Dive deep into Vietnam and Cambodia, two of the richest cultures in Southeast Asia, with three memorable weeks of off-the-beaten-path adventures. Enjoy the best cuisine in Hanoi, hike through the terraced rice fields and hill tribe villages of Sapa, cruise Ha Long Bay, and discover the unspoiled beaches of the Phu Yen coast—and that's just Vietnam. The thrills continue in Cambodia with visits to the ancient citadels of Angkor and the powdery white-sand beaches of Koh Rong.


  • Enjoy fine dining in Hanoi and cruise the jade waters of Ha Long Bay
  • Hike the mountains of Sapa and visit ethnic hill tribe villages
  • Go snorkeling and visit tropical islands in Vietnam and Cambodia
  • Explore the most remote and secluded beaches on Vietnam's coast
  • Witness ancient Khmer culture at Angkor and tour floating villages

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Michelin Dining at Tam Vi Hanoi
Day 2 Transfer to Sapa, Visit Ethnic Hill Tribe Villages Sapa
Day 3 Half-Day Hike in Muong Hoa Valley  Sapa
Day 4 Free Morning in Sapa, Transfer to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 5 Transfer to Ninh Binh, Visit Hoa Lu & Tam Coc Ninh Binh
Day 6 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Board Two-Night Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 7 Ha Long Cruise Day 2 Ha Long Bay
Day 8 Ha Long Cruise Day 3, Fly to Nha Trang Nha Trang
Day 9 Islands & Snorkeling Day Trip Nha Trang
Day 10 Nha Trang Free Day Nha Trang
Day 11 Transfer to Phu Yen, Optional Activities Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen
Day 12 Phu Yen Beach Day Tuy Hoa, Phu Yen
Day 13 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Sunset Dinner Cruise Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara Show  Siem Reap
Day 15 Day Trip to Angkor Temples Siem Reap
Day 16 Visit Floating Villages, Fly to Sihanoukville Sihanoukville
Day 17 Transfer to Koh Rong, Optional Activities Koh Rong
Day 18 Snorkeling & Bioluminescence Tour Koh Rong
Day 19 Koh Rong Beach Day Koh Rong
Day 20 Transfer to Phnom Penh, Cyclo Tour Phnom Penh
Day 21 Depart Phnom Penh   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Michelin Dining at Tam Vi

Experience the diving flavors of Vietnam's north at Tam Vi

Welcome to Vietnam! There are few better places to kick off a grand tour of the country than its capital, Hanoi. Its modern hotels and shimmering office towers sit alongside ancient enclaves packed with historical landmarks, traditional silk shops, and vendors offering up some of the best street food in Southeast Asia.

Upon arrival at the airport terminal, your personal driver will pick you up for the ride to your hotel. After some time to relax, you'll head out in the evening to discover the best of Hanoi's gastronomy at Tam Vi. With its location in a historic tea house, this Michelin-starred restaurant may appear rustic, but it's putting an innovative spin on northern Vietnamese cuisine.

Menu items include elevated favorites like cha oc (Vietnamese ham with periwinkle snails), crab soup with canh cua mung toi (malabar spinach), thit kho tau (caramelized pork belly with eggs), and other whimsical plates. After the meal, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 2: Transfer to Sapa, Visit Ethnic Hill Tribe Villages

Visit Black Hmong Villages of Sa Xeng & Sau Chua
Visit Black H'mong villages in the terraced mountains around Sapa

Rise and shine! Meet your driver in the morning for the six-hour drive north to the mountain retreat of Sapa. During the trip, you'll pass winding rivers and gorgeous mountain valleys dotted with rice and cornfields, gardens, bamboo forests, and humble villages populated by Vietnam's ethnic minorities. These groups originated in southern China and emigrated to places like Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand over several centuries.

After checking into your hotel, you can freshen up before heading out to the village of Sa Seng, home to the Black Hmong people. You'll know them by their traditional dress of colorful turbans, blouses, leg wraps, aprons, and scarves, all made by hand, often from hemp cloth. On a village tour, you'll meet locals, learn about their traditional way of life, and browse their artisanal items and handicrafts. Later, you'll return to Sapa.

Day 3: Half-Day Hike in Muong Hoa Valley 

Trek Along the Rice Terraces in Muong Hoa Valley - Visit  Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages
Today's hike will take you along the terraced rice fields of the Muong Hoa Valley

Get ready for another cultural excursion as you leave Sapa in the morning and hike down from the main road into the Muong Hoa Valley. As you go, you'll be you'll be treated to panoramic views of the villages and soaring mountains surrounding them. The first stop on this half-day trek is the Black Hmong village of Lao Chai.

After meeting the locals, you'll continue hiking along rice paddies to Ta Van, a village home to the Giay people. They're known for their rich culture and traditional wooden stilt homes dotting the fields. Then, follow the Muong Hoa River, crossing a suspension bridge to a settlement featuring beautiful rock paintings. There will be a rest break at a scenic waterfall, after which you'll hike back uphill to a waiting car and transfer back to Sapa.

Day 4: Free Morning in Sapa, Transfer to Hanoi

Spend one last morning enjoying the scenery of Sapa

The morning is yours to enjoy Sapa however you wish. Perhaps start the day by visiting a café for a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee amid stunning views of mist-shrouded peaks. Then head out and explore the town. Wander Sapa's steep streets, stop at the Stone Church (a French colonial landmark dating to 1902), and shop for handicrafts sold by local Hmong women dressed in brightly-colored traditional clothes. To learn more about the area, visit the Sapa Culture Museum, which features exhibits in English.

In the afternoon, you'll meet your driver for the six-hour transfer back to Hanoi. Upon arrival, you'll have the evening free to relax. If you like, you can head out to the ancient streets of the Old Quarter, browse the silk shops on Hang Gai Street, and stroll the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Day 5: Transfer to Ninh Binh, Visit Hoa Lu & Tam Coc

Ninh Binh is the Vietnam you see in postcards

Meet your driver in the morning for the two-hour ride south of Hanoi to Ninh Binh. This region deep within the Red River Delta draws visitors to its palace ruins and verdant rice paddies bisected by snaking rivers. After checking into your hotel, you'll head out for a tour of Hoa Lu, Vietnam's capital in the 10th and 11th centuries. It features decorative temples built in honor of former emperors like Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty.

Stop at a market and restaurant for lunch before heading to the pier at Tam Coc. Here, you'll board a traditional flat-bottomed sampan raft, which your driver will row with their feet, local style. Float through limestone grottoes and marvel at spiritual sites like Dia Linh Mountain, which stands out amid the dramatic karst scenery. End the day with a trip to Thai Vi, a 13th-century temple dedicated to Tran Thai Tong (the first emperor of the Tran Dynasty), followed by a 45-minute bicycle ride around local villages. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel. 

Day 6: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Board Two-Night Cruise

Ha Long Bay is a UNESCO Site famous for its otherworldly beauty

Today, you'll transfer by private car 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 a ship for a two-night luxury cruise.

After settling into your cabin, head up to the deck, where a delicious seafood lunch awaits. Then, you can spend hours relaxing on the sundeck as the ship sails across glassy emerald waters to the most secluded corners of the bay. Later that afternoon, you'll stop at a secret cove for a swim and a kayak trip to explore hidden beaches and grottoes.

Return to the ship just in time to participate in a cooking masterclass offered by the onboard expert chef. During the workshop, you'll learn to make traditional specialties like nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) and enjoy them for dinner. Spend the remainder of the evening relaxing, or cast a line off the ship's stern and do some squid fishing.

Day 7: Ha Long Cruise Day 2

Continue exploring Halong Bay
Continue the adventure amid the dramatic Ha Long landscapes
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Start the day strong with an early morning tai chi session on the sundeck. Following this, you'll sit down for a light breakfast of tea, coffee, and pastries. Then, you'll participate in a host of daily activities, starting with a trip by transport boat to a nearby fishing village on the water. Later in the morning, you relax on a nearby beach and do some swimming before returning to the cruise ship in time for lunch. After eating, explore sea caves by kayak, then enjoy some free time to relax before dinner, followed by a nightcap (and maybe some karaoke) at the onboard bar. 

Day 8: Ha Long Cruise Day 3, Fly to Nha Trang

After one last morning cruise, you'll say goodbye to Ha Long

Wake up and participate in another morning activity on deck before enjoying an al fresco breakfast. The ship will then begin its return journey to the Ha Long harbor. The fun isn't over yet, however, as on the way, there will be one last stop to explore another limestone sea cave. Back at the port, you'll hop in a vehicle for the three-hour transfer back to Hanoi.

Once in the city, you'll continue on to the airport, where you'll catch a two-hour flight south to Nha Trang. One of Vietnam's premier resort destinations, this coastal city is known for its sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters, and lively atmosphere. Upon arrival, another driver will pick you up for the transfer to the hotel where you'll spend the next three nights.

Day 9: Islands & Snorkeling Day Trip

Swim with exotic marine life at the islands of Nha Trang

The day begins with a morning transfer from your hotel to the port in the south of the city. Here, you'll enjoy a quick tour of the Institute of Oceanography. It houses various large aquariums and features a wide range of marine life exhibits, including various fish species, sea turtles, crustaceans, and other aquatic creatures.

Afterward, you'll board a boat for a day trip around the cluster of offshore islands surrounding Nha Trang. These beautiful islets feature sandy beaches great for sunbathing and swimming, and there will be stops to do just that. This is also a snorkeling tour, and the boat will stop at a few great dive sites. One highlight is Mun Island, whose colorful coral gardens abound with tropical fish and other exotic marine life.

Later, you'll stop for a fresh seafood lunch. Following this is a visit to local fishing villages before returning to Nha Trang at the end of the afternoon.

Day 10: Nha Trang Free Day

The day is yours to explore the beaches of Nha Trang

Today is yours to spend at the resort or embark on an adventure. If you like, you can head into the city center for a day of shopping, dining out, and riding the famous cable car (one of the longest in the world) from the city to offshore Hon Tre Island.

Or, the hotel can arrange a day trip/outdoor activity. Top options include day hikes, visiting local villages, water sports (kayaking, paddleboarding, etc.), and charters to nearby islands. You can also drive to natural hot springs or visit a spa and wellness center to relax with a massage and mud bath. 

Day 11: Transfer to Phu Yen, Optional Activities

There are plenty of secluded bays and coves to explore around Tuy Hoa

Meet your driver early for the three-hour drive north from Nha Trang up to the coastal city of Tuy Hoa. Located in the province of Phu Yen, this entire region boasts a rugged coastline dotted with secluded bays and unspoiled beaches. It's about as far off the tourist trail as you can get on Vietnam's coast, so you'll have this paradise mostly to yourself.

After checking into your hotel, you'll have the day free to discover Phu Yen's wonders on your own. Armed with local recommendations, you can visit nearby lagoons and bays, plus stake out wide and inviting beaches free of tourist crowds. Highlights include the remote Bai Xep beach and the pristine O Loan Lagoon. This wetland area is surrounded by lush mangrove forests, rolling sand dunes, and a backdrop of towering mountains. It's also a prime site for oyster farming. 

Day 12: Phu Yen Beach Day

Bai Xep is one of the highlight stretches of sand in Phu Yen

You'll have the day free to travel up and down Phu Yen's picturesque coast, discovering secluded beaches and tranquil fishing villages as you go. Bai Xep is one fine option, but it certainly isn't the only one. Bai Mon and Bai Tram are other great choices for swimming, sunbathing, and watersports. 

Or, if you want to stay closer to town, visit Tuy Hoa's main urban beach, which stretches along the city's eastern end and is lined by a scenic and pleasant promenade. For the most spectacular coastal views and photo ops, visit Da Dia Reef. While not strictly a beach, it's a dazzling geological wonder created by volcanic eruptions that resulted in massive, honeycomb-shaped rock formations.

Day 13: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Sunset Dinner Cruise

Nestled amid Ho Chi Minh City's skyscrapers are French colonial cathedrals

Transfer to Tuy Hoa's airport in the morning and catch a one-hour flight south to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Vietnam's largest metropolis is fascinating in that it has managed to preserve its cultural roots and traditions in the face of a communist revolution, a devastating war, and ever-encroaching modernity. Here, soaring skyscrapers sit alongside temples and French colonial landmarks.

Upon arrival, a driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Later in the afternoon, you'll head to the Saigon River and board the luxurious Saigon Princess for a three-hour cruise. It's a romantic ride that coincides with sunset, so from the sundeck you'll get to witness the last rays of light glimmering against the towering high-rises of Ho Chi Minh City's skyline. Following this is a set dinner right on the boat, during which you'll enjoy gourmet dishes prepared by top chefs. Afterward, you'll return to the hotel.

Day 14: Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara Show 

Witness hundreds of years of Khmer history in a single cultural performance

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and catch a one-hour flight to Siem Reap. Welcome to Cambodia! This town in the northwest of the country sits on the shores of the great Tonlé Sap lake and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor. These ruins were once the capital city of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to 15th centuries. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you'll transfer to your hotel.

Later, you'll sit down for an Apsara dinner and dance performance. This traditional Khmer art form dates back to the seventh century and is even depicted on the walls of Cambodia's ancient temples. Apsara is defined by its elegance, with dancers in ornate costumes moving deftly and deliberately to the music of flutes and reed instruments. Afterward, return to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow's busy day of sightseeing at Angkor.

Day 15: Day Trip to Angkor Temples

Angkor Wat is central to Cambodian culture and is even on the national flag

Today, you'll visit Angkor Thom (literally "Great City"), which comprises the ruins of what was once the most impressive royal city of Cambodia's Angkor period. During its heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries, it was also a formidable defensive area, protected by 26-foot (8 m) walls and a wide moat.

Looming over Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple. Comprised of 54 Gothic towers, Jayavarman VII commissioned it in the 12th century, immortalizing himself in its 216 stone sculptures. Other structures you'll visit here include the Terrace of the Elephants (featuring sculptures and bas-reliefs of elephants), Phimeanakas (a three-tiered pyramid), and the Terrace of the Leper King, known for its carvings of demons and mythological figures.

Next, you'll visit Preah Khan, a temple built by King Jayavarman VII in 1191 and dedicated to his father. Then swing by Ta Prohm, a 12th-century Buddhist temple whose crumbling towers are being absorbed by the surrounding jungle. Capping the day is a stop at the most famous temple in Southeast Asia: Angkor Wat. This 12th-century complex covers 200 acres (81 ha), and its five towers are so iconic they're emblazoned on the Cambodian flag. On a walking tour, you'll immerse yourself in the ruins as you stroll through its galleries, libraries, pavilions, and courtyards. 

Day 16: Visit Floating Villages, Fly to Sihanoukville

Visit traditional Khmer communities, both on land and water

In the morning, you'll transfer 11 miles (18 km) south to Tonlé Sap. This "Great Lake of Cambodia" is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems. Here, you'll board a traditional wooden boat and travel to the famous floating villages. These remarkable communities on the water have their own infrastructure, including schools, markets, and restaurants.

Upon returning to Siem Reap, you'll transfer to the airport and board an hour's flight to Sihanoukville. This province on Cambodia's southwest coast is most famous as the hub for trips to the nearby offshore island of Koh Rong, one of the most stunning beach destinations in the country. At the airport, you'll transfer to your hotel. Try to get some rest, as you're off to the islands tomorrow morning.

Day 17: Transfer to Koh Rong, Optional Activities

Leisure day in Koh Rong island
Koh Rong is a slice of paradise undisturbed by mass tourism

Head to the jetty in the morning and board a high-speed ferry for a 45-minute ride to Koh Rong. You're now on island time! Cambodia aside, with its white-sand beaches and crystalline waters, Koh Rong is one of the top island destinations in Southeast Asia. Its healthy coral reefs and offshore islets also make this a world-class snorkeling/diving destination. Perhaps the best part is that Koh Rong is still relatively undisturbed by mass tourism, so there's no shortage of privacy and tranquility.

Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and can spend the rest of the day enjoying the most popular pastime on Koh Rong: total relaxation. So grab a book, stake out a stretch of sand, and while away the hours. If you're feeling active, head to the lush interior of the island and embark on a hike around the many jungle trails, some of which lead to romantic waterfalls.

Day 18: Snorkeling & Bioluminescence Tour

End a day of snorkeling with a bioluminescence tour

Get ready for a full day on the water. In the morning, head to the pier and board a boat for a guided tour to some of the best snorkeling spots along the coast. As you swim, you'll marvel at diverse marine life along the reefs and at offshore islets, which include tropical fish, rays, and sea turtles.

There's also the option to fish right off the boat, and capping the excursion is a sunset barbecue meal on the beach. After the sun goes down, you'll get to spot Koh Rong's famous bioluminescence—plankton that light up due to a chemical reaction and create an electric blue glow. Later, you'll transfer back to the pier. 

Day 19: Koh Rong Beach Day

Activities in Koh Rang include sunbathing, swimming, and yoga on the beach

Today is yours to take advantage of Koh Rong's powdery white-sand beaches, which remain unspoiled by mass tourism. Some popular options include Long Beach, with its turquoise and crystalline waters; Koh Touch, which is located by the main village and offers plenty of beach bars; and Lonely Beach, on the remote north side. As the name suggests, it's a good spot to relax in isolation.

Spend the day however you like, whether it's sunbathing or enjoying a yoga session on the beach. For the calmest waters, stay on the east side of the island. There are more waves on the west side, and this is also the best place to spot Koh Rong's famous bioluminescent plankton.

Day 20: Transfer to Phnom Penh, Cyclo Tour

Explore the highlights of Phnom Penh, like the Royal Palace, on a three-wheeled bicycle taxi

It's time to say goodbye to the islands and Cambodia. First, you'll board a fast ferry in the morning for the 45-minute ride back to the mainland. From there, meet a driver for the 2.5-hour transfer to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's dazzling capital.

After checking into your hotel. you'll enjoy a brisk city tour on a traditional cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi). Some highlights you might visit as you zip around the city include the 19th-century Royal Palace and its Silver Pagoda, so-named because of its floor adorned with 5,000 silver tiles. 

Day 21: Depart Phnom Penh

Sun setting over an ancient Khmer statue at Angkor
You've immersed yourself in the culture, history, landscapes, and cuisine of Vietnam and Cambodia. Now it's time to pack up and move on to the next adventure. In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Phnom Penh and catch 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 three weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia, or 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 Hidden Corners of Vietnam & Cambodia: Mountains, Cities & Beaches - 21 Days
Map of Hidden Corners of Vietnam & Cambodia: Mountains, Cities & Beaches - 21 Days