The diverse landscapes of Vietnam and Thailand take center stage on this scenic two-week tour. Travel from the buzzing capitals of Hanoi and Bangkok, where ancient temples and golden palaces abound, to the cloud-capped Ba Na Hills and white-sand beaches of Phuket. Along the way, you'll meet elephants at a jungle sanctuary, visit Vietnamese coconut forests, and sail the sparkling waters of Ha Long Bay, one of the world's New Seven Wonders of Nature.


  • Sail UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay and kayak to hidden caves
  • Ride a cable car to Vietnam's cloud-capped Ba Na Hills
  • Interact with elephants in a jungle sanctuary near Chiang Mai
  • Relax on Phuket's white-sand beaches and island hop to Ko Phi Phi
  • Tour ancient temples and palaces in Bangkok, Hanoi, and Hoi An

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Explore Hanoi
Day 2 Highlights of Hanoi City Tour Hanoi
Day 3 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Board Overnight Cruise Ha Long Bay
Day 4 Cruise Ha Long Bay, Fly to Da Nang Da Nang
Day 5 Visit Ba Na Hill, Golden Bridge, Old French Villas & Flower Garden Da Nang
Day 6 Hoi An, Marble Mountains & Palm Forest Tour Da Nang
Day 7 Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), Golden Mount Tour Bangkok
Day 8 Explore Bangkok's Temples, Palaces & Markets Bangkok
Day 9 Fly to Chiang Mai, Historic Temples Tour Chiang Mai
Day 10 Elephant Sanctuary, Ban Tawai & Silver Temple Tour Chiang Mai
Day 11 Fly to Phuket, Explore the Island Phuket
Day 12 Phi Phi & Khai Islands Speed Boat Tour Phuket
Day 13 Sea Canoeing in Ao Phang Nga National Park Phuket
Day 14 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Explore

Touch down in Vietnam's capital and explore the city

Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam's high-energy capital and cultural hub. A private driver will take you to your hotel, navigating the motorbike-choked streets of the city. Settle in before exploring Hanoi's tree-lined avenues, which feature a mix of temples and French colonial buildings contrasted with modern, glassy malls and office buildings. In the labyrinthine streets of the Old Quarter, shop fronts and cafés spill onto pavements scattered with tiny stools where Hanoians sip coffee and play checkers.

Head to Bun Cha Huong Lien for lunch to try the beloved Hanoian dish 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. Order cocktails on the Pan Pacific Hotel's rooftop bar and enjoy spectacular sunset views over Tay Ho (West Lake) to wrap up your evening in style.

Day 2: Highlights of Hanoi City Tour

Visit Vietnam's first national university, the Temple of Literature

This morning, you'll take a guided tour of Hanoi's top sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where Vietnam's revered revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, lies embalmed in a mausoleum. Wander the serene grounds to see the humble wooden stilt house where he once lived, as well as the ornate One Pillar Pagoda, which sits in the middle of a lake and resembles Vietnam's national flower, the lotus.

After a lunch break, continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university built in the late 11th century. Lauded for its striking architecture, the temple is featured on the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote. In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Museum of Ethnology, which houses an expansive collection of costumes and artifacts from Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority groups.

The trip finishes in Hanoi's Old Quarter, known as the "36 Streets" area. These bustling, narrow streets and alleys are lined with thousands of small businesses, street vendors, and shopkeepers. Finally, take a walk past Hoan Kiem Lake, an oasis where locals come to exercise and relax, before dinner.

Day 3: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Board Overnight Cruise

Board your boat for an overnight stay on Ha Long Bay's calm waters

This morning, you'll take a shuttle bus to the northeast coast, where the land meets the Gulf of Tonkin, to begin your overnight tour of Ha Long Bay. Board the Ambassador Cruise ship to sail across the emerald waters of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, taking in views of over 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend.

Savor a buffet lunch on board while taking in the views, then stop at Tung Sau Pearl Farm, where pearl farmers have been harvesting these natural treasures for generations. Take a kayaking trip across the paper-flat waters, paddling past fishermen and farmers to secret caves. Return to your cruise ship for your final stop of the day, Titov Island, where you can lie on the beach, swim, or hike up to a 328-foot-high (100 m) peak to soak up views over Ha Long Bay. 

Re-join the cruise in the late afternoon, sailing to Coconut Tree Island in time for sunset, where you'll anchor up for the evening. Have predinner cocktails and canapés at the sundeck bar, followed by dinner. Spend the rest of the evening listening to live music in the piano lounge, try some optional night fishing, or take advantage of the Ambassador's spa. 

Day 4: Cruise Ha Long Bay, Fly to Da Nang

Wake up to the sun rising over Ha Long Bay

Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the shimmering waters of Ha Long Bay. The morning is yours to simply absorb the view or join in optional activities like tai chi and kayaking. Sail to Sung Sot Cave, the bay's largest, which is decorated with thousand-year-old stalactites and stalagmites.

Sit down to a buffet lunch as you cruise back to Ha Long's harbor, passing scenic Bai Tu Long Bay en route. Back on dry land, you'll take a shuttle bus to Hanoi, followed by a private transfer to the airport for your flight to the former French colonial port of Da Nang. Meet your driver, who'll take you straight to your hotel.

Day 5: Visit Ba Na Hills, Golden Bridge, Old French Villas & Flower Garden

Golden Hand bridge
Walk across the Golden Bridge for memorable views over the mountains
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today, you'll journey into the Ba Na Hills, riding a dramatic cable car system that holds multiple world records for its construction, height, and length. As you soar high into the sky, take in aerial views of the Truong Son Mountain Range beneath. Stop along the way to see the iconic Golden Bridge, which is held above the mountains by a pair of giant stone hands. 

You'll ride a funicular train to Le Jardin D'Amour, a French-themed flower garden complete with a wine tunnel. Continue to the 4,878-foot (1,487 m) mountain peak to visit the Linh Ung Pagoda, dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Enjoy free time at the mountain's Fantasy Park, where you can ride rollercoasters and play 4D games. In the late afternoon, transfer back to Da Nang, passing the eye-catching 2,185-foot (666 m) Dragon Bridge, which spans the Han River.

Day 6: Hoi An, Marble Mountains & Palm Forest Tour

Explore highlights of the UNESCO-listed city of Hoi An, like the Japanese Covered Bridge

Travel an hour down the coast today to Hoi An, a peaceful port town that lies on the Tho Bon River and is fringed by tranquil rice paddies and beaches lapped by the South China Sea. Visitors are drawn to Hoi An for its ancient architecture, lantern-lined streets, and skilled tailors who can whip up a custom-made outfit in as little as 24 hours. On your way to Hoi An, stop at the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone peaks home to caves, tunnels, and temples. 

This afternoon, tour the nearby 208-acre (84 ha) Bay Mau Palm Forest. Peruse the bamboo handicraft center, where locals have been creating goods from coconut and bamboo since the beginning of the 19th century. Afterward, take a trip in a Vietnamese bamboo basket boat through the mangroves; you'll get the chance to paddle and try your hand at crab fishing.

Return to Hoi An, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its fusion of architecture. Explore some highlights, including the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation Assembly Hall, and the market where stalls brim with regional specialties. End the day with an atmospheric lantern boat ride before transferring back to Da Nang. 

Day 7: Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), Golden Mount Tour

Fly to Thailand's glittering capital, Bangkok

Say goodbye to Vietnam this morning and catch a 1.5-hour flight to Thailand. Touch down in Bangkok, where your driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city's heart. Thailand's capital is beloved for its chaotic energy, delicious street food, neon nightlife, and Buddhist sights. Settle in before this afternoon's guided tour.

Your guide will take you to the Central Pier, where you'll board a boat to sail along Bangkok's klongs (canals), offering a glimpse into local life. Disembark at Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount, which dates back to the Ayutthaya era, making it one of Bangkok's oldest temples. Climb 320 steps to watch the glorious sunset over the city from the 262-foot-high (80 m) temple top before returning to your hotel. 

Afterward, satisfy your taste buds at the Michelin-starred street food stall, Jay Fai, where you can enjoy their famous crab omelet. End your day in the lively Khao San Road, or head to Chinatown to browse the traditional food stalls and markets. 

Day 8: Explore Bangkok's Temples, Palaces & Markets

Visit Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, which sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River

This morning, you'll take a guided tour of Bangkok, starting with a trip to Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn since it's named after the Indian dawn god, Aruna. Take a ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Pho, which houses a giant reclining Buddha statue.

Next is the Grand Palace, a complex of intricate temples and palaces built in 1782, which served as the royal family's home for 150 years. Today, the palace is used for royal ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and state banquets. Highlights include the Reception Hall, Coronation Hall, and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha statue.

Finish the trip with an exhilarating tuk-tuk ride to Chatuchak Market—with more than 15,000 stalls, it's one of the world's largest outdoor markets and sells everything from clothes and flowers to food and antiques. Pick up some souvenirs and sample some street food snacks before returning to your hotel for the evening. 

Day 9: Fly to Chiang Mai, Historic Temples Tour

Travel to moat-encircled Chiang Mai in Thailand's north

This morning, take a 1.5-hour flight to Chiang Mai, where a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Set in the cooler, mountainous north of Thailand, Chiang Mai was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and still retains its moat-encircled Old City. The city is a key cultural hub, home to historical architecture and over 300 temples where orange-robed monks live and worship.

Settle in before touring some of the city's most revered temples. These include Chiang Mai's oldest temple, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Chedi Luang, built in Lanna style with a golden stupa. Continue to Wat Phra Singh in the heart of the city, the perfect place to watch a fiery sunset. Finish at Chiang Mai's largest central market, Warorot, where locals sell fresh fruit, flowers, and vegetables.

Day 10: Elephant Sanctuary, Ban Tawai & Silver Temple Tour

Help care for Thailand's national animal, the elephant

Today, get to know Thailand's iconic national animal with an elephant care experience. Travel to a valley outside the city, where you'll meet mahouts (professional elephant caregivers). They'll teach you how to approach and befriend these gentle creatures and perform healthcare inspections.

You'll get a chance to feed the elephants a mixture of sugar cane and banana and take them to the river to be washed and brushed. Have lunch at the project and then say goodbye to the animals before continuing to Ban Tawai, a village famous for producing silk, incense, and bamboo products.

Finally, head back to Chiang Mai, where you'll make a final stop at Wat Sri Suphan, also known as the Silver Temple, as it's constructed in Lanna style from a combination of silver, nickel, and aluminum. The rest of the evening is yours to enjoy Chiang Mai; trawl the Night Bazaar for gifts and try a bowl of khao soi, a northern Thai dish of coconut cream soup and crispy noodles.

Day 11: Fly to Phuket, Explore the Island

Head south to Thailand's largest island, Phuket

Leave Bangkok this morning and fly an hour south to Phuket, Thailand's largest island. Set on the Andaman Coast, Phuket is known for its powdery beaches, nightlife, and world-class resorts. The island is also home to diverse landscapes ranging from dense rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and craggy limestone cliffs.

Spend the rest of the day chilling in your hotel, or explore Phuket independently. Start in the Old Town with its 19th-century shophouses and Sino-Portuguese architecture. Visit the Baan Chinpracha Mansion, a testament to the island's tin mining history, as well as Thai temples, markets, Chinese shrines, and museums.

If you prefer to relax, head to the island's top beaches for more sun, sea, and sand. Kata Beach is an excellent option with soft white sand, shady palm trees, food vendors, and a laid-back atmosphere. Another option is Nai Harn Beach, located at the southern end of Phuket, which has grown in popularity over the years but remains undeveloped thanks to its small bay and sheltering lake.

Day 12: Phi Phi & Khai Islands Speed Boat Tour

Explore the Phi Phi and Khai Islands by speedboat

Explore the Phi Phi Islands today, an archipelago 25 miles (40 km) east of Phuket, known for its film-worthy beaches and top snorkeling spots. The trip starts with a private speed boat ride to Phi Phi Ley, where you'll see Maya Bay from the water, the setting for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, "The Beach." You'll also moor at Pileh Lagoon and Viking Cave for swimming and snorkeling.

Sail on to Phi Phi Don, stopping at Monkey Beach along the way, known for its cheeky macaques. Before lunch, you'll have time to snorkel in the clear waters, spotting multicolored marine life. Spend the afternoon on idyllic Bamboo Island, sunbathing on pillow-soft beaches or swimming and snorkeling in the topaz waters.

After lunch, continue to Ton Sai Bay for some village sightseeing before sailing on to the cluster of Khai Islands, famed for their unspoiled sands and undeveloped vibe. Laze on the palm-shaded beach, sip a cocktail, or snorkel among coral reefs teeming with marine life. The trip ends with a speedboat ride back to Phuket, where the rest of the evening is at your leisure.

Day 13: Sea Canoeing in Ao Phang Nga National Park

Explore Phang Nga Bay by sea canoe

Discover the wonders of Ao Phang Nga National Park today. This 154 square-mile (400 sq km) protected stretch of Andaman Sea is dotted with towering karst islets and is home to some of Thailand's most extensive mangrove forests. Hop from your boat into a canoe to explore Phang Nga's remote caves or hongs, stopping for a Thai-style lunch along the way.

Later, watch the sunset over the water while enjoying a seafood buffet, then get back into your canoe for a guided paddle. Soak up views of the stars twinkling in the smog-free sky as you embark upon the Hong by Starlight experience, which recreates Thailand's annual Loi Kratong festival, whereby handmade baskets are launched into the water as an offering to the water goddess. 

Day 14: Depart Phuket

Say goodbye to Phuket as you depart Thailand

Today, your Vietnam and Thailand adventure ends, and you'll be transferred to the airport in Phuket for your onward flight. 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 two weeks in Vietnam and Thailand, or discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


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Map of Landscapes of Vietnam & Thailand: Cities, Bays, Mountains & Beaches - 14 Days
Map of Landscapes of Vietnam & Thailand: Cities, Bays, Mountains & Beaches - 14 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Oct 19, 2023