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Highlights of Vietnam

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12 days From $1,695 per person

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Explore the wonders of this fascinating southeast Asian country, from the jaw-dropping beauty of Halong Bay to the serenity of the Mekong Delta

2025 Tour code: VTS25

About the tour

Discover the stand-out sights of Vietnam on this southeastern Asian adventure.

Enjoy a street-food experience in Vietnam's bustling capital Hanoi and a serene overnight cruise amongst the jungle-draped islands of magical Halong Bay, then travel on the Reunification Express to uncover the laid-back delights of coastal Hue and the lantern-lit streets of colorful Hoi An.

Flying to Ho Chi Minh City, we experience the country's turbulent past at the Cu Chi Tunnels, before embarking on a day trip into the Mekong Delta.

Unforgettable Experiences

Basking in breathtaking beauty on a Halong Bay cruise
Basking in breathtaking beauty on a Halong Bay cruise
Admire enchanting views on an overnight cruise through a spectacular seascape of jungle-draped limestone islands that jut out of emerald waters. Enjoy a spectacular sunrise and a tai chi lesson onboard a luxury ship.
Discovering the charming ‘Lantern City’ of Hoi An
Discovering the charming ‘Lantern City’ of Hoi An
As one of the most beautiful towns in Vietnam, Hoi An exudes authenticity and historic architecture that is viewed on a guided tour of a Chinese temple, a Japanese bridge and a merchant’s house.
Enjoying a street food experience in Hanoi
Enjoying a street food experience in Hanoi
Savor the tastes of Vietnam on a tour of the vibrant capital’s street food stalls accompanied by a knowledgeable guide and sample an array of delectable delights including local noodle and dumpling dishes.
Touring Hue’s Imperial City
Touring Hue’s Imperial City
Modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City, Hue’s expansive historic palace complex was built in the 19th-century. Explore lavish pagodas, decorated temple roofs and attractive gardens beside the Perfume River.
Uncovering the history of Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi Tunnels
Uncovering the history of Ho Chi Minh City and the Cu Chi Tunnels
Known as Saigon until the 1970s, Ho Chi Minh City brims with history that is showcased during a guided tour and an exploration of the vast tunnels used in the conflict with the US.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - A gentle introduction to bustling Hanoi

Landing in the Vietnamese capital, make your way to our 4-Star hotel in central Hanoi to meet your tour manager and fellow travelers.

In the afternoon, we embark on an enjoyable sightseeing tour of the city, beginning at the beautiful Sword Lake, where we view Ngoc Son Temple, a sacred space on an island built in the 19th century to honor a Taoist deity and a medieval general who defeated the Mongols. This tranquil temple displays traditional east Asian architecture, with decorative tiles and flamboyant finials. Afterwards, we relax at a coffee shop before continuing our tour in cyclos (similar to tuk-tuks). Hanoi was the capital of French Indochina during the first half of the 20th century and showcases fantastic colonial architecture. In the Old Quarter, we journey along lively streets dotted with vibrant markets and serene temples.

We return to our hotel for this evening for our first dinner together.

Day 2 - Exploring Hanoi and street-food experience

After breakfast we set out on a full-day's sightseeing of characterful Hanoi. First, we discover Ba Dinh Square, the area around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing structure where Vietnam's revolutionary leader is interred. We continue to the One-Pillar Pagoda, where Ho Chi Minh once lived, as well as the Quan Thanh Temple, an 11th-century Taoist structure.

This afternoon, our focus shifts to food, with a visit to the Old Quarter to experience Vietnam's famous street food. With the expertise of a local guide, we are introduced to delectable treats including 'bun cha', delicious vermicelli served with fried pork and herbs, and 'banh goi', dumplings stuffed with meat and vermicelli.

Our tour ends at 'international crossroads', a lively part of the Old Quarter where we enjoy a glass of Bia Hoi, a popular Vietnamese beer that translates as 'fresh beer'.

Day 3 - Overnight cruise on beautiful Halong Bay

Today is a highlight of our time in Vietnam as we transfer by coach to amazing Halong Bay. A vast collection of towering, jungle-draped limestone islands dot the emerald waters of this extraordinary, UNESCO-listed bay.

With isolated sandy beaches and spectacular caves, it's little wonder that Halong Bay is popular with visitors and many day boats ferry tourists to the nearest islands. Our overnight cruise on a luxury boat allows us to travel further out to quieter iconic sights. After a seafood lunch on board, our distinctive sails carry us out into this magical seascape where we visit some of the caves and islands before enjoying an incredible sunset.

Dinner is onboard tonight, and there is an option to attend a cooking demonstration, or relax in our deluxe cabins, stylishly decorated with traditional dark wood.

Day 4 - Halong Bay sunrise and boarding the Reunification Express

Waking up in Halong Bay, early risers can enjoy sunrise and a tranquil tai chi class amongst these venerable towers. Breakfast is served later as we sail gently back to shore admiring these unforgettable scenes on the way.

After we disembark, a coach transfers us back to Hanoi, stopping briefly at a craft center. This evening we observe a traditional water puppet show. Strongly influenced by Vietnamese folklore, this art form dates to the 11th century and has a symbolic link to the rice harvest as these tales were originally performed in flooded rice fields.

Tonight, we board the Reunification Express as we leave the capital on an overnight journey to Hue in private-use cabins with a silk sleeping bag each. As the train's name suggests, this evocative route commemorates the unification of Vietnam in 1976 and transports locals and tourists between the country's two main cities - Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

Day 5 - The imperial city of Hue

The Reunification Express rolls into Hue in the morning after a picnic breakfast on board. This historic city is smaller and calmer than Hanoi, and with an early check-in at our modern 4-Star, there is time to relax by the pool before embarking on a sightseeing tour this afternoon.

On our guided exploration, we visit the Thien Mu pagoda, a seven-story octagonal Buddhist temple built in 1601 that has become a symbol of Vietnam.

The main attraction of Hue is the impressive Imperial Citadel, the Nguyen dynasty's capital from 1802 to 1945. Modelled on Beijing's Forbidden City and often called the Purple Forbidden City, the expansive palace complex is surrounded by a series of moats fed by the Perfume River. So-called because of orchard leaves that fall into it upstream during autumn, the broad Perfume River flows in front of the palace grounds. Lavish pagodas, temple roofs decorated with dragon motifs and attractive gardens are guarded by towering walls dotted with ten ornate gates.

The evening is free for you to explore Hue's charming streets and appealing restaurants independently.

Day 6 - Coastal Da Nang and charming Hoi An

Travelling by train after breakfast this morning, we admire views of verdant mountains and wonderful coastline along the route to Da Nang.

On arrival, we explore the Cham Museum, learning about the art and sculptures of the Champa civilization that flourished along the coast from the 2nd century to 1832, before viewing the Marble Mountains - five limestone and marble hills containing atmospheric Buddhist and Hindu grottoes.

In the afternoon we transfer to our delightful 4-Star boutique hotel in central Hoi An, where the rest of the day is free to relax by our colonial-style hotel's pool or step out to explore this most charming of Vietnamese towns. Hoi An is renowned for its monthly lantern festivals, night markets and bespoke tailors with suits ready in a few hours. Stroll amongst the picture-perfect yellow façades of the Old Town bedecked with bougainvillea and, as the night draws in, marvel at pretty, colorful lanterns casting their glow on the streets and flowers.

Day 7 - Sightseeing in the ‘Lantern City’

Today we enjoy a tour of attractive Hoi An with a knowledgeable local guide on visits to some of the town's most delightful attractions. Tan Ky Old house reflects Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese influences and was constructed in 1741 by merchants, the descendants of whom still live on the top floor. Here, we admire the dark wood interiors, lacquered panels and jackfruit wood ceilings.

This picturesque town was historically a melting pot of cultures, and we experience this at the 17th-century Fujian Assembly Hall and the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge. The elaborately adorned Fujian Assembly Hall of cherry blossom pink brick and jade tiles dates from the fall of China's Ming Dynasty, while the Japanese Covered Bridge contains an ornately decorated temple with porcelain-capped roof tiles.

The afternoon and evening are free to continue exploring at leisure, and perhaps visiting a local tailor for a bespoke suit or dress that will be ready tomorrow. For dinner, you may like to enjoy some local cuisine, such as 'cao lau' pork rice noodles which are unique to the region.

Day 8 - Day at leisure in delightful Hoi An

With a full free day stretching out in front of you after breakfast today, you may wish to wander through this enchanting town's picturesque streets to discover more beautiful sights.

Delve into the scents and sights of the Cantonese Assembly Hall and its pretty gardens as incense wafts gently by the elaborate dragon statue, or perhaps head out to Trang coconut village for a slice of rural life. Here, you can book an enjoyable basket boat trip through the tropical waterways.

Embrace the laid-back Hoi An lifestyle by watching the world go by from a charming coffee shop. For lunch, you might like to enter Central Market to sample some of the flavors of the appealing street-food stalls, including the French-influenced banh mi, delicious pho soup and many other interesting local specialties.

Hoi An also excels at seafood, which can be found in the Night Market or at one of the many restaurants serving crab, lobster, shrimp and different varieties of fish.

Day 9 - Flying into old Saigon

This morning we transfer to Da Nang airport for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Once a small fishing village, Ho Chi Minh City is now Vietnam's largest city, with a dizzying blend of modern 21st-century skyscrapers and charming lanes lined with ancient temples. The city was famously known as Saigon under French colonial rule - a name that many locals still use to this day. During their time ruling, the French heavily influenced the layout of the city, with wide leafy boulevards and grand colonial buildings.

On arrival, we explore the city, including Reunification Palace, where in April 1975 a North Vietnamese tank dramatically burst through the gates, signifying the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. We also see the General Post Office and City Hall before continuing to the War Remnants Museum.

Afterwards, we check in to our 5-Star hotel and have a free evening to relax.

Day 10 - An excursion to the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels

Today we learn more about the troubled recent history of this beautiful country during a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This vast underground complex that once stretched almost 155 miles towards the Cambodian border was originally developed during the war of independence with France and later utilized in the conflict against the US.

As a base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968, there are still remnants of the conflict in the area, including aircraft and tanks located near the entrances. Entry to the small tunnels is optional, but those who want to can join a guide to discover more about the difficult living conditions inside the tunnels, as well as the methods used to protect them, and the field hospitals and weapons factories contained within.

There is free time over lunch before we return to Ho Chi Minh City, where the rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 11 - Exploring the tranquil Mekong Delta

An excursion to the palm-lined shores of the mighty Mekong awaits after breakfast today. Travelling by coach, we journey to the island town of Ben Tre. For a long time, the only way to reach Ben Tre was by boat, so this authentic town retains a traditional feel and relaxed atmosphere. Amid the peace of lush jungle and winding canals, the sleepy waterfront is dotted with historic villas, coconut palms and stalls selling local produce.

We attend a demonstration to discover how local bricks and grass mats are made using timeless techniques. With lunch at a local restaurant, we also taste exotic fruits and delicious regional cuisine sourced from the beautiful surroundings.

We return to Ho Chi Minh City by coach, where the rest of the evening is free to spend as you wish.

Day 12 - Homeward bound

After breakfast this morning, make your way to the airport to set off on your flight from Ho Chi Minh City direct to home. On the way home, look back at the many highlights of this Asian adventure as we explored Vietnam from bustling Hanoi to the serene Mekong Delta.

We return home with some fantastic memories, including the breathtaking overnight cruise around Halong Bay, delightful Hue, the charming 'Lantern City' of Hoi An, the poignant Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City, and a day in laid-back Ben Tre.

Additional information

Hotels

Grand Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Grand Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

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Little Hoi An Central Boutique

Little Hoi An Central Boutique, Hoi An

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MK Premier Boutique, Hanoi

MK Premier Boutique, Hanoi

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White Lotus Hotel, Hue

White Lotus Hotel, Hue

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Train

Reunification Express

Ship

Pelican Glory