See the very best of Vietnam at relaxed pace in just twelve days — a greatest-hits tour of this fascinating country. Starting from Hanoi in the north you will see ethnic minorities in Mai Chau, cruise the waters of Halong Bay, and visit the charming town of Hoi An a UNESCO heritage site. Down south, discover the story of Saigon, squeeze into the Cu Chi Tunnels and end your tour with a cruise in the Mekong Delta. Truly an unforgettable!
Arrive in Hanoi where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Relax at the hotel or take a walk and explore the city streets. If time permits why not fall into the pace of the city with an evening street eats tour. Hanoi is famous for its street food tonight you will try some of the best! Pull up a stool and start with a street-side beer then head through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter to have a barbeque dinner of flamed grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers. End the evening with a walk along Hoan Kiem Lake for dessert at Hanoi’s most famous ice-cream street.
- Church Boutique Hotel (Lan Ong)
- Essence Palace Hotel
Begin your Story of Hanoi with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Complex where you will hear about the man who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from French colonial rule. See the One Pillar Pagoda and the Presidential Palace before heading to the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. Once the apex of regional political power for more than a millennium, the area is now undergoing archaeological excavation and research. In the afternoon explore the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university and the iconic Long Bien Bridge, followed by a cyclo tour through Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter and a cup of coffee at a cafe.
As you’ll discover, Mai Chau offers a mix of culture and adventure set against one of Vietnam’s most striking backdrops. There are waterfalls, towering limestone mountains, rice paddies, corn fields, bamboo groves and terraced tea plantations. After a four hour drive from Hanoi, relax at Mai Chau lodge, a rustic-but-comfortable retreat with an outdoor pool and Roman-style Jacuzzi, or take a walk around the nearby villages.
- Mai Chau Lodge
This morning, saddle up and enjoy a guided half-day cycling tour through the villages of Sam Khoe, Pieng Ve and Buoc. Give a wave to or stop for a chat with the local minority people who will be out and about, collecting firewood, working in the fields and tending to their animals. Later in the afternoon return to Hanoi.
Villages of Sam Khoe, Pieng Ve and Buoc
Travel about four hours to reach the port of Halong Bay. Called “Bay of Descending Dragons” in Vietnamese, the archipelago of Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site composed of almost 2,000 islands and jungle clad limestone pillars. Hop onboard a traditional junk and over lunch cruise to a secluded corner of the marine park. Spend the next few hours visiting ancient limestone caves and paddling around on sea kayaks.
- Aphrodite Cruise
- Valentine Premium Cruise
Rise early for a lesson in Tai Chi or just to enjoy a hearty breakfast. The boat will make its way back to the port stopping at the Cave of Surprises, full of stalagmites and stalactites. From here, it’s clear sailing back to the main harbour and the return drive to Hanoi and the airport for your onward flight to Hue.
- Romance Hue Hotel
- Moonlight Hotel Hue
The former imperial capital of Hue, was once the seat of power for the ruling Nguyen Dynasty. The city is brimming with history, culture and ancient temples. Spend the day exploring the Hue Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and other key sites, before taking a cruise on the Perfume River.
Hue Imperial Citadel, Cruise on Perfume River
Take a drive along the scenic Hai Van Pass towards ancient port town of Hoi An. This UNESCO recognized town has been artfully restored to its former glory and its quaint architecture makes the perfect picture postcard. This afternoon take a guided walking tour of the charming town to discover a preserved pagoda assembly hall and beautiful covered bridge – living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.
- Vinh Hung Riverside Resort
Spend the day at leisure on the beach, learning the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine with a cooking class or having clothes made by one of Hoi An’s famous – and famously inexpensive tailors! Your day is free to do as little or as much as you like.
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and spend the afternoon on a guided walk. Discover the story of Saigon and hear about the history of the city from the days of French colonial rule to the tragedy of the Vietnam War. You’ll visit key locations such as the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum before ending your day with a sunset speedboat ride along the Saigon River.
Notre Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Sunset Speedboat
Head to the town of Ben Tre, a gateway to the delta. Take a small sampan ride to begin touring a region known as Vietnam’s rice bowl. The country is among the world’s top rice exporters, and the Mekong’s climate allows farmers to produce two or even three rice crops per year. The other major export is seafood, especially shrimp and catfish.
Your boat arrives at a small home-based factory where workers process coconuts by separating their oil, flesh and husks to be used in products like matting and candy. Learn how it all works! After lunch take in the river scenery as you return to Ben Tre where you will be transferred back to HCMC.
- Lavender Saigon
- Little Saigon Corner
Spend your last moments picking up souvenirs at the local Ben Thanh market before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.
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