Essential Vietnam

Essential Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City
+ 7
Ho Chi Minh City → Cai Be → Hoi An → Hue → Hanoi → Halong Bay


  • Embrace the modern energy of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, seeing evidence of Vietnam’s rapid development.
  • Discover the lush area of the "Rice Basket of Vietnam".
  • Visit Hoi An’s ancient town, Hue’s Imperial Citadel, two of Vietnam’s UNESCO Heritage Sites.
  • Drift on the emerald waters amongst the picturesque peaks of Vietnam's most famous bay.
Age range
< 18 year olds +4 more
3 / 4 / 5


Travel from South to North on a 9-day tour, exploring Vietnam’s geography and culture. Start in Vietnam’s modern metropolis, Saigon then travel north to the sleepy riverside town of Hoian. Discover the ancient capital of Hue, before immersing yourself in Hanoi’s colonial charm and conclude your tour with an overnight boat cruise among the towering limestone islands of Halong Bay.


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  1. Day 1: Saigon Arrival.
    Day 1: Saigon Arrival.
    Day 1: Saigon Arrival.

    Welcome to Vietnam’s financial hub: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Arrive in the late morning and enjoy an orientation tour through Saigon’s bustling streets en route to the hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure to recover from jet lag and explore the city on your own.
    Meals: N/A.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon.

  2. Day 2: Saigon City Tour.
    Day 2: Saigon City Tour.
    Day 2: Saigon City Tour.
    Day 2: Saigon City Tour.
    Day 2: Saigon City Tour.
    Day 2: Saigon City Tour.

    Enjoy a full day to tour Saigon’s diverse attractions. Start with a visit to Saigon’s China Town including Thien Hau Pagoda and Binh Tay Market, then learn about traditional Vietnamese medicine at the FITO Museum and browse through the amazing array of goods at Ben Thanh Market. Stop for lunch then continue on the city tour with a visit to the War Remnants Museum, the former Presidential Palace, and the nearby Notre Dame Cathedral, City's Central Post Office. Conclude the day with a walk to the Opera House and the City Hall on Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street.
    Meals: Breakfast.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon.

  3. Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta – Saigon.
    Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta – Saigon.
    Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta – Saigon.

    Today you travel to the Mekong River Delta on a day trip to explore the rich culture and lush fluvial landscape. Your driver and guide will meet you at your hotel and take you to Cai Be. Start your tour with a visit to Cai Be floating market, cruising among the local barges stuffed-full of fruits and vegetables. Visit some local workshops then enjoy a delicious lunch served in the cool shade of An Binh Island’s orchards.
    In the afternoon, take a traditional rowboat and venture deeper into the countryside, floating through narrow canals to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Stop at a nursery garden to discover how farmers along the delta produce their world famous fruits and vegetables.
    The cruise ends around 3:30 PM in Vinh Long. Your driver will meet you at the dock and take you back to Saigon.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Saigon.

  4. Day 4: Saigon – Danang – Hoian.
    Day 4: Saigon – Danang – Hoian.

    After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your internal flight to Danang. Your guide and driver will meet you at the airport and take you on the short drive to the sleepy riverside town, Hoian. Take a half-day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the ancient quarter, visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, the Chinese Assembly Hall, the 200-year old Tan Ky ancestral house and the famous Japanese Bridge.
    Meals: Breakfast.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hoian.

  5. Day 5: Hoian – Danang – Hue.
    Day 5: Hoian – Danang – Hue.
    Day 5: Hoian – Danang – Hue.

    You are free in the morning. After lunch, check-out and drive over the 500m-high Hai Van pass to Hue. Enjoy a stop at the scenic Lang Co Beach for a drink and at the epic Hai Van Pass before continuing on to Hue – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Vietnam’s former capital.
    Rest of the day, relax at your hotel or explore the city on your own.
    Meals: Breakfast.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hue.

  6. Day 6: Hue City Tour – Fly to Hanoi.
    Day 6: Hue City Tour – Fly to Hanoi.
    Day 6: Hue City Tour – Fly to Hanoi.
    Day 6: Hue City Tour – Fly to Hanoi.

    Spend an entire day touring the Vietnam’s former ancient capital. Start the day with a visit to the Imperial Citadel, home to the Imperial City and Forbidden Purple City – once the Emperor's private residence. The Imperial City was created in the 19th century and modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Imperial Enclosure houses many palaces and temples within its walls. In the afternoon, continue on your tour to visit mausoleum of King Tu Duc (a replica of the king’s palace built for the next reincarnation of the king), Thien Mu Pagoda and vibrant Dong Ba riverside market.
    Drive to Phu Bai Airport to catch your short flight to Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi. Upon arrival, get transferred to your hotel in the city centre.
    Meals: Breakfast.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.

  7. Day 7: Hanoi City Tour.
    Day 7: Hanoi City Tour.
    Day 7: Hanoi City Tour.
    Day 7: Hanoi City Tour.

    Today you have a full day to explore Vietnam’s charming capital. With its wide tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and ancient oriental pagodas, Hanoi is an eclectic mix that offers something for everyone. Your city tour will take you to Hanoi’s key sites: the Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and stilt house), the Presidential Palace, the nearby One Pillar Pagoda; the Temple of Literature; West Lake including the sedate Tran Quoc Pagoda & Quan Thanh Temple; and one of the city's museums (a choice between the Hoa Lo Prison, the History Museum and the Ethnology Museum).
    Later in the afternoon, enjoy a traditional Water Puppet Performance – a unique folk art that originated a thousand years ago during the Ly dynasty. A water puppet show depicts the daily activities in Vietnamese rural life as well as important historical events and ancient legends. Each water puppet is hand-carved and given five layers of lacquer paint to protect the puppets from the water and to add vital colors to the performance.
    Meals: Breakfast.
    Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.

  8. Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise.
    Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise.
    Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise.
    Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on cruise.

    (The itinerary is a sample and it will be different between cruises. Our travel consultants will provide the exact schedule and program if you book other cruise such as Hera Cruise, Paradise Elegence Cruise, Emperor Cruise, Halong Violet, Halong Jasmine, Ginger Cruise, Paradise Luxury Cruises, Orchid Cruise, Indochina Junk, Au Co Cruise, Starlight Cruise, Oriental Sails etc.)
    Today drive 2.5 hours on the Vietnam's modern freeways from Hanoi to Halong, where you will take an overnight cruise to the far-most corners of the bay by boat. Boarding your boat could involve navigating your way over and through other boats, moored between it and the dock, sometimes without handrails, ladders or assistance from staff. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise out into the bay, stopping to anchor for an afternoon of activities. Activities are subject to change due to cruise selection and weather conditions. Sightseeing usually includes visiting underground caves on the islands which involves climbing up and down lots of steps. End the day on deck with a drink in hand to watch the sunset over the bay followed by a freshly prepared dinner, before retiring to your cabin for the night.
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
    Accommodation: on cruise on Halong Bay.

  9. Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Departure.
    Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Departure.

    Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore the nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for brunch then take advantage of the sundeck and admire the amazing rock formations of the bay as you navigate back to Halong City where your driver will meet you at the harbor and take you to Noi Bai International Airport to catch your departure flight home.
    Meals: Brunch.
    Accommodation: N/A.

Detailed services

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  • Accommodation

    Rated Excellent by past passengers

      All the hotels/ cruise are subject to availability and can be changed. In case any of the listed hotels are fully booked, alternatives of equivalence will be taken.
    1. Guide

      Rated Excellent by past passengers
      English Speaking Guide (other language on request)
    2. Meals

      Rated Excellent by past passengers

      As mentioned in the itinerary: Daily breakfast at hotel,2 lunches,1 dinner

    3. Transport

      Rated Excellent by past passengers

      Private Car/Van with Air-Conditioning

    • Flights

      Saigon - Danang by Vietnam Airlines 

      Hue - Hanoi by Vietnam Airlines 

      Please note that airfares are subject to availability and to change without notice

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    Price Includes

    • Accommodation
    • Breakfast & meals as mentioned in the itinerary
    • Transportation by private car with A/C
    • English-speaking guides
    • 2 domestic flights (Saigon – Danang, Hue – Hanoi)
    • All entrance fees, performances, boat trips & excursions.

    Price Excludes

    • International Flights
    • Travel insurance
    • Vietnam Visa
    • Gratuities for tour guides/ drivers
    • Beverages & other personal expenses.

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