Vietnam is a great glory destination with something for everyone. A well balanced program visiting the highlights of Vietnam and some lesser visited spots in-between. This Essential Vietnam tour traverses the country from North to South starting in Hanoi. Discover the charms of Hanoi, kayak or cruise around Halong Bay, explore history, architecture in Hue, enjoy picturesque Hoi An and end your journey in Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels and an interesting side trip to the lush Mekong Delta, where scenes of local lifestyles can be observed with plenty of opportunity for interaction with the people.
* This Vietnam tour can be reversed starting from Ho Chi Minh City and ending in Hanoi depending on your flight schedule.
ESSENTIAL VIETNAM TOUR ITINERARY
DAY 1: HANOI ARRIVAL
Arriving in Hanoi (Noi Bai airport), you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel for check-in (hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in).
The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the tree-lined boulevards, French Indochinese architecture and tranquil lakes of this unique city.
Stay overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 2: HANOI – HA LONG BAY – HANOI (B, L)
08h00 You will be picked up from your hotel lobby for 3.5 hour bus ride through the country side of the Red River Delta to Ha Long City. Water buffalos, paddy fields (rice transplanting time: February and June) and daily Vietnamese farmer life are on both sides of the way. Comfort break time at Hai Duong city.
Arrive in Halong City at noon, we board a traditional wooden junk and start the cruising trip to the centre of the bay. Fresh seafood lunch (vegetable menu available) is served while the boat is gliding out. Get ready for exotic photos and absorbing the most magnificent natural splendors, limestone bedrocks and sheer cliffs of tiny islands highlighted with fanciful names: Fighting Cocks (symbol of Halong Bay), Duck (quick swim is an optional choice), Finger, Incense Burner, and Stone Dogs Islands.
Visit the most beautiful cave in Ha Long bay “Amazing cave”. After that go to Titop Island for swimming or kayaking (optional) or climbing up the peak for a breath-taking panorama view of Bai Tu Long bay (Weather permitted).
Continue to enjoy this relaxing cruise on the way back to Ha Long harbor, our waiting vehicle transfers you back to Hanoi. Trip ends at your hotel around 19h30.
Stay overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 3: HANOI CITY TOUR – NIGHT TRAIN TO HUE (B, L)
08h30 You will be picked up from your hotel lobby and depart for the city tour with visit to the One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure is one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (viewed from outside; closed Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov) and the former presidents house on stilts where he lived from 1958 to 1969, his former home illustrates the modesty of this Vietnamese revolutionary.
Continue your visit to the Taoist Temple (Quan Thanh Temple) which is dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism or visitTran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda, was built in the sixth century (means “Stabilizing the Nation”). Lunch will be had in one of the city’s finest restaurants.
After lunch visit the Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s first university, also referred to as Van Mieu, was established within a temple to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past.
Next we go to visit Hanoi Old Quarter also known as the ’36 streets’. Take a walking tour around Hoan Kiem Lake. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It’s a great place to explore life-style of Hanoians, culture or architecture with plenty of photo opportunities all around you.
Your leisure time until transfer to Hanoi station for a night train to Hue on SE1 leaving at 19:00 (13 hour duration).
Stay overnight in air-conditioned cabin (soft sleeper – 4 berth compartment).
DAY 4: HUE ARRIVAL – HALF DAY HUE CITY TOUR (B, L)
07h57 Upon your arrival at Hue station you will be picked up for breakfast and embark on half day Hue city tour with a visit to the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern (the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war) but retains a sense of grace and majesty even today.
Then depart for Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River constructed in 1601, the 21-meter tower is the centerpiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. On the pagoda grounds is the famous Austin car a resident monk drove to Saigon in 1963 to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self immortalization is one of the most well known images of the war.
Have lunch then return to your hotel for check-in. Afternoon free to relax or shop or explore Hue by yourself.
You can take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market – another of the must see sites in Hue, the stalls are teeming with color and a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life.
Stay overnight in Hue.
DAY 5: TRANSFER TO HOI AN – HALF DAY TOUR IN HOI AN ANCIENT TOWN (B, L)
08h00 Pick up from your hotel for 3 hour road transfer to Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds and dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co.
Arrive in Hoi An and check in your hotel. Lunch to be arranged in a local restaurant.
After lunch we take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchants’ houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese communal hall and the colorful market. Hoi An is a destination with two faces – the charming, old-world trading port of narrow streets and traditional houses, and the beach with its new resorts and long stretch of clean white sand. In keeping with Hoi An’s heritage as a trading port, the town’s tiny shop houses now host a range of craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the centre of Hoi An remains much the same as it was in its heyday.
Around the town we can see a numerous art galleries and tailor shops, get some made-to-order clothes if you like.
Return to your hotel where the full day trip ends.
Stay overnight in Hoi An.
DAY 6: HOI AN – DANANG – FLIGHT TO HO CHI MINH CITY & CITY TOUR (B, L)
Transfer to Danang airport (30km from Hoi An) after breakfast for the short flight to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals (1.10 hour flight).
A full day city tour takes in Cholon, the Chinatown district, to discover the area’s markets, shops and the Cantonese Thien Hau Pagoda – dedicated to the goddess of the Sea. Visit Vietnam’s first traditional medicine museum, the FITO Museum, with an amazing collection of 3,000 items relevant to the development of traditional Vietnamese medicine. Implements used to prepare indigenous herbs and objects commonly found in traditional pharmacies can be seen in the galleries as well as ancient books and documents on traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Head back to the city centre to visit Ben Thanh Market where an incredible display of fresh produce is offered. Simply stroll through the market exploring the variety of goods for sale.
This afternoon visit the War Remnants where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars or History Museum(choose which one you would most like to see) and the Reunification Hall, formerly known as the former Presidential Palace it was towards this modern building that North Vietnamese tanks seized on the morning of April 30 1975, as Saigon fell. This fascinating building is filled with history still fresh in the minds of many.
Stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. At the end of the afternoon head back to your hotel.
Stay overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 7: HO CHI MINH CITY – MEKONG DELTA, CAI BE FLOATING MARKET (B, L)
This morning, leave bustling Ho Chi Minh for the 2 hour drive to the delta town of Cai Be. The local traditional wooden boats, vast emerald rice fields and lush back waterways; these are the things that make Cai Be such a desired destination.
On arrival board your boat for a cruise of Cai Be floating market. Traders work the river and some have been living on these waters for generations. Produce at the market are hung on a pole in front of boats to attract customers and make it easier for people to see from afar what is on offer. Immerse yourself in a world of lush vegetation from the Mekong Delta as you pick through the fascinating and lively market, watching buyers bargaining for produce.
After visiting the market continue to a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Return to the boat for the cruise to Tan Phong Island. Next, take a rowing boat along the maze of shady canals. Head for a local orchard to enjoy the local tropical fruits, and visit artisan workshops to see the handicraft producers of the village at work.
Break for lunch at an orchard garden. Lunch will be local Mekong style serving specialties of the area. Afterwards, you will ride bicycles to villages, sightseeing and soaking up the rural ambiance or enjoy cooking class. If you prefer to relax, you can laze in a hammock.
Following your cruise drive back to Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive at your hotel around 17h30.
Stay overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
DAY 8: HO CHI MINH DEPARTURE (B)
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.
Your Essential Vietnam tour ends.
If hotel and other travel arrangements are required, please contact us.
TOUR PRICES: Available upon Request
Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs.
Our services include:
– Full transportation by private air conditioned vehicle as tour program indicated.
– All entrance fees as mentioned in the program.
– Boat trips as stated in above sights.
– All excursion trips and activities as tour program indicated.
– Local English-speaking guides (for other languages supplements apply).
– Meals as stated in the program (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).
– Train ticket Hanoi – Hue in air-conditioned cabin (soft sleeper – 4 berth compartment).
– Accommodation in shared twin or double bedded room with air-conditioner and private bathroom.
– Mineral water and chilled tissue served on trip.
– The written approval letter for a visa on arrival (single entry).
Our services exclude:
– Visa stamping fee on arrival (45 US$ per person).
– All air tickets not mentioned in the program and above quotation.
– Optional tours.
– Surcharges for other language guides.
– Personal travel insurance.
– Personal expenditure, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities etc…
– Meals and services other than mentioned in the program.
– Drinks with meals.
– Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the program.
– Prices may vary according to your travel time and are higher in the high season, e.g. Christmas period (Dec 24-26), New Year period (Dec 31-Jan 02).
– For additional hotel night cost to the packages, please contact us for the rates.
– Domestic flight of Danang-Saigon can be arranged upon request (subject to availability at the time of final confirmation).
– This private escorted tour is customized for you, your family or your friends exclusively. No other travelers will join in your group.
– This tour package can be fully customizable to fit your travel plan. You can also disregard full package tours and choose whatever travel items you need or a mix of private and group tours to minimize the cost. We can quote the tours you really want. Usually travel insurance is not covered in our quotations.
– Child definition: from age of 3 to 9 Years (usually enjoying 10%-20% discount. Contact us for the actual discount for your case). 10 Years old and above will be charged as Adult Price.
– All tours & transfers are all based in English Speaking local guides. For other languages, please contact us for new quotations.
– Itinerary Change to the confirmed itinerary may happen because of traffic, weather, or any other conditions not under our control such as war, strike, fire, acts of government, riot, etc. We will do our best to make sure that all the travel will be similar. Go Viet Travel can substitute the itinerary upon your agreement.
– Transportation and Restaurants: The cars, vans or coaches for the land transportation should be in good shape with air conditioner. All restaurants should be tidy and clean.