Vietnam City & Beach
Travel 15 Jan 2019 - 20 Oct 2019
Book by 31 Jan 2019
Saving £525 per person
- 3 nts Caravelle Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City - Breakfast
- 4 nts Fusion Resort Phu Quoc, Phu Quoc - Breakfast
- 3 nts Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi, Hanoi - Breakfast
- Flights to Ho Chi Minh City and onwards to Phu Quoc, then to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines, accommodation throughout, return private transfers in SGN and HAN & shared transfers in PQC and prepayable taxes.
- This holiday is ATOL protected 2713
Since 1959, Caravelle Saigon has been Ho Chi Minh City's landmark 5-star address in the heart of the business, shopping and entertainment district.
Set on a stunning private bay on the northern coastline.
Located in the heart of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake and the magnificent Opera House, this famous French colonial-style hotel, is one of the region's few remaining hotels of its era.
Flights to Ho Chi Minh City and onwards to Phu Quoc, then to Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines, accommodation throughout, return private transfers in SGN and HAN & shared transfers in PQC and prepayable taxes.
Formerly known as Saigon, vibrant Ho Chi Minh City is one of Asia's most compelling cities and definitely not to be missed. This fast-paced, thriving metropolis is a city of contrasts as soaring skyscrapers, chic shopping malls, fine restaurants and glitzy bars rub shoulders with delightful districts full of colonial charm, classic French architecture, incense-infused temples and bustling markets.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is divided into 24 districts, although tourists rarely travel beyond districts One, Three and Five. The city's central area, District One, is where most of the main shops, hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions are located along with the original French Quarter. The more sedate District Three offers more colonial architecture, parks and wide boulevards interspersed with a few restaurants and shops while District Five incorporates Chinatown with its markets, pagodas, temples and authentic Chinese restaurants.
Highlights include ostentatious reminders of French rule such as Notre Dame Cathedral or the huge Central Post Office designed by Gustav Eiffel; the Reunification Palace, formerly the Presidential Palace; the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the 18th century Thien Hau Temple. A cyclo tour is a wonderful way to take in the sights whilst absorbing the flurry of activity around you, or take a seat at a roadside café and watch as conical-hatted vendors ply their goods or bicycles piled high with furniture and livestock pass by. Alternatively, those with a hunger for adventure can hop on the back of a Vespa for an unforgettable tour of the Saigon streets, joining the organised chaos through the different districts and mingling with the locals before stopping to sample some local cuisine.
No visit to Ho Chi Minh City is complete without a visit to the extraordinary Cu Chi Tunnels located just an hour's drive northwest of the city. This labyrinth of narrow tunnels, all dug using only hand tools, stretch for over 120 miles and were used as hideouts during the war by the Vietnamese army. Our highly recommended half day excursion to the tunnels includes original film footage from the war and also gives you the chance to explore enlarged sections of this extensive underground city from the not-to-distant-past which contained hospitals, kitchens and sleeping quarters.
Ho Chi Minh City is also the gateway to the Mekong Delta, a lush, tropical delta dominated by the mighty Mekong, one of the most scenic rivers in Asia. Take a cruise through this fascinating region to see the vibrant floating markets, bustling villages with houses built on stilts and countless temples. The Delta is also one of the most agriculturally productive areas in Southeast Asia, with fruit orchards, rice paddies, fish and flower farms jostling for space. We highly recommend our one night Mekong Delta cruise aboard a traditional wooden boat in the style of a converted rice barge (Bassac boat).
Shopping opportunities also abound in HCMC. Haggle for bargains of clothing and souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market or visit rambling Binh Tay Market in Chinatown where you'll find stalls crammed with exotic foodstuffs. Alternatively, browse the small, traditional shops within the main shopping areas, such as Dong Khoi, Hai Ba Trung and Le Thanh Ton, or the luxurious shopping malls with international fashion brands and designer boutiques springing up in the city including Diamond Plaza on Le Duan and Parkson Saigon Tourist Plaza on Le Thanh Ton.
There is a rich selection of restaurants in HCMC, ranging from bargain street side stalls to haute cuisine and everything in between. Cuisines you'll come across include French, Chinese and of course, local Vietnamese delights such as Banh mi (sandwiches), noodle soup (pho), seafood and crepes. Western food is also widely available for those who just can't survive without chips! Nightlife is equally varied, depending on where you are in the city. District One has rooftop bars, casinos and jazz or rock bands while in District Three you'll find local cafes with Vietnamese music and cheap eats.
Situated at the southern tip of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand close to the Cambodian border, Phu Quoc is Vietnam's largest offshore island (about the size of Singapore) but, for now, is relatively undeveloped. Awaiting you are spectacular soft-sand beaches, swaying palms and sparkling crystalline waters with a flourishing marine life.
While the tear-shaped island's coastline has almost non-stop beaches the longest stretch of sands is called, appropriately, Long Beach, which is on the western coast and is where the majority of hotels and resorts can be found. Its location on the west coast makes it the best place for sitting back with a cocktail and watching as the sun sets over the ocean. Other beaches include the beautiful peninsula of Cua Can, the peaceful Bai Dai Beach, Vung Bau Beach and Bai Vong Beach.
For divers and snorkellers much of the island's treasures are hidden below the clear blue waves, as the panorama is one of colourful corals and tropical fish. Along with the marine environment over 50% of the island has been given protected National Park status and limited walking trails are a great way to experience the natural splendour of mountain jungle and sparkling waterfalls.
The island is also dotted with picturesque fishing villages where regular bustling markets are held and offer a colourful range of fruit, vegetables, seafood and much more. Phu Quoc is also famed for the production of fish sauce and is, arguably, the best in the world! For a completely unique experience, it's possible to visit one of the many fish sauce distilleries in either Duong Dong or An Thoi towns.
Vietnam's capital is one of Asia's most beautiful cities and the perfect starting point for any Vietnamese journey. While Hanoi may be considerably quieter than Ho Chi Minh City it has an engaging atmosphere and is an amazing place to experience with its array of broad boulevards, elaborate temples, ornate pagodas, glistening lakes and colonial buildings.
The commercial heart of Hanoi is Hoan Kiem District, which takes its name from Hoan Kiem Lake and is where most of the city's hotels, restaurants, shopping streets and markets can be found. Hoan Kiem Lake, or "Lake of the Restored Sword", is the centrepiece of the city and it's well worth taking time to wander along the garden-lined banks, which are always a hive of activity.
Walk north of Hoan Kiem Lake and you'll reach the bustling narrow streets of the Old Quarter, a congested district where everything spills out onto pavements that double as workshops or as display space for all manner of merchandise. Also known as '36 Streets', although there are actually nearly 70, these ancient commercial thoroughfares are named after the crafts practiced by the original guilds such as Hang Ma (Paper Street) and Hang Bac (Silver Street). The district is a shopping hotspot as well as a fascinating place for a leisurely stroll and with the variety of restaurants, bakeries, cafes and bars here, you'll also find it the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by.
The grand tree-lined boulevards and majestic buildings of the French Quarter, which lies to the south east of Hoan Kiem Lake, are a welcome diversion to the hectic chaos of the Old Quarter. While much of the French Quarter's appeal lies in its grand but aging architecture, including the stately Opera House, the area is now a leading diplomatic and commercial section of the city, with numerous luxury hotels, restaurants and shops.
Hanoi's most important cultural and historical monuments lie in the Ba Dinh District. Of those, the imposing Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the city's most visited site and one of Vietnam's most revered places as it is the final resting place of the national hero, President Ho Chi Minh. The body of Uncle Ho, as he was affectionately known, is preserved here in a glass case, which means a great deal to many people as it ensures that their beloved leader 'lives on forever'. The mausoleum is closed Monday and Friday and is occasionally closed for maintenance so check before you go. Other sights include the One Pillar Pagoda, an architectural curiosity so named because the shrine sits atop a single massive pedestal; the Ho Chi Minh Museum, which opened in 1990 to commemorate Ho's centenary; and the venerable Temple of Literature and its peaceful gardens, devoted to the memory of Confucius.
Hanoi's French legacy is most visible in the city's adoption of café culture, particularly along Hang Hanh, a lively street near Hoan Kiem Lake, while the Old Quarter is the place to discover some of the city's best local restaurants where more often than not you'll dine on low stools and tables on the street side. The city also has a plentiful array of stylish dining venues all over the city, with French, Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisines to tempt you.
For a taste of traditional culture don't miss a performance at the Water Puppet Theatre, a remarkable Vietnamese art form dating back to the 10th century. The stories depict Vietnamese legends and combine traditional music, fireworks and elaborate puppets floating gracefully on the water to create an entertaining and amusing experience.