Day 1: Overnight Excursion in Hanoi
Our guide will be waiting to pick you up at your cruise ship pier, ready to provide transport into Hanoi. Our guides are always local, and can provide some excellent insights (and stories) into what life is like in this northern region of Vietnam. Along the drive there will be plenty to take in, with verdant, paddy-lined countryside and unique rural scenes dotting the way. Learn a bit about the city before you arrive, and discover the unique French roots that can be found throughout the 2,000 year old capital.
Upon arrival, one of the first visits will be the majestic Temple of Literature. Dating back to the 11th century, this temple housed the first university in Vietnam and has a rich history and tradition which can be seen throughout. Discover some unique facts during the visit, such as how Emperor Le Thanh Tong printed the names of the university laureates on the stone steles.
After the visit, head to another of the city’s most popular sites, the Lake of the Restored Sword, or Hoan Kiem Lake. Mythology and lore run deep in this region, and it’s not hard to notice the importance this destination plays for all locals. Take a stroll around the perimeter or walk across the crimson red bridge which connects to the Ngoc Son Temple. Another city icon, this temple offers a unique glimpse into the religious history of Vietnam, a unique blend of Confucianism and Buddhism.
After exploring another classic site, it’s best to balance the experience out with a walk through the region’s culture. Paying a visit to the Ethnology Museum, visitors can learn about the 54 types of ethnic groups that call Vietnam home. Boasting everything from art to agricultural tools, this alluring visit is one of the most informative in the country. For travelers who are keen on history, culture and anthropology, this visit is an absolute must.
To top off the experience (and to give the feet a rest), we arrange a fantastic 1-hour cyclo tour through the Old Quarter of the city, followed by a water puppet show- a unique, historic form of entertainment that originated in the north. What is a cyclo you may be wondering? A cyclo is a traditional pedal-driven rickshaw that is unique to the Indochina region. Popular one hundred years ago, they are still a unique and traditional means of getting around the city. Taking a cyclo not only highlights some of the most unique areas of Hanoi, but also enables travelers to look up at the architecture- something their unable to do when they’re keeping an eye on traffic patterns!
After the water puppet show, transport will be provided to the Metropole, which is not only one of the finest hotels in Vietnam, but one of the finest in the world. Frequented by royalty, celebrities and other distinguished guests, it offers Hanoi’s most unforgettable stay.
The next morning, after enjoying breakfast at the Metropole, meet the guide in the lobby for a unique morning of exploring. Begin with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, which is where the nation’s first president lies in state. Please note, the mausoleum is closed every Monday & Friday, and all afternoons and from late September until December.
After visiting the Mausoleum, take a stroll to Ho Chi Minh's House, a simple and modest wooden structure where the national hero once lived. Uncle Ho’s belongings still stand on display and visitors come from all over the country to pay their respects.
After the historic visit, take the short walk further to the iconic, lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda, one of Hanoi’s most famous destinations. Resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, this temple is unlike any other in the region.
After exploring for the morning, transport will be provided back to the Halong region to re-board the cruise ship.