Hanoi – Ha Long Bay Cruise – Da Nang – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong River Delta
Join us on this extraordinary tour to explore Vietnam’s culture, history and wondrous landscapes. This Southeast Asian country of 90 million people is famous for its beautiful countryside, beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas, French colonial landmarks and bustling cities.
Conducted by an experienced tour leader and expert local guides, the tour begins in Hanoi, ancient capital of Vietnam, and concludes in Ho Chi Minh City – the largest city and the most important economic centre of Vietnam. Trip highlights of this fully escorted premium tour include overnight Ha Long Bay cruise and the Old Town of Hoi An – both on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list.
- Small group (20 max).
- Expert local guides hand-picked by Laurus Travel’s owners.
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
- Ha Long Bay overnight cruise aboard one of the best luxury junks.
- No forced shopping stops.
- Authentic local cuisine.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- Free Wi-Fi in every hotel.
- Water puppet show in Hanoi.
- Cooking class in Hoi An.
Nights per location:
- Hanoi: 3
- Ha Long Bay cruise: 1
- Hoi An: 2
- Ho Chi Minh City: 4
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Scroll down for dates, prices, hotel list, visa requirement and customer reviews.
Day 1/Thu: Departing Home City
The Vietnam tour begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Fri: Arrival in Hanoi
Welcome to Hanoi! Meet your guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. Airport transfer for guests arriving ahead of tour schedule is not included and taxi fare is about $15 US.
Day 3/Sat: Hanoi (B/L/D)
Hanoi is the capital and the second largest city of Vietnam with a population currently estimated at close to 3 million. The ancient city has had many names throughout history, all of them of Sino-Vietnamese origin. Hanoi received its current name from Emperor Minh Mang in 1831. Ha and Noi mean “river” and “in between” respectively, to reflect the fact that the city sits between Red River and To Lich River. Hanoi was the most important political centre of Vietnam between 1010 and 1802. It was eclipsed by Hue during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802–1945). The city served as capital of French Indochina from 1902 to 1954. After the French were driven out in 1954, Hanoi became the capital of North Vietnam and subsequently capital of the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam since 1975.
Our city tour following orientation in the hotel takes in the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, the Old Quarter and traditional water puppet show.
The Presidential Palace was built between 1900 and 1906 to house the French Governor-General of Indochina. When Vietnam achieved independence in 1954, Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) declined to live in the grand structure for symbolic reasons. Instead, a traditional Vietnamese stilt house was built for him in the same complex and he lived in it until he passed away on September 2, 1969. The palace is used for government functions, not open to public. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is located nearby the palace.
The Old Quarter near Hoan Kiem Lake has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. A night market (near Dong Xuan Market) in the heart of the district opens for business on weekends offering a variety of clothing, souvenirs and food.
We attend a traditional water puppet show later in the day. The show is performed in a waist-deep pool with the surface of water as stage. The puppets are made out of wood and then lacquered. The puppeteers standing behind a split-bamboo screen control the puppets using long bamboo rods and string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. The themes are rural with strong reference to Vietnamese folklore. Stories of harvesting, fishing and festivals are highlighted, often with a humorous twist. Legends and national history are also told through short skits.
We wrap up the day with a delicious welcome dinner.
Day 4/Sun: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay (B/L/D)
Our morning drive to Ha Long Bay takes about three and half hours. Board the luxurious junk on arrival. Our overnight cruise on Ha Long Bay includes visits to a sandy beach and a limestone cave full of stalactites and stalagmites.
Inscribed in 1994 by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay, located in the Gulf of Tonkin and 165 kilometres from Hanoi, covers an area of 43,400 hectares and includes over 1,600 islands and islets. The exceptional scenic beauty of the limestone pillars complemented by biological interest is an ideal model of a mature Karst landscape developed during a warm and wet tropical climate. The outstanding value of Ha Long Bay is centered around the drowned limestone karst landforms, displaying spectacular pillars with a variety of coastal erosional features such as arches and caves which form a majestic natural scenery.
Day 5/Mon: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi (B/L)
We disembark the boat at 10:00 AM after a leisurely breakfast. The drive back to Hanoi takes three and half hours. After lunch we spend the rest of day exploring on our own. Please feel free to ask your guide for recommendations. Those interested in visiting Hue will be transported to the airport and fly to Hui.
Day 6/Tue: Hanoi – Hoi An (B/D)
Free morning. Transfer to airport for mid-afternoon flight to Da Nang, a major port city in Central Vietnam 30km north of Hoi An.
The early history of Hoi An is that of the Cham people, who created the Champa Empire which occupied much of what is now central and lower Vietnam, from Hue to beyond Nha Trang. Europeans first reached Hoi An in early 16th century when it was still known as Hai Fo. In the 18th century, Hoi An was considered by Chinese and Japanese merchants to be among the best destinations for trading in all of Southeast Asia. But its importance waned sharply at the end of the 18th century as a result of domestic turmoil and rise of Da Nang after the Vietnamese imperial court granted the French exclusive trade rights to Da Nang.
Day 7/Wed: Hoi An (B/L)
Our tour of the food market in the town centre is followed by a cooking class. We then spend the rest of the day exploring the ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site. Our walking tour of the Old Town takes in the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, Sa Huynh Museum, Tran Family Chapel, Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, and a lantern making workshop.
Day 8/Thu: Hoi An – Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh City (B/L/D)
Free morning to explore on your own. Many guests probably would like to spend some time in the hotel’s lovely outdoor swimming pool. The local guide would be on hand to help you rent a bicycle and pedal into the countryside with you.
After lunch, we drive 30km back to Da Nang and visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture – a highlight of the city, prior to our late afternoon flight for Ho Chi Minh.
Day 9/Fri: Ho Chi Minh City (B/L)
Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC for short is the largest city in Vietnam, with a population of 9 million. Formerly named Saigon, it lies 1,160km (720 miles) south of Hanoi and 605km (375 miles) southwest of Da Nang.
Ho Chi Minh City began as a small fishing village called Prey Nokor inhabited by Khmer people, who lived here for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese. Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmers of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom could not impede because it was weakened by war with Thailand, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon. Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers and the loss of the city and the rest of the Mekong Delta cut off Cambodia’s access to the East Sea. Subsequently, the only remaining Khmers’ sea access was southwesterly at the Gulf of Thailand.
Under the name Saigon, the city served as capital of the French colony of Cochinchina from 1862 to 1954 and later of the independent republic of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1975. Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chí Minh City on July 2, 1976.
Our sightseeing today begins with a stroll along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Catinat Street, the main shopping district and the heart of the old colonial Saigon. Highlights include such classic European-style landmarks as Hotel De Ville, the old Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
We then proceed to the Reunification Palace, formerly the presidential palace of the South Vietnamese government, which was stormed by Viet Cong troops on April 30, 1975, signifying the fall of the Republic of Vietnam commonly known as South Vietnam. The War Remnants Museum is the last on our schedule.
Day 10/Sat: Ho Chi Minh City (B/L/D)
After breakfast we embark on an excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels. Stretching over 200km, this incredible underground network was an important Viet Cong base during the Vietnam War. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat as well as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters. The tunnels were also Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968.
We then visit Cao Dai Temple in Tây Ninh and take in the midday service. The religion practiced here is known as Caodaism, a monotheistic religion officially established in the city of Tây Ninh in 1926.
We return to the city after lunch at a local restaurant near the temple.
Day 11/Sun: Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Free day to explore on your own.
Optional Mekong Delta Day Trip
We depart early in the morning for a mesmerizing day trip to Cai Be in Mekong Delta. The scenic drive can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours depending on traffic and the choice of route.
Upon arrival, we board a motorized boat to cruise Mekong River and en route stop by villages to visit local families and villagers-operated small businesses that churn out interesting products such as rice paper using traditional techniques. After lunch at a beautiful garden restaurant, we continue our exploration of Mekong Delta. Bicycles are available for those who are not afraid of the high heat and humidity!
Day 12/Mon: Ho Chi Minh – Home City (B)
Your Vietnam tour ends today. Transfer to the airport anytime for return flight. Arrive home the same day after recrossing the International Date Line.
|Ha Long Bay||1||Paradise Cruise||luxury|
|Hoi An||2||Hotel Royal Hoi An||luxury|
|Ho Chi Minh City||4||Renaissance Riverside||luxury|
Dates & Prices
|Land Only |
|Single Supplement |
|What the tour price includes: ||What the tour price excludes: |
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See Terms & Conditions for more information.
Passport, Visa & Photograph
A passport with at least two (2) blank visa pages and six (6) months validity at the end of the tour is required. You’ll need two photos of passport type (2×2 inches) for this trip.
Vietnam E-Visa & Visa on Arrival – US$25
Effective February 1, 2017, visitors from 40 countries including the United States and Great Britain will be able to apply for Vietnam visa online at https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ and https://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/. Letter of Approval (see below) is not required. Unfortunately, this service is not yet available to Canadians and Australians.
Canadians and Australians or any other nationals coming on our Vietnam tours who are not allowed to apply online should obtain their visa on arrival. A Letter of Approval from Vietnam is required and will be furnished 3 weeks prior to your arrival.
Although you may apply through a Vietnamese embassy prior to arrival, we advise against it because visa on arrival is simple and more cost-effective. The fee must be paid in US dollars and in cash only – no other currency or form of payment is accepted.
Health & Immunization
You are not required of any inoculation certificate to enter the country. However, we do suggest you visit your family physician or a travel medicine clinic to determine what precautions you should take. We recommend inoculation shots for hepatitis A and suggest that you check out advice provided by the US CDC and Health Canada.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Ask for bottled or boiled water when eating in restaurants. When buying bottled water from street vendors, especially at tourist sites, make sure the cap is properly sealed because some vendors may be selling tap water in recycled bottles.
Try to avoid uncooked food. Even the food you eat is clean, you may still experience stomach upsets or diarrhea due to ingredients your stomach is not used to.
Always carry a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of hand sanitizer containing more than 60% of alcohol, no matter where you go.
Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout Vietnam and can be used for major purchases. U.S. dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Vietnam but it is better for the buyer to use the local currency. When you join one of our Vietnam tours, you do not need to have Vietnamese currency prior to arrival.
Vietnam Tour Reviews
Below is one example. Please contact us for references or more testimonials like this.
My husband and I just returned from the 13-day tour of Vietnam with Jacob from Beijing as our team leader. He was our Beijing local guide during our China Tour last year. We were overjoyed to have him as our tour leader this time with only nine of us in our group. We had a great time and I cannot say enough good things about Jacob. He took good care of us, always made sure that all our needs were met, questions were answered, and listened to our suggestions. Above all, he was a great travelling companion during the entire trip, always sharing stories and jokes with the group, sometimes joining meals and sight-seeing with us on our free time. I really feel safe and well taken care of at all times.
Overall the itineraries of the Vietnam tour were well planned. We particularly enjoyed the Halong Bay overnight cruise. It was an excellent idea not to return to Hanoi on the same day because firstly, the bus trips to and from Halong Bay and Hanoi would be too long and tiring to accomplish in one day; secondly, we would be too rush[sic] to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and all the interesting activities that the Bay had to offer; thirdly, the junk boat that we stayed overnight in was fun, nice and relaxing.
For the rest of the tour, we enjoyed visiting the museums, palaces, mausoleums, the lantern factory, and the Cu Chi Tunnels. However, in our opinion, there were too many visits to the local market in every city: Hanoi, Hue, HoiAn (one was enough for us) and the one-hour river cruise in HoiAn was not necessary (not much to see and very windy) since we had to take the boat again (2nd time for 20 minutes) to go to the cooking school. We did not want to go on the boat and to the market again so we missed the cooking classes directly following (I would have enjoyed the cooking lessons). Instead my husband and I spent our time at the beautiful pool in our very luxurious Royal HoiAn Hotel (by Sofitel). It was a good alternative.
All the meals provided were delicious. All the local guides were knowledgeable. We particularly enjoyed Loc in Hanoi with his very good sense of humour. Accommodation was very nice particularly the hotel I mentioned above. The exception was the one in Hue. The hotel hallways and rooms had a musty smell.
All in all we had a wonderful time in Vietnam. Thank you for all your good work. We have no hesitation in recommending Laurus Travel to our friends and relatives. We would love to be your third time customer in the near future especially if we have Jacob as our tour leader!
Vancouver, British Columbia
Contact us for more testimonials and references.