This specifically designed adventure for Barcaldine State School will get all students and teachers who join, into the heart and soul of Vietnam, discovering a diverse and fascinating country steeped in ancient traditions and complex history. This itinerary takes in the must-see sights from north to south an an adventure that will surely exceed all expectations! We immerse ourselves in the colourful market streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter before escaping to the tranquil waters and towering limestone islands of spectacular Halong Bay. Heading south by train to the elegant former capital of Hue, we’ll explore grand imperial architecture along the banks of the Perfume River. Our journey winds its way southward across the scenic Hai Van Pass to Hoi An, where we discover the laid-back charm and beauty of this World Heritage Listed ancient town. Our journey concludes in Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to the impressive Cu Chi Tunnels, the rural landscapes of the Mekong Delta and with enough time to explore some of the city’s highlights. Along with the inclusion of visits to important historical sites and added cultural experiences like a tasty cooking class, this is one school excursion you do NOT want to miss!
These adventure tours will often involve long journeys and rough roads. To enjoy these adventures we suggest reasonable fitness and health, a moderately active lifestyle and have a positive attitude.
After all the planning, preparation and buildup of excitement, your adventure is finally here! Today you will depart Longreach Airport on Qantas flight QF2533 departing at 15:15 flying to Brisbane. Upon arrival at Brisbane airport, you will check in for your Singapore Airlines flight, SQ246 which departs at 23:35 to Singapore, en route to Hanoi, Vietnam.
Chào ban! Welcome to Vietnam! Your flight lands into Hanoi at 11:40am and you will be met at the airport by a World Youth Adventures representative and transferred to your centrally located hotel. We begin our adventure with a Hanoi sightseeing tour, first visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex. Without question, Ho Chi Minh is one of the great figures of 20th Century history and we visit Ho Chi Minh Quarter for a look at the life of the father of modern Vietnam. First we will visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. The Mausoleum sits in Ba Dinh Square and is where Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. In the same complex, we will see the Humble House on Stilts from which ‘Uncle Ho’ ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. We will also visit Ho Chi Minh Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda.
We will then drive to the serene Temple of Literature, Hanoi's first university dating back to 1070 and a historical centre of learning, now dedicated to Confucian worship.
After visiting the Army Museum, we transfer to the Old Quarter, the bustling heart of Hanoi which has been a commercial centre since King Ly Thai To built his palace there in the 11th century. Skilled craftsmen started to migrate and artisan guilds were formed on the famous "36 Streets" in the time since, making this a mesmerising and beautiful maze of streets and markets. Previously, each street carried the name of the item produced and sold there, and many still have the same names. This is a place you must see to experience the "real" Hanoi, where you will find shopping and cultural/historical sites all wrapped into one. Possibly one of the main things you will take away from today, is the amount of scooters and motorbikes on the streets in Hanoi. This is an attraction in itself and is common all over Vietnam!
Tonight, we enjoy a Welcome dinner at a local restaurant with local specialities. Accompanying the dinner will be the unique art of a Water Puppet Show, a traditional art form closely connected with the long-standing spiritual life of the Vietnamese people. It is performed in a pool of water with the water surface being the stage. The puppeteers stand behind a screen and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and a string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. A traditional Vietnamese orchestra provides background music accompaniment.
Accommodation: An Nam Legend hotel
After breakfast, we depart Hanoi for Halong Bay in our private air conditioned coach (approx. 3.5 hours). Upon arrival, we’ll board the traditional ‘junk’ boat that will be taking us through Halong Bay. Our overnight cruise through this magnificent bay will undoubtedly be a highlight of the trip. While onboard our boat today we’ll be cruising through this spectacular labyrinth of emerald waters studded with towering, jungle-clad limestone outcrops, eating fresh seafood and spending the afternoon swimming, kayaking and exploring some of the secluded beaches, caves and grottoes in the area. We will pass by Chicken Rock, Titov Island, Vung Vieng floating village and much more. After coming back onboard, we are given a cooking demonstration of traditional Vietnamese food out on the sundeck, before being served a delicious dinner and spend our first night aboard in our own private cabins.
NOTE: Cruise itinerary and schedule are subject to change due to weather, tide levels and operating conditions.
Accommodation: Twin share cabins on board boat
Today we continue our cruise to visit more sightseeing and spots in Ha Long Bay. Start your day with Tai Chi on the sundeck while complimentary tea and coffee are served. Continental breakfast will also be served in the dining room. We will visit Luon Cave in small row boats this morning, before getting back on board our 'Junk' boat for a buffet brunch, as cruise back to harbour. We will reach the pier around noontime and transfer back to Hanoi, stopping en route at Bac Ninh to visit Dinh Bang Communal House. Considered the most beautiful communal house in the north of Vietnam, its construction started in 1700 and ended in 1736. You will learn about the important role of communal houses in the local spiritual life, and have a chance to admire its beautiful carvings and architecture.
Back in Hanoi, we will have day rooms at the hotel for our group to use, before we board the Reunification Express for our southbound train to Hue in the evening. The overnight accommodation aboard the train is in four person cabins where we sleep in comfortable berths swaying to the timeless rhythm of the railroad.
Overnight on train
Note: Dayuse room in Hanoi is available for you for freshening up before dinner and to store bags in for the afternoon, before boarding the over night train.
You will arrive mid-morning into Hue and have breakfast at a local restaurant. After purchasing donations, we will visit the orphanage at Duc Son Pagoda and you have a chance to enjoy a special vegetarian meal. Next, we explore the the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden City created in the 19th century for the Emperors under Nguyen Dynasty. Like the citadel, the city of Hue itself is a walled city designed by a French architect. After a short boat cruise down the Perfume River, we drive to Hoi An passing the scenic Lang Co lagoon and Hai Van Pass.
Accommodation: Thuy Duong 3 hotel
Hoi An, probably the most delightful town in Vietnam, was a major sea port in the Middle Ages. Untouched in any of the wars, Hoi An retains influences from Chinese, Japanese, French and even Portuguese and British traders who stopped here between China and India. Adding to Hoi An’s beauty is the Thu Bon River which winds its way through the city and out to the South China Sea. Take a leisurely walking tour of the Old Town, visiting the Japanese covered bridge, Chinese Assembly Hall and a typical hundred-year-old ancient house.
In the afternoon, we will visit Hoi An’s colourful market and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and purchase some of the ingredients to be used in our cooking class later. We board the Red Bridge boat for a short leisurely cruise (25 minutes) along the Hoi An River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. This is a chance to view local river life, so make sure your camera is handy! On arrival, we explore the cooking school’s herb and vegetable garden, before learning about some of Hoi An’s and Vietnam’s well-known dishes. The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours - each dish is first demonstrated by the Red Bridge chef’s, before we prepare the same dish ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration). After the lesson, we sit down to enjoy what we have cooked.
Accommodation: Thuy Duong 3 hotel – ROH room
This morning, we drive from Hoi An to Danang and take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city of Vietnam and is the bustling economic capital and cultural trendsetter of the country, yet holds the timeless traditions of an ancient culture.
We get to know the city’s highlights, starting with a visit the Reunification Palace, the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It witnessed the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. TWe also visit the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883, with most materials imported from France. Neo-Romanesque in form, it is a major centre of Catholicism in modern Vietnam, and one of the city’s major landmarks. Next to the cathedral stands the Saigon Post Office, a classic French colonial structure, which is still a functioning post office today and features huge ceilings, a giant portrait of Uncle Ho, and many beautiful details. Continue to the War Remnants Museum, established in September 1975, previously known as the “Museum of American War Crimes”, which contains countless artefacts and photographs documenting said crimes - the killing of civilians, spreading of chemicals, torturing of prisoners, and the effects of the war on Vietnam. Planes, tanks, bombs, and helicopters displayed, and outside the museum are some rooms displaying cultural products of Vietnam. Final visit of the day is to Ben Thanh Market – an icon of the city in the center of District 1. Packed to the rafters with everything from fruits to nuts, tourist kitsch to true bargains, it is a definite must-see.
Accommodation: Bloom Hotel
After breakfast, we transfer to Vung Tau to enjoy a full day tour today to Nui Dat, Long Tan and the surroundings. We start with a visit to the former Task Force Base of Nui Dat. Nui Dat is a relatively small hill located on Route 2, established as the base for 5RAR and 6RAR in June 1966. You will also visit Long Tan, arguably the most famous battle fought by the Australian Army during the American War in Vietnam. The battlefield was originally a rubber plantation. Here you will visit the Long Tan Cross, Long Phuoc Tunnel and Horse-Shoe Hill (outside visit only).
Accommodation: Bloom Hotel
Today we have a full day trip to the beautiful and intriguing Mekong Delta. This morning we will drive to Ben Tre, a southern province located in the Mekong Delta, passing lush rice paddies and fruit farms emerging alongside the highway as we leave the city behind. Upon arrival in Ben Tre, take a short stroll through a shaded area of coconut gardens before stopping to enjoy freshly picked fruit, a cup of honey tea and a traditional folk song performance.
Walk further to the river bank where we continue our journey by sampan, taking the time to discover the maze of small palm-lined canals. Directly in front of a small pier we will have the chance to see a family-run business where they make coconut candy.
Embark on a motorised boat ride toward Turtle Island. Take some time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the village observing fruit orchards along the way. Our lunch will consist of typical Mekong dishes at a local restaurant. After lunch we will cruise to Chuong Duong waterfront pier where we can take in the Delta scenery of stilt houses and local fish farms.
We drive back to Saigon and stop en route at either Vinh Trang Pagoda, which was built in 1849 and is one of the first pagodas to incorporate a mixture of Asian and European architectural features, or a small, colourful Cao Dai temple, which represents a synthesis of world religions.
Accommodation: Bloom Hotel
This morning we head to the Cu Chi Tunnels which are located in an area known during the American War in Vietnam as the ‘Iron Triangle’, on account of the strength of its Communist insurgency. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960's. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life in the American War must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!). Cu Chi was also the conclusion to many caravan paths, that traced down from the Chinese border, across mountain borders with Laos and into the Mekong Delta, which later became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The network, which is several storeys deep in some parts, includes trapdoors, living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens.
This afternoon is then free for any last minute shopping in Saigon and your guide will accompany you. Tonight, you will enjoy a specially organised Farewell Dinner where you say farewell to your tour leader and share stories about the week that has been and all the incredible experiences you have all had!
Accommodation: Bloom Hotel
Your flight today departs at 12:15 and you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure. Your flight is with Singapore Airlines, flying via Singapore for Brisbane.
Arrive in Brisbane at 07:15 and transfer to your Qantas flight QF2534, departing Brisbane at 13:40. You are scheduled to arrive in Longreach at 15:45 today. All services finish on arrival at Longreach Airport.
Per Person, Twin Share