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Vietnam Tour | Hanoi to Saigon

A fascinating 16-day tour, travelling south from Hanoi to Saigon and the Mekong Delta by way of the World Heritage Sites of Halong Bay, Trang An, Phong Nha, Hue and Hoi An

Vietnam, from north to south

A wonderful introduction to the stunning scenery, rich culture and history – both recent and ancient – of this rapidly developing, but often still very traditional, Southeast Asian country. Our 16-day tour, Vietnam, Hanoi to Saigon, combines many of the country’s essential sites as well as some of its lesser-known, hidden places for a wide and varied selection of destinations, landscapes and activities.

Beginning in Vietnam’s elegant, modern-day capital Hanoi and finishing in bustling, vibrant Ho Chi Minh City (still Saigon to most of its residents) our tour includes no less than 7 of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites including Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park with its awe-inspiring karst scenery and home to what’s claimed to be the world’s largest cave; the old imperial capital of Hue, charming Hoi An, the dramatic vistas of famous Halong and lesser-known Bai Tu Long Bays, Trang An’s serene ‘Halong in the Rice Fields’ landscapes as well as the myriad waterways and islands of the picturesque Mekong Delta.

Discover the country’s past and present: ruined temples of the Cham Empire, glorious pagodas and royal tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, the more recent, tragic sites of the Vietnam War, the exceptionally friendly people, its justifiably renowned cuisine, fantastic landscapes and exciting cities of Hanoi and Saigon.

For those with less time to spare, we also offer a shorter, 11-day, version – World Heritage Sites of Vietnam – taking you by road and rail from Hanoi to finish with a return flight from Danang International Airport in central Vietnam.

Conversely, for those with a bit more time, optional extensions include a pre-tour, 5-day visit to Sapa hill station and the far north where you can discover the majestic mountain scenery and myriad colourful hill-tribe groups of the Tonkinese Alps or relaxing beach and island extensions to Mui Ne or Phu Quoc.

Since airfares are fluctuating wildly at present, as well as varying considerably from period to period, our ‘with flight’ prices, below, are approximate only.

Includes: Flights: Danang-Saigon. Meals: B x 15, L x 11, D x 9

Note that further info, related articles and plenty more photos of the tour can be found on the Hanoi to Saigon Tour page of our travel blog.

Vietnam

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

Vietnam Family Tour, Hanoi old quarter

Day 1 - Hanoi - arrival and time to explore

Your tour begins with a check-in to a downtown hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Afternoon introductory walking tour to explore the area with an optional trip to see the unique water-puppet show before a local-style, welcome dinner introduces you to the country’s sumptuous cuisine.

Overnight: Hanoi Transport: Walk,  Meals: D, 

Vietnam, the Hanoi to Saigon express

Day 2 - Hanoi - Day tour of some of the City's sights

Tour of some of the sights of this beautiful old city including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the 11th-century University and Temple of Literature, the fascinating Ethnology Museum, a stroll through the picturesque lanes of Hanoi’s Old Quarter and, of course, the city’s quirky ‘Train Street’.

The precise itinerary may vary according to opening days/times etc.

Overnight: Hanoi Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Vietnam, Bai Tho Junk, Halong Bay

Day 3 - Halong Bay - boat cruise of the World Heritage site

Departure for Halong Port for a lunchtime boarding and afternoon boat cruise through the dramatic limestone scenery of World Heritage Halong and lesser-known Bai Tu Long, Bays. (The boat is well-appointed with private, air-con, en-suite cabins).

Overnight: On board Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, Halong Bay

Day 4 - Halong - Bai Tu Long Bay and on to Ninh Binh

Optional early rise for sunrise before continuing our cruise through Halong Bay and a late morning return to Halong Port. After lunch, an overland transfer south takes us to more spectacular limestone scenery in Ninh Binh Province and our night’s accommodation in the small town of Tam Coc.

Overnight: Tam Coc Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, 

World Heritage Sites of VietnamTrang An

Day 5 - Trang An - boat trip through the grottoes

Leisurely morning cycle through the lush paddy fields and limestone cliffs of the ‘Halong of the rice fields’ with an afternoon visit by rowing boat to the remarkable cave system of Trang An and its labyrinth of grottoes, tunnels and emerald lagoons. In the evening we’ll continue to Ninh Binh Town to board the night sleeper train south.

Overnight: Night sleeper train Transport: Train, Bike, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, Phong Nha river trip

Day 6 - Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park

Early morning arrival in Dong Hoi from where we’ll head into the hills for a day’s exploration of magnificent World Heritage Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park. Discover the area’s primary forest, karst scenery and spectacular cave systems by foot and boat. Overnight in a charming, family-run eco-resort.

Overnight: Phong Nha Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, Hue, World Heritage Sites of Vietnam

Day 7 - Hue - across the former DMZ and on to the ancient capital

Our journey south to Hue takes us across the infamous DMZ (former Demilitarized Zone) where we’ll stop to visit the fascinating. albeit sobering, Vietcong tunnels at Vinh Moc and the famous Hien Luong Bridge on the 17th parallel which marked the pre-1975 border between South and North Vietnam. Arrival in Hue and time at leisure to stroll around the fun and friendly town.

Overnight: Hue Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, Hue street scene

Day 8 - Hue - imperial tombs on the Perfume River

Check out some of the spectacular sights of this historic, former imperial capital and now UNESCO World Heritage Site. Morning cruise by ‘dragon boat’ along the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda followed by the spectacular pagodas, tomb and hunting park of Emperor Tu Duc. An afternoon walk includes the main market and the iconic ancient citadel.

Overnight: Hue Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, 

Hoi An, Vietnam

Day 9 - Hoi An - scenic drive from Hue to Hoi An

Short, scenic drive to nearby Hoi An Town by way of the spectacular Hai Van Pass with a stop at Danang’s picturesque Marble Mountain and cave temple. Late afternoon walking tour of the well-preserved and charming old town of Hoi An – one of Southeast Asia’s most important ports during the 16th to 19th centuries.

Overnight: Hoi An Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Vietnam World Heritage SitesMy Son

Day 10 - Hoi An - morning tour to ancient My Son

Early morning trip to the atmospheric ruined temples of ancient My Son. Vietnam’s most important Cham site was occupied from the 4th to 13th centuries, before succumbing to its powerful Khmer and Vietnamese neighbours. Return to Hoi An and an afternoon at leisure to discover the picturesque old streets, visit the bustling silk market or perhaps cycle down to the nearby beach for a dip or massage.

Overnight: Hoi An Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

Vietnam, dusk in Hoi An

Day 11 - Danang and on to Saigon

Morning at leisure in Hoi An before a drive to nearby Danang for a tour of its impressive Cham Museum and an afternoon flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). (Flight included.)

Overnight: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Transport: Minibus, Plane,  Meals: B, D, 

So, whats in a name? Vietnam, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), From Saigon to Angkor

Day 12 - Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) - day tour of the sights

Day tour of some of the City’s fascinating sites and vibrant street life including the bustling Ben Thanh Market, the sobering War Museum, picturesque Jade Emperor Pagoda and Saigon’s own, French-period, Notre Dame Cathedral.

Overnight: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, L, 

Vietnam, Saigon to Angkor, Mekong Delta boats

Day 13 - Saigon - the Cu Chi Tunnels and on to the Delta

Departure from Saigon for a visit to the fascinating Vietcong tunnel system at Cu Chi before continuing south to the scenic Delta town of Cai Be with some free time to explore the area. Overnight in a converted colonial-period villa on one of the region’s myriad islands.

Overnight: Cai Be Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, the Mekong Delta, Xe Quit

Day 14 - Mekong Delta - Cai Be to Can Tho

Morning visit to Cai Be’s traditional floating market from where we’ll continue by boat through the Delta’s picturesque waterways with opportunities to visit some of the region’s cottage industries and orchards. Arrival in Vinh Long and a canoe tour of the former Vietcong jungle base at Xe Quit before continuing to Can Tho with the afternoon at leisure to explore this friendly riverside town or check out the interesting Mekong Delta Museum.

Overnight: Can Tho Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, 

Vietnam, The Mekong Delta, Can Tho Floating Market, Gary Latham

Day 15 - Can Tho - floating market and return to Saigon

Early morning boat ride to the nearby floating market, one of the busiest and most photogenic in the Delta, before an afternoon return drive to Saigon, (Ho Chi Minh City) and our farewell dinner.

Overnight: Saigon Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, L, D, 

Vietnam, Hanoi to Saigon, Phu Quoc

Day 16 - Saigon - morning at leisure

Morning at leisure in Saigon – improve your street photography or perhaps some last-minute market shopping and midday end of the tour.

Please note, private accommodation is not available on the sleeper train and therefore accommodation will be on a shared basis.

Extra nights in Hanoi or Saigon or extensions to superb Phu Quoc Island or Mui Ne Beach after your tour are available on request.

Airport transfers are included if you purchase the with flights package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.

Overnight: Departure Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Vietnam, Saigon pancake

Just a few of the many highlights

An impressive list of 7 World Heritage Sites; Hanoi old citadel, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Trang An, Phong Nha and My Son plus Saigon and the Mekong Delta and of course loads of friendly locals and superb local cuisine!

  • The Old Quarter, colonial architecture, lakeside cafes and pagodas and of Vietnam's charming capital Hanoi
  • Explore the picturesque Mekong Delta region: a labyrinth of waterways, islands and traditional villages
  • An overnight cruise through the World Heritage landscapes of awe-inspiring Halong Bay
  • Discover the dramatic limestone scenery of Trang An in Ninh Binh Province - 'Halong in the paddy-fields'
  • Go underground at the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, the vast subterranean former Vietcong base
  • Sample Vietnam's superb and highly reputed cuisine with the emphasis, as usual, on the authentic and local food

Air Departures (UK) *From

  • 24 May 24 2,725 GBP
  • 22 June 24 2,725 GBP
  • 19 July 24 2,725 GBP
  • 17 August 24 2,825 GBP
  • 14 September 24 2,725 GBP
  • 12 October 24 2,725 GBP
  • 9 November 24 2,775 GBP
  • 7 December 24 2,775 GBP
  • 4 January 25 2,825 GBP
  • 1 February 25 2,825 GBP

Land Departures

  • 25 May 24 1,925 GBP
  • 23 June 24 1,925 GBP
  • 20 July 24 1,925 GBP
  • 18 August 24 1,925 GBP
  • 15 September 24 1,925 GBP
  • 13 October 24 1,925 GBP
  • 10 November 24 1,975 GBP
  • 8 December 24 1,975 GBP
  • 5 January 25 2,025 GBP
  • 2 February 25 2,025 GBP

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Hanoi

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Vietnam, MK Boutique Hotel

MK Premier Boutique Hotel Hanoi view

  • Located right in the heart of Hanoi's picturesque old town
  • Great staff, coffee shop, rooftop bar and cracking breakfast
  • Handy for exploring or just relax in their street-side cafe
Vietnam, Bai Tho Junk, Halong Bay

Victory Star Halong Bay view

  • Overnight on a boat in UNESCO Halong Bay
  • Excellently appointed and comfortable private cabins
  • 1 day, 1 night cruise of this fabulous World Heritage Site
Vietnam, sleeper trains

Vietnamese sleeper train

  • We use 4-person, air-con sleeping berths
  • Berths equipped with reading lights & elecric sockets
  • Upgardes to private cabins available if desired
Greenfield Eco-stay

Greenfield Eco-stay view

  • Friendly, low-key, family-run eco resort
  • Garden setting with goods-ized pool and great views
  • Comfortable rooms with a/c, balconies and en-suite bathrooms
Vietnam, Rosaleen Hotel, Hue

Rosaleen Hotel Hue view

  • In the heart of Hue, a short walk from the waterfront
  • Friendly staff, pool and great rooftop
  • Excellent in-house bar and restaurant
Vietnam, Gem Riverside, Hoi An

Gem Riverside Hoi An view

  • Well-appointed rooms with pool, restaurant, bar and gym
  • Excellent location; quiet yet a short walk from the Old Town
  • Free bicycles available to explore the area
Sanouva Hotel Saigon

Sanouva Hotel Saigon view

  • Excellent central location in downtown Saigon's District 1
  • Plenty of cafes, restaurants and sites within a short walk
  • Small, low-key hotel with friendly and efficient staff
Vietnam, Ba Duc Ancient House, Cai Be

Ba Duc Ancient House Cai Be view

  • Our night's accommodation on a Mekong Delta island
  • A delightful old, converted French period villa
  • Comfortable rooms and superb local cuisine
TTC Hotel Can Tho

TTC Hotel Can Tho view

  • Excellent facilities including pool, gym, spa, restaurant
  • Ideal location close to the waterfront area and old market
  • Rooftop coffee shop with panoramic river views

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Visas are no longer required for citizens of certain, (mainly Western European), countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Scandinavian nations and the UK for single-entry visits of up to 45 days. (As of 15th August 2023.)

Note that there are some notable omissions from the list – Belgium and the Netherlands for example – as well as Canada, Australia, NZ and the US. For passport holders of countries not covered under the waiver scheme, a visa, or visa on arrival certificate, must be obtained before arrival in Vietnam and we strongly advise checking the latest requirements at your nearest Vietnamese consulate.

Visas are available from your nearest Vietnamese consulate or embassy at a cost of about £40 (c. $60). (Costs do vary from country to country.) Further information, as well as e-visas on arrival, are also available online at the following link; Vietnam e-visa. (You may find numerous, additional agents’ sites advertising Vietnam e-visas although bear in mind a commission will be charged.)

Standard entry point for this tour is Noi Bai Int Airport (Hanoi) and exit point is Tan Son Nhat Int Airport (Ho Chi Minh City).

Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers but which could also include minor expenses such as group tea/coffee breaks etc. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of $3 per day or $45-$50 total per person for the 16-day tour. For your guide/tour-leader tip, who will accompany you for the duration of your tour, we’d recommend approximately $15-$20 per person total though of course, this is always discretionary and performance-related as well as depending upon the group size.

Meals: Breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with an emphasis on local food for lunch and dinners. Vietnamese food obviously is based around rice and noodles, is generally mild and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour leader at the start of the tour. A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

Accommodation: All choices fall into the comfortable 3-4* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the left-hand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination. Finally, note that accommodation on night sleepr trains in generally in 4 person cabins with a supllement if private cabins are required.

Activities: Note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.

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Extensions

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