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I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea and Hong Kong, travelled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- from $4,327 PP
- 14 Nights
- Dec - Apr
- 11 hrs from London / 19 hrs from NYC
This complete tour of Vietnam covers all the bases. Over 15 enthralling days you’ll travel the country tip-to-toe, enjoying vibrant cities, idyllic rural scenes, and charming waterways. You’ll start in the capital Hanoi, then move out to Lan Ha Bay for a memorable two-night junk cruise, before rounding out the first week of the trip with two nights amongst the mountainous emerald-green scenery of Pu Luong. Fly down to central Vietnam for a thorough examination of Hue, Hoi An, and the Marble Mountains, then move further south for a private overnight sampan cruise through the Mekong Delta. The trip closes out with two nights in bright and busy Ho Chi Minh City. The itinerary takes you both on and off-the-beaten path and covers a huge variety of immersive cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
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- 14 nights in 4 or 5 star accommodation
- Daily breakfast plus other meals as per itinerary
- All tours and transfers on a fully private basis
- Private English-speaking guides for all mentioned sightseeing
- Overnight private sampan cruise in the Mekong Delta
- Domestic flights as described in economy class
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Hanoi: Arrival into Noi Bai International Airport
Your 14-night trip begins with your arrival into Noi Bai International Airport. You’ll be greeted by your private English-speaking guide, and then private driver, and together they will transfer you to your city hotel.
Located in the northwest of the Red River Delta, Hanoi translates as “the hinterland between the rivers.” It’s also a city of lakes, with 18 found here, the most prominent of which is the picturesque Hoan Kiem lake situated right in the city center, just south of the bustling Old Quarter. A heady mix of Eastern and European styles, Hanoi is a fascinating and fun place to explore independently.
Your guide will provide a brief introduction to the city during the transfer and after checking into your accommodation you’ll have the remainder of the day to relax, or to head out and discover plenty of places to drink, dine and shop.
Day 2 Hanoi: A local's tour of the capital
After breakfast you will meet your guide and head out for a private tour of the city, focusing on its local life and culture. Head first to Hoan Kiem Lake, the spiritual center of the city, which is especially alluring in the morning with locals practicing Tai Chi – join in if you wish! – against the backdrop of the highly photogenic Ngoc Son Temple.
Continue to a small nearby cafe that specializes in ‘Banh Cuon’ – slippery rice noodle parcels, filled with fresh herbs, cucumber, bean sprouts, and invariably pork, chicken, or prawns. Learn how to make this Hanoian specialty, sampling as you go! You’ll then take a gentle rickshaw tour through the atmospheric and energetic Old Quarter, which includes a short stop at Dong Xuan Market, where you’ll stop to sample Hani’s famous ‘egg coffee’.
Later you’ll take in the Temple of Literature, the first university in the country, built in 1070 instructing the teachings of Confucius, and then return to the Old Quarter to visit a small family home. By this time you should have worked up quite an appetite, so the morning finishes with the heartiest of Hanoi lunches: a soothing bowl of pho at Pho Thin, thought to serve the best in the city. The afternoon is then yours to relax back at the hotel or continue exploring independently.
Day 3 Lan Ha Bay: Transfer to Lan Ha Bay for an overnight cruise
After an early breakfast you’ll be transferred out to the mouth of the Red River delta, making for Tuan Chau Marina, from where you’ll begin your two-night cruise in Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha is the less-visited but equally stunning neighbor to Halong Bay (which has sadly begun to suffer with over tourism), made up of 100s of dramatic karst outcrops and islets. Your overnight cruise will pass through some truly breathtaking scenery, and will include excursions such as visits to small and sparsely populated islands, kayaking or swimming, and cooking demonstrations. Accommodation is in an extremely comfortable private cabin, with dining and service on board second-to-none. Please note that your local guide is not permitted to join you onboard; all excursions will be led by cruise guides and shared with other passengers.
Day 4 Lan Ha Bay: On-board cruise
It’s worth rising early this morning to catch the sunrise from your balcony, or up on the top deck where staff will lead an energizing Tai Chi lesson. Breakfast is served before you transfer to a comfortable day boat for the day’s excursions, again taking in the dramatic scenery and local lifestyles. Back onboard you will have time for sunbathing on deck, a spa treatment, swimming off-deck, or perhaps joining the staff for some squid-fishing. Another excellent dinner is served onboard.
Day 5 Hanoi: Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi for the night
You have the option of another early start for Tai Chi before the cruise begins its sail back the mainland. A good breakfast and a further excursion on board will be included before you disembark back in Tuan Chua. You’ll be met by your private guide and driver once more and then transferred back into downtown Hanoi. Spend the night resting up, or perhaps indulging in some final shopping or sightseeing, before your journey out to Pu Luong tomorrow.
Day 6 Pu Luong: Road transfer to rural Pu Luong
After breakfast your guide and driver will transfer you out to Pu Luong, a journey of approximately 4 hours. Pu Luong is protected nature reserve in rural Thanh Hoa province. The scenery here is emerald rice paddies, crisscrossed by small streams, set against a backdrop of tropical green hills. The area is home to a wide array of hilltribes, each with a distinctive clothing style and culture, and is a base for trekking, rafting, and immersive cultural tours. Accommodation will be in a comfortable rural lodge which, while not being at the same level as experienced in Hanoi and Lan Ha, is of an excellent standard given the remote location.
On arrival you will have some time to freshen up and enjoy lunch (full-board meals are included at the lodge) before heading out to explore the countryside. You have a choice of two activities this afternoon: either a pleasant village-to-village warm-up hike taking in a series of streams and waterwheels, or a short bamboo rafting trip along a particularly alluring stretch of nearby river.
Day 7 Pu Luong: Trekking in the hill tribe villages
Today you will be joined by a local guide for a walk through the varied villages of the Pu Luong Valley. Today’s walk will be is approximately 6-7 hours, including a stop for a lunch, covering around 18km at an easy pace. You will pass through villages of the Doc, Lung Cao, Lan, Uoi, and Lac minorities, with your guide providing insights on culture and lifestyle as you go, and providing language assistance shop you wish to stop and chat. The landscape between villages is mostly on the flat, but the backdrop is spectacular with scenery of terraced fields, waterfalls, and forested hills. A picnic lunch is included en route. You’ll return to the lodge in the afternoon and have the rest of the day to relax (or arrange further activities if keen).
Day 8 Hue: Transfer back to Hanoi and fly down to Hue
You have a few free hours this morning to enjoy a lie in or laze around the pool, or arrange a final hike locally. Mid-morning you will be picked up and transferred back to Hanoi, heading straight for the airport for an onward flight down to Hue.
On arrival in Hue you’ll be met by a new guide and driver team and then transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is then yours to explore this former imperial capital, set on the banks of the Perfume River, and former home of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Although Hue suffered heavy bombing during the ‘American War’, most of its cultural treasures thankfully still stand, and it remains a pleasant, laidback city with an easy-to-explore center and enticing riverside night market.
Day 9 Hue: Full day tours of ancient Hue
After breakfast your guide will take you for a leisurely walk around Dong Ba Market, where one can find anything from fabric to jewelry, fresh flowers to street food. Continue on to Imperial Citadel, once the capital of Vietnam, a sprawling complex covering an area of 520 hectares comprising three circles; the Hue Capital Citadel, the Royal Citadel and the Forbidden Citadel. In the afternoon visit the Royal Mausoleums of former emperors Tu Duc and Minh Mang, built according to the laws of geomancy. A short cruise on the Perfume River then brings you to Thien Mu Pagoda, a working Buddhist monastery which dates to 1601, and remains a symbol of the city.
Day 10 Hoi An: Transfer to Hoi An via the Hai Van Pass
After breakfast you will depart Hue and be driven south to Hoi An, stopping en route at the Bach Ma National Park. Bach Ma is a sprawling protected reserve, housing dense forests and wide lakes, which straddles the former border between north and south Vietnam. On arrival you have a choice of hikes – two favorites being the short but steep hike up to the peak of Bach Ma mountain, providing excellent views at it’s 1450m summit; or the challenging, adventurous Five Lakes hike, which includes a series of narrow ledges and waterfalls traversed by rope ladders. Your guide will be accompanying you, so please discuss options locally.
A picnic lunch will be served in the park, after which you will continue to Hoi An. Take the spectacular Hai Van Pass, passing up through the clouds and following a snaking path between the Marble Mountains and the South China Sea. You’ll then descend and pass through the port city of Danang, then the famous Da Nang Beach which was a R&R center for American GIs, before arriving in Hoi An.
Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port. It was most active between the 15th and 19th centuries, with much of the infrastructure dating back to the time still standing. The whole town is now listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 11 Hoi An: Cooking class & cycling tour
This morning you’ll indulge in an exclusive cooking class during which you’ll discover the best of Vietnamese ingredients and cooking techniques. Visit the thriving local market then travel on to a small restaurant within the old town where you’ll find a private cooking station set up. With the help of your engaging chef hosts, you’ll create a series of delicious dishes that are then enjoyed for lunch.
After the class your guide will take you cycling out into the scenically and culturally rich countryside which surround Hoi An. Passing through paddy fields, coconut forests, farmland, and picturesque villages, you will cycle along quiet and flat tracks for approximately 6km, although this can be extended or shortened dependent on your interests.
Day 12 Mekong Delta: Fly to Can Tho; overnight private sampan cruise
After breakfast you will be transferred to nearby Danang Airport, from where you will take a short domestic flight down to Can Tho, in the heart of Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta. You will be met on arrival and taken to a nearby restaurant for lunch, before you then board your overnight sampan cruise. The Song Xahn Sampan is a private 1-cabin boat which will be chartered for your exclusive use; the boat is fully staffed; all meals and drinks are included, with a private guide to accompanying you for any excursions.
Stops will be made to visit rural enclaves, markets, and craftspeople, with time in between spent gliding through the narrow canals and wider rivers of the Delta, observing mangroves, coconut farms, and stilted villages along the banks. At sunset you will draw into a docking point on the larger Hau river; dinner and drinks will be served before you settle in for the night.
Day 13 Ho Chi Minh City: Road transfer to HCMC; Evening food tour
Rise early this morning as the sampan takes you into the famous Cai Rang floating market, which is at its peak just after sunrise. You will find a kaleidoscope of barges and longtail boats communing mid-river to trade wholesale fruit and vegetables. After ample time to take in the scenes your sampan will journey back to Can Tho, where you will disembark.
Your guide and driver will meet you at the jetty and you will then set off by road into Ho Chi Minh City, a journey of approximately three hours. On arrival you will be taken straight to your hotel and then have some time to relax.
In the evening you will be picked up for a part-nocturnal excursion, part street food adventure – a tour of the city and it’s nightlife on the back of vintage Vespa scooters. Taking you through Chinatown and central Districts 1 and 4, the tour includes stops at several bars and cafes, with all food and drink included.
Day 14 Ho Chi Minh City: Guided city tour
This morning you’ll head out to explore the city’s many layers in the company of your private guide. Start in Cholon, the city’s sprawling Chinatown, where you’ll visit Jade Emperor Pagoda, a must-see with ornately carved figurines and panels of carved gilt. Continue to the Dong Khoi district, the colonial center of the city, taking in the impressive Notre Dame Cathedral, the elegant Opera House, and the beautifully preserved Central Post Office, designed by renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel. Should you wish a final stop can be included at the somber War Remnants Museum, which houses many exhibits from the ‘American War’, including some photo galleries which are quite graphic in nature. The afternoon is free to relax back at the hotel or continue exploring the city at your leisure.
Day 15 Ho Chi Minh City: Departure day
Sadly your time in Vietnam has come to an end. At the appropriate time you will meet your driver and guide for private transfer back to Ho Chi Minh Airport to check in for your onward flight. Please speak to our consultants for ideas on how to tailor or extend this tour.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Pu Luong Retreat
Hotel Saigon Morin, Hue
Victoria Can Tho Resort
Hotel Des Arts Saigon
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