Experience recent and ancient history on a nine-day tour of southern and central Vietnam. It begins in Ho Chi Minh City, a dynamic metropolis filled with colonial landmarks and the vestiges of the Vietnam War. After taking a ride down the Mekong River, you'll travel north to enjoy the beaches near Da Nang, stroll the ancient streets of Hoi An, and visit the tombs of emperors in the Imperial City of Hue.


  • See the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta
  • Go surfing and swimming at the beaches of Da Nang 
  • Ride bicycles along the Perfume River in Hoi An
  • Tour the Imperial City of Hue and browse local markets 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 Visit Cu Chi Tunnels & City Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3 Mekong Delta Day Trip Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4 Fly to Da Nang Da Nang
Day 5 Da Nang Free Day Da Nang
Day 6 Day Trip to Hoi An, Countryside Tour Da Nang
Day 7 Transfer to Hue, Tour the Imperial City Hue
Day 8 Tombs of Hue, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Ho Chi Minh City
Day 9 Depart Ho Chi Minh City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Vietnam! This beautiful country in Southeast Asia boasts thousands of years of rich history. For this excursion, you'll travel around southern and central Vietnam, home to many historic locales and landmarks. Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), a driver will wait to transfer you to your hotel. After settling in, feel free to head out and explore.

Ho Chi Minh City is a captivating mix of the old and the new. Despite a communist revolution and devastating war, the city has retained much of its unique cultural mix of Asian and western traditions. To really experience the city, hop on a moped and whiz along its streets and alleyways as you pass modern shopping districts sitting alongside French-era Art Deco buildings, ancient Buddhist temples, Chinese pagodas, and 21st-century skyscrapers. You can also enjoy delicious street food and browse the outdoor night markets.

Day 2: Visit Cu Chi Tunnels & City Tour

Notre Dame Cathedral, in Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast, take a short drive north of the city to Cu Chi. This 155-mile (250 km) tunnel network became famous during the Vietnam War as the Viet Cong's base of operations, particularly during the Tet Offensive of 1968. It was first built in 1948 to guard against French attacks, then it served as supply routes, hospitals, and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American War. You can go into the tunnels to get a glimpse of the harsh conditions faced by the over 16,000 Viet Cong guerrillas who once lived here, plus see the innovative booby traps they left for unlucky enemy soldiers.

After a break for lunch, you'll embark on a guided tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Stop at the War Remnants Museum to see exhibits covering the First Indochina War and the Vietnam War. Then visit 19th-century landmarks like the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Opera House. You'll also see the Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace. This is the former home of the president of South Vietnam, which was taken over when Saigon fell in 1975. At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 3: Mekong Delta Day Trip

Take a ride down the Mekong River

A driver will pick you up early for the two-hour transfer to My Tho, the first city on the main arm of the mighty Mekong River. When you get there, you'll drive over the Rach Mieu suspension bridge, which offers panoramic views of the Mekong and its surrounding islands. Continue to the city of Ben Tre, where you'll board a boat for an hour-long cruise on the Ben Tre River, which is a tributary of Ham Luong, the fourth branch of the Mekong.

Sit back and relax while you drift down the waterway into a peaceful canal. Stop for a visit at famous local businesses like a coconut-husking workshop and a coconut candy factory. Then browse a waterfront market before stopping in at a workshop where skilled craftspeople hand-weave sleeping mats out of sedge grass—a tradition in the region.

You'll then experience the beautiful countryside when you embark on a bicycle ride (or motorized scooter trip) through the coconut groves and cucumber farms. Enjoy lunch at a local home before continuing to explore exotic orchards and vegetable gardens on foot. The tour finishes with a peaceful paddle along the river on a traditional wooden sampan. Afterward, your boat will be waiting to take you back to Ben Tre and on to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 4: Fly to Da Nang

My Khe Beach, in Da Nang
This morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City for the two-hour flight north to Da Nang, located on Vietnam's central coast. Upon arrival, a driver will take you to your hotel in the city. Then you can head out and explore. Maybe head to My Khe Beach, a long stretch of golden sand where you can lay out in the sun or do some surfing. 
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Day 5: Da Nang Free Day

Snorkeling on Phu Quoc Island
Snorkeling at the Da Nang Islands
Today is yours to relax and enjoy the beaches of Da Nang. If you didn't yesterday, head over to My Khe. This is one of the most popular beaches in the city and is lined with waterfront luxury hotels and resorts. The waters here are clear and great for both swimming and surfing, as it offers both left and right breaks. If you want to enjoy more of the water, take a boat to the nearby Da Nang Islands for some snorkeling. You can also ride a cable car up into the Ba Na Hills outside the city for incredible views. 

Day 6: Day Trip to Hoi An, Countryside Tour

Idyllic Hoi An

In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the one-hour ride south from Da Nang to Hoi An. This small city of just over 100,000 people sits on the banks of the Thu Bon River and is a real treasure. Its Ancient Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most impressive and historic city centers in the country.

Today, however, you'll be leaving the city for a tour of the beautiful countryside. You'll hop in a boat at the docks in town and travel down the river to a fishing village. Each day, the locals ply the waters on traditional basket boats called thung chai, casting nets for shrimp, crabs, and fish. You'll learn how to prepare the nets and tools before joining them to do some fishing yourself.

Afterward, get on a bicycle for a scenic country ride alongside rice paddies and cornfields to a farming village. Here, a local family will welcome you into their home for a cooking class in which you'll learn to prepare traditional cuisine. You'll sit down and enjoy the meal with your hosts when finished. The day trip concludes in Hoi An, where you'll visit highlight landmarks like the Japanese Covered Bridge and the historic Chinese meeting hall Phuc Kien. Afterward, you'll transfer back to Da Nang. 

Day 7: Transfer to Hue, Tour the Imperial City

Imperial citadel
The Imperial City, in Hue

After breakfast, you'll leave Da Nang on a 2.5-hour road trip north to Hue. It's a long drive, but the route along the coast is beautiful, and you'll stop along the way for photos at white-sand beaches and the Hai Van Pass, which offers great views over the coastal mountains. Upon arrival in Hue, you'll check into your hotel and will have a bit of time to relax. Don't get too comfy, though, because you'll soon be heading out for a tour of this charming city on the banks of the Perfume River.

Your first stop will be Hue's most famous locale: the Imperial City. One of Vietnam's seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this vast, walled citadel was constructed in 1804 and is surrounded by a moat. You'll take a fascinating tour of this well-preserved historic landmark that was once the center of Vietnam's government during the Nguyen Dynasty.

Next, go shopping at Dong Ba Market. This is the oldest municipal market in Hue, selling everything from fresh produce to handicrafts. There's also find an abundance of great street food here. If you're really hungry, order a bowl of bun bo, a hearty local soup made with vermicelli rice noodles and beef. For something sweet, try che. This Vietnamese dessert soup is often made with beans, jelly, and coconut milk; however, in Hue, you can order it with other ingredients like taro, corn, and lotus seeds.

Day 8: Tombs of Hue, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City

Tomb of Khai Định

Today you'll leave for Ho Chi Minh City, but not before visiting Hue's most impressive mausoleums. These are home to the remains of emperors from the famous Nguyen Dynasty that lasted from 1802 to the fall of French colonialism in 1945. First up is the Tomb of Khai Dinh. Located just south of the city, it was built for the 12th emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Khai Dinh, with construction completed in 1930. Its ominous yet ornate exterior of blackened stone belies an opulent interior bursting with colorful mosaics.

Next, you'll visit Minh Mang's Tomb, the final resting place of the Confucian emperor who ruled from 1820 to 1840 at the height of the Nguyen dynasty. It's a testament to Minh Mang's influence that his final resting place is a complex sitting on a 44-acre (18 ha) lot home to 40 monuments comprising the royal tomb. On a tour, you'll visit highlights like the Honor Courtyard, Stele Pavilion, and Bright Pavilion. There are also a number of attractive lakes, pavilions, and gardens leading up to the burial mound itself.

After the tour, you'll transfer to the airport for the 1.5-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, a driver will take you to your hotel for check-in. You'll then have the remainder of the day free.

Day 9: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City at night
After a final morning at your leisure, you'll transfer to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City to catch your flight home. This concludes your grand adventure in southern Vietnam. Happy travels!

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Map of Vietnam History & Heritage: Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang & Hue  - 9 Days
Map of Vietnam History & Heritage: Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang & Hue - 9 Days