This two-week tour starts in Ho Chi Minh City and ends in Hanoi. Cycle around traditional farming villages, hike through national parks, explore grand architecture in Hoi An and Hue, and cruise around mesmerizing Halong Bay. Hitting all of Vietnam's highlights, you'll take in the very best this spectacular country has to offer.

Highlights

  • Enjoy the lakes and waterfalls of Bach Ma National Park
  • Cruise, kayak, and swim around mesmerizing Halong Bay
  • Eat the finest Vietnamese cuisine in the culinary capital, Hoi An
  • Marvel and the grand imperial buildings in Hue
  • Tour by bike and scooter - the Vietnamese way!

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 City tour; Vespa tour after dark Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3 HCMC – Mekong Delta – Can Tho Can Tho
Day 4 Can Tho – Fly to Danang - Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 5 Countryside tour & visit ancient town of Hoi An Hoi An
Day 6 Hoi An free day Hoi An
Day 7 Hoi An - Bach Ma National Park Villa at Bach Ma National Park
Day 8 Bach Ma National Park - Hue Hue
Day 9 Hue tour – Fly to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 10 Villages near Hanoi by bike Hanoi
Day 11 Hanoi – Halong Bay for cruise On cruise ship at Halong Bay
Day 12 Explore Cong Dam & dinner in Thien Canh Son Cave On cruise ship at Halong Bay
Day 13 Explore the tranquil scenery in Bai Tu Long Bay, back to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 14 Departure Hanoi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

Colonial-era architecture in Ho Chi Minh City

Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy your free time with a visit to the commercial areas of the city, where you can browse the shops and grab an authentic bite to eat.

Day 2: HCMC City Tour

Street food in HCMC

Start your tour after breakfast, to see the real HCMC through the eyes of a local. Visit the bustling Cho Lon Market and a hidden Chinese pagoda, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic Central Post Office, and City Hall. Continue the fun in the late afternoon, when you'll  join a night tour on the back of a vintage Vespa. Everybody else in this city is riding a scooter, so why not join them? This tour is part night excursion, part street food adventure. 

Day 3: HCMC – Mekong Delta – Can Tho

Mekong Delta

Depart after breakfast for Cai Be, about a 2.5-hour drive. On arrival, board a boat to visit the floating market, then cruise across the mighty Mekong River to Dong Phu Island. Cycle around here under the green canopy, exploring the orchards and daily life of the local farmers.

Have lunch on the island, then cruise to Vinh Long, a town on the edge of the mighty Mekong. In the afternoon, spend two hours checking out the immense rice fields by bike. Cycle through rural riverside villages and learn more about rural Vietnamese life and farming. Enjoy free time in the evening to promenade along the city's quay.

Day 4: Can Tho – Flight to Danang – Transfer to Hoi An

The Japanese Bridge in Hoi An

Go for a morning boat trip to the chaotic and interesting Cai Rang Floating Market, then up a quiet canal for more cruising. Get back on your bikes (for about two hours) to enjoy the beautiful Mekong Delta scenery, and meet the locals, many of whom will also be on a bicycle. After lunch, head back to HCMC and transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your flight to Danang.

From Danang, transfer to your hotel in Hoi An, about an hour's drive away. Spend the evening at leisure, enjoying the excellent restaurants, bars, and colorful lights of this pretty town.

Day 5: Countryside tour - Hoi An

Feasting on the culinary delights of Hoi An

Get picked up after breakfast and taken to the boat docks. From there, you'll be taken to a fishing village, where you can see and experience the life of fishing communities. Hop in a basket boat for a short row around the village, and then enjoy a delicious local lunch.

After lunch, cycle along country roads through fields of rice, coconut and corn, and head back to the town of Hoi An. In the afternoon, tour the famous cultural sites around Hoi An, including the Japanese Bridge, numerous temples, and beautiful merchant townhouses.

Day 6: Free day in Hoi An 

Hoi An

Hoi An is renowned as a culinary center of Vietnam, and on this free day you can sample its delights. Alternatively, you could spend the day at the beach. The choice is yours!

Day 7: Hoi An – Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park

Today, travel to Bach Ma National Park. En route you'll have the chance to stop and check out the view at the Hai Van Pass, the highest in Vietnam at 1,627 ft (496 m).

On arrival at Bach Ma National Park, hike the 700 steps down to Do Quyen waterfall, which has the same name as the flowers that grow by the stream underneath. Continue hiking through the forest to reach Five Lakes, where you can swim in the pure water of these romantic pools, and enjoy a picnic lunch. The climate here is cool and very different from the heat and bustle of Vietnamese cities.

Day 8: Bach Ma National Park – Hue

Bach Ma National Park

Get up early to catch the sunrise over the park from Hai Vong Dai. Trek along nature trails to see many birds and diverse fauna and plant-life. The bird watching is especially great.

Have breakfast at a restaurant after your visit, then set out for Hue along National Highway 1A. Along the way, pass through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, mountains scenery and bamboo ranges, as well as the Cau Hai lagoon.

Day 9: Hue - Flight to Hanoi

Diverse fruit for sale in Hanoi

Today, explore the old imperial treasures of Hue, which is on a very grand scale. Visit the Royal Mausoleum of Nguyen’s Kings; Khai Dinh's tomb, which combines Western and Oriental architectural styles; and Minh Mang's tomb, with its perfect harmony of design.

Later, transfer to Hue Airport for your flight to Hanoi. Enjoy the bustling nightlife of Hanoi at your leisure this evening.

Day 10: Villages near Hanoi by bike

Rural life 

Transfer outside of Hanoi after breakfast, and travel to some rural villages. Here, you have the morning to learn about northern Vietnamese village life. Walk and cycle around the villages, visiting local markets, old houses, temples, communal houses and farmland. Watch a small food demonstration before having lunch with a local family.

In the afternoon, set out from Dong Ngac and cycle along the mostly rural lanes through the surrounding villages to Lien Mac, a beautiful area of immaculately tended vegetables and flowers. Chat with the local people caring for their crops. After returning to Dong Ngac via a different route, have a short refreshment stop with your local host family, bid your farewells, and return to Hanoi.

Day 11: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Welcome on board cruise ship

Cruising Halong Bay

Depart for Halong Bay and arrive at the port around noon. You'll be shown to your private cabin before being briefed on the trip.

Enjoy a lunch of fresh local seafood while cruising to Bai Tu Long Bay. The fascinating rock formations rising out of Halong Bay are incredible and seem to go on forever. Paddle around Cap La fishing village in a kayak, then continue cruising to Cong Do. From the boat, you can go for a swim or just relax and enjoy the sunset. Overnight on board.

Day 12: Cong Dam - Dinner in Thien Canh Son Cave

Thien Canh Son Cave

Early risers can enjoy the sunrise and the quiet breathtaking beauty of the bay. Have breakfast on board, then take a morning cruise to Cong Dam, amid the thousands of islands and islets. Have lunch on board before cruising to Hon Co Island for swimming or kayaking. Take time to relax in your cabin with beautiful views, before enjoying a deluxe dinner in Thien Canh Son Cave.

Day 13: Explore Bai Tu Long Bay; Return to Hanoi

Peaceful Halong Bay

Enjoy the fresh morning air and gentle breezes of Bai Tu Long Bay, especially gorgeous early in the day. Have breakfast on board before cruising further around the bay. Enjoy a rowboat ride with the locals, and go for a swim.

Check out from your cabin before lunch, which will be on board. Slowly cruise back to port, then depart by road for Hanoi. Stop en route for a water puppet show performed by local artists at a traditional Vietnamese village.

Day 14: Departure from Hanoi

Hanoi

Transfer to the airport for your flight home, or stay in Hanoi for further exploration.

Map

Map of Best of Vietnam - 14 Days
Map of Best of Vietnam - 14 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Best of vietnam - 14 days, Vietnam - Dec 23 - Jan 7, 2019

Traveler: Eike N. - Local specialist: Victor Hoang

Dear Victor,

the trip was amazing and we were well looked after throughout! Especially the Tu Lan cave-trip was absolutely stunning and amongst the best I have ever experienced. The kids were completely in awe and we will all never forget the trip, the many friends we made and the many experiences we made. It is impossible to list all the other experiences but clearly, each component had its own value and exceeded our expectations.

Our guide for the food tour was very good, friendly,... read more

Dear Victor,

the trip was amazing and we were well looked after throughout! Especially the Tu Lan cave-trip was absolutely stunning and amongst the best I have ever experienced. The kids were completely in awe and we will all never forget the trip, the many friends we made and the many experiences we made. It is impossible to list all the other experiences but clearly, each component had its own value and exceeded our expectations.

Our guide for the food tour was very good, friendly, knowledgable and explained a lot.

Hung, our guide from Oxalis was amazing. He adapted the tour for us, added an additional cave (which required a lot more climbing), and was full of energy and fun.

Ni was an excellent guide with lots of energy making sure we always get the best out of it. She adapted the programme perfectly around the weather (rain, rain, rain) and our interests.

I have a few areas were changes could be possible (not to be regarded as criticism, just for future planning):
1.) Swimming in Ha Long is not allowed. Should be taken out of the description
2.) The hotel in Phong Nha (I think we were in a different than in the programme) was not the greatest. I would suggest two possible improvements: a) IF staying in this hotel it should be highlighted that they can wash the clothes from the treck but the laundry should be handed in before 6pm to avoid express charges - this could then be in the programme and used to plan packing and getting things clean and dry again after the treck. b) It would also be good to allow for a late breakfast. After the trek we were super-tired and a sleep-in, then breakfast, then cartrip would have been appreciated. b) Alternatively, rather than staying overnight in the Phong Nha area the car trip to Hue could be done immediately afterwards. This would allow us to sleep in the car but gain a whole day.
3.) The hotel in Hue was quite loud with lots of party across the road.
4.) In Hoi An the first fisherman experience was superb. Friendly, happy and "off the beaten path". The second fisherman village was then very touristy and a bit of a shock. The basket boat row could well have been done with the first fishermen (or skipped). Maybe alternatively, one could learn about local ways to grow crop and harvest and process it.
5.) The Mekong trip was interesting, but somehow less exciting than the previous parts of the trip. I had expected more nature and was a bit disappointed. In total we spent too much time driving relative to the experiences made. While it is important to understand that various religious groups live together in harmony (and I think it reached the kids that this is by no means the standard), the visit to the Cham village was rather disappointing. It also feels wrong to walk along a street and look at people. The floating market was nice but the number of tourists outnumbers the locals. Tra Su made up for it (but only lasted for about 1 hour).... We had fun in the evenings though, eating locally, strolling around and enjoying the locals (who enjoyed us...). If a "Mekong Experience" could be organised from HCM - maybe in combination with the tunnels it would save two days and a lot of driving. I would then rather spend another day or two in the Tu Lan area. Alternatively one could try to save a day and use the time to see Angkor What. It would also be nice if the car had internet for the long drives (the car from Pho Nah to Hue to Hoi An to Danang had internet which was very welcomed).

As said, these comments are not a criticism, we thoroughly enjoyed our journey, were exhausted from all the input (and still are), and thank you again for the great organisation and putting such a dense and exciting programme together.

Best wishes,

Eike.

Best of vietnam - 14 days, Vietnam - Dec 21 - Jan 3, 2019

Traveler: Kristen F. - Local specialist: Victor Hoang

I would, and have recommended Kimkim to help plan any trip. We used them for the first time to help plan our trip to Croatia and had such a good experience we used them again for Vietnam. Victor made planning so easy, from helping with the itinerary, booking hotels and internal flights, private tours with great guides, transfers and getting our visa letters. He was always available if we had any questions while in Vietnam.
Khai was a great guide in Ho Chi Minh City and thanks to him we made... read more

I would, and have recommended Kimkim to help plan any trip. We used them for the first time to help plan our trip to Croatia and had such a good experience we used them again for Vietnam. Victor made planning so easy, from helping with the itinerary, booking hotels and internal flights, private tours with great guides, transfers and getting our visa letters. He was always available if we had any questions while in Vietnam.
Khai was a great guide in Ho Chi Minh City and thanks to him we made our flights to Danang when there was a small problem at the airport with our names. The Vespa tour we went on one evening with Linda and her team was one our favorite things.
In Hoi An, we were well taken care of by our guide Than. Our hotel there, Golden Holiday, was the best and Hoi An was amazing.
Last but not least, our guide Anh in Hanoi was fantastic. She is energetic and loved telling us all sorts things about Vietnam life.
Needless to say thanks to Victor and his team we had one of the best trips we have ever taken and loved every minute of Vietnam.