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Vietnam Reunification Express
Vietnam Reunification Express OverviewThe Reunification Railway links Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City and offers an excellent and fun way to see Vietnam. Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis. Rail journeys are self-guided.
Reunification Express train from South to North Vietnam
The Reunification Railway links Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City and offers an excellent and fun way to see Vietnam.
Touring style: Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis. Rail journeys are self-guided.
Best time to visit: November to April when days are dry with plenty of sunshine. Rain falls between May to September.
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive into Ho Chi Minh City. Your driver and guide will transfer you to your hotel.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Distance and journey time: 15 km, 20 mins
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing
Begin with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Afterwards, dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam - American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions.
Your day continues with a visit to the historic centre where the Emperor of Jade Pagoda will be visited. In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown) and visit the Binh Tay market which is a vast wholesale market where every kind of goods can be found. Then head off to the Thien Hau Pagoda which was built by the Cantonese congregation. At the end of the day enjoy a visit to the central Ben Thanh Market.
Day 3: A full day tour to the Mekong Delta
Journey to the Mekong Delta to Ben Luc and Tan An. Take a boat trip on the Mekong River to Ben Tre where local handicrafts and sweets from coconuts are produced. Enjoy fresh seasonal fruits, a performance of traditional songs, and observe the local life. Take a short ride on a horse carriage to a typical local house to taste some homemade honey-tea. Proceed by small sampan boats through the small canals and observe daily life along the riverbanks, stopping for a leisurely stroll. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for overnight.
Distance and journey time: 110 km, 2 hrs each way
Day 4: A full day tour of Cu Chi Tunnels and train to Danang
From Saigon, drive to Tay Ninh, the birthplace of the unique Cao Dai religion, a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam and Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. Every day at noon, worshippers garbed in colourful robes flock to the Great temple to participate in the daily prayer sessions which visitors may respectfully observe from the upper balconies.
Afterwards, continue to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Never discovered by American forces, these tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.
Transfer to the train station for an overnight train journey to Danang. (17 hours)
Day 5: Danang to Hoi An
Meet up with your guide on arrival at the train station. Transfer from Danang to Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Distance and journey time: 30 km, 45 mins
Day 6: Hoi An walking tour
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's colourful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving centre of traditional crafts and a shopper’s paradise, best explored on foot.
Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the small harbour where colourfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a private house, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the family chapels built by a prominent merchant or official families as centres for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese style pagoda or Assembly Hall.
Visit the famous Japanese covered bridge, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. In the afternoon, board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River before returning to Hoi An harbour. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 7: Hoi An to HueFrom Hoi An, the journey northwards begins with a stop just outside Danang to visit the Marble Mountains. Continue to Danang and briefly pass China Beach, a famous spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam-American War and visit the Cham Museum. From Danang continue north and pass Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach and drive along the Hai Van Pass with spectacular views of the coastline. Overnight in Hue.
Distance and journey time: 140 km, 3.50 hrs
Day 8: Hue sightseeing
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognisable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Ming Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. Overnight in Hue.
Day 9: Hue - Hanoi by train
Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years and was established in the 17th century.
Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower to the imposing Nho Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Palace where the Queen mother lived, Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins and the original Nine Dynastic urns.
Visit the Imperial Tombs of Tu Du and Khai Dinh. Venture into the countryside around Hue to the Imperial tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh.
Tu Duc, the longest reigning Vietnamese emperor, designed and built this elegant tomb during his lifetime, using it as a retreat for meditation, reading and theatre performances. Take some time to soak in the tranquil atmosphere, wandering among the gracefully proportioned pavilions, courtyards and lotus ponds.
Afterwards, visit the Imperial tomb of Khai Dinh dramatically located on a hillside. The last of the monumental tombs of the Nguyen dynasty, completed in 1931, this tomb incorporates distinct European elements into the traditional Vietnamese architecture.
Transfer to the train station for an overnight journey to Hanoi. (12 hours)
Day 10: Hanoi sightseeing
Meet up at the train station for a transfer to your hotel. Begin your day visiting the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best surviving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university.
Continue to the miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Stroll past the Ho Chih Minh Mausoleum where visitors can pay respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. Continue through the park to Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House.
Finally, discover the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop-houses is also known as 'The 36 Streets,' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics, crafts, medicines and tombstones. A handicraft lover's paradise and an endlessly interesting place to explore local life. Overnight in Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 11: Hanoi to Halong Bay
You will be transferred from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay to embark on an overnight Halong Bay Cruise.
Cruise through the most beautiful and quiet area in Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay to visit Sung Sot Cave. Back on board join in the Vietnamese cookery class held by the Chef. Dinner is a sumptuous buffet featuring an array of salads, seafood, meat dishes, seasonal fresh fruits, and deserts. Overnight on the junk.
Distance and journey time: 160 km, 3 hrs each way
Day 12: Halong Bay to Hanoi
Join in the early morning Tai Chi lessons before leaving the boat for a walking tour of Titov Beach Island. You will have time for a climb up the steps to the peak for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Bay and relaxation on the beach.
Back on board it’s time for final packing and freshening up before enjoying a full breakfast buffet, including traditional Vietnamese Noodles (Pho). After breakfast guests may relax in the dining room and lounge or on the deck enjoying the last Bay views before disembarkation at 11:00 am. Return to Hanoi for overnight.
Return to Hanoi for overnight.
Distance and journey time:160 km, 3 hrs
Day 13: Hanoi departure
Transfer to the airport for your onward journey. We suggest extending your stay for a visit to the Sapa Highlands.