Travel Vietnam from north to south on this 15-day highlights tour. Start at the top of the country to cruise UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay, whizz through the streets of Hanoi on a Vespa, and cycle through the northern countryside. Continue down the coast to Hue's ancient citadels and royal tombs, followed by the bright lights of Ho Chi Minh City. Your adventure ends in the lush Mekong Delta, where you'll sail to an iconic floating market.


  • Venture the atmospheric streets of Hanoi on a vintage Vespa
  • Escape to the Ninh Binh countryside and see caves, rice fields, and rural villages
  • Visit UNESCO-listed sites and cruise amid the limestone islands of Ha Long Bay
  • Tour Hue's ancient city and royal tombs
  • Visit iconic floating markets in the Mekong Delta, bartering for fresh, exotic fruits

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi Vespa Tour Hanoi
Day 3 Explore the Vietnamese Countryside on a Ba Vi Eco Tour Hanoi
Day 4 Transfer to Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
Day 5 Cycle Ninh Binh & Tam Coc Sampan Tour Ninh Binh
Day 6 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Cruise & Kayak Ha Long Bay Ha Long Bay
Day 7 Ha Long Bay Cruise & Transfer to Hue Hue
Day 8 Hue Food Tour By Cyclo Hue
Day 9 Hue City Tour Hue
Day 10 Hue Countryside & Tam Giang Lagoon Tour Hue
Day 11 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 12 Transfer to Cai Be, Countryside Bike Tour & Cooking Class Cai Be
Day 13 Cai Be Floating Market Tour Cai Be
Day 14 Return to Ho Chi Minh City  Ho Chi Minh City
Day 15 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Get to know Vietnam's capital, Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam! Your private driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the heart of Hanoi, the country's high-energy capital. Settle in and get your first glimpse of the city. Wander tree-lined avenues featuring ancient temples and French colonial buildings set against modern, glassy malls and offices. In the 36 streets of the Old Quarter, shop fronts and cafés spill onto pavements scattered with tiny stools where locals sip strong Vietnamese coffee.

Day 2: Hanoi Vespa Tour

Hanoi Vespa tour
Ride through Hanoi's city streets on a Vespa

Explore Hanoi in style today on a vintage Vespa scooter. Your guide will take you for a ride through the atmospheric streets of the Old Quarter to admire its famous landmarks, such as the Opera House and Train Street. Head toward the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum to see the Presidential Palace, Parliament House, and other government offices while your guide shares stories about the history of Hanoi.

Pass Huu Hiep Lake and the crash site of the US plane shot down during the 1972 bombing raids of Hanoi—a poignant reminder of recent history. Then ride along West Lake to see the monument to John McCain, a prisoner of war in Hanoi. Your next destination is a village on an island in the Red River, where you can meet a resident family and learn more about rural life.

Then it's on to a nearby kumquat farm, where peach blossom trees are grown as a gift for TET (Vietnamese New Year), symbolizing luck, health, wealth, fertility, and peace. Stop for Hanoi's signature egg coffee, then drive back to the Old Quarter via the Long Bien Bridge. This magnificent structure was built over a hundred years ago to connect the Hoan Kiem and Long Bien districts. The tour finishes with lunch at a local restaurant and a transfer back to your hotel.

Day 3: Explore the Vietnamese Countryside on a Ba Vi Eco Tour

Learn about tea leaves, herbal foot baths, and more on a Ba Vi eco-tour

Head out of the city this morning for a guided tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is Ri Village, where you'll have 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, you'll take a short drive to Moc Village, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes, which 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 a gentle cycle through Vietnam's signature rice paddies, followed by a Muong herbal foot bath, before returning to Hanoi.

Day 4: Transfer to Ninh Binh

Leisure Time in Ninh Binh
Discover the beautiful views of Ninh Binh

Leave Hanoi today and drive south to Ninh Binh, a region loved for its ruinous palaces and patchwork paddy fields bisected by snaking rivers. Check in and spend the rest of the day exploring independently. Cycle through the town, past swaying fields of rice, and stop at Bich Dong Pagoda, home to cave temples filled with Buddhist statues and burning incense.

In nearby Hoa Lu, explore Vietnam's capital in the 10th and 11th centuries, which features decorative temples built in honor of former emperors and queens. End the day with a trip to Mua Cave, where you can climb over 400 steps for a panoramic view over Ninh Binh. For dinner, sip on fish pho (herby fish noodle soup), a Ninh Binh favorite.

Day 5: Cycle Ninh Binh & Tam Coc Sampan Tour

Enjoy spectacular views of the limestone karsts in Tam Coc

Today starts with a drive to Ninh Hai Village, where you'll visit a family to learn about rural Vietnamese life. Hop on a bike to cycle through watery rice paddies to the nearby Emerald Cave, which you'll tour with a guide. Your bike tour continues through the striking Thung Nang Valley, surrounded by limestone mountains, to Tam Coc, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

Stop at a market and restaurant for lunch before heading to Tam Coc dock. Here, you'll board a traditional sampan boat, which your driver will row with their feet, local style. Float through limestone grottoes and spot spiritual sites like Dia Linh Mountain among the dramatic karst scenery, earning the nickname "Ha Long Bay on Land." Once ashore, you'll transfer to your hotel for the evening.

Day 6: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Cruise & Kayak Ha Long Bay

Cruising & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Relax on Ha Long Bay's paper-flat waters
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

This morning, take a shuttle bus to the northwest coast, where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, to begin your overnight tour of Ha Long Bay. Sail across the paper-flat waters, taking in views of over 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sundeck as you sail to the most remote corners of Ha Long Bay.

In the afternoon, stop at a secret cove where you can go swimming and kayaking to explore hidden beaches and grottoes. Look for formations such as Kissing Rock, which appears on Vietnam's 200,000 dong note. The ship's expert chef will lead a cooking masterclass, teaching you to make specialties like nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) for dinner. Spend the evening relaxing or join the locals for a spot of night fishing to end the day.

Day 7: Ha Long Bay Cruise, Transfer to Hue

Cruising Ha Long Bay
Wake up to the breathtaking views of Ha Long Bay

Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay, deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The morning is yours to simply absorb the view or join optional activities like Tai Chi and kayaking past floating villages and forested islands.

Visit a limestone cave dripping in stalagmites and stalactites before sailing back to the harbor, enjoying brunch along the way. A shuttle bus will be waiting to take you back to the airport in Hanoi. Fly south to Vietnam's former royal capital, Hue, where you'll be transferred straight to your hotel.

Day 8: Hue Food Tour By Cyclo

Sample local ingredients at Dong Ba Market

Get to know Hue's famed cuisine today, a mix of humble street food and sumptuous dishes once served at royal feasts. You'll travel by cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) to Hue's culinary hotspots. Cross the historic Trang Tien Bridge and head to Dong Ba, Hue's oldest market. Here, you'll see colorful produce and get the chance to try distinctive ingredients used in regional dishes.

After enjoying a bounty of snacks and shopping for souvenirs, you'll hop back on the cyclo to see more of the city, pausing en route for a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee. Visit a series of restaurants to sample typical Hue dishes such as bun bo Hue (beef vermicelli soup) and banh beo (steamed rice dumplings). End with a sweet dessert before returning to your hotel for the evening.

Day 9: Hue City Tour

Learn about the Imperial Citadel's history on a guided tour

Spend today on a guided tour of Hue. Board a dragon boat to cruise along the Perfume River, stopping at Thien Mu, an ornate Buddhist pagoda on the riverbank. Next, continue to the moat-encircled Imperial Citadel, home to the powerful Nguyen Dynasty between 1802 and 1945. Explore the remains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site's shrines, pavilions, and palaces. You'll tour the Royal Antiques Museum, which displays collections of bronze and china ware, musical instruments, and relics of former Nguyen emperors.

Browse the produce, clothing, and handicrafts stalls at Dong Ba Market before lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, you'll travel out of the city to the architecturally-renowned tombs of Hue's former emperors, including Khai Dinh and Minh Mang. On the way back to Hue, visit a village where conical hats and incense sticks are made, arriving at your hotel late afternoon for a restful evening.

Day 10: Hue Countryside & Tam Giang Lagoon Tour

Hue Countryside and Tam Giang Lagoon Tour
Cycle through rice paddies and traditional villages in the Hue countryside

Discover Hue's surrounding countryside today. Start with a cycle along canals bordered by rice paddies and over Thanh Toan Bridge. Stop at Thuy Thanh Village to browse the market and tour the Agricultural Museum, which displays traditional farming tools. Have lunch at a homestay, where you'll be invited to cook with your hosts, Nua and Sy, who are passionate gardeners and chefs.

After lunch, visit Vietnam's largest cemetery, An Bang, known as the "City of Ghosts." The tombs here are meticulously cared for, as villagers believe this will bring the family good fortune. After reunification in 1975, many residents of An Bang village emigrated to Europe and the USA. They sent money back to their relatives, making An Bang one of the wealthiest villages in Vietnam.

Continue to An Truyen Village, where you'll take a motorized sampan ride across the water to Dam Chuon in Tam Giang Lagoon, South East Asia's biggest lagoon system. Enjoy the tranquil scenery and learn Vietnamese fishing techniques. Head to a restaurant on the lagoon, where the chef will cook up your catch, which you can wash down with cold drinks.

Day 11: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City

Fly to Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh

This morning, fly south from Hue to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Settle in, then head out to discover the city's noodle-soup-scented alleyways and sweeping French boulevards. Ho Chi Minh is Vietnam's largest city, its motorbike-choked streets filled with sprawling megamalls and skyscrapers, colonial architecture, and museums.

You could trawl for treasures at Ben Thanh Market, a popular spot for street food and shopping, or check out one of the many spas for a foot massage. Visit the haunting War Remnants Museum to learn about the country's turbulent war history. When you're ready for a break, sit down with a beer at Bitexco Tower for views across the city.

Day 12: Transfer to Cai Be, Countryside Bike Tour & Cooking Class

Head to Cai Be for a cycling tour and cooking class
This morning starts with a three-hour drive to Cai Be for a cycling adventure. Fuel up for your bike tour with a tasty Vietnamese lunch in Cai Be, which lies in the lush Mekong Delta. Afterward, you'll hop on your bike for a guided tour of the pristine countryside with its farming villages and vibrant rice paddies. Highlights include Kim Phuoc Pagoda and visiting country markets. Head to your hotel to relax before your evening cooking class and dinner.

Day 13: Cai Be Floating Market Tour

Cai Be Floating Market Tour
Barter for goods at the Cai Be Floating Market

Rise early this morning for a trip to Cai Be's bustling floating market. This popular wholesale market is crowded with vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables from their boats, shopkeepers and locals bartering for goods. Navigate the market by boat, stopping to buy fruit and take photos. Return to your hotel for lunch.

This afternoon you'll cycle to nearby Tan Phong Island to visit handicraft villages. Learn how villagers make hammocks and other goods from water hyacinth and banana leaves. You'll sample exotic fruit and watch residents perform traditional folk music during your trip, ending with a peaceful paddle on a row boat along narrow canals.

Day 14: Return to Ho Chi Minh City

Notre Dame Cathedral
Visit landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral replica

Your driver will take you to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, where you can take the rest of the afternoon to relax or sightsee. Don't miss Cho Lon, Vietnam's largest Chinatown, where you can visit red-gold temples and teahouses and then snack on Chinese-inspired street food. Get lost in the labyrinthine stalls of Binh Tay Market, a Chinatown highlight.

For some history, visit the Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace, a symbol of the end of the American War when Ho Chi Minh's tanks stormed the complex in 1975. As you traverse the city, you'll pass French colonial landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office.

Day 15: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City today

Enjoy your last morning in Vietnam, visiting a local market after breakfast. Take a transfer to the airport for your flight home—safe travels!

More Great Vietnam Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore different ways to spend 15 days in Vietnam, and discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


A note on diacritical markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Discover Vietnam From North to South - 15 Days
Map of Discover Vietnam From North to South - 15 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Dec 5, 2023