Capture the essence of Vietnam on this journey of discovery starting with the natural splendours of the North, from the colonial atmosphere of Hanoi to the eternal beauty of Halong Bay. Continue with the historic charm of Central Vietnam where the Imperial city of Hue and the quaint town of Hoi An await you. Conclude your voyage with an in-depth discovery of the beauty of the Mekong Delta. Explore this diverse region by boat and bike and truly appreciate the local way of life with a night in a homestay.
Private Touring programme
Meals and sightseeing as per itinerary
Domestic flights included (prices subject to change)
Select & mix: your choice of 4 options
Day 1: Hanoi
Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, please clear customs and immigration. In arrivals area, you will be met by our local operator and transferred to your tour hotel (your hotel room is available from 1.30pm). The remainder of the day is at leisure to unwind and begin soaking up the local atmosphere.
Day 2: Hanoi (B)
Following breakfast at your hotel, embark on a full day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum*, the traditional stilt house, the revered One-Pillar Pagoda and Vietnam’s first university - the thousand year old Temple of Literature.
In the afternoon, visit the Ethnology Museum (closed on Monday) where you can discover the diversity of Vietnam’s many ethnic groups. Return to city centre to partake in a walking tour to explore the diverse architecture of Hanoi, its famous 36 streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake.
The remainder of the day is at leisure or can be taken up with one of you Select and Mix options.
Select and Mix Options
- Attend a water puppetry show in a local theatre
- Learn the ancient art of calligraphy with a reputable Hanoian scholar
* Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum closes Mondays and Fridays, and from 08 September to 08 November for annual maintenance.
Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay (BLD)
Following breakfast and an optional Select and Mix experience, you will be transferred to Halong to board your junk and begin your exploration of the unforgettable Halong Bay. This stunning location was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and you will understand why as you sail amongst the thousands of karst limestone islands and islets of this incredible natural landscape. Fresh seafood lunch and dinner will be served on board.
Select and Mix Option:
- Join the locals and take part in an early morning Tai Chi session in a local park
Day 4: Halong Bay - Hai Phong - Danang - Hoi An (B)
Wake up early in the morning for an unforgettable dawn aboard your junk. After breakfast, cruise back to the harbour. Check out of the cabin late in the morning and transfer towards Hai Phong Airport for your flight to Danang. On arrival, you will be met by a local operator and transferred to your hotel in Hoi An. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 5: Hoi An (B)
In the morning, take a morning walking tour of Hoi An. This town has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with Chinese houses which date back over 2 centuries. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 6: Hoi An (B)
Day at leisure to explore Hoi An at your own pace, shop in the market, have a silk dress or suit fitted or simply relax at your hotel or on the lovely Cao Dai Beach. Alternatively, use the time to take one of the Select and Mix experiences included in the holiday.
Select and Mix Options
- Take a short cycling tour to a rural village followed by a cooking class
- Cycle to the villages of Cam Kim & Duy Vinh and share lunch with a local family
- Street food tour of Hoi An
- Explore My Son Sanctuary by Jeep
Day 7: Hoi An - Danang – Hue (B)
Departure to Hue (130km - 2.5 hours driving) via the scenic Hai Van Pass to enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramas in Vietnam as you look out over the central coastline. Make a small stop en-route to visit Cham museum in Danang city. It is home of the largest collection of sculptures and relics from the Cham civilization once known as the Khmer civilization. You will also pass through the quiet, white sandy beach of Lang Co along the way. After checking in your hotel in Hue, spend the rest of day free at leisure. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8: Hue (B)
The morning is devoted to visiting the handicraft villages in Hue.
Board a local boat and go downstream of the Perfume River. After about 30 minute cruise, arrive at the village of Tien Non where you take your bike to reach the village of Thanh Tien (about 30 minutes). Thanh Tien is located along the Perfume River famous for its traditional handcraft production of paper flowers and has been dated back around four hundred years. You can observe the work and participate in the creation of flowers under the guidance of a craftsman.
Continue to the Sinh village, well known as a centre for paintings on wood. Spend time to learn more about this traditional handicraft and you will also have the opportunity to interact with the hospitable family of a local craftsman. Return to the city centre by private vehicle in the early afternoon.
On arrival back to the city take a tour of the citadel city and enjoy the refined and distinct atmosphere of the town and visit the Imperial Citadel. Later, visit the famous Dong Ba Market to take a glimpse at daily local's life.
Day 9: Hue - Ho Chi Minh City
This morning visit Tu Duc mausoleum, one of the most beautiful imperial tombs in Hue. Constructed from 1864-1867 and created 16 years before his death, the “tomb” served as a recreational area for the king. It is also an opportunity to learn about the history of the Nguyen dynasty and the French colonial invasion. Return to the city centre to visit a typical garden house of Hue city, which was built according to precise rules of geomancy and experience the serene and pleasant feelings it might bring you.
Later, transfer to the airport and flight to Ho Chi Minh City - known as "Saigon" by many locals. Welcome by local guide and transfer to your hotel for check in.
Day 10: Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City (B)
This morning leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. After about 1hour and a half (70 km), you will arrive at the Cu Chi area and will then pass through an artificial tunnel to access the site of the actual tunnels. A documentary film about the tunnels and the guerrilla war of the locals in the 1960’s and 1970’s will be displayed at first to helps guests to have the practical view and insight on how great the tunnels were and how they were constructed.
Then is time to pass by many tunnels’ lids, which are just large enough for one person to crawl in at a time, and a see a net of bamboo spikes. It was really a life lived underground during the war and all the villagers were involved in it!
All the very simple artificial weapons made from bombs and bullets are also on displayed at the site.
Return to the city and after lunch visit some historic landmarks including the Old Saigon Post Office, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the War Remnants Museum and Dong Khoi Street. Then visit the ethnic Chinese district of Cho Lon, especially Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta (BLD)
Today drive to Ben Tre to explore the Mekong Delta. Embark at Phong Nam Pier to cruise along the Chet Say river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including a coconut activated charcoal factory, a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products. Continue through canals to a quiet village to discover real Delta life. Visit a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or biking to a local house for lunch including local specialties such as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers.
After lunch board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. Arrive at your homestay and if you wish join your hosts to prepare dinner and learn to cook some traditional dishes. Dinner and overnight at the locals’ house.
Day 12: Mekong Delta (BL)
After breakfast, drive to Cai Thia and take a local boat ride to cross the river and start your bicycle ride. This ride can be extended from 6 km to 10 km for the more energetic (which means a total duration of one or two hours). First, you arrive at Hoa Loc village known for its mango plantations. Then ride along the Mekong River to see the houses made of wood and palm leaves. This cycling tour is a great opportunity to contemplate the life and daily activities of the local people. All along your trip, in the shade of fruit trees, you can hear the constant hellos from the people and the children, smiling and happy to meet you on their island. At the end of you ride, return onboard the local boat and cruise to the island of An Binh. After lunch at a typical house of the region return on board and transfer back to Can Tho province. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13: Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City Departure (B)
Transfer to Ninh Kieu Quay where you will board onto a traditional local boat for a cruise to the lively, colourful floating markets of Cai Rang. You will be surprised by the huge variety of products sold at the market, from the well-known fruits like mangos and bananas, to the most exotic ones like mangosteens, star apples, or the sweetened longans and the very odorous durians. Once satisfied with the fruity flavours of the market, you will then enter the labyrinth of the channels and streams surrounding Can Tho, and from the boat you can observe the daily life of locals. Later, drive back to Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
- Private air-conditioned transfers and transport
- Local English speaking guides
- Accommodation in selected hotel category on a share twin basis
- Overnight junk cruise in Halong Bay
- Activities, meals and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Domestic flights
- Your choice of 4 Select & Mix experiences
- Personal Expenses
- Departure Taxes
Note: The hotel selection may change – please use this as a guideline only
Your choice of 4 Select & Mix experiences (no extra cost, 4 experiences already included in the price of your holiday):
Hanoi: Attend a water puppetry show in a local theatre (day 2 evening)
The farmers of the Red River Delta originally invented water puppets over a thousand years ago. It began as a hobby and was later elevated to the status of royal entertainment under the Ly and Tran dynasties. At that time, the shows took place in the flooded rice fields and on lakes or rivers. They are now staged in venues or local theatres. This typical and enchanted performance consists of a succession of scenes evoking images of daily life and legends, accompanied by traditional music. One can only but be charmed - or at least amused - by these small wooden puppets moving by themselves on the surface of the water. They are indeed activated by an invisible under-water mechanism, the existence of which you will totally forget after a few minutes… it is fascinating!
Hanoi: Learn the ancient art of calligraphy with a reputable Hanoian scholar (day 2 afternoon)
As in many other Asian countries, the art of calligraphy has been practised for hundreds of years in Vietnam. When it begins to express more than words, writing becomes an art, and we are offering you the chance to meet one of these artists. He will tell you the history of calligraphy and will then demonstrate his talent. We invite you to interact with him; he will be delighted to answer all of your questions.
Hanoi: Join the locals and take part in a Tai Chi session in a local park (day 3 morning)
This traditional art from China resembles dance as much as martial arts, where the decelerated movements are derived from Kung Fu. Practised on a daily basis by Vietnamese people of all ages, it is well known to bring actual, beneficial, health effects.
Don’t be worried about getting up early, to the contrary, your Tai Chi class will be all the more enjoyable: you will like the soft light and pleasant temperature at the start of the day. Moreover, it is at this time of the day that most of the Vietnamese practise their sport (Tai Chi, but also badminton, aerobics or ballroom dancing) in the streets, it is a picturesque and motivating sight not to be missed!
Hoi An: Take a short cycling tour to a rural village followed by a cooking class (day 6 morning)
From Hoi An, embark on a bike ride or cyclo is also an option to the market to learn about local produce and witness daily local life. After buying some necessary ingredients for your today cooking class, cycle to Tra Que village which is famous for its vegetable production. It offers unique herb, spice and vegetable gardens. The chef will teach you to cook some traditional dishes and some combinations of tastes that you can use on your return home. With the balance between fresh herbs and meats and a selective use of spices to reach a fine taste, the cooking class will teach you not only how to make delicious dishes but also how to create the harmony. Lunch will be the opportunity to taste the dishes prepared by you in a peaceful place overlooking to the vegetable garden. After lunch, you will be transferred back to Hoi An or your hotel.
Hoi An: Cycle to the villages of Cam Kim & Duy Vinh and share lunch with a local family (day 6 morning)
This morning transfer by boat boat to Kim Bong village where you'll have the opportunity to talk about the local traditions and techniques with the village's most famous carpenter. After this special time, you will take a bicycle ride to visit the Duy Vinh village, famous for the weaving of sedge mats and certainly the most beautiful village in the vicinity of Hoi An. While cycling to the village you will find yourself in the middle of luxuriant greenery: rice, corn and sedge fields, areca nut trees, bamboo etc. Once in the village, you will have the chance to meet a local family that will show you the techniques used to weave the sedge mats. You will then continue your exploration by visiting a part of the village where people mostly live on the money earned from fishing. After this visit, you'll take a boat trip lasting around 1 hour on Thu Bon river back to Hoi An Town and transferred by private vehicle from the boat pier to your hotel.
Hoi An: Street food tour of Hoi An (day 6 afternoon)
Today explore the best street-food spots of Hoi An: Com Ga Ba Buoi (Ba Buoi’s Chicken Rice), Banh Mi Phuong (Phuong’s Baguette) - American Chef Anthony Bourdain sang his praises about this dish on his TV Serie “No Reservations”, Cao Lau… Then have a cup of tea or coffee at Reaching Out Tea House - a very special and unique ancient house.
Hoi An: Explore My Son Sanctuary by Jeep (day 6 afternoon)
This adventure, off the beaten track, will take you along a narrow but beautiful lane that normal tour buses cannot access. On the way, you will have a chance to witness the fascinating lives of the local people: farmers who work in the rice fields, fishermen returning home from their boat trip and merchants bringing their products to sell at vibrant and colourful markets. You can also chat with some locals when taking a break at a local coffee shop and see just how charming and friendly they are. The beautiful scenery of the region is another highlight of this activity, with luxuriant green forests, lush fields of rice and corn and slow flowing canals to see along the road. Eventually you will arrive at My Son, the holy land of Champa culture in Vietnam. The complex was the religious and cultural centre of this ancient Kingdom for many centuries, with the oldest temples constructed in the 4th century. Partially ruined, My Son still has numerous exquisitely decorated and detailed temples and shrines and has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
Hue: Sunset aperitif on Vong Canh Hill (day 8 evening)
In the late afternoon, transfer by private vehicle to Vong Canh Hill to admire the change of colours of the Perfume River as the sun sets. Fill up your impression of Hue’s landscape by sunset mocktail at the hill. Later today, transfer back to your hotel.
Remark: this activity is not recommended during rainy season from Sep to Nov and during winter time from Dec to Feb. Subject to weather conditions.
Ho Chi Minh City: attend the beautiful A O Show at Saigon Opera House (day 9 or 10 evening)
“À Ố” is the name given to the show which is a new kind of art performance commonly acknowledged globally as “new circus”.
The main visuals of the show are bamboo basket boats and their use in the daily life of many Vietnamese. During 60 minutes of the show, you are gently introduced to many different tones of emotion. After the show, our guide will take you back to hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City: Explore Saigon at night by scooter – part night excursion, part street food adventure (day 9 or 10 evening)
Take an evening drive through this hectic but beautiful city to discover how Saigon nightlife unfolds. From the chaotic traffic of the city centre to totally hidden corners; from famous tourist stops to the trendiest hang-out places for Saigonese people; you will travel through 4 central districts of Ho Chi Minh City. You’re your driver, scooter your way through the very small and typical alleys of District 4 until stopping at a popular local seafood streetside restaurant to taste trendy Vietnamese favourites such as fried pincers or steamed clams with lemongrass. Continue to a riverside park for a short walk to admire the views of this now modern city by night. The tour continues in a place frequented by locals and where you’ll have the chance to try the traditional Vietnamese pancakes called Banh Xeo. After the meal, the driver will take you to a local coffee shop with live music and a cosy atmosphere. To finish the evening, travel to a popular meeting point located on the rooftop of a building for views of vibrant Saigon by night and music.
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.