Package Provider: Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tour
Package Type: Fly Cruise
Region: South East Asia
Duration: 16 Nights
Era Cruises offer the ultimate cruise experience aboard their luxury ship. The sophisticated and elegant surroundings of the vessel offer numerous venues to relax, rejuvenate and thrive as you drink in the stunning UNESCO World Heritage vistas of Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island.
Then, walk in the footsteps of more than 50,000 Anzacs who served during the Vietnam War. Our tour takes in key Australian, New Zealand and American war sites while introducing you to Vietnam’s historic treasures, vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine. Gary McKay, a platoon leader who won a Military Cross in Vietnam, will be your Historian.
Your Fly, Stay, Cruise & Tour Package Includes:
Extend your flights and stay longer - talk to our travel experts about more options!
DAY 1 HANOI - HAI PHONG – LAN HA BAY
Your transfer vehicle will collect you from your hotel in Hanoi and convey you to Hai Phong where you will be taken on our tender from the wharf and make your way out onto the bay to board our luxurious craft, Era Cruise. Take some time to have a look around the vessel or watch the magical landscape go by.
We set sail for Lan Ha Bay passing to Da Chong islet where you can see a lighthouse built by the French over 100 years ago. When lunch is about to finish the ship will be making its entry through Cua Van area to Lan Ha Bay (as part of Halong Bay). The surrounding area is full of extraordinary limestone karst landscapes. Guests can explore Ba Trai Dao beach or Tra Bau area, kayaking in the crystal clear waters of the bay and/or enjoy swimming.
Back onboard we will cruise to a place for staying overnight. Relish a special Signature Dinner in the restaurant before enjoying free time to relax with an exotic cocktail or whatever takes your fancy. Our bar has a wide range or wines, beers and liquors and is always a welcome sight for guests after a day on Halong Bay.
DAY 2 VIET HAI VILLAGE - BA HAM LAKE:
Early birds are welcome to attend sunrise Tai Chi on our upper deck and it's an excellent way to get your energy levels up for today's adventures. Enjoy a buffet breakfast with the best local coffee brand and fresh fruit juices.
Next we board our Era Day Boat to head to Viet Hai Village. You will take the bicycle trip along the village path and go through rain forests and dark tunnel. Enjoy stunning scenery of rice fields on the way. Stop at the village to relax. Visit an ancient local house, made from straw, mud, bamboo…you will have chance to see the local life on a valley of local people.
Enjoy a Signature set menu on our day boat as well as free kayaking and swimming at Ba Ham Lake area. Back onboard Era Cruise, take some time to freshen up, take a nap or just relax at your leisure as we cruise to our overnight area.
A special dinner will be served offering you outstanding food and quality service. This evening is yours to enjoy whatever you please. Tonight we will hold a movie night with a selection of films available. We also have a selection of board games for your entertainment.
DAY 3 DARK & BRIGHT CAVE – HA LONG BAY – HANOI:
The nicest time of the day on Lan Ha Bay is the morning. Head to the upper deck to participate in our daily Tai Chi sessions. Relax with an early morning cup of tea, coffee or juice anywhere you wish on the boat and watch the neverending miraculous scenery unfold before you.
Enjoy the last stage of your trip to Dark & Bright cave and islets by local rowing boats which is a wild and mysterious beauty in the middle of the World Heritage. Back onboard check out of your cabin as we draw closer to the mainland. After an early brunch and a last goodbye from our crew at 11:30, you will board our tender and head back to the wharf where you will be met by your luxury transfer vehicle to transfer you to Hanoi.
Vietnam Past & Present Tour:
Day 1 – Arrive Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam. Upon arrival into Hanoi, please make your own way to our central hotel. This evening will be at leisure to explore this wonderful city.
Day 2 – Hanoi
Our journey into wartime Vietnam begins today. We will begin at the extensive Army Museum which houses rooms full of war propaganda, photographs and documents from Chinese, French and US wars. We will also visit One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace, then continue to the Hanoi Hilton where American POWs were kept. We will finish at Truc Bach and Huu Tiep Lakes in Ngoc Ha village where many B52 planes were shot down. This afternoon is free to explore the Old Quarter. This evening we will head out to enjoy a welcome dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise created by an Australian Vietnamese who won an Order of Australia medal for his work supporting disadvantaged youth. (B, L, D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Army Museum ★ One Pillar Pagoda ★ Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum ★ Presidential Palace ★ Hanoi Hilton
Day 3 – Hanoi to Hue
This morning we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Hue. Once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords, Hue’s splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of its Citadel contribute to its undeniable royal charm. We will enjoy a short walk (weather permitting) through the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World-Heritage site. We will admire its magnificent architecture and gardens while our guide explains the events and intrigue surrounding the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily during the Vietnam War, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections and others that are being restored. We will then drive to the seven-storey Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. (B, L, D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Imperial Citadel ★ Thien Mu Pagoda
Day 4 - Hue to Hoi An
Today we will follow the 1968 Tet Offensive, a battle for control of the city, visiting the old Shell Gas Station, the former MACV Compound and Hue University among other key sites. At Dong Ba Gates, we will meet Mr Nguyen Dac Xuan, a culture researcher and survivor of this bloody battle. We will visit his home for a 45-minute talk on his lived experience of the Tet offensive. Later, we will depart for Hoi An over the Hai Van pass. Upon arrival, we will check in to our hotel. (B, L, D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Former MACV Compound ★ Home visit with Tet Offensive veteran
Day 5 – Hoi An
We will begin the day with a guided walking tour of Hoi An. Today this World-Heritage ancient town is recognised for its well-preserved architecture, pedestrian-only streets and distinctive local cuisine. We’ll take in its old merchant houses, 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, and a colourful market brimming with local specialties including silk. We will have the afternoon and evening free to explore. (B)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Hoi An walking tour
Day 6 – Hoi An
Today will be spent at leisure to enjoy the wonderful sights, flavours and sounds of Hoi An. (B)
Day 7 – Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City
This morning we will transfer to Danang Airport for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Upon arrival, we will transfer to Cu Chi, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels used by the VC as hiding spots during combat. Originally dug in 1948 for the guerrillas to shelter from French air and ground sweeps, the tunnels also served as living quarters, communication and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food and weapons caches throughout the Vietnam War. We will visit the underground villages for a better understanding of the tunnels’ history, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. We will then have lunch before driving to Ho Chi Minh City where we will enjoy a dinner together (B, L,D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 8 – Ho Chi Minh City
Today will start with a visit to the Reunification Palace, once the headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government. Then we will explore Ho Chi Minh City’s colourful maze of alleys and discover a secret chamber once used by the VC as a place for hiding and storage during the War. We will lunch at a small restaurant, where VC Commanders once gathered to plan the 1968 Tet Offensive, then visit the War Remnants Museum and Ben Thanh Market before an evening at leisure. (B, L)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Reunification Palace ★ War Remnants Museum ★ Ben Thanh Market
Day 9 – Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau
This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Vung Tau, including Back Beach (the former site of an Australian logistics group) and the site of the Peter Badcoe Club, and walk up to the massive VC war memorial overlooking the Badcoe area. We will also visit Front Beach, White Palace and the airport area, and spend time in the bustling town centre and market where the large antenna on ‘Radar Hill’ is still visible. After lunch we will stop at Ap My An to learn about Australian actions during Operation Bribie fought in 1967. (B, L, D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Sightseeing tour of Vung Tau ★ Front Beach ★ Operation Bribie
Day 10 – Vung Tau
Today we will visit Long Tan, the site of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War. Our first stop is the Anzac base of Nui Dat, where we will explore old bunkers, Kangaroo helicopter pad, SAS Hill and Luscombe Airfield. At nearby Long Tan village we’ll see the Long Tan Cross and marvel at the panorama of rubber plantations that flank the battleground. We will also visit the Horseshoe, a former Australian Fire Support Base, and the Long Hai hills (Minh Dam secret zone) – a major VC base during the War. The many caves in the area served as a natural shelter, medical care and headquarters for Vietnamese troops. 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. (B, L)
Please note: We will hold a discreet service to commemorate the Battle of Long Tan anniversary, subject to local approval
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Long Tan Anniversary Service ★ Nui Dat ★ SAS Hill ★ Luscombe Airfield ★ Minh Dam secret zone
Day 11 – Vung Tau to Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast, we will drive to Binh Ba to visit the memorial of 33 NVA (North Vietnamese Army) Regiment: a large fight took place between Australian soldiers and the NVA here on June 6, 1966. Our last stop will be Nui Le (Le Mountain), site of the final battle for Australian soldiers before they returned home, and where your Historian won his Military Cross. We will enjoy a picnic lunch at a local coffee shop before driving back to Ho Chi Minh City where we will enjoy a farewell dinner at the former residence of the US Ambassador of South Vietnam, Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge. (B, L, D)
STAR INCLUSIONS ★ Memorial of 33 NVA Regiment ★ Nui Le tour with Military Cross winner ★ Farewell dinner at historic residence
Day 12 – Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Our tour comes to an end after breakfast. The day is at leisure to meet any onward travel arrangements. (B)
Conditions apply. Subject to availability and change without notice. Full supplier conditions apply. Valid for new bookings only. Prices valid at the time of publication. Prices are per person based on twin share occupancy unless otherwise stated and displayed in $AUD. Member savings are calculated using the original advertised price.
Prices listed are based on twin occupancy in Australian Dollars, including all discounts unless otherwise stated. The offer is subject to availability at time of booking and shown in the lowest inside category available at the time. Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice. Prices/Offers are correct as at 6 January 2020 and can be withdrawn without notice. Airfares are based on economy class flights from Sydney and subject to the carriers’ flight schedules and conditions, please call us for prices from other cities. Payments made by credit card will incur a surcharge. Other travel conditions may apply, contact our travel team for more details.