Vietnam Highlights features incredibly friendly people, tightly held traditions, and beautiful landscapes. On this 10-day leisurely Vietnam Highlights, you’ll discover the contrasting regions of this diverse country, from graceful Hanoi to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City with rich heritages in between.
Our Vietnam Highlights begins with historical sites of Hanoi, Vietnam’s thousand years old capital. You will discover the hidden charms of the city, and enjoy a private home cooking class with a well-known chef.
After seeing the best of the Hanoi, continue your adventure with a cruise aboard a traditional boat in Halong Bay, a spectacular labyrinth of emerald waters studded with towering, jungle-clad limestone outcrops.
Flight to the former capital of Hue, where you explore its grand imperial architecture along the banks of the Perfume River. And then you drive down to the charming town of Hoi An, which ranks consistently as a favorite with visitors.
Afterward, you will embrace the spirit of Saigon, currently called Ho Chi Minh City, soaking up the rich tapestry of history and culture.
Day – by – Day Itinerary
Upon your arrival in Noi Bai, Hanoi’s airport, you will be met by our guiding and drive to your hotel in the city center. The balance time of the day is at your leisure, dinner is on your own and your guide is happy to recommend good restaurants.
Lodging: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
With ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards, scenic lakes, tubed houses and many religious places, Hanoi is full of charm.
Start the tour at the outside of the historic Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of Vietnam’s greatest leader resides (the mausoleum closes every Monday and Friday, and from early September to mid November).
Enjoy a leisurely walk to the Presidential Palace, next to the mausoleum, where you can see former President Ho Chi Minh’s houses. The simple stilted house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked is made of wood locating in the middle tranquil setting surrounded with mango trees, fish pond and pomelo garden. You can walk up the staircases and see his bedroom, where his belongings are on display.
At the same spot, you will also see the most iconic Buddhist pagoda in Vietnam, which was built in 1049 to dedicate to the Goddess of Merci. Wind your way afterwards to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 to dedicate to Confucius, which is also known as the fist university of Vietnam. The university built in 1076 right behind the temple to be the first state run school to educate sons of mandarins.
In the afternoon, visit the serene Museum of Ethnology, a 20 minutes drive out of town that offers a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups (the museum closes on Mondays). Drive back to central Hanoi for an hour cyclo tour through the Old Quarter and the French Quarter to enjoy the bustling local life, then cap off the day with a show at the water puppet theatre – an uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history. (B, L)
Lodging: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, we drive to a local market in Hanoi and meet with chef Dung, a key member of Hanoi Chef Association. Having a decade-old experience working at a noted 4-star hotel, he can show you how to select the freshest and typical ingredients for local Vietnamese foods. Enjoy sight, sound and flavor of the market. Then drive to his beautiful private home for a private hands-on cooking class and stories of his participation in Culinary Festivals in France, taste your own creations at lunch at your chef’s house.
In the afternoon, you have car & guide at disposal for more walking in the city center or your shopping. (B, L)
Lodging: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi
After breakfast, we leave your hotel for a 3.5-hour journey to Halong bay, stopping at Dai Viet center for a break and stretch your legs en route.
12.00: Arrival in Tuan Chau Island, at the doorstep of Vietnam's most fascinating wonder
12.15: Boarding time
12.30: Welcome Drink – cruise briefing, safety instructions, check-in cabins. Strong believers in the holistic nature of premium service, your Paradise Private Butlers are trained in all areas of service for you to take away with you priceless memories of a professional and efficient but still warm and personal service. Your heavenly journey across Halong Bay commences.
13.00: Seafood Lunch Platter. Enjoy your meal in the elegant dining room, the private dining of your cabin or even on the balcony for a better view of the amazing landscape that unleashes before your eyes.
Paradise Cruise gives you the chance to see more undiscovered parts of the Bay- not only will you cruise through Halong Bay but you will also pass by many amazing areas. You will pass Luon Cave called the “Tunnel Cave” in English, due to its long 60 meters leading to a tranquil lake; Trong Cave, which enchanting interior is often used for gala-diner and banquet; Ho Dong Tien cave whose mouth, you will see, is right at sea level.
15:00 - 16:30: In the afternoon take to a kayak and paddle your way around while collecting trash from around the bay- you will be given all the equipment needed and staff will be ready and waiting onboard to receive what you’ve picked up and dispose of it properly after returning to shore.
16.30 – 18.00: Continue cruising and sightseeing on the Bay while the Afternoon Tea is served on the Sundeck: A Coffee and Tea brewing demonstration will introduce you to the traditional culture of tea and coffee in Vietnam. Nibbles include cakes and biscuits.
You can request a cooking demonstration with your butler to discover the Vietnamese cuisine. Try making the spring rolls yourself, with the assistance of your butler or the Chef.
18.00 – 19.15: Relax or book on-board Spa Services (refer to the menu in your cabin)
19.30 – 21.00: Dinner À La Carte
21.00 – 23.00: Evening Activities – relax at leisure; choose from our selection of movies to watch in the intimacy of your cabin; try Squid Fishing or book a Beauty Spa service onboard. (B, L, D)
6.30: Tai Chi session on the Sundeck at the break of dawn
7.00 – 7.30: Light breakfast: Tea, coffee and assorted pastries
7.30 – 8.30: Choose among visiting Luon Cave on a rowing bamboo boat with local people; exploring Sung Sot Cave, one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Halong Bay or swimming, kayaking and trekking at Titop Island.
8.30: Breakfast À La Carte
9.45: Cabin Checkout and bill settlement
10.30: The boat anchors in the wharf. Time to go ashore from the boat.
Arrive at the jetty around 10h30am then transfer back to Hanoi for your flight to Hue. (B)
Note: the cruise program is subject to change with prior notice due to weather and tidal condition or wind direction.
On arrival in Phu Bai, Hue’s airport, meet your guide and drive to your hotel for check in.
Hue served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Kings and Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to 19th century. With splendid emperor’s tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel, the city retains its royal charm.
Start your day in Hue with 10 minutes cyclo ride from your hotel to the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO listed site. Enter through the towering main gate and you will appreciate the magnificent architecture and garden while your guide explains about thee events and the intrigued of the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily, there are some incredibly well preserved sections still intact and others that are being lovingly restore. From there, the vehicle will take you to visit Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Standing on the riverbank with its seven-story tower, the pagoda is a sight to behold.
In the afternoon, we drive out 30 minutes to the elaborate Khai Dinh Royal Tomb. Its architecture and atmosphere showcase elements of eastern art and western designs. Continue to the serene Tu Duc Royal Tomb, designed to blend in with its natural surroundings and built on principles of feng-shui. Transfer back to your hotel with an optional stop en route at an incense stick-making house. If time permits, we will stop by Dong Ba market before transferring back to your hotel. (B)
Lodging: La Residence Hotel & Spa
Today, you will be transferred to Hoi An, an well-known ancient town.
Along the 2,5 hour driving, make a stop at the informative Cham Museum, which houses the best collection of Cham ruins in Asia. The artifacts here date from the 2nd to 15th centuries. Finally, head a few miles south to the Marble Mountains – a cluster of 5 marble and limestone mountains, which rise dramatically from the flat land along the coast of East Sea. The mountains contain numerous cave and tunnels and it is possible to reach one of the summits. Arrival at your hotel, the Nam Hai around 2h30 pm. (B)
Lodging: The Nam Hai
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port. Today, this World Heritage listed ancient town boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrianizing streets and unique cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past. The narrow lanes are ideal for a guided walking tour.
At 9h00 am, start to visit the old merchant’s houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture, the 400 years old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings, and the colorful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments with few hours.
Notes: The ticket is valid for entry to 5 sightseeing spot in Hoi An including merchant’s houses, Japanese bridge, Museum, Pagoda and Congregation Hall for 24 hours, however it is valid for entry to Hoi An town for as long as you are in Hoi An. It is a must you need to keep that entrance ticket at all times incase you’d like to visit Hoi An later in the evening or the next day in your own free time.
This afternoon is free at leisure (no car or guide at disposal). (B)
Lodging: The Nam Hai
After your breakfast, you will be transferred to Danang airport for your flight down to Saigon. On arrival, meet your guide then transfer to hotel for check in.
Saigon is the country’s commercial center, and with over nine million inhabitants and five millions motorbikes, a city that never sleep of Vietnam. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past.
At 02h45 pm, enjoy a city tour to admire Saigon’s historic landmark including the former Presidential Palace, the head quarter of Saigon government during the American war, revealing the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Further, drive to visit the War Remnant Museum for a vivid insight of the American wart through the local’s eyes (some photos here are very graphic), the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires base on the original construction from Paris (it is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed), and head across the square to the Centre Post Office, designed by the French architect who designed the Paris’s Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel. (B)
Lodging: Park Hyatt Saigon Hotel
Today you will leave Saigon for your flight home, end your Vietnam Highlights trip. Your guide and drive to Tan Son Nhat international airport will pick you up for your flight. (B)
Price per person: $2000
Holiday surcharge: non
All costs are per person, based on a private guide and car.
Trip cost includes:
Trip cost DOSE NOT include:
PAYMENT AND CANCELLATION FEE SCHEDULES
As you are not confirmed on the trip until deposit has been received by our office, please do not make non-refundable air arrangements prior to us confirming your booking. Our payment schedules:
Note: If booked less than 45 days from arrival, full payment is required immediately
If it becomes necessary for you to cancel your trip, the following fees will apply, computed as of the date of receipt of written cancellation notice, which can be sent by email.
Arrival & Departure Information
You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please kindly contact us for a detailed itinerary.
Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.
Fall 2015 – Autumn 2016 Departures
Arrival: Hanoi, Vietnam
Departure: Hanoi, Vietnam
We want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip from 1 to 5 according to the activity and general travel rigors (1 is the easiest and 5 the most difficult in style).
Our system ranks each trip in two ways. The number gives you a quick reference point, the description is perhaps more important, with activities, hiking, and travel conditions (at the bottom of the long-day-itineraries, there is also a brief description of what this Trip is like).
We are always happy to answer questions, and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
1 - Easiest
No hiking journeys, optional walks, little driving hours, leisurely travel, one day trips.
2 - Easy to Moderate
Easy to Moderate: Hotel nights or overnight cruises with other physical activities, such as hikes or bike of 2 to 4 hours on some days, sea kayaking.
3 - Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3 to 6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based country walking tours are in this category, as are our hiking adventures.
4 - Moderate to Strenuous
Trips with Full-day hikes (4-6 hours), mountainous terrain, significant elevation gains and losses (hiking up or down as much as 3,000 feet) on many hikes.
Examples: Hiking Mai Chau Pu Luong
5 - Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many hikes. Trips with more than 3-day sea kayaking, hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.