If you want to truly experience the variety that Vietnam has to offer then this is the private guided tour for you. Visit hill tribes, markets and mountain trails in Sapa, enjoy hectic and hurried Hanoi, cruise past towering limestone karsts in Halong Bay, step back in time in Imperial Hue and experience 18th century trading life in historic Hoi An before finishing off in the south, combining the power and pace of Saigon with the mighty Mekong Delta and a relaxing beach on a beautiful tropical island.
Day 1: Depart on your choice of overnight flights to Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi for 2 nights. Private transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day to settle in.
Day 3: Full day Hanoi City tour
Day 4: Board your choice of overnight Halong Bay cruise exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 5: Morning cruising. Transfer to Hanoi for overnight train to Sapa in a private sleeping berth.
Day 6: Arrive Sapa. Choice of walking tours to hill tribes, markets & mountain trails. Overnight Sapa.
Day 7: Enjoy the mountain air. Full day tour to Bac Ha Market and then overnight train back to Hanoi.
Day 8: Met at station for short flight to Hue for 2 nights. Afternoon free
Day 9: Full day tour of the Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda with short cruise on Perfume River
Day 10: Private transfer down dramatic coast road to Hoi An. 2 nights in atmospheric UNESCO town.
Day 11: Private walking tour of Hoi An's historic streets, with time to watch local artisans at work.
Day 12: Morning free before flying down to Saigon for 2 nights.
Day 13: Private Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour.
Day 14: Mekong Delta tour with boat ride & overnight stay in riverside hotel
Day 15: Morning boat ride to Cai Rang Floating Market. Fly to Phu Quoc Island for 3 nights on beach
Days 16-17: Beach days on this idyllic island
Day 18: Overnight flight home.
Day 19: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / HanoiDepart on a choice of overnight flights to Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi offers the chance to enjoy authentic old school Far East. The hotel is in the centre and we’d recommend that you take a walk through the Old Quarter. Don’t be put off by the thousands of motor scooters, just dive in.
Day 3: Hanoi - City Tour (B / L)
After breakfast you’ll be collected for a small group full day city tour. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his former stilt-house, Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. From here you walk a short distance to the archaeological site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty and was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. Its history will be explained as you explore the site. After this, break for lunch in a lovely local restaurant.
The afternoon starts at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Originally built as a temple dedicated to Confucius, it became the site of Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070. Then you’re off to Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you’ll visit Long Bien Bridge that was built between 1899 - 1902, whilst under French occupancy.
Your guide will take you across to the other side where you can see how close Hanoi is to countryside life. Back in the Old Quarter enjoy an hour’s exploration aboard a cyclo (Vietnamese cycle rickshaw). Also known as the 36 streets, this bustling warren of narrow streets is home to thousands of small businesses, including galleries, craft shops and restaurants. End your day with a Vietnamese coffee in a local café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake. Here you can spend some quality time with your guide and ask him questions about all the sights you have seen throughout the day. You will return to your hotel at 4.30pm.
Day 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B / L / D)
This morning you’ll be transferred by minibus to Halong Bay (3.5/4 hours). Meet the crew and board the traditional wooden junk for 1 night, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads toward the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming (weather permitting). Return to the junk refreshed & invigorated to relax on deck with a drink watching the sunset and enjoy a seafood dinner under the stars.
Day 5: Halong Bay (B / L) - Overnight Train to Sapa Hills - Private Cabin
Enjoy breakfast as you continue to cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng to learn more about daily life living on the bay. Cruise back to the dock whilst enjoying a light lunch for return drive to the city. You have time to take a quick early dinner before the guide takes you to the station for the overnight train to Sapa. A private soft sleeping cabin will be booked for you.
Day 6: Sapa (B / L) - Walking Tour
Arrive Lao Cai station early morning (approximately 6.00am), if possible ready to go in your walking gear. Your private guide will be waiting at the station to drive you into Sapa (1 night) for breakfast; then it’s time to take to the hills, as you enjoy a day’s walking tour.
The walk starts from Sapa town and passes through the Black Hmong village of Suoi Ho. This small hilltop settlement commands stunning views of the rice paddy terraces below and is the perfect place to see the unique culture of northern Vietnam's ethnic minority peoples. Hear the story of mountain life and see first hand the daily work of the village. The walk continues through the mountain valley towards the village of Ma Tra - where you will stop for a local lunch and have the chance to take a break over a cup of green tea. This afternoon continue walking to the town of Taphin, through lands of the Red Dao people, stopping along the way to visit a traditional mountain Salmon farm. Transfer back by road to your hotel in Sapa and a well earned rest!
Day 7: Sapa - Private Tour to Bac Ha Market - Overnight train to Hanoi (B / L)
An early start this morning to travel 3 hours through the beautiful hill country over to Bac Ha, home of the Flower Hmong minority people and the region’s largest market. This is a Sunday market. Alternative tours will be recommended for other days. The colourful Flower Hmong converge here to trade and exchange goods. A visit to the Sunday market is a unique opportunity for any budding photographers as the diversity of colours on display is truly magnificent. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon transfer back towards Lao Cai, before taking a turn into Taphin village. Here you can experience the cultural life of Black Hmong and Red Dao minorities, two of the largest ethnic groups in the area. Easily recognisable by their distinctive clothing, they live happily together whilst maintaining their own traditions. If time permits you will have the chance to visit other hill tribe villages. Late afternoon travel back to Lao Cai station. Board the overnight train back to Hanoi again in a private sleeper cabin. It will be worth taking some food and drink onto the train.
Extra..If you'd rather travel back by car and add a night in Sapa then this can be arranged. The car journey is 5 hours.
Day 8: Hanoi (B) / Hue - Morning FlightEarly arrival back into Hanoi Station where you’ll be met by your private guide and taken for breakfast before being transferred to the airport for the short flight to Hue. On arrival met and transferred to your hotel of choice for 2 nights. The afternoon is free. This evening perhaps take a walk through the small night market that runs through the town.
Day 9: Hue - Private guided Citadel, Tien Mu Pagoda & Perfume River Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will collect you for the tour to the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Straddling the Perfume River, this was the Nguyen capital, the last dynasty in Vietnam. It dominates Hue and its moated walls protect the forbidden Purple City, the former home of the royal family that’s modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. Take your time wandering through the fascinating tombs, temples and museums and past pagodas, lakes and pavilions. As you walk around you’ll also see the scars still visible from the Citadel’s prominent role during the Tet Offensive. You may also have time to visit the Minh Mang tomb, perhaps the most majestic of all Hue’s elaborate Nguyen mausoleums that are scattered around the countryside.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant, then move on to Hue’s best-known religious site, the Thien Mu Pagoda with a short cruise down the Perfume River. Built on a hill between the river and pine forest the distinctive seven-tiered octagonal tower is the focal point of the complex and is one of the oldest and most attractive in the country. Continue through the working monastic complex to a beautifully kept garden and cemetery at the base of the Truong Son Mountains. Back at the hotel late afternoon.
Day 10: Hue (B) to Hoi An by car down scenic coast roadThis morning your guide will pick you up for the private car transfer to Hoi An via the dramatic Hai Van Pass, with plenty of time to stop and take some pictures looking down along the dramatic coastline. On arrival check-in to your choice of Hoi An hotel for 2 nights.
Extra....Hoi An is also blessed with superb beaches and so you can choose to stay on the beach and in the town, depending on where you'd like to spend most of your time If you’re here from March to September the weather should be perfect to enjoy the beach, why not extend for a few days?
Day 11: Hoi An (B) - Private Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
This morning your private guide will collect you for a private walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. Hoi An grew up as a trading port that welcomed Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th to 18th centuries. Today it's famous for its restored architecture, homemade silk, expert tailors and delicious noodles and seafood. Its relaxed vibe and pedestrian streets make this town a pleasure to walk around and discover new things.
Historical highlights include the Chua Ong Pagoda dating back to 1653, the Jinshang Temple that is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors, Tam Ky House a 200 year old ancestral house and the 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen and is a major landmark of Hoi An. End your afternoon with a boat trip along Thu Bon river. The historic streets also house some beautifully atmospheric restaurants and this evening we recommend that you come back for dinner, when the town is lit by lantern light.
Day 12: Fly Hoi An (B) / Saigon
Private airport transfer and short flight south to Saigon. On arrival met and transferred into the city centre where you check-in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. The rest of the day is yours to get your first taste of this vibrant city.
Day 13: Saigon - Private guided Cu Chi Tunnels & Saigon City Tour (B / L)
Early departure to escape city traffic and get ahead of the crowds on a half day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, legendary remnants of the Vietnam War that offer an evocative insight into the horrors that were faced by those involved. During the guided tour it’s possible to descend into the layers of tunnels that although widened, still create a feeling of creeping claustrophobia. Few other places encapsulate the sheer will-power that the American military was up against - and the lengths that the Viet Cong were prepared to go to in order to evict them.
Back to the city for lunch in a local restaurant and then rejoin your private guide for an afternoon city tour. Highlights include the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office & Opera House, Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Back at the hotel late afternoon. Your guide would be happy to make dinner arrangements.
Day 14: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour & Overnight Stay (B / L)
This morning you’ll be picked up by your private guide for the drive south to the Mekong Delta. Stop en route to visit the Cai Be floating market and some of the varied traditional cottage industries that dot this region. Then board a small boat to explore some of the small canals that spider web the delta and enjoy a delicious lunch in an orchard restaurant. After lunch enjoy a short walk along the banks of one of the canals and then drive onto Can Tho and check-in to the Victoria Can Tho Resort for 1 night, a beautiful colonial hotel on the banks of the river.
Day 15: Can Tho (B) - Floating Market - flight to Phu Quoc Island
Up early this morning and board a small boat with your guide for 1 hour to cruise through the Cai Rang floating market. Cai Rang is a shop floor for hundreds of small boats loaded down with local produce, darting around until everything is sold. Start the day with a local coffee or perhaps a piece of fresh pineapple. Back to the hotel for breakfast and then airport transfer and flight over to Phu Quoc. On arrival met and transferred to your choice of hotel for 3 nights or more.
Days 16-17: Phu Quoc (B) - Beach Days
2 days to enjoy your beachside setting and explore this idyllic island. There are a range of options you can book locally including diving, snorkelling and fishing. You can perhaps rent a car & driver to explore the lush interior, fishing villages and undeveloped areas / beaches of this beautiful island.
Day 18: Fly Phu Quoc (B) / Saigon / UK AirportMorning free then airport transfer and fly home via Saigon. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Hanoi
Choose from a wide range hotels in the energetic & authentic Capital
Halong Bay Cruise Boats
An overnight cruise on Halong Bay is often seen as an essential part of a Vietnam holiday
Hotels in Sapa
Here you'll find some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery in Vietnam
Hotels in Hoi An
Hoi An is a stunningly atmospheric UNESCO trading town that doubles as a beach resort
Hotels in Hue
Historic Hue was the the last Royal Capital and is home to the UNESCO protected Citadel, modelled on Beijing's Forbidden Palace
Hotels in Saigon
A mix of grand colonial buildings and modern luxuries make Saigon a fantastic place to stay
Hotels in Phu Quoc
Relax in style on the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc Island