Essential Vietnam Tour: Designed to capture the real essence of Vietnam, this guided nine-day journey is a fascinating introduction to one of Asia’s most captivating countries. From the enchanting waterways of the Mekong Delta in the south to the dramatic karst scenery that dominates Halong Bay in the north, each destination offers a window into Vietnam’s timeless culture and centuries-old traditions as well as its vibrant present.
Ho Chi Minh City is the starting point of this Vietnam tour. Affectionately known as Saigon to locals, this throbbing metropolis still retains many traditional enclaves and mesmerising sights. Feast your senses at the bustling Chinese district of Cholon, trace the development of Vietnamese medicine in FITO Museum, browse for interesting souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market and uncover the architectural legacy of French colonialism in the city’s downtown.
Leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind, this Vietnam tour heads south to the Mekong Delta. In this fertile region criss-crossed with countless lush plantations and waterways, spend a day cruising the colourful Cai Be floating market and cottage industries to catch a glimpse of rural Vietnamese lifestyles.
Journey up to Central Vietnam to Hoi An. In this ancient port city, amble through the well-preserved streets to discover the fascinating potpourri of cultural influences on its architecture and history. This Vietnam tour package then travels from Hoi An to Hue via the Hai Van Pass, a highly scenic stretch of coastline flanked between blue oceans and towering mountains. In Hue, the mesmerising collection of old tombs, mausoleums and citadels provide insights into the grandeur of an imperial city that for centuries shaped Vietnam’s cultural and intellectual development.
This Vietnam tour then ventures north to Hanoi to visit Halong Bay, located 2 and a half hours away. Embark on an overnight cruise and take in the magnificent vistas of soaring limestone cliffs jutting out of emerald waters. Head back to the alluring capital, home to ancient pagodas, picturesque lakes, French-style colonial buildings and wide tree-lined avenues. Stroll across the tranquil compound of the Temple of Literature, wander through the narrow alleyways of the Old Quarter and marvel at the fascinating exhibits in artefacts-rich museums.
From south to north, this amazing Vietnam tour package is sure to reward you with unmatched perspectives into Vietnam’s true essence.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 1 – Ho Chi Minh City Arrival
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Depart your hotel for a full day Ho Chi Minh City tour. Head to Cholon, the Chinatown district, to discover the area’s markets, shops, and the Cantonese 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 afternoon head back to your hotel.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Note: History Museum is closed on Mondays.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
The colourful floating market, vast emerald rice fields and lush back waterways 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.
On arrival board your boat for a cruise of a floating market, 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.
After visiting the market 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.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 4 – Ho Chi Minh City – Danang – Hoi An (B)
After breakfast transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the short flight to the central port city of Danang. On arrival in Danang transfer to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. Take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market.
Rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 5 – Hoi An – Hue
Leave Hoi An for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Its mesmerising tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern. The Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war but retains a sense of grace and majesty even today.
Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
In Hue visit the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945.
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.
Overnight in Hue.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 6 – Hue – Hanoi (B)
Start your day with a visit to the city’s vibrant Dong Ba Market to see it’s abundance of fresh produce. After exploring the market take a cyclo through the ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to relax. It is full of lotus flowers in summer. Around the lake there are many local style coffee shops where university students come to study. 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. From here transfer 30-minutes to Hue Airport for the 1-hour flight to Hanoi. On arrival transfer to your hotel.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 7 – Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Following 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
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 8 – Halong Bay – Hanoi (B)
Enjoy your fresh morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi. As an optional extra, visit one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam ‘But Thap’ on the way back to Hanoi.
In Hanoi, in the 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.If time permits, Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely north Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.
Overnight in Hanoi.
The city tour this afternoon can be flexible base on your next day flight. If you have more time, we move some sites visit to next day.
Essential Vietnam Tour: Day 9 – Hanoi (B)
This morning depart your hotel for 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 Quan Thanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism.
At leisure for shopping until your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for onward flight.
Essential 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.
Essential 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
Essential 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
Essential 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.