HANOI - LAO CAI - SAPA - LAO CHAI - HANOI - NINH BINH - HANOI - HALONG - HANOI - DA NANG - HOI AN - MY SON - HUE - SAIGON - MY THO - CAN THO - CAI RANG - SAIGON
15 DAYS | 14 NIGHTS
From the North to the South, discover the colonial charm of Hanoi, the lush paddy fields and cruise around the limestone peaks of picturesque Ha Long Bay in the North, capture the grace and elegance of the Ao dai, Hoi An ancient town in the Central Coast to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City and the colorful markets of the Mekong Delta in the South are haunting.
Upon arrival at Noi Bai airport, you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to Ha Noi city, the capital of Vietnam, the city that celebrated 1.000 years in 2010 has countless fascinating cultural and historic sites with tree-lined boulevards, French Indochinese architecture and tranquil lakes of this unique city before taking the overnight sleeper train to Lao Cai. (Please note your flight into Hanoi should arrive no later than 1400).
Overnight on the train
Arrive Lao Cai in the early morning and transfer along terraced hillsides to Sapa, the charming mountain town, surrounded by picturesque mountains, rice terraces, and home to some of Vietnam's most colorful ethnic groups. On the way enjoy panoramic views of mountains and valleys in the region. After breakfast, take a morning walking tour of Sapa with a first visit to the busy market where Red Dao, Black H’Mong, Tay and other ethnic minority people converge from the surrounding countryside to sell their silverware and handicrafts, and to buy provisions before taking a light trek along a narrow trail through beautiful gardens to Cat Cat Village, the home of H'mong ethnic, where you have a chance to visit and meet with local one to share cultural experiences with them to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions and see the hydroelectric power station was built by the French, a picnic lunch will be served en-route. Rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure
Overnight in Sapa
Today, we start a full day tour by driving 7km towards to Lao Chai village, home to some of ethnic minorities of the H'Mong, Giay, and Red Dao with approximately 1000 people. We then embark on a lovely trek that will take you along local paths and trails through the valleys between mountains, enjoy the overall pictures of the village and terraced rice field. This is an absolutely spectacular walk through stunning scenery inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet and share cultural experiences with them to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions. Continue going to Ta Van Village to visit the Dzay tribe with a rich culture and beautiful houses located on rice paddy fields, the fairly small minority group of about 38.000 people who live mainly in Vietnam’s northwest mountains, where you can meet Dzay ethnic with different customers from Hmong ethnic before driving back Lao Cai in the late afternoon then getting the night train to Hanoi.
Overnight on train
An early arrival in Hanoi we then proceed to the famous Quang Ba Flower Market where you will witness one of the most frantic and colorful markets in the world and take some great photos Afterwards we take a stroll to Truc Bach Lake where you will witness locals doing their morning Tai Chi and other exercises as the sun comes up followed by breakfast in a local restaurant before taking a full day city tour of Hanoi capital with a first visit to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, modeled after the Mausoleum of Lenin in Russia, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is one-of-its kind in the world, the building is dedicated to house Ho Chi Minh’s preserved body and a place where you can express admiration and gratitude towards the historic father figure and national hero of modern Vietnam, and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969. His former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary. (View from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov). Then visit the small but iconic One Pillar pagoda before heading to the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century as Vietnam’s first university.
In the afternoon, visit the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum where displays women’s role in Vietnamese society and culture, the memories of the wartime contribution by individual heroic women that are most poignant. It’s also showcase a stunning collection of propaganda posters, as well as costumes, tribal basket-ware and fabric motifs from Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups. Then heading to the bustling Old Quarter for a walking tour, learning about its rich cultural, artistic, culinary history and shopping.
Overnight in Hanoi
Leave the city behind with a short drive through rural northern Vietnam to Hoa Lu, Vietnam's first capital. Visit the temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty (968-80) and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty (980-1009). Then proceed to Tam Coc for lunch before boarding a private sampan ride through the rice paddies and enormous limestone karsts to reach the sacred Tam Coc Caves, the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields, which is why this area is often referred to as “Ha Long on the land”. End your visit with a climb up to the Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain dating to 1428, comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Return by sampan to Tam Coc town before returning to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
After breakfast, this morning a scenic drive leads you to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. Arrive at your jetty in Ha Long City towards noon then board your traditional wooden junk boat, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay and pass by the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay.
In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.
Overnight on Ha Long Bay
Enjoy the sunrise over the Bay and explore the Surprise Cave (Sung Sot). Your breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer to Noi Bai airport for short flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival a private vehicle will be waiting for you for the 40-minute drive to Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An
Today we will discover Vietnam's rich cultural and historical heritage. The morning begins with a visit to My Son, the capital and religious center of the Champa Kingdom, and Tra Kieu (formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel) to view the Cham ruins and artifacts.
This afternoon, a walking tour of Hoi An's ancient town center will take you back in time to when its was a major trading port during the 17th and 18th centuries in Asia and today an officially listed UNESCO world heritage site. Visit old shop-houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market in this well-preserved town. The rest of the day is free at leisure to enjoy the shopping in Hoi An – a paradise for silk & fashionable clothing and accessories.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Transfer from your hotel to a local colorful central market by bicycle, experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy market. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and purchase some of the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson later. Leave the bustle market for Tra Que village by bicycle through peaceful village roads before reaching the charming village of Tra Que, we have a welcome drink and walk through the market gardens where local famers work on their fields using traditional methods of hundreds of years ago and watch the farming procedures of local farmers, including raking the ground, sowing, watering, picking vegetables and many other activities which are rarely seen in modern daily life. The tour continue with the cooking demonstrations, working with the chef together, learning the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food before we prepare the same dish ourselves. After the class, sit down and enjoy the delicious meal that you have made before transferring by vehicle back to Hoi An or to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure to explore another sights of Hoi An ancient town
Overnight in Hoi An
Leaving Hoi An in the morning, we head out to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. En route, stop to visit the Museum of Cham, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world, and continue driving along the scenic coast of central Vietnam, first ascending the Pass of Ocean Clouds for panoramic views of the surroundings before descending to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co.
In the afternoon, visit the Khai Dinh Tomb, was built within 11 years to complete. In comparison with those of the preceding emperors, Khai Dinh Tomb is much smaller in surface but it is very elaborate. It is the result of the interminglement of many architectural trends; European and Asian, as well as ancient and modern.
Overnight in Hue
We commence our half day tour with a visit to the Imperial City of Hue, was a walled fortress, and palace in the former capital of Vietnam during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 - 1945, the last dynasty and it is one of the oldest cities in Viet Nam, The complex of Hue Monuments straddling the Perfume River, most of which remaining unchanged were officially recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2003 by UNESCO. Then visit Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River, one of the most famous pagoda in Hue City.
Before taking a short flight to Ho Chi Minh-formerly known as Saigon, take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market, the must see sites in Hue, the stalls are teeming with color and a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life. Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport, you will be picked up and transferred to the hotel for check in. The rest of the day is your leisure to explore the vibrant Saigon.
Overnight in Saigon.
Our guide will meet and pick you up at the hotel lobby then we leave the bustle of the city behind for a day of exploring scenic rice fields, waterways and extensive orchards of My Tho, one of exciting destinations of the Mekong Delta area, just some hours by coach from Ho Chi Minh City.
Upon arrival at My Tho boat station. You board a local boat for a boat trip up to Mekong River and sightseeing of fish floating market, four famous islands of Dragon, Unicorn, Turtle, and Phoenix and then stop at the famous Unicorn Island. While at the Unicorn Island, you will take a short trek for an orchard visit, enjoy a folk music show performed by peasants and seasonal fruits. Visit then to a coconut candy workshop, taste fresh candies. It’s time for you to experience of the daily life of villagers in Mekong Delta by getting on a horse-cart and it brings you along the countryside road. The next spot is to visit a bee- farm and enjoy honey- tea.
We end the day excursion with a discovery of Ben Tre province’s Vam Chua natural canal by rowing boat. Proceed to Can Tho. Check in to the hotel on arrival.
After breakfast, we embark for a boat trip up to Cai Rang Floating Market, one of the most well-known and the biggest floating markets in the Mekong Delta, where you can witness all of trading activities of local traders, discover the rural lifestyles and daily activities of the delta inhabitants. The market run with many boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river and make it very busy from early morning until late in the afternoon. After visiting the floating market you will take a short trek for an orchard visit and enjoy tropical fruits, hot tea in the orchard of Ut Trung or Cai Son before disembark at Ninh Kieu quay in Can Tho where you board your coach and head back to Saigon. Lunch at local restaurant and arrive Saigon in late afternoon
After breakfast, we commence a full day Saigon city tour with a first visit to the Independence Palace, formerly the Presidential Palace, the home to the last 3 President of South Vietnam; then visit the Gothic-style Notre Dame Cathedral, the city’s main Catholic cathedral built by the French in the 1880s, the Cathedral’s twin spires were for decades the city best-known landmark. Next by, Central Post office, a Gothic architectural style, which was constructed when Vietnam was part of French Indochina in the early 20th century, designed and constructed by the famous architect Gustave Eiffel in harmony with the surrounding area, our excursion will continue with a visit to War Museum which exhibits photographs and weapons of the Vietnam War before lunch at local restaurant.
In the afternoon, we head to Cu Chi district to visit Cu Chi Tunnels, located 70km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, built and used by the Viet Cong during Vietnam War. It took 25 years to construct this tunnel and it stands today as a symbol of struggle of the Vietnamese people. This Tunnel consists of more than 200km of underground tunnels, many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters, and entrances to other tunnels and home to more than 16,000 communist guerillas and sympathizers during the war. The underground network provided sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, hospitals, and other social rooms. Visiting the Cu Chi Tunnels provides a better understanding of the prolonged resistance war and also of the persistent and clever character of the Vietnamese. Back to your hotel, end of your day
The day is at your leisure for last minute sight-seeing or shopping until your transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your onward flight.
Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
Hotel accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room with daily breakfast.
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply)
All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.
Boat trips, bicycle, horse cart and rowing boat as mentioned in the itinerary.
We saw, learned, heard, tasted a lot and really got to know these 2 countries better. Thanks a lot for organizing our tour.
My husband and I are now home and we'd like to thank you for an extraordinary trip in Vietnam and Cambodia. Thu, you did a terrific job in planning it and all details were perfect and everything happened like clockwork. We loved...
We just got back. I can't begin to tell you how wonderful it was. We loved every place we stayed. You're a gem. As to the countries themselves: I was totally thrilled, fascinated, absorbed. Hope to do another trip to the...
Loraine F. Gardner
I wanted to specifically tell you how wonderful my tour guide Tien from Hue was. We were lucky enough to have him for Hue, Danang and Hoi An. He was sweet, caring, knowledgeable, dedicated and passionate about his country. I felt...
Dr. Halli Zung