COLORFUL VIETNAM FOR PRIDE

The journey through Vietnam to explore the local art, food, culture and interact with the LGBTQ+ local community.
DETAILED ITINERARY
Day 1: Hanoi – Arrival (Own ticket)                                                                                                                

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, transfer to your hotel in your private vehicle.

The capital Hanoi is best known for its thriving contemporary arts scene and French architecture, visible by many colonial villas scattered throughout the city. Compared to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi is more traditional and refined. As Hanoi is becoming more populated with people and automobiles, the city is experiencing more traffic congestion, particularly in the Old Quarter.

Day 2: Hanoi sightseeing & backstage Hau Dong show                                         

Start the tour with a sit-down at a vintage coffee shop tucked away in a century-old house to observe the typical morning culture of Hanoians before work. Then drive to the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every Monday & Friday, all afternoons, and from early September until mid-November). After that, you can visit One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Wind your way afterward to the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, for an overview of Hanoian culture and an appreciation for ancient Vietnamese architecture.

After lunch, continue on a cyclo ride around Hanoi Old Quarter to witness the bustling local life reflected through small crowded streets where people have been trading things for centuries.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 08:30
  • Duration: 6 hours

Hầu Đồng, an age-old Spirit Possession Ritual that has just been recognized as Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage, is an art combination of various folk artistic values in terms of literature, music, dancing, fine arts, performing arts, and folk festivals.

The performers, called spirit mediums (Đồng) either male or female, are believed to be able to contact directly with the spirits of the Mother Goddess. At the same time, the ceremony attendants (the audience) hope to have contact with the spirits to ask for their blessing. Interestingly, most of the males who play Đồng are gays.

They, compared to other “Đồng”, somehow have a much better performance ability and better connection to Mother Goddess. Today meet up with a young gay who has been the spirit medium for many years, let him share with you all about his works, including the historical and cultural of Hầu Đồng, performance costumes and dances, about how he was chosen to become a spirit medium, and how his life is managed to be accepted as a gay in daily life.

Notes:

  • Availability: Thursday and Saturday evening only, upon request
  • Suggested time: 16:00
  • Duration: 45 minutes for backstage and 45 minutes for show
Day 3: Hanoi – Mai Chau                                                                                                                                              

After breakfast, head to the West of Hanoi for Mai Chau Valley – 04-hour transfer.

Upon arrival, time to relax at the pool with a complimentary afternoon snack, admire the tranquil nature or participate in the wide range of on-site activities at the resort, workshops, yoga classes, meditation, and visit the local museum.

Overnight in Mai Chau

Day 4: Mai Chau – Jungle and Village Trek                                                                                                                    

Challenge yourself to an adventure time on the mountain’s beaten tracks. Coordinate your momentum at a steady pace while soaking in the panorama view along the trek. A picnic lunch is served mid-tour, with time to rest and enjoy the peaceful mountain scenery. 

Day 5: Mai Chau – Ninh Binh – Tam Coc – 4 hours transferring                                                                                       

From Mai Chau, drive two hours south to Trang An Landscape Complex. In 2014, UNESCO listed Trang An’s limestone karst peaks with sheer vertical walls 200m (656ft) above the surrounding land and water. The terrain is a harmony of rice paddies, streams, and dense rain forests clinging to cliffs and mountains. Admire Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s first centralized feudal state from the late 10th century, in the complex. Despite the fortress’s destruction, Dinh and Le dynasty temples remain amid the rice paddies. Visit Tam Coc, “Halong Bay on Land,” and spend two calm hours floating down the river and through the canals with a seasoned rower. Enter three of the highlands’ many natural caverns to see karst architecture.

Day 6: Tam Coc – Ha Long Bay (~ 210 km driving per way ~ 3 hours)                                       

Depart for a 3.5 hour journey to Ha Long Bay. Make a stop en route for some refreshment (around 15-20 minutes). On arrival in Ha Long Bay, let the vacation begin with a lunch as the boat cruises towards South East Ha Long Bay. Spend your time discovering the mysterious caves, tranquil beaches and take part in some group activities on board.

Day 7: Ha Long Bay                                                                                                                               

Wake up early and partake in a Tai Chi demonstration which is held on the upper deck with with complimentary tea and coffee being served. Rejuvenate your body and mind with the slow movement of Tai Chi and enjoy the dawn on the bay and enjoy breakfast while The vessel weighs anchor to sail to surrounding islands for swimming and kayaking.

Head back to the boat to relax on board. Bar opens for Happy Hour with buy one get one free on drinks. Enjoy a wonderful dinner on board tonight. Later, retire to your cabin or join the squid fishing program.

Day 8: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi – Flight to Hoi An                                                                                              

Wake up early to witness the sun rise over the bay with a cup of tea or coffee in hand on the sundeck. After, there will be an early and gentle Tai Chi demonstration. Eat a light breakfast in the restaurant (pastries, tea, coffee) and as we sail to the last sites of your cruise. Check out of your cabin as we draw closer to the mainland. Say goodbye to the crew at 11:30. You will board our tender and head back to the wharf where you will be met by your return trip vehicle to transfer back to Noi Bai airport.

 

Upon arrival at Da Nang airport, drive to Hoi An ancient town which is just 45-minute away.

Day 9: Hoi An town and rural life exploring                                                                                             

Hoi An ancient town is a World Cultural Heritage and boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrianized streets, and a unique food culture since the early 17th century. Many of the buildings in the town reflect historical architectural styles and the whole town is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.  Enjoy a walking tour in the old town for a thorough view of this historic site.

Hoi An’s rural districts are ideal for buffalo cart tours due to their flat, peaceful roads. In Hoi An countryside, farmers and buffalo have become a symbol of rural life in Vietnam, where the buffalo is the family’s most valued possession. Take a picturesque buffalo cart ride past rice paddies, shrimp ponds, and vegetable farms. Continue to take a leisurely cruise along the Hoi An River on a local family’s boat at the pier. You might try casting a traditional fishing net when the boat stops along the shore. Learn to paddle one of Vietnam’s round basket boats. Relax with some light seafood and a drink on your riverboat before returning to town.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 09:00
  • Duration: 7 hours

Day 10: Hoi An – Tales by cuisines.          

Hoi An used to be a famous seaport where the Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, French, etc. made their home during the 17th century. The culinary culture here is an interference of several different cultures. The effects of Chinese, Japanese, and royal Vietnamese are the most significant, shown in both architecture and food. Today meet up with Hoi An famous chef who has spent all his passion in cooking. Take a walk around the wet market to learn about Hoi An fresh ingredients and herbs, and pick some for your cooking class. Back to Chef’s house for a private cooking lesson with all Hoi An special dishes, and listen to the history of each dish, understand the culture and tradition behind the dishes that are loved by Hoi An locals.

Transfer back to Hoi An town.

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning
  • Suggested Time: 08:00
  • Duration: 5 hours

The remainder of the day is free at leisure to enjoy the beach.

Day 11: Hoi An – Da Nang  – Saigon – Saigon sightseeing – Meet and talk with local LGBT volunteers – Saigon nightlife 

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for a flight to Saigon.

Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport, drive to Saigon. 

Despite its modernity, Saigon maintains a strong link to the past and our walking tour takes in some of the city’s most historic landmarks. Transfer to Dong Khoi Street downtown to visit some of the beautiful French colonial-era buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Saigon Opera House and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires constructed from materials imported from France (entrance is only permitted when no services are being performed). Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, completed in 1891. Continue to Jade pagoda was established in the early 1900s to get a glimpse of ancient history when a group of Chinese fled the new regime to Saigon around the end of the 17th century under the reign of Lord Nguyen.

We then drive to Chinatown to visit the beautiful Thien Hau Pagoda, built by the Cantonese community in the early 19th century to honor the Goddess of the Sea. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card, and attach it to one of the incense coils according to local custom.

Gather up for a small meeting and talk with the representative of the LGBT association at a local coffee shop to learn more about the community in Vietnam and how they support the LGBT for a better life and to contribute to the success of society.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 09:00
  • Duration: 8 hours.

The darker the night gets, the more vivid Saigon becomes! Get ready for a fascinating ride by vintage Vespa tonight to discover busy Saigon after dark, together with fun street food tasting in the most authentic local restaurants. Make your first stop at a small yet popular Vietnamese bread stall, line up to get a fresh bread roll before heading to a vintage coffee shop tucked away in a back alley for a briefing. Then continue to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the streets and explore an old apartment complex that comes to life at night with hundreds of food and drinks stalls. Continue riding to a hidden boutique local restaurant to taste the freshest Southern Vietnamese courses. Take a break at a 30-year-old street dessert shop. Conclude your night at an LGBT-friendly speak-easy bar tucked away in a quiet alley to taste their signature cocktails and have a chat with people here. Hop back on the Vespa and ride back to your hotel.

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 18:30
  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Special note: the itinerary is subject to change during the Tet holidays
  • Capacity: max. 15 pax per group. For bigger group sizes, clients will be divided into different private groups

Day 12: Saigon – Ben Tre – hidden homestay at the coconut kingdom.                                         

Get away from Ho Chi Minh City and head to the coconut kingdom of Ben Tre. Arrive at a lovely town tucked away among hundreds of coconut palm palms. Located in a lush tropical garden on the banks of the Mekong River, Mekong Home is an idyllic spot for families to call home. The fresh coconut juice will be served while you check into the lodge.  Get a little rest before setting out to learn the basics of the local fishing skills. 

 

At the conclusion of the day, come back to the local restaurant for a cooking lesson in making “Bánh xèo,” a Vietnamese pancake made with rice milk. Caramelized pork, fish soup, and spring rolls, all made with fresh local vegetables, ingredients, and seasonings, are ready for dinner. Try a foot bath with lemongrass and ginger after dinner for some natural pain relief and relaxation.

 

Notes:

  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 9 hours

 

Day 13: Ben Tre – Saigon                                                                                                                       

Enjoy some time outside while breakfast is being prepared.  After that, you can ride your bike for two to two and a half hours down a paved path lined with fruit and coconut palms to the island of Oc. On your journey, stop at the farmer’s market where you can pick up fresh veggies, meat, fruit, and other supplies. Visit a coconut stem basket making workshop and a coconut processing plant if time permits.  

 

Remount on your bicycles and take a local ferry across the Mekong River to the island. From there, ride your bike through winding dirt roads through thick jungle to see how locals in the Mekong Delta make a living using traditional agricultural and handicraft methods. Stop by a fish farm and get some knowledge on ca tra (Pangasius hypophthalmus) and ca ba sa (Pangasius bocourti), two special species of Mekong catfish grown in ponds. Get on your bike and ride to your Mekong home.  Check out and make your way back to Saigon.

Day 14:  Saigon – Departure (Own tickets)                                                                                              

 

After breakfast, transfer to the airport to take the departure flight home or continue the extension to other destination.

 

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Hanoi countryside tales by traditional crafts

Today, drive an hour along the Red River to Ha Noi’s neighboring countryside through immense rice fields and fruit farms. Visit the village that birthed Vietnamese incense upon arrival. This village’s incense, made from over 30 herbs with skills passed down from generation to generation, is known for its pure, light scent. A guided stroll through the hamlet with older residents will take you to various family-run workshops to see the entire incense-making process and hear about the glory days of this traditional craft. Help the host make incense.

Take another short drive to a rural community behind endless rice fields and duck farms. The locals’ 200-year-old fish-pot crafting heritage includes bamboo weaving. Walk around the village to see the typical Northern countryside architecture: dark brown tiled roofs, three-room houses with elders sitting in front weaving fish-pots and chatting. Visit a local artisan who rode his bike across Vietnam to proudly promote his village’s unique traditional craft. Create your own fish pot with his help and give it as a present.

Notes:

  • Availability: Morning
  • Suggested time: 08:00
  • Duration: 6 hours

*Optional to add Nha Xa silk village
*Incense making at Thon Cao, Hung Yen. Fish-pot making village at Thu Sy, Hung Yen.
*Possible to have lunch at Hung Yen