Vietnam is a culturally and geographically diverse country, which you'll see first-hand on this tour covering the highlights of the north, central, and south. From the incredible karst formations of Halong Bay to the totally flat Mekong River Delta, the beautiful merchant houses of Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City, you'll fall in love with Vietnam's wide array of sights and activities.

Highlights

  • Cycle through rural Vietnam to explore farmland and small villages
  • Cruise, kayak, and swim in gorgeous Halong Bay
  • Taste Vietnam's finest cuisine in culinary hotspot Hoi An
  • Enjoy the modern yet historical Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
Day 2 Tour of Hanoi City Hanoi
Day 3 Hanoi – Cuc Phuong National Park Cuc Phuong National Park bungalow
Day 4 Cuc Phuong – Van Long – Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
Day 5 Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay Cruise ship in Halong Bay
Day 6 Bai Tu Long bay - Hanoi - Fly to Danang Hoi An
Day 7 Countryside tour & visit ancient town of Hoi An Hoi An
Day 8 Hoi An free day Hoi An
Day 9 Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City; City tour on Vespa HCMC
Day 10 HCMC – Mekong Delta cycling – Ben Tre Rural homestay in Be Tre
Day 11 Ben Tre – HCMC HCMC
Day 12 Depart HCMC  

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi

Chao Ban! Welcome to Hanoi. You'll be met at the airport and taken to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure or go out and explore (depending on what time you arrive).

Day 2: Hanoi city tour

Highlights of Hanoi

Begin today's tour after breakfast with a visit to 'Uncle Ho', at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Learn about his great life, and why he is so important to the Vietnamese people. Next stop is the nearby Temple of Literature, the site of Vietnam's first university. Here you'll have a chance to see a traditional music performance. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant; the authentic Hanoi pho (noodle soup) is recommended.

In the afternoon, choose to visit one of the numerous museums or temples around Hanoi, such as the Museum of Ethnology, the Women's Museum, History Museum or Quan Thanh Temple. Then, take a trip in a cyclo (or, three-wheeled bike taxi) around Hoan Kiem Lake and Hanoi´s fascinating Old Quarter. This is your chance to be in the midst of typical Hanoi life and Vietnamese culture. The Vietnamese commonly ride around on bikes and scooters, so get in there and join them!

End the day with a water puppet show, a favorite experience for many visitors to Vietnam. Cap off the evening with a drink at one of the fine bars in the city.

Day 3: Hanoi – Cuc Phuong National Park

Primate Rescue Center

Start early today with the 3.5-hour drive to Ninh Binh and into Cuc Phuong National Park. Visit to the Primate Rescue Center, followed by lunch. On the agenda for the afternoon is a 6 mile (9 km) hike within the park, spotting insects and reptiles along the way.

Return to your accommodations for dinner - but get ready to head out again after dark. The evening's activity involves searching for the jungle’s nocturnal creatures, such as civets, owls, large insects, flying squirrels, and bats. Stay overnight at the very simple park bungalow.

Day 4: Cuc Phuong – Van Long – Ninh Binh

Riding a bamboo boat

Enjoy some free time after breakfast before heading to the Botanical Gardens and the oldest forest in Vietnam. Then, transfer to Van Long nature reserve. Explore the beautiful natural area on a bamboo boat, and enjoy spectacular scenery and the rural life of the locals. This tranquil reserve comprises a reedy wetland that's popular with bird-watchers.

Head on to Ninh Binh City for your overnight stay.

Day 5: Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay

Halong Bay

Depart for Ha Long Bay after breakfast in a shared van, a journey of around four hours. Be escorted on board and to your cabin before your cruise briefing. The food on board is a real highlight, so enjoy a lunch of fresh local seafood while cruising to Bai Tu Long Bay. Stop for a swim and visit a mysterious cave. Afterwards, relax at a secluded island beach or explore the bay in a kayak.

Day 6: Bai Tu Long bay – Hanoi – Flight to Danang

Travelers kayaking in the bay

Early risers can enjoy the sunrise and the quiet, breathtaking beauty of the bay’s landscape. Breakfast will be served around 8 am, before a short rowboat ride with the locals of the bay. Later on, you can take one more swim in the middle of the bay. Lunch will be served on the boat as you slowly cruise back to the harbor.

Drive to Hanoi Airport for a flight south to Danang. On arrival, transfer to Hoi An, a short drive away.

Day 7: Countryside tour & visit ancient town of Hoi An

Local fishing boats

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. Tour the famous cultural sites around Hoi An, including the Japanese Bridge, numerous temples, and beautiful merchant townhouses.

Day 8: Hoi An free day

Picturesque 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 9: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Da Nang for an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). After checking in to your hotel, embark on a city tour via Vespa. You'll be taken through the Chinese district of the city, visiting a hidden, breathtaking Buddhist pagoda and stopping to check out a sweet-smelling flower market. Pass other must-see landmarks such as the famous Saigon Cathedral and the Post Office, which were designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame). Then, get a brief history lesson in front of the Reunification Palace.

Depending on the time of day you wish to take the tour, begin or end with a delicious lunch at Café Zoom.

Day 10: HCMC – Mekong Delta cycling – Ben Tre

Cycling in the Mekong Delta

This morning, head south of HCMC to Cai Be. Upon arrival, board a boat to visit a floating market and cruise over the mighty Mekong River to Dong Phu Island. Here, cycle under a green canopy of coconut palms, exploring the orchards and daily life of the local farmers.

Have lunch on the island, then board the boat again to cruise 1.5 hours down the Mekong to the Cho Lach canals. Here, get back on your bike to explore the local nursery gardens and fruit orchards. This evening, take another short cruise to Ben Tre for dinner and spend the night in a homestay at a local farmer's house.

Day 11: Ben Tre – HCMC

Cruising on the mighty Mekong

Enjoy breakfast at the homestay, and then prepare for a big day of cycling - about 22 miles (35 km). The route travels along the river and through Ben Tre's coconut palm-lined roads to Pau. There, have lunch and a taste of seasonal fruit, a coconut-candy workshop, and a handicraft workshop if time permits.

Transfer back to HCMC and arrive back at your hotel in the early evening.

Day 12: Departure HCMC

HCMC at night

Depart from HCMC today, or stay for more adventures in Vietnam!

Map

Map of Highlights of Vietnam - 12 Days
Map of Highlights of Vietnam - 12 Days