- Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City (HCM City) – Arrival
- Day 2: Cu Chi Tunnels – HCM City Tour
- Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (Ben Tre) – Can Tho
- Day 4: Cai Rang Floating Market – Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 5: HCM City – Danang – Hoi An walking tour
- Day 6: Hoi An – My Son Sanctuary
- Day 7: Hoi An – Danang – Hanoi half-day city
- Day 8: Hanoi – Mai Chau Hill Tribe Villages
- Day 9: Mai Chau – Visit Buoc Village – Return to Hanoi
- Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on board
- Day 11: Halong Bay – Hanoi
- Day 12: Hanoi – Departure
- This itinerary is a privately guided tour, designed just to show you what is possible.
- We can tailor this trip, it's inclusions and the accommodations, to meet your requirements, budget, and interests.
Ho Chi Minh City (HCM City) – ArrivalDay 1
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your private tour guide and transferred to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon). The remainder of the day is free for you to explore and orient yourself in this busy city before your Welcome Dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Saigon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Note: For the Vietnamese Visa on Arrival, please make sure you have 2 passports sized 4 cm x 6 cm photos and $25 for the stamping fee.
Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City TourDay 2
Your private guide and driver will take you on a guided tour to see the major attractions of the city. You first start with the War Remnants Museum and The Reunification Palace, and you will pass by the former American Embassy (now the American Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City). Continue to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, the City General Post Office as well as Dong Khoi Street where the City Opera House is located. End up our morning with a delicious bowl of noodle soup for lunch at Pho 2000, a famous noodle shop where President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea ate lunch during their visit to HCM City back in the year 2000.
After lunch. you will be transferred to the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels, a Viet Cong Stronghold during the American War between 1965 and 1975. First constructed in 1948, during the French Resistance War, the tunnels were expanded by the Viet Cong, with the help of the local people, into a complex underground network stretching over 250 km. A visit to this place will offer you an insight into the war when Vietnamese determination and loyalty to their country overcame the hardships of the times and eventually brought the war to an end. After the tunnel tour, you will return to the City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (Ben Tre) – Can ThoDay 3
After breakfast and check out, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you to Ben Tre, located in the heart of the Mekong Delta. The fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers as well as boating along the canals. On arrival, you will board your private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries. Hop on motor-cart to an out of the way village where you might have a chance to peek inside local homes for an insight into rural life seldom seen by the outside world and try some regional specialties for lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, you will return to the docks. From here you will wind to Can Tho – The rest of the day is free at our leisure.
Overnight in Can Tho
Cai Rang Floating Market – Ho Chi Minh CityDay 4
Rise early for a boat trip to the Cai Rang market, the biggest floating wholesale market of the Mekong region. Here you will have a chance to practice your bartering skills! The market is filled with small boats darting through the water as vendors sell their wares.
Continue along narrow canals, stopping at a fruit orchard to taste some of the succulent fruit in the season before making a short walk to Ba Bo Bridge (water level allowing). There will be plenty of time to visit the Binh Thuy old house and close-by market (this time on land!) before driving back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
HCM City – Danang – Hoi An walking tourDay 5
After Breakfast at hotel, you will be transferred to the airport to take the short flight to Danang. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel in Hoi An. Room for check-in subject to availability.
In the afternoon, your tour guide will pick you up at the lobby of the hotel, to go to the center of Hoi An city where you will visit the town’s major attractions such as Hoi An Museum, Ancient Houses, Assembly Hall with Chinese influence, handicraft workshops, and the Japanese Bridge.
Move on to the house of a lantern craftsman. There, you can observe the lantern craftsman’s technique before hands-on work through each stage of lantern making under the guidance of the enthusiastic craftsmen: from bending it into the frame, cutting cloth, gluing, to completing lanterns. Before this trip concludes, you will have your own lantern created by your own hands. This is the perfect souvenir for you to show off your craftsmanship upon your return home. Once you have a well-crafted lantern, you will return to the hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – My Son SanctuaryDay 6
This morning, you are free at your own leisure in Hoi An.
At 2.30Pm, your private guide will collect you from the hotel to commence the visit to My Son Sanctuary – One of the most stunning sights to see in the Hoi An area.
My Son, a spiritual center of the ancient kingdom of Champa. Situated in the heart of a beautiful valley and surrounded by high mountains, 45 kilometers away from Hoi An.
Letters from the 4th century were found during excavations at My Son, revealing that the temples of the complex were used to worship and make offerings to the Hindu gods. In 1999, UNESCO designated My Son a World Heritage Site.
Originally built from wood, the temples were completely destroyed by fire in the 6th century and then rebuilt in the 7th century with locally made bricks. By the 13th century, more than 70 similar temples had been built, establishing My Son as a sanctuary of Hinduism in the Champa Kingdom.
Return to Hoi An after the visit.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Danang – Hanoi half-day cityDay 7
After breakfast and check out, your private guide and driver pick you up to the airport for a short flight to Hanoi. Arrive and transfer to the hotel downtown to check in.
Afternoon Hanoi tour starts visiting the Temple of Literature (or you might choose one of the museums in Hanoi – Hilton Hanoi, Military Museum, Museum of History, Ethnology museum…), then move to the West Lake and pay a visit to the oldest pagoda Tran Quoc. Continue to drive to Hoan Kiem Lake and the French Quarter (Old Quarter Hanoi), visit Ngoc Son Temple, The Huc Bridge. A Green Car (or cyclo ride) tour around the Old Quarter to experience the exciting local daily life of Hanoians. Tour ends after a cup of coffee or tea at an authentic Hanoi corner cafe where you can have talks with local people, exchange cultural way of life.
End the tour at your hotel.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Mai Chau Hill Tribe VillagesDay 8
After breakfast, we depart Hanoi and drive to Mai Chau through a spectacular mountain range. Mai Chau, a destination that some consider a less-visited variation on Sapa. Most houses we see here are elevated 10–12 feet off the ground in order to avoid water damage and shelter animals from the elements.
The ride from Hanoi to Mai Chau takes about four hours, and we won’t be bored by the lush scenery. Around noon, we will arrive at the homestay.
After check – in and having a short rest our tour guide will take us on a walk to explore Lac and Pom Coong, two villages of the Thai ethnic group. Meet the villagers and enjoy a chat over a cup of tea to learn about their culture and traditions. This is a unique experience where we will get to peek into their homes and watch traditional farming methods up close.
In the evening perhaps we will join in a traditional dance performed by the local artists (this is an optional activity which is not included in the package).
Overnight in Mai Chau
For Option of 3 and 4-star hotels, clients will stay at homestay and experience staying overnight on house on stilt.
Homestay in Mai Chau (House on stilt) has very basic facilities (warm & clean bed with pillow and blanket, and the bathroom have warm water for shower and clean toilet). Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner will be prepared by the host of the homestay.
For the option of 5-star hotels, clients will stay overnight at the Mai Chau Ecolodge.
Mai Chau – Visit Buoc Village – Return to HanoiDay 9
After breakfast transfer to Mai Hich Village where we start the two-hour trek through the White Thai villages of Mai Hich, Na Sun, Xam Khoe, and Buoc. This very scenic walk will take us through peaceful Thai ethnic minority villages surrounded by picturesque hills, cascading rice terraces and soaring limestone mountains.
Around midday, we arrive at Ban Buoc – an authentic White Thai village. Here we will visit a local family where we’ll get to experience a taste of local life as you sit down for a home-hosted lunch served by the family.
In the afternoon, our Mai Chau tour ends with a 4-hour drive back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on boardDay 10
(No tour-guide for Halong Bay cruise, there is a Cruise Manager to assist all clients on the boat)
Halong Bay is your destination today. Your private driver will collect you from the hotel and take you on a 4.5-hour journey on a scenic road with plenty to see along the way. You may even have some photo opportunities on the way.
Around midday, you arrive at Haling Bay. Board your boat in Halong Bay. Then enjoy a delicious seafood lunch while soaking up the magnificence of the UNESCO Heritage area.
After lunch, you will visit Sung Sot Cave (Amazing Cave) – one of the largest caves in Halong Bay, before climbing Titop Mountain for some panoramic views of the stunning sunset over Halong Bay. You will have our dinner back on your boat and settle in for a relaxing sleep onboard your junk boat.
Overnight on board
Note: each junk operates a different itinerary and onboard facilities may vary. Your consultant will be very happy to discuss each option with you.
Halong Bay – HanoiDay 11
Wake up with the sunrise, join a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck. You will then enjoy a buffet brunch on board while continuing to cruise and head back to the shore. Disembark, meet your driver again and drive back to Hanoi.
Arrive Hanoi and check back into the same hotel. Enjoy your last night in Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – DepartureDay 12
After breakfast and a leisurely morning on your own, you will check out by midday and your private driver will pick you up and take you to Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport for your departure flight home.
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and the availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.
- Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
- Private Vehicles and Drivers
- Private English Speaking Guides (Other languages if available, upon request)
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
- Domestic flight
- Airport Taxes and Fuel charges
- Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
What’s Not Included?
- Your International Flight to and from Vietnam
- Vietnam entry Visa Fees (contact us for further information)
- Personal Expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
- Any bank fees or charges at your end
- Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal Travel Insurance
- Tips for guides and drivers
How to Plan a successful Trip to Vietnam, Step-by-Step
Why to visit Vietnam
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
How to Book a Tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to visit Vietnam
Vietnam, the S-shaped country, also commonly likened to the shape of a dragon, is located to the west of the South China Sea. The perfect combination of colonial elegance and rustic charm, it guarantees to satisfy all types of travelers with its rich experiences made all the more special by its charming people.
With cities to explore, temples to admire, and green countrysides to roam, there is plenty to see and do in Vietnam. Known as a colorful and diverse country from the wild mountainous north, with its myriad of ethnic communities, to the sleepless city of Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) on the edge of the Mekong Delta, it is difficult to pick just one region to visit when coming to Vietnam.
The charming capital of Hanoi is a fascinating mix of fading colonial buildings and national monuments; the scenery of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is bound to leave you speechless; Hue, home to the old Kings of Vietnam, appears to have been frozen in time for several hundred years with its ancient atmosphere and architecture.
With a 3260km coastline, Vietnam is home to many top-tier beaches; the country’s most unsung beauties. My Khe beach – “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet” as described by Forbes – offers blue skies, smooth white sand, clear & warm water year-round. Phu Quoc island, boasting several luxury resorts, is also a favorite escape for the rich and famous. The abundance of mountains, rainforests, and natural lakes also makes Vietnam a great destination for trekking, hiking, mountain biking, sea and river kayaking, and classic overland tours.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Vietnam
• Sapa & Mai Chau – visit the hill tribe villages and plantations
• Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam
• Halong Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage site
• Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam
• Hoi An – the kitchen of Vietnam and paradise on Earth
• Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) – the economic heart of Vietnam
• The Cu Chi Tunnels – walk through the history of the Vietnam War
• Mekong Delta – see the floating markets
When to Go
Even though Vietnam lies entirely in the tropic zone, its climate varies surprisingly from region to region. Therefore this charming land is well-known as an “all-year-around” available destination for travelers.
In the north, from Sapa to Hanoi, there are 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
In the central region, from Nha Trang to Hue, sunshine lasts throughout the year, except for the months of November and December when heavy rainfalls occur. Dalat, at an altitude of 1500m, is cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March. Da Nang and Hue both experience typhoon activity from mid-October to mid-December when the climate becomes cooler, more overcast and wet.
In the south, from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, there are two main seasons: wet and dry. The wet season falls between April and September, with sudden heavy showers that don’t last very long. The dry season spans the months of October to March, with higher temperatures and long days of sunshine, followed by cooler nights.
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
Almost all visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country, although some exemptions apply for citizens of countries with reciprocal agreements with Vietnam. Depending upon the nationality and passport of the applicant, a tourist visa can be obtained at the Vietnamese diplomatic office or consulates in foreign countries. Visas can also be obtained with the help of a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, known as a “Visa on Arrival”. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, as requested at the time of application.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
The easiest way is to get your visa through a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, such as Indochina Pioneer. We can quickly and efficiently organize your pre-arranged VOA if you wish. Our visa processing fee is a reasonable rate of USD$10 / person only. Except for American citizens who are required to pay a stamping fee of USD$135 to get a 1-year, multiple-entry tourist visa, other nationalities need to pay just USD$25 / person for a single entry and USD$50 / person for multiple entries.
- To apply for your VOA please email us the following information:
- Arrival and departure dates
- Full passport details:
- Passport number
- Issuing date
- Expiry date
Note: your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, and there must be several blank pages left on your passport.
- Once we have received your information, we will secure a Visa Approval Letter for you. This usually takes about 2 – 4 working days (ie. excluding weekends). We will then send you the letter via email or fax. You must present this letter upon boarding your flight. Also, you will need to prepare two photos (6 cm high x 4 cm wide – white background, no glasses, no smiling).
- On arrival at the airport (in Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City) please find the Visa on Arrival window/counter where you will hand over your passport and photos, and be given a simple form to fill out. Pay the stamping fee of USD$25 for the single entry and USD$50 for multiple entries. The staff at the airport will shortly return your passport with your visa, after which you will be allowed to exit the airport.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a certain amount of time:
- Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia (maximum stay of up to 30 days)
- Philippines (maximum stay of up to 21 days)
- Japan, South Korea (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
- Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for a VOA and will have to apply at their nearest Vietnamese embassy/consulate :
South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa
Starting from February 1st, 2017, the Vietnamese government officially launched the electronic visa plan for foreign tourists of certain countries visiting Vietnam. To apply for an e-visa, please visit http://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn or http://www.immigration.gov.vn. For the list of
countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an e-visa to Vietnam, click here.
How to Book a Tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (MR. LAM) or +84 983 145 799 (MR. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook
"An amazing trip"
In my younger years I spent months backpacking on the cheap around Asia. I now have more money, less time and a family. I found Indochina Pioneer on-line and contacted Mr Lam for our recent trip to Cambodia. He was full of information, answered all of my many questions, suggested great ideas, incorporated my changes and organised all smoothly.
I wanted airport transfers and to organise hotels before we left. Mr Lam suggested a range of hotels to choose from all of which were good. Internal transfers and flights were also organised. We only wanted tours for Angkor Wat and The Killing Fields which Mr Lam arranged. Our other days were left free for us to choose what we wanted. The tour consisted of myself, my husband and twin sons which was perfect. The tour guides were knowledgeable and helpful, as were the drivers.
Mr Lam suggested we get a speed boat from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh up the Mekong River which was a great way to travel. The crocodile farm on the way was well worth the lunch stop.
I would recommend Indochina Pioneer as a great tour company for families. My in-laws are travelling with them later in the year. I am currently planning another trip to Laos using Indochina Pioneer again.
For someone who doesn’t like or do package tours having a private tour for my family was just perfect.
"2nd Time….just as great"
This is the second time I have used Indochina Pioneer. They excelled again. This time, we had 5 Rotarians who had completed a project in Cambodia, and needed some holiday time afterwards. We booked an 8 night Hanoi/Sapa/Halong Bay tour.
Again, the Indochina Pioneer Team performed beyond my expectations. On time, knowledgeable and flexible at all times.
We had a small problem with our van after the 5 hour drive to Sapa. By breakfast the next day, we had a new van and driver to look after us for the rest of our journey.
We got a great upgrade on the Halong Bay cruise.
I can’t commend Indochina Pioneer highly enough. If you want further details, please PM me directly, if I go again in Indochina, it will only be with Indochina Pioneer.
goodtravelfort lee, nj
"Fantastic 17 days in Vietnam and Cambodia"
The best thing about Duong Dai Lam (Lam) from Indochina Pioneer is that he listens. We are interested in history, architecture and food, and really appreciate good views.
Our trip provided these things and more:
– In every city we had gorgeous hotels with fabulous views, with a number of upgrades. Hotels appreciated Indochina Pioneer business.
– Halong Bay cruise was one of the highlights – small, comfortable boat with great food and most incredible landscapes. How did they get such a good chef for a 10 cabin boat?
– Lam suggested many off the beaten track attractions that helped us to understand and appreciate the country.
– Our tour guides in every place were knowledgeable about history and architecture, forthcoming with cultural and lifestyle information
– They were very flexible both in planning, and trip changes when the weather did not cooperate. For example – we don’t ride bicycles, so we ended up doing one day tour on the back of 2 scooters. Fun!!!
– Street food tour with Luu in Hanoi was fun, delicious and educational. We kept eating on the street throughout the trip. No food poisoning, just delicious food.
– Private cars were medium size SUVs immaculately maintained and drivers were safe.
I infrequently gush – see my other reviews. But this was one of our best trips, and the private tour ended up costing less than a comparable group tour booked from US.
Roger CAustralia, Adelaide
"Excellent 20 day tour of Myanmar with Indochina Pioneer"
This was our first trip to Myanmar . We have traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with Lam Duong from Indochina Pioneer in the past and having had such a great trip chose Lam to organise our Myanmar trip.
Lam chose and booked great hotels in Yangon, Kyaing Tong, Kalaw, Inle Lake , Bagan and Mandalay as well as organise excellent tour guides and drivers at those places. We wanted to do a short cruise on the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay and Lam selected Amara River Cruises which operate small extremely well founded wooden vessels. Our boat Amara 1 was excellent, comfortable and with friendly attentive staff who took us on excursions and provided us with superb food and service.
We also did a memorable balloon flight in Bagan with Balloons over Bagan which Lam organised.
Our tour organised by Lam in Myanmar was superb, we could not fault the guides and the overall balance of the itinerary.
Full marks Indochina Pioneer!
"First trip to Vietnam"
As this was our first trip to Vietnam we decided to us Indochina Pioneer-and Mr Lam provided us with a 17 day itinerary. Thank you for arranging a most relaxing holiday, and we enjoyed every minute with our guides, Mr Dong (Hanoi), Mr Thoung and driver Mr Hai (Hoi An-Hue) Mrs Yen from Ho Chi Minh City and Mr Tom from the Dragon Peal No 1. Their warmth, friendliness and good humour has made our trip most memorable. The guides all did an excellent job with their knowledge on places visited as well as the history of Vietnam. Our visit to Halong Bay was unfortunately very cold, but was still made enjoyable, and guests still participated in canoeing and visiting the floating fishing village. Although there were many highlights with the sounds, smells and overall busy day to day life especially in the markets, my favourite highlight was in Ho Chi Minh City with a park becoming one enormous flower market and the boats on the river covered in flowers ready to sell, all for the Tet festival. We wished we stayed a few extra nights to enjoy the Tet festivities. Yes I would definitely recommend Indochina Pioneer to anyone wishing to travel to Vietnam, and will use this company again.