Essence of Vietnam

Saigon, Mekong, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay

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Overview

This is our most popular overland tour of Vietnam, with an extended stay around Ho Cho Minh City in the country’s south, allowing us time to visit Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, as well as sites around Saigon such as the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels and the head temple of the unique Cao Dai religion.

Itinerary Summary

By Day Destinations Activities Meals
Day 1 Fly to Ho Chi Minh
Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City Tour - Cu Chi Tunnel Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 Ho Chi Minh - Mekong Delta Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 Ho Chi Minh - Fly to Da Lat - City Tour Breakfast, Lunch
Day 5 Elephant Waterfall - Weasel Coffee Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 Nha Trang Breakfast
Day 7 Nha Trang Breakfast
Day 8 Nha Trang Breakfast
Day 9 Nha Trang - Fly to Da Nang Breakfast
Day 10 Hoi An - My Son Breakfast
Day 11 Hoi An - Cycling to Tra Que Breakfast, Light Lunch
Day 12 Hoi An - Transfer to Hue - Sightseeing Breakfast, Lunch
Day 13 Hue - Fly to Hanoi Breakfast
Day 14 Hanoi - Halong Bay - Overnight on Cruise Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15 Halong Bay - Hanoi Breakfast, Lunch
Day 16 Hanoi Sightseeing Breakfast, Lunch
Day 17 Hanoi Breakfast

Full itinerary

Day 1

Fly to Ho Chi Minh

Arrival at Saigon international airport. Upon arrival we will be met by our tour manager and transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay.

Meals:

Day 2

Ho Chi Minh City Tour - Cu Chi Tunnel

Breakfast at hotel, meet our guide at 8.00 & start visiting to the most attractive places in Ho Chi Minh City including Reunification Palace - a special national relic for its historical and architectural values of Vietnam, and the War Remnants Museum. Next, we will explore a little bit about Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office – the French building in Ho Chi Minh City.

Have a lunch at local restaurant before leaving the city for a tour to Cu Chi Tunnels - a man-made maze with the length of almost 250 kilometers. Also, the tunnels were used to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters in the long period of war. If you are interested in, you can go into the tunnels to discover the harsh living conditions of those whose were used to live there. 

After that, taste the typical boiled tapioca and hot tea before you come back to Saigon.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3

Ho Chi Minh - Mekong Delta

Pick you up at hotel at 08.00. A smooth one-and-half-hour bus ride through rice field scenery along National Highway 1 brings you to the beautiful rural district of Trung Luong. On arrival at My Tho, after visiting Vinh Trang pagoda, take a motor boat to enter My Tho city through Bao Dinh natural canal. Take a leisurely cruise on the Tien River to view the four beautiful islands known as Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix and Tortoise islands. Enjoy lunch at the local restaurant, then visit the coconut candy mill and take an amazing rowing boat trip along the small canal on a hand-rowed sampan under the shadow of the water coconut trees along natural canals. Then enjoy seasonal fruit & honey tea to the sound of "Southern Vietnamese folk music", performed by locals. End of the tour, get on minubus and return Ho Chi Minh City. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4

Ho Chi Minh - Fly to Da Lat - City Tour

Morning flight to Da Lat. Upon arrival, meet our guide and transfer to center to start a city tour Da Lat. Our car takes you to Robin Hills, where you can enjoy airy space and get the panorama view of the Dalat City and enjoy the marvelous sight of the pine forested valley stretched down to the South.

After taking some photos of this, you will take the cable car at Dalat Cable Car Station descending down 300 meters. From the cable car, you can see the nice view of flower, vegetable fields dotted in the pine forested valley and Tuyen Lam Lake below. Surrounding by pine forest, Tuyen Lam Lake looks like a paradise with the Truc Lam Zen Monastery ( the biggest Zen University in Viet Nam, built on the top of Phoenix Hill). Please dress decently when visiting the Monastery

Keep driving southward, we continue our trip to visit Datanla waterfall with magnificent view and enjoy cool air and some activities there.

After the waterfall, we will go to the Bao Dai King’s Summer Palace, the last Emperor and unique cultural lifestyle of Vietnamese through Royal decoration, the meaningful place of your Dalat trip.

Have Lunch at a local restaurant and take a short rest

We continue our trip to Da Lat Flower Garden, which is known as the paradise of flowers with a rich collection of local and foreign flower types.

XQ Embroidery village, our next place, is a worthy place to see many miraculous hand made embroidery works and find out how they make those fantastic artwork, this is the head and original hand embroidered works of XQ in Vietnam.

Keeping on visiting a giant golden statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. Continuously, we visit The Cock Church (The Cathedral of Dalat city), the biggest church in Dalat . Lastly, you are free to enjoy the artichoke tea, jams at Dalat’s Specialities Showroom.

Finish the tour and our car takes you back to your hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5

Elephant Waterfall - Weasel Coffee

Today, you will visit the following places:

Van Thanh Flower Village: The biggest village producing flowers in Dalat, here you can see all kinds of flower, 

Ta Nung Pass: Going down the pass to see the beautiful landscape both side of the road with plants and soil changed from the top to the End of the Pass.

K'Ho Minority village: An Ethnic tribe live far away from the city. Visit them to know more about their Matriarchy culture. see their house and contact directly to them to see life in a different way.

Coffee Plantation: A Thousand hectares of coffee trees. here you can take beautiful pictures and our guide will help you recognize many different kinds of coffee in Vietnam.

Weasel Coffee: you will see the real animal producing the most expensive poop in the world. you can try and smell all different coffees in Vietnam. See the magnificent view from the coffee shop, they sell local products such as clothes and souvenir so you can shop here if you want.

Cricket Farm and Rice winemaking house: A family growing crickets. thousand of them. you will see the whole process from the beginning until making them become food. a specialty you must try. You also can see the traditional way to make happy water ( rice wine) and should give it a try.

Silk Factory: See the process of making silk from the worm to the final fabric. recognize real silk and fake silk. you also can buy local products here.

Elephant Waterfall: The most powerful waterfall with many elephant rocks. you can go inside a cave, see rainbows and touch the waterfall, I'm sure you will like it.

Linh An Pagoda: a Pagoda follow the north style ( Mahayana ) you can see many different Buddhas inside, and especially a huge Happy Buddha with a big belly and beautiful smile. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6

Da Lat - Transfer to Nha Trang

We travel by coach to Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa Province. Upon arrival check in to your hotel, rest of the day at your own leisure to relax at the sandy beach.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 7

Nha Trang

Free at leisure on beach. Overnight Nha Trang

Meals: Breakfast

Day 8

Nha Trang

Free at leisure on beach. Overnight Nha Trang

Meals: Breakfast

Day 9

Nha Trang - Fly to Da Nang

Morning flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival, check in hotel in Hoi An 

Meals: Breakfast

Day 10

Hoi An - My Son

This morning (afternoon), you will set out on a drive to the southwest of Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary for a My Son half day tour. This is where the Cham culture in Central Vietnam started in the 4th century, declined in the 13th century, and ceased to exist in the 15th century. The once capital of the Champa Kingdom dedicated to the worship of the god Shiva is now a cluster of partially ruined and heavily damaged Hindu temples, with only 20 left, due to age and bombing during the Vietnam War. This unique and majestic sanctuary stands as a witness to a glorious bygone era of the once-thriving Cham culture.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 11

Hoi An - Cycling to Tra Que

9.00 Cycling into the countryside to the small farming community of Tra Que Vegetable Village. Here you can enjoy the lush green countryside and see the farmers at work, later learn to make Vietnamese spring roll and free on foot massage by herbs. Enjoy a free afternoon back in Hoi An, it is time for you to explore art and handicraft galleries, try on clothes tailor-made, relax at the riverside restaurants or take the short journey to the nearby beach. Overnight in Hoi An

Meals: Breakfast, Light Lunch

Day 12

Hoi An - Transfer to Hue - Sightseeing

Leaving Hoi An visit Marble Mountains and China Beach before continuing over the Hai Van Pass to Hue. Hue was Vietnam’s ‘Imperial Capital’, the former home to the Nguyen Dynasty that ruled over the country from 1802 until the last emperor abdicated in 1945. A visit to Hue wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Imperial Citadel which was modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Citadel was the centre piece of the royal empire, a massive moated palace that was extensively damaged during the Vietnam War. This afternoon take a cyclo ride to the Imperial Citadel, continue by coach to Thien Mu pagoda and enjoy a relaxing boat trip on the Perfume River. This evening partake in a cooking class focusing on select local dishes and cuisine originally designed for the Royal Courts of Hue.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13

Hue - Fly to Hanoi

After breakfast, boarding a Vietnam Airlines flight to Hanoi. Arrive and check in and have free time on your own.

Meals: Breakfast

Day 14

Hanoi - Halong Bay - Overnight on Cruise

Today travel to the area that is regarded as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Vietnam – Halong Bay. Cruise through spectacular scenery whilst enjoying our seafood meal onboard. We spend the night on board the cruise, various programs such as kayaking, visit different caves and swimming in the Bay will be arranged by the cruise company. The next day and after the cruise travel back to Hanoi through the striking rural countryside of the Red River Delta.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15

Halong Bay - Hanoi

Rise early for a lesson in Tai Chi or just to enjoy a hearty breakfast. The boat will make its way back to the port stopping at the Cave of Surprises, full of stalagmites and stalactites. From here, it’s clear sailing back to the main harbour and the return drive to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16

Hanoi Sightseeing

Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks. It is the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and some have called it the ‘Paris of the Orient’. Its centre is an architectural museum piece, with its blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a provincial French town of the 1930s. Our city tour today includes visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (closed Sep-Dec), Stilt House and Museum, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, drive around Hoan Kiem Lake and enjoy a walking tour of the Old Quarter and its markets.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 17

Hanoi departure

End of the trip, transfer to the airport for departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Trip Notes

Inclusions

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast
  • English speaking guide [Other languages are available as well]
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All transfers / Transportation
  • Daily bottle water on coach
  • Kayaking 
  • Cycling 
  • Boat Trip 

Exclusions

  • Visa
  • International or Domestic flights
  • Tips or anything not mentioned in the itinerary

Accommodation

Destinations 3 star 4 star 5 star
Hanoi

La Beaute De Hotel

Tirant Hotel

Sofitel Metropole Hanoi

Halong Bay

Swan Cruise

Huong Hai Sealife Cruise

Dragon Legend Cruise

Hoi An

Calla Villa

Vinh Hung Riverside Resort

Palm Garden Resort

Hue

Serene Palace Hotel

Eldora Hotel

La Residence Hue

Nha Trang

Gosia Hotel

Dendro Gold Hotel

Intercontinental Nha Trang

Ho Chi Minh

GK Central Hotel

Grand Silverland Hotel

Rex Hotel

Da Lat

Iris Hotel Dalat

TTC Hotel Premum Da Lat

Ana Mandara Villas Dalat

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