Discover the cultural highlights of Vietnam and Thailand on this 10-day tour. Begin in Vietnam, where you'll sample Hanoi's street food and historic pagodas, then escape to the countryside for pottery workshops and a boat trip through Tam Coc's karst-strewn landscape. Fly to Thailand next to visit Bangkok's iconic palaces, temples, and markets, then finish with a sun-soaked beach break in Phuket, where white sands, elephant sanctuaries, and boat trips await.


  • Explore historical Hanoi and sample local street food
  • Take a boat trip to discover Tam Coc's limestone karsts and caves
  • Tour Bangkok's temples, markets, and glittering Grand Palace
  • Relax on Phuket's white sands and take a boat trip to James Bond Island
  • Meet, bathe, and feed elephants at a Phuket jungle sanctuary

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Explore Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi City Tour Hanoi
Day 3 Village Pottery Experience, Vietnamese Coffee & Food Tour Hanoi
Day 4 Ninh Binh History & Nature Tour Hanoi
Day 5 Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), City Tour Bangkok
Day 6 Temples, Palaces & Markets Tour, Chinatown Street Food Tour Bangkok
Day 7 Fly to Phuket, Afternoon Island Tour Phuket
Day 8 James Bond Island Tour, Muay Thai Experience Phuket
Day 9 Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Visit Phuket
Day 10 Depart Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), Explore

Get to know Vietnam's high-energy capital, Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam's high-energy capital and cultural heart. 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: Hanoi City Tour

Wander Hanoi's Old Quarter with a knowledgeable guide

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.

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 home to 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: Pottery Experience, Vietnamese Coffee & Food Tour

Discover Vietnam's coffee culture and learn from specialists

Today, you'll visit Bat Trang Pottery Village, just a short drive from Hanoi, to learn more about the traditional handicrafts of the Red River Delta. Your guide will take you through the village, where you can peruse its many pottery shops. Stop for a workshop, where you'll learn how to make a piece of pottery, from turning the clay on a wheel to drying and decorating. You'll get to take away your masterpiece as a souvenir. 

Return to Hanoi in time for your evening tour, where you'll explore Vietnam's coffee culture. Discover the history, art, and secrets behind ca phe sua da (Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk) during this workshop led by coffee specialists. Next, wander the streets of Hanoi with a guide to try classic Vietnamese dishes, from banh mi (a meat-filled baguette) to sugar cane juice and a glass of regional rice wine.

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

Day 4: Ninh Binh History & Nature Tour

Head out of the city to Ninh Binh for paddy field views

Today, you'll journey two hours south to Ninh Binh, a region loved for its ruined palaces and patchwork paddy fields bisected by snaking rivers. Your first stop is Hoa Lu, Vietnam's capital in the 10th and 11th centuries, which features decorative temples built in honor of former emperors like Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty.

Stop at a market and restaurant for lunch before heading to the harbor in Tam Coc. Here, you'll board a sampan boat, which your driver will row with their feet, local style. Float through limestone grottoes and spot spiritual sites like Dia Linh Mountain among the dramatic karst scenery, which has earned itself the nickname "Ha Long Bay on Land." End the day with a trip to Mua Cave, where you can climb nearly 500 steps for a panoramic view over Tam Coc, before returning to Hanoi.

Day 5: Fly to Bangkok (Thailand), City Tour

Fly to Thailand for gold-leafed Buddhist temples and a buzzing nightlife

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, buzzing nightlife, and Buddhist sights. Settle in before this afternoon's guided tour.

Start with a visit to the Jim Thompson House, a complex of six teak buildings that showcase Thai architecture, set among exotic gardens. Explore this historic property, once home to American Jim Thompson, who was credited with revitalizing the Thai silk industry. Browse the museum's collection of Southeast Asian art and artifacts from the silk industry.

Next, head to the Central Pier and board a boat to sail along Bangkok's canal system, which offers 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. 

Day 6: Temples, Palaces & Markets Tour, Chinatown Street Food Tour

Tour the Grand Palace's intricate temples and ornate halls

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. Then, travel by ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Pho, a temple founded in the 16th century that houses a 150-foot-long (46 m) reclining Buddha statue whose feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Next up 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.

Continue via tuk-tuk to the colossal Chatuchak Market and a nearby flower market, which is Bangkok's largest and open 24 hours a day. You'll end the day in Chinatown to sample the area's street food. Try local classics like kai satay (barbecue chicken with sweet and sour peanut sauce), pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles), and ba mee mhoo daeng (crispy noodles with pork). Top off your feast with some Thai desserts and Chinese herbal drinks.

Day 7: Fly to Phuket, Afternoon Island Tour

Fly to Phuket and barter for souvenirs at the market

Start the day with a two-hour flight south to Phuket, where paradisiacal beaches await. Set on the Andaman Coast, Phuket is Thailand's largest island, known for its powdery beaches, neon nightlife, and luxury resorts. The island is also home to diverse landscapes ranging from tropical rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and craggy limestone cliffs.

A driver will take you to your hotel to check in before your half-day tour of Phuket. Beach hop to Patong, Kata, and Karong, stopping at a hilltop viewpoint where you can admire the coastline. Next, you'll visit the island's famous Wat Chalong, which is the biggest temple in Phuket and dates back to the 19th century. 

Tour a honey and cashew nut factory, where you'll learn how the nuts are extracted and processed, before heading to Phuket's Old Town. Here, you'll wander the streets, discovering Sino-Portuguese architecture, Thai temples, colorful Chinese shrines, museums, and stately mansions. Finish with a trip to Thalang Road, where you'll find a thriving market perfect for picking up souvenirs. 

Day 8: James Bond Island Tour & Muay Thai Experience

Zip across the Andaman Sea to see James Bond Island, Ko Tapu

Uncover 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. Highlights include Panak Island Bat Cave and Diamond Cave; you'll also get to canoe off Hong Island.

Stop at the floating village of Ko Panyee for a seafood lunch before continuing to Ko Tapu, also known as James Bond Island for its role as a filming location for "The Man with the Golden Gun." Sightsee on the island and relish some free time to swim and snorkel before enjoying a sunset sail back to the pier. 

This evening, you'll experience the exciting world of Muay Thai (Thai boxing). Regarded as Thailand's national sport, this traditional martial art form evolved over centuries, and many of its techniques are today used in kickboxing and MMA (mixed martial arts). Your driver will drop you at a Muay Thai stadium, where you'll join locals to watch professional matches and soak up the frenetic atmosphere.

Day 9: Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Visit

Learn all about Thailand's national animal on today's tour

Get to know Thailand's iconic national animal today with a private elephant care experience. After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the journey to Phuket's elephant sanctuary. Meet expert guides who'll introduce you to the animals and teach you about their natural habitat, behavior, and place in Thai culture.

You'll get to feed the elephants by hand and prepare their vitamin balls, then pamper these gentle giants with an herbal compress massage and mud sand spa. Next, head down to the water to bathe with the elephants and learn about the special relationship between the animals and their mahouts (elephant carers). The trip ends with a Thai buffet before returning to your hotel for a final afternoon by the pool.

Day 10: Depart Phuket

Say goodbye to Phuket before your journey home

Today your Vietnam and Thailand getaway comes to an end. Spend a final few hours on the beach or shopping for souvenirs before your airport transfer. 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 10 days in Vietnam and Thailand, and discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


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Map of Vietnam & Thailand Cultural Highlights - 10 Days
Map of Vietnam & Thailand Cultural Highlights - 10 Days
Written by Tina Oo, updated Oct 27, 2023