Explore Vietnam from North to South, gain a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s diverse landscapes, intriguing history and rich culture. The program not only explores the key historic, spiritual and cultural sites but also the architectural and natural wonders as recognized by the esteemed UNESCO organization. From the unknown parts of the vibrant Hanoi to the natural beauty of Ha Long Bay then venture southward to Hue’s imposing Imperial Citadel and the charming Hoi An ancient town before concluding the journey in the bustling city Saigon to the water world of the Mekong Delta.
The additional surcharge applies for bookings on Christmas, New Year & Tet (Lunar New Year).
Upon arrival Noi Bai International Airport, meet our representative and transfer to your hotel (official check-in at 14.00 o’clock. Early check-in subject to availability and chargeable).
You will have time to relax at the hotel after a long flight. Our tour guide will take you to a local restaurant for lunch (excl. and on your own account). We visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university built in the late 11th century and one of Hanoi’s best-preserved buildings. This is the most important of the so-called Temples of Literature to be found throughout Vietnam. Later, conclude your tour at the local café shop to enjoy a cup of coffee before returning to your hotel.
You will be invited to a welcome dinner at a nice local restaurant to enjoy the authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
Let’s explore Hanoi in a unique way by sitting on the back of a vintage Vespa motorcycle to see Hanoi. With an enhanced itinerary which features real-deal experiences by taking you to the parts-unknown of the city with slices of life in the maze of backstreets, tiny alleyways, local homes, schools, markets to see where & how locals live, work and play.
It not only shows you the good but also exposes the bad and the weird of your destinations; it is what it is. The run-off-the mill tourist sites are only the tip of the iceberg, the majority of your destinations remain hidden in the parts-unknown. You will also pass by some must-see highlights of Hanoi such as Ho Chi Minh mausoleum-the Mecca of Vietnamese, The 1000-year-old Buddhist and Taoist temples of Tran Quoc, temple of Literature, the historical training track, the enchanting French Quarter, The hustling & bustling Old Quarter, the romantic lakes of Hoan Kiem, West lake, Hanoi Opera House & famous Long Bien bridge. Moreover, you will be getting to some of the beaten track areas which lead you to the Red river farming villages in order to see the contrast in harmony between the urban and countryside life of Hanoi. During the tour, there are a few stops en-route at local authentic restaurants, eateries and food stalls where savour some tasty dishes of Hanoian including family heirloom & secret recipe dishes, local delicacies and specialties.
The afternoon is free at leisure.
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and head to Halong Bay. The bay itself was declared as a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, Halong Bay covers an area of 43,400 ha and including over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited and unaffected by humans, it forms a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars and is an ideal model of a mature Karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate.
Arrive at Tuan Chau International Passenger Port, embark on the traditional wooden junk followed by a welcome drink while the cruise manager briefing about the itinerary and safety info. A tasty lunch will be served on board when our cruise starts sailing towards the southeast of Halong Bay, passing by many stunning rocks and islets. Then we can join some activities such as rowboat or kayak (Kayaks can be booked in advance at reception with extra cost). Return to our cruise and rest of the day at leisure. Later, take part in a cooking demonstration with traditional Vietnamese food on the sundeck (or in the restaurant if weather does not allow). The boat cruises back through the Bay to its overnight anchorage. Dinner & overnight on board.
Flexible program of each cruise - subject to change
No private guide on board.
In the early morning, start your day with a Tai Chi lesson while hot tea and coffee are being served on the sundeck then enjoy a light breakfast on board before exploring the Surprise Cave, one of the biggest caves in Halong Bay with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. Back to our main boat and check out. Brunch will be served in the restaurant while the boat heads back to harbour. Disembark at Tuan Chau port and head to Noi Bai airport for the evening flight to Hue.
Make a stop on the way at Yen Duc village, a typical traditional village which remains the agricultural life and offers a beautiful countryside scenery with charming rivers, historical mountains, sacred legends and relics related to Ly and Tran dynasty. Upon arrival, visit the local family and interact with them to learn about the village’s life then continue to the culture house of the village before enjoying the culture water puppet show which were presented by the local artists on the village’s field (there will be other guests joining this tour. Surcharge for a private tour will be applied).
Later, bid-farewell to Yen Duc and head to Noi Bai airport for a flight to Hue. A late dinner will be served at the local restaurant. Check-in hotel and overnight in Hue.
Once the capital of the “Nguyen Lords” from the 17th to the 19th centuries, Hue is a charming city with a large historical and cultural background. Let’s explore some sites that make-up this city to observe a small part from the glorious past of the Nguyen Dynasty. Visit to the Imperial Citadel, originally constructed in 1804 as the seat of the imperial government, it is comprised of six-foot thick brick ramparts and 10 fortified gates, all encircled by a 100-wide moat. Follow our guide with a walkthrough of the main gate area and the magnificent architecture, gardens surroundings and the former royal court.
Although the grounds were bombed heavily during the civil war, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections intact, which have been restored. Continuing to Tu Hieu Pagoda, situated on the slope of a sleepy hamlet, Tu Hieu was founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Dinh in 1843. It was financially supported by eunuchs in the imperial court in the latter of the 19th century and their graves are ensconced within its grounds. Lunch will be served at the local vegetarian before heading to Tu Duc royal tomb, the most impressive of all the royal mausoleums and built by Emperor Tu Duc in three years. According to history, Tu Duc had 104 wives and countless concubines but left no heirs to the throne. Although the complex contains his tomb, together with pavilions and temples, no one knows exactly where he was buried.
End of the day, transfer to the local pier and board the charming boat to visit Thien Mu pagoda, one of the most beautiful pagodas in Hue which is situated on the top of a hill overlooking the Perfume River. Dinner will be served at the garden house at the end of the day.
Overnight in the city of Hue.
After breakfast, check out your hotel and visit An Dinh Palace which used to be the private residence of Nguyen Phuc Buu Dao (later the king Khai Dinh). This construction was renovated between 1917-1919 and officially became the residence of the crown-prince Vinh Thuy (later Bao Dai King).
Stop at An Bang cemetery or “City of Ghosts”, the biggest cemetery in Vietnam which covers around 250 hectares, and sits next to a sparkling and deserted sandy beach. Continue the journey to Danang via Hai Van pass and visit the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five mountains dotted with grottoes and pagodas that were used by Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War. The highlight of the mountain is the central cave system, illuminated by a large opening in the cave roof. Within this cavern is a temple housing a massive Buddha carving standing several stories tall. There are 2 options for those who want to reach the stunning summit by hiking 156 steps to the top or a mechanized lift.
Later, head to Hoi An and check into the hotel. Free time.
Hoi An; once a prosperous trading port and attractive to many merchantmen from Asia and Europe from the 15th to 19th century. Today, Hoi An has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved architecture of the old buildings, hidden alleys and its diverse flavor profiles.
In the morning, meet with your chef at the meeting point for a welcome drink and brief introduction then visit the local market to learn how to select the fresh produce, ingredients essential for Vietnamese cuisine. A chance to interact with the local sellers as well as taste the wonderful variety of foods on display. Later, embark the local river boat for a cruise for about 25 minutes, along Hoi An river to the cooking school. Upon arrival, explore the culinary school’s herb and vegetable garden, then start the join-in hands-on cooking class.
After completing your lesson, enjoy the dishes you have cooked before returning to your hotel (duration: appr. 3.5 hours; there will be other guests joining this cooking class; surcharge will be applied for a private tour).
In the afternoon, explore the confluence of cultures in this old town where Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese aesthetics mingle in the confines of architecture. Moreover, the narrow streets of Hoi An is the best way for a walking tour to explore its famous sights: The Japanese Covered Bridge, the best known structure in the city was constructed by Japanese merchants living in Hoi An in the mid-sixteenth century; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its intricate wood carvings; The old house of Quan Thang, as a good example of the distinctive Hoi An-style yin-and-yang roof tiles and the colorful market where you will see the bustling part of the town and the chance to taste some local foods (at own expense).
Free day at leisure (no guide & no transfer)
This morning is free at leisure until transfer to Danang international airport for flight to Saigon.
Saigon, the biggest commercial city of Vietnam and home of more than ten million people. Besides the skyscrapers and new buildings which were rising along with the city development, the city still makes a great impression with its French colonial buildings. Explore the city’s historic areas on a heritage city walk which will bring you to visit some famous landmarks in Saigon including the Opera House (visit from outside), City Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Independence Palace (visit from outside), The old post office, Ben Thanh market.
Conclude your tour at the Majestic Hotel, a colonial landmark built in 1925 along the Saigon river. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at the Breeze Sky Bar before returning to your hotel.
Depart from your hotel for a 2 hour drive to Cu Chi where you will explore an incredible network of hundreds of miles of narrow tunnels that were built during the resistance to the French colonisation and utilised extensively during the Vietnam War. The tunnels showcase an amazing insight into life during the war and it also served as the living quarters, communication and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food and weapons storages.
Afterward, return to Saigon and drive to District 5 or Chinatown. Make a visit at Thien Hau pagoda, a Chinese folk temple built in 1979 and had a very important role in the religion and culture of the Vietnamese – Chinese community. Later, head to Fito, the first museum offering an insightful look into the history and application of traditional medicine in everyday life before walking around the biggest wholesales market at the end of the tour.
Overnight at the hotel in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon).
Depart for a 2.5 hour drive from Saigon to Cai Be. Upon arrival, board the comfortable boat then start cruising through Cai Be floating market which used to be one of the biggest wholesales floating market with thousands of local barges full of fruits and vegetables. Disembark the boat when reaching Tan Phong Island and get a new experience with the rowing boat which will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals to enjoy a peaceful journey before hopping on the bicycle and start an interesting cycling trip throughout the small village roads. Being surprised by the way the locals trade and advertise their local products. Ride along the concrete road and visit some local workshops making traditional products such as the house-home items made from water hyacinth; the cottage roof weaved from palm leaves or the banana hammock that took too much time to complete and the grass hats which were imported over the world.
Embark the boat and cruise to a small island where local specialties will be served for lunch (drinks excl. and on your own account). Later, walk around the fruit and orchard fields, enjoy a cup of tea when listening to the traditional music in the ancient house and visit the coconut candy, pop-rice, the traditional brick kilns workshop before concluding your cruise trip at a pier.
Continue driving 1 hour to Can Tho, the largest city in Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Check-in at the hotel and free at leisure.
In the early morning, board the local boat trip for the visit at Cai Rang floating market where dozens of boats laden with fruits, vegetables and fish from all over the Delta jostle for trade. Return to the mainland for a short city tour in Can Tho. First, visit Can Tho Museum which is home to more than 5,000 objects and valuable historical relics of the Mekong Delta, the museum presents agriculture and river life of the region.
Next, transfer to Binh Thuy Ancient House, originally conceived as a place to worship their ancestors, the home was built by two generations of the Duong family, finally finished in 1911. It is also an outstanding example of Western and Oriental architectural elements and was famously used in the movie “The Lover”. Return to your hotel and free at leisure.
After breakfast at your hotel, check out and spend a 3 hour drive northwest towards Chau Doc.
Located on the border with Cambodia, Chau Doc enjoys a unique cultural mix between Vietnamese, Cham and Khmer ethnic groups.
In the afternoon, transfer to the outskirts of Chau Doc for the visit to the Tra Su Nature Reserve, which is home to many unique water birds and colonies of bats. Its best explored by motor boat and rowing sampan through spectacular living carpets of water plants. Return to the city and make a stop at the local house where you can witness how all parts of the palm tree were used by the original Cambodians to make palm juice, palm sugar and more.
Drive back to the centre and arrive at your hotel in the early evening. Overnight in Chau Doc.
After breakfast, board the local ferry along Chau Doc River (a tributary of the Mekong River) for the tour on the other side of Chau Doc city. Observe the peaceful river sceneries including a visit to the floating fish farms and a Muslim Cham village; who were the generation of Cham Pa kingdom, an empire that stretched from Hue to the southern of Vietnam from the 7th to 18th centuries.
Walk around the village to see the local mosque, witness the differences in Cham-style stilt homes as well as their modest colorful style of dress.
Return to Chau Doc center, check out and drive back to Saigon (or transfer to the local pier for the next destination).
Lunch will be served at a local restaurant on the way. Arrive at Saigon in the evening and the rest of the day at leisure.
Free at leisure until transfer to Tan Son Nhat international airport for your flight back home or connect to the next destinations.