Art & History
You'll enjoy a guided city tour starting with the War Remnants Museum - a real eye-opener to a part of Vietnam's proud history, followed by the Reunification Palace, the former Presidential Palace for the president of the South of Vietnam, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post office to get good shots for our memory of the big, modern city of Vietnam. After lunch at a local restaurant, you will continue by heading to Chinatown with walking tour through back streets of China town near Cho Lon to view the local daily life. Stop off for a visit of Thien Hau temple, which was built in the early 19th Century dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of seafarers. We delve deeper into Chinatown visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Market (or Ben Thanh market) for an insight into where locals shop. Then you'll be back to hotel at around 17:00.
At 8:00, depart for a 2-hour drive to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Take in the highway as you leave behind the busy city. On arrival, take a boat on Ben Tre River, where you can see lively activities along river such as fishing and water transferring. Stop at brickwork to see how to make bricks in traditional style by printing and baking. You will visit one of plenty of coconut processing workshops located along canal. Turn on natural scissors creeks where they look smaller and smaller to go to village. Take a walk to family workshop making sleep mats and enjoy some fruit. Later, take a motor-cart on village paths, passing by green rice fields and vegetable plains to touch on real life and find out about the culture from the locals. After lunch at a riverside restaurant, enjoy a rowing boat tour along water palm creek, and back to pier where you will be taken to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving at around 17:00.
At 8:30 sharp, your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby to give you a proper show-around of the old town. You'll start a walking tour with a lion's share of places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls; the museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you'll meander through tiny streets studded by houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures.
In the morning, an hour drive will take you to the ancient majestic ruins of My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage Site belonging to an ancient civilization. It is a large complex of religious monuments comprised of more than 70 architectural works built by the nobility of the Champa kingdom deriving their cultural and spiritual influences from Indian Hinduism. Only 25 vestiges remain today as a standing witness to the reign of Champa Dynasty. These temples and towers connected to each other through complicated red brick design to reflect the divinity of the king including ancient towers which were built from the fourth century to 14thC. The route takes you through some incredible scenery and tiny villages that specialize in brass works, with little shops flanking the roadside selling big brass gongs. Upon arrival, visit the Tra Kieu capital which was the former administration center of Champa Kingdom. You will also walk around to see up to three groups of ancient temple and tower ruins set amongst hills and streams.
Our first stop is Holy Island, connected to the mainland by a causeway which leads into the quaint island village of Lindisfarne, from where there are stunning views of Lindisfarne Castle, (which dates back to 1550). Spend time wandering through the ruins of its Priory where the magnificent Lindisfarne Gospels were produced, sample some of the world-famous Lindisfarne 'Mead' brewed by Monks on the island, and enjoy the tranquility for which the island is renowned. We continue south on to the bustling market town of Alnwick, whose greatest building is the medieval Alnwick Castle*. Enjoy time in the town centre or remain at the castle complex where there is something for everyone. Home of the Percy Family for over 700 years, Alnwick Castle is considered one of the finest castles in England and proudly known as “The Windsor of the North”. Visitors can step into the unexpected in the spectacular Alnwick Garden, with its wonderful Grand Cascade and Poison Gardens. It's grounds were also used in the Harry Potter films. In the mid-afternoon we begin the drive north to cross the River Tweed into the historic border town of Coldstream. If time permits during this journey there will be a stop at Flodden Field, one of the best preserved battlefields in Northern Europe and scene of the infamous battle of 1513 which ended in victory for the English and the death of James IV, King of Scots. *Optional Extra