Unlock Emperor Bao Dai’s Secrets in Vietnam
In selected destinations, stay in his former villas in stunning locations, meet inspiring people, encounter the local community, cruise in style, eat and drink on an all-inclusive basis, with no additional charges, and relish an experience fit for royalty.
Prepare for the sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk in Halong Bay; discovering the old city of Hanoi; walking through Hoi An old town; venturing off-the-beaten-track in the Central Highlands as you travel from Dak Lak to Buon Me Thuot and Dalat before flying to Saigon; taking a speedboat from Saigon to explore the Mekong Delta.
Astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling, Vietnam is a country of breathtaking natural beauty with a unique royal heritage, history, culture, nature, food, and people, where travel experiences quickly become addictive.
- Discover Hanoi old city
- Enjoy every moment on a traditional junk in Halong Bay
- Walking tour to learn about the ancient Hoi An town
- Taking a speedboat to discover Mekong Delta
- Off-the-beaten-track from Dak Lak to Buon Me Thuot and Dalat
Day 01: Hanoi arrival (D)
Upon arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, you will be greeted by our guide and transferred to your hotel. Welcome dinner at a gourmet Vietnamese restaurant before an overnight stay in Hanoi.
Day 02: Hanoi city tour with a visit to Emperor Bao Dai villa in Hanoi (B, L, D)
A full day tour takes you around Hanoi's most interesting sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Complex with Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and his Stilt House, the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Visit the Museum of National Fine Arts which has received several high ranking delegations from many countries, and regularly sends traveling exhibitions to other nations to share the culture and history of Vietnam. Orientation tour of the French Quarter and the villa Emperor Bao Dai shared with his lover, Mong Diep. Lunch at the Cau Go restaurant, with a view over Hoan Kiem Lake, followed by a visit to the famous Hoa Lo prison and a walking tour in the Old Quarter. Visit the old house at 67 Ma May Street, enjoy a traditional egg coffee in Nguyen Huu Huan Street, and taste Cha Ca (grilled fish), a specialty of Hanoi. Visit the studio of famous artist, Pham Luc, or one of the many galleries in town, if you are interested in fine arts. In the evening, enjoy the Ionah show, a spectacular blend of dance and circus.
Day 03: Hanoi – Hai Phong – Do Son Villas (B, L, D)
Take the expressway from Hanoi, through the beautiful green countryside, on a comfortable 90-minute drive to reach the colonial city of Hai Phong. Orientation tour of the city and visit to the Hang Kenh Communal House and the Du Hang Pagoda before continuing to Do Son to stay in the Bao Dai villa and learn more about its history.
Day 04: Do Son – Halong Bay – Emperor Cruises (B, L, D)
Drive along the scenic road to Halong Bay to visit Halong market, Bai Tho mountain, and the pagoda at its base, before embarking on Emperor Cruises for a two-day/one-night experience. Indulge yourself with a once-in-a-lifetime cruise around Bai Tu Long Bay, an alternative to the more touristy and crowded parts of Halong Bay. Venture off-the-beaten-track, go kayaking and visit floating fish farms and villages to experience the daily life of the locals. There is plenty of time for nature lovers to discover many secluded beaches, lagoons, coves, and caves.
Day 05: Halong Bay – Former capital of Hue (B, L, D)
Wake up to the gentle lapping of the water against the boat as the first rays of the sun announce a new day. Before enjoying breakfast, have cookies and tea and then try the tai chi session on the sundeck as the sun rises over Bai Tu Long Bay. Arrive back at Emperor Cruises dock, in Halong City, for disembarkation and where your driver waits to take you back to Noi Bai Airport for your short flight to the former capital of Hue. Pick up and transfer to your downtown hotel. Dinner at the Hue Ancient House Restaurant.
Day 06: Visit Hue with a private guide and a Hue Researcher (B, L, D)
Today visit the Hue Citadel, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City, and the Imperial Museum. Then drive to the tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, the father of Emperor Bao Dai. Visit the beautifully renovated Dinh Palace to learn more about the Emperor’s mother and family life after his abdication. Enjoy Royal Dinner in Hue.
Day 07: Hue – Hoi An – on the scenic ‘Mandarin Road’ (B, L, D)
After breakfast, board a private traditional boat to cruise along the romantic Perfume River into the countryside. Being the ancient capital, Hue is surrounded by ancient tombs of former emperors, and a visit to some of these tombs is on the itinerary for today. The charming Lady Pagoda (Thien Mu Pagoda) will be the first stop of the day. Then drive to HoiAn via Danang, admire the grandeur of the Hai Van Pass on the old ‘Mandarin Road’, visit the Cham Museum in Danang and lunch at the Viet House before continuing to Hoi An, where you will have free time to explore the town.
Day 08: Atmospheric Hoi An Ancient Town (B, L, D)
From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab traders. These people came primarily to trade in high-grade silk (which is still produced in the area) as well as ceramics. Today, Hoi An is a quaint riverside town, popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailor shops, and numerous cafés. Some of the buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century.
Enjoy a half day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter, visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, the Chinese Assembly Halls, the 200-year-old Tam Ky ancestral house, and the Japanese Bridge. Following the tour there will be free time for shopping, having clothes made, or simply relaxing.
Dinner at the Fullmoon Restaurant by the river and overnight in Hoi An.
Day 09: Hoi An - Danang – Nha Trang, sunset and dinner cruise on Emperor Cruises (B, L, D)
Drive to Danang airport for a short flight to Nha Trang, where you will be transferred to your seafront hotel to relax in this charming setting. In the evening, you will be collected from the hotel to enjoy a sunset cocktail and dinner cruise around the bay on board the legendary Emperor Cruises Nha Trang, inspired by Emperor Bao Dai and the classical style of the 1930s.
On arrival at the port, you are greeted by the Experiences Manager with a welcome drink and given an introduction to Nha Trang Bay, the locals, the food, the culture, the Emperor, safety precautions, and the Emperor Cruises Junk. Start cruising through the spectacular landscape of Nha Trang Bay as the sun sets. While sipping cocktails and wine on the sundeck, you are entertained by musicians playing against the stunning backdrop of stars, the moon, and the city lights.
Experience the gastronomical pleasure of a 5-course seafood dinner on board while being serenaded and served by the Emperor Cruises team. End your romantic dinner by having drinks or cocktails in the lounge or on the sundeck before heading back to Nha Trang Port from where you will be driven back to your hotel.
Day 10: Nha Trang, Discover a secret hideaway in Nha Trang with Emperor Cruises (B, L, D)
At 8 am, our driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to Nha Trang Port to embark on an Emperor Cruises’ voyage to discover the bay by day, including the islands in one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
On arrival at the port, our Experiences Manager will welcome you with a cold drink before you start cruising through the spectacular landscape of Nha Trang Bay. Head to Mieu Island for a walking tour to visit the local fishing villages and learn about the way of life away from the mainland and interact with the friendly locals. Spend a few minutes exploring the beautiful landscape by basket boat as you head over to the fish farms, before transferring back to the Emperor Cruises ship by speedboat. Back on board enjoy a refreshing coconut milk, which is the specialty of the region.
Cruise past the Tam, Mot, and Mun islands as you head to Bai Cau in Dam Bay Lagoon. When you arrive at our Emperor Cruises’ Secret Beach in Bai Cau, you can either go snorkeling, swimming, fishing, walking, or kayaking in either a regular or glass-bottomed kayak. Alternatively, just relax at our Mango Bar under the big tree, enjoying the stunning view of the Emperor Cruises’ sails against the clear blue waters of the bay.
After so much activity, you will surely be hungry. You will be served a sumptuous set lunch on board with local beers, fine wine, or premium spirits as the boat anchors near Hon Tre Island with its tranquil lagoon and fish farms.
There will be free time after lunch before cruising back to Nha Trang Harbor passing Vung Ngan floating village, Vinpearl Island, and Tri Nguyen Aquarium. At the port, your Emperor Cruises driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.
Dinner at local restaurant and overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 11: Nha Trang – Lak Lake by scenic route (B, L, D)
From the ocean drive up to the mountains on the scenic route to Lak Lake. You will encounter hill tribes, rustic villages, and coffee plantations. Go for a boat trip to on Lak Lake before staying at the former villa of Bao Dai.
Day 12: Lak Lake – Buon MaThuot – Dalat (B, L, D)
Drive to Buon Ma Thuot and stop at Buon Don village to enjoy an elephant ride and learn the history of Bao Dai’s hobby of hunting. In Buon MaThuot, the coffee capital of Vietnam, enjoy a cup of coffee at the Coffee Museum. Visit the charming local museum and the nearby Bao Dai Villas.
Continue from Buon Ma Thuot to Dalat, where you will stay in the oldest hotel in town, the Dalat Palace Hotel.
Day 13: Dalat Retreat, visit the Emperor’s villas and palaces (B, L, D)
In the morning enjoy a private tour of Dalat and the surrounding area. Visit the Bao Dai Palace, the Spanish Stone Villa, which was a gift to his lover Le Phi Anh, then the rather bizarre and very aptly named Crazy House, a brightly painted concrete house which winds itself around trees, mimicking their shapes. It now functions as a guesthouse. This afternoon, visit the oldest train station and the Truc Lam Thien Vien Pagoda. Sip a cup of coffee in the central market. Overnight in Dalat.
Day 14: Fly Dalat – Saigon (B, L, D)
In the morning, transfer to Lien Khuong airport for a flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
In the afternoon, enjoy a private tour of the city, the country's commercial center and home to a growing number of upscale restaurants and shops. Visit the Reunification Palace, the Opera House, and the Hotel de Ville. If you wish, you can visit the powerful War Remnants Museum. Later, explore colorful outdoor markets and Dong Khoi Street, the city's main shopping boulevard, with fashionable boutiques and accessories designed by up-and-coming Vietnamese designers. There are also hill tribe crafts, high-quality linens, and housewares to be found.
In the evening, enjoy the cultural AO show at the Saigon Opera House before you settle in for an overnight stay in the city.
Day 15: Mekong Delta, the homeland of Queen Nam Phuong, or an optional day trip to Vung Tau to visit the Emperor’s white palace (B/L/D)
Enjoy a scenic speedboat trip through the Mekong Delta, departing from Saigon so you will explore areas of the Mekong Delta that few other tourists get to experience. Experience the river life of the Mekong, and enjoy a lesser-seen glimpse into rural Vietnam where the river trundles along at a slow tempo, as it has done for centuries. Key cultural stops include a Cao Dai Temple, a riverside market, and a pagoda, as well as evocative farmlands and local pottery workshops.
Enjoy countless photo opportunities of the idyllic scenery and local people as you cruise past buffaloes plowing fields, fruit orchards, and rice paddies. Visit a family homestead, where you’ll be invited to enjoy fresh coconuts and fiery Mekong whiskey.
The chefs will prepare a traditional Mekong Delta lunch including fried elephant ear fish – a delicious specialty of the region. Return to the speedboat and depart for Saigon.
Optional day trip to Vung Tau
Drive to Vung Tau, traveling past immense rubber and cashew nut plantations, as well as scenic rice fields. On the way to Vung Tau, visit the Large House (Nha Lon) and its temples on Long Son Island. Large House is a place to celebrate festivals, with a school, a market, a Ghe Sam preserving house, and Ong Tran's graveyard.
Arriving in Vung Tau, the capital of Ba Ria Vung Tau Province, visit the White House Palace (a summer residence of Emperor Bao Dai), with wonderful views of the beach and the city. Visit Niet Ban Tinh Xa, Nirvana Meditation Retreat, and Thich Ca Phat Dai, a Buddhist shrine. You may also spend time at the French-built lighthouse and the giant Jesus Christ statue. Return to Saigon in time for dinner.
Day 16: Saigon Departure (B)
There is no activity planned for today, so enjoy your free time until transfer to the airport for your onward flight.