This is our standard, and most popular route through Vietnam. Beginning in Hanoi, the Paris of the Orient, move onto an enjoyable overnight cruise on Halong Bay before continuing onto charming Hoi An. Get a taste of southern Vietnam with a few days in Ho Chi Minh City before departing.

Beyond the turbulent past that fosters false perceptions about Vietnam, there exists a county teeming with natural beauty and cultural moments waiting to be explored. Rugged coastlines blend into broad green valleys, deltas of snaking rivers, and limestone mountains, all complimented by a culture that has managed to create the best culinary experiences in all travel.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi Arrival

Hanoi Arrival
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Water Puppetry Show
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Accommodation: Skylark Hotel

Water Puppetry Show

In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry (an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture). (This service is on a group basis.)

In the morning, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)

Hanoi

Vietnam's capital is rich in a culture touched by French and Chinese influences over its 1,000-year-long history. One can spend days in the Old Quarter, where fashion houses, art galleries and coffee shops make up the city's most charismatic district. Hanoi features hundreds of serene lakes, great for people watching and strolling an afternoon away. Take an evening to dine at a modern, cosmopolitan restaurant and enjoy a night on the town, but don't forget to take an evening to enjoy the thriving street food scene, one of the city's primary attractions.

Day 2: Hanoi

Hanoi
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Full Day City Tour
  • Accommodation: Skylark Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Full Day City Tour

You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. It's a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum dedicated to his memory.

After lunch, you’ll call in at the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the center of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and cruise ride around the Colonial and Old Quarters on a cyclo to discover the city’s architectural mixture of French colonial style, social realism (mostly public buildings - designed or influenced by the USSR), pagodas and communal houses with many features, merchants’ residences, ‘tube’ dwellings, modern buildings and vernacular houses. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 3: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay

Hanoi - Ha Long Bay
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Ha Long Bay Junk Cruise
  • Accommodation: Bhaya Cruise Junk
  • Meals: B, L, D

Ha Long Bay Junk Cruise

After an early breakfast, you’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. There you’ll board a wooden junk to take you round the Bay before stopping off at a beach on an island.

Weather permitting, you’ll be able to swim, fish, and climb a hill (not a mountain!) for an overview of the Bay’s remarkable seascape. From there, you’ll continue your cruise to visit a fishing village - you’ll also have an opportunity to investigate one of the bay’s sea level caves in a small sampan or a kayak. The route is designed to avoid the busy areas and includes a very quiet location for your overnight stay.

For your two-day Ha Long excursion, you'll board the Bhaya Cruise, one of the largest wooden boats on the Bay. It’s a wooden junk based on the model of the old Vietnamese court vessels with two barge sails, a wide transom with a rectangular superstructure. The boat has 16 Deluxe Twin/Double cabins, 2 Bhaya Suites and 2 Royal Suites which can accommodate a maximum of 40 people, so you're likely to be joining other travelers for the cruise.

Ha Long Bay

Seemingly infinite, the towering islands of Ha Long Bay form a landscape unique to this world. From sunrise to sunset, Ha Long offers some of the most beautiful sights in all of Asia, either from the deck of your Chinese style boat, from your kayak, or from a private beach enjoying a seafood lunch.

Day 4: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi

Ha Long Bay - Hanoi
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi
  • Accommodation: Skylark Hotel
  • Meals: B

Ha Long Bay - Hanoi

You’ll wake in fresh air of the bay with a swim and/or a Tai Chi session on the large sundeck (beginners welcome!). After a light pastry and a tea or coffee for breakfast, you’ll dock to visit one of the most famous caves in the Bay. You’ll return to the junk for a brunch while cruising back to dock around noon whereupon you’ll leave for Hanoi. After arriving at your hotel in the mid-afternoon, the remainder of the day will be your own. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 5: Hanoi

Hanoi
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Cooking Class
  • Accommodation: Skylark Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Cooking Class

In the morning, you’ll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to a private house where you’ll learn to cook some typical Vietnamese dishes representing the north of Vietnam.

The cooking class begins with an introduction to Vietnamese culinary culture structured around the Vietnamese staple foods, rice and ‘nuoc mam’ (fish sauce). Next, you will get busy in the kitchen under the careful supervision of a Vietnamese, English-speaking cook. There’s a whole range of menus to choose from – one for each day of the week! Each has been developed specially to give an all-round flavor of Vietnamese cuisine. Once you’ve prepared your lunch, you can sit down the eat dishes that you’ve cooked.

Afterward, you will be transferred back to your hotel and the afternoon will be free. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 6: Hanoi - Hoi An

Hanoi - Hoi An
Daily Summary
  • Accommodation: Hoi An Riverside Resort
  • Meals: B

Hoi An

There is a good reason we encourage first time travelers to Vietnam to visit Hoi An. After the hustle and bustle of the big cities, travel in Hoi An will feel easier. There is little modern motor traffic, and its shops and restaurants are mainly tailored for tourists. A romantic cafe culture lives on in French colonial buildings, along with a thriving art scene, can keep you busy (and shopping) for days. Hoi An is also a great base from which to enjoy a couple of beach days, or venture inland to meet with local farmers for a more authentic local experience.

Day 7: Hoi An

Hoi An
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Walking Tour
  • Accommodation: Hoi An Riverside Resort
  • Meals: B, L

Walking Tour

You will start a walking tour through this charming small town composed of hundreds of historic houses, congregation halls, pagodas and other structures. Its buildings and streets reflect the indigenous and foreign influences this town had, defining it as a unique heritage and multi-cultural site.

There’s plenty to see in this delightful town, such as the Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 years old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant local market. You'll have the chance to visit all of them in this walking tour. (This service is on a private basis.)

Day 8: Hoi An

Hoi An
Daily Summary
  • Tour: From Farmer to Fisherman Tour
  • Accommodation: Hoi An Riverside Resort
  • Meals: B, L

From Farmer to Fisherman Tour

The day starts with cycling the narrow roads through the countryside, passing by rice paddy fields, water buffalos, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work. You’ll then board a boat to the mouth of the Thu Bon estuary where the river meets the Cua Dai Sea and cruise along the coastline observing the lives of the local fishermen.

After joining a fisherman in trying your hand at catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat, you will meander through the water palm coconut canal. During the American War, Viet Cong soldiers made use of this area as a highly effective hiding place from enemy attacks through their long struggle. Following an insightful visit to a local fishing village, you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch before cycling back to your hotel. (This service is on a group basis.)

Day 9: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City

Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City
Daily Summary
  • Accommodation: EdenStar Saigon Hotel
  • Meals: B

Ho Chi Minh City

While much of Vietnam is set in its traditions, and content to live life at a slower pace, HCMC is where the nation's urban warriors congregate to work hard and play harder. The city that some still call Saigon has been the driving force leading Vietnam into the 21st century, and the result is a whirlpool of activity that one cannot help but be swept into. Remnants of Vietnam's history pockmark the city, creating a charming contrast of old and new.

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City

Daily Summary
  • Tour: Orientation Tour
  • Accommodation: EdenStar Saigon Hotel
  • Meals: B, L, D

Orientation Tour

After breakfast, your guide will arrive to show you around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll visit the Reunification Hall – an early colonial masterpiece constructed to accommodate the Governor, general of Indochina. The Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! The Binh Tay market and the China Town are worth a stroll to explore the local daily life and the culture mix.

After lunch, you’ll also call in at the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity.

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho

Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be Mekong River Cruise & Munir Ansay Pagoda - Can Tho
  • Accommodation: Victoria Can Tho Resort
  • Meals: B, L

Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be Mekong River Cruise & Munir Ansay Pagoda - Can Tho

After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you will travel to Cai Be where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long established cottage industries. Later, a rowing boat will carry you through the maze of the Mekong Delta’s myriad channels to connect with the real life of local people, visiting a local house and listening to live music performed by local artists.

You will drive further into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho. Upon arrival you’ll call in at the Munir Ansay – an ancient Khmer style pagoda, renowned for its unique structural decorations. You’ll then drive to your hotel in Can Tho where you’ll spend the night.

Munir Ansay Pagoda has many statues and pillars with sophisticated decoration; the main gate was built in the shape of the towers illustrative of Angkor architecture.

Day 12: Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City

Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City
Daily Summary
  • Tour: Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City
  • Accommodation: EdenStar Saigon Hotel
  • Meals: B, L

Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City

Today, after breakfast, you will be driven to Cai Rang for a boat cruise to its floating market, one of the best on the Mekong Delta, with good views of the riverside lifestyle along the way. You will then journey back to Ho Chi Minh City. En route, you will call in at the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang Pagoda, 3 km from My Tho center. You will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon with time to freshen up in your hotel before the evening.

Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned for its architectural mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. Located on a 2 hectare block with 5 buildings, 2 ornamental yards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues (especially the 18 arahants, wooden statues carved in 1907), the pagoda will give you a deeper look into the relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs.

Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City Departure

Daily Summary
  • Transportation: Airport Transfer
  • Meals: B

Today, you will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)

Accommodation

Skylark Hotel

Skylark Hotel

Designed for both business and leisure travel, Skylark Hotel is ideally situated in Dong Xuan Market; one of the city's most popular locales. From here, guests can enjoy easy access to all that the lively city has to offer. No less exceptional is the hotel's easy access to the city's myriad attractions and landmarks, such as Dong Xuan Market, Old Quarter, Quan Thanh Temple. Take advantage of a wealth of unrivaled services and amenities at this Hanoi hotel. The hotel offers access to a vast array of services, including meeting facilities, restaurant, 24-hour room service, business center, elevator. 50 rooms spread over 11 floors provide a warm and pleasant home away from home. Modern comforts such as mini bar, television, coffee/tea maker, internet access – wireless (complimentary), complimentary bottled water can be found in selected rooms. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast or are just looking for a way to unwind after a hard day, you will be entertained by top-class recreational facilities such as indoor pool, fitness center. Enjoy unparalleled services and a truly prestigious address at the Skylark Hotel.

Bhaya Cruise Junk

Bhaya Cruise Junk

For your Ha Long Bay excursion, you'll board the Bhaya Cruise, one of the largest wooden boats on the Bay. It’s a wooden junk based on the model of the old Vietnamese court vessels with two barge sails, a wide transom with a rectangular superstructure. The boat has 16 Deluxe Twin/Double cabins, 2 Bhaya Suites and 2 Royal Suites which can accommodate a maximum of 40 people, so you're likely to be joining other travelers for the cruise. All Cabins and Suites are finished in traditional Vietnamese hardwood giving them a rich, luxuriant warmth. The white deckheads, thatched bamboo-matting panels and expansive curtained windows deliver ambient light and views. Hand-crafted hardwood furniture, gold and white fittings, white bed linen and soft pastel turquoise bed runners and pillows further enhance the warmth and light. All accommodations include air-conditioning, fans, private toilets and showers (with bath in the Royal Suites), TV with music and news channels, access to a film library, refrigerator, hair dryer, fluffy bathrobes and slippers, in-cabin safes and picturesque ocean views as standard. All meals, usually based on fresh seafood, will be provided on board. Kayaking is available upon request and at a surcharge.

Hoi An Riverside Resort

Hoi An Riverside Resort

The Riverside resort is the first 4-star international standard resort in the central town of Hoi An. Occupying an area of 9,000 square meters on the banks of the Song Do river, it is nestled within an easy access of pristine Cua Dai beach and the town's old quarter. Surrounded by lush green rice fields, the Resort blends effortlessly into its natural surroundings. It is an elegant environment offering sumptuous dining, beautifully appointed rooms and plenty of outdoor activities.

EdenStar Saigon Hotel

EdenStar Saigon Hotel

As a 4-star standard hotel, Eden Saigon is located right in the center of business, shopping, commercial and entertainment of Ho Chi Minh City and only a 5 minute walk from the Ben Thanh Market. From the very beginning, the Hotel targets the customers for business and leisure purposes. With the advantage of convenient transportation system, Eden Saigon Hotel also offers the luxury guest rooms, hospitable services as well as the completely furnished business facilities. The hotel also has massage area and fitness center with an outdoor swimming pool and bar with views of the city.

Victoria Can Tho Resort

Victoria Can Tho Resort

The only luxury hotel in the center of the Mekong Delta, the Victoria Can Tho Resort blends colonial-style architecture with the natural beauty of the river. Close to Can Tho town, but a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, the resort lies on the banks of the Hau River, set amidst gardens with a plethora of exotic plants. The Victoria Can Tho Resort features 92 rooms, including 8 luxurious suites, all designed with wood flooring, authentic Vietnamese decoration and balconies offering spectacular views of the river, pool or of the garden. Each room combines the elegance of traditional artefacts and the comfort of an international standard hotel.

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