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Vietnam – 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 and fascinating culture and history of this rapidly developing, but still often very traditional, Southeast Asian country. Our tour, ‘Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon’, combines many of the country’s essential sites and some of its hidden places for a wide and varied selection of destinations, landscapes and activities.

Beginning in Vietnam’s elegant 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 Sites: Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park with its awe-inspiring karst scenery – including what’s claimed to be the world’s largest cave; the old imperial capital of Hue, charming Hoi An, contemporary capital Hanoi, the dramatic vistas of famous Halong Bay, Trang An’s lesser-known ‘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 and the friendly people, exotic 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.

Optional extensions include a pre-tour visit to Sapa to discover the majestic mountain scenery and myriad colourful hill-tribe groups of the far north or beach and island extensions to Mui Ne or Phu Quoc.

Vietnam

Itinerary

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

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Day 1 - Hanoi - arrival and time to explore

Your tour begins with a check-in to a downtown hotel in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Afternoon at leisure to relax or 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, 

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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’.

Precise itinerary may vary according to opening days/times.

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

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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 air-con, en-suite cabins).

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

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

Optional early rise for dawn over Halong Bay before continuing our cruise with 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, 

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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.

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

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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 charming, family-run accommodation on a local farm.

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

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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 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, 

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Day 8 - Hue - imperial tombs on the Perfume River

Time to 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 a walking tour of the iconic ancient citadel.

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

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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 and with a stop at Danang’s picturesque Marble Mountain. 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, 

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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, 

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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).

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

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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, 

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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, 

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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, 

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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, 

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Day 16 - Saigon - morning at leisure

Morning at leisure in Saigon – improve your street photography or perhaps some last-minute market shopping an afternoon end to 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!

  • Take in the Old Quarter, colonial architecture, lakeside cafes, pagodas and museums of Vietnam's charming capital Hanoi
  • Visit My Son, the ancient ruined city and former capital of the Cham empire that once rivalled Angkor
  • Explore the picturesque Mekong Delta region: a labyrinth of waterways, islands and traditional villages
  • Discover the dramatic limestone scenery and caves of Trang An in Ninh Binh Province - 'Halong on Land'
  • Go underground at the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, the vast subterranean former Vietcong base
  • Sample the region's awesome and highly varied cuisine with the emphasis as usual on the authentic and local food

Air Departures (UK)

  • 14 November 19 2,725 GBP
  • 15 December 19 2,925 GBP
  • 9 January 20 2,725 GBP
  • 5 February 20 2,725 GBP
  • 4 March 20 2,725 GBP
  • 1 April 20 2,725 GBP
  • 29 April 20 2,725 GBP
  • 23 May 20 2,725 GBP
  • 18 June 20 2,725 GBP
  • 15 July 20 2,725 GBP
  • 12 August 20 2,825 GBP
  • 12 September 20 2,725 GBP
  • 13 October 20 2,725 GBP
  • 13 November 20 2,725 GBP
  • 14 December 20 2,925 GBP

Land Departures

  • 15 November 19 1,875 GBP
  • 16 December 19 1,875 GBP
  • 10 January 20 1,875 GBP
  • 6 February 20 1,875 GBP
  • 5 March 20 1,875 GBP
  • 2 April 20 1,875 GBP
  • 30 April 20 1,875 GBP
  • 24 May 20 1,875 GBP
  • 19 June 20 1,875 GBP
  • 16 July 20 1,875 GBP
  • 13 August 20 1,875 GBP
  • 13 September 20 1,875 GBP
  • 14 October 20 1,875 GBP
  • 14 November 20 1,875 GBP
  • 15 December 20 1,875 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...

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

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

Pepper House, Phong Nha view

  • Hald a dozen rooms set on a farm amid the emerald paddies
  • Charming, friendly, family-run - you won't want to leave
  • Well-appointed rooms, pool & cafe with homegrown produce

Rosaleen Hotel, Hue

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

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

Sonnet Hotel, Saigon, (Ho Chi Minh City) view

  • Smart, new and comfortable the friendly Sonnet Hotel
  • Great location in the heart of Saigon City
  • Convenient for our city tour as well as leisure time

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

*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 some countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK for single-entry visits of up to 15 days. For longer visits, and for visitors from some countries, a visa must be obtained before arrival in Vietnam. They are available from your nearest Vietnamese embassy at a cost of about £40 (c. $60). Further information, as well as e-visas on arrival, are available on the internet, for example, www.vietnam-visa.com or www.vietnam-immigration.org

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 $2 per day or $30-$35 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.

Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. 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* 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.

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

Further info: more details and photos check our ‘Hanoi to Saigon‘ category on our All Points East travel blog.

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