There is so much to see and do in Vietnam that it's almost impossible to do the whole country justice in a two week tour! That said, this itinerary comes fairly close, allowing you to experience many of the highlights of this unique culture whilst also giving you enough time to soak up the atmosphere along the way.
Begin by exploring the charmingly hectic city of Hanoi before taking an overnight train to the northern mountains of Sapa. Spend a couple of days trekking and staying overnight with a local hilltribe family before heading east to the spend a night cruising on a traditional junk amidst the majestic scenery of Halong Bay.
Fly south to visit the Imperial City of Hue, enjoy the culinary and architectural delights of quaint Hoi An and then continue south to the bustling, modern metropolis of Saigon. There'll even be time to spend a day relaxing as you cruise along the Mekong Delta before it's time to leave... although if you'd also like to add a few days at one of Vietnam's stunning beach resorts... you have only to ask and we'll be pleased to include this as an option.
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Day 1: Hanoi
Arriving in Hanoi, our guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
In the evening, take a stroll along the small, busy streets of the exotic old Quarter and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the city.
Day 2: Hanoi - Sapa
Today's city tour includes Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century as Vietnam's first university, the Ho Chi Minh complex including the Mausoleum, his former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
At the end of the afternoon, take a one-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter and enjoy a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets before returning to your hotel to freshen up.
In the evening, board an overnight sleeper train to Lao Cai and the mountainous region near the Chinese border.
Day 3: Sapa
Early arrive at Lao Cai and transfer to Sapa for breakfast, then set out on a trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. As we walk to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, we will meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Zao, Hmong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets.
Stay overnight at a hotel in Sapa or enjoy a homestay at one of the hilltribe villages.
Day 4: Sapa – Hanoi
Start your morning with a hike to a beautiful waterfall before continuing on to a picturesque Red Dao village. Red Dao women wear giant red scarves around their heads, and their clothing is embellished with colourful red embroidery and coins. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Sapa before returning to Lao Cai to board the overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 5: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Arrive in Hanoi and then drive to Ha Long Bay for an overnight cruise on a deluxe junk. Halong Bay is widely considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. Thousands of towering pillars of sea and wind-carved limestone karst make the bay an unforgettable sight. After lunch, explore some of the huge limestone caves dotted around the bay and visit a floating fishing village. Then the captain will find a secluded spot where you can swim, soak up the sun on the top deck, or try your hand at kayaking. In the evening enjoy a seafood feast for dinner.
Day 6: Halong Bay - Hanoi - fly to Hue
Enjoy an early morning swim (during the summer), followed by breakfast as you cruise through more spectacular scenery. In the afternoon drive back to Hanoi airport and board the flight to Hue.
Day 7: Hue
Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city's regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Created in the 19th century, the Imperial City was modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and holds many palaces and temples inside its giant walls.
Today's tour will take you to the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. In the evening, take a cruise along the Perfume River.
Day 8: Hue - Hoi An
Drive south along a beautiful stretch of coastline and over the scenic Hai Van Pass, to the picturesque riverside community of Hoi An. Hoi An was a major Asian trading port in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its picturesque architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. Take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit former merchants' houses, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 9: Hoi An – Morning Cooking Class at Red Bridge
The food of Hoi An is markedly different to that of the north and south and has a number of very popular specialities. Interact with local sellers at the outdoor markets and purchase ingredients for the cooking class, before cruising down the Thu Bon River to the cooking school for an engaging hands-on lesson with the chef. At the completion of the class sit and enjoy a delicious lunch, including what you have just prepared.
Afternoon at leisure.
Day 10: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City
Drive to Danang and transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. In the afternoon, take a city tour to visit The Reunification Palace (former Presidential Palace), Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Lam Son Square, Ben Thanh Market, Thien Hau pagoda, The Museum of HCM.
Day 11: Mekong Delta
Spend the day on the beautiful Cai Be Princess exploring the fascinating life on the Mekong River. Visit a floating market, a beautiful island and dine at a superb Indochine restaurant, this trip is the ideal way to spend the day on the delta.
Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Head back to the airport for your onward flight.
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Prices start from around GBP 1450 per person based on 2 adults travelling together.
Price includes accommodation, transfers, most meals and activities.
Price includes domestic flights - Hanoi to Hue and Danang to Saigon.
We can arrange this itinerary at ANY time of year, subject to availability.
This itinerary can be tailor-made to suit your particular interests.