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The North - South Connection - 12 Days/11 Nights

Post By: little

Date: 12/06/12

 little vietnam
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You arrive at Noi Bai airport and we will bring you to the hotel for check in. In the late afternoon, we?ll take a historical orientation walk through the Old Quarter, delving into the nooks and crannies of the city. Coffee will be served at an art caf that has a great sunset view over Hoan Kiem Lake. The walk will bring us through a restored original Old Quarter homes as well as a visit to Bach Ma Pagoda (White Horse temple). In the evening there will be a pre-departure briefing before we enjoy a delectable welcome dinner at one of Hanoi?s best restaurants. We spend the evening in Hanoi.
The full day is spent sightseeing in this unique city, with its tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples. The city tour includes such sights as Ho Chi Minh?s Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature and the Museum of Ethnology. We will also visit the macabre Hoa Lo Prison (it?s various American nicknames include Hanoi Hilton, Camp One, Camp Unity, Heartbreak, Little Vegas, New Guy Village and West Court). The French built this prison near the turn of the century, with construction completed in 1901. The name Hoa Lo, means "portable earthen stove," and originates from the families who used to live on the land before the French built on it. The families manufactured earthen-ware hibachis, called "hoa lo". One rather odd fact about the prison is that it?s the only street in all of Hanoi with just one address. In the afternoon we will embark on another tour of the bustling Old Quarter and the Dong Xuan market. This large three-story market offers a cornucopia of goods. Hundreds of stalls, with thousands of workers, trading fresh produce, dried foods, household goods, appliances and more. In the evening, we?ll be treated to the delightful water puppet show. We spend the night in Hanoi.
We fly to Hue and arrive in the mid-morning. You have the rest of the morning to spend however you see fit. Hue served as Vietnam's political capital from 1802 to 1945 under the rule of the 13 emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Traditionally, the city has been one of Vietnam's cultural, religious and educational centers and recently it was listed as a World Heritage Site. The afternoon is spent exploring the back-roads that loop out of Hue by bicycle. We are expelled into a lush countryside along footpaths and quiet country lanes. We will stop at the Imperial Citadel as well as the Thien Mu pagoda, located by the banks of the Perfume River. We finish our day?s ride by visiting the Ming Manh and the Khai Dinh mausoleums. We spend the night in in Hue.
The day starts with an 18km drive out to the coast. Here, our cycling begins off-the-beaten track as we travel 40km on a picturesque, narrow peninsular road from Thuan An beach to Vinh Loc. We head over a bridge across the river and join the main highway. Now the fun begins, as we face one of today?s three (!) hill climbs. After the first two moderate climbs of 2-3km apiece, we?ll cruise downhill to the stunning Lang Co Beach for a rest/swim and lunch before tackling the final hill of the day ? the Hai Van (Pass of Ocean Clouds). Due to the completion of a tunnel through the mountain, the 11km uphill trek is now free of traffic. The ascent is manageable and the views are breathtaking! Afterwards, we will take a van the rest of theway to Hoi An, a delightful old trading town and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Note: Cycling distance 50-80km or more. Support: 100% (60% motorbike, on narrow peninsular road)
After an unhurried breakfast we?ll take the bikes for a ride into Hoi An and the surrounding area. A short distance away is the lovely town of Thuan Tinh, set among rice fields and coconut groves. We will visit a strawberry garden, meeting the local villagers, and will have the chance to sample strawberry tea and perhaps buy some homemade strawberry wine. If you don?t mind creepy crawlers, we can also witness live silkworms in various stages of maturity. Next we?ll check out Thanh Ha ceramic village and then we?ll take a one hour boat journey back to Hoi An and have lunch. The rest of the afternoon is yours to do with as you wish ? beach, shopping, exploring ? whatever!.

Note: Cycling distance: approx 20 km (more is possible)
We leave Hoi An early in the morning and take a private van to Quang Ngai. From Quang Ngai, we unload our bikes and start a fabulous ride to Qui Nhon, the capital city of Binh Dinh Province. The road is extremely quiet and people are quite unaccustomed to the sight of cyclists. Rejoining the main highway at Duc Pho we start the final 300km towards Qui Nhon, and the route is a mixture of bus and bike ? your choice! Upon arrival we check into our hotel for the evening.

Note: cycling distance: 50 -60 Km
Today?s ride is fabulous, as we follow a small road that runs parallel to the reunification express railroad. Again we transfer out of town to avoid the main highway and start riding along gently rolling terrain with beautiful views of the foothills. We?ll pass a mixture of tribal and Vietnamese villages with the ubiquitous presence of potbellied pigs and barefooted children dashing across our trail. This is the rural Vietnam that all those other tours miss on Highway One! At the end of the ride, we?ll take a van to Nha Trang, stopping en route at Dai Lanh Beach for refreshments and a dip in the sea. Tonight we sleep in Nha Trang.

Note: cycling distance 60-70km
Time for a boat cruise! The first stop is at the aquarium and then we head out to Hon Mun Island where we have the chance for swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. From here, we continue to Hon Tam Island where you have the choice of relaxing on the beach, or for the more energetic, there is a selection of water sports. A seafood lunch will be served at the fishing village of Lang Chai and there is time to explore before boarding the boat back to Nha Trang harbor. Our afternoon cycling will bring us to the 9th century Po Nagar Cham Towers, the Long Son Pagoda with its enormous Buddha statue and the eclectic Dam Market. We spent another the night in Nha Trang.

Note: cycling distance: 20-30km
Goodbye beaches and hello highlands! It?s an early departure as we drive 2 hours to Cam Ranh. From here we jump onto a remote mountain road and cycle into the central highlands towards Dalat. Dalat was established as a resort in the beginning of the 1900?s by homesick French colonials who were attracted to its cool, spring-like weather, pine forests, waterfalls and lakes. Many reminders of Dalat?s colonial past can be seen in the hundreds of European style villas and chalets still standing around town. This ride is possibly the highlight of the trip with long steady ascents and descents, winding forest roads and verdant scenery. The rugged countryside offers an epic cycling experience and stands in complete contrast to all the cycling completed so far. We arrive in Dalat in the afternoon and sleep in a completely renovated former French colonial hotel.

Note: cycling distance: 60-70km
Our morning ride takes us alongside the Xuan Huong Lake before it veers off into the shadow of Langbian Mountain. We journey beside flower farms and vegetable gardens, through small villages with picturesque churches, ornate cemeteries, old colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. The terrain is undulating, and the road is mainly smooth with some broken sections and some gravel parts. Total riding distance is up to 40/50km; variable, as the group may want to stop to visit a flower farm en route or have the chance to explore coffee plantations. The trail leads out to an area where the founder of Dalat, Alexander Yersin, first wanted to build the city. It?s a beautiful spot overlooking a magnificent lake surrounded by pine trees. We spend the evening in Dalat.

Note: cycling distance: 40-50km
We leave Dalat after breakfast and transfer to Lien Khuong airport for a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. HMC is still called Saigon by a majority of population. Saigon is Vietnam's heart -- commercially, spiritually, and culturally. It is the soul of Vietnam. After check in at our hotel, our guide will take us to China town and the Cho Lon Market, which is the most bustling place in the whole city! China town has the best pagodas in the HMC, such as Nghia Am Hoi Quan Pagoda, Quan Am Hoi Quan, Thai Sanh and Thien Hau Thanh Mau. The evening is yours to explore this dynamic city. Do not miss Dong Khoi Street?s tourist center ? starting at the Notre Dame Cathedral and running all the way to the waterfront. We will sleep overnight in Saigon.
There is free time until we transfer you to the airport for your onward flight.
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