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Vietnam Comprehensive


13 days 12 nights

Code

Category Vietnam Classic Tours

  • Group Size 1-11
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Hanoi
  • Trip Ends At Saigon
  • Accommodation Hotels
  • Type Trekking
  • Destination Hanoi Sa pa Hoi An Hue Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Can Tho
Dates & Prices

Overview

This is a complete tour of Vietnam, covering from the northernmost frontier hills of Sapa to the Mekong Delta in the southern end of Vietnam.

The trip begins in the capital town of Hanoi that still retains the charm of bygone medieval era. From Hanoi, we will take a comfortable overnight train to Sapa, the northern most frontier town bordering with China where we will take light village hikes, experience the ethnic tribal life and enjoy the serene nature with golden terraced paddy fields.

We explore the UNESCO protected heritage town of Hoi An and the imperial tombs and the market of Hue in Central Vietnam.  In Saigon or the Ho Chi Minh City, you may become emotional when you visit the War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War and the excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels of Viet Cong guerrillas that was never discovered by American soldiers. 

We feel the excitement through sounds, water brandishing paddle, the laughter of the buyers and sellers in the Cai Rang floating market of Mekong Delta.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1~Arrive in Hanoi

Meet your local guide upon arrival and transfer to the hotel. Take rest to recover travel fatigue.

 

Overnight at hotel.

Overnight: Le Meridien
Day 2~ Sightseeing of Hanoi | Overnight train to Sapa

After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you out for sightseeing of Hanoi. Hanoi is the modern- day capital of Vietnam; yet we can experience the mystery and charm of old days on its narrow lanes and traditional shop houses.

We first visit the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex. The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh (closed Mondays, Fridays and during September and October). We will also Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House where the great leader lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. The house is preserved in its original form.

Now, we continue to the miniature 11th century One Pillar Pagoda which was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. Next is the Temple of Literature with its walled courtyards and graceful gateways. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university.

One more stop before the lunch break- the Museum of Ethnology (closed Mondays and during Vietnam New Year). This museum showcases art, traditional clothing and reconstructions of traditional longhouses from 54 different ethnic groups.

Afternoon tour takes you to Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple that contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda. Along the way pass by other colonial landmarks such as the magnificent Opera House and St Joseph's Cathedral.

In the evening, enjoy the Water Puppet Show, a fantastic art form originating in northern Vietnam, best seen in Hanoi.

After dinner, now it's time to catch the train to Lao Cai, the gateway to Sapa in the northern Vietnam. The train has privately run sleeping cars aimed for foreign travelers.  It's comfortable 8-hour ride, arriving in Lao Chai around 6 a.m.

 Overnight train.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 3~Arrive in Lao Cai and transfer to Sa Pa

Meet your local crews upon arrival and proceed for one hour drive to Sapa further north. Sapa is a lovely frontier town in the northernmost Vietnam bordered with China.            

Breakfast will be served in the hotel. You will have time to settle into your accommodation and later we will proceed for the excursion and short trekking.

We take a short walk downhill through beautiful orchid gardens and pine forests. Reach the small village of Suoi Ho inhabited by Hmong ethnic minority then continue walking through rice paddy fields and spectacular scenery to Ma Tra- the Black Hmong tribal village of Matra, a minuscule village hiding way from the town. The Black Hmong survive using their craft such as weaving brocade, silk, forging farming tools and carving silver. They generally only make such items to meet their own needs, but since the growth of tourism in Sa Pa, many H'mong women make decorated cloth to sell on the town's main streets.

Next, we take an easy hike to the Ham Rong Mountain adjacent to the town. Ham Rong, which means 'Dragon's Jaw', got its name due to its shape like a dragon's head. The mountain boasts  orchard gardens, exotic flowers and orchids. The peak of the mountain, called San May (which means the yard in the clouds) 5904 ft., offers panoramic view of the Sapa town.

 

Overnight hotel in Sa Pa.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 4~Sa Pa: Excursion to Lao Chai and hike Ta Van, and Giang Ta Chai villages

Today, we experience the tribal life in the remote mountainous area. We see how the locals make their clothes and handicrafts, and enjoy the great scenery that we will never forget. We will see the incredible golden rice terrace fields, the tropical bamboo forest and a nice waterfall in the famous valley "Muong Hoa".

On this hiking trip, we cover the distance of little more than 6 miles in about 4 hours.  We leave our hotel in Sapa, right after breakfast and first drive to Lao Chai (5 miles)-a Black Hmong village where the hiking begins from. The people here make their living by making traditional clothes and handicrafts. Visit the valley with the golden rice terrace.

Our next destination is the Ta Van Village of Gjya people, a small group of ethnic people. Here, we will enjoy lunch with a family in traditional village.

 

After lunch, we explore the amazingly terraced rice paddy fields and then continue through a tropical bamboo forest and the final destination is a nice waterfall which also serves as the view point over Giang Ta Chai village. Now, we hike to the main road and catch transport to the hotel in Sapa.

Overnight hotel in Sapa

Meals : Breakfast
Day 5 ~Drive back to Hanoi

After breakfast, leave Sapa by a private van. The distance is 200 miles and covered in 5 or 6 hours. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight hotel in Hanoi 

Meals : Breakfast
Day 6 ~ Flight from Hanoi to Danang and transfer to Hoi An

After breakfast, transfer to Hanoi airport for flight to Danang in central Vietnam. It's one hour 15 minute long flight. Upon arrival, meet your local guide and transfer to Hoi An (45 minutes, 20 miles).

Check into your accommodation and later proceed for a walking tour of the medieval town. Hoi An used to be South East Asia's major international port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. We take relaxed stroll down the street and stop to visit the major highlights.

Stop the Japanese Covered Bridge, constructed in the 16th century by the Japanese community to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. Near the bridge is Sa Huynh Museum which houses exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history.

Next stop will be at Tran Family Chapel, a 200 year old house built for worshipping ancestors. Also visit Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built towards the end of 17th century and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans in the Hoi An area and is dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen.

Final stop will be at Lantern Making Workshop to see how the frame is made and the silk cloth put onto the lantern.

 

Overnight in Hoi An.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 7~Hoi An - Hue (By vehicle)

(81 miles, 3 hours)

Drive from Hoi An to Hue along scenic mountain roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Highlights along the way include the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of North and South Vietnam; Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the East Vietnam Sea; and the large coastal city of Danang.

Excursion by bicycle to the countryside of Hue.

We cycle through bamboo groves and villages to the Thanh Toan covered bridge. The cycling route continues along local paths and through villages and rice fields to Sam market and Thuong Lam Pagoda. (Total 14 miles cycling on flat road).

 

Overnight in Hue.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 8~Hue: Sightseeing and excursion

Excursion to Thien Mu Pagoda and Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang with boat trip

Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting.

Afternoon is for the Old Imperial City. Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Final stop of the day will be at Dong Ba Market near the imperial city and we are transferred back to the hotel.

 

Overnight in Hue.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 9~Flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

After breakfast, transfer to Hue airport for flight to Saigon.  It's about 1 hour 20 minutes long flight.

Upon arrival, meet your local guide and transfer to the hotel.

In the afternoon, proceed for the sightseeing of Saigon or the Ho Chi Minh city.

A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. Begin with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.

Afterwards dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Finally, visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas.

 

Overnight in Saigon.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 10~Saigon: Cu Chi Tunnels and Tay Ninh Village

From Saigon, drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels (32 miles, 1 hr. 30 minutes). Never discovered by American forces, these tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 125 miles, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the Vietcong guerrillas, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.

From Cu Chi tunnels, we drive further 32 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes ) to  Tay Ninh, the birthplace of the unique Cao Dai religion, a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam and native Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. Every day at noon, worshipers garbed in colorful robes flock to the Cao Dai Great Temple to participate in the daily prayer sessions, which visitors may respectfully observe from the upper balconies. (Note: shortly before and during the annual TET festival (Vietnamese New Year) the daily ceremony of the priests in Tay Ninh may be cancelled without prior notice).

Afternoon, we return to our hotel in Saigon (60 miles, 2.5 hours).

 

Overnight in Saigon.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 11~Saigon-Can Tho

First, we drive to Can Tho (112 miles, 3.5 hours) with stop in a midway town of My Tho. My Tho is a  bustling town in the rich agricultural region of the Mekong Delta and visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda which exhibits a harmonious fusion of Asian and European architectural styles. Afterwards board a local boat to explore the islands of the Mekong while stopping at a fruit orchard to enjoy fruit and tea while listening to local music. The trip also includes a brief sampan ride through the tiny waterways that thread the island.

From My Tho, we continue our drive further 32 miles (1 hr., 30 minutes) to Can Tho.

 

Overnight hotel in Can Tho.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 12~Can Tho: Excursion by boat to Cai Rang Floating Market

We leave hotel early morning and explore the Cai Rang Floating market by boat.  We will have chance to see the nature of the Mekong delta. At Floating market, you'll feel the excitement through sounds, water brandishing paddle, the laughter of the buyers and sellers to make up the bustling scene of Cai Rang floating market. Many local products are sold here and in particular a large variety of fruits, some of which you might have never seen before. You'll learn that boats identify what they are selling by hanging a sample off the top of a long pole. We will return to Ninh Kieu Wharf by 10 a.m.

 

We retrace our drive back to Saigon.

Overnight in Saigon.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 13~Depart Saigon

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • 11 nights' hotel accommodation on double occupancy basis.
  • Daily breakfast.
  • All ground transportation by a private vehicle with driver.
  • English speaking local guides.
  • Sightseeing admission fees.
  • Train ticket from Hanoi to Sapa.
  • In-tour airfares (Hanoi-Danang, Hue-Saigon).
  • Daily bottled water.

Trip Does Not Include

  • Vietnam visa.
  • International return airfare to Vietnam.
  • Lunch and dinner.
  • Drinks, tipping, laundry, phone, internet usage and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Travel insurance.

Note on itinerary

We do our best to adhere to the itinerary, it's subject to change for various reasons such as weather, travel delay, public holidays and unforeseen events beyond our control. The attractions and activities listed are for general guideline that, given local circumstances, might differ in sequence or substance on a given day. You will be provided final trip dossier about seven or eight weeks prior the travel date.

Trip Activity Level

This trip is basically motor vehicle-based sightseeing with some boating excursions and a couple of long day driving. The trip also features some easy hiking in the villages and mountains. Most roads are paved. Sightseeing or excursions usually start in the mid-morning, and you will be back to the hotel by late afternoon. The trip does not involve any serious hiking or physical challenges, and so travelers with generally good health conditions can enjoy the trip. Still, the fitter you are, the better you can enjoy the trip.

Hotels

We offer two category of hotels-superior (4 star) and deluxe (5 star) where possible and the best available where there are limited choices. Our preferred hotels ensure adequate amenities and facilities. You will have private bathrooms with running hot and cold water. 

Tour Guides

All tour guides are local and they change when you fly from one city to the other. They are local people with college degrees, government certifications, and experience with and knowledge of the destinations, their history, culture and region. Our guides are, just as importantly, easy-going, detailed oriented, patient, and committed to a high level of customer service. They will uncover the wonders of the destinations that you would never find on your own, and make sure your tour unfolds without a hitch. Your guide will also deal with the bureaucracy and passport or permit control, carry all necessary documents and vouchers, and stay alert to road and weather conditions.

Vehicle

We use clean reliable, comfortable vehicles for all transfers and tours, often the Toyota Hiace microbus (capacity 8-9 persons) and Toyota Coaster Bus (capacity up to 20 persons); depending on group size, we might also use Japanese-made sedans, SUVs or minivans. We provide separate drivers and guides. Our drivers might speak little or no English, but they know the roads and are, in a pinch, mechanically skillful.

International and Internal Flights

The trip starts in Hanoi and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You can make your own arrangement or ask us for help. All internal airfares within Vietnam are taken care of by us and already included in the trip.

Passport and Visa

Your passport must be valid at least for six more months when you return home and make sure you have minimum 2 blank visa pages. You need to obtain Vietnam visa before the trip starts but now it's simple. US citizens now can apply electronic visa online. For information on application for evisa, please, visit the following official website of Vietnamese government.

Vietnam eVisa

Booking Deposit and payment schedule

US$ 300 that can be paid by major credit cards or PayPal is requested at the time of booking. Balance payment is due before 90 days prior departure. Balance payment on credit card attracts additional 3.5% fee. During the tourist season, some hotels may request deposit to secure the booking and in that case, we will notify you and request for the second part payment before the deadline for the final payment.

Cancellation 

  • 180 days prior departure: No penalty unless stated as non-refundable.
  • 90 days prior departure: Administrative fee US$ 150 per person.
  • 60-89 day's prior departure: US$ 300 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 45 days to 59 days prior departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • 30 days to 44 days prior departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Cancellation and refund of air tickets cost will be as per rules and regulations of the concerned airlines plus a service charge of US$ 25 per segment will be levied. Cancellation terms and conditions of certain services may vary which will be informed per case to case basis. 

No refund or adjustment to other services will be made for any unused land or air services for any reason whatsoever, once tour begin. We highly recommend that all travelers purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Accomodation

Superior

Hanoi: Flower Garden or Adamas Hanoi

Train: Sapaly Express, Deluxe Cabin with 4 beds

Sa Pa: Sapa Legend Hotel

Danang:Royal Lotus or Brilliant Hotel

Hoi An:Silk Village or Thanh Binh Riverside

Hue:Romance Hotel

Saigon:Vissai Saigon or Northern Hotel

Can Tho:Iris or TTC Can Tho

Deluxe

Hanoi:Hilton Hanoi or Nikko

Train: Victoria Express, Deluxe Cabin with 4 beds

Sa Pa: Victoria Sapa Resort

Danang:Novotel or Pullman Danang

Hoi An:Sunrise Premium or Boutique Hoi An

Hue:Imperial or Indochine Palace

Saigon:Equatorial or Rennaisance Riverside

Can Tho:Nam Bo Boutique or Victorian Can Tho

Note: Hotels listed above are our preferred properties and are subject to availability.

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