Delight your senses on this flavorful, 11-day journey through Vietnamese cuisine. Get off the beaten path to find Hanoi's best noodle shops, take a cruise through Ha Long Bay for spectacular seafood and scenery, and sit down to a memorable dinner in one of Hue's most famous historic homes. Save room for a motorbike tour through Ho Chi Minh's street food stalls, then head to the Mekong Delta to see the floating market of Cai Be.

Highlights

  • Follow your foodie guide to Hanoi's best banh mi sandwiches & iced coffee 
  • Explore the hidden coves & islets of Ha Long Bay
  • Search out Hue's famous street food by cyclo bike
  • Watch a night of traditional dance & acrobatics at the Saigon Opera House
  • Experience the Mekong Delta's rural countryside & floating markets

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Explore the City Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi Street Food Tour with a Foodie Blogger Hanoi
Day 3 Transfer to Ha Long Bay & Board Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 4 Disembark Cruise & Transfer to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 5 Transfer to Hue, Afternoon Market & Culinary Tour  Hue
Day 6 Hue Sightseeing & Dinner at the Ngoc Son Princess House Hue
Day 7 Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 8 Motorbike Street Food Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 9 Transfer to Cai Be, Explore the Mekong Delta  Cai Be
Day 10 Visit the Cai Be Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Explore the City

A street vendor in Hanoi's Old Quarter
Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi's airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Relax after the long journey, or head out to stretch your legs and get your bearings. Dating to 3000 BCE, Hanoi is one of the world's most ancient capitals. Traditional culture meets modern metropolis in its busy streets filled with motorbikes, outdoor markets, and curbside banh mi vendors. 

Spend your free time exploring the maze of narrow streets in Hanoi's Old Quarter at your own pace, or take a cyclo ride in one of the city's traditional three-wheeled bicycle taxis. For lunch, head to Bun Cha Huong Lien to try the beloved Hanoian meal of bun cha (noodle soup with grilled pork). This restaurant's interpretation of the dish is so famous that it's served guests like Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain. To wrap up your evening in style, sip cocktails on the Pan Pacific Hotel's rooftop bar and enjoy spectacular sunset views over West Lake.

Day 2: Hanoi Street Food Tour with a Foodie Blogger

Hanoi Street Food Tour with a Foodie Blogger
Sample the best of Hanoi's snacks and street foods
Meet up with a local food expert today for a mouth-watering tour of Hanoi—indulging all five of your senses on a journey through fascinating markets and delicious food. Start the day with a visit to Thanh Ha, an eclectic market alive with the sounds and smells of the city. Capture the essence of Vietnamese culture while browsing food stalls, and hear about local culinary culture as you sample unusual Hanoi delicacies.
 
Carry on to the Dong Xuan Market, where you'll find some of the city's most popular noodle shops. Savor treats such as pho sot vang (noodle soup with pork and herbs) and bun dau (tofu served in soup with rice noodles and fermented shrimp paste). Your guide's extensive culinary experience will help illuminate the secrets of these dishes and Vietnamese culinary traditions. Meander through the ceremonial cake stalls of the Old Quarter to try preserved fruit, wrapping up your culinary adventure at one of Hanoi's coffee shops with a sweet iced coffee or a slow-dripped hot brew.

Day 3: Transfer to Ha Long Bay & Board Cruise

Cruising & Kayaking in Halong Bay
Experience the beauty of Ha Long Bay by boat
This morning you'll bid Hanoi farewell for now and transfer east to the otherworldly beauty of Ha Long Bay—where you'll board an overnight cruise through one of the great wonders of the natural world. Located where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, thousands of karst islets dot the bay's serene emerald waters. Legend has it that the islands originated as precious jewels sprayed into the water by a great dragon. 

On arrival at the pier, board your ship and enjoy breathtaking views of limestone rocks and karst grottoes as you leave the harbor. A delicious seafood lunch awaits, and you'll have plenty of free time to enjoy the sundeck as the ship navigates the bay's most beautiful hidden corners. Stop in a secret cove to explore with some swimming or kayaking, then head back to the boat for an evening cooking class, where you'll learn to make nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) before sitting down to a delicious dinner. 

Day 4: Disembark Cruise & Transfer to Hanoi

A fruit seller rowing on Ha Long Bay
Take your breakfast on the ship's deck today to enjoy panoramic sunrise views of Ha Long Bay. After a morning full of optional activities like swimming and kayaking, you'll sit down to an early lunch before reaching the dock and disembarking. A transfer will take you back to your hotel in Hanoi, where the remainder of the day is at your leisure.
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Day 5: Transfer to Hue, Afternoon Market & Culinary Tour 

A colorful display of street food in Hue
Your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the airport this morning, where you'll catch a flight south to the ancient imperial capital of Hue. Rich with culture and history, this small city sits in a scenic location on the banks of the Perfume River. After checking into your hotel, your guide will pick you up by traditional cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) and set off on a tour of Hue's culinary hotspots.
 
Cross the colorful Trang Tien Bridge and head to Dong Ba, Hue's oldest and largest market. Here you'll find plentiful local produce and try most of the distinctive ingredients used in regional dishes. After enjoying a bounty of snacks and fruit, hop back on the cyclo to explore more of the city, stopping en route for a cup of coffee at a local café. Your tour draws to a close at a series of local restaurants, where you'll sit down and enjoy some of the best local gastronomy on offer while your guide shares stories and explains the local food traditions.

Day 6: Hue Sightseeing & Dinner at the Ngoc Son Princess House

Gate to the Dien Tho Palace inside Hue's Imperial Citadel
Start today's explorations of Hue with a visit to the Imperial Citadel, a grand UNESCO-listed complex where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. After exploring the ruins of this vast monument, take a cyclo ride through the Old City to Tinh Tam Lake. Decorated with blooming lotus flowers in summer, this peaceful spot is popular with university students who come to study at the many local-style coffee shops along the shore. Continue to Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Vietnam's oldest and most beautiful pagodas, then break for lunch at a local restaurant. 

More sightseeing awaits at the Mausoleum of Tu Duc. This tomb was built decades before its occupant's death and was used as a palace retreat before becoming the Emperor's hallowed resting place. Continue to Khai Dinh's Tomb, which combines traditional Vietnamese design with European touches to create one of the city's most unique and beautiful structures. Your evening comes to a close at the Ngoc Son Princess House, where you'll sit down to dinner of traditional Hue specialties while you hear stories of the city's fascinating past.

Day 7: Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

Historic meets modern in Ho Chi Minh City
Spend this morning exploring more of Hue at your own pace. Take a scenic walk along the Perfume River, stop at one of the town's many cozy coffee shops, or pick up some last-minute souvenirs at Dong Ba market. When the time comes, your driver will transfer you to the airport to catch your flight south to the energetic metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. Despite a turbulent history and devastating war, this city formerly known as Saigon has retained its fascinating mix of Asian and western traditions, with French colonial landmarks rubbing shoulders with 21st-century skyscrapers.
 
After transferring to your hotel and setting in, set out to get your bearings. You could visit Ben Thanh market, a famous spot for street food and shopping, or check out one of the many local spas for a relaxing foot massage. When you're ready for a break, sit down with a beer at Bitexco Tower and enjoy panoramic views across the city.

Day 8: Motorbike Street Food Tour

A banh mi stand in Ho Chi Minh City
Hop on the back of a motorbike today for a half-day tour of the city. Satisfy your sweet tooth with some chè (a Vietnamese dessert made of beans, sticky rice, and coconut milk) at Ban Co Market, then continue to Districts 10 and 5 to witness the colors, smells, and sounds of typical Ho Chi Minh life as you pass shops, street food stands, and busy rickshaws. Stroll along the traditional medicine streets of Chinatown, then end your adventure at a local restaurant for a lunch of favorites like com tam (broken rice) or bun bo (beef noodle soup). 
 
In the evening, enjoy an authentic night of Vietnamese culture and art at the iconic Saigon Opera House. Known as a "bamboo circus," tonight's show depicts the transition of rural Vietnam to modern life. Performers use a variety of props, such as giant woven baskets, ropes, and bamboo, accompanied by traditional live music, dances, and breathtaking acrobatic performances.

Day 9: Transfer to Cai Be, Explore the Mekong Delta 

Explore the Countryside of Cai Be
Take a rowboat through the peaceful countryside of the Mekong Delta
Today you'll swap the city for the countryside with a transfer to the idyllic farmland and rivers around Cai Be. Upon arrival, check into a local resort with your own private bungalow and enjoy a delicious lunch by the riverside.
 
After some downtime, gear up for a cycling trip to Tan Phong Island to visit local handicraft workshops and see how locals make banana leaf hammocks, water coconut leaf thatch, and home decor products made of water hyacinth. Pass gardens where you can enjoy freshly picked fruit and Vietnamese folk music, then take a small rowing boat trip along the tranquil canal. After the tour, you'll return to the resort for dinner and a relaxing evening at your leisure.

Day 10: Visit the Cai Be Floating Market, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

Visit the Cai Be Floating Market
Morning at the colorful floating market of Cai Be
After breakfast, one of the highlights of your trip awaits as you embark on a boat trip through the famous Cai Be Floating Market—an unmissable cultural feature of the Mekong Delta. Float through a vibrant scene on the Tien River, where hundreds of boats gather for the fresh produce trade. Spend some more time on the island visiting more handicraft villages, then check out of the hotel and meet your driver for the transfer back to Ho Chi Minh. 

Day 11: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Goodbye, Vietnam!

Your Vietnam adventure draws to a close today as you transfer to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Written by Do Hien, updated Sep 14, 2022