- Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), 3 days
- Mekong Delta, 3 days
- Phan Thiet Resort, 4 days
- Dalat, 3 days
- Nha Trang Resort, 4 days
- Phu Quoc Beach, 3 days
- Hanoi stopover, 3 days
- Halong Bay, 2 days
- Halong Bay Cruise, 2 days
- Halong Bay Cruise, 3 days
- Highland Places and Tribal Faces of Sapa, 4 days
- Classic Vietnam (Northbound), 7 days
- Classic Vietnam (Southbound), 7 days
- Vietnam Showcase (Northbound), 12 days
- Vietnam Showcase (Southbound), 12 days
SMALL GROUP DEPARTURES
- Cambodia & Vietnam Explorer, 14 days
- Essential Indochina, 12 days
- Essential Vietnam, 9 days
- Highlights of Vietnam, 10 days
- Inside Vietnam and Cambodia, 21 days
- Scenic Vietnam, 15 days
- Vietnam Insight, 11 days
- Pandaw Cruise - Mekong River - Saigon to Siem Reap (Vietnam to Cambodia or in the reverse), 4, 5 and 8 days
- Mekong River Cruise - Le Cochinchine Boat, 2 days
- Orion Expedition Cruises
Vietnam Independent Travel Ideas
Vietnam Showcase - Southbound
Hanoi • Halong Bay • Hoi An • Danang • Nha Trang • Dalat • Ho Chi Minh City
Located in South East Asia, Vietnam is emerging as a major tourist attraction with its legacy of Colonialism and War. With its two main cities, the political capital Hanoi and the economic capital Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) Vietnam is fast becoming a travellers paradise. Apart from these cities, Vietnam's countryside also offers many beautiful attractions.
Day 1. Arrive Hanoi.
On arrival, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Old-fashioned in style, it is a city of lakes, parks, trees, villas, mansions and an area called the Old French Quarter where crumbling houses are crammed into narrow alleyways that are still named after the goods that were traded there. Hanoi has sidewalk cafes, pavement barbers, less traffic than Saigon. Wide tree-lined bicycle-filled boulevards are side by side with elegant colonial French mansions. The day is at leisure and later this evening, your cyclo (pedi-cab) awaits you for your transfer to the theatre where the ancient and unique art form of water puppetry is enacted. The 'stage' is a pool of water in which the hidden puppeteer must stand (waist deep!) to skilfully manoeuvre dancing puppets attached to bamboo poles on its surface. Each short skit in the performance relates to the daily life of the people, and featured are scenes such as 'Returning from School after Graduation' and 'Rearing Ducks and Chasing Foxes'. Dinner is later served at a local restaurant. Guests will enjoy delicious Vietnamese cuisine in one of Hanoi's most beautiful Vietnamese restaurants. This partially open-air restaurant allows diners to relax as they are surrounded by warm wooden décor in a classic art deco building.
Overnight in Hanoi (D)
Day 2: Hanoi.
This morning your full day city tour of Hanoi. First, visit Ba Dinh Square, where silent sentries guard the marble and granite mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state (closed every Friday & Monday and in October & November). See the simple cottage where Uncle Ho lived and worked. Nearby, visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum, an extraordinary tribute in abstract form to the life of the 'father of the country' and the evolution of Vietnamese independence. French architecture is a feature of Hanoi, and the nearby former Governor's Residence is a fine example as well as the One Pillar Pagoda. Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and then dedicated to Confucius, it is a serene retreat from the busy streets outside, and later became Vietnam's first university. This afternoon, enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it en-route to one of the city's fascinating. Then take to the streets on foot for a walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with stores in this souvenir hunter's paradise!
Overnight in Hanoi (BL)
Day 3. Hanoi/Halong Bay.
Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay. Halong Bay is often called Vietnam's eighth wonder of the world and once visited, it is hard to dispute that claim. 3000 spectacular limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches and coves compete for space in an area that is without doubt the most outstandingly naturally beautiful in the country with incomparable coastal scenery. Upon arrival board your Junk boat and set sail after which lunch is served. Sail into the magical bay where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragons' teeth.
After lunch, depending on which cruise you book, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay, go swimming on a quite beach or sunbathing on the sun deck. You can also visit an interesting fishing village kayak to discover the scenic surroundings. Back on board the boat, and enjoy cocktails while watching the sunset. (BLD)
Day 4 Halong Bay/Hanoi.
Enjoy breakfast onboard in the still of the morning before continuing your cruise. After lunch return to Halong and disembark for your journey back to Hanoi. The balance of the day is free to explore Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi. (BL)
Day 5. Hanoi to Danang to Hoi An.
Transfer to the Hanoi airport for your short flight to Danang. Your tour starts with a visit the Cham Museum in Danang, once centre of the ancient Cham civilisation. Hindu in origin, the Cham people left a legacy of excellent sculptures, now housed in the only museum if its kind in Danang, as they were pushed south by the advancing Vietnamese invaders. Close by Danang is China Beach, immortalised by the American television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia. Continue to the Marble Mountains for a photo stop en-route to Hoi An. These five rocky outcrops are said to represent the five natural elements, and are the source of many intriguing legends, as well as housing temples and once even an army hospital! You will see skilled artisans carving all manner of statues from marble sourced locally at the mountains' base. Proceed to Hoi An, which was one of the major ports of Southeast Asia from the 17th to 19th centuries. Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese traders had small communities here, and the old wooden houses, bridges and temples are reminiscent of a Vietnam of centuries past. Have lunch and enjoy a walking tour around this relaxing little town which is a wonderful spot for shopping and souvenir hunting. Some of the 17th century houses are emporiums with silks, embroidery work, Chinese lanterns and silk paintings.
Overnight in Hoi An. (BL)
Day 6. Hoi An.
Today enjoy a half day cooking class, beginning with a visit to Hoi An's colourful market to experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. You will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and observe the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson. Board a boat for a leisurely cruise along the Hoi An River to the local restaurant. On arrival, explore the cooking school's herb and vegetable garden, before learning about some of Hoi An's and Vietnam's well-known dishes. The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours – each dish is first demonstrated by a local chef's, before you prepare the same dish ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decoration). After the lesson, enjoy the meal you have cooked!
Overnight in Hoi An. (BL)
Day 7. Hoi An to Danang to Nha Trang.
After breakfast, transfer overland to the Danang airport for a short flight to Nha Trang. With a backdrop of mountains, numerous deserted islands and kilometres of white sandy beaches it is hard not to enjoy such an idyllic location. Nha Trang is ideal for a beach interlude. The rest of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
Overnight in Nha Trang. (B)
Day 8. Nha Trang.
Off shore from Nha Trang lie numerous islands, some inhabited and many dotted with idyllic fishing villages. Pause at one of these villages, Bai Tru and wander at will. There will be an opportunity to swim and snorkel in secluded bays. Return to the town to have lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, enjoy an afternoon exploring the countryside on the People of Nha Trang tour. Just a few kilometres from Nha Trang's beachfront is the picturesque countryside dotted with palm trees and fruit orchards where local people go about their daily business. Board a small, motorised boat for a delightful look into the nearby rural areas of Nha Trang. Visit a local home - these are traditionally laid out in the same manner throughout the village.
Overnight in Nha Trang. (BL)
Day 9. Nha Trang/Dalat.
Enjoy a spectacular drive from Nha Trang to Dalat (approx 3 hours). Dalat was originally built by the French as an escape from the humid summers of the coast. Parts of the town with their faded French villas, cobbled streets and surrounding pine forests have a distinct European feel. Dalat's architecture includes the villas of the 'French Quarter', Bao Dai's Summer Palace, the Ethnic Museum, which houses a fascinating display of artefacts and traditional costumes and Dalat Cathedral. Visit Dalat’s bustling town centre followed by a visit to the former Railway Station. Lunch at a Dalat local restaurant. Remainder of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Dalat. (BL)
Day 10. Dalat/Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast, drive from Dalat to Ho Chi Minh city where you will go past spectacular countryside as the road weaves through plantations, villages and mountains of the plateau of the Central Highlands and into Ho Chi Minh.
Arrive at Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) which is surely one of the most evocative place names in Asia and definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The most Western in atmosphere of Vietnam's cities, Ho Chi Minh City (to use it's official name - although to residents and visitors alike it is universally and affectionately known as Saigon) is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls, street children and vociferous cyclo drivers. And yet there are the elegant colonial French boulevards and buildings, the Cathedral, the riverfront and quiet moments at a sidewalk cafe watching the world literally go by you at breakneck speed. Afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. (BL)
Day 11. Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast, drive out of Ho Chi Minh City into the surrounding countryside. Lined by rice paddies, the main '"highway" is thronged with bicycles, heavily laden buses and people making their way to market. It's hard to believe that you are entering what was once a war zone of immense strategic importance. The Cu Chi area is famous for its 200 kilometre network of underground tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong forces to fight against both the French and later the Americans. Most tunnels were only 60-70 centimetres wide and 1.5 meters high, with thick roofs capable of withstanding the weight of tanks or the impact of bombs. The tunnel entrances are well hidden with underground meeting rooms, kitchen, hospital and sleeping areas. Lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, discover the contrasts of bustling Ho Chi Minh City. You will see colourful markets selling everything from chillies to French bread and, of course, an endless stream of bicycles, cyclos and motorbikes. Stops are included at the Notre Dame Cathedral and the beautiful Post Office building. Also visit the former Presidential Palace, now Reunification Hall. Your tour will include the reception and dining rooms of the President's quarters, and the basement - still full of ancient American made telecommunications equipment, strategic military maps lining it's walls. Continue to the History Museum for a visit.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. (BL)
Day 12. Ho Chi Minh City to your next destination
The day is free until your transfer to the Ho Chi Minh airport for your departure flight. (B)
Please request prices for the time you wish to travel.
10 night hotel accommodation in Vietnam, 1 night on board Halong Bay cruise (private cabin), private sightseeing (except join-in Cooking Class)and transfers as described in the itinerary, Meals as indicated by BLD.
Please click the hotel of your choice from the list below.
Halong Bay Cruise
Ho Chi Minh City
Hoi An Historic
Michelia Nha Trang
Life Heritage Hoi An