

2

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Be & embark Cruise (BLD)

This morning depart for a leisurely drive to Cai Be. Experience the simple joy of seeing the rice fields and the smiling faces of the local people as we drive through this gentle region to reach the Mekong River Delta.

Late morning board your comfortable wooden river cruise vessel, your home for the night. After lunch on board, your cruise begins and you can relax and watch the fantastic scenery and the daily life of the Mekong people.

In the afternoon, disembark for a guided stroll through a village and the surrounding fruit orchards or rice fields. Meet the friendly locals and enjoy the charm of the upper Mekong Delta. Taste the local produce and traditional treats such as dried longyans, rice pancakes, puffed rice candies, natural honey and honey wine, and their famed Ben Tre, coconut candy.

Back on board, relax on the deck as the sun sets over the magnificent river. Your boat anchors for the night as you enjoy a delicious dinner on-board, and retire to your cozy cabin on your floating hotel.

Overnight on Mekong Eyes Cruise.

3

Day 3: Cruise to Can Tho & Disembark (BL)

Awaken to the sound of the river as your boat cruises along the river. Get ready for an exciting day of sightseeing in the Mekong Delta. As the sun rises, watch the locals begin their daily work drying exotic fruits, and building ships in the wooden yards.

After breakfast, take a sampan boat to the lively Cai Rang floating market. Marvel at the sheer abundance of exotic fruits, vegetables and skillfully handcrafted regional products. Pull up next to these market boats for conversation and bargaining with the merchants. Visit the local candy and cake making factories, and boat through the green water landscape to see local houses and verdant orchards.

After lunch on board the boat, bid farewell and disembark in Can Tho.

Overnight in Can Tho.

4

Day 4: Can Tho to Soc Trang, Bac Lieu & Ca Mau (BL)

This morning, drive Ca Mau with fascinating stops along the way. Visit a rice-husking mill and an in-home rice noodle factory.

Take a break in Soc Trang to visit the Kh’Leang Pagoda. Originally built in 1533 from bamboo, it had to be strengthened and rebuilt in 1905 using concrete, as it is a popular location for Khmer festivals. Soc Trang is home to seven religious festivals per year, attracting people coming from all around the province. Throughout the year, you can see the Khmer people visits to bring donations and pray. Continue to the Bat Pagoda, whose surrounding trees are homes to thousands of bats.

In Bac Lieu, take a small boat to explore the U Minh forest, a special Mekong Delta swamp habitat for hundreds of precious fauna and flora species. The biological productivity of this land is the highest among Vietnam’s ecosystems. Visit a bee-feeding farm, then explore Ca Mau’s lively local market before arriving at your hotel by late afternoon.

Overnight in Ca Mau.

5

Day 5: Ca Mau to Ha Tien (BL)

This morning, enjoy a short visit of the Ca Mau floating market before departing for Rach Gia. Stop here to tour the peaceful Nguyen Trung Truc Temple, dedicated to a noble resistance leader who fought against the French in the 1860’s. Your drive continues, stopping to explore the seaside village of Hon Chong, the rugged coastlines of its palm-fringed beach, then the brackish grasslands of Kien Luong before arriving in Ha Tien in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Ha Tien.

6

Day 6: Ha Tien (BL)

Set along the border with Cambodia, Ha Tien is an area of pristine white beaches, inviting caves and ancient pagodas. This morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the area. Visit the 18th century Phu Dung Pagoda which is today a pilgrimage site. It was built by Mac Thien Tu to honor one of his wives. Next, see the Chinese style Mac Cuu Temple, a beautiful landscape with lotus trees and intricate carvings. Known as a historical site, it is the graveyard for the Mac family who established Ha Tien. Enjoy some time on the Mui Nai Beach.

Overnight in Ha Tien.

7

Day 7: Ha Tien to Chau Doc (BL)

This morning, drive along the Vinh Te Border Canal – In 1819, it took 80,000 workers and five years to complete this shallow 92 km long waterway. Continue your drive, climbing up the sacred Sam Mountain. At the top, admire the panoramic views over the vast plains of the Mekong Delta that extend into Cambodia. At the foot of the mountain visit The Lady Temple (Mieu Ba Chua Xu), built in 1820 to honor a 6th century statue found by local villagers.

Early afternoon, arrive in Chau Doc, a border town with Cambodia and a major trading hub. Chau Doc is filled with small floating fishing villages – Explore the region on a boat tour on the Hau River. Visit a fish-breeding farm and a small Muslim community at Cham Village, taking a tour of their Islamic cathedral. Relaxing on the boat you can enjoy a view of sunset over mighty Mekong River.

Overnight in Chau Doc.

8

Day 8: Chau Doc to Ho Chi Minh City (BL)

Today is a full day touring as you drive back to bustling Ho Chi Minh City. Travel via Long Xuyen, to visit the incense stick village, and enjoy lunch at local restaurant. Stop in An Giang to visit the Oc Eo Museum, dedicated to the ancient Mekong Delta culture, famous during the 1st to 7th century.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

9

Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku & Kon Tum (BL)

Transfer to the Ho Chi Minh City airport this morning for your flight north to Pleiku. Upon arrival you are met an escorted to Kon Tum.

Enter the Central Highlands, home of the “Montagnards”, a unique blend of more than 30 indigenous mountain tribes. Though maintaining their individual languages and customs, they have a similar cuisine and housing style that unites them, and clearly differentiates them from the hill tribes found in the mountains of the northern Vietnam. Kon Tum is surrounded by the minority villages of these indigenous hill tribes.

On the outskirts of town, explore the friendly Banar communities of Kon Jari and Kon Kotu. Later drive through some of the 1960s battlegrounds sites of Dak To, Dak Ri Job and Dak Ri Peng.

Overnight in Kon Tum.

10

Day 10: Kon Tum (BL)

Enjoy a full day of sightseeing around Kon Tum. Explore Ba Na Village, with its beautiful collection of wooden stilt houses. The Commune House, a large and imposing stilt house built in the middle of the village, is beautifully decorated and the host to most community events and praying ceremonies.

See the Montagnard Church built in 1913 by a French priest. It was constructed solely out of wood, and has a remarkable blend of Christian and local traditional symbols. End the day with a tour of the Kon Tum Prison, built by the French to detain patriotic revolutionaries.

Overnight in Kon Tum.

11

Day 11: Kon Tum to Buon Me Thuot & Lak Lake (BL)

This morning drive to Buon Me Thuot for a tour of the Ethnographic Museum with its wonderful display of local cultural artifacts. Have lunch in local restaurant before continuing on to Lak Lake.

In the afternoon, drive to the scenic Lak Lake. Surrounded by rice paddies, this 600 hectares site actually shrinks to 400 hectares during the dry season. Surrounding the lake is Jun Village, home of the traditional Jun or M’nong Riam people. See their traditional rattan and wooden long houses built on short stilts, and witness how they travel by dugout canoe and elephant.

Overlooking the lake is the old summer residence of Vietnam’s last emperor, Nguyen Dynasty King Bao Dai. Now renovated into a hotel, you spend the night at this hotel complex that sits 70 meters above the lake.

Overnight in Lak Lake.

12

Day 12: Lak Lake & Buon Me Thuot (BL)

This morning enjoy a real Vietnamese adventure: an elephant ride across the north side of the lake. Trek with your elephant across the Serepok River and through local forests taking in this agricultural wonderland area with rice paddies and coffee fields.

Travel back across Lak Lake by boat then drive into Yok Don National Park. Explore the park, home to 67 species of mammals, including elephants, tigers, and leopards. Thirty-eight of the animal species are considered endangered in Indochina, and 17 species are on the international endangered list. This park, Vietnam’s largest nature preserve, is also inhabited by nearly 250 different species of birds.

Next, visit some of the native “minorities”, or hill tribes that reside just outside the park in Ban Don Village. After lunch in a local restaurant, it is a short drive to Buon Me Thuot. The provincial capital, Buon Me Thuot is also known as the “capital of Vietnamese coffee” (Vietnamese coffee, ca phe sua da, is traditionally served strong and sweet, blended with an ample amount of sweetened condensed milk, and served over ice). Though fairly modern, the city is also home to several ethnic groups, or “minorities”, who keep the traditions of the area alive.

Overnight in Buon Me Thuot.

13

Day 13: Buon Me Thuot to Nha Trang (BL)

This morning visit the nearby Dray Sap Waterfall (“Waterfall of the Mist”). Witness the thunderous power of the water as it cascades down these huge horseshoe-shaped falls. Next, stop in Tur Village, an enclave of the Ede minority. Here many of their century-old customs are still practiced today.

Next, drive southwest to the coastal city of Nha Trang. Stop just outside the city center to tour the Po Nagar Tower. Built almost an amazing 1,000 years ago, the tower sits over a 20 meters high hill looking out over the sea. Constructed by the Cham people as a religious structure, you can see the culture of the Cham infused in the architecture of the tower, and the sculptures that adorn it.

Continue into the center of the city, stopping to explore the Dam Market. Started in 1908, it is Nha Trang’s main trade center, offering a wide variety of local and imported goods: dried seafood is one of the market’s specialties.

After checking into your hotel, enjoy the rest of your day at leisure to relax on one of the white sand beaches or explore the city on your own.

Overnight in Nha Trang.

14

Day 14: Nha Trang (BL)

This morning, learn about the local sea life when you visit the National Oceanographic Museum, housing a diverse collection of ocean creatures. Since its establishment in 1923, the Institute of Oceanography has collected and preserved more than 20,000 specimens and more than 4,000 sea and freshwater species. The institute also conducts marine research and has a number of live specimens in their aquariums.

Next, use your newfound aquatic knowledge to spot the marine life during a boat trip to Mun Island, on the south side of Nha Trang Bay. On the island, enjoy time for swimming, fishing or snorkeling around the extraordinary color reefs filled with multi-colorful fishes.

On route back to shore, make a short stop at a local fishing village to see the fresh shrimp, zoo groupers, and sea crab being raised in floating cages.

This afternoon see a lovely example of French architecture at the Bao Dai Villa, built in 1923 then visit the Yersin Museum, dedicated to the life of scientist Alexandre Yersin, responsible for isolating the cause of the infamous black plague. The rest of the day is at your leisure.

Overnight in Nha Trang.

15

Day 15: Nha Trang to Dalat (BL)

This morning drive to Dalat, the jewel of the Central Highlands. Upon arrival, explore the Prenn Waterfalls, the Tuyen Lam Reservoir and grandiose Truc Lam Temple.

Arrive in Dalat in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Then hop on a horse cart for a ride around the hilly roads of Dalat. See the graceful Xuan Huong Lake, and stop in the center of town to explore the lively local market.

Overnight in Dalat.

16

Day 16: Da Lat to Ho Chi Minh City (BL)

Drive south to Ho Chi Minh City. Along the way, admire the views of serene coffee and tea plantations. Arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City by late afternoon, with the rest of your day at leisure.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

17

Day 17: Depart Ho Chi Minh City (B)

Enjoy some time at leisure in the city until your transfer to the airport for your departing flight.

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