Best of Vietnam Tour: Stretching over 3,200 kilometres in length with countless mountains, rivers, forests and beaches, Vietnam is one of Asia’s most diverse and fascinating countries. Introducing you to the country’s three main regions, this 11-day Vietnam tour starts with the natural splendour and majesty of the north, continues to the historic charm of the central provinces before concluding with the beauty and the vibrancy of the south.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh Arrival
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, welcome by your guide and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
The local traditional wooden boats, vast emerald rice fields and lush back waterways; these are the things that make Cai Be such a desired destination. This morning, leave bustling Ho Chi Minh for the 2 hour drive to the delta town of Cai Be.
The tour begins with a boat trip, discovering local trading boats. Traders work the river and some have been living on these waters for generations. Produce at the market is hung on a pole in front of boats to attract customers and make it easier for people to see from afar what is on offer.
Continue to a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Return to the boat for the cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep Island, admiring the scenery and the daily life of the local villagers along the way. Lunch is local Mekong style serving specialties of the area. Following your cruise drive back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City – Hue (B)
After breakfast head to Cholon, the Chinatown district, to discover the area’s markets, shops and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda – dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Visit Vietnam’s first traditional medicine museum, the FITO Museum, with an amazing collection of 3,000 items relevant to the development of traditional Vietnamese medicine. Implements used to prepare indigenous herbs and objects commonly found in traditional pharmacies can be seen in the galleries as well as ancient books and documents on traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Head back to the city centre to visit Ben Thanh Market where an incredible display of fresh produce is offered. Simply stroll through the market exploring the variety of goods for sale.
This afternoon visit the War Remnants or History Museum (choose which one you would most like to see) and the former Presidential Palace Stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall.At the end of the tour transfer to the airport for the short flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam.
Overnight in Hue.
Note: History Museum is closed on Mondays.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 4 – Hue (B)
0830 depart from your hotel in Hue. Start at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. From here take a cyclo through Danoi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. It is full of lotus flowers in summer and there are many local style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study.
After exploring the ruins of this wonderful monument depart for Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River Constructed in 1601, the 21-meter tower is the centrepiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. On the pagoda grounds is the famous Austin car a resident monk drove to Saigon in 1963 to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self immortalisation is one of the most well known images of the war. Continue to former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds.
Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb designed in traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Before heading back to your hotel take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market with your guide. The market is another of the must see sites in Hue, the stalls are teeming with color and a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life.
Overnight in Hue.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 5 – Hue – Hoi An(B)
Enjoy this morning at leisure before leaving Hue for Hoi An,a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years.
Drive through the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to Danang en route visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 6 – Hoi An – My Son – Hoi An (B)
Today, take a half day to visit the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Here, 40km southwest of Hoi An in a lush green valley, are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. On the way back to Hoi An stop to visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum originated from here.
Upon return to Hoi An, take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchants’ houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colourful market. Hoi An isa destination with two faces – the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses, and the beach with its new resorts and long stretch of clean white sand. In keeping with Hoi An’s heritage as a trading port, the town’s tiny shop houses now host a range of craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 7 – Hoi An – Danang – Hanoi
After breakfast transfer 40 minutes to Danang airport for the short flight to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, a city that celebrated its 1000 years in 2010.
This afternoon visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), a research centre and public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam. As an alternative to the Ethnology Museum, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum (closed on Mondays). The museum is located near Hoan Kiem Lake and offers wonderful insight into the lives of Vietnamese women. Displays highlight Vietnam’s vast cultural diversity and educate on the significant role Vietnamese women play in Vietnamese society. Learn historic and modern-day traditions centred around births, weddings, motherhood, spirituality and more.
Next, visit Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as the ‘36 streets’. Take a walking tour through charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It’s a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you.
Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 8 – Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Hanoi (B,L)
Depart your hotel early this morning for the 2-hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80) and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). The ancient Hoa Lu Citadel (most of which has since been destroyed) once covered an area of three square kilometres. If time permits after visiting Hoa Lu take a half-hour walk up one of the surrounding limestone karst hills, the climb is rewarding with spectacular views.
In the late morning depart for Tam Coc Town for a Vietnamese lunch. Along the way stop to take photographs of local villages and the stunning landscape.
After lunch board your private sampan* (see alternative options for Tam Coc sampan trip below). As the boat gently slices through the water notice the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields giving rise to the area’s other name, ‘Halong on Land’.
Should you feel adventurous, climb up to Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Nhu Nhac Mountain, dating to 1428 and comprised of three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. Return by sampan to Tam Coc town before returning to Hanoi.
*Option 1: Trang An Boat Option (in replace of Tam Coc): Trang An is a less visited nature reserve similar to Tam Coc. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river which passes through a series of caves (one which takes 15-minutes to pass through in darkness). An ‘eco tourism’ area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.
*Option 2: Thung Nang Boat Option (in replace of Tam Coc): Similar to Tam Coc though not as spectacular, Thung Nang is off the tourist trail and a pleasant alternative. Pass through a cave, fields of lotus (in summer) and reach a quaint pagoda before returning on the same route.
Note: Please be aware that some women on boats may try to sell local products to tourists. Guests should refer to their guide if this situation makes them uncomfortable.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 9 – Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
The scenery of Halong Bay where thousands of limestone islands jut out of the emerald sea, sculpted into bizarre shapes is truly an iconic image for Vietnam. An overnight boat trip is the best way to enjoy this Vietnamese must-see. After breakfast leave Hanoi for a 3hr30mins drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way.
Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board.
Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.
Overnight on Halong Bay.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 10 – Halong Bay – Hanoi (B)
The sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (also brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly back towards port. Upon disembarkation, your driver will meet you for the transfer to Hanoi.
In the afternoon, visit the Temple of Literature. In 1076, Vietnam’s first university Quoc Tu Giam, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Visit The One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049, next. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (viewed from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov)
Continue to picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) 700 meters to the nearby Taoist temple of QuanThanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Day 11 – Hanoi Departure (B)
Departure day. At leisure until transfer to Noi Bai Airport for onward flight.
En route visit Thanh Chuong Palace, the home and studio of Thanh Chuong, one of the most celebrated painters in Vietnam. More a living space than a museum, the Palace is an architectural gem showcasing Vietnamese traditional cultural objects, exquisite antiques and remarkable structures.
Best of Vietnam Tour: Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs, private basis not join in, please inquire for pricing which varies depending on accommodation standards.
Best of Vietnam Tour: What’s Included:
Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
English or French speaking guide (for other languages and a national guide supplements apply)
Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
Boat trips as mentioned in the itinerary
Entrance fees for mentioned visits
Best of Vietnam Tour: What’s NOT Included:
Other meals than mentioned
Other services than mentioned
International and domestic Flights
Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
Tips, Travel insurance
Best of Vietnam Tour: Creating Unique Touring Experiences
All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Vietnam tour to your individual specifications.