Itinerary in brief:
- 2 nights Hanoi
- 1 night Halong Bay
- 2 nights Hoi An
- 2 nights Ho Chi Minh
Day 1: Arrival in Hanoi
On arrival into Hanoi Airport you will be greeted and taken by private transfer to your hotel in the city. After checking in you can spend the evening at your leisure, perhaps heading out for a dinner of traditional pork noodles in the Old Quarter.
Day 2: Hanoi
Today you will enjoy a tour of the city, stopping first at the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university. This incredible institution functioned for over 700 years, educating Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. Next you’ll see the One Pillar Pagoda, one of the city’s most iconic temples, before visiting the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the historic father figure of modern day Vietnam.
Later you’ll stroll past the West Lake before exploring some museums, either the Ethnology Museum which will teach you about the ethnic groups of Vietnam or the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum. After exploring Hanoi’s Old Quarter which is packed with literally thousands of small businesses and traditional homes.
Finish your day with a Water Puppet show; a pretty, North Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from local rural life.
Day 3: Hanoi to Halong Bay
After breakfast, you’ll leave Hanoi and be driven to Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most famous areas. On boarding your boat you’ll enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing on board, taking in the magical landscape as you sail through the green waters past the towering karst peaks.
In the evening you’ll have dinner on board under the stars before spending the night on the boat.
Day 4: Halong Bay to Hanoi to Hoi An
The sun rising over Halong Bay is a beautiful sight to behold and this morning you can enjoy it before eating your breakfast as the boat cruises through the magnificent formations back towards the port. You’ll be transferred back to Hanoi to catch a flight to Danang, the gateway to Hoi An.
On arrival in Danang you will be taken to Hoi An, a major Asian trading post in the 17th Century and one of the prettiest towns in the country, where colourful lantern stalls sit alongside the ancient buildings. This evening is yours to wander through the town, perhaps stopping for a classic Hoi An dinner of Cau Lau; a dish of crispy pork, thick noodles and handfuls of beansprouts and Vietnamese herbs.
Day 5: Hoi An
Today you’ll enjoy a morning walking tour of Hoi An, taking in the main sights including the 400 year old Japanese Covered Bridge which was built by the Japanese community before they returned to their homeland. You’ll also explore the colourful market, where you can purchase a whole range of items, from paper lanterns and fresh fruit to local pottery and a made to order tailored suit.
The afternoon is yours to enjoy the city – why not try a cookery lesson and learn to whip a delicious Vietnamese dish? If you just want to relax, grab an iced coffee and just people watch as the city bustles along.
Day 6: Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast you’ll be transferred back to Danang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. When you arrive in the city you’ll visit some museums, either the War Remnants Museum, the History Museum or the former Presidential Palace.
Strolling past the colonial sights of Ho Chi Minh City is a wonderful way to spend your first afternoon here – you’ll see the Old Saigon Post Office, the Opera House and City Hall, all examples of the old French architecture. In the evening, why not head out to try a bowl of pho, the famous noodle dish of Ho Chi Minh City, now eaten all over the world.
Day 7: Mekong Delta
The colourful floating market, the vast emerald rice fields and the lush waterways: these are the things that make Cai Be such a great day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. This morning you’ll leave the bustling city and drive 2 hours towards the delta town of Cai Be.
On arrival you’ll board your cruise and visit the floating market, where fruit and vegetables are traded over the water before cruising to a cottage factory were rice paper and coconut candies are made. Along the way you can admire the scenery and daily life of the local villagers before eating a Mekong style lunch and returning to Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City Departure
Although it’s your final day in Vietnam, there’s still time for a half day tour of the city, visiting Chinatown which is packed with markets and shops, as well as the Thien Hau Pagoda, dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Vietnam’s traditional medicine museum is a fascinating place to explore – there are over 3,000 specimens relevant to the development of local medicine. Finally, explore the Ben Thanh Market before heading to the airport for your onwards flight.