Day 1: Arrival Hanoi
Your holiday starts as we collect you at Hanoi Airport (Noi Bai), where you will met by your guide and transferred to your hotel (check-in time: 14:00). If time permits, we will take an hour trishaw ride throughout the old quarter city of Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour – Lao Cai
Today you’ll enjoy a full day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh Complex, containing the mausoleum of the nation’s founder Ho Chi Minh, and then on to the Presidential Palace, and Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts. Close to this site is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origin dates back to the foundation of Hanoi a thousand years ago. Your tour of Hanoi continues with a trip to the remarkable Temple of Literature, well-known as Vietnam’s first university.
After your own lunch, you’ll enjoy a walk around the peaceful Hoan Kiem Lake and through the buzzing Old Quarter, a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with an amazing assortment of architecture; traditional tube houses, countless pagodas, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. You will see an evening performance of Hanoi’s famous water puppets before having a transfer to the Hanoi Railway Station for an overnight train to Lao Cai along with your tour guide escort. Overnight on train.
Day 3: Lao Cai – Sapa
The train arrives in Lao Cai at around 6 a.m., after which you’ll be transferred by private car to Sapa, about one-and-a-half hours away. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sapa was once a hill resort of the French administrators when the summer heat became unbearable. Getting to meet the ethnic minority people is a highlight of visiting Sapa, as although their living conditions are basic, their culture is rich and fascinating. After settling into your hotel you will take a soft trek to Cat Cat village about three kilometers away from the town. You will visit the H’Mong minority people who first lived in Vietnam in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which you will walk (about two hours) to Ham Rong Mountain for a fabulous overview of Sapa town. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 4: Sapa – Lao Chai – Tavan – Ban Ho – Sapa
You will commence your short journey by driving south toward Muong Hoa valley. You will then start your walk descending into the valley, which is the largest rice paddy terraced in the Sapa area. The guide can provide you with a lot of interesting information about the rice paddies, terraces, and local agriculture. If you visit the valley sometime between May and October, you will be able to observe and experience how the local people do their planting and harvesting, one of the most important activities in the daily life of the Vietnamese. The walk then takes you from the Lao Chai village of the Black Hmong ethnic minority to Ta Van village of the Giay ethnic minority, including a visit to the local Catholic Church. After visiting Ta Van you will be transferred by car on to Su Pan, where you will commence your walk downhill through the breathtaking scenery. On the way you will be able to witness the stunning views of the valley and rice paddy terraces. You will have the opportunity to explore the Ban Ho village of the Tay ethnic minority or take a nice swim in the river nearby. After that your car will take you back to Sapa.
Day 5: Sapa – Local Market – Lao Cai
After a pleasant breakfast at your hotel, the group will check out and then continue on to visit the local market (open only on certain days of the week; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. So this segment of the tour all depends on your travel days). At this market many of the local ethnic minority groups, such as the Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Zay, etc. come to trade.
After your own lunch, we will drive downhill for about half-an-hour. You will then start a short walk to Trung Do Village, which belongs to the Tay ethnic minority. Here you can stop by a traditional Tay house for a cup of tea before you board the boat for the next part of your journey. You will have a cruise downstream the Chay River to experience the picturesque scenes and the magnificent sights and beautiful caves. The boat ride ends at Bao Nhai bridge, where you once again journey by car back to Lao Cai for your overnight train return to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi – Hoa Lu – Tam Coc – Ninh Binh
You’ll be met at the Railway Station early in the morning and you’ll have the chance to see early morning life in Hanoi as the locals people do their morning exercises and Tai Chi. You’ll also get to see the unique flower market before heading to Ninh Binh to visit the ancient capital of Vietnam; capital city from 968 AD to 1010 AD during the Dinh and early Le dynasties. You’ll visit two small temples of the kings, each of which is nearly a thousand years old. From here you will start your cycling tour down the quiet countryside roads to the spectacular limestone peaks and on to Tam Coc, passing colourful rice paddies and through the rural villages.
Lunch is served in the local restaurant at Tam Coc. After lunch you will take a traditional boat trip to visit Tam Coc, often called the Shadow of Halong Bay, with its limestone peaks and rice paddy fields spread all along the way. Once the boat trip ends, you will disembark and we will drive to your hotel for check-in. Overnight in Ninh Binh.
Day 7: Ninh Binh – Halong Bay
After breakfast at hotel you will be greeted and transferred out to the internationally famous and stunning beautiful Halong Bay, made world famous by James Bond in the movie Tomorrow Never Dies. Arriving just before lunch, you’ll embark on a traditional Vietnamese junk. Take lunch on board and enjoy the afternoon and overnight cruise as it provides you with fantastic views of the fabulous scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands which amazingly rise from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves, some of which you’ll visit. Overnight on board in Halong Bay.
Day 8: Halong bay – Hanoi – Hue
The tour continues with a morning spent cruising to the Man’s Head and Tortoise islands, and then on to Luon Cave by way of a small bamboo boat. After brunch we will check out of the hotel and then continue to travel though Bai Tu Long to Bai Chay for disembarkation. Here you will meet your driver and guide, who will transfer you back to Hanoi for your flight to Hue—Vietnam’s last feudal capital. This small and quiet city is widely known for its magnificent architecture, pagodas and royal tombs laying throughout many small villages and surrounding hills. Overnight in Hue.
Day 9: Hue
In the morning you will be met at your hotel and take a short drive to explore the massive Hue citadel built in 1832, along with the Eastern citadel containing the Imperial City and the Purple Forbidden City. This Royal Residence was destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, but thanks to the great work on renovations by a well-known local artist, we are able to see and learn more about the Nguyen dynasty.
The trip continues to the Minh Mang Mausoleum located on the Cam Khe mountain by the top of Perfume River. It was constructed within three years, from 1840–1843 by about 10,000 workers and artists. The Minh Mang emperor was the 2nd king under the Nguyen Dynasty who was strengthening country relationships, and he changed the name to Dai Viet as he was working for more power and influence both regionally and internationally. As we continue the trip, you will board the Dragon boat to cruise on the river downstream in order to visit charming Thien Mu Pagoda, built in 1601, sitting atop of Ha Khe hill at the riverside, hidden behind the seven-layered Phuoc Duyen Tower. Overnight in Hue.
Day 10: Hue – Danang – Hoian Old Town
Upon leaving Hue you will begin the drive south to Hoian, which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced down the centuries by traders from various cultures. The scenic road hugs the coastline before crossing over the winding Hai Van Pass. A view from the top of the pass is one of Vietnam’s most impressive panoramic scenes of Lang Co Beach. We will stop en route to visit Non Nuoc Beach, and then the Marble Mountain, whose peaks represent the five elements of the universe. You’ll also visit the Cham Museum in Danang City before reaching Hoian old town. Overnight in Hoian.
Day 11: Hoian City tour – My Son
The ancient architecture of Hoian is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional buildings with Chinese and Japanese influence. There’s plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200-year old Tan Ky House, the Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant local market. Today we include these on a walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls, which reflect the town’s multi-cultural past. You’ll understand why many visitors come to Hoi An again and again.
In the afternoon, we visit the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Here, 40 km southwest of Hoi An, in a lush green valley, are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Overnight in Hoian.
Day 12: Hoian– Nha Trang
We start with an early transfer to airport for a flight to Nha Trang, the second most popular honeymoon destination in Vietnam. The fabulous sunny weather, the turquoise water surrounding a string of offshore islands, and the white sandy beach stretching the whole length of the city make Nha Trang an ideal place for anyone seeking an enjoyable escape.
Today, after checking in at the hotel, you have free time at leisure on your own to relax and explore as you wish. We suggest you can check out the Mud Baths, which can be reached by taxi or motorbike taxi; they also have a spring pool in which you can fully relax.
Day 13: Nha Trang
You’ll likely wake up to a beautiful sunny morning in romantic Nha Trang. The fabulous weather, the turquoise water surrounding a string of islands and the white sandy beach stretching the whole length of the city make Nha Trang Vietnam’s premier beach resort. You’ll board a boat for a day trip around the coastal islands, stopping at a local fishing village to observe the island life. You’ll also go to Mun Island where you can go snorkeling and see some of the spectacular corals. You’ll also have lots of free time to enjoy swimming and snorkeling or lazing on the beach. A seafood lunch is included today. You’ll go into the town in the late afternoon and visit the Long Son Pagoda and the impressive Ponagar Cham Towers, which overlook the colourful fishing port. Overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 14: Nha Trang – Free At Leisure
Day 15: Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh
Depending on your flight time you’ll have some free time to relax in Nha Trang before a transfer to airport for an hour flight to Ho Chi Minh city. Today you will be welcomed to Ho Chi Minh city—a city which is still called Saigon by many of the local people—crowded with bikes and motorbikes, and with numerous shopping areas and sidewalk cafés. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Today you have the full day to enjoy our city tour of Ho Chi Minh, which includes a guided tour of some of the most important attractions in Ho Chi Minh City, beginning with the Reunification Palace, which was the former residence of the Southern Vietnam President until the end of April 1975. Close to the palace are some striking French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Saigon Post Office. Afterwards, we’ll visit the History Museum where there is a special exhibition of Phu Nam country which dates back to the 2nd century ‘Oc Eo’ civilization. You’ll also visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the best examples of Taoist temples in Vietnam. In the afternoon, you have the chance to visit the Museum of War Remnants which provides a partial, but riveting perspective of the Vietnam war, and the Binh Tay market in Chinatown area. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 17: Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi tunnel – Tay Ninh Temple
After an early breakfast you’ll avoid the city heat to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels contained hospitals, accommodations and schools, and were used as a military base for the Viet Cong during the American war. Afterwards, you’ll continue to the headquarters of Cao Dai religious sect which is located in Tay Ninh. This religion was founded in 1923 and now numbers over 2 million members. It’s an unusual religion with an eclectic mix of different saints from different religions, and has Victor Hugo and Charlie Chaplin as patron saints. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City – My Tho – Can Tho
Today we leave Ho Chi Minh City and head south to Can Tho, deep in the Mekong Delta, taking a break in the journey at My Tho, two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City, to visit the very ornate Vinh Trang Pagoda. Then we take a boat trip to Thoi Son Island, visiting fruit orchards and enjoying the fresh fruits with a traditional music performance. We’ll also be able to see coconut candy being made, and the production of honey and rice wine. Our trip continues to Can Tho and there we check in to the hotel. Overnight in Can Tho.
Day 19: Can Tho – Chau Doc
An early visit to Cai Rang floating market is an option before your breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast, we head northwest to Chau Doc, situated near the Cambodian border, checking-in at the hotel on arrival. In the afternoon we take a boat to visit fish farms where fish are bred in wooden cages suspended under floating houses on the river. Then we continue by boat to visit a village of stilt houses belonging to the Cham minority where colorful traditional textiles are woven on old wooden looms. We return to dry land in time to drive up Sam Mountain to watch the sunset over the Cambodian border. Overnight in Chau Doc.
Day 20: Chau Doc – Vinh Long – Ho Chi Minh City
We leave Chau Doc after breakfast and head back towards Ho Chi Minh City via Vinh Long, breaking the journey at Vinh Long to visit the Phan Thanh Giang Confucian Temple and take a boat trip to the cottage industries of Cho Cua village. We’ll also visit a ceramic tile factory, a tofu and fish sauce factory and a rice cracker making factory, and then continue to Cai Be to observe local life over there before we rejoin the car to drive to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 21: Ho Chi Minh – Departure
Depending on your departure time there will be some free time to relax or further explore Ho Chi Minh on your own before a transfer to Tan Son Nhat airport for your departure flight. The trip ends at the airport.