Best of Vietnam
A 19 Days/18 Nights representative tour visiting all the major cities and famous sites. This itinerary can be used as a starting point and altered or extended to suite your requirements.
Itinerary in brief:
Day 1 : Hanoi
Day 2 : Hanoi and ancient ceramic village Bat Trang
Day 3 : Hanoi – Ninh Binh – Hanoi – Lao Cai
Day 4 : Lao Cai – Bac Ha – Sapa
Day 5 : Sapa
Day 6 : Sapa – Lao Cai – Hanoi (O/N On The Train)
Day 7 : Hanoi – Halong (O/N On Boat)
Day 8 : Halong – Hanoi – Hue
Day 9: Hue
Day 10 : Hue – Hoian
Day 11 : Hoian – Tra Que – My Son – Hoian
Day 12: Hoian – Danang – Nha Trang
Day 13 : Nha Trang
Day 14 : Nha Trang – Da Lat
Day 15 : Da Lat
Day 16 : Da Lat – Saigon
Day 17 : Saigon – Cai Be – Vinh Long – Can Tho
Day 18 : Can Tho – Saigon
Day 19 : Departure
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN HANOI
Arrive in Hanoi, the capital of unified Vietnam, one of the most charming cities in South East Asia with its authenticity, large shady avenues, numerous lakes, manicured gardens and well-preserved architecture. Meet your guide & driver, then transfer to your hotel. Free time for a stroll around the city. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
DAY 2: HANOI AND ANCIENT CERAMIC VILLAGE BAT TRANG ( B/L/- )
08:00 Departure to the ancient ceramic village Bat Trang, about 12 km to the north-west of Hanoi, on the edge of the red river, renowned for centuries for its products in traditional porcelain with blue decorations.
Arrive in Bat Trang at around 08:45, walking along the ceramic alley, you can stop in the workshops specialized for vases and decor. Then, visit the house of one of the most famous pottery artists of Vietnam, where you will have the opportunity to admire his precious artwork that made this house become the first family ceramic museum of Vietnam. After that, visit the porcelain market where you can see thousands of authentic products and you can do some shopping.
Continue discovering the ancient village of Bat Trang by traveling through narrow lanes, with many workshops and family temples. You will also visit the old town hall dedicated to the Genius Protector of the village (Dinh Lang). Have lunch in an old colonial house in the village (or in a restaurant, as your other choice).
Return to the center of Hanoi, passing through Ecopark, a new residential area in the outskirts of Hanoi. You take a relaxing walk along the avenue shaded by beautiful palm trees to discover a bit more about the city life of this new peaceful corner.
The afternoon is dedicated to the discovery of the cultural capital of Vietnam, visiting the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, imposing marble and granite monument which takes the form of a stylized lotus, built from 1973 to 1975 thanks to the voluntary work of young pioneers (the tour takes place outside the mausoleum). Orientation tour to West lake. Then continue to visit the temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius, built in 1070 and soon after became the seat of the first Vietnamese university. Stroll in the old authentic area of the “36 old streets” in the late afternoon.
In the evening you can attend a performance of your choice which depends on their schedules (Water puppet, Golden Bell, Ionah, Four Palaces, My Village). Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel.
Bat Trang village: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonkintravelvietnam/albums/72157670840251836
DAY 3: HANOI – NINH BINH – LAO CAI (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel.8.00: Our guide will meet you at your hotel for transfering to Ninh Binh through the lush vegetation of the Red river. Continuation to Tam Coc. Bike (about 2.5 km, optional) through rural villages, limestone rocks and impressive rice towards Thung Nham. You will have the opportunity to admire a magnificent panorama of the region that is considered the Halong Bay on land. A rowboat ride on a small river through 3 caves that give you the impression of being in a magical space. Inside the 3rd cave, there is a large stone resembling an elongated Buddha that brings luck, happiness and prosperity to man. This place is called the cave of Buddha.
Then landing for a walk (10 minutes) in the amount up to Thien Ha cave (Celestre river) where you will continue a boat ride inside the cave over 300 meters with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites . Back in the boat at the pier Thung Nham, then back to Tam Coc by bicycle (optional). Lunch in a local restaurant. Back to Hanoi. Arrive at your hotel at about 17.30.
Return to Hanoi for your next destination by train to Lao Cai . Dinner on your own. Overnight on the train (air-conditioned sleeper car, compartment 4 people to share).
Note: In place of Thung Nham and Thian Ha cave, you can opt to visit either Trang An or Tam Coc
DAY 4: LAO CAI – BAC HA (Sunday) – SAPA (B/L/-)
At around 05:30, You will arrive in Lao Cai, a small border town by the Red river. My guide will meet you at the exit gate, and take you to a local restaurant in Lao Cai for breakfast. Then you will leave for Bac Ha (70 km) via a winding road with breath-taking mountain views. Visit Bac Ha fair (on Sunday only), considered the liveliest and crowded in the region. It attracts a large number of Flower H’mong and other hill-tribe groups (Nung, Phu La, Tay). It is no doubt one of the most attractive places for photo hunters in Vietnam. Lunch at local restaurant. Then, back to Lao Cai and continue an interesting trip to Sapa (38 km). Nestling on Fansipan mount, Sapa offers spectacular scenery and is home to different hill-tribes. Dinner on your own. Night at hotel in Sapa.
Remark: Bac Ha market is open on Sunday only, the following markets may replace Bac Ha market according to your arrival date:
– Can Cau market (20 km from Bac Ha) on Saturday morning.
– Coc Ly market on Tuesday morning
– Cao Son market on Wednesday morning.
DAY 5: SAPA (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 You start the tour from Sapa. Take a short road transfer along the motor way southwards for 4 km with a stop along the way for stunning scenery of Fansipan mountain and Muong Hoa valley. Trekking uphill along a large and rocky path for 2 hours to Hang Da village of the Black H’mong which hides itself under lush trees on high elevation of the Den Thang Mountain. Explore the village, paying visiting to local families. Lunch break in the village.
After lunch, continue trekking along the same trail which goes on the high mountain side for about an hour which offers a great view of Muong Hoa valley until arriving at Thao Hong Den, another village of the Black H’mong to pay a visit to several local families. To continue, you will go downhill for another hour along a dirt track to Pho village at the center of Hau Thao commune. You will be picked up and transfer by road back to Sapa. Dinner on your own. Overnight in hotel in Sapa
Remark: The program of trek can be adjusted depending on the weather conditions, your age and your healthy status:
– Option 1: Lao chai / Ta Van (5 km, soft trek, very touristy)
– Option 2: Cat Cat / Y Linh Ho / Lao Chai / Tavan (14 km, medium trek)
– Option 3: Xau Chau / Xa Xeng / Hau Thao / Giang Ta Chai (14 km, medium trek, off the beaten tracky)
DAY 6: SAPA – LAO CAI – HANOI (B/-/D)
Breakfast at hotel. Free in the morning.
14:00 Start a short walk (3 km) downhill through beautiful orchid gardens and pine forests. You will reach the village of Suoi Ho, home to H’mong minorities from where you can enjoy views over endless rice paddies. Continue our trek on a trail through rice paddy fields toward Ma Tra village, another village of H’mong minorities. Their house is normally built of land and has no windows because of the cold in the winter. It is possible to stop by a primary school (close at weekend and summer time) for a quick visit. Then transfer by car to Lao Cai station for the night train back to Hanoi. Dinner at a local restaurant in Lao Cai. Overnight on the train.
DAY 7 : HANOI – HALONG (B/L/D)
The train arrives at station at about 05:00. Transfer by yourself to hotel for breakfast and free at your own time. 08:00 Depart Hanoi for the world famous Halong Bay, ‘the descending dragon’, a journey of approximately 3.5 hours. Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Ha Long Bay is a stunning limestone archipelago stretching over some 1500 square kilometers and comprising nearly 2000 islets. You will board our junk for a memorable cruise through the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ gliding gently past fishing communities and hidden cave systems. Lunch.
During our time on board , you will visit the ‘Cave of Surprises’, where you can marvel at strangely formed stalactites and stalagmites. After anchoring at a nearby beach you can go for a swim or climb to the top of Titop Island to get a panoramic view of the bay and surrounding islands. Dinner will be served with delicious local seafood onboard, with other options available. Overnight on the junk.
Note: Cruise itinerary and schedule are subject to change due to weather and operating conditions.
DAY 8: HALONG – HANOI AIRPORT – HUE (B/BRUNCH/-)
Breakfast on board. After breakfast, continue your journey cruise through the breathtaking scenery of the bay. Bunch. After disembarking, transfer to Noi Bai airport for the flight to Hue. On arrival in Hue, transfer to hotel and check in. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Hue.
DAY 9 : HUE (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 You will spend a full day to visit Hue, 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. Cruise in a sampan on the Perfume river to Thien Mu pagoda, or pagoda of the Heavenly Lady, a Buddhist shrine dated from the mid-seventeenth century. Located on the banks of the Perfume River, it is easily recognizable by its octagonal tower.
Continue your tour with a visit to the Citadel, the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. The construction began in 1804 under the orders of the first Emperor Gia Long after the carefully selected using principles of geomancy (Feng Shui). The citadel was inspired by Vauban fortifications and is composed of three sections; the Capital city, the Imperial city and the Forbidden City. Lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, visit the Tu Duc’ tomb, which is one of the most impressive of the royal mausoleums. Emperor Tu Duc designed it himself, for use both before and after his death. Finish your day with a visit to Minh Mang’s tomb, located on the left bank of the Perfume River, which represents the perfect harmony between nature and architecture. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Hue.
Note: You can replace the Tu Duc’s tomb by the Khai Dinh’s tomb
– Option 1 (extra cost): Royal performance of ancient dancing and music, a world intangible heritage recognized by UNESCO in 2003, is presented in the citadel.
– Option 2 (extra cost, minimum group size: 10 persons): A typical royal dinner with a presentation of ancient music is arranged
DAY 10: HUE – HOIAN (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Transfer to Hoi An along Highway 1 which links Hanoi to Sai Gon. This drive is reputedly the most beautiful in all Vietnam, taking you past coastal fishing settlements, most notably Lang Co with its stunning lagoon backdrop. The drive also takes you over Hai Van Pass (or ‘pass of the ocean clouds’). Lunch at a local restaurant in Hoian.
The afternoon is spent strolling through the narrow streets of this atmospheric old town. This former port, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is full of architectural gems that show a range of influences. Around the seventeenth century Hoi An was one of the busiest ports in South East Asia. Enriched by the proceeds of this trade many merchants constructed beautiful homes. You should start by visiting Japanese bridge, Quan Cong temple, Fujian temple, one of the old houses and the local market. Then , take a boat trip on Thu Bon river. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Hoi An.
DAY 11: HOIAN – TRA QUE VILLAGE – MY SON – HOIAN (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Ride a bicycle to a local farm in Tra Que village. You will take a trip around the vegetable garden and join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilizing it with seaweed from the local lake. Continue doing some next steps such as: raking the ground, sowing, watering greens, picking greens and many more gardening activities. Then spend the rest of the morning working the land in the time honored way, before breaking to prepare lunch with a local family. Your lunch with consist of many local delicacies including ”tam huu” spring roll, banh xeo or local pancake of people’s middle region. After your lunch and the exertions of the morning, take an even more traditional Vietnamese post-prandial nap before learning how to harvest and wrap the vegetables.
Continue your exploration of the area with a trip to My Son – the ancient capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom – which is considered as the most important Cham site in Vietnam and is classified by UNESCO as world heritage. My Son – in a lush green valley – are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. The visit to My Son offers you a glimpse into the fascinating history of this Malayo-Polynesian culture. The trip is a must for aficionados of architecture and the history of the Cham people. Return to Hoi An. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Hoi An.
DAY 12: HOIAN – DANANG AIRPORT – NHA TRANG (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Transfer to the Danang airport for your flight to Nha Trang. On arrival, transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is free, with the opportunity to enjoy the beach. While also being a fishing port, Nha Trang has one of the best beaches in Vietnam. Lined with coconut palms, the beach is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the many sunshine hours. With regards to dining, seafood fans should not miss out on some of the delicious local fare. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Nha Trang.
DAY 13 : NHA TRANG (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Travel to Nha Trang quay where you will board your boat for an unforgettable trip around the man islands that ring the city. After a short cruise disembark for a beautiful walk to the Tri Nguyen aquarium, on nearby Tri Nguyen Island. Here you can admire many species of fish, shrimp, crabs and giant turtles. The island is also home to a small fishing community named Hon Tam where we will have the opportunity to enjoy the laid back atmosphere as you sample some delicious seafood dishes. Lunch in a city restaurant.
The afternoon is devoted to a city tour of Nha Trang. Visit the famous Cham towers of Po Nagar, a stunning Cham complex and the peaceful Hon Chong promontory. You conclude the tour with a trip to the Long Son pagoda and its enormous white Buddha that is located on the outskirts of town. It is the oldest pagoda in Nha Trang. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Nha Trang.
DAY 14: NHA TRANG – DA LAT (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Transfer to Dalat, the city of eternal spring in the Central Highlands of Vietnam at an altitude of 1,500 metres. Da Lat, famous for flowers, including roses, enjoys a temperate climate, with no less than four seasons per day! The city, which is located on the plateau Lang Biang, is considered as the “Switzerland” of Vietnam.
After lunch, visit the botanical gardens of Da Lat, the summer palace of Bao Bai, the valley of Love (or Dream hill), Xuan Huong lake, the flower and fruit market. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Da Lat.
DAY 15: DA LAT (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:30 Begin your great day from the top of Robin hill with cable car where you can see the panorama of Da Lat. Then, head to which is the biggest Meditation University in Viet Nam at present. A very quiet scenery beside it’s beautiful flower garden, which is built on the top of Phoenix hill appropriate for enjoying peaceful and poetic space of meditation realms. Then we explore Tuyen Lam lake by canoe. Elephant ride during one hour. Lunch in a local restaurant.Truc Lam Buddhist meditation monastery
You’ll keep on going to Datanla waterfall where you can walk on a peaceful path under the canopy of leaves or take thrilling alpine coaster down hill to touch cool cascade. There are beautiful and glossy rock slabs where fairies from heaven legendarily used to enjoy bathing. You’ll continue to visit the Dalat Railway Station – the nicest Old Railway Station of Indochina with ancient French architectures, the old steam locomotive of Japan and the unique cog railway with Swiss technology offering an atmospheric slice of Dalat history. Then, you will take the train 7 kilometers from Da Lat to Linh Phuoc pagoda through flower and vegetable plantations for seeing the admirable architecture that was built from debris of glass, pottery and porcelain creating the colorful paintings. Amaze the unique Guan Yin statue by immortal flowers of Vietnam. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Da Lat.
DAY 16: DA LAT – SAIGON (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Depart to Saigon with a stopover on the way to see the tea and coffee farm in Bao Loc. Lunch in a local restaurant. Arrive in Sai Gon in the middle of the afternoon.
Check in and take a short exploration of this frenetic city with the visit to the Central post office designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the Notre Dame cathedral, inspired by its counterpart in Paris. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Saigon.
DAY 17: SAI GON – CAI BE – VINH LONG – CAN THO (B/L/-)
Breakfast at hotel. 08:00 Transfer to Cai Be, that is located 105 km south of Sai Gon. Board a boat on the Mekong. Explore the islands, visit the factories where they prepare delicious sweets of coconut, popcorns, rice cakes and so on. Lunch in a garden of bonsai or in an old house. You will enjoy the famous fish “elephant ear”.
You’ll continue with a visit to a small sampan that rides through the shady canals to Vinh Long. You will cross over the parkway of many small boats carrying fruits, vegetables and fish.
In the late afternoon, transfer by road to Can Tho, an important “rice basket” in the Mekong Delta, known as the Capital of the West, which is located at the edge of the Hau Giang river, arms the southern Mekong. In the evening, it is good to stroll on the docks Ninh Kieu, bordering the river. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Saigon.
DAY 18: CAN THO – SAIGON (B/L/-)
Early breakfast at hotel. 07:00 Your boat will take you to the floating markets of Cai Rang, then continuation to the discovery of small channels through the islands those are covered with lush flora. Cycle the parkways and paths through orchards (optional), tasting tropical fruits. Disembark at the late morning. Lunch at a local restaurant. Back to Sai Gon and arrive in Saigon at the end of the day. Dinner on your own. Overnight at hotel in Saigon.
DAY 19: SAI GON – DEPARTURE (B/-)
Breakfast at hotel. Free day until departure. Enjoy the last stroll to admire the colonial architecture, visit the colorful markets or take a trip through the frenetic streets in a cyclo. Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.