Watch the Vietnam secret revealed as you travel through the beautiful country on this tour. Start your adventure in Ho Chi Minh City with stops at its most important sights, then enjoy a boat ride to explore Cai Rang floating market and the landscape of Mekong Delta. Visit Cao Dai Temple to learn about this unique religion. Discover Hoi An and its surrounding areas and watch the tranquil life unfolds before your eyes. Hear about the glorious past of Hue behind the walls of the Imperial Citadel. In Hanoi, venture through its streets and the famous Old Quarter then take the train ride to Sapa, where you will get the most spectacular mountainous views and meet the ethnic communities. Cruise between the striking limestone pillars at Halong Bay, an unmissable destination for any Vietnam trip.
- Day 1: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 2: HCM City – Sightseeing tour full day
- Day 3: HCM City – Cai Be – Bassac Cruise
- Day 4: Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating Market – HCM City
- Day 5: HCM City – Cu Chi Tunnels & Cao Dai Temple - Flight to Da Nang/ Hoi An
- Day 6: Hoi An – Walking & Food Tour
- Day 7: Hoi An – Fishing and Farming Full day
- Day 8: Hoi An – Day at leisure
- Day 9: Hoi An – Da Nang – Hue
- Day 10: Hue – Half-day City Tour – Overnight Train to Hanoi
- Day 11: Hanoi Arrival – City Sightseeing
- Day 12: Hanoi – Experience Off the Beaten Path by Russian Minsk Motorcycle
- Day 13: Hanoi – Overnight train to Sapa
- Day 14: Sapa – Hill tribe Village Trek
- Day 15: Sapa – Ma Tra and Ta Phin Villages – Hanoi
- Day 16: Hanoi – Hai Phong – Lan Ha Bay
- Day 17: Lan Ha Bay – Hanoi
- Day 18: 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.
Arrival in Ho Chi Minh CityDay 1
Your private tour guide and driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in downtown. Your knowledgeable guide will be happy to answer any questions along the way regarding your 18-day adventure in Vietnam and will assist you with check-in and registration at the hotel.
The remainder of the day will be at your leisure. Tonight you will have your first dinner in a local Vietnamese restaurant sampling some of the most delightful cuisines.
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 Ho Chi Minh City
HCM City – Sightseeing tour full dayDay 2
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you on a full-day city tour of HCM City. Below are the recommended sites, but of course, your guide will be happy to modify the list based on your preferences.
– the War Remnants Museum
– the Reunification Palace
– the impressive Notre Dame Cathedral with its French colonial architecture
– the General Post Office (designed by Gustave Eiffel)
– the Opera House and the City Hall
Lunch will be at a local restaurant where you will be served delicious local cuisine again.
After lunch, you will visit the Fito Museum, tucked away in a quiet corner of the busy city the museum displays the tools of traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Continue to visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda and then wind through City’s vibrant streets to Cho Lon (China Town) and its bustling markets.
End your day with a visit to the top of the Bitexco Tower for a sundowner with the city’s best views.
Overnight in HCM City
HCM City – Cai Be – Bassac CruiseDay 3
After an early breakfast and check out, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer to Cai Be town where you will take the 2-day/ 1-night cruise trip along the Mekong River.
Upon arrival, you will board the Bassac Vessel, a beautifully crafted wooden boat offering the style and elegance of traditional rice barges typical to the Mekong Delta.
Then depart towards Cho Lach on the Tien Giang river.
While cruising down the river a delicious lunch will be served on board. You have more time to relax on the sundeck.
Continue to cruise, the boat slips into the Chợ Lách canal, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the river traffic, between markets and churches, giving you a unique opportunity for a glimpse of the very varied life on the banks as well as on the water.
During the afternoon there is an opportunity to disembark and walk around local villages and learn about the villagers’ way of life; such as how they grow rice, fruit, and vegetables. You will pause at some of the local cottage industries that operate along the river banks, providing a living for the river people.
Boarding back, complimentary drink as a welcome back on board. Rest on the deck and enjoy the sunset. Tonight you will be served a delicious dinner while the Bassac is cruising along Mang Thit River. Finally, the boat sets anchor just downstream from Tra On for the night.
Overnight on Board the Bassac Vessel
Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating Market – HCM CityDay 4
Get up early to watch the sunrise. It’s followed by a delicious breakfast on board.
The Bassac continues to cruise toward Can Tho passing by Tra On.
Upon arrival in Can Tho, you will be transferred onto a small boat and then set off for Cai Rang floating market, Vietnam’s largest floating market, where literally hundreds of boats laden with locally grown fruit and vegetables come to trade.
Continue to visit a rice noodle factory, making use of the abundance of rice grown in the region. Here you can observe the noodle manufacturing
The Bassac finally arrives at Ninh Kieu pier where your driver awaits and takes you back to Ho Chi Minh City. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant en route.
Overnight in HCM City
HCM City – Cu Chi Tunnels & Cao Dai Temple - Flight to Da Nang/ Hoi AnDay 5
After breakfast, you will be met by your guide and driver and taken to Cu Chi, a small community located northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, known for its network of deep tunnels that provided shelter and an effective source of infiltration for the Viet Cong during the later years of the Vietnam War.
Upon arrival, you will watch the original film footage from the period, followed by a walk through the reserve. The hidden network of Viet Cong tunnels is believed to stretch to “hundreds of miles,” in total length, housed living quarters, storage rooms, makeshift hospitals, and kitchens…etc. Although originally very narrow, some parts have been widened for the tourists and you have the opportunity to explore parts of the system.
Try some of the main food of the Viet Cong Soldiers with a cassava tasting served with tangy tea.
Depart Cu Chi you will be transferred to Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh Province. On arrival, set out to explore the sacred temple and learn more about the fascinating Cao Dai religion, which borrows elements from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism. You will then take part in the midday mass, admiring the monks in their colorful robes and listening to the mesmerizing chants.
After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant you will be driven to Ho Chi Minh Airport to catch your flight to Da Nang in the central of Vietnam.
On arrival at Da Nang airport, you will be met by your private guide and taken to your hotel in Hoi An for check-in. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.
From the 16th to the 18th century the UNESCO recognized Hoi An was once a thriving international commercial port. French, Chinese and Japanese architecture is evident throughout and such is its diversity the town now boasts some of the country’s most interesting and delicious cuisine.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Walking & Food TourDay 6
The whole morning will be free at your leisure. Enjoy late breakfast and the comforts of your hotel.
Your tour guide will pick you up and take you to the Ancient Quarter of Hoi An, where you will embark on a walking tour visiting the major attractions such as Chua Ong Pagoda, Tan Ky Ancient House, Fujian Assembly Hall, and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Continue to visit the Precious Heritage Museum, home to the permanent exhibition of Réhahn’s Precious Heritage Collection. While transporting you to the furthest reaches of Vietnam, the collection will unveil the rich cultural tapestry of the ethnic tribes
The highlight of the day is the visit to the Reaching Out Tea House, a welcome little oasis of calm in the busy, vibrant Old quarter, owned and operated by the mute and deaf people. Here you will be treated with delicious cakes and incredible tea in the Eastern style.
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.
Now, it’s time for your Hoi An street food discovery tour. With your guide, you will weave in and out the tiny alleyways, get to chow down with the locals at stalls you’d never discover on your own. Every day at 4 pm, Hoi An’s streets filled with a myriad of street food carts, stalls, and vendors. The street food tour is a great introduction for you to enjoy a few of the Hoi An specialties cooked up by the locals, to introduce you to the faces behind the stock pots and to teach you how the Hoi An locals deal with those condiment trays!
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Fishing and Farming Full dayDay 7
Today you will join a farming and fishing tour in Hoi An’s beautiful surrounding countryside which provides you with a close-up and intimate exposure to both the local farming and fishing communities.
(Note: you don’t know how to ride bicycles, please use our scooter “XE OM” services with little additional charges)
Kick off your Hoi An tour by cycling bikes through the paddy fields and taking in the rural scenes – farmers tending to their crops and water buffalo ploughing the fields. You will experience the friendliness of the local people greeting you along the way. The photo opportunities are endless.
Your first stop is at the Tra Que Vegetable Village where you take part in the farming section. This organic vegetable and herb farm is beautifully presented and it supplies much of Hoi An with its fresh produce. Here, you will learn the traditional methods for tilling the soil, planting and watering the vegetables. Certainly, you will have a chance for some hands-on fun.
From Tra Que Village you continue to paddle along palm-lined paths through the paddy fields, passing flocks of ducks scrabbling up muddy banks and water buffalo catching forty winks in the shade to reach your next stop. This is where you will ride a water buffalo in a rice paddy field and enjoy the freshest air of the countryside beauty.
Once your brush with the farming life over, you will board the wooden boat and cruise to the mouth of the river where it meets the Cua Dai Sea. Start the fishing section of the tour. First, you will learn how to paddle bamboo basket boats and take them for a ride along the secluded waterways, before meeting up with some local fishermen who will teach you to a few traditional net fishing techniques. You may be not very skillful – but it is certainly fun to give it a go.
Your tour ends with a delicious Vietnamese lunch on board the boat, cooked by your friendly crew, who also keep you entertained by making you amazingly intricate creations from palm fronds.
Transfer back to your hotel where the balance of the day is at your leisure.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Day at leisureDay 8
The whole day is free for your further exploration of Hoi An. There’s so much to do in this paradise: enjoy the local market and it’s street food (try Lao Cau and White Rose Dumpling), get some tailoring done within 24 hours, join a hands-on cooking class.
The beautiful beach of An Bang is only 5km away from the Ancient Town. You can ride the bicycle there for some swim and relaxing time.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Da Nang – HueDay 9
After breakfast, you will be collected by your private guide and transferred in a private vehicle (approximately 4 hours) to the Royal City of Hue via Da Nang. Today the drive over the Hai Van Pass will be one of the most scenic ones on your trip. En route, you will stop to visit the Marble Mountain, Cham Museum in Da Nang and the white sandy 20-mile stretch of My Khe Beach which was home to American GIs during the war.
Arrive Hue around midday and check into your hotel in downtown. After that head to a peaceful Buddhist Pagoda for a delicious vegetarian lunch served by the nuns. Take the opportunity to learn about the religion Buddhism or just get to know your friendly hosts.
Your guide and driver will pick you up and transfer you to the wharf for your dragon boat ride on the romantically named Perfume River. During the boat cruise, you will stop to visit the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda – Hue’s most famous religious site. Explore the pagoda’s landscaped gardens, the seven-storey octagonal tower and watch the monks chanting.
End your day at Dong Ba Market which runs along the north bank of Huong (Perfume) River. Here you will have a chance to discover a favourite Noddle shop by Anthony Bourdain – the World Famous Chef and TV Producer. Sample the best Bun Bo Hue “Hue Noddle soup”.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight in Hue
Hue – Half-day City Tour – Overnight Train to HanoiDay 10
After breakfast, you will continue to explore Hue UNESCO World Heritage Site. With the help of your private guide and driver, you will get to see some of Hue’s important historical sights.
– The ancient and atmospheric walled Citadel contains the former Imperial Palace and the Forbidden Purple City.
– Hue Royal Antiquities Museum houses a fine collection of antique pieces belonging to the royal family.
– The impressive tomb of Emperor Tu Duc and the old Coliseum.
– Vietnam’s only Ancient colosseum; the site of elephant and tiger fighting.
Head to a local Buddhist Pagoda where you will be treated a delicious vegetarian lunch cooked and served by the nuns. Take the opportunity to learn about the religion Buddhism or just get to know your friendly hosts.
Continue your day with a visit to Truc Chi Garden, the crafting bamboo paper art workshop. You will have a chance to meet one of the students there and be treated to hands-on experience to learn how to use the etching technique with bamboo pulp to create artworks.
Later you will be transferred to Hue Railway station to board the overnight Reunification Express train to Hanoi. Accommodation on the train will be on a shared basis in a four-berth soft sleeper compartment with airconditioning, nice and comfy!
Overnight on A/C train
Hanoi Arrival – City SightseeingDay 11
On arrival in Hanoi in the early morning, your private guide and driver will greet you at the train station and take you to your hotel in downtown for the early check-in. Enjoy breakfast and rest as you wish after the train ride.
Embark on a private city tour with your driver and guide. Start with a visit to Ho Chi Minh Complex including his Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, the historic Stilt house, and the One Pillar Pagoda.
From Ho Chi Minh Complex, you will take a short leisurely walk through the small laneways toward Huu Tiep Lake. You will explore the grounds of a 400-year-old temple, followed by a stroll through traditional local market streets to see the B52 crash site at the lake. This US bomber was shot down during the 1972 bombing raids of Ha Noi, a poignant reminder of Vietnam’s recent history.
Take a short drive to the outskirt of Hanoi to visit the Museum of Ethnology exhibiting the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam. Some of them you will meet during your trip to Sapa.
Get back to the City Center and continue to visit the atmospheric halls of the Temple of Literature on the site of Vietnam’s first university.
The tour comes to an end at Hoa Lo (so-called Hanoi Hilton), a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War.
In the evening your guide will take you to the Opera House to watch a spectacular Vietnamese Bamboo Circus show, called My Village. It is a delicate merging of tradition and innovation, where the poetic beauty of Vietnamese village life is laid out, astonishingly, in a Bamboo Circus. Farming, building activities, traditional games, and the lifestyles of villagers are re-created through the traditional media of ancestral bamboo, in breathtaking circus performances.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Experience Off the Beaten Path by Russian Minsk MotorcycleDay 12
Today you will experience Hanoi Off the Beaten Path in the back of the Russian Minsk Motorcycle. This one-of-the-kind tour will bring you into the true livings museum of Hanoi life, give you a rich insight into how the locals live. With your experienced guides (also your drivers), you will explore Hanoi’s different neighborhoods, a few key attractions, local markets and beautiful urban agricultural land on an island. They will show you some hidden gems of Hanoi and special places where you can taste amazing street food. Motorbike tour? It sounds a little scary but you will be safe with your courteous, friendly and very professional drivers.
Note: If you are not keen on the motorcycle, there is an alternative option for your family to take an open-air war-time Jeep car.
Your family is met in the hotel at the appointed time by your guides (also drivers) and after some safety briefing, set off as pillion riders on Russian built 1952 150cc motorcycles heading out of the city. While riding you will be shown some sights and your guides knowledgeably and proudly explain their city.
The first stop is at the black market where you will get through tiny zigzag alleyways. Meet and interact with the friendly local people. Pause at a food court in the back of the market and try some delicious street food.
Continue your ride zipping in and out of the backstreets. You will arrive at a local home where you are introduced to an old woman at her apartment to hear about her life stories.
Proceed to a narrow stretch of housing where the only space between both sides of the street is the railroad track. Here your guides have timed it so you can get to see a Reunification Express train passing through! It’s your Kodak moment.
Return to the City you are driven through the French colonial architecture of the precinct known as the French Quater. You will pass the French-style villas, the Vietnam History Museum, the heritage Metropole Legend Hotel, and the Opera House, name to a few.
Proceed to Hanoi’s Old Quarter (in contrast to the French Quarter) to explore the maze of small alleyways and narrow streets. You are safely skirted through traffic amongst the thousands of scooters as you marvel at the composition of the city. Stop at different AUTHENTIC eateries and food stalls to savor the tastiest of the tasty dishes of Hanoi including family heirloom & secret recipe dishes, local delicacies and specialties.
Ride out of the city toward the historic Long Bien Bridge, a magnificent structure built by the French over a hundred years ago which spans the Red River.
From the bridge, you will get to Bai Giua, more commonly known as Banana Island, a 24ha stretch of land in the middle of the Red River. Running down from the centre of the bridge is a steel staircase leading to an island covered by a green canopy of banana, papaya and guava trees, interspersed with the cloudy-white flowers of the wild reeds. Thanks to the abundance of the Red River’s water, the island has been formed by warp providing shelters for many fishermen. The area is vast with no roads, just beaten paths zigzagging behind gardens and trees. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city you left behind.
After meeting some locals and having a leisurely experience in getting to know them you will get back to the City. The final stop will be made at a hidden Cafe for an unmissable egg coffee. Then your guides will drop you back at your hotel where you will bid them a fond farewell.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Overnight train to SapaDay 13
The whole day will be free for your further exploration and enjoying everything that Hanoi has to offer.
Tonight your private driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer to Hanoi Railway Station where you will board the overnight train to Lao Cai. Accommodation on the train will be on a shared basis in a four-berth soft sleeper compartment.
Overnight on A/C train
Sapa – Hill tribe Village TrekDay 14
Early morning arrival at Lao Cai Railway station, your private guide and driver will greet you and transfer to your hotel in Sapa. Early check-in for your comforts and breakfast will be arranged.
Established as a hill station by the French in 1922, Sapa today is a must-visit destination in the Northwest. This is northern Vietnam’s premier trekking base, from where hikers launch themselves into a surrounding countryside of cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages that seem a world apart.
After breakfast and some rest, your guide and driver will meet you again and transfer you to Hau Thao village, home to the Black H’mong minority. Here you will embark on a medium trek for 2,5 – 3 hours. Along the way, you will get to see the farms, orchards and rice paddies carved into the mountains enjoy the breathtaking view and endless photo opportunities.
After a picnic lunch (prepared by your guide) you continue to trek towards Sa Seng Village. Tucked away in the beautiful Muong Hoa Valley, Sa Seng is home to the H’mong people who live their own way without any influence from the modern life of Sapa town.
Walk along the length of the valley you will pass the other two hamlets. Continue your trek until you reach the top of a hill. From the high elevation, the panorama of the Muong Hoa Valley opens wide under your footpath. Enjoy a long break here before proceeding to the main road where your driver is waiting for you and take you back to your hotel in Sapa town.
The remainder of the day is free at your leisure. You can stroll around the town and dine in one of many great restaurants.
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa – Ma Tra and Ta Phin Villages – HanoiDay 15
After breakfast, you will meet your tour guide again and begin the day with a 3km-trek through the breathtaking landscape to the village of Suoi Ho.
Continue your hike toward the stunning village of Matra. You will pass the impressive ruins of a French Catholic church built in the early twentieth century. Take a few minutes to explore this intriguing sight and take some photos as you wish.
Your hike will grow deeper until your arrival at Ta Phin Village, inhabited by the Red Dzao ethnic minority tribe, with their beautiful traditionally embroidered outfits and practice of shaving their hair and eyebrows as a sign of respect. Ta Phin village is also home to the Black H’mong minority who live their own way with no cultural mixture.
Pause at a Red Dzao family and over a cup of tea, have a chat with them learning about their lifestyle. Enjoy a delicious lunch cooked and served by the family.
After lunch, you have time to stroll around the village, take pictures and do some fun shopping. The Red Dao people are known for their expertise in herbal medicine as well as the usage of plants from the land to treat many illnesses. If you’re a bit sore from the activities of the day, sample a traditional herbal bath made by a local Dzao specialist, famous for its therapeutic qualities.
Leaving Ta Phin you will be picked by your private driver and taken back to Sapa town.
In the afternoon you will catch the limousine bus for five hours back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Hai Phong – Lan Ha BayDay 16
After breakfast, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to the port city of Hai Phong, where you board the stylish vessel that is your home for the evening.
On arrival around midday, you’ll be welcomed aboard your Junk boat, each with its own individual route, to begin your cruise around the Lan Ha bay’s thousands of limestone islets and caves, and its main island of Cat Ba.
After checking into your cabin, a delicious lunch will be served, enjoy the delightful Vietnamese cuisine along with fantastic panoramic views of the passing scenery.
Relax on the terrace deck or on your private balcony and soak in the enchanting aura which emanates from the surreal seascape.
Continue the journey, the Junk boat snakes her way past the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan, their karsts (limestone formations) rising dramatically from the bay.
Late afternoon you will reach the shore of a small lagoon on Cat Ba Island, hop on bicycles (electric cart transfers are also available) for a sightsing tour along small paved roads towards Viet Hai village. Little has changed in Viet Hai since the ancestors of the 80 households settled here centuries ago. Situated in a valley within Cat Ba National Park and surrounded on all sides by forest and mountains, the locals are isolated from the island’s other villages and towns. Here you have the unique and authentic opportunity to meet the local inhabitants, learn about the fruits and vegetables grown in the valley, have a glimpse of local households and try some homemade liquors.
Return to your Junk boat for a cooking demonstration with the chef. Learn about local ingredients as well as the preparation of classic Vietnamese dishes.
As the sun sets, you will arrive at a tranquil anchor spot for the night. In this hidden spot, you can revel in the memories of the day’s adventures with a cocktail under the stars.
After a scrumptious dinner, you may like to unwind at the bar with a digestif, watch a movie in the cinema, or have some fun fishing for squid before retiring to your room.
Note: If your time permits, we would highly recommend an additional night on board which gives you a lot more time to relax and take in the amazing landscape. You’ll get to cruise deeper into the Bay where it’s more beautiful and less crowded.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay – HanoiDay 17
Wake up early and join the Tai Chi session on the terrace deck to ease your mind and muscles with the first rays of the sun touching the water. Coffee, tea and breakfast pastries await you in the dining room to start the new day.
It is time for Junk boat to lift her anchors and cruise toward Frog Lake, a secluded spot perfect for our morning excursion. Go for a refreshing “bay swim” or explore this captivating marine landscape via kayak. The cliffs stretch vertically out of the water and you feel a sense of freedom while meandering through this green medley of water and tree-topped islets.
Return to the Junk boat to check out of the cabin. Then enjoy a full brunch buffet as you cruise back to the pier.
Disembark at Got pier in Hai Phong city, your private driver is waiting for you and take you back to Hanoi.
After checking into your hotel, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. Stroll around the Old town or visit Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple, a short walk from your hotel. It’s beautifully lit up at night.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – DepartureDay 18
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
Inquire this trip
We are a member of:
We are a fully licensed company:
License No: 01-327/2014/TCDL-GPLHQT
- 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
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 email@example.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 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
We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.
We had a wonderful 7-day trip last July; Kata was awesome to work with. So professional, reliable and helpful!
"Lifetime of Memories"
Lam did an amazing job putting together an itinerary based on phone/text conversations. We told him the where and what and he did the rest. The accommodations were beyond expectation, the guides were unbelievably friendly, and the places we were taken were spectacular. Having guides and drivers is worth every penny. So much time and money would have been wasted had we tried to accomplish this ourselves.
We got to experience so much more because of our guides local knowledge. Lastly, how great it was not to worry about how we were getting to the next adventure. Had we not used Indochina Pioneer I truly believe I wouldn’t have as many astonishing memories.
"Amazing 30 Day Journey with Indochina Pioneer"
If you are looking for a private tour of SE Asia, look no further than Indochina Pioneer. I recently returned from a 30-day private tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all arranged by Indochina Pioneer and could not have been happier with everything they arranged for me. They are top-notch from working directly with you on planning your trip, arranging visas, having individuals at the airports to meet and walk you through everything when entering the countries, having amazing tour guides and drivers as well as organizing everything for you on the ground and being there to help you all along the way if you have any questions or problems. My tour was amazing with not only the normal tourist sights, but many off the beaten track sights and with your own guides, you learn so much more from these individuals who actually live in the places you will visit. I can’t recommend this tour agency enough. If you are looking to travel to any of the locations Indochina Pioneer has tours, you must book through them, you will not be disappointed.
"Excellent from the very beginning"
We had 21 days on a private tour and every detail was perfectly arranged. Perhaps, the Spanish speaking skills of guides can ve improved, but overall they were very helpful and committed with their job. I want to highlight the performance of Juan (Hanoi), Miguel (Hoi An), Chao (Ho Chi Minh City) and La (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Hotels were as we asked and the timing for the visits was very good.
I recommend this travel agency!
"Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia"
We are three friends who booked a private 26-day tour of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with Indochina Pioneer and had an amazing time. Our travel agent, Sally, was not only a great professional, but also an amazing person, personable, sweet and eager to do anything possible to turn our trip into a unique travel experience. She was in daily contact with us, making sure that everything would be perfect for us and she was available 24/7. Everything was beyond our expectations: hotels, activities, guides, transportation, meals, etc. The itinerary itself was set to meet our needs as historians, combining visits to archaeological sites and museums, with leisure activities and cultural events.
There are no words strong enough to recommend Indochina Pioneer and, especially, Sally. Special thanks to Cong, our guide in Hoi An, Lao, our guide in Sapa, Mon, our guide in Vientiane and Vuthi, our guide in Siem Reap. We learned so many things from these amazing, always smiling, intelligent people, not only about the history of their countries, but also about their culture and modern life in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Overall, we feel like we booked a tour and in the end, we got ourselves one-in-a-lifetime- experience.
"Vietnam /Thailand Trip"
Here we are already a week back home in the US from three weeks in Asia. The continued changes/challenges that are occurring all around our world right now are such a strange and unique phenomenon. I hope everything is going alright on your end, both professionally and personally, in regarding the CoVid-19 issues. WOW!
Since we’ve been home….and even while Mary and I were in Asia….we both remarked on repeated occasions about how fortunate we felt to be able to experience the parts of Asia that we did….and do it the way we did! It was only by way of the assistance that you put into place through the guide services and drivers that we could’ve come away with having such a truly FANTASTIC journey!!
I cannot adequately put into words what a benefit it was to have employed your service for this trip. We are tremendously thankful to you for your flexibility in working with us using our itinerary and blending what we had in mind with what additional experiences might complement our plans. Thank you for working on our behalf to get us into the wonderful hotel accommodations in the various areas. To expound on that a bit…. In Can Tho, we stayed at the Lighthouse B & B. Not knowing what to expect about ANYTHING prior to our arrival….then,….becoming aware of the modest way of life…the poverty that exists in that area….we were STUNNED to be treated to such a fabulous place to stay in the LightHouse!!! Beyond all dreams/expectations! MARVELOUS in every single way!! People make such a big difference…and that was so true at the Lighthouse. Despite our inabilities for fluent communication in Vietnamese, the staff at the hotel were so accommodating, friendly and made us feel so welcome. We had the opportunity to meet the owner just prior to leaving…..such a privilege to meet her and express to her our gratitude.
The second place we stayed at was the Riverside Resort in HoiAn. Such a unique, paradise-like place! Again…the PEOPLE! I hate to used the same words again and again, but, so WONDERFUL was that whole experience!! I could easily see coming back to Hoi An and spending a week or more just at that Resort and in browsing around the Old City and surrounding areas of DaNang.
The Liberty Central Hotel in Saigan felt special too. We couldn’t get over at so many of these hotels…..each one of these hotels….the FOOD was beyond remarkable! Such an array of choices and taste sensations! An apparent tradition in Asia is the welcome drink….what a great thing! It is such a nice gesture…not at all expected, and so revitalizing to a traveler/tourist. The people who worked at every single hotel in which we stayed were so warm and accommodating…such easy people with whom to engage.
The Lapis Hotel in Hanoi …..again….more of the same ….just great!
Inasmuch as every Hotel was wonderful…if there was one that was not quite as great as we’d come to expect, it would be the Siam Hotel in Thailand. The room was darker…older, a tad bit less appealing…overlooked less ‘scenic’ things….BUT….once again, the people are what can really make a difference. A gentleman that sits at the door made a recommendation to us for massages….and with the location being some distance from us…he made arrangements for someone from the hotel to take us there!! Unbelievably nice!!
I need to point out also how great the guides were that accompanied us in our travels. Each one was refreshing, energized, informed and all were delightful. We probably connected most with our guide in DaNang though. “Toan” was our guide throughout the area of DaNang. He was SO fun…and connected with us so easily…amazing. We had such a great time with him that we felt like we’d known him for a long long time. He was kind of like a little ‘Mother Hen’ the way he watched out over us…and he had such a terrific sense of humor that we were laughing so much of the time.
It wasn’t my intent in writing to you …to write so much. It’s just flooding from me; all the memories of such an unforgettable time that I will carry in my soul for the rest of my life.
Thank you for taking my texts/calls when we were in the midst of the vacation and seemed to bump into temporary glitches….they all fixed themselves quickly, but I reached out just to create some awareness in case there was a problem of which early awareness could make a difference. Thank you also for encouraging us to maintain the plan to participate in the motorcycle tour with Vietnam Backstreets. Our tour guide was “Boo”….and there was another driver….think his name was “Hue”….”Boo” caused me to forget my worries and trust that I’d be alright riding on the back of his cycle. Both Mary and I had our reservations about doing that part of the tour….and both of us have said to each other how thankful we are that we DID it! LOVED it!!
The recommendation has been made to every person I know who may be traveling to Asia to get in touch with INDOCHINA PIONEERS to help them with planning their trip. This trip is like no other I’ve ever taken before, and I’m sure such a trip could never be repeated in future trip that could even begin to compare with this one. Strangely enough, Co-V issues worked in our favor…and the timing was spot on! (GULP!) We arrived in Asia before things had festered up all over the world like they did in the weeks we were IN Asia…and then, we got back to the US just in the ‘nick of time’ before all the stringent restrictions were put into place all over! Who KNEW?!!!!
Just wanted to let you know what a great job you and everyone associated with you did….and how much we appreciated it all.
Thank-you, thank-you, THANK-YOU!!
Ruth Achterhoff-Aust…on behalf of both myself, and Mary Young.
"Great Experience during Corona Virus"
We had a tour in March 2020 which was provided by Ryan Mac. He was very helpful in creating a tour according to our interests and wishes. Hung, our tour guide, was excellent he told us a lot of information about Vietnam, cultural and historical wise. During the tour he also changed plans in consolation with us. Unfortunately, the Corona Virus had made us changed several destinations we have planned to go to.
But he always had an alternative option for us so that we continued our trip but with another great alternative.
All and all we were in very good hands. We can only recommend Ryan, Hung and Indochina Pioneer. We will definitely book a tour by Indochina Pioneer on our next trip in Vietnam. Many thanks!
Jonathan TambioCalifornia, USA
"Multi-Country Tour – UNESCO World Heritage Sites"
An amazing adventure. Mr. Ryan Mac assisted with customizing the UNESCO World Heritage Sites tour for our needs. We weren’t interested in certain tours listed on their brochure, and he suggested different activities for us. 3 different countries, 6 different guides – Soukon in Siem Reap; Oun in Luang Prabang; Vito in Hanoi; Huong in Nha Phong; Trang in Hue/Hoi An; and Kim Sa in Ho Chi Minh City – all different personalities, all professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly. Even though there were a lot of sites to see, activities to do – traveling with an elderly mother, they showed patience and understanding, taking care to assist my mom with large, uneven steps, stairs, and other obstacles that would hinder most mobility-challenged individuals. Our drivers took care to keep us safe on the road as we traveled to and fro, maneuvering through the traffic to get us to our destinations. This was a stress-free, relaxing vacation!. I highly recommend Indochina Pioneer, as well as Mr. Ryan Mac!!!
"Very accommodating, excellent guides"
Kata worked with us to create a tour that went where we wanted to go. We started planning with one of their itineraries, and then asked for a lot of changes to make it own our tour. Kata accommodated every request without a problem. All of the guides were good, some were excellent (Trang in Dalat, Cong in Hue/Hoi An, Vito in Hanoi). The hotels and private cars were all very good. The restaurants they include in the tour are usually higher-end restaurants that make Vietnamese food for tourists. If we were to do it over, we would ask them to take us to more restaurants where Vietnamese people eat, and I’m sure they would have no problem doing that. I have no hesitation in recommending Indochina Pioneer.
Alan TurnerBelfast, United Kingdom
"Top class company"
Booked a 15 tour of Cambodia & Vietnam with these guys. And what a tour it was.
On arrival, they were there at the airport to greet us. And for the following 15 days, the looked after us wonderfully. Every day they were at our hotel with guide and driver in great air con, cars with cold water bottles. We used 5 different guides in various city’s
And each one was great. Well dressed, great local knowledge and very helpful. All on time and happy to change things to suit us. They booked all our hotels and internal flights and paid for all entrances to temples boat trips etc.
They brought us to the airports and helped with check-ins. Nothing was a problem.
I can honestly say it the best tour company we have used in 35 years traveling.
A special thanks to Phuong Nguyen who organised the entire trip for us she was amazing. I changed my mind lots of times and she just adjusted things to suit us.
She even called our hotel in Hanoi to check on us.
What an asset for her company.
Indochina Pioneer is a great company. I would strongly recommend them. 5 stars.