Soak up some culture while exploring one of Asia’s prettiest coastlines. This fourteen-day adventure includes visits to Vietnam’s premier coastal destinations of Hoi An, Halong Bay, Nha Trang and Vung Tau. But it’s not all flop and drop, you will also see the highlights of each city. Seize the chance to discover an exciting country while perfecting your tan!
Destinations: Hanoi – Halong – Hoi An – Nha Trang – Saigon – Mui Ne – Mekong Delta
Day 1: Hanoi Arrival (Dinner, Guide pick up)
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. You will have time to relax before having 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. In the evening, you’ll have a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant in a restored French colonial building. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 2: 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 3: Halong Bay – Yen Duc Village - Hanoi – Danang – Hoi An (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. After that, your guide will take you to visit Yen Duc village, you’ll be charmed by the fresh air and tranquility of its small lanes and picturesque fields. Here, you’ll enjoy a performance of the uniquely Vietnamese Quan Ho singing, now recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage. Later you’ll explore the historic ‘cave 73’ on Canh mountain to learn of the wartime struggles of its inhabitants during French occupation and visit a local house to meet and chat with the villagers. Your visit will culminate with a walk through the fields to Canh Huong Pagoda, dating back to the eighth century, before returning to Hanoi airport to take the flight to Danang. Upon arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to Hoi An where you will spend the night.
Day 4: Hoi An (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will begin your tour of Hoi An, a former port that welcomed Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th to 18th centuries. Today it is renowned for its old quarter lined with restored two-storey Chinese shops, with elaborate carved wooden facades and terracotta tile roofs. And not forgetting expert tailor shops and delicious food!
Hear the interesting story of Hoi An as you visit key sites, the first is Chua Ong Pagoda, a 1653 temple built in honour of the Chinese general Quan Cong, who is worshipped by many as a symbol of loyalty and justice. Next, pop into Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, to see the Jinshang Temple which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors. From there it’s a short walk to Tam Ky House, a 200 year old ancestral house and finally, stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. The beautifully built bridge doubles as a temple and is a major landmark of Hoi An.
In the afternoon, you will take a short boat trip down the river and visit a craft village where local artisans make ceramics then visit a local boatyard full of traditional fishing boats and see the unusual round basket boats that ply the waters before returning to town just in time for an early dinner or a sunset stroll along Hoi An’s sleepy Thu Bon River. You will spend the night in Hoi An.
Alternative for Day 4: 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 5: Hoi An free (Breakfast)
The day will be free for strolling in the town, lazing on the beach, or whatever takes your fancy. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Day 6: Hoi An – Danang – Nha Trang (Breakfast, Guide Pickup)
After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you to the airport to take the short flight to Nha Trang. The tour continues southwards to the beach destination Nha Trang, aside from a lovely beach, Nha Trang has islands where you can snorkel and scuba dive in search of tropical fish and coral. And the city’s hotels and resorts have mud baths and a remarkably robust nightlife scene. Today, you will spend the night in Nha Trang.
Day 7: Nha Trang (Breakfast, Guide)
After a brief visit to the impressive Ponaga Cham tower, you’ll be driven to I-Resort hot spring spa. After relaxing in the mud baths and mineral water pools, you’ll be driven back to your hotel.
Nha Trang’s I-Resort is well worth a visit. You can wallow in mud in an outdoor bath, shower in spring water, and bathe for as long as you like in a large hot mineral water swimming pool set in beautiful gardens. There are two bath options – private and communal. The private baths each accommodate two people and are shielded by bamboo screens. The communal bath takes up to six or eight people, are cheaper, and are much more fun. It’s surprising how quickly strangers become friends when you’re slipping about in the goo! Bathing costumes (functional, but definitely not fashionable) and towels are supplied. The baths are on terraces on a rocky slope, and the gardens are bedecked with colourful ‘paper trees’. A relaxing massage can be included if you wish.
Day 8: Full day private boat trip in Nha Trang (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, a car will take you to board a boat for a whole-day cruise to some of the small islands in the bay. You’ll anchor off Mun Island for snorkeling and a glass bottom basket boat ride to see colourful corals and the various marine life. You’ll then head to Mieu Island to enjoy a local basket boat ride and explore the life of fishermen at Mieu fishing village. If you wish, you can join other tourists for the ‘music entertainment’ with a wine and fruit party, followed by a seafood lunch on Tre Island. In late afternoon, you’ll return to the mainland and be driven to your hotel. You’ll spend the night in Nha Trang.
You’ll cruise on a private boat with Vietnamese crew members who will highlight the beauty of Nha Trang Bay. En route, plenty of wine and tropical fruits are available. The coral around Mun Island is good, provided you swim away from the area where the boats tie up.
Day 9: Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Guide)
After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you to the airport for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City, a dynamic city of 6.5 million that boasts Vietnam’s most impressive downtown skyline.
In the afternoon, your driver will take you to Cu Chi district, 50 km to the Northwest of Saigon City. On arrival you will watch a video presentation on the construction of the tunnels before making your way into the tunnels. Here you can spend around an hour exploring the maze of tunnels and also view the various mantraps on display and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500 pound bombs dropped by B52 bombers. This unique experience gives a fascinating insight into what underground life in the war must have been like. You will come back to Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon. You will spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City – Vinh Long – Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
After breakfast, you will start the trip at 07:30 am and head for Vinh Long province. After boarding the beautiful traditional boat, you will have five hour to cruise along the river. It will take you through Vietnam’s most productive agricultural area. You will enjoy the beautiful landscapes of coconut palms, sugar-cane groves and fruit orchards from the vessel as you head to the Cai Be floating market. Here you can cruise through the colourful barges full of fruits and vegetables and then proceed to local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The trip continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. Along the way you will find the local people engaged in their daily tasks and see brightly coloured Khemer pagodas. Stops on the way can be made upon request for particular visits or photos making. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. After that, you will arrive at La Residence de Phu An resort where you will be welcomed and served Vietnamese culinary delights. You will then walk along a narrow canal to an air-conditioned vehicle that will transport you back to Ho Chi Minh City where you will stay overnight.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City - Vung Tau - Ho Tram Resort (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Vung Tau, and onward to Ho Tram Beach Resort. After check-in you’ll have the remainder of the day at leisure to enjoy the resort and its beach, relaxing, swimming or sunbathing.
Day 12 to Day 13: Ho Tram Resort free (Breakfast)
Your time will be your own to enjoy as you please!
45 km northeast from Vung Tau, and styled after traditional Vietnamese village architecture, the four star Ho Tram Resort is set in landscaped gardens, fronting the beach and nestled within Phuoc Buu Forest Reserve. The Resort has a restaurant serving international and Vietnamese cuisine, 2 bars, swimming pool, jacuzzi, 2 tennis courts, golf driving range, billiards room, scuba club and spa offering an array of traditional treatments, massage therapies and facials. Equipment for a range of water sports is also provided for. Because of the pleasing rural quietude, there is little in the way of tourist sights in the vicinity, though golfers will find the links course at Vung Tau Paradise Golf Club a testing and picturesque excursion. The bomb-scarred terrain at “Boulder Rocks”, in the hills north of Long Hai provides an insight into Viet Cong ingenuity in hiding from their American pursuers. An alternative travel route to Vung Tau is the hydrofoil departing every 15 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City. Car pick-up from the hydrofoil quay can be arranged by the resort at additional cost.
Day 14: Ho Tram Resort - Vung Tau - Ho Chi Minh City departure (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City in good time for your onward or international 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: Hanoi – Danang, Danang – Nha Trang – Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
- Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All 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.
- VAT and other taxes
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Compulsory meal (if any)