Build Your Own Trip

Overview

  • Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) – Arrival
  • Day 2: HCMC – Full-Day City Tour
  • Day 3: HCMC – Vinh Long – Can Tho
  • Day 4: Can Tho – HCMC
  • Day 5: HCM – Cu Chi – Cao Dai Temple
  • Day 6: HCMC – Flight to Danang/ Hoi An
  • Day 7: Hoi An – Free day
  • Day 8: Hoi An – Free day
  • Day 9: Hoi An – Hue
  • Day 10: Hue – Half-day City Tour – Train to Hanoi
  • Day 11: Hanoi – Arrival
  • Day 12: Hanoi – Full-day City Tour
  • Day 13: Hanoi – Mai Chau
  • Day 14: Mai Chau – Xa Linh Village – Hanoi
  • Day 15: Hanoi – Halong bay – On-board ship
  • Day 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi
  • Day 17: Hanoi – Departure

Full Itinerary

[*Notes]

- 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 (HCMC) – Arrival

Your private tour guide will meet you at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat airport and will escort you by private car to your selected hotel in HCM. Your knowledgeable guide will be happy to answer any questions along the way regarding your 17-day adventure in Vietnam, and will assist you with check-in and registration at the hotel.

The remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight you will have your first dinner in a local restaurant and the chance to enjoy Vietnamese cuisine’s first taste.

Note: For the Vietnamese Visa on Arrival, please make sure you have 2 passport sized 4 cm x 6 cm photos and $25 for the stamping fee.

Overnight in HCMC
Meals: (_/_/Dinner)



HCMC – Full-Day City Tour

Morning
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you on a full-day city tour of HCMC. Below are the recommended sites, but of course, your guide will be happy to modify the list based on your preferences.

Visits:
– War Remnants Museum
– Reunification Palace
– Notre Dame Cathedral with its French colonial architecture
– Dong Khoi, one of the city’s main shopping boulevards

Lunch will be at a local restaurant where you will be served delicious local HCMC cuisine.

Afternoon
After lunch, your full-day city tour continues with a cyclo tour, winding through Saigon’s vibrant streets to Chinatown and its bustling markets
The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in HCMC
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



HCMC – Vinh Long – Can Tho

Morning 
After an early breakfast and check out, your private driver will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Mekong Delta and the town of Vinh Long. En route, we board a boat and navigate through the intricate waterways and canals to visit some of the islands in this region stopping at some local cottage industries, tropical fruit orchards and rice paddies
Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant on the island and then dock, after which you can get some rest.

Afternoon
From here you will be driven to Can Tho and check into your hotel. The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in Can Tho
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



Can Tho – HCMC

Morning
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you to the water to witness Vietnam’s largest floating market – Cai Rang – where literally hundreds of boats laden with locally grown fruit and vegetables come to trade. Our boat arrives at the dock where we return to HCMC by road. Stop en route for lunch before getting back to HCMC.

Afternoon
Your private tour guide will take you back to HCMC. The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in Can Tho
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



HCM – Cu Chi – Cao Dai Temple

Morning
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels were mainly constructed in the American war and used by the Viet Cong. Upon arrival at the historical relics of Cu Chi, you will be shown a brief introductory documentary and then enjoy a sightseeing consisting of 2 walking on uneven mud paths through the bush. You also have a chance to crawl through some of the tunnels.

Quickly after that you are transferred to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Temple (travel time approximately 01 hour) and watch most of the Cao Dai service. This will tell you of a strangest religion in the world. Lunch will be served in a simple local restaurant with lovely southern Vietnam cuisine.

Afternoon
Your private tour guide will take you back to HCMC (travel time approximately 03 hours). The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure. .

Overnight in HCM
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



HCMC – Flight to Danang/ Hoi An

Morning
After an early breakfast, you will be privately transferred by guide and driver to Tan Son Nhat airport to take the short flight to Da Nang. From here you will travel a short distance to the old merchant town of Hoi An in your private car. This former colorful trading port used to attract merchants from as far afield as China, Japan and Europe as far back as the sixteenth century. Lunch will be on your own.

Afternoon
Your private tour guide will help you check in your hotel in Hoi An. After that, your private tour guide will take you on a tour around the famous town. Below are the recommended sites, but of course, your guide will be happy to modify the list based on your preferences.
Visits:
– Old Chinese temples
– Wooden merchant’s homes
– The symbol of Hoi An – the Japanese Covered Bridge
– One of the many tailors for the chance to have some made-to-measure clothes, or shop for antiques and ceramics in the heart of Old Hoi An all of which give Hoi An its unique and charming character

The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An
Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)



Hoi An – Free day

Today you are free to stroll around town. You can visit the local markets and choose one of the many local restaurants for lunch. Hoi An is famed for its unique dishes such as Cao Lau noodle and White Rose. There is the opportunity to try your hand at cooking some Vietnamese dishes with a fun cooking class.

Overnight in Hoi An
Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)



Hoi An – Free day

Another free day your further exploration of Hoi An. You can hire a bicycle to experience Hoi An and its surrounding countryside or nearby Cua Dai beach. Or you could just shop-till-drop in this town.

Overnight in Hoi An
Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)

Hoi An – Hue

Morning
After breakfast, you will be collected by your private guide and driven in a private vehicle to Hue, stop en route at the Marble Mountains before ascending the Hai Van (Cloudy) Pass stopping at the top for spectacular views of the coastline below. Generally the morning will be yours to explore at your leisure. Lunch will be on your own.

Afternoon
In the afternoon there will be a guided tour of the Royal Citadel and Forbidden City which was modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Evening
There’s the chance to be kings and queens for the night with an optional Royal Banquet (Optional).

Overnight in Hue
Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)


Hue – Half-day City Tour – Train to Hanoi

Morning
After breakfast and check out, your private tour guide will take you to a half-day tour of Hue.
With the help of your private guide, driver and private vehicle you will get to explore the town’s major attractions.
Visits:
– A dragon boat trip along the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda. Here you can offer prayers to Buddha and also to the pagoda’s most famous monk – Thich Quang Duc who set fire to himself at a busy Saigon intersection in 1963 as a protest against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam’s regime. – The tomb of Emperor Minh Mang and the old Coliseum
– A local workshop to witness the process of incent stick and conical hat making.
– Local Buddhist monastery where you will be treated a delicious vegetarian lunch.

Afternoon
This afternoon you are transferred to Hue station to board the overnight Reunification Express train to Hanoi. You can go and order some take-away food for our dinner. The overnight accommodation aboard the train is a four berth sleeper carriage.

Overnight on A/C train
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



Hanoi – Arrival

Morning
On arrival in Hanoi in the early morning, you will be privately transferred by guide and driver to your hotel. Check into your day-use room, then free at leisure. Lunch will be on your own.

Afternoon
In the late afternoon you will enjoy one hour cyclo (cycle rickshaw) tour through the Old Quarter, which is also known as the 36 old streets, this bustling area of narrow streets is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. We then enjoy the unique performance of the famous Water Puppet Theatre.

Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)

Hanoi – Full-day City Tour

Morning
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you on a full-day city tour. First stop will be the Ho Chi Minh complex. Ho Chi Minh was the founding father of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and is much revered in Vietnam to this day. The complex consists of his Mausoleum, the presidential residence and the One Pillar Pagoda. Our next stop is the Temple of Literature – Vietnam’s first university and now a temple dedicated to Confucius. We follow this with Hoa Lo Prison, better known by US POWs as the “Hanoi Hilton”. Lunch will be served in a local Vietnamese restaurant to sample Hanoi’s exotic cuisine.

Afternoon
In the afternoon your private tour guide will take you to the Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country and has an extensive display dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 Ethnic minority peoples.  You will enjoy a cyclo (rickshaw) ride of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, and then taken back to your hotel. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



Hanoi – Mai Chau

Morning 
After an early breakfast and checkout, you will be escorted by your private tour guide to leave the capital and head northwest to Mai Chau set in spectacular highland countryside. The area is 160km from Hanoi and home to several ethnic minorities including the White Thai.

Afternoon
You arrive at Lac Village where we spend the night as guests of a local family or stay in hotels and resorts in town. Following lunch your guide will take you to explore the surrounding local villages on foot or by bicycle.

Overnight in Mai Chau
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



Mai Chau – Xa Linh Village – Hanoi

Morning
After breakfast you bid farewell to our hosts and travel to visit Xa Linh village, home of the Hmong people, one of the largest hill tribes in northern Vietnam. Enjoy a walk, meet and visit some local households where you can learn about the daily life and lifestyle.
You then wind the way back to Hanoi. On the way back you have a quick stop at a Muong village, another minority group to discover their style of housing and culture. Lunch will be served in Hoa Binh before returning to Hanoi in the afternoon

Afternoon
Your private tour guide will take you to your hotel in Hanoi. The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/_)



Hanoi – Halong bay – On-board ship

Morning
After breakfast, your private guide and driver will take you out of Hanoi in a private vehicle, heading to Halong Bay (the travel time approximately 04 hours). You will go through the lush paddy fields of the Red River Delta. On the way you will stop for refreshments and a chance to buy some handmade souvenirs at Hong Ngoc Charity centre which raises money for the disabled.
Upon arrival at the quayside you will board your private junk boat and enjoy a delicious seafood lunch as you will cruise through the bay with its vast and imposing limestone formations

Afternoon
In the afternoon, you will visit Sung Sot Cave and a floating village where the locals have their own fish farms. Relax on the sundeck and admire the ever changing vista of Halong Bay with a glass of wine.

Evening
Your night is spent on board the junk where dinner and cabins are provided.

Overnight on board
Meals: (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)



Halong Bay – Hanoi

Morning 
You could rise early this morning to see the sunrise on the bay followed by a simple breakfast. Enjoy a bamboo boat ride through Luon Cave. You will return to the junk and explore Bai Tu Long before brunch.

Afternoon
You will arrive back at the harbor and then be taken back to Hanoi in the late afternoon by your private tour guide.

Evening
You will have a farewell dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Brunch/Dinner)



Hanoi – Departure

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 the Noi Bai airport for your departure flight home.

Meals: (Breakfast/_/_)

Useful Information

What’s Included?

  • Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
  • Private Vihicles and Drivers
  • Private English Speaking Guides (Other languages if available, upon request)
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)

  • All domestic flights
  • Airport Taxes and Fuel charges
  • Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
  • Service Charge & Government Taxes

What’s Not Included?

  • Your International Flights Vietnam and Cambodia 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

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.

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

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.

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.

VOA procedure

  • To apply for your VOA please email us the following information:
  • Arrival and departure dates
  • Full passport details:
  • Passport number
  • Name
  • Gender
  • Nationality
  • 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.

Visa exemptions

The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a certain amount of time:

Asia

  • 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)

Europe

  • 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

E-visa

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.

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 sales@indochinapioneer.com 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 Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉

Essentials

  • 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
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Refillable water bottle with filter

 

Wardrobe

  • 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

 

Optional comforts

  • Ear plugs & eye mask
  • Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
  • Lightweight travel towel
  • Local language phrasebook