Explore all the sights and sounds of this magnificent country with an in-depth tour showing you some of Vietnam's top sites as well as stunning natural landscapes that you will never forget including the Mekong Delta and trekking into the remote Sapa Hills.
- Departs: london
- Arrives: ho chi minh city, Vietnam
- Departs: hanoi, Vietnam
- Arrives: london
Vietnam Explorer with Sapa - Deluxe Tour
- As Per Itinerary
- As Per Itinerary
- Visit the Reunification Palace
- Five star hotels, internal flights and local guides included
- Enjoy a pinic by a waterfall
An in-depth tour of Vietnam seeing everything that makes the country so marvellous from cruises on the Mekong Delta and Halong Bay to trekking the hills of remote Sapa.
Day 1: Fly overnight to Saigon
Depart the UK on your overnight flight to Saigon
Day 2: Saigon arrival
Meet your driver and transfer to your hotel.
Saigon is one of the world's truly cosmopolitan cities with a history, culture and style obtained from colonial France, ancient China and the art deco era. Once the main port of Cambodia's Mekong territory, Saigon became the capital of France's Cochinchina and later the capital of the Republic of Vietnam. It remained the capital of South Vietnam until reunification at the end of the American War in Vietnam in 1975, when the capital was moved to Hanoi.
Although the city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975, the government soon realised that the proud 'Saigonese' would never stop calling it Saigon. Now it's accepted that Ho Chi Minh City refers to the greater metropolitan area, while the older and central suburbs are called Saigon.
The rest day is free at leisure.
Overnight in Saigon
Day 3: Saigon - Cu Chi - City tour
This morning we head to Cu Chi Tunnels which are located in an area known during the American War in Vietnam as the 'Iron Triangle', on account of the strength of its Communist insurgency. Cu Chi was also the conclusion to many caravan paths that traced down from the Chinese border, across mountain borders with Laos and into the Mekong Delta, which later became known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The network, which is several storeys deep in some parts, includes trapdoors, living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens.
In the afternoon, you will begin your sightseeing around Vietnam's largest and busiest city with a visit to the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1886 and 1890, and the French-style Central Post Office.
You will then continue on to the Reunification Palace. This was the scene for the final stages of the American War when a North Vietnamese tank bulldozed through the gates and the tank commander ran to the fourth floor of the palace to raise a North Vietnamese flag from its rooftop, being directed on the way by the recently appointed new President of South Vietnam.
After lunch by your own account you will be transferred to Ben Thanh Market where you can enjoy some bargain hunting!
The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Saigon
Day 4: Saigon - My Tho - Bassac Cruise
7:00am to 07:30am: Pick up from your hotel in Saigon and depart travel by CAR/VAN to Cai Be.
12:00pm: Boarding at Cai Be at noon. Welcome drink, Introduction to the ship and crew, check into the cabins.
Departure towards Cho Lach on the Tien Giang river. Lunch while on route. Rest on the deck. Turning into Cho Lach canal for 30 minutes through the traffic of sand and rice barges, in a scenery of fruit drying facilities and wooden ship building yards.
Visit of a village on the banks of river Mang Thit, an opportunity to appreciate the way of life and hospitality of the local inhabitants. Visit of the orchard or rice fields nearby.
Boarding back, complimentary drink as a welcome back on board. Rest on the deck enjoying the sunset. The crew will serve dinner while the Bassac is cruising Mang Thit river.
The Bassac sets anchor just downstream from the little Tra On floating market, for the night.
Overnight on board
Day 5: Can Tho - Saigon - Fly to Da Nang/ Hoi An
You may get up for breakfast as early as 06:30, as the ship is resuming its cruise the Tra On floating market. The ship then departs towards Can Tho.
Arrival in Cai Rang floating market, check out and transfer onto a local boat to visit the floating market, the nearby arroyos and gardens and return to the Ninh Kieu pier.
End of services by mid-morning on shore at Cáº§n ThÆ¡.Danang is on the western bank of the Han River and is Vietnam's fourth largest and main University City. Upon arrival in Danang, we will transfer to the charming town of Hoi An, located 30km south of Danang.Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years merchants from China, Japan, France and Portugal settled in the prosperous town resulting in a distinctive blend of culture, cuisine, religion and architecture. In 1999, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage listed site for having the most unique architecture in Southeast Asia. It has been restored and protected by both the UNESCO fund and proud locals ever since.
Overnight in Hoi An
Day 6: Hoi An
Today we enjoy a walking tour of the narrow and ancient streets of this charming town. We will visit one of Hoi An's oldest homes, built over 200 years ago and still occupied by the descendants of the merchant family that originally built it. We will also visit the traditional Hoi An Market, the Quan Cong Chinese Temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
It is local belief that the ancient houses in Hoi An have a soul, which is displayed on the house as an eye, formed from the Chinese yin-yang symbol. Newly built houses are blind, since they do not have eyes.
The rest of the day is free at your leisure or to further explore this ancient town.
Overnight in Hoi An
Day 7: Hoi An transfer to Hue
We leave Hoi An this morning and head north to Hue. This drive will take us over the scenic Hai Van Pass, passing the fishing village of Lang Co, as we enjoy panoramic views of the central coastline.
En route we will stop at Marble Mountains, five mountainous outcrops of marble. Here we will have a view of Danang Beach, where the American Marines had a huge R&R base during the 1960s and 1970s.
Hue was the imperial capital of Vietnam from 1802-1945, when the last emperor abdicated the throne, yet even today it is still regarded as the seat of Vietnam's culture and religion. The Imperial Citadel, which dominates the city, was modelled on China's Forbidden City. The city boasts many significant pagodas and temples, as well as the grand tombs of the Nguyen Emperors.
This afternoon we will visit to the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City, which was built only for the Imperial family, concubines and eunuchs. The Forbidden Purple City is still being restored many years after the destruction caused by street fighting and bombing during the American War.
Overnight in Hue
Day 8: Hue fly to Hanoi
This morning we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Tomb of Minh Mang. Emperor Minh Mang reigned in the Nguyen Dynasty, the last of the Vietnamese dynasties, from 1820-1840. The construction of his tomb was completed after his death and is said to have taken approximately 10,000 workers to complete. The complex comprises of almost 40 monuments and is surrounded by gardens and pools, making it one of the more beautiful tombs in Vietnam.
Continue by road to Thien Mu Pagoda; the seven-storey tower is built on a hill overlooking the Perfume River and is Hue's oldest and most beautiful pagoda. From the pagoda we take a cruise on the Perfume River before returning to our hotel.
You will then transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi.
Upon arrival in to Hanoi, we will be transferred to our hotel. Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and verdant public parks, with a population of about four million. The city centre is like an architectural museum, with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a provincial French town from the 1930s.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 9: Hanoi
Without question, Ho Chi Minh is one of the great figures of 20th-century history. This morning we will explore Ho Chi Minh Quarter for a look at the life of the father of modern Vietnam. First we will visit Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, which sits in Ba Dinh Square and is where Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is closed for entry every Monday and also from September to December each year. During these times we are unable to enter the Mausoleum; however we can view it from the exterior.
In the same complex we will see the Humble House on Stilts, from which 'Uncle Ho' ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969, as well as Ho Chi Minh Museum and the One Pillar Pagoda.
Next we will drive to the serene Temple of Literature, Hanoi's first university dating back to 1070 and a historical centre of learning, now dedicated to Confucian worship.
This afternoon we enjoy a walking tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter. This area of crowded, market alleys is still laid out as it was 300 years ago and is also known as the '36 Streets'. Traditionally in Vietnam, all the shops on a single street were devoted to selling one product. We can see rope, button, copper and herbal medicine streets.
In the evening, transfer to the station to take the night train to Sapa.
Overnight on train.
Day 10: Lao Cai - Sapa
After breakfast at the local restaurant, you will be transferred to Sin Chai village. This beautiful village, located right at the foot of Hoang Lien mountain range and inhabited by Black H'mong minority. There start your trekking journey uphill.
Once we reach to the top, you will take a small trail descending to Cat Cat village.
Picnic lunch will be provided near a waterfall.
In the afternoon, take another trail sneaking through mountain. The scenery is spectacular. Take a short break upon arriving Y Linh Ho village before climbing up to the main road where our vehicle will be waiting for you for the journey back to Sa Pa.
Overnight in Sa Pa
Day 11: Sapa - Lao Cai - Hanoi
Early morning wake up for one wants to explore the busy and colorful lifestyle of local market here.
In the afternoon, take a short drive to Suoi Ho village. You can follow the buffalo trails to visit Black H'mong people in the secluded Ma Tra village. Explore Ma Tra Village and follow dirt trail through rice fields and villages. Enjoy spectacular view along the way. Paying visiting to a ruined of the French Catholic church at the end of the walk.
Trek back to main road to get on your vehicle for the journey to Lao Cai station.
Overnight on train
Day 12: Arrive Hanoi - Halong Bay (overnight on junk)
We arrive Hanoi in the early morning.
Take time to refresh and have breakfast at local hotel near the train station before driving to Halong.
This morning we drive to the area that is regarded as the 'Jewel in the Crown of Vietnam', Halong Bay. Halong Bay has been compared with the landscape of Guilin in China and the limestone islets of Krabi in southern Thailand.
Upon arrival in Halong Bay, we board our boat for a cruise around the 3,000 islets that rise from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. This province shares a common border with China in the north and harbours some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam. Bizarre rock sculptures jutting dramatically from the sea and numerous grottoes have created an enchanted, timeless world; the sails of the junk boats and sampans add further to the scenic beauty.
Enjoy a seafood lunch on board before we set sail. We cruise around the bay this afternoon stopping to explore fascinating caves and to enjoy a swim at one of the beaches. Dinner will be served on board while watching the sun set over the bay. The remainder of the night is ours to relax on board the anchored junk boat.
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Overnight on cruise
Please note that our itinerary in Halong Bay is subject to change due to local conditions.
Day 13: Halong Bay - Hanoi
One of the most special experiences for travellers in Vietnam is to watch the sun rise over Halong Bay. If you are up early enough you can watch this spectacular and peaceful scene. After our breakfast we continue cruising through the bay.
We enjoy brunch on board before arriving at the wharf around midday and travelling back to Hanoi.
The rest of day is free at leisure by your own arrangement.
Meals: breakfast, lunch
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 14: Hanoi departure
This morning is at leisure enabling us the chance to grab that last bargain in the Old Quarter or take a stroll around the lakes and boulevards to soak up the colonial and romantic atmosphere that is Hanoi. Meet your driver and transfer to the airport.