Arrive in Vietnam in the colour and vibrancy of Ho Chi Minh City, a buzzing metropolis thriving with life and energy. An attractive intermingling of local western influences, Ho Chi Minh – or Saigon as its locally referred to, offers a diverse array of fascinating attractions, flavors and history. We venture from the city to the culturally rich Mekong Delta region and to the Cu Chi Tunnels – an experience we combine with a Vietnamese cooking class. From Ho Chi Minh, fly north to Danang and the beautiful UNESCO-listed Old Town of Hoi An. In addition to the charm of its old town, Hoi An offers excellent beaches, delightful countryside and an excellent art & crafts scene – consider extending your time here to make the most of it. Finally, we fly north to Hanoi, experienced the more subdued culture of the north, taking in its fascinating blend of history and beauty – in addition to making a visit to the unforgettable splendour of Ha Long Bay.
Arrive Ho Chi Minh City
After you clear customs at Ho Chi Minh City’s Ton Son Nhat International Airport, your tour guide will pick you up and transfer you to downtown Hanoi. Check-in time is 2pm , but you can leave your bags so that you can explore before returning later on. Your guide provides transfer only today, and there is no guided touring included, so feel free to book a flight arriving at any time of day.
Cu Chi Cooking Class & Tunnels
About 70km from central Ho Chi Minh is Cu Chi – the area known for its vast network of underground tunnels used by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam War. We’ll make our way to Cu Chi by private transfer, but start out our experience of the area by meeting an experienced chef for a professional Vietnamese cooking course. Here, you’ll enjoy an accessible, insightful introduction to the unique culinary heritage of Vietnamese cuisine and the exotic ingredients it uses. Featuring a combination of five fundamental taste elements, each Vietnamese dish has a distinctive flavour. Check out the on-site vegetable garden and experience an expert intoduction to the cuisine – a full farm-to-table encounter of the process that makes Vietnamese cuisine so wonderful. Following lunch, our guide will lead you to the Cu Chi tunnels. Synonymous with the Vietnam War and a testament to the determined spirit of the Vietnamese, work on the tunnels began during the war against the French in the 1940s and over the next 25 years as the conflict with America escalated, they were improved and expanded to create an underground city of meeting areas, storerooms, living quarters and much more. The tunnels allowed the Viet Cong to control a vital area of South Vietnam and at their height, extended for more than 200KM in length and stretched from what was then Saigon to the Cambodian border. Preserved as a memorial park, two sections of this remarkable network are open to the public. Visiting the area at Ben Dinh, there is the option to go below the surface and visit sections of the tunnels first hand. The more adventurous may go deeper and your guide will be on hand to give guidance on the degree of expected difficulty. There is plenty of interest above ground as well and it is recommended to bring good footwear, sunscreen and a hat. Please note you may get a little dusty if you decide to go underground.
Daytrip to the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is a richly fertile region of farmland, interlaced with countless waterways and crisscrossed by low-lying rice paddies. One of the Delta’s most ubiquitous sights is its floating markets and the first stop today will be at the colourful Cai Be market, one of the best-known in Vietnam. Although development of the road network means there is less waterborne trading than in previous years, you can still can a strong sense of the brisk activity as vendors barter with shoppers and goods are transferred from one boat to another. These waterborne shops each specialise in a few kinds of fruit or vegetable and samples of their goods hang from tall wooden poles allowing customers to easily identify what is for sale. Navigate the Delta’s tributaries to Dong Hoa Hiep Island, en route exploring the beautiful riverine landscapes and observing typical life in the Mekong Delta. On the island, visit an ancient Mandarin house dating from the 19th century where several generations of the same family live together. Back on board, we head off to observe the activity at the largest rice markets in the region. Additional stops will allow you to see a traditional brick and tile factory, as well as learn how locals are able to use palm leaves in their house-building. A further twenty minutes or so brings you to the hamlet of Phu An, passing by the beautiful Cai Be church. You will also visit some interesting home factories to see how local products such as rice paste, coconut candy and rice paper are made, and learn about the drying process for longan fruit, another cottage industry in the Delta. In the afternoon, we make the return drive to Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An
Following a private transfer to Ton Son Nhat airport, you’ll fly to Danang and be met by your guide for the short drive to Hoi An. Hoi An’s relatively small size allows wonderful access to an intimate experience of village life. Devoid of most forms of motorised transport, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town of the ancient port of Hoi An is ideal for exploring on foot. So, we set down our bicycles and proceed to discover beautifully preserved old merchant houses, atmospheric temples and lively markets as we stroll through the back streets of this enchanting destination. You will visit the iconic 400-year-old Japanese Bridge and the busy waterfront, where colourful fishing boats bob up and down on the Thu Bon River. There will also be time to peruse the numerous boutiques and galleries that line the narrow streets and perhaps make a purchase or two. During the walk, visit a traditional houses and experience the picturesce tranquility of traditional life in Hoi An. In the late afternoon, take a boat trip down the Thu Bon River, enjoying a relaxed perspective on the peaceful lives of local fishermen. Take in the exquisite sunset views from the boat, before disembarking in Hoi An town for a free night at leisure.
Hoi An to Hanoi
This morning, consider an optional guided cycling ride through some of the peaceful local trails and colorful fishing villages. Alternatively, head to the beautiful beaches just a short drive from town. Relax by the swimming pool, or head into the Old Town for further exploration or to check out some of the artwork and crafts for which Hoi An is renowned. In the afternoon, you’ll be transferred to Danang Airport for your flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s attractive, unique and culturally rich capital. You’ll be met by your private driver and transferred to your central accommodation. Enjoy the evening in Hanoi at your leisure.
Ha Long Bay daytrip from Hanoi
Ha Long Daytrip
The Ha Long bay daytrip is highly worthwhile for travellers with limiited time. However, an overnight cruise steps the experience up to next level, and is highly recommended. Just get in touch if you’d prefer to add a day to your trip to include Ha Long overnight.
Approximately 170 km from Hanoi, the mystical landscapes of Ha Long Bay are amongst Asia’s most iconic sights. Translated as the ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’ and located in the Gulf of Tonkin, Ha Long is made up of some 1,600 islands and islets, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars, lush islands and emerald waters. Breathtaking beyond words, Ha Long Bay is justifiably one of the world’s natural wonders and more than deserves its UNESCO World Heritage status. Following private transfer from Hanoi to Ha Long, board our vessel and begin a cruise amidst this outstanding natural wonder. Lunch is included and can be enjoyed onboard as we explore the superb beauty of this geological art work, comprised of thousands of limestone islets soaring dramatically from emerald waters. In the afternoon, we make the return drive to Hanoi.
End Tour in Hanoi
Spend your day at leisure until transfer to Hanoi Noi Bai airport for your flight home. If you’re on a flight departing late in the day and prefer to keep busy, activities can be added on request.
- Private transfers to/from airport on arrival and departure day.
- Private guide on all touring days.
- All Breakfasts.
- Daily itinerary for your trip.
- Optional free local sim card.
- Full phone support and assistance.
- Domestic Flights
- Ha Long Bay Cruise
- 3 nights in Ho Chi Minh City
- 1 night in Hoi An
- 2 nights in Hanoi