Essential Vietnam

For clients who have only 10 days visiting Vietnam for the first time, this will be a good trip as it covers the highlights of Vietnam: vibrant Ho Chi Minh, the imperial city of Hue, magnificent Halong Bay, and fascinating Hanoi.

Day 01, Arrival Hanoi

Our guide will meet you after customs and transfer to your hotel.

Day 02, Hanoi City tour

With ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of charm. Start the tour at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. A short walk from the mausoleum is the One Pillar Pagoda – resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, it is shaped like a lotus flower on its stalk. Inside is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy with its legendary “thousand arms and thousand eyes”. Wind your way afterwards to the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, for an overview about Hanoi culture and ancient Vietnamese architecture. The serene Museum of Ethnology(closed on Mon) is 30-min drive out of town and offers a chance to get to know Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups better. From simple daily objects such as fishing instruments to priced items such as jewelry, as well as an outdoor area with ethnic houses, the Museum’s rich displays showcase the cultural heritages of diverse communities. Get on a walking tour through the old quarter to enjoy the bustling local life. Then cap a fun day with a show at the water puppet theatre - a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history. (Breakfast)

Day 03, Hanoi

Free day to explore on own. (Breakfast)

Halong Bay, D AlpineDay 04, Hanoi – Halong Bay

Embark on a 3.5 hour drive to Halong with a quick rest stop en route. Board your deluxe junk where welcome drinks awaits. After a relaxing break, enjoy a delicious seafood lunch while cruising through the magical bay where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waters like dragon teeth. After lunch, take a sampan ride to visit a floating fishing village. This evening, be amazed by the unique and mysterious atmosphere of Tien Ong cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites. Enjoy dinner in the cave before returning to the boat for the night.

Kayaking can be included. (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)

Day 05, Halong – Hoi An

Wake up early to catch the dramatic sunrise on the bay and enjoy a Tai Chi demonstration on the sun deck. Take the opportunity to join in on a cooking demonstration and experience Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy brunchon board while cruising back to the boat docking station before transferring back to Hanoi airport. If time permits visit one of the last surviving traditional pottery villages.

Check in for evening flight to Danang. On arrival Danang transfer to your hotel in HoiAn (this is approximately 45 mins drive) (Brunch, Snack)

Day 06, HoiAn

In the morning enjoy a walking tour to the old merchant’s house with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings; and the colorful market with stalls brimming with tropical specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day. An optional stop, subject to availability, is the private home of Diep Dong Nguyen with a stunning collection of artifacts ranging from pottery and seals to paintings, painting, money and old Hoi An’s photos. (Breakfast)

Red Gate, HoiAn, E PetrofskyDay 07, HoiAn

This is a free day to spend at beach, or rent a bike to surrounding countryside and temples, shopping. (Breakfast)

Day 08, Hoi- An – Ho Chi Min

Check out of hotel, 45 mins drive to Danang airport plus a one hour flight to HCMC.

Guide will pick up from the airport for lunch (optional) and then proceed for tour of HCMC. In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmarks including a stroll down Rue Catinat of Graham Greene's 'The Quiet American' will reveal more colonial classics; the Opera House, a three-story classical theatre built to entertain the French colonists (outside visit); the former Hotel de Ville constructed for the French bureaucrats of Indochina in 1901, now The People's Committee building with no public access; the Notre Dame Cathedral, a stunningly massive red-brick edifice with twin spires, a clear reminder that French once ruled this city (open only 3-4pm everyday otherwise just outside visit); the Central Post Office influenced by Renaissance architecture; and the former Presidential Palace, headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war. (Breakfast)

Day 09, Cu Chi Tunnels

Check out after breakfast. Enjoy a 2-hour-drive north west of Saigon to Cu Chi tunnels, through urbanized areas and a typically lush southern Vietnamese countryside. The tunnel complex was dug in 1948 for the guerrillas to hide from French air and ground sweeps. It was also served as communication routes and food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. Visit the underground villages to better understand the tunnels’ history, life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese’s resilience during the combats.

If time permits, continue to China town and then visit Thien Hau temple built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. It is to honor the goddess of the sea and protector of fishermen. The temple’s interior courtyard is worth seeing with beautiful ceramic figurines and antiques shrouded in incense-smoke. It is always bustling here with worshipers from the local Chinese community.

Day 10, Depart for home

Transfer to airport for your next destination. (Breakfast)