This tour takes you around the major highlights of Vietnam, but along the lesser-traveled paths. Visit the coastal regions of Northern Vietnam that still remain unknown to many visitors. Get immersed in Vietnamese history in Hue, and experience a different side to popular Hoi An by being a local for one day. And of course, visit bustling Hanoi - the capital of Vietnam - which seamlessly blends the old and new.

Highlights

  • Spend a night in an authentic village to learn about rural life
  • Cruise through the incredible landscape of Halong Bay
  • Tour Vietnam's historic culture in Hue and Hoi An
  • Bike and boat amidst some of Vietnam's best scenery

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
Day 2 Visit a rural village by bike; Hanoi city tour Hanoi
Day 3 Hanoi – Mai Chau – Pu Luong Stilt homestay
Day 4 Pu Luong Stilt homestay
Day 5 Pu Luong – Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
Day 6 Ninh Binh – Boat trip to Thien Ha Cave – Thung Nham Bird Garden – Ninh Binh Ninh Binh
Day 7 Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay On cruise ship
Day 8 Bai Tu Long – Hanoi Hanoi
Day 9 Hanoi free day & evening flight to Hue Hue
Day 10 Hue heritage tour; Boat on Perfume River; Biking around a rural village Hue
Day 11 Hue tour of markets and royal tombs; Transfer to Hoi An Hoi An
Day 12 Hoi An town & countryside tour Hoi An
Day 13 Free day in Hoi An Hoi An
Day 14 Hoi An – Danang – Hanoi (departure)  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam

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: Visit a rural village by bike; Hanoi city tour

Rural life outside Hanoi

Transfer outside of Hanoi after breakfast, and travel to some rural villages. Here, you have the morning to learn about northern Vietnamese village life. Walk and cycle around the villages, visiting local markets, old houses, temples, communal houses and farmland. Watch a small food demonstration before having lunch with a local family.

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. 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 – Mai Chau – Pu Luong

The countryside of northern Vietnam

This morning, make the four-hour trip to Mai Chau. After arrival at Poom Coom village in Mai Chau, make the short walk to an ethnic Thai community, where you will have lunch. After lunch, continue for about an hour by car before reaching the starting point of your hike through the Pu Luong nature reserve. The trek is of moderate difficulty as it requires walking up some hills, but it's all worth it for the spectacular views of villages and terraced farmland.

In the late afternoon, arrive at the Thai stilt homestay. You will have free time to rest and shower, then enjoy a traditional dinner with your host family. Overnight here.

Day 4: Pu Luong

Local life around Pu Luong

Wake up early to witness the daily life of the locals, who start their day early! This morning will be leisurely, with plenty of time to stroll around the village, visit your neighbors, and learn more about their life and society. You can embark on an easy hike around the paddy field if time permits, before driving to your lunch spot. 

This afternoon, hike through the beauty of the Pu Luong Nature Reserve - the walking distance is around 4.3 miles (7 km). There are some short uphills, again with spectacular views of villages and terraces. Return to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner.

Day 5: Pu Luong – Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

This morning, take a bike from your lodge and embark on a countryside tour, stopping at several villages en route. Later, hop on a locally made bamboo raft for some smooth, peaceful drifting along a flat stream.

In the afternoon, you'll transfer to Ninh Binh for your overnight stay.

Day 6: Ninh Binh – Boat trip to Thien Ha Cave – Thung Nham Bird Garden – Ninh Binh

Locally made rowboats

After breakfast, meander down one of the peaceful waterways of Thien Ha on a local rowboat. Cruise past beautiful paddy fields and interesting caves. After lunch, take a small sampan boat to Thung Nham Bird Park. Here, there are more than 4,000 birds (belonging to 40 species) to spot, with plenty of chances to take nice photos. After a fun day, return to Ninh Binh overnight.

Day 7: Ninh Binh – Bai Tu Long Bay

Halong Bay

Depart for Halong Bay after breakfast. Stop en route in the late morning to watch a traditional water puppet show performed by local artists in a Vietnamese village. Arrive at the port around 1:30 pm. You'll be welcomed on board and taken to your cabin, followed by a trip briefing.

Enjoy a lunch of fresh, local seafood while cruising around Bai Tu Long Bay. The karst rock formations that rise out of the water are incredible, and each little bay that makes up the greater Halong Bay area houses different views. Later, kayak around Cap La fishing village. Keep cruising to Cong Do and take some time for a swim, or just enjoy watching the sunset. Dinner and overnight on board.

Day 8: Bai Tu Long – Hanoi

Kayaking around Halong Bay

Wake early to enjoy the cool morning air of Bai Tu Long Bay in the morning. Have breakfast on board and continue cruising before hopping onto a small rowboat with the local people who live around the bay.

Check out of your cabin before lunch, then enjoy one last meal on board while slowly cruising back to the port. Drive back to Hanoi, and enjoy the city overnight.

Day 9: Hanoi free day - Evening flight to Hue

Hue

The city is your oyster: enjoy a free day today in Hanoi, where you'll be shopping and exploring the lanes of the Old City - or just relaxing at your hotel. In the afternoon, transfer to Hanoi Airport for your flight south to Hue. You'll be picked up on arrival, and transferred to your hotel. 

Day 10: Hue heritage tour - Boat on Perfume River - Biking around a rural village

The old Imperial City of Hue

After a leisurely breakfast, begin your explorations of Hue. Start at the Imperial City and learn all about the old royal kingdom that was based here. Then, embark on a boat ride along the wide Perfume River, stopping at Thien Mu pagoda. Continue downstream, and enjoy lunch on board.

Disembark and begin an 8.6 mile (14 km) cycling tour. Visit the flower village of Tien Non, and the Thanh Tien paper flower making village - you can even make one yourself. Continue on to a village where they produce traditional folk paintings. Cycle through the beautiful and peaceful countryside surrounding Hue before returning to your hotel in the early evening.

Day 11: Hue tour of markets and royal tombs - Transfer to Hoi An

Hoi An

After breakfast, go on a relaxing one-hour ride to the Dong Ba Market. You can just sit back, relax, and take in your surroundings. Then, explore the Royal Tombs, visiting the highlights of the Ming Mang and Khai Dinh Royal Tombs.

Transfer to Hoi An, a journey of about 4 hours. There are many fabulous places to stop en route - spend some time at Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass, Cham Museum, or the Marble Mountains, depending on time. Arrive in Hoi An in the evening; you'll overnight here.

Day 12: Hoi An town and countryside tour

The backwaters of Hoi An

Be 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. In the afternoon, tour the famous cultural sites around Hoi An, including the Japanese Bridge, numerous temples, and beautiful merchant townhouses.

Day 13: Free day in Hoi An

Colorful lanterns for sale in Hoi An

Hoi An is renowned as a culinary center of Vietnam, and on this free day, you can sample its delights. Alternatively, you can spend the day lounging at the beach. The choice is yours!

Day 14: Hoi An – Danang – Hanoi (departure)

Goodbye Vietnam

Today, transfer to Danang Airport for the flight back to Hanoi. Farewell!

Map

Map of Impressions of Vietnam - 14 Days
Map of Impressions of Vietnam - 14 Days