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Wham, bam, thank you Vietnam. Didn’t think you could cover the country’s hottest highlights in ten days? Think again. Invite your mates, save your dollars, exchange them for a few million dong and let’s get this show on the road - the beautiful, paddy-lined road.
Day 1 - 2: Ho Chi Minh means business
With its finger on the pulse and its foot deeply rooted in history, you get a chaotic mix of history and modernity in Vietnam's largest city. With direct flights from NZ with Air New Zealand, visit the Presidential Palace, war remnants museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels before slurping on chai lattes in new-age cafes. Busy beyond comprehension, start your trip in mayhem – glorious mayhem. Spend your daylight hours at historic Dong Khoi Street and your evenings in the First Bar (23 Huynh Thuc Khang Street, District 1), knocking back a cocktail and beating your feet to erratic jazz. You dancing? Because old Saigon is singing.
Day 3: Mekong Delta, it’s a belter
If you're favourite colour's green, you're going to love the Mekong Delta. Even if it's not, you'll fall in love with it anyway. An artery system of rivers, streams and canals, this is where lush countryside meets rural hospitality. Hire a row boat (and a rower!) and amble leisurely down the criss-crossing waterways, nudging mangroves and passing farmers.
Day 4 - 5: Hoi An downtime
Take a breather from the bustle and spend two nights at the five-star Nam Hai Beachfront Resort in laid back Hoi An. Walls to floors, the architecture is jaw-dropping sublime, with streets blanketed in blossom and golden abodes fronting a lantern-lit river. Like coffee? Wake up to an egg coffee, with condensed milk, sugar and raw egg, it’s surprisingly delicious. Discover the markets and hire a bike to explore enchanting back roads. Stop for Hoi An’s signature dish, Cao Lau, made with noodles, pork and fresh greens, before watching the sun set from a cramped, chattering café.
Day 6 - 7: H is for Hue - and history
Put down your chopsticks and look up from your Bun Cha, it’s not all about stuffing your face. Hue is the city that’ll introduce you to the glories of imperial Vietnam. With four famed citadels and more tombs and pagodas than you could shake an emperor’s stick at, Hue sits on the pretty Perfume River and creaks with history. Rent a “xich lo”- a Vietnamese cycle, take a boat trip or travel a few extra kilometres to the coast, for the most wildly beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
Day 8 - 9: "Woosaaaah" in Halong Bay
Fly from Hue to Hanoi and head straight to renowned Halong Bay. Sure it’s heaving with tourists, but don’t sweat the small stuff, this place is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Enjoy an overnight junk boat cruise weaving through emerald water and towering limestone karsts. Drop your kayak off the stern and explore enchanting caves by paddle-power alone. The next morning wake early for Tai Chi on the deck and a pot of steaming green tea while gliding through an early-dawn mist.
Day 10: Return to Hanoi
Free day to do as you wish. Side-step the motorbikes, of which there are many and get lost amidst the Buddhist temples, French architecture and feel-good retail. Your ten days ends in Hanoi but you’ll have plenty of hours to enjoy a Thang Long water puppet show and a hearty few bowls of Pho.
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