Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Hue – Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City
Travel between Vietnam’s "must see" cities and witness one of its natural wonders on this 7 day itinerary along the country’s east coast.
Indulge in relaxing Spa treatments in Ho Chi Minh City combined with exploring the bustling city of Saigon. Discover Vietnamese traditional medicine and herbs used for health and wellness since ancient times. End this 3 days Vietnam tour with a visit to Mekong Delta where you will learn about the local life of Vietnamese people by cruising in a local boat and cycling along the rivers.
Cruise the alluring Mekong Delta on a traditional sampan boat. Enjoy a home hosted lunch by a dear local family, cycle around riverside gardens, and visit traditional rice paper, bricks and coconut workshops.
Cycling through Vietnam's rugged mountains and beautiful village landscapes in the Northwest region. Along the way you will encounter the most colourful hill tribe people, dramatic landscapes and sweeping panoramas. Among the highlights that you will come across are the Mai Chau valley, the terraced valleys of Sa Pa, and the historic battlefields of Dien Bien Phu.
Vietnam is well known to have many highlights and hidden gems as well as its culture and welcoming people. This 16 days North to South Vietnam tour will bring you to the most well known tourist sites in Vietnam. Stroll in the cultural heart of Hanoi, cruise the tranquil water of Ha Long Bay, soak under the sun at the beach of Nha Trang, Go back in time by visiting the ancient town in Hoi An and Hue, explore in the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh and boat ride to the floating markets in Mekong Delta.
Embark on a journey to the tropical Southern Vietnam. Savor the culinary delights of Saigon, roam the canals of the mighty Mekong, snorkel in the beaches of Nha Trang, and kick back in the charming Dalat.
Take this highlight tour of Vietnam to discover the beauty of Vietnam and its culture. Explore the capital city Hanoi, visit famous Halong Bay, make your own traditional lanterns in ancient city Hoi An, discover imperial Citadel in Hue, take a boat cruise in Mekong Delta and enjoy the modern city Ho Chi Minh City.
Explore the central Vietnam Highlands region that is home to ethnic minorities with unique burial traditions. The tour starts from Ho Chi Minh City, visit through an impressive mountainous landscape and fields before ending its journey in the capital city Hanoi.
Take in the highlights of Vietnam and Laos: the colorful Saigon, the charming town of Hoi An, the imperial capital of Hue, the breathtaking Halong Bay, and the temple-studded Luang Prabang.
Tour around three of the most beautiful countries in South East Asia: Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Explore marvelous golden temples, ruins covered by the jungle, cruise sublime karst formations, and the quaint canals of the Mekong Delta.
Travel between Vietnam’s "must see" cities and witness one of its natural wonders on this 7 day itinerary along the country’s east coast.
Visit the colourful hill tribe communities of the Black Hmong, Tay and the Red Dao around the former French hill station of Sapa.
Experience Vietnam’s rich history, natural beauty, and modern development during this 7 day itinerary across the northern half of the country.
Soak up the sun, sea and sand along Vietnam’s South China Sea coastline on this 7 day itinerary.
Explore Vietnam’s northern highlights, including its natural landscapes and ethnic minority communities, on this 7 day itinerary from Hanoi.
Spend a week exploring the rural landscapes and laid-back ambience of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Experience Vietnam’s natural beauty and diverse hill tribe cultures on this 7 day itinerary from Hanoi.
Venture into the cool-climate Central Highlands of Vietnam to visit its ethnic minority villages and mountainous landscapes on this 7 day itinerary.
Vietnam borders China to the north, Laos to the west, and Cambodia to the south. This has led to a Vietnam being populated by several ethnic races and tribes.
A fabulous warm weather cruise in Southeast Asia has always featured near the top of my holiday wish-list, and last year I seized the opportunity to join a Celebrity Cruises trip.
The rivers and canals serve as the primary means of transport and trade, with floating markets and French colonial port towns busy with the comings and goings of daily life.
On most cruises you generally spend every night out at sea and arrive bright and early at the next port; occasionally, if the distances are larger you may spend a day or two “at Sea” between ports.
Establishing a connection with your subject, understanding their circumstances or asking them about their life, adds depth to the photographs you come away with.
Here are five tips to help you get creative and produce some compelling images the next time you stumble across a landmark that has been photographed millions of times.
Finally, we were on our way to Ha Long Bay, a wonderland of over 1600 islands and limestone karsts; this had always been the highlight of the cruise for me and I was really looking forward to spending two days.
Sprawling across Vietnam’s southwest, the Mekong Delta is the country’s agricultural heartland, where spectacular rural landscapes are dissected by bustling waterways, rice paddy fields and traditional villages. Take a boat trip from My Tho to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre and Sa Dec flower village, explore its colourful floating markets, then bird watch in Cao Lanh's surrounds.
The stunning karst limestone formations of Halong Bay in the country’s northeast are best explored on a luxury Chinese style junk boat. Multi-day trips allow you to cruise around its countless caves, hike across remote islands, kayak around secluded bays, and take in the magnificent sunrises and sunsets on offer.
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand and ringed by spectacular white sandy beaches, Phu Quoc boasts idyllic tropical island resorts, swaying palms and some of the country’s best seafood. Trek or go motorbiking through its densely forested interior to spot wildlife, visit its traditional fishing villages and pearl farms, and go scuba diving or snorkelling in its offshore coral reefs.
The ancient karst mountains of the UNESCO listed Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park are home to spectacular cave formations and underground rivers, hidden beneath a landscape of pristine jungle and turquoise rivers. Explore beneath the surface on a caving boat tour, then take an eco trek to spot wildlife, such as macaques, langur monkeys and the rare saola antelope.
The former French hill station of Sapa in Vietnam’s northwest is surrounded by lush, green mountains and cascading rice terraces that offer some of Vietnam’s most stunning scenery. Treks through the region take in diverse ethnic minority villages where home stay initiatives offer a captivating insight into the country’s traditional cultures.
With the Ho Ba Be Lake as its centre piece, Ba Be National Park is a landscape of limestone pinnacles, waterfalls and ethnic minority villages in Vietnam’s northeast. Trek through its tropical rainforest to spot parrots, macaque monkeys, and the rare Tonkin snub-nosed langur, explore the fascinating rock formations of its caves, and take a kayaking or boat trip along its lake shores.
Located 100km to the south of Hanoi, Ninh Binh Province is home to the stunning karst limestone formations of Tam Coc that tower over lush rice paddy fields below. Explore its caves on a sampan boat tour along the Ngo Dong, go bicycling through its small villages, and visit the temples of the former ancient capital at Hoa Lu.
Home to an atmospheric old quarter and centrepiece lakes, Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi, still exudes a pulsing Asian vibrancy with street hawkers selling steaming pho amidst the chaos of motorbikes in the thousands. Visit its Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and Tran Quoc Pagoda, then pay your respects at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Vietnam’s largest city and economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City is traversed by wide boulevards lined with designer boutiques, and connected by alleyways where local life abounds. Explore the grand architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace and Saigon Central Post Office, then immerse yourself in its wartime history at the War Remnants Museum and nearby Cu Chi Tunnels.
The ancient port town of Hoi An, with its beautifully-preserved old houses, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and centre of handicraft and lantern production. Admire its Chinese temples, Japanese covered bridge and vibrant central market, then explore the nearby beach of Cua Dai and port city of Da Nang, or venture southwest to the UNESCO listed My Son ruins.
Former 19th century capital of Vietnam, the Hue Imperial Citadel is picturesquely situated on the Perfume River. Despite suffering extensive wartime damage, the city’s Royal Tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda and Dong Ba Market are among its historical charms, while strong cultural roots are on show at the biennial Festival of Hue.
The cool-climate hill station of Dalat, located in the southern region of the Central Highlands, stands in stark contrast to the tropical climate of the nearby beach resorts of Nha Trang. Take in the serenity at its surrounding lakes and waterfalls, trek to nearby hill tribe villages, and venture north to the coffee growing region of Buon Ma Thuot.
Vietnam’s premier beach resort and party destination, the seaside town of Nha Trang is blessed by a beautiful curve of sand, dotted with offshore islands. Go scuba diving on the surrounding reefs, take the cable car over to Hon Tre Island, explore its historic fishing villages and witness the ancient architecture of the Po Nagar Cham Temple.
Famed for its magnificent desert-like sand dunes and laid back atmosphere, the former fishing village of Mui Ne in Vietnam’s southeast is now one of its most upmarket beach resorts. Together with the nearby fishing village of Phan Thiet, it is also emerging as an adventure sports capital, with excellent kitesurfing and wind surfing along its coast between October and April.
Cruise the Mekong Delta’s waterways in a traditional sampan boat to explore the vibrant floating markets of Cai Be and Can Tho, ignited by the bustle of local life and trade of goods and produce.
Delve into the history of the Vietnam War at the former Viet Cong underground stronghold of Cu Chi where a cavernous tunnel system supported not only guerrilla activities, but also schools and hospitals.
Immerse yourself in the local lifestyle and culture of Mai Chau on a multi-day trekking tour and hill tribe homestay initiative, exploring the region’s lush tea plantations, towering limestone formations and refreshing waterfalls.
Discover the secrets of northern Vietnamese cuisine in the beautiful city of Hanoi, with cooking classes introducing you to its famously fresh ingredients at local markets and the philosophy behind its preparation.
Boasting Vietnam’s best diving and snorkelling, the Con Dao archipelago hosts turtles, sharks, rays and a diverse range of fascinating macro life. Learn to dive on an introductory course or explore the depths of Vietnam’s only dive-able ship wreck.
Cycle through the magnificent rural landscapes of Sapa and Son La on a northern bicycle tour, taking in remote hill tribe villages, the rugged mountains of Mai Chau and the historic battlefields of Dien Bien Phu.
Get a glimpse into the local life, handicraft production and ancient customs in the minority hill tribe villages of the Central Highlands Lak Lake, renowned for the traditional longhouses which line its shores.
Northern Vietnam - The cool, dry winter extends from November to April and the northeast monsoon brings reduced temperatures, ideal for visiting Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa. During December and January, temperatures can get particularly cold at night in the mountainous northwest and heavy fog often blankets both Halong Bay and Sapa. The hot and humid summer is between May and October with July to September seeing the heaviest rains, muddy trekking routes and some severe weather along the coast.
Southern Vietnam - Although temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, the dry season from November to mid-May is the best time to visit the beaches of Phu Quoc when skies are mostly clear. This is also the ideal time to go sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City or take a boat trip through the Mekong Delta as the southwest monsoon from late-May to October sees heavy rains which can cause flooding.
Central Coast Vietnam - The centre of Vietnam experiences its driest weather between January and September, making this an ideal time to visit the beaches around Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue and Danang. The short wet season along the coast extends from October to December, with heavy rain and occasional typhoons, while the Central Highlands see the majority of rain between May and October. Although this is an atmospheric time to experience the hills, if you don’t want to risk having outdoor activities rained out, then opt to visit during the drier months.
The Dao migrated into Vietnam from China in the 13th century and today are scattered around the hill station of Sapa. Their women are distinctive in colourful, embroidered red or black trousers and jackets, with red turbans elaborately decorated in tassels and bells. They are known for producing intricate woven garments, as well as traditional paper.
Inhabiting the high altitude slopes of Vietnam’s mountainous northwest, the colourful Hmong people are one of the country’s most iconic hill tribes, often visible at local markets where they sell their beautiful handicrafts. While they have traditionally been rice farmers, the Hmong have rapidly adapted to the opportunities offered by tourism and the preservation of their cultural traditions.
Inhabiting the valleys and lower mountain slopes of Vietnam’s northern provinces, the Tay people have cultivated rice throughout the region for centuries using traditional harvesting methods. Their women are known for wearing indigo-dyed skirts and sarongs, while folk songs and ancestor worship are important aspects of their cultural beliefs.
Scattered across the Central Highlands of Vietnam, the Mnong live in small villages surrounded by rice paddies and are known for producing rattan and bamboo furniture, woven handicrafts and pottery. Their customs are passed down through folktales and song, while older generations still exhibit the stretched ear lobes and filed teeth once considered the traditional sign of beauty.
Marking the start of spring in either late January or early February, the Vietnamese New Year celebrations known as Tet are a time when families reunite to worship ancestors and begin the year afresh. As well as paying their respects at temples, people parade through the streets with masked dancers, firecrackers, drums and gong, followed by a traditional Vietnamese feast.
The mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Tet Trung Thu, celebrates the end of the intensive harvest period and gives parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their children. It is marked by parades of children through the streets, carrying colourful lanterns and singing traditional songs, participating in lion and dragon dances, and the distribution of Banh trung thu moon cakes.
Held on the 13th day of the first lunar month each year at the Lim Hill Pagoda in Vietnam’s north, the Lim Festival celebrates the traditional Quan Ho folk songs of the region which are performed by both men and women. Highlights include colourful processions and ceremonies, as well as a weaving competition of Noi Due girls, singing as they work.
Renowned for its fresh use of ingredients and textural contrasts, Vietnamese cuisine features broth-based soups, abundant use of aromatic herbs and only briefly cooked meats and vegetables which retain their high nutrient content. It draws on not only local influences from neighbouring China, but also those brought by the colonising French.
The north is renowned for its noodle-based diet, with light and balanced dishes that are flavoured with fish and soy sauces, as well as limes. In contrast, the Central Highlands sees far spicier food, with small and complex dishes combining to make elaborate meals. Seafood features heavily in the cuisine along Vietnam’s coast, with its influence extending all the way to the south of the country, and both sugar and coconut milk give a distinct sweetness to the rice-based dishes of the Mekong Delta region.
A popular breakfast food served at street-side vendors everywhere, Pho is a traditional noodle soup based on a meat broth, and served with thin cuts of either beef or chicken, spring onion, bean sprouts, lime and chilli. In the north, Pho tends to be simpler with fewer ingredients, while in the south it is far more complex.
The Vietnamese Spring Rolls known as Goi Cuon are traditionally filled with various combinations of pork, prawn and vegetables, which are combined with rice vermicelli. These ingredients are wrapped within fresh, uncooked rice paper, and served with a delicious soy-based peanut dipping sauce.
Brought to Vietnam by the French, Banh Mi baguette sandwiches are found on street corners country-wide, filled with your choice of cold cut meat or minced pork meatballs and topped with coriander, cucumber and picked vegetables.
Featuring fatty grilled pork, accompanied by rice noodles, herbs and a dipping sauce on the side, Bun Cha is one of Hanoi’s most famous dishes and popular at local restaurants throughout the north.
Made from rice flour, turmeric and sometimes coconut milk, these savoury fried pancakes have regional variations of ingredients that include pork, shrimp and bean sprouts. It is often served wrapped in rice paper or mustard leaf and served with a sweet and sour sauce.
The shopping on offer in Vietnam’s big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh can be overwhelming, with a dizzying array of goods and handicrafts on offer at Hanoi’s Old Market and entire streets dedicated to particular products in Ho Chi Minh City, including made-to-measure clothing and faux designer wear. But venture into the highlands and unique handmade hill tribe crafts can be bought direct from the villages, while high-quality coffee can be sampled at its source.
You will see traditional conical hats worn by locals throughout Vietnam as a practical means of sun protection, and they can be bought in souvenir shops across the country. But those found in Hue are truly unique, with images or poetry woven into the design that are only visible under spot lighting.
Found throughout the villages and local markets of Sapa, traditional hill tribe handicrafts include beautifully embroidered fabrics and scarves in unique designs, elaborate silver jewellery and home ornaments that depict quintessential Vietnamese scenes.
Initially introduced to the country by French colonists, Vietnam is the world’s second largest coffee producer. Most of it is grown in the Central Highlands around Buon Ma Thuot and it is renowned for being both strong and flavourful.
Featuring a vast range of facial expressions and colourfully adorned in tassels, straw tray artwork makes for a distinctively Vietnamese home decoration and can be found at tourist markets country-wide.