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Short description

Vietnam's best bits: From Saigon to Hanoi in 15 days

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In Brief

  • 3 Nights Saigon
  • 3 Nights Hoi An
  • 1 Night Hue
  • 1 Night Hanoi
  • 2 Nights Sapa
  • 1 Night Victoria Express Train
  • 1 Night Halong Bay
  • 1 Night Hanoi


Recommended for:
City | Escorted tour | History & culture | Natural world | Rail journey

Travel between the two on this 15-day tailor-made holiday, taking in the spectacular scenery of the Mekong Delta - the ricebowl of Vietnam, the peaceful coastal towns of Hoi An and Hue, the dramatic karst scenery of Halong Bay and the verdant rice fields and ethnic tribes of Sapa to get a full-on flavour of this remarkable destination.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Arrive in Saigon where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel in the centre of the city. Hotel check-in time is 2pm, so rooms may not be immediately available if you're arriving on an early flight. You can of course leave your luggage and use the hotel's facilities or begin exploring if you prefer.

Stay: Caravelle Hotel (Superior) or Intercontinental Asiana Saigon (Deluxe)

Day 2
Ho Chi Minh City Tour & Cu Chi Tunnels

In the morning, after breakfast, take a walking tour of Saigon's famous and historic city landmarks. The tour will take you through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi street (formerly Rue Catinat), past the Rex Hotel, Municipal Theatre and Notre Dame Cathedral. Stop at the site of the former US Embassy then tour inside the impressive Re-Unification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Travel to Cholon, the city's bustling Chinese district, where you'll visit the Binh Tay wholesale market and a colourful Chinese temple dedicated to the goddess of the sea, Thien Hau.

In the afternoon, journey west from Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi. On arrival you'll be guided through the famous tunnels used by the communist guerrillas during the Vietnam War. The tunnel network stretches over 250km and extends to three levels underground, providing you with a remarkable insight into the hardships, courage, determination and terror of a guerrilla war.

Stay: Caravelle Hotel (Superior) or Intercontinental Asiana Saigon (Deluxe)

Breakfast & lunch included

Day 3
Mekong Delta

You'll depart Saigon this morning and drive to My Tho where you'll be met at the My Tho pier, boarding a boat that takes you to the opposite bank of the Tien River. Enjoy sight-seeing en-route as you stop at local fish farms and floating markets on the river before stopping at Phoenix islet to see how locals make coconut rice paper and souvenir handicrafts from coconut trunk and shell. From there, you'll head to Tan Thach to visit a local coconut candy workshop where you'll taste some of this delicious local product, then take a five kilometre bike ride through the beautiful coconut garden at Phu An Hoa, seeing local people's daily activities along villages paths to Vuon Dau where you'll stop for lunch at a local house.

After lunch, enjoy a relaxing break in the family's garden before taking a rowing-boat along a narrow creek, eventually arriving at a larger boat which will bring you to Quy Islet. Here you'll visit a traditional house, enjoy seasonal fruits and listen to local musicians before making your way back to My Tho pier where you'll be met by your driver for the journey back to Saigon.

Stay: Caravelle Hotel (Superior) or Intercontinental Asiana Saigon (Deluxe)

Breakfast & lunch included

Day 4
Hoi An

Transfer to Saigon airport for your flight to Danang. On arrival you'll be met by your local guide and transferred by road to historic Hoi An town, located just a short distance away.

Stay: Anantara Resort Hoi An (Superior) or Fusion Maia Danang (Deluxe)

Breakfast included

Days 5-6
Hoi An

This morning enjoy a half-day walking tour of historic Hoi An town centre with your local guide. During the walking tour you'll stop at the home of a craftsman in the old quarter for a silk lantern making workshop. You'll have a brief introduction to the history, shape and colour of the lanterns, as well as the many stages of making them before making your own lantern to take home as a souvenir.

The afternoon and following day are free for you to spend at your leisure either relaxing at your hotel or exploring the town.

Stay: Anantara Resort Hoi An (Superior) or Fusion Maia Danang (Deluxe)

Breakfast included

Day 7

Depart Hoi An this morning for a scenic drive to the town of Hue. In the afternoon undertake a half day city tour, visiting the impressive Citadel, former home of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. Much of the Citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968 but is gradually being restored. Later on you'll visit Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Hue's oldest and most beautiful buildings, and finish with a visit to the tomb of the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, Tu Duc..

Stay: Ana Mandara Hue (Superior) or La Residence Hotel & Spa, Hue (Deluxe)

Breakfast included

Day 8

This morning transfer to Hue Airport for your flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Stay: Hotel de l'Opera (Superior) or Sofitel Legend Metropole (Deluxe)

Breakfast included

Day 9
Hanoi City Tour and Overnight Train

Explore Hanoi on a city tour with a cyclo ride through the fascinating Old Quarter - 36 ancient streets where you can observe the daily bustle of life around the markets where peddlers continue to trade as they have done for centuries. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam, Uncle Ho, to see his mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, his 'house on stilts', the Ho Chi Minh Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda. Continue your tour with a visit to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university, which is now dedicated to Confucian worship. Also visit Tran Quoc and Ngoc Son Temples and then the 'Hanoi Hilton', the nickname given to the place where U.S pilots shot down over North Vietnamese airspace were imprisoned during the Vietnam War, which has now been converted into a museum.

Finish your day with a relaxing walk around Hanoi's famous Hoan Kiem Lake, then return to your hotel or continue with your own exploration of this beautiful city. In the evening transfer to the train station in Hanoi to catch the overnight train to Lao Cai, sharing a four-berth cabin*.

*Private cabins are available for a supplement.

Stay: Victoria Express Train sharing a 4-berth Superior cabin

Breakfast & lunch included

Day 10

On arrival at Lao Cai train station you will be met for the 35 km drive up to the town of Sapa, set amongst rice fields in Vietnam's northern highlands. Passing spectacular mountain scenery you'll finally reach this charming town, set amongst the highest and most beautiful mountains in Vietnam. After breakfast on arrival, your leisurely morning begins with a brief guided tour of Sapa town and the colourful local market. The afternoon is free to relax or wander into town to explore things at your own pace.

Stay: Victoria Sapa Resort

Breakfast included

Day 11
Sapa - Topas Ecolodge

Drive the short distance south towards Muong Hoa Valley, and then descend by foot through the largest terraced rice paddy area in the Sapa region. The walk takes you through the village of Lao Chai, home to the Black Hmong minority, then onto the village of Ta Van, inhabited by the Giay minority. You will have a great opportunity to observe the daily life and traditional hospitality of these people before continuing on to the remote Topas Ecolodge in Supan. This unique, eco-friendly lodge is situated on a small outcrop with unsurpassed views to the surrounding countryside and valley below.

Stay: Topas Ecolodge

Breakfast & lunch included

Day 12
Sapa to Hanoi

From the Ecolodge set off on foot to the Red Dzao village of Dao Lech. Descend towards the Thanh Kim River, stopping en route to capture the most beautiful views of the valley. Cross the river and head up to the village to experience the daily life of the local people. In the afternoon, head back to Sapa for some free time before descending to Lao Cai and enjoying dinner at one of the local restaurants before boarding your overnight train for the return trip to Hanoi.

Stay: Victoria Express Train sharing 4 berth Superior cabin

Breakfast & dinner included

Day 13
Halong Bay

Arrive at Hanoi Railway station early this morning and stop at a local restaurant for breakfast before departing for a two-day cruise on beautiful Halong Bay. The journey takes approximately 3.5 hours, passing through beautiful rural villages and farmlands on the way.

Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Vietnam's true gems, a dazzling landscape of emerald waters and towering limestone cliffs surrounding picturesque bays, spectacular cave systems and a myriad of floating fishing villages.

After boarding the Paradise Cruise boat at around noon, enjoy a welcome drink and begin your cruise on the bay. A Vietnamese buffet lunch is served on board as you cruise across the emerald green waters enjoying the magnificent scenery along the way. You'll visit a number of islands and caves and, if weather permits, there's also the chance to swim, snorkel, kayak or simply relax on-board and enjoy the wonderful views. Dinner will be served on board in the evening.

Stay: Paradise Cruise - 1 Night / Cabin type: Deluxe

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 14
Halong Bay to Hanoi

After a night on board the boat, you'll wake to sunlight filtering through the early morning mist and the towering rock formations. Continue cruising through the bay and arrive back at Halong port at approximately 10:00-11am where you'll leave the boat and journey by road back to Hanoi, a trip of around 3.5 hours.

Arrive back in to Hanoi, check into your hotel and spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure.

Stay: Hotel de l'Opera (Superior) or Sofitel Legend Metropole (Deluxe)

Breakfast & brunch included

Day 15

Today you'll be met by your driver for your transfer to the airport for your return/onward flight.

Breakfast included

Blog: Best of Vietnam

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