Is this your first time visiting Vietnam? You have time and a decent budget to spend but have no hint or clue where and how to start it over? Well, you may find below the perfect answer then.
Journey Beyond Asia’s “Vietnam In Depth” is to take you on a journey passing over Vietnam’s most visited destinations. It’s unquestionable that you will learn about the rich culture of Hanoi, enjoy the peace of Ninh Binh, interact with hill-tribe people in Sapa, or being amazed by the romantic Halong Bay. On your southbound exploration, the spectacular huge Phong Nha Cave in Quang Binh, the old feudal city of Hue, the ancient port town of Hoian, the rising dragon Danang or an unforgettable experience crawling in the underground labyrinths of Cu Chi Tunnels, will definitely bring you a memorable trip ever.
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Video by Journey Beyond Asia
DAY 1: HA NOI ARRIVAL
Upon arrival in Ha Noi, picked up for a private transfer to your hotel.
(Check-in time is 14.00. Early check-in is subject to hotel’s availability).
Free at leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 2: HA NOI
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a full day visit.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HANOI
Start the tour at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument built to commemorate and to preserve the body of “Uncle Ho” (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every Monday & Friday, all afternoons and from early September until mid-November).
Pay a visit to One Pillar Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple in Hanoi dating back to 11th century. Then, stop by at Ho Chi Minh’s House where he lived and worked to enjoy a tranquil setting and a view of a lotus pond.
Your next visit is the Temple of Literature, renowned school for the sons of mandarins before the serene Museum of Ethnology that offers a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups (Museum of Ethnology is closed on Mondays).
Drive back to central Hanoi for an hour cyclo tour through the Old Quarter then enjoy the water puppet show.
Overnight in Hanoi.
DAY 3: HA NOI - NINH BINH
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for the transfer to Ninh Binh Province.
TRANG AN COMPLEX VISIT
Upon arrival, visit the UNESCO Heritage Site Trang An Landscape Complex. Take a boat ride along the river to admire the spectacular landscape of limestone karst and peaks permeated the valleys.
After Trang An, explore the biggest pagoda ever built in Southeast Asia, Bai Dinh Pagoda.
BAI DINH TEMPLE
Bai Dinh Temple, the temple’s architecture follows traditional lines, consisting of large halls, courtyards, and enclosures. The huge scale of Bai Dinh makes it strikingly different from previously built Vietnamese Buddhist pagodas.
Overnight in Ninh Binh.
DAY 4: NINH BINH - HA NOI - LAO CAI
After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy other visits in Ninh Binh.
THE OLD CAPITAL HOA LU
Visit Hoa Lu Citadel where Đinh King’s Temple & Le King’s Temple built, to commemorate the very first two kings who contributed to the independent of ancient Viet Nam in the 10th century. In addition, the picturesque landscape of limestone in this area is also attractive for tourist’s photo shooting.
Continue to Hang Múa (the Dancing Cave) for a fair climb up hundreds of steps (500) leading you to a temple on top of the hill. The spectacular views from Hang Mua over Tam Coc and Ninh Binh’s stunning countryside are well worth the effort.
Return to Hanoi Railway Station for your overnight train to Lao Cai.
DAY 5: LAO CAI - SAPA
Early morning, met up at Lao Cai Railway Station by local guide and driver then breakfast at a local restaurant.
SILVER WATERFALLS & HEAVEN’S GATE
Leave Lao Cai for the Silver Waterfall. The Silver Waterfall is located about a half hour from Sapa Town, which offers stunning views over surrounding mountains and lush forests belonging to Hoang Lien National Park. Stop by a farm for a cup of tea and talk with people to understand their local life. Then we continue our drive uphill to the Heaven’s Gate, the highest stretch of road in Vietnam as well as the provincial border of Lao Cai and Lai Chau Provinces. Enjoy fantastic view over the valley.
EASY WALK TO CAT CAT VILLAGE
After breakfast at the hotel, your new day starts at 9:00 with the visit to Cat Cat Village down in Muong Hoa Valley. Enjoy the spectacular views of the beautiful valley towards Fansipan – highest peak in Vietnam and Indochina. Trek through the villages of Black H’mong ethnic minority to learn the way people weaving and embroidering their clothes, keep going down to enjoy colorful rice paddy fields and the interesting waterfall.
Return and overnight in Sapa.
DAY 6: SAPA
LAO CHAI & TA VAN TREKKING
Meet up at your hotel by local guide and driver then transferred to Lao Chai Village, a Black Hmong ethnic minority village. You will then be able to walk from Lao Chai to Ta Van Village where the Giay ethnic minority hill tribe lives. Here you will be able to rest and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by your guide in a local house.
After lunch, the walk continues through a bamboo forest to Giang Ta Chai, a Red Dao ethnic minority village. After taking a rest nearby a waterfall, start climbing uphill to a road where the car is ready for your journey back to Sapa.
Overnight in Sapa.
DAY 7: SAPA - LAO CAI - HA NOI
LEISURELY TREKKING IN TA PHIN VILLAGE
Head off to Ta Phin Village from Sapa. Trekking up and down of hilly terrain is a good chance to witness hill tribe people working in terraced paddy fields. Ta Phin Village is known for offering the diversity of traditions, cultures, and costumes of 2 ethnic groups, Black H’mong and Red Dzao who have been living in harmony for generations.
Return to Lao Cai Railway Station for your overnight train to Hanoi.
DAY 8: HA NOI - HA LONG BAY
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, take a short walk to a nearby hotel for refreshment (shower & breakfast) before going to Ha Long Bay.
Depart for a 3-hour journey to Halong Bay stopping for a break to stretch your legs en route. On arrival in Halong Bay, board your junk, settle into your cabin and prepare your appetite for an enjoyable lunch on deck. In mid-afternoon visit the mysterious Me Cung Cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, and then continue to Cua Van Village. It was once the fishing village, however, most of them have moved on land for their children’s future due to the lack of education system and access to vital information. Head back to the boat, participate in a cooking class demonstration with the chef or enjoy the sunset on the top deck before dinner.
DAY 9: HA LONG BAY - HA NOI - HUE
Rise early and greet the day with another refreshing Tai Chi demonstration on the upper deck. Then it is time for an early morning swim – in the Bay. By tender boat, we bring the guests to a natural white sandy stretch. Sporty ones can also climb up to a hilltop to have a last view from above over Halong Bay before we return to the boat and cruise slowly back to Halong City, passing picturesque areas like the Tam Cung Cave and Poem Mountain. During our trundle breakfast is served before we arrive at the jetty in the late morning. Then transfer to Noi Bai Airport.
Fly to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, picked up for a private transfer to your hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
DAY 10: HUE
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a full day visit.
FULL DAY VISIT HUE
Start from your hotel with a 10-minute cyclo ride from your hotel to the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO listed site. Enter through the towering main gate and you will appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the events and the intrigue of the former royal court.
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride on Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument.
In the afternoon, drive out 30 minutes to the elaborate Khai Dinh Royal Tomb. Its architecture and atmosphere showcase elements of eastern art and western designs. Continue to the serene Tu Duc Royal Tomb, designed to blend in with its natural surroundings and built on principles of feng-shui. Transfer back to your hotel with an optional stop en route at an incense stick making house.
Overnight in Hue.
DAY 11: HUE - QUANG BINH
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a transfer to Quang Binh Province.
Make a stop at the Ben Hai River and Hien Luong Bridge, which is situated in the Demilitarized Zone of the Vietnam War.
Continue to Phong Nha Cave, famous for its rock formation that bears intriguing names such as the ‘Lion’, ‘Unicorn’, ‘Kneeling elephant’ and ‘the Buddha’. (Optional to visit Paradise Cave, considered as the largest and the most beautiful cave in Phong Nha – Ke Bang Complex).
Overnight in Dong Hoi.
DAY 12: QUANG BINH - HUE
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a visit in Dong Hoi then transfer back to Hue.
DOING HOI – CITY OF ROSE
It’s worth taking a look at the symbol of the city, Quang Binh Gate, built in 1631 during the Nguyen Dynasty and rebuilt in 1825. And it’s impossible to miss the ruins of Tam Toa Church, a Catholic cathedral built in 1886. The church is a bombed-out ruin along the riverfront.
Drive back to Hue with a stop-over at Vinh Moc Tunnels in Quang Tri Province. The tunnels are a fascinating experience of what it took to survive the war.
Return to Hue.
Overnight in Hue.
DAY 13: HUE - DA NANG - HOI AN
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a transfer to Hoian via Hai Van Pass.
HIGHLIGHTS OF DANANG
Visiting Linh Ung Pagoda on Son Tra Peninsula where stands the highest statue of the Goddess of Mercy looking upon the Danang Bay.
Next, down hilling and make a stop at the informative Cham Museum which houses the best collection of Champa Kingdom ruins in Asia. The artifacts here date from the 2nd to 15th centuries. Finally, head a few miles south to the Marble Mountains, a cluster of 5 marble and limestone mountains which rise dramatically from the flat land along the coast of the Eastern Sea.
After Marble Mountains, continue to Hoian.
Overnight in Hoian.
DAY 14: MY SON HOLY LAND - HOI AN
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a transfer to My Son Holy Land.
MY SON HOLY LAND
My Son is one of the foremost Hindu temple sites in South-East Asia. The area was considered the domain of gods and god-kings and living on site would have been an attendant population of priests, dancers, and servants. The temples are set in a verdant valley surrounded by hills and overlooked by the impressive Cat Tooth Mountain. Stroll around this UNESCO listed temple complex to learn about the Cham culture, architecture, and civilization before returning to Hoian.
HOIAN ANCIENT TOWN
After My Son, return to Hoi An for a walking tour around this lovely ancient town. Taking in the former merchants’ house, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, Phung Hung Old House, Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, museums and the colorful market with its stalls brimming with local specialties.
Overnight in Hoian.
DAY 15: HOI AN - DA NANG - SAI GON
After breakfast at your hotel, free until picked up for a private transfer to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, picked up for a private transfer to your hotel.
SAIGON HALF DAY CITY TOUR
Saigon is the country’s commercial center and it’s a city that never sleeps. Enjoy a city tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmarks including the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris (under construction, photo outside only). Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustavo Eiffel.
Continue your visit with the former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war. Drive to visit the War Remnants Museum (please note that some of the photos are very graphic).
Sit down at a street coffee shop for a break to observe the daily life of the locals, and have a little personal chat with your guide over a cup of coffee.
Overnight in Saigon.
DAY 16: CU CHI TUNNELS - TAY NINH
Start early in the morning with a 2-hours drive northwest of Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels.
THE LABYRINTH OF CU CHI TUNNELS
The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war.
CAODAISM – THE INGENIOUS RELIGION
Continue your journey with 1.5- hour drive the Cao Dai Great Temple. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, with Christianity and Islam. The elaborate temple’s architecture reflects the combination of religions. Visitors are welcomed inside the temple to observe the colorful service at midday.
Transfer back to Saigon in the late afternoon.
DAY 17: MEKONG DELTA - BEN TRE - CAN THO
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a full day visit to Mekong Delta.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BEN TRE
Upon arrival in Ben Tre, picked up at My Long Hamlet, nearby Chet Say Bridge root (5km from Ben Tre town). Boat ride on Ben Tre River, then to Cai Son Canal winding through coconut jungles, visiting a coconut workshop. Continue on small waterways and stop at local candy-making family. Enjoy some fruits, honey tea and listen to Southern traditional music (Đờn ca tài tử) on the way. Cycle on the rural paths or hop on a tuk-tuk through coconut jungles to Nhon Thanh Village (5km)
Stop at local house seeing the locals making brooms and rice wine at home. Boat ride under palm tree shady canals before lunch at a local house by the river with local specialties.
After lunch, visit a brick kiln before meeting our guide and driver for a transfer to Can Tho.
Overnight in Can Tho.
DAY 18: CAN THO - HO CHI MINH CITY
After breakfast at your hotel, picked up at the hotel’s lobby for a half day visit Can Tho.
CAN THO – THE OLD WEST CAPITAL
Early this morning, enjoy a local motorboat trip to the biggest floating market in the Delta, Cai Rang where you’ll see many boats laden with fruit, vegetables, and fish jostling for trade.
Later, get off the boat for a short city tour. Start with a visit to Can Tho Museum which was originally established in 1976. Then drive to Binh Thuy ancient house which was chosen as one of filming sites for the romantic film “Lover” by producer J. Annaud. Constructed in 1870.
Return to Saigon.
DAY 19: HO CHI MINH CITY - DEPARTURE
After breakfast at your hotel, free until picked up for a private transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
(Check-out time is 12.00 pm. Late check-out is subject to hotel’s availability).
Bid Vietnam a sincere farewell, and home-sweet-home awaits.
- Accommodation with daily buffet breakfast
- Private transportation on tours (except where indicates as join-in or SIC)
- Tour guide
- Entrance fees
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (food only, no beverages)
- Travel Insurance
- Overweight luggage
- Vietnam Visa
- Personal expenses
- Tip & gratuities
- Services are not listed in “Inclusions” section