- See the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City in a military Jeep
- Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
- Take cooking classes in Hanoi and Hoi An
- Cycle the beautiful Vietnamese countryside
- Cruise the jade waters of Ha Long Bay on a luxury ship
|Day 1||Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Bamboo Circus||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 2||Ho Chi Minh Jeep Tour, Michelin-Star Dining||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 3||Fly to Da Nang, Transfer to Hoi An, Night Market & Boat Tour||Hoi An|
|Day 4||Cycle the Countryside & Cooking Class||Hoi An|
|Day 5||Hoi An Free Day||Hoi An|
|Day 6||Fly to Hanoi, Dinner at Ly Club||Hanoi|
|Day 7||Day Trip to Ba Vi Countryside & Cooking Class||Hanoi|
|Day 8||Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Luxury Cruise||Ha Long Bay|
|Day 9||Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 10||Depart Hanoi|
Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Bamboo Circus
Welcome to Vietnam! One of the true gems of Southeast Asia, this nation is famous for its beautiful landscapes, delectable cuisine, and rich history, both ancient and contemporary. On the streets of its major cities, you can see architecture and landmarks that tell stories of imperial dynasties, French colonialism, communist revolutions, devastating wars, and modern commerce. There's no better place to witness this melting pot of historical influences than Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), the largest metropolis in the country.
Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the Park Hyatt. This gleaming white 5-star hotel occupies an elegant French colonial building in the city center, and its spacious rooms meld traditional Vietnamese decor and modern luxury. There's no shortage of amenities here, and after checking in, you may want to hit the Xuan Spa to take the edge off the flight with a massage. If you like, order a smart cocktail from the hotel bar, Park Lounge, and enjoy it at the outdoor pool surrounded by tropical gardens.
In the evening, you'll get dressed up for a night out at the Saigon Opera House, a stately French colonial theater venue dating to 1898. The production you'll enjoy tonight is a "bamboo circus"—a one-hour spectacular inspired by Vietnamese folk culture. It consists of live music, dancers, acrobatics, visual arts, and songs, with the performers utilizing traditional bamboo props/items like baskets, blinds, and poles, to reveal the rich culture of rural Vietnam. After the show, you'll return to the Park Hyatt.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh Jeep Tour, Michelin-Star Dining
Enjoy the seemingly limitless options at the Hyatt's breakfast buffet, which includes both an omelet and pho (beef noodle soup) station. After eating, you'll hop in a US military Jeep for an action-packed private tour of Ho Chi Minh City. During this half-day ride, you'll visit highlights like Reunification Palace (once the headquarters of the Saigon government), City Hall, the 19th-century Notre Dame Cathedral, and the War Remnants Museum, which offers a vivid perspective of war through Vietnamese eyes. You'll also visit Ben Thanh, one of the biggest markets in the city.
After returning to the hotel, you'll change into formalwear and head right back out for an evening of fine dining at Anan Saigon. Specializing in Vietnamese-contemporary cuisine, chef Peter Cuong Franklin applies modern cooking techniques to street food recipes to create enticing flavors. The restaurant is consistently named one of the country's best by major publications, and in 2023 it became one of the first restaurants in Vietnam to be awarded a Michelin star. During this two-hour dining experience, you'll get to savor Southeast Asian haute cuisine with a modern touch.
Day 3: Fly to Da Nang, Transfer to Hoi An, Night Market & Boat Tour
In the morning, meet your driver for the ride to the airport for the 1.5-hour flight north to Da Nang, on Vietnam's central coast. There, another driver will pick you up for the one-hour ride south toward the colorful and romantic river city of Hoi An. Sitting on the Thu Bon River, this historic city was a major trading port with the West from the 15th-19th centuries. Its international legacy is represented in the assortment of architectural styles in Hoi An's Ancient Town.
Just north of the city, you'll check into your 5-star hotel, The Nam Hai. This Four Seasons luxury resort sits on its own private beach and features villas with private pools. As if that's not enough, The Nam Hai boasts three infinity pools right along the sand. Upon arrival, you'll have time to relax, go for a swim, take a yoga class, or enjoy a gourmet meal right on the beach.
Later, you'll head into Hoi An for a private walking tour around its UNESCO-listed Ancient Town. Visit the famous Night Market, a wildly-popular street market filled with tourists, vendors, and colorful lanterns. Stop to sample street food while browsing items like clothing, handicrafts, local artwork, and leather goods. Afterward, you'll enjoy one of the most popular activities in the city: a boat ride on the Thu Bon River. As you sail down the tranquil waterway, you'll participate in the traditional (and highly spiritual) act of releasing handmade lanterns into the water—don't forget to make a wish!
Day 4: Cycle the Countryside & Cooking Class
In the morning, hop on a bicycle for a privately guided, full-day excursion to the country outside Hoi An. After cycling along verdant rice paddies, you'll arrive in Tra Que. This small village, home to just a few hundred residents, is famous for its organic herbs and vegetables, which farmers grow without pesticides or chemicals. To fertilize their crops, they use a type of river seaweed that they harvest by boat. During your visit, local farmers will teach you about these cultivation methods, and you'll join in gardening activities like watering, transplanting, and tending to the greens.
You'll also get to visit the home of a friendly family comprising fifth-generation noodle makers. During the visit, you'll learn time-tested methods for preparing Hoi An's famous cao lau noodles, which are made from rice soaked in lye water. Another highlight is a visit to a bean sprout garden to learn how local farmers grow and clean the beans. After stopping at a local market to browse more fresh produce, you'll cycle back to Hoi An.
But the day doesn't end there. Ride your bike back to Ancient Town and Ms. Vy's Market Restaurant. At this hybrid street market/culinary workshop, cooks prepare meals in food stalls around a central courtyard. Here you can see up close various cooking processes and sample tidbits from over 10 different food stalls. Snacks you'll try include dumplings, pickles, and the famous banh mi sandwich. Then you'll participate in a two-hour private cooking workshop and make some famous dishes yourself. At the end of the experience, you'll sit down to feast on your creations.
Day 5: Hoi An Free DayToday is yours to enjoy Hoi An however you like. Take a leisurely walk or rent a bicycle for a ride along the quiet streets and scenic waterfront. Perhaps get measured for a custom-made outfit (Hoi An is famous for its expert tailors) or head to one of the white-sand beaches just north of the city. For dinner, try local dishes such as com hen (sauteed clams), nem lui (ground pork), and cao lau (pork and greens).
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Fly to Hanoi, Dinner at Ly Club
After waking up to one last riverfront sunrise, you'll enjoy breakfast at the hotel before transferring to the airport. There, you'll catch a flight a little over an hour north to the capital of Hanoi. Founded way back in the third century BCE, this city has preserved many of its ancient landmarks, which you'll later see on city tours.
At the airport, a personal driver will pick you up at the terminal for the ride into the city and the Sofitel Legend Metropole. Located in the heart of Vietnam's Old Quarter near historic Hoan Kiem Lake, the Metropole is set in a luxurious French colonial estate dating to 1901. It's the perfect place to relax and unwind after a flight. Soothe your muscles with a relaxing massage at Le Spa, or perhaps enjoy a cocktail on the patio next to the heated pool.
When the sun goes down, head over to Ly Club Restaurant for an unforgettable culinary experience. Located in an ornate French villa built in the early 20th century, Ly Club offers opulent dining rooms to enjoy a fusion menu of Vietnam-meets-Western cuisine against a backdrop of Indochine decor. Here, you can savor everything from traditional pho to Hanoi spring rolls and tiger prawn salad. Afterward, transfer back to your hotel.
Day 7: Day Trip to Ba Vi Countryside & Cooking Class
In the morning, you'll head west out of Hanoi on a private, full-day eco-tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is Ri village, where you'll enjoy welcome drinks and snacks with Mr. Duoc, a Vietnam War veteran and tea plantation owner. Listen to Mr. Duoc's stories about life during the war and visit his workshop and tea plantation, where you'll learn how to pick the best leaves.
Next, take a short drive to Moc village, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes that you'll enjoy for lunch in her tropical garden. Join Mrs. Chin for a walk around the village to visit families and learn how to make tofu, conical hats, and other regional products. Finish with an easy cycle through Vietnam's iconic rice paddies, followed by a Muong herbal foot bath, before returning to Hanoi and the Metropole.
Day 8: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Luxury Cruise
Today you'll transfer by limousine about 3.5 hours north to the coast and Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a natural wonder of the world. In this sweet spot on the Gulf of Tonkin, over 1,000 karst islets rise above emerald waters, resembling the spine of a giant reptile—hence the name Ha Long (Descending Dragon). Here, you'll board the Stellar of the Seas ship for a two-day luxury cruise.
Once aboard, you'll sit down for a gourmet lunch and then get underway. The ship will pass several islets before arriving at a secluded lagoon in Lan Ha Bay, part of the Cat Ba World Biosphere Reserve archipelago. Here, the boat will drop anchor, and you'll take a kayak tour. During the excursion, you'll pass through narrow waterways around the karst mountains and visit the famous floating villages. Continue through a natural tunnel to a lagoon where you can swim and relax on a secluded beach.
In the late afternoon, you'll return to the boat, and everyone will gather on the top deck to witness the golden sunset over the water. Then, join a cooking class on board the ship, during which the expert chef will teach your group how to prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes. Later, you can opt for activities like games and movies, enjoy a massage, or go squid fishing.
Day 9: Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi
Wake up early and start the day strong with a tai chi session on the sundeck. After a light breakfast, the ship will cruise to the Dark and Light Cave. You'll then board a traditional bamboo boat and enter this system of two sea caverns. The "dark" cave stretches over 328 feet (100 m), and you'll explore the interior with a flashlight. The "light" cave is shorter and is filled with natural light, illuminating the white limestone karst walls and emerald waters of the grotto. Its cathedral-like interior is a great place to snap photos.
Afterward, you'll return to the ship and cruise to the Ha Long Bay pier, enjoying a late brunch as you go. Then hop in a vehicle for the 3.5-hour ride back to Hanoi, arriving at the Metropole around 3 pm. Once back in your hotel, feel free to spend time relaxing. Maybe enjoy a cocktail and live music at Le Club Bar. You don't even need to leave the hotel for dinner, as you can head down to the opulent Le Beaulieu restaurant and enjoy haute French cuisine amid crystal chandeliers. There's also an impressive wine cellar featuring over 600 bottles from leading châteaux.
Day 10: Depart HanoiTime flies when you're gallivanting around exotic and beautiful countries in the lap of luxury. Enjoy one last decadent buffet breakfast at the Metropole before meeting your driver for the transfer to the airport. There, you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!
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