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Activity note: You are flying from Ho Chi Minh/Saigon on this day. You will receive your ticket while in Saigon from our local coordinator. The transfer from Hanoi Airport to the program hotel is approx. 1 hour
Afternoon: Transfer to program hotel and check in. Our Group Leader will greet everyone and go over the orientation for this program. Our introduction to Hanoi is a cyclo excursion around the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. The cyclo is a bicycle rickshaw where you ride in the front seat as the driver pedals from behind, freeing you to experience the hustle and bustle of life through all your senses without having to worry about where you are walking. We will then see a “Mua Roi Nuoc” performance -- a water puppet show. Water puppetry is performed in a pool, depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. This uniquely northern Vietnamese art form is a centuries old variation on ancient Asian puppet traditions. Puppets would be put out to watch over crops, and when fields flooded, villagers would entertain themselves with the puppets.
Dinner: "Welcome Dinner" at a local restaurant. Enjoy a meal featuring Vietnamese cuisine with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: The transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay via motor coach is approximately 3 hours.
Breakfast: Enjoy an extensive breakfast buffet, offering a variety of Asian and Western choices such as hot foods, eggs, hot and cold cereals, fruit, breads and pastries, yogurt, milk, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we board our motorcoach and transfer to Halong Bay. En route, enjoy a journey through rich farmlands of the Red River Delta and the scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday Vietnamese village life. Then, board a Vietnamese Junk. Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is part of the Gulf of Tonkin in northeast Vietnam, renowned for its extraordinary natural beauty. The action of waves and tides over millions of years have shaped more than 1,600 limestone islands and islets into dramatic shapes, most uninhabited and unaffected by human presence, that form a spectacular seascape of gigantic pillars. It is also a place of exceptional biodiversity. Research has shown that the area was inhabited tens of thousands of years ago. In 2012, Ha Long Bay was named one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
Lunch: Aboard ship, enjoy characteristic Vietnamese cuisine with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
Afternoon: Ha Long Bay includes some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars, most uninhabited and unaffected by human presence. During our study cruise, we will visit one or more of the islands with amazing cave grottos. The captain will decide depending on local conditions at the time. It might be Bo Nau Cave (Pelican Cave); Dau Go (Wooden Head Island); Surprise Cave (Cave of Unfathomable Depth); or Thien Cung Cave (Heavenly Palace Cave).
Dinner: Amid the light atmosphere and cool breeze aboard ship, enjoy more Vietnamese flavor with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: The transfer back to Hanoi is approximately 3 hours.
Breakfast: Aboard ship, today’s breakfast buffet offers selections such as bacon, eggs, seafood dishes, fried rice, sautéed vegetables, bread and cheese.
Morning: We continue cruising along beautiful Halong Bay, then disembark and return to Hanoi via motorcoach.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese “pho” lunch of noodles, vegetables, and (optional) meat in tasty broth.
Afternoon: We reboard our motorcoach for a field trip to the Vietnamese Women’s Museum where we will learn about traditional culture, marriage customs, and family life. The remainder of the afternoon is free. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
Evening: At leisure.
Breakfast: At the hotel, the extensive breakfast buffet offers a variety of Asian and Western choices such as hot foods, eggs, hot and cold cereals, fruit, breads and pastries, yogurt, milk, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: Our first field trip this morning takes us to Ba Ðình Square, named for the anti-French colonial uprising of 1886-1887. It was here on September 2, 1945, that Ho Chí Minh proclaimed Vietnamese independence from France, from Japanese occupation, and from the last emperor, Bao Ðai. A massive granite mausoleum dominates the scene where Ho’s embalmed body is on display. The Soviet-style structure stands in stark contrast to the simplicity of the modest house on stilts where Ho lived. We will also visit the reconstructed One Pillar Pagoda. The original was built in 1049 C.E. by Emperor Ly Thai Tong to celebrate the birth of a son. Our exploration continues at the Temple of Literature, only a few years younger than Hanoi itself. This, the country’s oldest monument to education, is one of the world’s earliest universities. Dedicated to Confucius in 1070, it initially accepted only children of the nobility, but by 1442 embraced gifted students from throughout the country. The preserved and reconstructed buildings are a rare example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Its lovely courtyards, trees, gardens, and paths provide a tranquil glimpse into the past.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, enjoy characteristic Vietnamese cuisine with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore on our own.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, enjoy more of the flavor of Vietnam with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.
Evening: At leisure. Get a good night’s sleep and prepare for departures in the morning.
Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.
Morning: Transfer to the airport for your return flights. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!