This 15-day journey covers most of the best regions in Vietnam. Cultural encounters, history, and world heritage sites can all be found on this fantastic trip. The itinerary can be used as a starting point and altered or extended to suit your requirements.
- Itinerary in Detail
Best selling Vietnam tour
Day 1. Arrival in Hanoi
Day 2. Ha Noi
Day 3. Ha Noi – Ninh Binh – Night Train to Lao Cai
Day 4. Lao Cai – weekly market – Sapa
Day 5. Sapa – Ha Noi
Day 6. Ha Noi – Ha Long – Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay
Day 7. Ha Long – Ha Noi – Flight to Hue
Day 8. Hue
Day 9. Hue – Hoi An
Day 10. Hoi An – My Son Sanctuary – Hoi An
Day 11. Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to Can Tho
Day 12. Can Tho – Ben Tre
Day 13. Ben Tre – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14. Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi – Ho Chi Minh City
Day 15. Ho Chi Minh City - Departure
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HA NOI
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 and spend time at leisure to relax or take a stroll around the city. Dinner on your own and overnight at a hotel in Hanoi.
DAY 2: HANOI SIGHTSEEING AND MOTORCYCLE TOUR
After breakfast at the hotel, meet your local guide at 08:30 and start your city tour with a visit to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, founded in 1076. Known locally as Quoc Tu Giam, this place of learning was established inside a temple to educate Vietnam’s nobles, scholars, and society’s elites. Its well-preserved architecture and tranquil gardens offer intriguing glimpses into Vietnam’s past.
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.
In the afternoon, you will discover the different neighborhoods of Hanoi on the back of a Russian Minsk motorcycle. First stop at a local restaurant in Ba Dinh District, where you can taste one of the city's specialties, “pho" or rice noodles, served in a variety of ways: rolled, s tirred, and fried. After having filled your stomach with delicious food, head off to a hidden farmland on the Red River bank to discover the countryside on the edge of bustling Hanoi, where people plant bananas and vegetables and live in floating homes. On your way back to the city center, stop at Long Bien Bridge, a historic bridge across the Red River that was built by the French from 1898 to 1902 and designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Next stop is Hanoi’s largest open-air second-hand market in Hai Ba Trung district. Emerge yourself in the narrow alleys of residential areas nearby, then take a walk around a wet market to learn about ingredients used daily in Vietnamese meals and taste tropical fresh fruits.
DAY 3: HANOI – NINH BINH – HANOI – NIGHT TRAIN TO LAO CAI
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 (Sunday) – SAPA
Upon arrival at Lao Cai station at around 05:55, have breakfast at a local restaurant. Afterwards, leave for Bac Ha via a 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. On the way to Sapa, stop to take a short walk to Ma Tra village, inhabited by Hmong people. Overnight in Sapa.
Note: Bac Ha market is open on Sunday only, the following markets may replace Bac Ha market according to your arrival date:
– Can Cau market on Saturday morning.
– Coc Ly market on Tuesday morning
– Cao Son market on Wednesday morning.
DAY 5: SAPA - HANOI
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: HANOI – HALONG
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: HALONG – HANOI AIRPORT– FLIGHT HUE
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
Depart from your hotel at 08:30 and you will spend a full day visiting Hue, the former capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 during the reign of the Nguyen dynasty emperors, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1993.
Start your tour with a visit to the Imperial Citadel, the 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 Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady, which was built in the seventeenth century and is easily recognizable by its octagonal tower.
In the afternoon, visit 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 Khai Dinh Emperor’s mausoleum, where you can admire the blend of traditional architecture of the Nguyen Dynasty with European touches, which not only shows Khai Dinh Emperor’s characters but also makes it unique from the other tombs in Hue. Overnight in Hue.
DAY 9: HUE – HOIAN
After breakfast, meet your guide at 8:30 and leave Hue for Hoi An on a scenic drive through the coastal fishing settlements, most notably Lang Co with its stunning lagoon backdrop and Hai Van Pass (or ‘pass of the ocean clouds’).
Continue to Hoi An and 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. Return to your hotel and overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 10: HOI AN – MY SON SANTUACRY
After breakfast, meet your guide at 08:30 and depart towards the southwest of Hoi An for My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in a lush valley, My Son was once the capital and religious center of the Cham people. With its impressive red brick towers and sanctuaries, My Son is considered to be in the same league as some of Southeast Asia's greatest archaeological sites, along with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar, Ayutthaya in Thailand, and Borobudur in Indonesia. Return to Hoi An at lunchtime and have time at leisure to relax or do some shopping. Overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 11: HOI AN – DA NANG – FLIGHT TO CAN THO
Breakfast and time at leisure until your driver transfers you to Da Nang airport for a short flight to Can Tho. On arrival at Can Tho airport, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel for check-in.
Depart from your hotel at 14:00 and head to the meeting point. Take the bike and embark on a 7–10 km ride through local villages. On the way, you’ll pass along small, rustic roads in the countryside and encounter many interesting activities of the locals. Stop by one of the biggest organic cacao farms, where you can have the chance to learn about the progress of making chocolate manually and taste a fantastic cup of chocolate drink.
Embark on a ferry to cross through a river to move to "Giàn Gừa," one of the hidden gems in Can Tho with a majestic view. You’ll sneak into the beautiful series of narrow paths covered with the green of trees before you head to "Giàn Gừa." Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, and don’t forget to take some memorable photos before getting back to the meeting point. Finish the tour by 18:00. Overnight in Can Tho.
DAY 12: CAN THO – BEN TRE
This morning, rise early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong on a cruise in and around the colorful Cai Rang floating market. At 07:00 embark on the Mystic Sampan Cruise, while enjoying your breakfast served with Vietnamese and Western tasty dishes, you can comfortably observe the scenery of local daily life on the river banks. After breakfast, the Mystic Sampan cruises into the heart of the Cai Rang floating market, where you will see a maze of boats loaded with fruits, vegetables, or groceries for trade. You may also join the market by calling for fruits or a drink.
Leaving the market, our tour guide takes you to a local workshop where you have a great time learning how locals make "Hu Tieu" - rice noodles.
Lunch at your own arrangement, and then depart for Ben Tre, known as the coconut kingdom of Vietnam. Mid to late afternoon you arrive in a charming village hidden under hundreds of coconut palm trees. Welcome to Mekong Home, a family house composed of several bungalows, set in a tropical garden and on the Mekong River bank. Fresh coconut juice will be served, and then you will check into your room. Take a little break before leaving with a family member for an introduction to local fishing techniques.
In the evening, you participate in a cooking class and learn how to make "Bánh xèo" - Vietnamese pancakes made from rice milk. Dinner is ready to be served with fresh dishes cooked in local style, such as caramelized pork and fish soup, spring rolls, etc.
After dinner, relax in a lemongrass and ginger foot bath, a local therapeutic method to relieve the pain and fatigue of the legs. Overnight in Ben Tre.
DAY 13: BEN TRE – HO CHI MINH CITY
Enjoy your breakfast and depart for Ham Luong pier, where you 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 distributaries. Stop at a brick kiln and learn about a traditional method of making bricks. Continue to visit one of the plenty of 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 transfer you back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Arrive at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City at around 17:00. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 14: CU CHI TUNNELS BY BOAT
Meet your local guide at 07:00 and transfer to Bach Dang Pier, where you board a speedboat and travel towards Cu Chi. Within 15 minutes, the banks of the river change from city sprawl to lush jungle. A light breakfast of sandwiches or pastries, fresh tropical fruits, and Vietnamese iced coffee (Ca phe sua da) is served as your guide explains traditions and aspects of riverbank life. On arrival at the Cu Chi Tunnels site before the majority of larger tour buses, watch a brief introductory ‘propaganda’ video for the Cu Chi area and explore the tunnel site, which includes weapon and booby trap exhibitions, navigating an authentic Viet Cong tunnel, visiting different underground bunkers (kitchens, meeting rooms, ammunition, etc.), a firing range, and much more. Try the local cassava root that sustained Viet Cong fighters for years.
Enjoy a delicious traditional Vietnamese lunch by the river before saying goodbye to the Cu Chi Tunnel and returning to Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive back at Bach Dang’s pier and return to the hotel by car at around 13:30.
DAY 15: HO CHI MINH CITY – DEPARTURE
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 observe the typical 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.
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 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.