This fourteen day tour takes in the main highlights of Vietnam. Learn about culture, history and local life and admire the natural beauty along the way. Visit the capital Hanoi and Vietnam’s largest city, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), see the wonders of the World Heritage site of Hoi An and the extraordinary terraced rice fields of Sapa. Learn about the Nguyen dynasty in the Imperial City of Hue, meet the locals on village visits and take in the natural splendour of stunning Halong Bay on an overnight cruise, and the lush Mekong Delta on a day cruise.
Including international return flights with Vietnam Airlines, internal flights, private transfers, the services of English-speaking representatives and guides, all accommodation on bed and breakfast basis and overnight cruise on full board basis.
Cruising along the mighty Mekong River aboard a traditional wooden boat and visiting a floating market, before swapping mode of transport to a bicycle for a gentle ride through villages before lunch at a local home.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Hanoi.
Arrive early morning. Be met by our English-speaking representative. At leisure in the hotel. Stay at O’Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa, Hanoi for 3 nights on bed & breakfast basis.
Explore Vietnam’s small and bustling capital Hanoi on a morning tour. Visit the simple wooden house where Vietnam’s 20th century communist leader Ho Chi Minh once lived and worked, see the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the iconic 11th century One Pillar Pagoda Buddhist temple. Then enjoy a cycle tour of the famous Old Quarter with its historic 36 Streets, once home to the city’s various artisan guilds, and explore the fascinating maze of back streets and narrow houses to gain a wonderful glimpse into Hanoi street life. Spend the afternoon at leisure or choose an optional tour of the old village of Tho Ha, a forty-five minute drive from Hanoi and one of Vietnam’s three oldest ceramic centres.
Spend the morning with your guide gaining an insight into the daily life of a Hanoian. Stop at a local coffee shop in the Old Quarter to observe the early morning bustle before a visit to the Gioi Market where you will find kitchenware as well as motorcycle parts, and everything in between, for sale. Drive out to one of the railway stations in the Hanoi suburb and catch the local train back to the city centre crossing the Red River. Walk down Cuisine Street with its culinary delights and stop at the Zo Paper Project to see how traditional artisan paper is made. Evening at leisure or if you prefer an optional street food tour, sampling popular Vietnamese delicacies and visiting the Dong Xuan night market.
Early morning departure for the four and a half hour drive to Sapa, famous for its spectacular terraced rice fields, and stop for lunch at a local restaurant along the route. On arrival in Sapa head to the breathtaking Muong Hoa Valley, home to the largest rice fields in the area. For a chance to see the local farmers in action plan your visit between May and October to coincide with planting and harvest. Hike to the Ta Van village to see the way of life and traditions of the ethnic population Zay renowned for their brightly coloured clothing. Continue the trek to Red Dzao village of Giang Ta Chai and return to Sapa for an overnight stay. Stay at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa for 1 night with breakfast and lunch included.
In the morning depart for Lao Chai to meet with a village elder to get an understanding of village life, history, culture and customs of the H’mong people who migrated from China in the late 18th century. After lunch follow a trekking path along the mountainside for 3km to reach Thanh Kim valley, crossing a river to reach Lech Dzao village. Spend some time here chatting to the villagers about their daily agricultural life and learn about traditional embroidery before the walk back amidst terraced rice paddies. Transfer from Sapa to Lao Cai to catch the Chapa Express night train to Hanoi. Overnight on the train on a full board basis.
Meet your guide at the train station and enjoy breakfast at the Golden Rice hotel, before departing for the three hour drive to UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. On arrival, board a junk and enjoy a buffet lunch whilst gliding past the many islands and limestone peaks in this spectacular bay before arriving in the Tung Sau area where you can see the process of pearl making. Stop at beautiful Ti Top beach for a swim (weather permitting) and relaxation on its pristine white sands, or climb to the top of the beach for a panoramic view of the bay. Continue to the Luon Bo area, drop anchor and enjoy a barbecue dinner with overnight onboard on a full board basis.
Wake early to watch the sun rise over the bay, enjoy some gentle Tai Chi on deck before a visit to the stunning Sung Sot Cave (surprise) Cave with its thousands of stalactites and stalagmites, and where light reflections cause rock formations to seemingly come alive. Return to the boat for brunch on the way back to shore, before disembarking and heading back to Hanoi and the airport. On arrival in Hue you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Stay at Pilgrim Village Boutique Resort & Spa, Hue for 2 nights on a bed & breakfast basis.
Start the day with a morning tour of the UNESCO-listed Complex of Hue Monuments and learn about the Nguyen dynasty that ruled the Imperial capital of Hue between the 17th and 19th century. Despite bombardment during the Vietnam War there are incredibly intact sections and others which are being carefully restored. Leave the citadel for a short stop at the Royal Antique Museum before visiting one of two royal tombs, the impressive Tu Duc Royal Tomb with its fascinating history or the smaller and more elaborate Khai Dinh Royal Tomb. Return to your hotel for an afternoon and evening at your leisure, or if preferred an optional tour of the charming Garden Houses of Hue for an enchanting look into the privileged lives of mandarins and royal relatives under the Nguyen emperors.
After breakfast depart for Hoi An with your guide for the two and a half hour drive. The UNESCO-listed ancient town of Hoi An is known for its well-preserved architecture, pedestrian-only streets and distinctive local cuisine. Your guided afternoon tour will take you along the town’s narrow lanes with their historic merchant houses. Highlights include the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge, the intricate wood carvings of the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation and the colourful markets, where silk is one of the local specialities. Enjoy the evening at your leisure or choose to learn about the history and craft of making silk lanterns with a local handicraftsman. Stay at Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa, Hoi An for 2 nights on a bed & breakfast basis.
Spend the day independently exploring Hoi An, or if you prefer an optional tour of a tea plantation and village; drive through the Thu Bon river delta to the town of Trung Mung for a hosted lunch at a local house. Evening at your leisure.
After breakfast transfer to Danang airport for your flight to Saigon. Stay at Hotel Majestic Saigon for 3 nights on a bed & breakfast basis.
A guided walking tour of sprawling and busy Saigon starts with the Saigon Opera House, a beautiful French colonial-era building, and continues to the CIA building, Notre Dame Cathedral and across the square to the Central Post Office designed by Gustav Eiffel. A short walk will take you to the Presidential Palace and past the Ben Thanh market. Stop at a local street coffee shop for a rest. Continue past the Nguyen Van Hao’s building before finding the Maison Marou and the best Vietnamese chocolate. Stoll along Le Thi Hong Gam Street to the Fine Arts Museum set in a stunning French building, and on to the Le Cong Kieu Street with its many antique wares. An optional evening experience to see a show and dinner.
Morning departure from Saigon to Cai Be in the heart of the Mekong Delta for a full day tour. Board a charming wooden boat and cruise the Mekong River, stopping along the route to meet locals and learn about their daily life along the river. See a floating market where vendors line up in the middle of the river with their agricultural produce for sale hung on bamboo poles. When reaching Tan Phong Island swap your mode of transport to a bicycle for a leisurely ride through small villages and visit local families along the way. At the end of the tour join a local family for lunch at their home before the drive back to Saigon.
Depending on your return flight to the UK, free time at leisure or an optional tour of Saigon or the Viet Cong Cu Chi tunnels before transfer to the airport for your flight.
Day 2 – Hanoi
Day 8 – Hue
Day 9 – Hoi An
Days 12-14 – Saigon
Add a beach stay to your tour and make the most of the enchanting beaches of Vietnam.