- Itinerary in Detail
Day 1. Arrival in Ha Noi
Day 2. Ha Noi
Day 3. Ha Noi – Ninh Binh – Night train to Lao Cai
Day 4. Lao Cai – Sapa
Day 5. Sapa – Lao Cai – Ha Noi
Day 6. Ha Noi – Ha Long
Day 7. Ha Long – Ha Noi – Flight to Hue
Day 8. Hue
Day 9. Hue – Hoi An
Day 10. Hoi An
Day 11. Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to Buon Ma Thuot
Day 12. Buon Ma Thuot – Lak Lake
Day 13. Lak Lake – Da Lat
Day 14. Da Lat
Day 15. Da Lat – Flight to Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 16. Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 17. Ho Chi Minh City – Departure
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HANOI
Arrive in Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam and one of the most charming cities in Southeast Asia, with its authenticity, large shady avenues, numerous lakes, manicured gardens, and well-preserved architecture. Meet your guide and driver, then transfer to your hotel. Free time for a stroll around the city. Dinner on your own. Overnight at a hotel in Hanoi.
DAY 2: HANOI SIGHTSEEING AND COOKING CLASS (B/L/-)
This morning is all about learning about Vietnamese food in a two-hour cooking session. You start the day at 08:30 with a trip to the market to select the ingredients used in the class. Then we take you to a local family, where, along with the family member, you are invited to prepare several traditional dishes:
● Steamed rice pancake Thanh Tri
● Fish roll-ups
● Beef rice noodles, Southern Vietnamese style
There will be a chance to sample the food you have prepared at lunch.
In the afternoon, return to the city center and explore the city with a visit to the Temple of Literature, known as Vietnam’s first university, founded in 1076. Its well-preserved architecture and tranquil gardens offer intriguing glimpses into Vietnam’s past. Continue to Ba Dinh Square, where you can see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, National Assembly, and Presidential Palace from the outside. Later on, take a walk around the Old Quarter, also known as "the 36 streets" and Hoan Kiem Lake to learn more about the legend of the lake and the temple of Jade.
Visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral, one of the first buildings built by French colonists during their expansion in Indochina and still intact in Hanoi after two fierce wars, and emerge in the serene and peaceful atmosphere of Pagoda Ba Da, hidden in a very quiet corner in the middle of Hanoi's busy traffic, just a few steps from the cathedral. Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 3: HANOI – NINH BINH – NIGHT TRAIN TO LAO CAI (B/L/-)
Depart from your hotel at 08:30 for a drive through rural North Vietnam to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century. As you explore this important historical site, you’ll have the chance to roam through the Hoa Lu Citadel and visit ancient temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang (Dinh Dynasty, 968–980) and Emperor Le Dai Hanh (Le Dynasty, 980–1009). After lunch at a local restaurant, head to the UNESCO-listed Trang An Landscape Complex, where you can unwind on a peaceful riverboat ride that passes through a series of caves. Trang An is sure to wow you with its spectacular landscape of jagged karst mountains and valleys. As you float along, take some photos of the enormous karst peaks that jut out from the green rice fields; this landscape is what gives this region the nickname "Halong on Land".
Depart from your hotel for a 2.5-hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to Ninh Binh province.
On arrival in Ninh Binh, start cycling to Bich Dong Pagoda, hidden at the foot of Ngu Nhac Mountain, dating to 1428 and comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. Lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, head to Tam Coc pier, board a private sampan, gently sailing along the Ngo Dong river, capturing the wonderful scenery of Karst hills, rice fields, and peaceful villages, and passing the three caves "Hang Ca", "Hang Hai" and "Hang Ba".
Return to Ha Noi and spend time at leisure until your train departs at 22:00 for Lao Cai. Overnight in a shard 4-berth cabin.
DAY 4: LAO CAI – BAC HA MARKET – SAPA (B/-/-)
Upon arrival at Lao Cai station, have breakfast at a local restaurant. Afterwards, leave for Bac Ha via a spectacular winding road. Visit the weekly Bac Ha market, one of the most colorful markets in northeastern Vietnam, where every Sunday morning minority ethnic groups, including the Flower H'mong, Phu La, and Dao Tuyen, gather to buy and sell homemade products.
Then visit the nearby Hoang A Tuong mansion, which has Oriental and European architectural influences. Built in the early 20th century, the luxurious building reflects the golden age of the father and son, Hoang Yen Chao and Hoang A Tuong, rulers of the region at that time. Continue your walk to Thai Giang Pho village, where you can learn about the daily life and culture of the Flower H’mong people. Overnight in Sapa.
DAY 5: SAPA – HA NOI (B/-/-)
Get ready at 08:30 for a hike across the stunning Muong Hoa Valley landscape as you admire the lovely orderliness of the rice fields that skillful, hardworking ethnic farmers have cultivated.
Hike from the Black H’mong village of Lao Chai to the Zay village of Ta Van, enjoying the cool climate and magnificent views of the terraced fields and the Fansipan mountain range. Along the way, you may encounter vast indigo farms and hill tribe women with their hands dyed blue. Return to Sapa for lunch and spend time at leisure until your join-in minivan transfers you back to Ha Noi. Arrive at the hotel in Hanoi at around 20:00. Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 6: HA NOI – HA LONG (B/L/D)
After breakfast at the hotel, depart at 08:30 from your hotel through the Red River Delta to Tuan Chau Pier, where you will board a selected cruise for your overnight stay on Lan Ha Bay. Lunch will be served while the vessel starts cruising through thousands of limestone islets emerging from the emerald water. Join in some activities such as kayaking or swimming, or just relax on the sun deck and enjoy the stunning scenery of this World Heritage Site. Dinner with fresh seafood and overnight on the cruise.
Alternatively, breakfast at the hotel and depart at 08:30 from your hotel to Ha Long International Port, where you will board a selected cruise for your overnight cruise on the pristine Bai Tu Long Bay.
After the on-board safety briefing, lunch will be served while the vessel starts cruising through thousands of limestone islets emerging from the emerald water. Join in some activities such as kayaking, cave exploring, floating village visits, or just relax on the sun deck and enjoy the stunning scenery of this charming bay. Dinner and overnight on the cruise.
The itinerary is subject to change due to the weather and operating conditions without prior notice.
DAY 7: HA LONG – HA NOI – FLIGHT TO HUE (B/Brunch/-)
Enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the bay, followed by a light breakfast. As the cruise sails back to the pier, enjoy brunch on board while admiring the limestone rock formations that glide by. Upon disembarkation, your driver will be waiting to take you to Hanoi’s Noi Bai Domestic Airport for a short flight to Hue. On arrival, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. Overnight in Hue
DAY 8: HUE VESPA TOUR AND SIGHTSEEING TOUR (B/-/-)
This morning, get off the beaten path to discover a more local, authentic side of Hue. Start the day at 08:00 with a coffee or fresh juice at a local cafe, where you’ll meet your tour guide and fellow travelers. Then hop on the Vespas and cruise through the atmospheric streets to a family temple to discover the rich traditions of Vietnamese culture. Take a short stroll to learn about the French colonial influence on architecture and the struggle that the locals have to preserve their beautiful riverside homes. Continue on foot through a bustling local market where you’ll rub elbows with the locals who come to buy and sell their daily wares. From the market, we take a short ferry boat ride to cross the Perfume River and meet with the Vespas on the other side.
Back on the Vespas, wind through smaller countryside streets, getting further from the modernity and bustle of city life. Pop into a worship materials workshop to gain deeper insight into the skilled crafts and cultural traditions of Hue. Then it’s a short drive to a folk art printing workshop. Try your hand at making your own print while chatting with the artisans and sipping green tea.
Next up, the Vespas take you through scenic rice paddies and other bucolic landscapes. Take a break at an ancient bridge, mingling with the locals who come to relax a nd enjoy the river breeze. Loop back into the city at around 12:00.
In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel, seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. The Citadel was inspired by Vauban fortifications and is composed of three sections; the capital city (Kinh Thanh), the Imperial city (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden City (Cam Thanh). Continue to the Buddhist shrine of Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady. Built in the seventeenth century, it's one of the most fascinating and ancient pagodas in Hue, overlooking the picturesque Perfume River. Return to the hotel at around 17:00 and overnight in Hue.
DAY 9: HUE – HOI AN (B/-/-)
After breakfast, depart at 08:30 from your hotel for a visit to Tu Duc's Mausoleum, one of the most beautiful royal tombs of the Nguyen dynasty with unique architecture and perfect harmony with the natural landscape. Visit the nearby Thuy Xuan incense-making village, where you'll be amazed by the smell of aloeswood and the sight of innumerable bouquets of colorful bamboo incense sticks being sundried along the village roads. Continue to Minh Mang’s Mausoleum, a complex of 40 constructions including palaces, temples, and pavilions. Located on the left bank of the Perfume River, it’s a stunning example of how man-made beauty can coexist peacefully with natural beauty.
In the afternoon, leave Hue for Hoi An on a scenic drive through the fishing village of Lang Co and Hai Van Pass. Arrive at the hotel at around 17:00 and stay overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 10: HOI AN (B/-/-)
Meet our guide at 8:00 and start your cycling trip to Cam Thanh village, where you have the opportunity to observe the daily activities of local villagers and learn how they have developed their traditional handicrafts, which create products from bamboo and coconut trees that serve their lives as well as souvenirs. Continue to the fishing village to explore the coconut palm forest on a unique basket boat and try your luck by catching fish with the local fishermen’s net. Lunch at a local family's house.
In the afternoon, stroll through the narrow streets of the atmospheric Hoi An Ancient Town. This UNESCO Site is a precious gem that shows a range of architectural influences. Visit the Japanese covered bridge, one of the Chinese communal halls, and former merchants’ houses.
At the end of the day, enjoy a cup of tea at Reaching Out Tea House, a lovely and tranquil setting founded to help the disabled grow their artistic talents and lead independent lives through their art. Return to your hotel at around 16:30 and overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 11: HOI AN – DA NANG – FLIGHT TO BUON MA THUOT (B/-/-)
Your driver will transfer you to Da Nang airport for an early morning flight to Buon Ma Thuot.
On arrival, you will be welcomed by our tour guide and start to explore the city with a visit to the Dak Lak Museum of Ethnology, which displays more than 10,000 objects representing the culture of the ethnic minorities in Dak Lak province and in the Central Highlands. Continue to Ako Dhong village, inhabited by Mnong and Ede minorities.
In the afternoon, head out to Don Village, well-known for the tradition of elephant hunting and taming in ancient times. Visit an ancient wooden house on stilts with its Laotian-style architecture and the tomb of the 'King of Elephant Catchers' before taking a walk on a suspension bamboo bridge. Return to Buon Ma Thuot for the night.
DAY 12: BUON MA THUOT (B/-/-)
Depart at 08:30 for Dray Nur and Dray Sap waterfalls, the two most beautiful waterfalls on the Serepok river. Continue toward Lak Lake and visit Jun village of the MNong minorities, where people still live in the traditional long houses.
After the visit, check into Lak Tented Camp, beautifully located on the lake. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or enjoying some kayaking. Overnight in Lak Lake.
DAY 13: BUON MA THUOT - DA LAT (B/-/-)
Leave this morning at 8:00 for the 5-hour trip to Da Lat, which is favored for its mild weather all year. Stop en route to discover the rich agricultural life of the region with visits to various farms (flower farm, vegetable farm, cricket farm, tea and coffee plantations, etc.) and visit the Elephant waterfall, Linh An pagoda, and silk-making factory. Overnight in Da Lat.
DAY 14: DA LAT (B/-/-)
Start your day at 9:00 with a visit to Domaine de Marie Church, a Catholic convent located on top of a hill. Built in 1940, the church has a unique architecture with French influence, with a roof that reminds of the communal houses of the Central Highlands's minorites. Then continue to Bao Dai's Summer Palace, a French villa where the last Empe ror of Vietnam and his family lived during summer vacations. Drive to Dalat to visit the Dalat railway station, notable for its distinctive architectural design, which combines aspects of the Central Highlands’s communal house with an Art Deco motif. Board the train and take a 7-kilometer journey through flower and vegetable plantations to Trai Mat to visit Linh Phuoc Pagoda.
In the afternoon, head out to Truc Lam Zen Monastery, which leans on the back of the mountain and overlooks the poetic Tuyen Lam lake, to learn about Zen Buddhism and enjoy the peaceful landscape. Overnight in Da Lat.
DAY 15: DA LAT – FLIGHT TO HO CHI MINH CITY (B/-/-)
Transfer to the airport for an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, depart to explore the Cu Chi tunnels, an underground city with living areas, kitchens, storage, weapon shops, field hospitals, and command centers. On arrival, watch a documentary video about Cu Chi tunnels and then take a short walk into the forest to visit Hoang Cam's smoke-less stove, secret hideouts, fighting bunkers, dangerous booby traps, and tanks. Visit the common parts of the tunnels and crawl through narrow passageways to experience them for yourself. Taste typical boiled tapioca and hot tea before returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 16: HO CHI MINH CITY – DELTA DEL MEKONG – HO CHI MINH CITY (B/L/-)
Today you leave bustling Ho Chi Minh City behind and depart from your hotel at 08:00 for a 2-hour drive to Ben Tre province, the largest area of coconut plantations in Vietnam. Situated on the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre is a land of coconuts, fruit orchards, rice fields, narrow canals, and wonderful scenery.
Arrive at Ham Luong pier and take a boat trip to explore the local life and family-owned business activities along the Ben Tre River, one of the Mekong River’s tributaries. Stop at a brick kiln and learn about a traditional method of making bricks. Continue to visit one of the many coconut workshops along the waterway to discover how every single part of the coconut, including the shell, the meat, and the water, is processed to produce a variety of products: coconut milk, coconut candy, coconut oil, and even floor mats and charcoal. Next stop is a sleeping mat workshop, where you can learn about hand weaving techniques and enjoy some fresh fruits and tea.
Later on, take a motor cart (xe lôi) or ride a bike on the shady paths of the peaceful countryside, passing by green rice fields and vegetable plains, to touch on real life and get to know tropical agrarian culture. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with local specialties such as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp. In the afternoon, take a rowing boat on small canals shaded by wild coconut palm trees until Hung Vuong Pier, where your driver is ready to take you back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Return to the city at around 17:00 and overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 17: HO CHI MINH CITY – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)
Depart from your hotel at 08:30 to explore Ho Chi Minh City through its market, pagoda, and historical buildings. The best place to learn about local life is the market and the best time to visit it is undoubtedly in the morning. Start the day at the Bàn Cờ market in district 3, where you can find everything from fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and second-hand clothes to street food stalls scattered in narrow alleys. Continue walking to Nguyen Thien Thuat apartment building to check out daily life of the inhabitants of Saigon. Next stop at the FITO museum (Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine) that offers an in-depth look at the fascinating world of traditional Vietnamese medicine. Located on a small street in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, the museum is home to a collection of nearly 3,000 objects related to traditional remedies, some of which date back to the Stone Age. Alternatively, visit War Remnants Museum that exhibits war crimes and their profound impact on the Vietnamese people by foreign aggressive forces.
Later on, let’s go back in time to delve into the history of Vietnam with a stop at Đỗ Phủ cafe which was once the operational base of the Liberation Army of South Vietnam. While the coffee is prepared, discover the secret bunker of weapons used for the attack on the Independence Palace during the 1968 offensive and take pictures of the old car used to transport weapons to Cu Chi tunnels. Enjoy your coffee in the atmosphere of this historical house before heading to the hidden Van Phat Pagoda in Jewelry Street of ChinaTown in district 5. You will be amazed by the vibrant colors of the typical Chinese architecture and especially by the ten thousand Buddha statues inside the pagoda. Here at the pagoda you can also learn how Vietnamese people preserve the cremation urns of their departed family members. Continue to the French Quarter in District 1 to visit Saigon Central Post Office, a vital part of Ho Chi Minh City's colonial legacy. Time at leisure until your driver transfers you to the airport for departure flight.