- Visit Ho Chi Minh City and its historic colonial landmarks
- Cruise around the islets of Ha Long Bay on an overnight tour
- Explore the ornate sites of the UNESCO-listed Hoi An Ancient Town
- Tour Ho Chi Minh City by Vespa and travel up the Mekong Delta
|Day 1||Arrive in Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 2||Cycling Tour of Rural Villages, Cultural Tour of Hanoi||Hanoi|
|Day 3||Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise||Halong Bay|
|Day 4||Ha Long Bay Kayaking, Fly to Hanoi & Transfer to Hue||Hue|
|Day 5||Imperial City Tour, Boat & Bike Ride to Rural Villages||Hue|
|Day 6||Transfer to Hoi An via Da Nang, Explore the Ancient Town||Hoi An|
|Day 7||Visit Fishing Villages, Basket River Ride & Cycling||Hoi An|
|Day 8||Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vespa Tour||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 9||Day Trip to the Mekong Delta||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 10||Depart Ho Chi Minh City|
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, a private driver will collect you and transfer you to your hotel. After taking some time to relax and refresh, head out and explore on foot.
Dating back to 3000 BCE, Hanoi is one of the oldest capital cities in Asia. Discover a rapidly developing yet deeply traditional society, where glimmering office buildings sit alongside the French colonial Old Quarter and carefully-preserves shrines. Rarely at rest, the kinetic energy of Hanoi's motorbike-packed streets spills over into the outdoor markets, Hang Gai silk shops, curbside bun cha /banh mi vendors, and an eclectic nightlife scene.
You can start your walk visiting markets and street vendors, and then take in some local history and mythology with a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake. At the north end of the lake is an arched red bridge leading to Jade Island and the Temple of the Jade Mountain, built in the 18th century to honor Tran Hung Dao, a military commander who repelled two Mongol invasions. Come the evening, head back to the Old Town for dinner—restaurants here run the gamut from fragrant street food to fine dining to trendy fusion cafés. There are plenty of cocktail bars and bohemian boozers for a nightcap, too.
Day 2: Cycling Tour of Rural Villages, Cultural Tour of Hanoi
This morning you'll explore the villages beyond Hanoi on a bicycle tour. It's a chance to experience rural customs and traditions, as you pedal from village to village and discover these little communities on foot. Beyond interacting with residents, you'll visit markets and temples to catch a glimpse of daily life. Having worked up an appetite, join a cooking demonstration of traditional cuisine before joining a local family for lunch.
Return to Hanoi in the early afternoon, for a tour of the city's lesser-known highlights. You'll head to north Hanoi, to the Cau Giay District and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. This massive museum complex preserves cultural heritage by offering information on the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Exhibits include full-scale replicas of village homes, ancient artifacts like traditional jewelry, and wedding/funeral clothing.
The day ends with a fun and informative bit of traditional Vietnamese entertainment: a water puppet show. The water's surface acts as a stage while the puppeteers stand behind a screen and manipulate the wooden puppets using bamboo rods. Water puppetry has been practiced in Hanoi for generations, and it's as much an art as a performance.
Day 3: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise
Wake up early and depart for a transfer by shared van to Ha Long Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the world's true natural wonders. In this sweet spot where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, over 1,000 karst islets rise above emerald waters and the seascape takes on an otherworldly quality. The eastward drive from Hanoi takes four hours, and you'll arrive at the port at around noon, where you'll board a pleasure boat for an unforgettable overnight cruise around the bay. After a welcome drink aboard the ship, you'll be led to your cabin followed by a short trip briefing.
The first stop is the eastern end of Ha Long and Bai Tu Long Bay. It's a tranquil area of verdant islets and idyllic beaches. Away from the biggest crowds, you'll stop for a swim around various lagoons and even a sea cave. There's also the chance to laze on a secluded island beach or explore by kayak. Return to the boat just in time to watch the sunset from the top deck, before sitting down for a dinner of locally caught seafood.
Day 4: Ha Long Bay Kayaking, Fly to Hanoi & Transfer to Hue
Begin your day with a tai chi session on the cruiser's sundeck. It's the perfect locale to integrate your mind and body as the sunrise over the bay perfectly complements this internal martial art. With a rejuvenated spirit and newly healthy qi (life energy), you'll sit down for a light breakfast to be served on board.
After breakfast, choose an activity such as kayaking around the bay or paddling around by rowboat. Afterward, you'll return to the cruiser where you'll have time to relax and enjoy lunch. Then you'll transfer to a dock on the mainland followed by a drive to Hanoi. Here you'll move to the airport and catch a one-hour flight to the historical city of Hue. Set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802 to 1945. Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel and will have the rest of the day to relax.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Imperial City Tour, Boat & Bike Ride to Rural Villages
After breakfast, you'll visit Hue's most famous site: the Imperial City. One of Vietnam's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this vast, walled citadel was constructed in 1804 and is surrounded by a moat. A guide will help you get a deeper understanding of this well-preserved landmark, which was the seat of the powerful Nguyen Dynasty.
After, climb aboard a boat for a leisurely journey up the Perfume River, named for the fragrant flowers that fall into the water during the autumn. After a leisurely lunch on board, disembark and set off on bicycles for an 8-mile (14 km) guided tour of rural villages. One of these, Thanh Tien, is famous for its handcrafted paper flower industry—a tradition that dates back 300 years. You can even have a go at making one yourself. Continue through the peaceful landscape of paddies and traditional homes to another "craft village," Sinh, known for its folk paintings. The tour ends when you arrive back at your hotel around 5 pm.
Day 6: Transfer to Hoi An via Da Nang, Explore the Ancient Town
This morning, a driver will take you on the two-hour journey to the coast. This route takes you on the Hai Van Pass, a mountain road that offers panoramas of the limestone Marble Mountains and sweeping Da Nang Bay. Your driver will stop at the white-sand beach of Lang Co Bay, just outside Da Nang, so you relax in the pretty spot for lunch.
Then, it's onward to adjacent Hoi An. This small city of just over 100,000 people sits on the banks of the Thu Bon River and is a real historic treasure. Its Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with over 2,000 years of history. Spend the afternoon exploring Hoi An independently. See its exquisite architecture, including red-gold Chinese temples, an ornate Japanese bridge, Vietnamese merchant houses, and French stores. Take some time to relax in a café and try a robust Vietnamese drip coffee. Then, stroll through the markets to pick up tropical fruit and sample a bowl of herby pho (noodle soup).
Day 7: Visit Fishing Villages, Basket River Ride & Cycling
At around 8 am, meet your guide at the hotel and transfer to the docks in town. From here you'll hop in a boat and travel a short distance down the river from Hoi An to a fishing village, for a glimpse of local life. Each day locals head out on traditional basket boats called thung chai to cast nets for shrimp, crabs, and fish. You can even join in, learning how to prepare the nets and tools before heading out on the water to do some fishing yourself.
Next, take a leisurely ride in the basket boat down the river, passing along the coconut-fringed banks on your way to a small village. When you disembark, you'll sit down for local lunch and have a chance to chat with the locals. Then, hop on a bicycle for a scenic ride alongside green rice paddies and cornfields, as you return to Hoi An. After touring some of the more famous sights around Hoi An, like the Japanese Covered Bridge and the historic Chinese meeting hall Phuc Kien, the tour will end around 5 pm.
Day 8: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vespa Tour
Take the morning to relax, then transfer to the airport in Da Nang for a 1.5-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City. This metropolis in southern Vietnam was formerly known as Saigon—and despite a communist revolution and devastating war, the city has retained much of its cultural mix of Asian and western traditions. Many French colonial landmarks still stand today, beside sidewalks overflowing with vendors selling everything from street food to lucky golden cats.
After checking into your hotel you'll embark on a guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City from a unique vantage point: the back of a scooter. Zipping through the city on a classic Vespa is the most exciting way to see the historic and famous sights. You'll kick off the tour with an iced coffee at a Vespa-themed café, then weave through Ho Chi Minh City's coolest neighborhoods, such as Chinatown.
Feel a delightful breeze from the speed as you tour landmarks such as the 19th-century Gothic/Renaissance Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral (built in the late 19th century with materials imported from France), and the Opera House. You'll also see the Reunification Palace, the former home of the president of South Vietnam, which was taken over when Saigon fell in 1975.
Day 9: Day Trip to the Mekong Delta
Spend your last day discovering the traditional lifestyles of the folk along the Mekong Delta river. On a guided tour, you'll leave Ho Chi Minh City for the waterfront province of Ben Tre, before hopping aboard a boat for a one-hour ride down a tributary of the Mekong River.
As you travel amid the thick mangrove forests of this waterway, you'll see the morning hustle as fishing boats and coconut cargo ships pass back and forth, going about their daily business. You'll also travel down canals lined with towering coconut palms, and stop to see a coconut preparation workshop. Here, you can look at the various stages of coconut processing, from removing the husk to peeling. The coconut theme continues with a trip to a nearby candy mill.
Disembark the boat at a waterfront market—near here, you'll visit the workshop of a rural home, where the owner earns their living hand-weaving sleeping mats out of sedge grass. You'll then explore on a bicycle (or motorized scooter), through the coconut groves and vegetable gardens around the river. After a home-cooked lunch at a local farmer's home, you'll tour some fruit orchards before returning to Ho Chi Minh City by 5 pm.
Day 10: Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Take the morning to enjoy one last stroll around Ho Chi Minh City. You'll transfer to the airport at the appropriate time to catch your flight home. This concludes your grand Vietnam adventure. Until next time!
More Great Vietnam Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore more ways to spend 10 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.