Hidden Charm of Vietnam
Hidden Charm of Vietnam
Hidden Charm of Vietnam

Hidden Charm of Vietnam

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This boutique small group tour provides an ideal introduction to Vietnam's three regions. Start in the unique colonial atmosphere of Hanoi and cruise the majestic Halong Bay, then fly to Hue and explore beautiful Hoi An.  End your tour in vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.  This boutique small group tour includes several special activities that will give you an insightful glimpse into local life such as a cooking class in Hue, a viist to a little visited pottery village and a motorbike tour to the rural countryside of Hoi An.  We have also ensured that plenty of time remains at leisure to relax or explore independently.


Boutique Small Group Tour

Maximum 20 passengers & guaranteed to depart with a minimum of 2 people

Meals, sightseeing and inclusions as per itinerary

Supplement applies over Christmas and New Years.

Pre/Post tour extensions and optional activities to be added upon request


Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam. On arrival, please clear customs and immigration. In arrivals area, you will be met by a representative of our local operator, and then transferred to your tour hotel (your hotel room is available from 2.00pm). Remainder of day at leisure to relax and settle into your hotel. Your accommodation is reserved for two nights on a bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2: Hanoi (B)

Today you will visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his traditional stilt house – Uncle Ho’s former residence and the nearby and highly revered One-Pillar Pagoda. Continue your day with a visit to Vietnam’s first university, the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. Return to your hotel and spend the balance of the day free at your leisure.


- Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is closed on Mon, Fri and every afternoon; outside visiting will be arranged at closing times.

- The Mausoleum will also be closed from 08 September to 08 November for annual maintenance.

Optional activities this afternoon:

Optional 1: Walking tour in Hanoi

This afternoon, we would like to introduce you to a new experience of the famous Old Quarter of Hanoi. Starting off from Hoan Kiem Lake, passing by the famous coffee street of Hang Hanh and heading towards the Catholic Church; stepping along sidewalks, now mainly used for motorbike parking and outdoor makeshift shops, you will surely find the answer to the question: What is the old Hanoi? Passing by the quiet and peaceful alleys with street vendors taking a nap, or seeing a motorbike taxi-driver sleeping precariously on his bike, you may feel the quietness of Hanoi; then suddenly, you can find yourself turning onto a noisy and busy street so abuzz with life it’s as if the center of Hanoi industry has taken over. Throughout the tour, your senses will be bombarded with a cascade of different sights, sounds, smells and characters that play the tunes of the music of life in Hanoi. You can finish this walking tour by stopping at a welcoming coffee shop, or lie back and have a relaxing foot massage near the lake.

Duration: 2-3 hours; leisurely walking

Optional 2: Cookery Class

You will set off from the hotel in the middle of the afternoon to discover the culinary arts of Hanoi. The cookery class starts with a stroll to the market where you will buy the ingredients for your dishes. A visit to the market will show you an interesting aspect of daily life; markets are not only for buying goods, but also for locals socializing. Then you will visit a lovely local house with a nice lush garden where you will learn to cook some traditional dishes. The class will take approximately 1.5 hours. At dinner you will have the chance to taste what you have created during the cooking class and to sample additional dishes prepared by the chef.

Meals included: dinner

Duration: 3-4 hours

Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay  (BLD)

Depart Hanoi this morning heading to Halong bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin. On arrival, board a beautiful junk and sail amongst the thousands of karst limestone islands and islets of Halong Bay. Fresh seafood lunch and dinner will be served on board. Overnight on board.

Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hue (B)

Wake up early in the morning to enjoy a spectacular dawn. After breakfast and maybe an early swim, the junk continues to cruise quietly through the spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay.  After disembarkation, transfer to Hanoi Airport for an evening flight to Hue. To break the journey you will stop on the way to the airport to visit the 300 year old But Thap Pagoda.

Take an evening flight to Hue City, a former capital of Vietnam and also known as a UNESCO Heritage Site of central Vietnam. You will be welcomed by a local guide on arrival and transferred to your hotel for check-in.


- Time to check-out of the cabin is at 9:30 a.m.

- Disembark at around 11:30 a.m. 

Day 5: Hue (BL)

Discover Hue and its refined and distinct atmosphere as you tour the impressive Imperial Citadel.  Then, drive to a typical garden house to discover Hue's culinary art. Accompanied by a chef, prepare traditional Vietnamese dishes that you will savour during lunch. The afternoon is devoted to visit Tu Duc Mausoleum, one of the most beautiful tombs of Hue and a model of Vietnamese traditional art.  It is also an opportunity to learn about the history of Nguyen dynasty and the French colonial period. Round off your day with a visit to Dong Ba Market to have a glimpse at the daily life of the locals. Return to Villa Hue for overnight.

Day 6: Hue – Danang – Hoi An (BL)

This morning depart for a unique motorbike tour that will take you off the beaten path to discover parts of legendary Hue that most visitors don't have the chance to see. Travel back in time to see a society preserved for centuries.  Your experienced motorbike driver will take you out to the villages, winding through quaint towns, and to the beautiful Tam Giang Lagoon. Your motorbike tour ends with a break at the local coffee shop.

Continue to Tu Hien Beach for a swim and a fresh seafood lunch.

This afternoon, drive to Danang via the scenic Hai Van Pass and arrive in Hoi An and check in at your hotel for two nights.

Day 7: Hoi An (B)

Today is free for you to explore Hoi An and its many restaurants, old houses, craft shops and art galleries. This beautiful and quaint town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site is best explored on foot. Stroll along the wharf, shop in the market or have a silk dress or suit fitted. Alternatively you can opt for an optional cycling tour or a guided sightseeing tour of the city.

Optional Activities:

Optional 3: Full day cycling tour to explore Hoi An (40-45 km cycling on flat sealed roads)

After breakfast, you will set out off on a bicycle to explore Hoi An Town. Start cycling from the hotel and follow little paths that link small villages, come across rice fields, shrimp ponds and coconut palms reflected in the blue canal to the Old Town. Explore some tiny alleys where only people, not traffic, can pass through as you discover the culture and lifestyle of the Hoi An people that most tourists will never know of. Continue the trip on your bike and head to a small village which is surrounded by Areca trees reaching straight up into the sky. You’ll have the chance to take a break here and try some delicious grilled seafood and coconut rice paper with a warm welcome at a local hostess’s house set amid green Nypa fruticans.

Take a ride through lush sedge fields to a sedge mat weaving village – Dong Binh. From there, the local ferry will take you back to the ancient town before you continue biking to Tra Que Village - a charming little village that is famous for many kinds of vegetable. Travel through the rippling fields silhouetted under the coconut trees swaying gently in the wind that lead you to the village.  Meet the local host in Tra Que, relax with a foot massage and enjoy a lovely local meal.

Once you return to the down-town after lunch in Tra Que, you will spend time in Hoi An’s ancient town area, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house.

At the end of the day, you will have a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the "Reaching Out Tea House" - a very special and unique ancient house where you are offered not only fabulous drinks and snacks but also some soulful values.

Cycle back to the hotel for some relaxing and spend the rest of day at your leisure.

Meals included: lunch

Distance: 40-45 kilometers cycling on sealed roads and flat terrain; medium level

Notes: Without private vehicle

Optional 4: Full day exploring Hoi An

After breakfast, you will depart the hotel for a discovery tour around Hoi An. Embark on a boat ride to the mouth of Thu Bon river to witness the daily activities of the fishing people such as how they throw fishing nets and trade their products. Your boat then continues cruising for about half an hour to a fishing village. Change to a smaller bamboo boat (a coracle) to discover a distinctive mangrove forest and try your hand at fishing for crabs. Under the blurry sunlight inside the forest, you might feel a mysterious atmosphere as you pass through the area. This excursion also gives you a chance to admire how the skillful fishermen do their work in the watery forest. Enjoy a delicious BBQ seafood lunch at a lovely local house.

In the afternoon, you’ll take a walking tour in Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. At the end of the day, you will have a moment to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee at the "Reaching Out Tea House" - a very special and unique ancient house where they will offer you not only a choice of fabulous drinks and snacks but also their soulful values.

Meals included: lunch

Overnight at the hotel

Day 7: Hoi An – Danang – Ho Chi Minh City (BD)

Transfer to Danang Airport and fly to Ho Chi Minh City – also still known as “Saigon” by many locals. Upon your arrival, travel to the city centre for a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Tan Dinh Catholic Church and the Opera House. Continue your visit to the Reunification Palace which used to be the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the Vietnam-American war. You will visit Thien Hau Pagoda, before heading off to Ben Thanh Market. Transfer to your hotel for check-in and spend some time relaxing.

In the evening, meet your guide again for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City Departure

After breakfast transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B) Optional morning tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels (suitable for those departing Ho Chi Minh City on a late afternoon or evening flight)

Optional 5: Half day to Cu Chi Tunnels

This morning you will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250 kilometers in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to against the French air and ground sweeps, the network then served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If interested, you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by the Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to the city centre in the early afternoon. Services end. 

Distance: from Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi: 60 kilometers - 1.5 hours driving


  • Air-conditioned transfers and transport
  • Local English speaking guides
  • Accommodation as per itinerary (or similar)
  • Overnight cruise in Halong Bay
  • Activities, meals and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Domestic flights


  • International airfares
  • Optional tours and excursions
  • Port Taxes and fuel surcharges
  • Porterage
  • Tipping/Gratuities (please refer to tour notes for a recommended guideline)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Departure taxes
  • Hotel charges for minibar or any extra charges
  • Visas (unless specified)
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned in the inclusions above

Trip prices and dates are correct at the time of the website going live, however all offers are subject to reconfirmation at the time of booking. Note prices usually display available discounted rates if any, (eg. Early Bird Deals if applicable).   All featured tour itineraries and offers maybe subject to change due to seasonal variations without notice, or due to local conditions or other conditions. Please confirm all details at time of booking. Travel insurance is mandatory for all Innovative Travel bookings. All passports must be valid for 6 months prior to your return to your home country.   Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. Special VIP meet and assist offers are valid for New Zealand passport holders, for other nationalities please check at the time of booking. For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Booking Conditions  page.

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