MOVE & MEDITATE

Experience

MOVE & MEDITATE

HOI AN I CAM NAM ISLAND

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – APRIL

IDEAL LENGTH

8 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

2


At a time when we are all just trying to juggle life’s commitments, committing to our own wellbeing is easily overlooked. But wellness can lose its meaning when it is not deep and long-lasting. For guests in search of a permanently healthier outlook on life, step back in time and experience a unique combination of spiritual, physical and psychological immersion and space in which to discover what ‘wellbeing’ actually means via the people who practice what they preach.

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Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ISLAND

All of this takes place in the chilled-out atmosphere on sumptuous Cam Nam Island, where you’ll have the opportunity to establish the foundations of your own, personal health – drawing on the knowledge of expert practitioners and gurus who hold the keys to resetting your health in a truly long-lasting way.

MIND & BODY

You will experience daily yoga and meditation sessions with a leading practitioner. Tailored to your needs, the sessions will help you to establish the skills for lasting daily practice. In between yoga classes, you will have a diverse and culturally rich range of adventures at your fingertips. You will reset your dietary health through a personal, ongoing exploration of nutrition with a macrobiotic chef; attend nutritional workshops and a macrobiotic cooking masterclass to rebuild the foundations of what a truly healthy diet can be.

WELLNESS

This retreat has been created for you to spend time with wellness experts, who will guide you through nutritional workshops, wellness discussions and yoga sessions on mystical Cam Nam.  Gain a personal approach to preparing truly fresh, sustainable, and healthy meals and ensuring you understand how to integrate a healthy diet in life once home. You may be surprised by what you discover.


OTHER EXPERIENCES YOU MAY LIKE


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FILM ROLL ACTION IN VIETNAM

Experience

FILM ROLL ACTION IN VIETNAM

HANOI I HUE I DANANG I HOI AN I SAIGON

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

10 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


Travel photography is all about being in the right place at the right time- but having the help of top photographers at the world’s most beautiful places can play a part too. This trip through Vietnams most interesting and stimulating settings is the brainchild of local photographers, who lead a unique photo tour with their local knowledge and expertise at your fingertips. There is little doubt that Vietnam is one of the World’s most photogenic countries. No matter what camera one uses, you are bound to have a least a few gems on your film roll or memory card. Carefully designed to include the very best of this remarkable country, with its breath-taking natural beauty, enticing culture and truly wonderful people, our 10-day Vietnam photography tour will be based in five different locations essentially covering the north, central and southern areas with the longer journeys being covered by two internal flights. From mountainous landscapes to snapshots of daily life, the camera sure seems to be a perfect match for Vietnam.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ACTION IN HANOI

We begin our tour in the capital Hanoi. Here we will contrast the manic, action-packed streets of the city with the peaceful, tranquil beauty of the surrounding villages where we will have the opportunity to meet local people and admire the centuries old architecture. We will have time to explore with our cameras during which we will discover the labyrinthine Old Quarter and enjoy the south east Asian, French, and Chinese influences that combine to make a fascinating start to our tour. In these first few days we will also visit local ancient villages to experience the heritage of old Vietnam and its people. After a short internal flight, we will spend the middle couple of days around the elegant city Hue. Here we will get to explore the Forbidden City with their faded ancient buildings and surreal scenes. We will also experience the Cham tribe and their habitation around the sand dunes.

WHISTLE STOP HOI AN

Leaving imperial Hue, taking in years of rich history, it is time to take a train journey to Danang. One of the most-photographed landscapes in Vietnam is a picturesque perch from which to take in the East Sea and the Annamese Mountains. Next, we stay at the harbour town of Hoi An, awash with a great mix of culture and natural beauty. There is no better way to get to know a place than with some local expert help. With that in mind, we’ve organised a tip-top guide to enlighten you to the ways of the local farmers and fishermen – a personal experience that will stay with you forever with the beauty of catching it all on film. In great company, wind your way through bright green paddy fields, taking photos of incredible palmed waterways from a bamboo basket boat.

HO CHI MINH NIGHTS

Another short flight will deliver us to our favourite Ho Chi Minh City. There is plenty to photograph, the city’s historic landmarks, from the Opera House to the Notre Dame Cathedral ( a direct copy of the Parisian original), but before you dive into the heart and soul of the city, you must go to the food districts. From pork and rice pancakes to snail-based delicacies, Saigon quite literally has a lot on its plate. Discover what this thriving and exciting metropolis can offer in terms of street photography, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. The bustling streets will have you exploring endless subjects for your camera.



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NINETEEN: TRAVELLING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE VIETNAM WAR

Experience

NINETEEN: TRAVELLING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE VIETNAM WAR

HANOI I HUE I DANANG I HOI AN I HO CHI MINH CITY I BA RIA

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

11 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


The Vietnam War reached its bloody crescendo 50 years ago and its veterans have marched into history’s pages. Yet this lovely, dynamic country cannot escape the conflict – it permeates the national personality as profoundly as Honda motorbikes permeate Hanoi streets. The peace forged from pain has, poignantly, created a thriving destination whose complexity owes much to conflict.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ANZAC’S

Our journey takes us from Hanoi in the north to Vung Tau and Saigon in the south. Walk in the footsteps of more than 50,000 Anzac’s who served during the Vietnam War, visiting key Australian, New Zealand and American war sites while introducing you to Vietnam’s historic treasures, vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine.

VIETNAM’S BUZZING CAPITAL

Touchdown in Vietnam’s buzzing capital, Hanoi. The city wears its multi-layered history like a rich garment. If you are in the mood for a truly local take on this great city, ask anyone in Hanoi, and they’ll tell you the only way to slow up the pace and see the city like a local is by cyclo. After your first night in Hanoi visit the heritage-listed Hanoi Citadel, whose artefacts date from the 6th century and highlight Vietnam’s centuries long independence battle. The Military History Museum narrates Vietnam’s long march to freedom, from early colonisation and occupation to the Vietnam War. A magnificent diorama of the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu underscores Vietnamese guile in defeating the French and ending the First Indochina War. Wander through the main courtyard strewn with tanks, aircraft and weaponry, whose centrepiece is a dramatic sculpture constructed from shot-down American B-52 bombers. Hoa Lo Prison Museum, also know as Maison Centrale or the Hanoi Hilton, was once a brutal prison where the French kept political prisoners and later it was home to shot down American pilots. The late US senator John Mc Cain was kept here, and he is now revered in Vietnam for his efforts in normalising relations and ending economic sanctions after the war. McCain was shot down at Ho Tay or West Lake and we visit his small memorial where a former Vietcong artillery gunner greets you. Next, on to Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body in his massive mausoleum, before wandering the grounds of Hanoi’s former Presidential Palace. “Uncle Ho” lived here until his death in 1969, eschewing the palace for a modest stilt house. He is honoured at every turn. At the Signal Arm Museum view the interesting collections of signal items that helped bring Vietnam to victory and enjoy a special walk with a veteran who was a commander of a signal platoon. Our welcome dinner is at Jimmy Pham’s KOTO (Know one, Teach One). Vietnamese-Australian Jimmy Pham came to Australia with his mother and five brothers aged eight in 1966. Hard work and opportunity meant he could return to Vietnam and open a small sandwich shop to provide employment for nine street children in 1999. KOTO has grown and operates as a hospitality training school for disadvantaged young people. The food is simply amazing. Pham’s resilience, optimism and determination symbolise the Vietnamese character, forged by hardship, inspirational, like the country.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH IN HUE

Our journey today starts with a walk around Hue’s tourist-thronged ancient Citadel, where one of the war’s bloodiest battles took place. Hue, about 70 kilometres south of the 17th Parallel, formerly the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating South and North Vietnam, was once the Imperial capital and remains Vietnam’s cultural and spiritual heart. The Imperial City is a walled enclosure within Hue’s Citadel, with palaces, shrines and the Forbidden Purple City, the exclusive home of the emperor, his family, eunuchs and concubines. The Battle of Hue between January and March 1968 when North Vietnamese forces launched the Tet Offensive was one of the war’s longest and bloodiest battles. Hue was almost destroyed, and more than 5000 civilians killed. Crossing the DMZ, it’s 140 kilometres over the scenic Hai Van Pass via Danang to Hoi An, with its World Heritage-listed old town famous for its tailors. The coastal city of Danang, was a major air base for US and South Vietnamese forces. Today, a fire-spurting dragon bridge loops across the Han River and beach resorts scroll along those golden sands. We make a stop at My Khe beach once nicknamed ‘China beach’ by US forces enjoying RnR before arriving in Hoi An.

THERE’S NOWHERE LIKE HOI AN

For the next three nights you will wander the streets of colourful Hoi An, sitting on the banks of the Thu Bon River, offering narrow cobblestone lanes, well-preserved architecture and distinctive local cuisine. Once a trading port for the sandalwood, spice, tea, rice, elephant tusk and rhino horn vessels that blew in on the trade winds, Hoi An is now a shopping paradise for those after silk or jewels. After Hoi An, carry onto Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. The war ended here when the North Vietnamese Army’s tank No 843 smashed the Presidential Palace gates after the last American helicopter left. You can see the tank in Hanoi’s Military History Museum. Next up, a drive to Cu Chi, 40 kilometres from Saigon. The sounds from the neighbouring rifle range, the jungle smells and the uniformed officials render Cu Chi unsettling for returning veterans. Today, orchid farms replace the trenches, foxholes and caves, while frangipani and paw paw trees line the tapioca fields and rubber plantations. You will see the gruesome spiked traps and can descend into the dark earthen tubes that harboured up to 10,000 VC troops before the Tet Offensive. They are enlarged but can be claustrophobic, and if you are even braver you can experience the VC’s tiny spider holes.

VUNG TAU

During the next few days your guide elaborates on Australia’s war. Ba Ria, once capital of Phuoc Tuy, bore the brunt of the February 1968 Tet Offensive attacks along with neighbouring Long Dien. You will be taken to Vung Tau where a large fight took place between Australian soldiers and the NVA in June 1966. We will explore the sights of Vung Tau, including Back Beach and the Peter Badcoe Club – named after an Australian VC winner killed in Vietnam and used by Australian and New Zealand soldiers on in-country leave. The area is now a public beach and houses a massive war memorial to honour its past. The following day visit Long Tan, the site of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War. Our first stop is Nui Dat, where we will explore old bunkers, helicopter pads, SAS Hill and Luscombe Airfield. We will then head to nearby Long Tan village to see the Long Tan Cross, the memorial erected by Australian troops in 1966 to remember their fallen comrades. Marvel in the panoramas of rubber plantations that flank the battleground and imagine the rich and troubled history still tangible on these grounds. The journey continues to the Horseshoe, a former Australian Fire Support Base and the Long Hai hills – a major VC base during the War. We will also visit a memorial which commemorates more than 2000 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in this area, mostly in operations against Anzac troops.



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DISCOVER VIETNAM & THE MEKONG WATERWAYS

Experience

DISCOVER VIETNAM & THE MEKONG WATERWAYS

HANOI I HALONG BAY I HOI ANIHUE I HO CHI MINH CITY I CAI BE I TAN CHAU I PHNOM PENH I KAMPONG CHAM I KAMPONG I SIEM REAP

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – APRIL

IDEAL LENGTH

20 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

10


The Mekong River is the seventh longest river in Asia flowing through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Historically it has been a major trade route, a natural border and a cultural melting pot for the region. This relaxed journey combines the fascinating natural and historical highlights along its banks in two of these countries.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CAPITOL INFLUENCES

Your journey begins in Hanoi, the economic capital of Vietnam and centre of the French and American 20th century influences. Venture off on a unique guided tour of the sites followed by a delicious spread at a local restaurant Black Lotus supports. Without a doubt, the best way to enjoy Halong Bay is by cruising through the sparkling turquoise waters by boat –admire the limestone islands, the floating villages and the intriguing caves.

BECOME A LOCAL

Next, it’s the beautiful heritage town of Hoi An, a highlight of Vietnam. The architecture remains as it was centuries before, faded yellow coloured facades with Chinese-style roofing, creating a setting reminiscent of an ancient far east fairy tale. During your down time, we highly recommend trying one of our favourite tours, maybe learn to cook with a professional, take a jeep off the beaten track and visit the locals or take a leisurely bike ride through the rice paddies. It’s time to relax and take a drive over the Hai Van Pass to Hue,this tranquil city is home to Vietnam’s most celebrated (and spicy) cuisine and is known as a centre of literature and arts. Time to head to the glitz and glamour that is Ho Chi Minh City where the possibilities are endless.

CAMBODIA EXPERIENCE

Saving the splendours of Cambodia for your final last days, highlights of this itinerary include a luxury cruise from Saigon to Cambodia on The Lost Civilization, life on board is going to be full of pinch your self-moments, adventures to luxury,Khmer temples to French colonial elegance, hospitable locals and incredible landscapes – Cambodia’s charms cast a spell over all who visit. A century has passed since explorers rode elephants through Cambodian jungle and discovered the temples of Angkor Wat, this incredible complex of creeper-clad ruins outside of Siem Reap has been wowing travellers for years.

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12 NIGHTS ACCOMMODATION IN 4 STAR HOTELS I 7 NIGHTS ABOARD A LUXURY RIVER CRUISE IN THE MEKONG DELTA I BREAKFAST DAILY I 12X LUNCHES I 8X DINNERS I ALL TRANSFERS I SIGHTSEEING AND ENTRANCE FEES I PORT TAXES I THE SERVICES OF AN ENGLISH SPEAKING GUIDE AND DOMESTIC FLIGHTS WITHIN VIETNAM I HANOI-DANANG I HUE-HO CHI MINH CITY



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VIETNAM: AN ART FUELLED DISCOVERY

Experience

VIETNAM: AN ART FUELLED DISCOVERY

HANOI I HALONG BAY I HOI AN I HO CHI MINH CITY I MEKONG DELTA

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


Gain an insight into Vietnam’s art, history and culture – from great works inspired by the spiritual world to modern contemporary art, there is something to appeal to all tastes. This 12 day journey is thoroughly recommended for art enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. The adventure begins in the bustling capital city of Hanoi at the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius and built in the 11th century.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

HANOI’S ART CULTURE

Take the opportunity to sit and capture the beauty of the temple by sketching this monument and its surroundings in charcoal. Across the street is the Museum of Fine Arts, here learn about the French Indochina influence on educating and encouraging Vietnamese artisans to explore the concept of self-expression. Visit the Vietnam Art Gallery with its focus on contemporary artists before exploring a local district of Hanoi. Your time in Hanoi also includes a special visit to one of the villages where Vietnamese water puppetry originated for a behind the scenes experience. Visit But Thap Pagoda, well known for its wood carvings, followed by Dong Ho Village famous for its long-preserved art of wood block painting

STUDIO TO MUSEUM

Spend the next day with a lacquer artist in his studio, creating your own lacquer ware piece before you take an evening flight to Hue. Explore the fascinating Imperial Citadel, Royal Tombs and local markets with a second day set aside to visit local art centres including Le Ba Dang Art Centre with its densely textured mixed-media paintings of moulded pasteboard and limestone; the Diem Phung Thi Art Museum; and the famous Truc Chi Art Centre. Truc Chi is the art of making objects from imprinted bamboo paper.

WORKSHOPS

It’s then onto Hoi An, recognised worldwide not only for its ancient beauty, but also its colourful lanterns – visit the home of a family who have been making lanterns for generations and construct your very own lantern. A day at leisure in Hoi An also allows you to wander through the cobblestone streets. Continue to Ho Chi MinhCity and explore the colonial-era Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum. This elegant building is filled with art, including thoughtful pieces from the modern period. The final day is spent with fun artistic classes and evening cocktails at a local studio.

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HANOI FOOD TOUR I HANOI CITY EXPLORATION I VIETNAM MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS I WATER PUPPETRY EXPERIENCE I WOODCUT PRINTS I LAQUERWARE STUDIO I HUE HERITAGE MODERN ART OF HUE I HOI AN LATERN MAKING I HO CHI MINH FINE ARTS MUSEUM I FULL DAY ART CLASS I COCKTAILS AT LOCAL STUDIO



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VIETNAM GASTRONOMY: A LOVE AFFAIR

Experience

VIETNAM GASTRONOMY: A LOVE AFFAIR

HANOI I HALONG BAY I HOI AN I HO CHI MINH CITY I MEKONG DELTA

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


Having been occupied by the Chinese, French and Americans – brutal imprint shave been left on the Vietnamese story but also creating a rich cultural smorgasbord – evident not only in architecture but the flavours of Vietnamese cuisine. Globally known for its diversified flavours and freshness, Vietnamese cuisine is unforgettable with popular dishes including the fresh (or fried) spring rolls, through to the traditional ‘Pho’ noodle soup and generally accompanied by side dishes of chillies, soya sauce and by far the most popular, nuoc mam,the local fish sauce.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

COCKTAILS AND FLAMES

On this 12 day gastronomy journey, gain an insight into the intricacies of Vietnamese food culture. Your culinary adventure begins in the bustling capital city of Hanoi and at the unique bar that created the Pho Mojito cocktail. A surprising yet delicious mix of a mojito with the flavours of the iconic noodle soup! Whilst taking in the sights of the city, sample some genuine local life and try several typical sidewalk breakfast menus but also for lunch one of our favourites, Bun Cha – flame grilled pork meat served with sticky rice noodles. Experience a ‘nhau’ restaurant, often family-owned outdoor taverns with fold-out tables and plastic chairs – although noisy, the atmosphere is energetic and bubbly.

CRUISE CULINARY

From Hanoi head to Halong Bay and embark on a beautiful wooden junk boat for an overnight cruise, a special experience for any traveller to Vietnam. It’s then on to Hoi An, recognised worldwide not only for its ancient beauty but also its street food cuisine with speciality dishes including Quang Nam Gio spring rolls and the My Quang noodles.

CAFE

Continue to Ho Chi Minh City, with its hugely popular cafe culture. Vietnamese have refined their version of coffee, an imported drink from the French, to be bold and with soul – meet with some coffee experts who are passionate about its western form to the purest Vietnamese way its served. They will introduce you to the different blends and aromas of coffee before getting into a practical workshop. For the final part of the tour, board a Mekong River cruise where the prosperous land of the delta brings a lot of fresh ingredients.

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HANOI FOOD TOUR I HANOI CITY EXPLORATION I FOOD TASTINGS I NHAU RESTAURANT EXPERIENCE I VIETNAMESE EGG COFFEE TASTING I COOKING LESSONS I OVERNIGHT HALONG BAY CRUISE I HOI AN SUNSET CRUISE I COUNTRYSIDE VINTAGE VESPA SCOOTER RIDE I LESSON ON BANH MI I COFFEE EDUCATIONAL I TWO NIGHT MEKONG RIVER CRUISE



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FAMILY MEMOIRS IN VIETNAM

Experience

FAMILY MEMOIRS IN VIETNAM

HANOI I CAT BA ISLAND I PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK I HUE I HOI AN

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

11 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


With many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, breath-taking scenery, beautiful beaches, an abundance of shopping and a delectable cuisine – Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of cultural and sensory contrasts; it offers the perfect destination for a family adventure. We here at Active Asia, quite simply believe that Vietnam is one of the most divine Asian destinations on the planet. Travelling as a family is rewarding, it creates fond memories and for most children, it offers a different perspective on life – any trip to the east offers eye opening contrasts to the ways of the west. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

BACKSTREETS

Start out in Hanoi, the bustling capital city. Dive into the backstreets and explore with a flurry of noise, scooter horns, bicycle bells and vendors selling goods. Get off the grid with a cool urban hike which includes walking a piece of heritage, the symbol of Hanoi, the beautiful Long Bien Bridge.

SCATTERED MOUNTAINS

Catch a hydrofoil from Hai Phong and continue to jungle-clad Cat Ba Island, the largest island in Halong Bay. Explore nearby Lan Ha Bay, the twin sister of Halong Bay and certainly one of the less travelled corners of the Halong Bay archipelago. Fly to Dong Hoi, the gateway to Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, where you’ll spend two days exploring. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park contains numerous karst mountains scattered with caves and under ground rivers. You’ll explore Paradise Cave with its magnificent scenery and spectacular stalagmites.

HISTORY

As you continue travelling south, drive across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which will take you to the Hien Luong Bridge, a historic landmark that served as the border gate between North and South Vietnam before reunification. As you arrive in the ancient imperial city of Hue, you’ll actually stay in a beautiful resort on Thuan An Beach, about 10km from Hue town

FAMILY

Although Hue unveils important pieces of Vietnam history it also offers plenty of fun with a stand-up paddle board expedition to a restaurant on stilts above a lagoon. Wrap up your family journey in Hoi An, travelling from Hue via the Hai Van Pass and its superb vistas. Some days may feel exhausting but we’re pretty sure they’ll be loaded with long lasting memories for years to come.

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HANOI CITY TOUR I HANOI URBAN HIKE I TREKKING IN CAT BA NATIONAL PARK I EXPLORATION OF LAN HA BAY I BICYCLE RIDE THROUGH PHONG NHA KE BANG NATIONAL PARK I PARADISE CAVE EXPLORATION I ZIP LINING I DMZ AND VINH MOC TUNNELS EXPLORATION I COOKING LESSON I STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING I IMPERIAL CITADEL EXCURSION I TRAVEL THE HAI VAN PASS COUNTRYSIDE CYCLE OF HOI AN I CAM THANH MANGROVE KAYAK



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HIDDEN CORNER OF NORTHERN VIETNAM

Experience

HIDDEN CORNER OF NORTHERN VIETNAM

HANOI I SUOI MU I NINH BINH I HALONG BAY

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

7 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

4


Rich in its long, winding history and shrouded with mystique, Northern Vietnam has always held a magnetic quality. It has provided a pilgrimage for many hundreds of thousands of pairs of feet that have come to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Sites that sit alongside a riot of colour and culture.The landscape lives and breathes the story of time. On this 7 day itinerary,journey with us as we highlight not only iconic sights but traverse the roads less travelled to reveal hidden gems. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

HISTORY

Kick off your adventure in Hanoi and get ready to see it as very few others do. Enter a special district in the south of Hanoi where it suddenly feels like stepping back in time. Wander around the narrow alleys, feel the incredible vibe and let your guide tell you the story of these unusual big yellow block buildings. It’s then off to the Temple of Literature – a little gem of architecture yet a huge piece of history, before taking a gastronomy adventure in the Old Quarter.

MOUNTAIN HIGH

You then hit the Ho Chi Minh Road to the Tam Diep mountain range where tucked away you’ll discover Suoi Mu, a much lesser known location and one that you won’t find much about on the internet. Within a valley lies a nature reserve, a well-hidden piece of paradise with a lush green environment – mountains covered in jungle, beautiful terraced rice fields and stunning natural pools. Here a private lodge awaits. Feel the love as you are warmly welcomed and hosted for the night by a family of Muong ethnic people offering a genuine cultural immersion.

CRUISING

As you arrive in the Ninh Binh region, a scenic rowed sampan cruise allows you to reach Tam Coc, the most renowned valley of the area, iconic for its towering limestone rocks and beautiful rice fields. Also, of remarkable beauty is the Trang An Grottoes, a blend of towering cliff bounded mountains with deeply developed internal basins and cave networks navigable by small sampans– admire the mystery and wilderness. Drive across the Red River Delta and reach the coast where you’ll end this unforgettable loop with an over night cruise in Halong Bay before heading back to Hanoi.

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OFF THE BEATEN PATH TOUR OF HANOI I GASTRONOMY ADVENTURE IN HANOI I UNIQUE OVERNIGHT HOMESTAY I TAM COC SAMPAN CRUISE I BICH DONG PAGODA CLIMBIBAI DINH PAGODA EXPLORATION I BOAT TRIP TO TRANG AN GROTTOES I OVERNIGHT HALONG BAY CRUISE



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WATCH OUT FOR DINOSAURS

Experience

WATCH OUT FOR DINOSAURS

HANOI I DONG HOI I PHONG NHA I HANG EN CAVE I VUANG TAU I BINH BA I NUI LE I SAIGON

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

7 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

8


If you are looking for a trip that is jam-packed with adventure and intrepid discovery, look no further than the beautiful and wild Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. On this daring 6-night trip, you will experience the best that the world’s largest cave has to offer; from underground rivers, moss-slick boulders, awe-inspiring wildlife to hair-raising activities peppered across the cave. Son Doong is for both the curious and the adventurous. Discovering a cave as big as Hang Son Doong is like finding a previously unknown Mount Everest underground. Navigating an algae-skinned maze, expedition organisers will lead the way across a sculpted cavescape. Meeting local communities along the way, this promises you an authentic connection with Vietnam that you will never shake off.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

JOURNEY

Depart from Hanoi on a short morning flight to the city of Dong Hoi. You will dive headfirst into spiritual immersion as you journey alongside Buddhist pilgrims to Phong Nha National Park. Breathing in the wafts of mother nature, any pre-trip stresses will soon melt away.  This is a trip that promises no shortage of wondrous moments.

GEAR UP

You’ll arrive at your first destination by private transfer where you’ll be outfitted with the kit and equipment required for you to successfully undertake your journey. Following the river, the first leg of your journey sees you straight into the wilderness. Along the way pass several isolated villages where you’ll get a glimpse into raw rural Vietnamese life. Stop for lunch in the company of the locals and listen to their stories and tales, giving you a final burst of inspiration to reach base camp. Arriving at the notoriously elusive entrance of Hang En, welcomed only by thousands of swifts, you’ll make your home at the spectacular campsite perched over the edge of the river amid dense forest.

PICTURESQUE

After a well-deserved overnight rest at base camp, keep moving towards the Son Doong entrance, where a photographic moment is a must. Atop a ridge, you’ll experience something rare in today’s bustling world: absolute silence. All harnessed up, you’ll start the 80-meter descent into the cave.  You’ll instantly feel how far removed Son Doong is from the rest of Vietnam. After a rewarding seven-hour hike, gaze at the most spectacular views in the biggest part of the cave and take it all in. There is a jungle inside Vietnam’s mammoth cavern, with the shrill call of birds and macaque monkeys’ echoing off the limestone. You are now part of the unseen world beyond the skylight.

PREHISTORIC

A new day and a new part of the cave to explore. Watch out for Dinosaurs; is what it was called when it was first discovered. The prehistoric atmosphere makes the reference obvious. This morning our expert guides will take you on a fascinating full-day trek, introducing you to the geology of the area and the diverse native wildlife. Witness the panoramic views, a nature photographers dream.

THE GREAT WALK

As your time in Son Doong comes to an end, a final day of adventurous escapades awaits. Embracing the Great Wall of Vietnam, you’ll scale the wall in three sections. What ever your level of experience may be, be prepared to see the cave from a unique perspective. After lunch, the day builds to an unforgettable passage of flowstones and cave pearls. This heart-thumping stretch varies from calcite covered animal skeletons to thick jungle. When night falls, a well-deserved final meal out on the patio winds down your all-Vietnamese adventure, but you will certainly be leaving tomorrow with an everlasting hunger for caves.

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This experience is unlike any other and has a waiting list of years. With our little black book of contacts, we can skip the line. Enquire now as only 1000 people a year world wide are able to experience this once in a life time adventure.

For further information regarding this current experience, please contact us.



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C FOR CONSCIOUS IN VIETNAM

Experience

C FOR CONSCIOUS IN VIETNAM

HANOI I HUE I HOI AN I DANANG I MEKONG DELTA I SAIGON

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER – FEBRUARY

IDEAL LENGTH

10 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


Here at Black Lotus we’re all about nurturing the meaningful sense of community and opening your eyes to different cultures across Vietnam. A place that never fails to surprise us, and one destination full of interesting characters. Come and meet some of our favourites. A country quite like no other, our want to give back to Vietnam is the inspiration behind C – for Conscious in Vietnam.  Make that positive impact in supporting the local communities and projects for the less privileged on this truly unforgettable and meaningful experience. You’ll touch lives at a personal level. Providing help to flower growers, sponsoring good causes or gifting a cow are just a few things you will do to give back to this beautiful country. Lifestyle, workshops, creative community. Indulge in it all.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CAPITAL

Your Vietnam journey starts off in the country’s capital Hanoi, for four nights. A city with a cultural combination of contemporary and traditional. The 1000 – year old city will astound and amaze, boasting beautiful colonial buildings and boulevards, palm trees, oddly angled streets and lakes with names like White Silk and Bright Heavens, before you stumble into modernity in its more sleek and chic districts.

FLORAL

Next, we’ll drive you south west to meet a group of flower growers. You will have an authentic experience and gain an understanding of the passage from seed to sapling to matured bloom. You will be helping to cut, trade, compose and enjoy the account of an elegant exchange between hard work and nature. Then, we will head back to Hanoi to have dinner and meet with a non- governmental organization where you will have a first-hand conversation about the poverty and current humanitarian projects in Vietnam. To really get under the skin of these communities we’ll arrange a one on one with one of our favourites non – government organizations “Hold the Future”, there’s something simultaneously ethereal and grounding about them.

CRAFT

The following day take a quick flight to Hue for cultural stimulation. Hue is the old imperial capital, fit to bursting with tombs, temples and palaces and host of a biennial arts festival, the Festival of Hué. You’ll be invited to join in for a few creative classes, hand-building workshops, and make your very own unique, one-of-a kind paper lotus piece based on an ethos of simplicity, functionality and sustainability.

Moving south, it’s time to take to the sky. 500 metres above sea level, the Hai Van Pass is a picturesque perch from which to take in the incredible views of the South China Sea and the Annamese Mountains. Stop in Hoi An, a charming and jaw-dropping coastal town. The place is a living version of Vietnam’s history with many of the town’s wooden buildings dating from the 18th century or earlier. But to really get to know the destination, you need to see it from the local’s point of view, and we know the best people in town to show you around. We will introduce you to some interesting characters who will share with you how they survive in their small single craft villages. After learning the art of lantern making, and you’re looking for a challenge, there’s the opportunity to design your own signature lantern and take home your very own hand made artisanal piece from Vietnam.

BUZZING

Next day fly to exciting Ho Chi Minh City. Explore ancient temples, Chinatown and a private residence and school for blind children, founded by a benevolent blind musician.  Meet the children and the Sister nuns who will want to sing and perform music for you – a raw beautiful talent show. This evening enjoy dinner at Noir, Dining in the Dark, its more than just a meal. It is a sensory journey that will make you re-evaluate your perception of taste and smell. Be one of the first to try this one of kind dining experience for a unique date in Saigon.

RIVER

Wake up early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong Delta. The Mekong’s myriad of tributaries and canals is the only region in Vietnam where boats are the main form of transport. Sampan boats are crucial to make a living but often families cannot afford to buy one. Make a difference to a family and be part of buying them their own Sampan in a specially arranged ceremony. An overnight homestay experience will be the highlight of your Vietnamese holiday, providing you with an authentic slice of local life in the Delta’s lush surroundings. One of our fondest homestay memories is of lying in a hammock as the sun went down and listening as herds of buffalo were herded back into the village for the night – their bells clanking all the way. Leaving the Mekong behind, you’ll then return to Saigon for another spot of urban exploration before you fly home.


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