The extraordinary, mossy limestone mountains that rear from the waters of Ha Long Bay form one of the most spectacular natural landscapes on the planet. At least 1,600 green islands rise over a flotilla of strung-together fishing boats and floating villages. Spectacular at any time, sunset bathes the remarkable limestone formations in warm, honey-colored light, adding an extra layer to the seascape's heart-stirring beauty. Emerald green sea washes around this immense network of islands and limestone outcrops, which you can explore at leisure on junk boats and by sea kaya
Local legend says the islands were formed when a dragon descended, spitting fire and emerald and jade jewels across the water to deter invaders. The sheer scale points to the supernatural – but scientists stubbornly maintain that this collection of towering sculptures was the result of various forms of erosion and a flood of seawater following the ice age. The water continues to chip away at the islands, and you can venture into the mouths of caves hollowed out by the relentless wash of the waves. Dau Go Cave and Sung Sot Caves are adorned with rows of spectacular stalactites, descending like dragon teeth from above. Investigate via boat, and find island jewels like Ti Top - a sharp, slope of land decorated with a crisp fringe of gleaming sand. The seaplanes that soar overhead, offer a magnificent bird's eye perspective. Located in Vietnam's northeast, the unique topography that forms the islands continues into neighbouring national parks like Cat Ba - which rises and falls in a similar, jaggedly undulating fashion, just without the flooded seawater in-between.
Experience the rich imperial past, stoic resilience, and blissful beaches of central Vietnam, as you delve deep into this fascinating country’s past and present. The sheer beauty and vitality of the scenery will amaze you, as you explore the stories this now tranquil land has to tell - all the while surrounded by rolling rice paddies, freely grazing water buffalo and soaring limestone scenery. Cut in half by the evocatively named Perfume River, and home to a spectacular sprawling citadel, Hue is a true experience for the senses.
Vietnam's timeless beauty outshines the shadows of its past, but Hue still bears the heavy scars of war - whether it's from American bombs, or harrowing events like those of Hue Jungle Crevice - where the Viet Cong pushed 3,000 civilians to their deaths. Hue’s Old City was once the jewel of Vietnam, standing proudly as its Imperial Capital. Lotus flowers now twirl peacefully in the grand moat around its mighty walls, which encase a spectacular array of charred palaces, temples and regal residences. Danang’s Marble Mountains rise dramatically close by, and they are scattered with Buddhist shrines and plunging caves. While there is an endless treasure trove of rich cultural experiences waiting here, it’s hard to resist the call of Danang's idyllic beaches, where white sand gives way to a fringe of palm trees. The undulating humps of the city's Dragon Bridge soar across the wide River Han, and this ambitious structure comes alive at night, when strobing light shows illuminate its flowing form, and the bridge’s dragon head rasps fire into the dusk.
LIFE IN THE MEKONG DELTA - Ho Chi Minh City
Experience Vietnam, off-the-beaten path, to the heart of the Mekong River. Drive along the (well-paved) road to the mighty river, through villages and lush vegetation to the famous to the floating market. Cruise the smaller canals and observe local sampans full of fruits and flowers being rowed to the market and children on their way to school. A delicious lunch of freshly caught fish is included.
HANOI UNCOVERED - Ha Long Bay
Stretching along the banks of the Red River, Hanoi is a city of lakes, boulevards, parks, and a curious blend of colonial architecture and modern economic resurgence. From the French colonial past to Vietnamese temples and fine arts, encounter a touch of Old Hanoi in this lovely, educational, full-day outing.