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Enchanting Vietnam

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Vietnam located on the South China Sea is known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities with Hanoi as its capital known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences.

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Vietnam

Vietnam located on the South China Sea is known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities with Hanoi as its capital known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences.

Day 1: Hanoi

Day 3: Halong Bay

Day 5: Hue

Day 7: Hoi An

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City

Day 13: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Lang Co Fishing Village

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

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Description

 

With stunning scenery, a fascinating history, enchanting culture and friendly people, Vietnam has all of the ingredients to make for a fantastic holiday destination. Whilst it is often included as part of a wider Indochina holiday combined with Cambodia and Laos, Vietnam has so much to offer that it can easily offer a varied holiday experience on its own. Here is just one itinerary to show you how.

 

Day 1: Hanoi

Arrive into Hanoi, located in the north of the country. Here, visit the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Hoa Lo Prison (more commonly known as the Hanoi Hilton). Take a walking tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter or experience a Water Puppet show – a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form.

Two nights Hanoi

Consider slotting in a visit to Sapa from Hanoi – an inland mountainous region accessed by overnight train or by road. A stay here would provide an opportunity to see rural Vietnam.

Day 3: Halong Bay

Travel by road to Halong Bay, providing a chance to enjoy the scenery – predominantly farmland – en route. Look out for farmers on scooters transporting water buffalo! World Heritage listed Halong Bay is a beautiful place, comprised of limestone rock formations dotted throughout the bay. The best way to view this is from a cruise on a traditional junk ship.

Two nights Halong Bay Cruise

Day 5: Hue

Leaving Halong Bay behind, returning to Hanoi before flying down to Hue. Here explore the Imperial Citadel, take a ride through the ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake with its lotus flowers in summer, visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and the Mausoleum of Tu Duc.

Two nights Hue

Day 7: Hoi An

Travel by road to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th Centuries. The scenic route passes through the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds (Hai Van Pass). Take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchant’s houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market.

Three nights Hoi An

At certain times of the year, Hoi An provides a good beach stay destination, in which case a longer stay might be preferred.

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City

Fly down to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). From here, take a tour out to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during the wars. In the city itself, visit the War Remnants Museum, the History Museum and the former Presidential Palace. The Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street, Continental Hotel, the Opera House and City Hall provide an insight into the colonial past.

Three nights Ho Chi Minh City

Day 13: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Today, depart the city for the onward or homeward journey.

Halong Bay

Imperial Citadel Hue

Pictures courtesy of Angie Watson

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Great Rail Journeys of the World

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:

  • Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
  • Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
  • Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.

  • On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
  • On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region.  The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland)  south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.

 

  • An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary.  Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
  • Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of      service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
  • Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.

 

  • Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire.  Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

 

 

 

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