The Essentials of Vietnam

Vietnam - Your tailor-made trip

12 days - from 1240€

Day 1

Welcome to Vietnam!
Your Vietnam holiday begins now! You will be greeted at Noi Ba International Airport in Hanoi by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. Hanoi is a bustling city that can appear maze-like upon arrival, so be sure to take in your surroundings and absorb the exciting sights and sounds. Depending on the arrival time of your flight, you will be able to spend the afternoon exploring Hanoi at your leisure or alternatively relax at the hotel and settle in to your room for the night.
Day 2

Good Morning Vietnam!
Your day begins with a guided tour of Hanoi, exploring North Vietnam’s most famous landmarks: the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university, constructed in 1070. In the afternoon, proceed to the Ethnology Museum to learn about the 54 officially recognised ethnic groups in Vietnam before continuing with your guide to Hoan Kiem Lake where you can admire a 19th century Roman-Catholic church. End this exciting day with a 45-minute cyclo tour (a traditional Vietnamese rickshaw) before enjoying a Water Puppet Show, a unique Vietnamese traditional art that originates from rural festivals in Vietnam. At the end of the day, your guide will bring you back to your hotel.

Please note that Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays.
Day 3

Into the countryside
In the morning you will be picked up by your driver who brings you south towards Ninh Binh. The drive is approximately 2.5 hours, during which you can relax and observe the beautiful scenery of the Vietnamese countryside. Upon arrival at the Tam Coc Grottoes in Ninh Binh, hop on a boat to enjoy the peace and quiet of Tam Coc, as you glide along the river passing rice paddies and towering limestone mountains. After the boat trip, stop at Thai Vi Temple for a cycling tour around the mountains and villages, taking your time to enjoy the rural beauty of the surrounding landscapes. In the afternoon, proceed to discover the Thung Nham Bird Garden with its large variety of birds such as storks, herons and tropical starlings. Overnight at a hotel in Ninh Binh.
Day 4

Bai Tu Long Bay
After breakfast you will be transferred to Bai Tu Long Bay, in the north of Ha Long Bay. Once there, you will board the boat that will be your home for the night. Enjoy a welcome drink and after listening to the safety briefing, settle down in your cabin. As the boat starts cruising further through Bai Tu Long Bay, enjoy a delicious Vietnamese set menu lunch. In the afternoon, you arrive at Cap La Island where you can set off to kayak through the karst cliffs and explore the breathtaking nature or enjoy some swimming. Soak in the sunset on the deck of the boat with a cocktail before enjoying a sumptuous set-dinner on board. In the evening, challenge yourself with some Vietnamese puzzle games, try your luck with squid fishing, or simply enjoy a cocktail and a quiet night on the bay. Overnight on board.
Day 5

Vietnamese cooking demonstration and overnight train to Hue
Wake up early to start your morning with a Tai Chi routine on the sundeck, or enjoy the first rays of light with a cup of tea or coffee. After a Western-style breakfast you set off to explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son Cave. Return to the boat to freshen up and finish your packing and take part in a Vietnamese cooking demonstration. You can learn to make a simple but delicious Vietnamese dish - Nem Cuon - or practise your patience with some fruit/vegetable carving. Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch on the boat before heading back to the harbour and disembarking in Hon Gai Pier. Your driver will be waiting to bring you to Hanoi train station to catch the overnight train to Hue. Overnight on the train. 
Day 6

Exploring Hue’s heritage
Upon arrival in Hue, your driver will be waiting to pick you up and bring you to your hotel to freshen up. Refreshed and refuelled, you are ready to start exploring the former imperial capital of Vietnam. The first stop on your tour is Hue Citadel, an enormous complex that used to be the residence of the Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Next, hop on a dragon boat along the Huong (Perfume) River and disembark at the Thien Mu Pagoda, a historic seven-story pagoda regarded as the unofficial symbol of the city. In the afternoon proceed to Minh Mang Tomb and Khai Dinh Tomb, the tombs of previous rulers of the Nguyen Dynasty. Continue to the Royal Antiques Museum where you can see a collection of antique chinaware, court robes and personal belongings of former emperors. Your last stop of the day is at the Conical Hat Village where you can observe and learn how the locals make the inconical conical hats "non la". Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7

Scenic coastal drive
After breakfast at the hotel, your driver will pick you up to bring you to Hoi An. Just before passing Danang, you will reach the Hai Van Mountain Pass, the highest pass in the whole of Vietnam, at 500m above sea level) where you can enjoy spectacular views of misty mountains rising over the South China Sea and deserted white-sand beaches. Near Danang, you can choose to visit Red Beach, the famous beach where American soldiers were docked during the Vietnam War. Continue to Hoi An where you can spend the evening exploring at your own leisure. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 8

The charms of Hoi An
In the morning, your guide will pick you up from your hotel to explore the ancient town of Hoi An. Following the narrow lanes lined with century-old houses, you will visit the 400-year old Japanese Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls and the local fish market. From the banks fo the Thu Bon River, you then embark on a boat to enjoy the views of Hoi An from the river. Continue to Thanh Ha Pottery Village where you will see pottery in all its stages of production, sometimes stacked five feet high at the entrances. The craftsmen here create all sorts of delicate work from cups, jars, vases to decorative lamps. Next, visit Kim Bong Carpenter Village where you will visit the shipbuilding yards and see the handicrafts and sculptures. Return to the hotel where you are free to explore the lantern-lit city at your leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9

Flight to Can Tho
After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely morning relaxing at the hotel or walking around the neighbourhood and soaking in the last of Hoi An's charms. You will then be picked up to go to the airport for your flight to Can Tho, located in Southern Vietnam's Mekong Delta region. Upon arrival, your driver will be waiting to pick you up. In the afternoon, visit the elaborate Khmer Pagoda, built for the Khmer community living in the Mekong Delta. Enjoy a free evening at your leisure - why not explore one of Can Tho's floating restaurants and bars?
Day 10

Cai Rang floating market
Wake up early and head to Ninh Kieu Pier where you will embark on a motorboat to explore the Cai Rang floating market, the most lively and colourful floating market in all of Vietnam's Mekong Delta. Expect an ambush on the senses, as Cai Rang is crowded, lively and noisy with over 500 trading boats! After the visit, your driver will bring you to Vinh Long, where you can stroll around An Binh, exploring the waterways and orchards of the Mekong Delta. Enjoy a relaxing moment listening to “Đờn ca tài tử”, traditional folk music from the region and watching the locals with their conical hats. Next, stop for lunch and visit a nursery garden - enjoy your meal at a pleasant riverside restaurant set in a lush orchard. Satisfied and refuelled, you get back in the car and head to Ho Chi Minh City where you can enjoy a free evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11

Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
Today, get ready for a big day of sightseeing! Your guide will pick you up from the hotel to visit some of the city's major tourist points. Start with a visit to the Reunification Hall, the former residence of the President of South Vietnam. Close to the Hall are some famous French colonial structures such as the Notre Dame Cathedral  and the Central Post Office, designed by Eiffel, the famous architect who also designed the Eiffel Tower. Continue your city tour with a visit to the War Remnants Museum where you can admire a great collection of photos from the American-Vietnam war. Next, your tour takes you to the bustling Ben Thanh market, the central market of Ho Chi Minh City. In the afternoon, visit the Chinatown district with its beautiful Thien Hau Temple and the Thi Ky Flower Market before heading back to your hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12

Last day in Vietnam
Enjoy your last breakfast with Shanti Travel in Vietnam. If you have a morning flight, your driver will be at your hotel ready to take you to the airport for your departure. If your flight is in the afternoon or evening, your driver will be at your disposal for any last-minute exploration or shopping you may wish to do. We hope you enjoyed your Vietnam holiday and look forward to welcoming you again across one of our many destinations in Asia!

Travel conditions

  • All transfers and transport in a private, air conditioned vehicle, with a driver.
  • Domestic flights and/or train travel as stated in the itinerary.
  • One night on board a shared cruise in Ha Long Bay.
  • English-speaking local guide as stated in the itinerary.
  • Hotels: double rooms in standard hotels.
  • Meals: as mentioned in the program.
  • Visits and activities as stated in the itinerary.
  • International flights.
  • International airport taxes.
  • Vietnamese Tourist Visa.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Drinks and personal expenses.
  • Meals not mentioned in the program.
  • Tips.
  • Anything that is not written in ‘The Price Includes’.
  • All quotations are subject change depending on availability and prices can be adjusted according to fluctuations in exchange rates and increased government taxes. This can affect the total price. All rates are based on the best available price to date and are subject to change at the time of booking.
Clement Travel Expert A perfect trip for first-timers to Vietnam, this Vietnam holiday covers the essentials of the country, bringing you from the peaceful rice paddies of Ninh Binh and the limestone islands of Ha Long Bay, to the cosmopolitan vibe of Ho Chi Minh City. This trip is one of my favorites, allowing guests to explore and experience Vietnam in all its authenticity. On this journey from North to South to Vietnam I found myself enamored by the people and the unique Vietnamese culture, and I can guarantee you will too. Enquire today to begin planning your trip to Vietnam!
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