Water Puppet Tours


With its numerous national parks, white sand beaches, colourful villages, pagodas and ancient monuments, forests and islands, Vietnam is a land of often surprising beauty, offering cultural depth and history, increasingly combined with tourism-friendly areas offering all the facilities a modern traveller could wish for.

Vietnam’s people are its greatest asset: gregarious, friendly and eager to meet visitors. In the bustling cities, the often chaotic streets contrast ox carts with limousines, ancient rituals with sophisticated technology, and are ruled by the ubiquitous moped.

Our strength is in translating these opportunities into detailed, practical itineraries. We do luxury travel and event planning, as well as a wide range of beach, family, honeymoon, adventure, golf, veteran and cultural tours.

There is no better way to experience a destination than through the perspective of the local people. At Water Puppet Tours, this key element of local insight drives every step of our process of tour design and delivery. We provide tailor-made tours individually crafted for each client, achieving this by emphasizing the direct working relationship between the client and the tour designer and operator.

Travel Style

Travel Destination

Vietnam Insight 13 Days


Your Vietnam tour begins in Ho Chi Minh City where you’ll be introduced to the ancient traditions and the modern prosperity of this rapidly developing country. In addition to seeing the city’s iconic sites and famed museums, you’ll explore hidden laneways and dine with a family in their home.

A journey to the Mekong Delta is turned into an extraordinary experience as you board the elegant Song Xanh boat. This small boat will allow you to head deeper into the delta’s canals and by spending the night on the single cabin vessel, you’ll enjoy the evening and early morning tranquility of the delta. Attentive on-board service and a fabulous candle-lit dinner highlight this section of your Vietnam package tour.

Moving north to the country’s center, the next part of your Vietnam tour is filled with culture and history. Colorful tales of the trading port of Hoi An come to life as you walk along the cobbled streets and the lore and intrigue of the imperial dynasty are reveled with tours of Hue’s ancient monuments. A visit to a rural vegetable-growing village and dinner in a historian’s home further immerse you in the local culture.

Flying to Hanoi you’ll be captivated by the capital with insider tours by local experts. Tantalize your taste buds with a street food tour led by a chef, uncover the legend behind Hanoi’s iconic bridge with a professor and meet villagers in a craft town steeped in history.  We make sure you see the best of the capital from a unique vantage point on this Vietnam tour.

No Vietnam package tour would be complete without an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. You’ll travel in style aboard the junk boat, cruising among the limestone karsts of the bay, dining on gourmet cuisine and relaxing on the open-air deck. Returning to Hanoi, a farewell dinner in the heart of the Old Quarter is a memorable end to your Vietnam tour.

Ancient cultures, intriguing traditions, spectacular landscapes and friendly locals: our Vietnam Insight tour showcases the best of the country.

Destination: Ho Chi Minh City – Me Kong Delta – Danang – Hoi An – Hue – Hanoi – Halong Bay – Duong Lam – Hanoi

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City arrival (Dinner, Guide)

Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a Welcome dinner. In the evening, you’ll have tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry (an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture). You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City orientation (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, your guide will arrive to show you around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll visit the History Museum where there is a special exhibition of the 5th century ‘Oc Eo’ civilization. (Alternatively, you’ll visit the Fito Museum (First Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine) is host to a large collection of relics, including traditional Vietnamese medicinal implements, and chronicles the history of medical practice in Vietnam from 2000 BC). The Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! The Binh Tay market is located in China Town which is the biggest one in Ho Chi Minh City.

You’ll also call in at the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be - Sa Dec - Can Tho (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll be driven to Song Xanh’s pier in Phu An hamlet located next to Cai Be town.

Shortly after embarkation, you will visit some local home factories to observe how rice paste, coconut candies and other specialties are traditionally made. Your next visit will be Cai Be colourful floating market. The sampan will then cruise upstream toward Vinh Long and Sa Dec. En route; you will be transferred to a small boat cruising along a narrow canal through fruit plantations and visit one of the largest artisanal bricks and tiles factories.

Once the sampan reaches Sa Dec, you will enjoy a guided show of this charming town, walking along its narrow streets where beautiful French old houses and Chinese temples dating from the last century are numerous. Before boarding back for lunch, you will visit an ancient house dating from 1890, home of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, the “Lover” of famous novelist Marguerite Duras. Our afternoon cruise will include some stops for interesting visits on shore. A visit will be done at a Cao Dai temple.

Before sunset, you will disembark at a splendid ancient house or “Nha Co” dating from the early 19th century for a candlelight dinner, an unforgettable experience in a unique atmosphere.

After dinner, the cruise will continue to anchorage point for the night in Can Tho.

Day 4: Cai Rang - Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City – Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

At around 06am, your sampan will slowly start cruising.

Your breakfast will be served on board at approximately 07am, while the sampan approaches Cai Rang floating market, actually the largest in the whole Mekong delta, passing by countless sampan boats carrying sand, rice, fruits and vegetables, fish, flowers… showing an intense activity on the river.

After a visit to Can Tho local market, you will check out and disembark at Ninh Kieu pier for lunch at a local restaurant on shore. After lunch, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City airport to take the flight to Danang. Upon arrival, you will be picked up to take you to your hotel in Hoi An. You will spend the night in Hoi An.

Note: During the cruise, fresh cotton towels, exotic seasonal fruits, hot green tea and two bottles of mineral water will be served daily free of charge

Day 5: Hoi An villages (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, your guide will take you to visit local farm in Tra Que Village (depending on the location of your hotel you may be able to cycle directly). You will spend time with a local farming family to learn about their daily lifestyle and to discover the flavors of fresh Vietnamese cuisine then bike along shady lanes to the village of Tra Que and join the farmers as they work on their vegetable garden. Continue gardening activities such as raking, sowing, watering greens, picking greens etc. After that, you will be shown how to prepare Tam Huu, a local delicacy before sitting down for a home cooked meal including Banh Xeo a specialty savory pancake wrapped in rice paper before the ride back to Hoi An for lunch.

A walking tour is the best way to see this marvelous town. Visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful market. Sample the town’s delicate cuisine with lunch at the famed Brother’s Cafe.

In the evening, your dinner will at one of Hoi An’s best restaurants which serves original and creative cuisine that can only be described as Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese fusion. With a combination of refreshing flavours, beautiful presentations and a relaxing atmosphere this eatery has one the heart of many loyal and happy customers. You will spend the night in Hoi An.

Alternative for Day 5

Option 1: Hoi An - Fisherman Tour ½ day – Hoi An City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Following breakfast, you’ll be picked up at your hotel and driven to a local fishing village on the banks of the Thu Bon River bank. After a short walk through the village to get a flavour of the local life and chat with the fishermen, it’s time to learn how to handle the traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat and fishing equipment. You’ll then join the fishermen for an authentic Vietnamese fishing experience, casting the nets into the water and learning the skills employed by the fishermen in ensuring a good catch. After a fresh seafood lunch at the water coconut palm canal, you’ll return to Hoi An Town. you will then enjoy a walking tour with first stop is the bustling fish and vegetable market and then you will go through the Old Quarters to see the town's landmarks of Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient Assembly Hall, Phuc Kien Temple. You will then take a river trip and you will enjoy the scenery along the Thu Bon River and the general view of Hoi An Ancient Town. It transforms itself at night, when many of the shops hang lanterns outside. You will transfer you back to the town and rest of time at your own leisure. Hoi An is well known for souvenir shopping with great prices and also famous for its large number of tailor shops, so if you want to get a cloth tailor made to measure, this is the time to do it. You will stay overnight in Hoi An.

Thung Chai Basket boats, similar in style to coracles in use throughout the ancient world, are widely used throughout Central Vietnam, and are highly suited to the local terrain and lifestyles of local fishermen due to their relative light weight and portability, often doubling as a carrier for various handy items. Circular and constructed of bamboo and tarred for waterproofing, these small boats can typically carry up to five people, and represent a fun-filled opportunity to touch the authentic rural soul of Vietnam. As a precaution, life jackets are provided for your safety during this excursion.

Option 2: Cooking Class in Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide at cooking class)

In the morning, you’ll join a cooking class at the Red Bridge Restaurant. After visiting a market to purchase ingredients, a boat will take you along Hoi An River to the restaurant where you can investigate its herb and vegetable garden before learning how to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes. After lunch at the restaurant, your time will be free. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.


  • Fresh Rice Paper Shrimp Rolls – including making rice paper.
  • Warm Squid Salad served in half a pineapple
  • Grilled Eggplant stuffed with market vegetables
  • Hoi An Pancakes (Banh Xeo)
  • Food Decoration - pineapple boat, three coloured flowers and Vietnamese hand fan

Day 6: Hoi An – Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, your car will arrive to drive you to Hue. On the way, you'll cross the high mountain pass of Hai Van. The views from the top are excellent – you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with Danang spread out before you to the south.

Upon arriving in Hue, your guide will take you on a tour of Hue’s ancient citadel, once the seat of the powerful Nguyen Dynasty Emperors that ruled Vietnam from approximately 1800 to 1945. You’ll begin with a stroll around the area between the Citadel’s massive walls and the defensive moat, now filled with lotus flowers. You’ll then enter via the Noon Gate to wander around the Thai Hoa Palace, the Pavilion housing, the Nine Urns of the Nguyen rulers, and the remains of the Royal Palaces before crossing the river to modern Hue and the bustling Dong Ba market.

In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. You’ll spend the night in Hue.

The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.

Day 7: Hue (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Your morning will begin with a cruise along the Perfume River to visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda which also gives you a taste of the tranquil countryside. From there, you’ll drive to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang. In the afternoon, your guide will take you to visit the Emperor Khai Dinh. After that, you’ll return to Hue to visit one of city’s ‘garden houses’ and then return to your hotel for refreshment.

In the evening, you’ll sit down for dinner in the pleasant surroundings and a comfortable atmosphere of another of the garden houses. The owner will prepare and serve a traditional meal based on the distinctive characteristics of classic Hue cuisine. You’ll spend the night in Hue.

Each Royal mausoleum reflects the personality of the Emperor it commemorates. The most majestic is that of Emperor Minh Mang, a staunch follower of Confucianism with many wives, concubines and a small army of children. Planned by the Emperor and built shortly after his death in formal Chinese style, it’s opulent and exotic, and a good example of classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture.

The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is an unprepossessing concrete construction on the side of a wide valley. Its interest lies in the uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features, the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration, and the striking views from the courtyard in front of the mausoleum.

The garden houses are a unique feature of Hue. The houses are traditional, privately owned, and set in attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court. Hue traditional architecture has long had close associations with the natural environment. The garden houses reflect this association. Each is highly individual - house and garden, people and scenery, plants, clouds and water co-exist and blend with each other in a harmonious context. The narrow streets and abundant flora give the garden house area a country village feeling.

Day 8: Hue – Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, you will be free at your leisure then in a good time, your driver will transfer you to the airport for a short flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. Upon arrival, your guide and private car will meet you and transfer you to your hotel for check-in. You will have time to relax before having lunch which be served in a breathtaking restored colonial villa.

In the afternoon, you will enjoy an insider’s tour of the Long Bien Bridge (originally name Doumer Bridge) which was built in 1902 by Sir Gustave Eiffel. You will take a walking tour of this fascinating structure to learn more on how this bridge helped shape Hanoi’s future. After that, your guide will take you to West Lake and one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in Hanoi, Tran Quoc, and the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh which dates from the Ly Dynasty. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

Day 9: Hanoi Cooking Class (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

In the morning, you’ll be picked up from your hotel to visit a restaurant where you’ll learn to cook some typical Vietnamese dishes representative of the North of Vietnam. Accompanied by a skilled chef, you’ll be driven to a market to try your skills in bargaining and buying among the locals at a local market. When you return to the restaurant, your Vietnamese teacher will assist you to prepare and cook your lunch. In the afternoon, your time will be your own.

Day 10: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)

You’ll arrive Hanoi in the early morning, where you’ll be met and taken by car to your hotel to have breakfast and take a short rest before departure to Halong Bay, on the way, you will go through the scenic countryside. The wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. Heading out of the town then you embark on a boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. This exciting cruise will provide you a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karsts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way you will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. You will stay overnight on the Junk Cruise

Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, you will visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Your driver will be waiting for you at the pier and drive you back to Hanoi airport to catch the flight to Hue. When arrival, your guide will pick you up then take you to your hotel to check in. This quiet city is widely known for the magnificent architecture of its citadels, palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples built under the Nguyen Dynasty. In the evening, you will make your own exploration to see Hue city by night. Overnight at hotel in Hue

Day 12: Hanoi – Duong Lam – Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)

After breakfast, your guide will take you to Duong Lam village, a purely agricultural village of the northern Red River Delta which still preserves many hundred-year-old houses. You will Mong Phu temple in Mong Phu commune - the only hamlet whose original village entrance remains intact then continue on through the narrow alleys to see the old laterite houses which make up this charming village.

You will have lunch in a local style meal in a 100-year old house. After that, you will be driving to Mia Pagoda (another hamlet of Duong Lam), built in the 15th century. There are around 287 statues of all sizes here, among them are famous sculptures such as the statue of Buddha and the statues of the ‘Eight Vajra Deities’. Then, you will visit Ngo Quyen temple and Phung Hung temple, places dedicated to two national heroes - Ngo Quyen and Phung Hung.

On the way back to Hanoi, you will stop at Tay Phuong Pagoda. The pagoda offers beautiful architecture and ancient and unique sculptures. It was one of the first pagodas built in Vietnam and has magnificent dragons and demons carved into the wooden roof. You will spend the night in Hanoi.

Your farewell dinner will be held in the heart of Hanoi’s Old Quarter in the home of a true Hanoian who leant her culinary skills from her grandmother who used to cook for the French elite in the 1930’s.

Day 13: Hanoi Departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)

After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you to the airport for your departure flight.


  • Free Vietnam Visa invitation letter
  • Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
  • Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary above (Please note: pick-ups will be by a guide and driver or, where a guide is not necessary, a driver only. All unaccompanied drivers will be briefed in advance, and will carry a mobile phone to ensure smooth transfer arrangements)
  • Domestic flight tickets: Ho Chi Minh City – Danang, Hue - Hanoi, including domestic airport taxes.
  • Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All Mekong Cruise and Ha Long Bay boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
  • Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
  • The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary (please note: guides will be on hand from pick-up until guests’ return to their hotel or reaching their destination). Free days or part days will not include the services of a guide unless requested and included in the final itinerary.
  • Where necessary, entry fees for all visits as mentioned in the programme.
  • Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and full board on the boat in Ha Long Bay and the Mekong River.
  • VAT and other taxes


  • International flight tickets and airport tax.
  • Visas
  • Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
  • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Insurance.
  • Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
  • Compulsory meal (if any)



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