See all the classic highlights on this nine-day trip to magical Vietnam. Roam around the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, cruise on the azure waters of Ha Long Bay, and hike to villages and terraced rice paddies in the countryside. This tour is ideal for first-time visitors or travelers with limited time who want a well-rounded showcase of Vietnam's history, charm, and natural beauty.

Highlights

  • Explore bustling Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City
  • Cruise on Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay
  • Enjoy a homestay with villagers in the countryside
  • Hike in the beautiful Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi Hanoi
Day 2 Village visit and Hanoi city tour Hanoi
Day 3 Mai Chau and hiking in Pu Luong Pu Luong homestay
Day 4 Explore Pu Luong, return to Hanoi Hanoi
Day 5 Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay Bai Tu Long Bay
Day 6 Bai Tu Long Bay Hanoi
Day 7 Fly to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 8 Ho Chi Minh City tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 9 Departure   

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Hanoi
The Old Quarter in Hanoi

Xin chao! When you arrive in Hanoi, your guide will greet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring Vietnam's capital city. Set in the north of the country on the banks of the Red River, there is plenty to see and do. You'll see the main attractions on a guided tour tomorrow, but in the meantime feel free to wander around the lively streets on your own. For dinner try Hanoi's most famous delicacy, bun cha - a dish of grilled pork with noodles and herbs. 

Day 2: Village Visit and Hanoi City Tour

A farm in a village just outside Hanoi

This morning you'll visit several villages just outside of the city. Learn about rural traditions and customs as you walk and cycle around the villages. Stop in at local markets and temples to catch a glimpse of daily life. Then you'll attend a cooking demonstration before joining a local family for lunch. In the afternoon return to Hanoi.

Visit some of the many museums and temples, and check out Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by American POWs during the Vietnam War. Later in the day, you'll bike around the stunning Hoan Kiem Lake and the fascinating Old Quarter. There you'll attend a water puppet show, a quintessential Hanoi experience. Dinner tonight is up to you - check out some of Hanoi's bohemian cafes and bars. 

Day 3: Mai Chau and Hiking in Pu Luong

Mai Chau
Water wheels in the Mai Chau region

Today you'll leave Hanoi in the morning and drive west with your guide to the rural Mai Chau region, about four hours away. Mai Chau is known for its lush green valleys and is home to several ethnic Thai villages. You'll make your way to the Thai village of Pom Coong, where you'll meet some of the locals and enjoy a delicious lunch.

Then take a short drive to the trailhead for your hike through the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. This three-hour intermediate-level trek covers just over 5.5 miles (9 km) and includes some uphill climbs. Along the way, you'll be treated to spectacular views of villages and terraced rice paddies. You'll arrive at your Thai stilt house homestay in the late afternoon, and have time to relax before eating a traditional dinner with your host family.

Day 4: Explore Pu Luong

Pu Luong
The pretty Pu Luong Nature Reserve

Wake up early for breakfast and then spend the morning exploring the Thai village. You'll meet some of your neighbors and learn about their lifestyle and culture. Go for an easy hike along the rice paddies, if time permits, before lunch. Then return to Hanoi, arriving in the late afternoon. You'll have the rest of the evening at leisure, so head to the Old Quarter to explore the night market, and grab a drink and some street food at lively Bia Hoi Junction. 

Day 5: Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay

Ha Long Bay
Vietnam's stunning Ha Long Bay

Set out for the emerald green waters of Ha Long Bay this morning. Board a "junk" boat when you arrive around noon and settle into your cabin. You'll enjoy a lunch of fresh, local seafood on your cruise to neighboring Bai Tu Long Bay. On the way, stop for a swim and visit a cave amid the towering limestone karsts jutting out of the water. Later, relax on a secluded island beach, or explore the bay by kayak. In the evening watch the sunset over the stunning landscape as you eat dinner. You'll spend the night on the boat.

Day 6: Bai Tu Long Bay

Bai Tu Long Bay
Gorgeous Bai Tu Long Bay is less crowded than neighboring Ha Long Bay

Spend the morning exploring Bai Tu Long Bay. It's far less crowded than Ha Long Bay but features equally dramatic limestone karsts. After an early breakfast, the locals will take you on a rowboat tour of the bay. Go for a swim in the lovely green waters before lunch back on the junk. You'll return to the harbor in the early afternoon, and drive back to Hanoi for the night.

Day 7: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City

Independence Palace, the site of the end of the Vietnam War

You'll have the morning to yourself before you make your way to the airport in the afternoon. Fly to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. Your guide will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel for the night. Formerly known as Saigon, the modern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City is buzzing with energy and offers an intoxicating blend of the old world and the new.

Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City Tour

Buu Long Pagoda
The Buu Long Pagoda, a tranquil Buddhist temple in the city

This morning you'll go on a half-day tour of Ho Chi Minh City's highlights with an expert local guide. Visit the bustling Cho Lon Market, discover a hidden Chinese pagoda, and marvel at the Notre Dame Cathedral built by French colonists. You'll see the historic Central Post Office and City Hall, too. Spend the afternoon exploring on your own. Stroll along the upscale shopping drag at Dong Khoi Street, sample rich Vietnamese coffee in one of the many cafes, or if you're interested in Vietnam War history, visit the War Remnants Museum or the Cu Chi Tunnels. 

Day 9: Departure 

Ho Chi Minh City
A lively backstreet in Ho Chi Minh City

On your last day in Vietnam, enjoy breakfast at your hotel and possibly some shopping, if you have time. Then make your way to the airport for your onward flight. 

Map

Map of Highlights of Vietnam - 9 Days
Map of Highlights of Vietnam - 9 Days

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Highlights of vietnam - 9 days, Vietnam - Sep 29 - Oct 7, 2018

Traveler: Kathryn R. - Local specialist: Victor Hoang

Overall, the trip was great. I would appreciate more details prior to the trip. Mike was great but he wasn’t needed the entire time. I didn’t know we would have a full time tour guide. We didn’t really need that. We would have preferred 2 hotel rooms and might have paid extra at a few sites to have that. Again, we didn’t know in advance what we had. In Hanoi and Hoi An, the room was way too small for 3 people, especially Hoi An since it was 3 nights. I might have settled for a lower... read more

Overall, the trip was great. I would appreciate more details prior to the trip. Mike was great but he wasn’t needed the entire time. I didn’t know we would have a full time tour guide. We didn’t really need that. We would have preferred 2 hotel rooms and might have paid extra at a few sites to have that. Again, we didn’t know in advance what we had. In Hanoi and Hoi An, the room was way too small for 3 people, especially Hoi An since it was 3 nights. I might have settled for a lower rated hotel and had 2 rooms. So my primary feedback is to provide more detail of what we were getting so we could have more choices. The cooking class had a half day and full day choice. I would have preferred half day.

Highlights of vietnam - 9 days, Vietnam - May 11 - May 19, 2018

Traveler: Paul O. - Local specialist: Victor Hoang

Hey guys.

Victor was a great operator. From beginning to end, he was responsive and explained things very well. I had bit of a negative review on our onsite local tour guide at Hanoi and I've given that input to Victor. He was very professional and made sure my feedback was heard. In my business, the question I always ask my customers is: Would you recommend our services to your friends, family and associates? I would definitely recommend KimKim to my friends and look forward to using you... read more

Hey guys.

Victor was a great operator. From beginning to end, he was responsive and explained things very well. I had bit of a negative review on our onsite local tour guide at Hanoi and I've given that input to Victor. He was very professional and made sure my feedback was heard. In my business, the question I always ask my customers is: Would you recommend our services to your friends, family and associates? I would definitely recommend KimKim to my friends and look forward to using you guys again.

On the note of the Hanoi tour guide, I've given my feedback to Victor and would follow up with him. (the tour was actually great, but the person giving the tour was mediocre at best)

Thank you.

Paul Oh