Experience the best of Vietnam on this nine-day getaway. Meander through vibrant markets in Hanoi, sail the turquoise waters of unforgettable Ha Long Bay, witness the remains of Vietnam's imperial past in Hue, and finish with an adventure to Hoi An—the most ancient and well-preserved port city in the country.


  • Discover the irresistible flavors of Hanoi on a street food tour
  • Take an overnight cruise among Ha Long Bay's limestone peaks 
  • Witness local farming practices as you explore the countryside by bicycle
  • Relax and discover the UNESCO riverside port city of Hoi An

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi, Afternoon Food Tour Hanoi
Day 2 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise & Optional Activities Ha Long Bay
Day 3 Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 4 Fly to Hue, Sightseeing Half-Day Tour Hue
Day 5 Transfer to Hoi An via Hai Van Pass, Hoi An Sightseeing Hoi An
Day 6 Bicycle Tour of Hoi An, Cam Thanh Fishing Village & Basket Boat Hoi An
Day 7 Hoi An Cooking Class & Market Tour Hoi An
Day 8 Free Morning in Hoi An, Lantern Workshop Hoi An
Day 9 Transfer to Da Nang, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, Afternoon Food Tour

Hanoi is packed with historical highlights and scenic lakes

Your Vietnam adventure begins with your arrival in Hanoi. Dating to 3000 BCE, Hanoi is one of the most ancient capitals in the world. Today, it's a mix of the old and the new, with contrasts of traditional society mixing with the influx of modern conveniences. Your driver will be waiting at the airport to transfer you to your hotel, where you can settle in before heading out to explore.

Get your bearings in the Old Quarter, then join a local guide for a mouth-watering food tour of Hanoi. Start with a trip to Thanh Ha Market, where you'll browse food stalls, try local delicacies, and learn about Vietnamese culinary culture. Continue to Dong Xuan Market, famed for its noodle shops, and sample treats such as pho sot vang (noodle soup with pork and herbs) and bun dau (tofu served in soup with rice noodles and fermented shrimp paste). Finish back in the Old Quarter with deserts and a sweet iced coffee while watching Hanoi's street life unfold.

Day 2: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise & Optional Activities

Cruising & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay
Sunset at Ha Long Bay

After breakfast, you'll depart Hanoi for the coastal retreat and fishing community of Ha Long Bay. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the true natural wonders of the world. Board your ship for an overnight sail across the paper-flat waters, taking in views of more than 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sun deck as you sail to the most remote corners of the bay.

In the afternoon, you'll stop at a secret cove where you can go swimming and kayaking to explore hidden beaches and grottoes. The ship's expert chef will lead a cooking masterclass, teaching you to make specialties such as nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) for dinner. You can spend the evening relaxing or join the locals for a spot of night fishing.

Day 3: Morning Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi

Cruising Ha Long Bay
Cruising Ha Long Bay's 1,000 islands
Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over the emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. The morning is yours to absorb the view or join a tai chi class. You'll stop to visit a limestone cave full of stalagmites and stalactites before enjoying brunch on board. After the cruise returns to the harbor, the cruise's shuttle bus will take you back to your hotel in Hanoi, where the evening is free for you to head out on the town or rest up for tomorrow's adventure.

Day 4: Fly to Hue, Sightseeing Half-Day Tour

Imperial citadel
The imperial citadel of Hue

Your morning starts with a domestic flight to Hue, a city rich in history and incredible architecture. Hue was once home to the Nguyen Dynasty, a powerful ruling clan that lavished wealth upon the city during the 19th century. You'll see what remains within the Imperial Citadel, a city within a city and Hue's UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next, enjoy a bike ride through large rice fields and tranquil rural areas. You'll visit a typical garden house of the region, which is built according to the precise rules of geomancy (a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or patterns formed by tossing sand or stones). Then, take a peaceful boat ride to the seven-story pagoda of Thien Mu. Finish your adventure at Dong Ba Market to experience the busy evening life of locals.

Day 5: Transfer to Hoi An via Hai Van Pass, Hoi An Sightseeing

Private transfer Hue and Hoi An
Hai Van Pass on a clear day

Today, you'll transfer to Hoi An via the magnificent Hai Van Pass (if the weather permits). Also known as "The Cloudy Pass," this winding mountain road overlooks the lush countryside, sandy beaches, and the blue waters of the East Sea.

As the national trading center in the 16th century, Hoi An is home to a diversity of ancient laneways and homes. Upon arrival, stroll around the unusual cobblestone streets to admire the century-old Chinese houses and the Japanese, French, and European architecture. Further highlights include the hundred–year–old Japanese Bridge, the Phuc Kien Hall, and the local fish market. You also have a chance to stop at one of the city's renowned tailor's shops to place an order for custom-made clothes.

Day 6: Bicycle Tour of Hoi An, Cam Thanh Fishing Village & Basket Boat

Vietnam's Famed Basket Boats
Hop aboard a basket boat and learn the story behind its unique construction

Set off into the countryside this morning as you join your guide to explore the scenic rural roads around Hoi An by bicycle. After that, you'll board a boat for a river cruise in the fishing village of Cam Thanh and enjoy a hands-on experience of traditional net fishing. Then, it's time to switch to a distinctive Vietnamese bamboo basket boat for a trip down the waterways of a coconut palm paradise. Learn the history of these unique modes of transportation as you float gently down the river and admire the passing scenery. At the end of the day, you'll be transferred back to Hoi An.

Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Days 7: Hoi An Cooking Class & Market Tour

Visit the local market to source ingredients for your cooking class
Delve deeper into the world of Vietnamese cuisine with today's immersive culinary experience. Start with a cycle to the market for ingredients, accompanied by a chef who'll explain which spices, vegetables, fish, and other ingredients you'll need. Next, take a basket boat ride through a palm garden to the kitchen for your cooking class. The chef will teach you to prepare Vietnamese dishes such as green papaya salad, spring rolls, pancakes, clay pot fish, or lemongrass chicken. Afterward, feast on your creations and cycle back to your hotel, where the rest of the day is free.

Day 8: Free Morning in Hoi An, Lantern Workshop

Learn to make Hoi An's famous lanterns in today's workshop

This morning is free for you to explore Hoi An at your leisure. Spend more time strolling the labyrinthine Ancient Town, or head to the nearby beaches for a few hours of sun and sand. When it's time for lunch, use your newfound gastronomic knowledge to order some popular local dishes such as com hen (local mussels and rice in broth), nem lui (marinated pork skewers), banh mi (baguette sandwich), and cao lau (noodle dish popular in Hoi An).

Later on, you'll visit a local craftsperson by bicycle for a hands-on introduction to Hoi An's ubiquitous lanterns. Learn about how the paper lanterns became a symbol of the city, and watch a demonstration of the art of lantern-making. Then try your hand at creating your own perfect souvenir of Hoi An to take home with you. 

Day 9: Transfer to Da Nang, Depart

Take a final stroll around Hoi An before your departure
Your time in Vietnam draws to a close today. Enjoy a final morning in Hoi An, then meet your driver for the transfer to Da Nang International Airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Great Vietnam Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore more ways to spend nine days in Vietnam, and discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


Map of Northern & Central Vietnam: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue & Hoi An - 9 Days
Map of Northern & Central Vietnam: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue & Hoi An - 9 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Oct 31, 2023