An Idyllic Saigon Sunset Cruise

Saigon Sunset CruiseNothing is more relaxing than admiring the breathtaking views of Saigon’s most famous landmarks and buildings, along with the picturesque Saigon skyline as the sun goes down.  Guests board a sparkling sunset cruise along the Saigon River, departing at 4:30pm from Tan Cang Recreational Area.

The one and a half hour cruise runs slowly along the historic river, taking in views such as Saigon Newport, Thu Thiem Bridge and Saigon Bridge.  You will also pass by numerous islands for a chance to witness fishermen vying for a final catch as the sun sets on this lively part of the city.  Guests are served free flowing drinks and specially selected canapés while enjoying a romantic evening exploring the Saigon River.

World Discovery specialises in Tailor-made holidays.  We can incorporate this evening cruise during your stay in Saigon on one of our selection of Vietnam Holidays.

Discover Hanoi’s Private Antique Collections

4bd554de-ce56-4914-bb28-64faf6f44b33We’re delighted to offer you a new and unique tour that connects with local residents who have an exceptional understanding of Vietnamese antiques and the arts.  Joining guests with family life, we peel back the cover of society to reveal the quirky character of Hanoi in all its beauty.  Starting at Hanoi’s Museum of History, you will gain an overview of the country and its history.  From here depart for the West Lake area and walk by the antique shops along Nghi Tam street.  Visit Mrs Ha who invites you in to see her family’s quiet private space full of rare antiques and classical music.

Next stop is downtown Hanoi and the private residence of Professor Nguyen Bang Giang.  Passing a small modest shop on the ground floor, you can enjoy the Professor’s grand private collection spread over three floors.  Here you listen to accounts from Mr Giang and his wife who are passionate about everything from Vietnamese archaeology to bonsai growing.

Why not add this fascinating morning tour to your next stay in Hanoi on a World Discovery Vietnam holiday?

VIETNAM – New Electric Scooter Tour of Hoi An

f5b2d587-305d-4583-8ef8-85d303c1c6ddDuring this innovative new day trip guests will explore some of Hoi An’s most beautiful hidden spots that only a few tourists visit. They will meet with locals and learn about their commitment to a sustainable, eco-friendly way of life. Guests are free to choose self-drive or be chauffeured around on the back of a unique collection of electric scooters.

The itinerary starts with a drink at the Fusion Lounge in Hoi An Town (9 am for the morning trip or 2 pm for the afternoon), before driving toward Cam Nam Island via the Old Town. We stop at a nearby shipyard where guests can view the hard work that goes into maintaining the fishing boats and visit a local shoemaker to witness the ancient traditions associated with tailoring and shoemaking in Hoi An. We then visit a local family who tell us about habitual family customs in Vietnam. Guests then take a break to enjoy a local snack and drink by the Thu Bon river provided by the NGO Streets International. On our electric scooters we also stop by a local painting workshop and lantern making group run by the Lifestart Foundation, finishing at An Bang Beach to unwind in a stunning beach lounge with some delicious refreshments.

Hoi An is featured in several World Discovery sample itineraries, including our popular 10 day Vietnam Highlights tour.

Discover Hanoi’s French Quarter on a Vespa

4a4cdd1f-0940-4632-8277-56060603fae8Lying to the southeast of Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi’s French Quarter romances guests with grand boulevards and elegant French colonial buildings.  These include the stately Opera House based on the neo-Baroque Opera de Paris – complete with gray slate tiles imported from France  – and the National Museum of Vietnamese History.

The French Quarter is perhaps the most resplendent part of this animated, vibrant and bustling city.  Architects blessed the area with wide Parisian boulevards, leafy green parks and superb examples of French Colonial architecture.

Experience Hanoi from the back of a Vespa scooter with World Discovery for an adventure like no other. This is one of Hanoi’s famous ‘must do’ encounters – otherwise your visit to this amazing city is not complete.  Riding pillion on an antique Vespa, guests are treated to all the fantastic sights and resplendent architecture – even stopping at a famous ice-cream maker before concluding the tour at 1:30pm.

At World Discovery we can incorporate this thrilling excursion into any of our Vietnam tours, including the top-selling 10 days Vietnam Highlights itinerary.

The Contrasting Faces of Saigon

Saigon marketLeave downtown Saigon for a short drive over Khanh Hoi bridge towards District 4 and gain a different perspective of daily life in Saigon.  Separated by just a few kilometres – these two places are worlds apart.

We start in Ton Dan Street before taking to the side streets and alleyways to reach a tiny pagoda where guests can stop for a break. We then head to Xom Chieu where the morning market will be in full swing with buyers and vendors haggling over prices.  From here we drive to Tan Thuan bridge and District 7 for a walk along the river.  Lines of boats are docked along its bank selling fruits and produce grown in local farms from around the Mekong Delta.  Before heading back into the city a stop is made at Phu My Hung community, a Garden City with numerous parks and green spaces.  The entire community is encompassed by water and has a very different feel from that of Saigon itself.   This immersive programme really digs below the surface of life in Southern Vietnam, exposing the contrasting ways of life of its people

Insider’s market guide to Saigon

Hoi An marketSaigon’s markets provide insight to a parallel life that co-exists alongside the modern face of the city.  While throngs of visitors flock to Ben Thanh, which is undeniably beautiful, it doesn’t convey the genuine traits and atmosphere of a local Vietnamese market – of which there are many in Saigon.

The markets just outside the city centre communicate the story of another life, that of Saigon’s local people, less influenced by tourists and focusing on the trade of goods between each other.  These bustling, vibrant and colourful markets reveal unchanged traditions that have lasted centuries, where friendly haggling and the opportunity to meet with friends prevail.  World Discovery’s Vietnam office has carefully selected five markets to create a ‘Top 5’ list where visitors can experience authentic Vietnamese markets and venture off the tourist map.

Our experienced guides will happily lead the way into places few other visitors set foot.  Contact World Discovery for details.

Vietnam – Bird’s eye view

Halong bay2A new seaplane service will start in Halong Bay in April 2014, with sightseeing options, air taxi and other private hire services.  Private Vietnamese carrier Hai Au Airlines will start the service with two seaplanes. The 12-seat aircraft will provide bird’s eye views of the UNESCO-listed destination that is home to thousands of limestone karsts and small islands.  Sightseeing flights will last between 15 and 50 minutes.

This new tourism product will offer a great alternative to the cruise option and it will be especially attractive to travellers on a limited time frame as Halong and Bai Tu Long Bay feature an expansive 250 km coastline. The latest generation Cessna Grand Caravan 208B EX seaplane will be employed. This American-built aircraft is highly flexible and can take off and land on both land and water.

World Discovery has a range of Vietnam Holiday options including Halong Bay.

 

Saigon – Ease of access for tourists

Whereas the majority of World Discovery passengers visit the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on an organised private excursion with a driver and guide, there are also those who prefer to discover the city at their own pace.  Visiting Saigon’s major tourism attractions has suddenly got a whole easier with the launch of a dedicated tourist bus service.   Bus number 127 stops at destinations such as the Reunification Palace on Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and several museums in the downtown area.   The bus departs from Ben Thanh Bus Station at the Quach Thi Trang roundabout (pictured), which is located across from the well-known Ben Thanh Market and September 23rd Park.  This is within walking distance of the “Westerner Quarter”, an area packed with hotels and foreign-style restaurants centered on Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 1.

The 9.8-km route takes 35 minutes to complete and is operational from 5.30 am to 8.12 pm with an eight to 10 minutes time gap between buses.  The vehicles are designed to serve passengers in wheelchairs and tickets cost VND 4,000 (about 12p!) for the entire route.

Tragic accident in Halong Bay

At 3.30pm on Wednesday 3rd October 2012 a tragic accident occurred on the UNESCO World Heritage listed Halong Bay in northern Vietnam.   A local day-boat collided with a small tender boat resulting in the death of 5 passengers.   World Discovery would like to assure you that all our clients are safe and well and not directly affected by this disaster.   The day boat was reversing at the time when it hit and overturned the tender boat which was transferring 18 people from Sung Sot cave back to one of the Paradise Cruises luxury boat. The crew and management immediately coordinated with the local police and hospitals.  13 people were rescued with minor to no injuries, however, one person died on the transfer to the hospital and 4 other people were pronounced dead at the scene.   Paradise Cruises have been cleared of all responsibility for the accident by the local authorities who are now involved in further investigations with the other day tour operator, thus the Paradise operations will not be interrupted.  Our local representatives will call clients travelling today and during the next few days to check they are fine to continue travelling and to answer any questions they may have.

Vietnam International Hot Air Balloon Festival

Vietnam’s first-ever international hot air balloon festival will be held in the central resort town of Phan Thiet from August 29 to September 3.   Balloons of various shapes, including a golden cat and a dragon fruit, will be operated by pilots from countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Thailand.  The performances are scheduled for early morning (6-7 a.m.) and late afternoon (5 p.m.) each day of the event.

Other parts of the festival will be air sport performances, including paragliding and kiting. On September 2 there will be another highlight of the event: a night performance of over 20 big air balloons to celebrate Independence Day.