This is the comprehensive alternative to our previous trip and shows you Vietnam in close-up, from top to bottom. It's not just a change of direction - this trip packs another adventurous week into the itinerary. We'll explore Hanoi, Halong Bay and visit the hill tribes of Sapa and colourful Bacha market before slowly making our way south along stunning coastline to Ho Chi Minh City, the vibrant City and the mighty Mekong Delta.
Highlight: Boating, trekking and cultural experience
Day 1: Arrive Hanoi city
Upon your arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you will be picked up and transferred to hotel in Hanoi. Ha Noi, Vietnam's capital, is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asiaâ€˜s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits then we enjoy a short cyclo excursion through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. Accommodation at hotel in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi city tour
8:00 AM: pick up at your hotel to Hochiminh Complex for visit Hochiminh Mausoleum, Hochiminh Museum and One pillar pagoda. Continue to visit Literature temple, the first University in Vietnam in 16th century and Art Museum. Have lunch in one of famous restaurant in Hanoi before walking tour in 1000 Years Old Hanoi Old Quarter then enjoy Water Puppet Unique show at 4 PM. Stay over night at hotel in Hanoi. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 3: Hanoi- Halong
8:00 AM: Transfer to Halong city for boat cruise on the Bay, stop on route to admire the landscape picture, you might take picture of buffalo boy. Embark on Huong Hai Junk, check in registration. Boat screw will greetings you special seafood lunch with welcome drink during boat cruise around the bay to explore a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karsts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. Have dinner on board with Vietnamese wine and overnight on boat. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4: Halong- Hanoi- Laocai railway station
After breakfast, you can relax on deck to enjoy the beauty atmosphere of the bay, boat passing the most beauty of karsts islets like Manâ€™s head island, Tortoise island, visit Luon cave by small bamboo boat, Bai Tu Long bay. Have lunch on the boat return to Ha Long wharf for private car transfer back to Hanoi. At 8:30 our tour guide will met you at hotel to escort you to railway station for night train to Laocai, Chines border. Overnight on train. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 5: Sapa- Catcat village
Train arrives at Laocai Railway Station at 06.00AM. Transferred to Sapa by private van. Have breakfast at hotel or in the local restaurant (optional). Relax. Your guide will meet you at hotel for short trek to Catcat village, the village of H'mong tribe in the valley, which remains very generally uncorrupted outside forces. Excellent views of the valley, the magnificent limestone and paddy fields of H'mong village. Enjoy some visits to local families and reach their customs. After the village down into the valley, the Cat Cat waterfall will be visible. A "White curtain" cascade appears, surrounded by flowery valley and deep-green pines. The rocks near the river and waterfall provide a marvelous place for picturesque photos and sunbathing during good weatherâ€¦ Have dinner at restaurant. Then discover Sapa in night, see ethnic people activities and life in Sapa.
Day 6: Laochai â€“ Tavan village
Breakfast before private jeep transferred to Lao Chai village, a village of Black Hâ€™mong. Short trek down to river to visit hill tribe house to see their living style and the local woman made their handicraft clothes. Further on along the road, the Tavan village where Dzay people staying can be seen. Visit the village and reach their customs. Turn back to Sapa in afternoon. Stay over night at hotel
Day 7: Bac Ha market- Laocai railway station-Hanoi
Upon leaving Sapa we set off on our scenic drive through the border town of Lao Cai to the colourful Sunday Market at Bac Ha. This market also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi and Tay. They still retain their old age cultural traditions and are recognisably distinct from each other by their dress. The experience of this congregation is colorful and unique. After the market we enjoy a walk around the area, visiting the Hmong Kingâ€™s former residence and Ban Pho where the villagers make the potent local maize alcohol before transfer back to Laocai railway station for night train back to Hanoi. (Breakfast)
Day 8: Ha Noi â€“ Hue
Train arrival Hanoi around 06 am in the morning. Pick up at railway station and drive towards Hanoi airport for flight to Hue. Our tour guide in Hue will greetings you at airport for transfer to hotel and learn historical of Old Royal City in Vietnam in 17th century. As Vietnamâ€™s last feudal capital, the small and quiet city of Hue is widely known for magnificent architectures, pagodas and royal tombs laid in many small villages and surrounding hills. We spend this afternoon to visit Hue with the massive citadel, which contains the Imperial City and the Purple Forbidden City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, however it is still fascinating to walk among the ruins. (Breakfast)
Day 9: Hue â€“ full day boat trip on river
After breakfast at hotel, we embark on boat visit the beauty of riverside pagoda of Thien Mu which now becomes the symbol of Hue, and the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc are not to be missed. After an impressive boat trip, we return to the town and enjoy a walk to the bustling Dong Ba Market that sells a wide variety of local goods and handicrafts. Along the way we pass by many fantastic eating spots, ideal places for visitors to sample some local delicacies. Stay overnight in Hue. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 10: Hue â€“ Hoian
Upon leaving Hue we drive south to Hoian which was originally a Cham seaport but has been influenced down the centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. The scenic road is hugging the coastline before crossing over the winding Hai Van pass. A view from the top of the pass is one of Vietnamâ€™s most impressive panoramic scenes. We stop en route to visit the Cham Museum in Danang City, the China Beach and the Marble Mountain, whose peaks represent the five elements of the universe. Accommodation at hotel in Hoian. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 11: Hoian
The ancient architecture of Hoian is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional characters with Chinese and Japanese influence.
There are plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 years old Tamky House, the Chua Ong Pagoda, the vibrant market.
Today, we include these on a walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls which reflect the town's multi-cultural past. A perfect way to round off the day is a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, which also gives us a chance to admire the spectacular countryside and explore a handicraft ceramic village and boat building yards.
Day 12: Danang- Saigon
An early transfer to Danang Airport for a short flight to Saigon, still called Saigon by many locals This bustling metropolis, contradiction of its northern counterpart, is crowded with motobikes and cars, excited by numerous shopping area and sidewalk cafÃ©s. The sightseeing tour of Ho Chi Minh begins with a visit to the Reunification Palace which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975. Close to the palace are some striking French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Sai Gon Post Office. We also visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Remnant Museum before continuing to the bustling Ben Thanh Market where everything and anything is for sale!
Day 13: Caodai temple- Cu Chi tunnels
The head quarter of Cao Dai sect is located in Tay Ninh. This religion was founded in 1923 and now numbers over 2 million members. After breakfast we travel by roads to Tay Ninh to see the ornate temple of Cao Dai and attend the fantastic mid-day service when the followers fill the hall wearing colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Then transfer out to explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground network of approximately 200 km constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used as a military base for the Vietcong in the American war. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 14: Saigon- Mekong Delta
This morning we travel by road to the small town of Cai Be in the heart of the Mekong Delta. From here we will board our boat and take a cruise around the tributaries of the mighty Mekong River.
On the way we visit some local cottage industries, including the puffed-rice and rice paper makers, bonsai nurseries and fish farms as well as exploring a floating market. Each boat usually sells one particular item, whether it be pumpkins, pineapples, sugar cane etc, and in order that the customer knows where to shop, they hang that item from the highest part of the boat. From here we head out into the Mekong River itself, a huge expanse of water. The Mekong River begins its life in Tibet and travels 4,500 km through six countries before eventually flowing into the South China Sea. Our lunch will be on the banks of one of the many canals that interlace the area, and will include the very tasty 'Elephant ear fish'. After lunch we continue to weave our way through the intricate network of canals. The canals carry everything from human cargo to huge rice barges and are the lifeblood of the Delta. Traveling by boat gives you a unique perspective of life here and later we can even navigate some of the narrower canals by small rowing boats. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 15: Mekong Delta- hochiminh city
Heading out of the town, we travel by roads to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's largest rice bowl. On arrival in My Tho we embark on a boat navigating around the intricate small canals in the delta region, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle close-up and catch a view dotted by many islands. The exciting excursion will pass the lush green vegetation before arriving at the famous Unicorn Island. Here we have opportunities to stroll around an orchard, taste many seasonal fruits and enjoy wonderful traditional music. The next stop of our trip is Ben Tre Province to visit some fascinating local industries. After feasting on a huge lunch we return to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off along the way to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Cho Lon, Saigonâ€™s Chinatown, which is crammed with sacred temples and mysterious, narrow lanes. Accommodation at hotel in Hochiminh city. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 16: Saigon- Exit
Free at leisure until time transfer to airport for flight back home. (Breakfast)