Day 1: Hanoi arrival
Day 2: Hanoi city tour
Day 3: Halong Bay
Day 4: Hue arrival
Day 5: Hue
Day 6: Hue
Day 7: Hoi An
Day 8: Hoi An
Day 9: Hoi An
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 11: Mekong Delta
Day 12: Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1: Hanoi arrival
You will arrive in Hanoi and be transferred from the airport to your hotel.
In the evening, you can explore the beautiful lakes, verdant public parks, and the thriving Old Quarter, which is a veritable architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town.
Day 2: Hanoi city tour (B, L)
After breakfast, embark on a full-day tour of Hanoi. You will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, which is the final resting place of Vietnam’s founding father, and the Temple of Literature, which is an oasis of calm in the heart of the city. You will also visit the Museum of Ethnology to learn more about the diverse heritage of Vietnam. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
In the evening, sit down to a traditional water puppet performance, a northern tradition dating back nearly a thousand years. The performance is accompanied by traditional Vietnamese music that employs drums, wooden bells, horns, and bamboo flutes.
Day 3: Halong Bay (B, L, D)
After breakfast, travel by minibus to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay, which is approximately 3 hours away. The bay is a breathtaking secluded harbor, with some 1,969 limestone islands jutting out of the waters of the Bac Bo Gulf.
Board your private boat and cruise among the dramatic limestone peaks. There’s an opportunity to swim in the famous Vietnam East Sea and explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a sky alive with stars. Your sailing junk has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There’s also a dining room and bar.
Day 4: Hue (B, L)
After breakfast on the boat, perhaps head out for an optional early morning kayak. Return to Hanoi by bus (approximately 3 hours). From there, you will board an overnight train bound for Hue.
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam’s royal past. It’s a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Although conditions are basic on your train journey, overnight trains are a classic Southeast Asian experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Day 5: Hue (B)
Welcome to Hue! Your group leader will assist you in choosing a local, delectable breakfast option this morning after your overnight train ride. Then, you will visit Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue, an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. One of the most striking displays here is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself on fire to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. You will have some leisure time to explore on your own before an afternoon cyclo tour. Ride through the streets of Hue, travel around the citadel, pass through the local fruit and vegetable market, climb the ancient Citadel towers for a panoramic view of the town before stopping over at Ho Chi Minh’s house.
Day 6: Hue (B)
Explore more of the captivating former capital today. You will visit the Imperial Citadel, which is the best-preserved remains of a large citadel and royal center that once existed on this fortified site. The unique fortifications are fascinating, even though much of this place has sadly been destroyed by war. The foliage-covered ruins make for an interesting couple of hours of exploration. You will visit the Forbidden Purple City, which was almost entirely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968. The gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the shocking destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. You will visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, and see the central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees. There is also the opportunity to visit the tomb of Minh Mang. Its lush forest backdrop and impressive architecture make it perhaps the most magnificent of all the royal tombs. Afterward, you will stop by a local non-governmental organization that supports Hue’s deaf community by providing training, employment, support, and a place to connect with others. Here, you will meet members of the community and join them for a traditional paper flower making class, a fun and engaging way to get to know your hosts without exchanging any words.
Day 7: Hoi An (B)
Travel by bus, heading south through coastal rice paddies, and then cross the spectacular Hai Van Pass along the mountains en route to Hoi An (approximately 4 hours). Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is beautifully preserved and exudes a serene atmosphere. It’s perfect for leisurely strolls, with many beautiful Japanese houses and Chinese temples lining the narrow lanes. Parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago. It’s also a shopper’s paradise. Browse local markets and shops for original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, and lanterns. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from.
Day 8: Hoi An (B, L)
After breakfast, spend the morning at An Bang beach. This beach is known for its stunning palm-fringed white sand and views of the Cham islands. Transfer back to town and stop by a local restaurant where you will learn how to make ‘white rose cake,’ one of Hoi An’s most popular street foods. These savory dumplings are made with rice paper and minced shrimp and named after their resemblance to a white flower. Once your local instructors have taught you how to make these delicious parcels, sit down together and enjoy your creations for lunch. This hands-on experience is one the whole family will enjoy!
Day 9: Hoi An (B)
Spend your day at your leisure in the charming ancient town of Hoi An. Indulge in a cooking class to learn the secrets of making local specialties such as cao lau, which is a dark pork broth with thick yellow noodles, sliced pork, bean sprouts, green vegetables and croutons. Alternatively, go on a street food tour or rent bikes to explore the scenic surrounding countryside with your family. Kids can also enjoy a fun-filled bamboo basket ride down the waterways of the jungle. For optional day and half-day trips, feel free to consult your tour leader.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Take a short one-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the economic hub of Vietnam. Formerly known as Saigon, it is a vibrant blend of East and West, old and new. Discover the bustling Ben Thanh Market, savor local street food for lunch, and take a guided orientation walk of the city. Afterwards, you are free to explore the city with your family or join your tour leader for an exciting cyclo ride to Cholon, the Chinatown area of Ho Chi Minh City, for some temple hopping or shopping at a Vietnamese department store.
Day 11: Mekong Delta (B,D)
Travel to the Mekong Delta and venture into the lesser-known town of Ben Tre, where everything revolves around the coconut. The fertile delta is renowned for its abundant tropical fruit and flower harvests. Board a private boat and cruise along the labyrinth of waterways to visit local cottage industries, gaining insight into the local economy. Spend the night in a traditional homestay by the water, experiencing daily life in the delta. Sleep on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms with meals included, and mosquito nets and bedding provided.
Day 12-13: Ho Chi Minh (B)
Begin your day early to make the most of your time in the delta. Visit a local market and a soya bean workshop before returning to Ho Chi Minh City for a final night. Spend the afternoon exploring the city, and on the final day of your trip, depart at your convenience. If you have arranged an airport transfer, your tour leader will confirm your departure time and onward flight details.