Hanoi Luxury Travel Information
Hanoi is the vibrant heart of Vietnam where ancient aesthetic and modern sensibility blend in a unique mix of Asian and French colonial style.
Three potent ingredients make up the luxurious fabric of Hanoi’s city scape: ancient history, architectural legacies from the colonial French era, and blooming modern infrastructure and buildings. In between the hustle and bustle of this dynamic city, a host of parks and lakes provide soothing views and shady places to rest.
Hanoi has been the capital of Vietnam for numerous dynasties, both domestic and foreign in origin, for centuries. Each ruler left his mark on the city in the form of shrines, palaces, fortresses, and monuments; many of which are well preserved despite the numerous conflicts that have taken place in the city over the last century.
The amazing sights and experiences in Hanoi include the Ba Dinh Square
,and political and historical structures around it, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
and Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House
Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) is the center piece of the historic heart of Hanoi known as the Old Quarter. The Old Quarter is an intriguing mix of French colonial and traditional Vietnamese architecture. Local legend holds that the lake is the final resting place of a magic sword that helped the Vietnamese drive the Chinese from Vietnam.
Ngoc Son Temple (Temple of the Jade Mountain) rests on an island near the center of Hoan Kiem Lake. Reached by a wooden foot-bridge, the small, traditional temple is dedicated to the Vietnamese general Tran Hung Dao who stopped a 13th century Mongol invasion.
The Hai Ba Trung Temple, just south of Hoan Kiem Lake, was founded in 1142. The temple is dedicated to the Trung sisters who led a rebellion against the occupying Han Chinese dynasty in the early 1st century.
West of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Temple of Literature is a traditional Vietnamese structure from 1070 AD. The Confucian temple was founded by the Emperor Ly Thanh Tong to honor scholars and writers, and became the site of Vietnam’s first university in 1076. The temple grounds are studded with a series of 82 stelae (carved stone markers) that denote accomplished scholars and their works.
There are numerous, well-tended museums across Hanoi. The National Museum of Vietnamese History chronicles the country’s past in a series of displays spanning from ancient dynasties to the early 20th century colonial French rule of Vietnam. The Vietnam Museum of Revolution details the history of the Vietnamese Communist Party from its inception in 1858 through the country’s modern era. The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology preserves the culture and history of the country’s 54 ethnic groups in a series of well curated displays.
Best Time to Visit Hanoi: From February to April, Hanoi is humid with light, refreshing rains that often fall in the early morning and afternoon. May to August the city’s temperature steadily rises, and short bouts of rainfall are common. Fall, September to November, is warm. From December to January the city is typically cool and dry.
How to get to Hanoi: Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam in Southeast Asia. It’s best reached by international flight landing at Noi Bai International Airport about 25 miles north of Hanoi. From the airport, guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam are picked up by one of private vehicles and taken to their hotel.
Hanoi Highlights: Ancient history, stunning French colonial architecture, and burgeoning modern luxury make Hanoi a wonderful get away with a plethora of sights and excursions to experience. History and architecture buffs will have plenty of explore via the numerous temples, shrines, and museums, and there are plenty of scenic lakes and parks for nature lovers to enjoy.
Appropriate Attire: Visitors should dress for warm weather and bring along a light rain jacket as brief showers are common throughout most of the year.
Halong Bay Luxury Travel Information
Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with more than 1,600 islands, most of which are caped with towering stone Karst formations rising from the green waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.
Local legends say the bay and its chain of islands were formed by a rampaging dragon that sundered the countryside so deeply with its claws and tail the entire area flooded after the dragon dove into the ocean.
Travelers flock to the emerald waters and stunning rock formations en-masse throughout the year. Day cruises through the chain of islands are popular, but overnighting on luxury Chinese junks is one of the best ways to experience the refreshing environment.
A number of the islands in the Holang Bay are hollow, and have excellent opportunities for caving excursions. Sung Sot Cave is the most renowned of these natural structures. Located on Bo Hon Island, the cave is naturally partitioned into two distinct areas. The first area is a theater-like hall with thousands stalactites hanging from the ceiling. Following a narrow path, travelers reach the second area where sunlight shines through a natural skylight bathing the chamber in an otherworldly ambiance.
Cat Ba Island is the largest of the 1,600 islands dotting the emerald waters of Holang Bay, and generally the busiest. The island offers a number of excursion activities including cycling, climbing, and sailing, but treks through Cat Ba National Park are some of the most talked about experiences the bay has to offer. The nearly 100-square-mile park is a rugged jumble of limestone peaks and dense forests clinging to rocky outcroppings. The park is home to the exceedingly rare Cat Ba Langur. There are numerous lakes and waterfalls waiting to be discovered, and there are plenty of stunning grottoes to be found along the limestone hillsides.
Paddle boats and kayaks are very popular ways to explore the smaller islands clustered throughout the bay like Dog Island, Incense Urn Island, Ga Choi Island, Finger Island, and Hoa Cuong Island.
Best Time to Visit Halong Bay: The best weather to visit Halong Bay is between March and October when the skies are generally clear, and the temperatures are warm. Between December and February the temperature is cooler, but still balmy.
How to get to Halong Bay: Halong Bay lies in the Northeast of Vietnam. It’s best explored while traveling on a luxury tour of Vietnam by departing from the port city of Halong on a private Chinese junk. Halong can be reached in as little as 2 and one-half hours via private vehicle departing from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
Halong Bay Highlights: The islands and their skyscraper-like karst formations are often heralded as the most stunning to be found in Southeast Asia. The timeless and striking beauty of Halong Bay prompted UNESCO to add the area to the World Heritage list in the 90s, which places the bay on the list of the most stunning natural wonders on the planet. It’s a must-see while traveling on a tour of Vietnam.
Appropriate Attire: Swimwear is a must while exploring Halong Bay.
Hue Luxury Travel Information
Hue is a central Vietnamese city with a rich, imperial history.
From 1802 to 1945 Hue served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, which controlled the entire nation of Vietnam for more than a century.
Imperial influences are readily found alongside modern developments and infrastructure in Hue. Old imperial palaces, Buddhist pagodas, and royal tombs are nestled alongside modern high-rise apartment buildings and the occasional skyscraper on both sides of the gorgeous Perfume River that divides the city between north and south. The plethora of ancient structures, monuments, and temples from the Nguyen Dynasty and earlier eras led UNESCO to declare the city a World Heritage Site in 1993.
The Imperial Citadel
(Dai Noi) is actually a super structure containing and protecting several small fortresses in its walls. The sprawling complex just north of the Perfume River contains numerous temples, pavilions, walls, gates, and even museums and galleries that display artistic works and styles of dress from multiple eras of Vietnam’s history. Much of the ancient fortress was destroyed between the French and American wars in Vietnam (U.S. bombings took a particularly devastating toll in 1968 during the Tet Offensive), but conservation efforts have been underway for some years, and decent progress is being made. The forbidden Purple City, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Truong Sanh Residence are a few of the buildings that are still in excellent shape.
To the south of the citadel across the Perfume River, the Tombs of the Emperors are splendid examples of Vietnamese Buddhist architectural style. The tombs of Tu Duc, Min Mang, and Kahi Dinh are the most celebrated of the burial structures, and the best preserved buildings. Many of the other tombs are in the process of being restored. A river cruise along the Perfume River is an excellent way to reach the tombs.
West of the citadel, the Thien Mu Pagoda rests atop a hill with a striking view of the Perfume River. The nearly 70-foot-high structure was completed in 1884, and the entire seven story structure is dedicated to various Buddha incarnations.
Best Time to Visit Hue: The best time to visit Central Vietnam is between October and March when the skies are generally clear, and the weather is balmy. The temperature steadily rises between May and September, but rainfall provides cooling relief in the mornings and afternoons.
How to get to Hue: Hue is the capital city of Vietnam’s Thua Thien-Hue Province. Located in Vietnam’s central region, the former Imperial capital is best reached by a short flight from Hanoi while traveling on a luxury tour of Vietnam. Once reaching the city, our guests are chauffeured in a private vehicle between monuments.
Travelers can easily reach destinations like the Demilitarized Zone, where Vietnam was formerly dived between capitalist south and communist north, from Hue City.
Hue Highlights: Hue is an intriguing mix of old and new, ancient and modern. The cuisine, influenced by both imperial heritage and Buddhist tradition, is often highlighted by travelers for its excellent presentation and tangy spice. Many of the residents of Hue hold to Buddhist diet, and eat only vegetarian meals at least twice a month. This means there’s a plethora of excellent vegetarian restaurants to enjoy in town.
From a historical and geopolitical perspective, Hue played an important role in Vietnam from the 17th century through the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Though the scars of the last century’s conflicts are particularly evident in Hue due to both North Vietnamese shelling and U.S. bombing, there are still plenty of ancient and recent structures to enjoy exploring while traveling on a Vietnam tour.
As with any UNESCO World Heritage Site, we consider the city of Hue a must-see for our guests.
Appropriate Attire: Western-wear is fine for most excursions, but Hue is still in many ways a very traditional Vietnamese town. Travelers visiting any areas of religious importance, including tombs, should dress conservatively by covering their shoulders, arms, and legs while on hallowed ground.
Hoi An Luxury Travel Information
Hoi An is a picturesque old port city bursting with the cultural remnants and merchant-style houses of Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Vietnamese traders who thrived here between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Hoi An served as the principal port of the Cham Kingdom, a Hindu state largely influenced by the cultures of nascent Indian kingdoms. Then known as Faifo, the city flourished from the Southeast Asian spice trade, and in later centuries the port city became a major international shipping hub as Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French traders began calling at the harbor to break into the lucrative spice, ceramic, and silk trades of the South China Sea.
Today, much of the town’s medieval cosmopolitan atmosphere still exists in the narrows streets of the Hoi An’s Old Town. Two story Chinese merchant-shop houses rest beside Japanese and colonial European structures in the historic part of the town, and there are a number of locally curated museums that chronicle this once bustling port’s egalitarian history.
In 1999 Hoi An was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status because of its diverse, multicultural history and well preserved structures, many of which date back to the 15th century. Once a month as the sun is setting, Hoi An’s buildings go dark as the town’s residents prepare for the regular lantern festival. The harsh light and grating drone of modern electrical devices are replaced by the soothing ambience of traditional gem-colored Chinese lanterns and the soft lick of waves on the shore. A stroll through the Old Town during the lantern festival feels more like time-travel than a quick trip down the strip.
Thanks to the tourism boom that revived the town’s fortunes after most of the shipping business moved up the coast to Da Nang in the 19th century, Hoi An has an excellent selection of shops and markets specializing in local craft goods for travelers to enjoy.
The amazing sights and experiences in the Hoi An region also include an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of My Son
Best Time to Visit Hoi An: Between October and March the weather of Central Vietnam is generally warm and temperate, with slight chances of quick rain showers. From May to September temperatures rise along with the chance of rain in the late mornings and early evenings.
How to get to Hoi An: Hoi An is a coastal city in Central Vietnam. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam usually reach the city using our private vehicle service departing from the city of Hue some 50 miles to the north. Alternatively, the nearby city of Da Nang can be reached by international or domestic flight, and travelers can reach Hoi An overland from there.
Hoi An Highlights: There are plenty of historical and cultural sights to take in along Hoi An’s narrow, pedestrian friendly streets, but the real draw for travelers on Vietnam tours is the timeless atmosphere that permeates the ancient port city’s aesthetic, especially during the monthly lantern festival.
Appropriate Attire: Though portions of the city are fairly modern, the governing body in charge of Hoi An’s historic Old Town asks travelers to dress modestly in clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees while sightseeing in Hoi An.
Ho Chi Minh Luxury Travel Information
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a vibrant metropolis brimming with cultural ruminants from multiple eras.
Vietnam’s largest and most developed city, Ho Chi Minh’s skyline and streets seamlessly transition from ancient pagodas and French colonial structures to modern skyscrapers. Lively markets selling everything from traditional silk garments to modern electronics and even spare helicopter parts are comfortably nestled beside high-rise buildings and apartment blocks.
The centrally located French colonial area, called District 1, is the most heavily visited section of the city. The Reunification Palace
(also known as the Independence Palace) housed the President of South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon and the close of the Vietnam War in 1975. The original colonial French structure that occupied the grounds was destroyed when a pair of South Vietnamese pilots rebelled and bombed the building in an attempt to kill the incredibly unpopular President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1962. Diem ordered the current structure rebuilt in the style of the 1960s, but never lived to see its competition. He was executed by his own troops less than a year later. The tank that crashed through the gates and ended the Vietnam War can still be seen on the grounds.
Next door to the Reunification Palace rises the stunning Notre Dame Cathedral
. Completed in 1883, the neo-roman church named for the Virgin Mary has some excellent stained glass windows that somehow managed to survive the Vietnam War.
The Saigon Central Post Office
was constructed with materials imported from France in the late 19th century while Vietnam was still part of French Indochina. The building was designed by Gustave Eiffel, who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and its vaulted ceilings, beautiful tile floor, and gorgeous edifice make it one of the most striking structures in the city.
Another excursion not to be missed in the Saigon region is a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels
Best Time to Visit Ho Chi Minh: Ho Chi Minh City’s best sightseeing weather is between December and April. The area’s temperature steadily increases between May and November, but frequent showers in the mornings and evenings help cool the atmosphere considerably.
How to get to Ho Chi Minh: Ho Chi Minh City is located in Southern Vietnam. Guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam typically reach the destination by flight from the city of Dalat to the north. Upon arrival, our guests navigate the city in private, chauffeured vehicle.
Ho Chi Minh Highlights: There’s something for everyone in Ho Chi Minh City. The beautiful colonial structures, world class accommodations, 5 star restaurants, and thrilling markets barely scratch the surface of the secrets the city holds for travelers to discover.
Appropriate Attire: Ho Chi Minh City is a vibrant, modern city, and western-style clothing choices are typically fine to sight see in, but if you’re planning to visit any of the Buddhist or Taoist temples that remain, it’s best to dress conservatively in keeping with traditions of modesty.
Da Nang Luxury Travel Information
Da Nang is a thriving port city in Central Vietnam bounded by the Marble Mountains and stunning beaches of the Son Tra Peninsula.
The ancient Champa Kingdom, a Hindu state that was heavily influenced by Indian culture, flourished in the region between the 4th and 17th centuries. The people that inhabited the Champa Kingdom mostly worshiped the Hindu deity Lord Shiva, and created numerous temples filled with splendid sculptures heavily influenced by the aesthetics of early Indian kingdoms. Da Nang’s Museum of Cham Sculpture is an excellent repository of artifacts and sculptures found in the region. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the ruins found in My Son, are splendid examples of the now extinct Champa civilization that can easily be reached from the city.
Da Nang’s Son Tra Peninsula is a stunning beach resort area on the edge of the city’s coastline. The undeveloped beachfront areas give travelers a chance to play castaway a stone’s throw from the bustling heart of Da Nang. The Linh Ung Buddhist Temple on the peninsula features splendid views of the ocean and bay area, and is worth a visit.
The Marble Mountains to the south of Da Nang shelter a number of Buddhist and Hindu grottoes filled with religious iconography. The pinnacle of Thuy Son Mountain can be reached by climbing a series of 156 steps. The summit offers pilgrims and travelers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Best Time to Visit Da Nang: The weather in Central Vietnam is generally at its best between October and March when the temperatures are warm, and the weather mostly dry. The ambient temperature steadily rises along with the chance for rainfall between May and September.
How to get to Da Nang: Da Nang rests on the coast of the South China Sea in Central Vietnam about halfway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The city can be reached by direct flight to Da Nang International Airport, or by overland travel using our private vehicle service while on a luxury tours of Vietnam.
Da Nang Highlights: Da Nang is a bustling modern city studded with both ancient remnants of bygone civilizations and colonial French architecture. While it’s generally used as transport hub by most travelers, the vibrant mix of ancient history, thriving city life, and pristine beaches means there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Central Vietnam’s largest city.
Appropriate Attire: For most excursions Western-style clothing choices are fine, but if you’re planning to visit any of the religious sites in the Marble Mountains it’s best to dress modestly by covering arms, shoulders, and knees while sightseeing on holy ground.
Nha Trang Luxury Travel Information
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s gleaming jewel of beach destinations.
A thriving metropolis on the coast of South-central Vietnam, Nha Trang’s thrumming nightlife, pristine beaches, stunning bay, and verdant mountains have made this beautiful beach resort a favored destination for international travelers. The turquoise waters of Nha Trang Bay host a plethora of maritime activities including kayaking, sailing, and cruises to the numerous islands that dot the seascape. There’s also a bevy of excellent resort spas strung along the beach promenades for travelers in search of luxury pampering to complement their fresh tans.
The surrounding mountains and countryside offer splendid scenery and a few ancient cultural sights worth visiting. Yang Bay, Ba Ho, and Fairy Spring Waterfalls are gorgeous and very swimmable outdoor destinations easily reached from the beach resort area.
For those looking to add a little cultural spice to their stay in Nha Trang, the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers, dating back to the 7th century, are well worth an exploration. The ancient stone structures were erected to honor the queen of the long-gone Champa civilization that ruled this region of current-day Vietnam. The towers are the thriving heart of Buddhism in Nha Trang, and the grounds are filled with the hum of monks at prayer and scent of burning incense.
Best Time to Visit Nha Trang: Nha Trang’s beaches and bay are at their best between the months of October and March when the skies are clear, the sea is calm, and the weather temperate. Between May and September the temperature steadily rises, and the waves in the bay can be choppy due to rainfall.
How to get to Nha Trang: Nha Trang is located in South-central Vietnam’s coastline. The beach resort destination is best reached by guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam by a direct flight from Da Nang further north.
Nha Trang Highlights: Nha Trang is a beach lover’s paradise filled with luxury amenities and pampering. Fresh seafood, world class snorkeling and diving, and a thriving nightlife make this a favored sun-soaked getaway for our guests on Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire: Beach-ware is advised while enjoying Nha Trang’s tropical splendor.
Can Tho Luxury Travel Information
The city of Can Tho is the beating heart of the Mekong Delta region that’s often referred to as Vietnam’s “rice basket.”
Nearly half the rice farmed in the country comes from the Mekong Delta, and the majority of Vietnam’s fish catch also comes from the delta’s many tributaries that wind through the fertile flood plain. The delta region produces a plethora of agricultural products including bananas, coconuts, and lychee.
Just a few miles up the river from Can Tho, the Cai Rang Floating Market is where the bounty of the Mekong Delta is sold. Traders from throughout the Mekong Delta region arrive daily to sell the fat of the land they’ve painstakingly carved from the fertile earth and waters of the area.
Best Time to Visit Can Tho: The best weather for exploring the Mekong Delta region is between December and April during Vietnam’s dry season. Temperatures begin to rise in May and the mercury continues to rise through November, but the warmer weather comes with increased chances of afternoon showers that cool the area considerably.
How to get to Can Tho: Can Tho is the largest city on the Mekong Delta, and the fourth largest in country. It can be easily reached by guests on our luxury tours of Vietnam in a private vehicle traveling from Ho Chi Minh City.
Can Tho Highlights: The river cruises through the Mekong Delta that depart from Can Tho are some of the most talked about experiences in South Vietnam. It’s a thrilling excursion that should not be missed while traveling through the area.
Appropriate Attire: Western-style clothing options are fine to explore the city in, but it’s advisable to wear light clothing that you don’t mind getting wet during a boat cruise.