China & Vietnam Express

17 Days, from AU $5,939

Forbidden City, Beijing

Rice Plantation, Mekong Delta

Great Wall of China

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai

Terracotta Warriors, Xian

Halong Bay

Norodom Palace, Saigon

Jetset through Vietnam and China visiting the must-see attractions of Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Hoi An, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Beijing, the Great Wall, Xian and Shanghai! If you’re short on time and want to be whisked around without any fuss, then this is the China and Vietnam itinerary for you. Our guides and support staff will do all the hard work to ensure that you get the most out of this fast paced trip.

Start in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam, a sprawling metropolis with its Vietnam-American war history including the Cu Chi tunnels, and a day trip to the bustling Mekong Delta. Visit the charming old merchant town of Hoi An with its rich architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European styles, laid back atmosphere and nearby sandy beaches. Fly to the capital city, Hanoi, with its French colonial architecture and bustling old quarter. Spend two days on breathtaking Halong Bay where thousands of limestone rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea.

Fly to China and start in Beijing. Explore the highlights of the historical capital, including the sprawling Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, followed by a trip to the magnificent Great Wall. Visit Xian, the start of the ancient Silk Road with its Muslim quarter, ancient city wall, Small and Big Wild Goose Pagodas and the impressive archaeological display of the Terracotta Warriors. Finish in Shanghai, the largest and fastest growing city in the world, where you'll walk the streets of the former British and French concessions and along the regal riverfront, before climbing one of the world's tallest buildings to gaze across this colossal city and witness the contrasts of the old and new.

Our Express itineraries cover the must-see attractions with a priority on enjoyment and convenience. All itineraries can be customised to suit your personal tastes. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Saigon

You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Saigon, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam is a sprawling metropolis of ten million people. Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam-American war, locals still refer to Saigon. With thousands of motorbikes zipping past luxury cars, French colonial buildings dwarfed by modern skyscrapers and traditionally dressed school girls riding bicycles past trendy city workers, Saigon is an exciting city of contrasts.

Saigon is a city that never sleeps and offers a plethora of great restaurants and bars catering to all tastes, from street food vendors to the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel, where international correspondents covered the Vietnam War and where the U.S. military attaché’s press briefing was held daily and dubbed the “Five O’clock Follies”. Whatever your interests, be sure to ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Saigon in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Saigon

The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of interconnected tunnels near Saigon that are part of a much larger network lying below much of the country. A guided visit to these tunnels provides a better understanding of their history, the hardship of life underground and the resilience of the Vietnamese during combat.

The tunnels were built and used initially by the Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots to protect them from the French air and ground sweeps. They later served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for the guerrilla fighters throughout the Vietnam-American war.

You're invited to enter a section of the tunnels to witness the secrets of the tunnels firsthand. Your guide will also show you various mantraps employed from this period, the remains of an American tank and numerous B52 bomb craters. There is also the opportunity to fire an M60, M16 or AK47 rifle at the range next to the tunnel complex.

After returning to Saigon, learn about the historic landmarks as you tour the city with your guide. Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick building with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris, then head across the square to the Central Post Office designed by the French architect Gustav Eiffel. Next stop is the former Presidential Palace, headquarters to the Saigon Government during the Vietnam-American war. You may also like to visit the War Remnants Museum for a vivid insight into the Vietnam-American war from a Vietnamese perspective.

Day 3: Mekong Delta

Skyscrapers are replaced by rice paddies and fruit farms as you travel by road into the Mekong Delta, the rice bowl of Vietnam. Witness daily life in the stilt houses and fish farms that you pass as your driver navigates the maze of canals in the traditional wooden motorboat.

Experience the vibrant energy of the floating markets where vendors trade their produce between the floating boats in a uniquely Mekong Delta fashion. Sample freshly picked exotic fruits from a small island orchard as the farmer before lunch served in a traditional Mandarin house where four generations of one family live. Walk back or be rowed in a sampan to your motorboat to return to the pier before travelling by road back to Saigon.

Day 4: Saigon to Hoi An

Fly to Hoi An where you will meet your new guide on arrival at the airport. First stop is the Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone and marble peaks that rise dramatically from the surrounding flat land. The local Vietnamese believe that the five peaks represent the five elements of fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Previously celebrated in the religion of the Cham people, the mountains were later used by the Viet Cong in the Vietnam-American war to monitor the US air base at Danang.

The mountains contain many caves and tunnels. Climb the cut stone steps or take the elevator up to the top of one of the peaks, and explore the caves, temples and pagodas. There are panoramic views of Danang and the coast from the many lookout points.

Continue on to the beautiful old merchant town of Hoi An. Built on the site of an ancient Cham village, Hoi An was a prosperous port from the 16th to 19th centuries trading with merchants from China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Europe who came to buy silk, spices and porcelain. Hoi An’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Quarter is beautifully preserved with ornate pagodas, antique trading houses and old tile-roofed shops. It is a rich architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European styles. Many of the historic buildings lining the canals and pedestrian streets have been converted into art galleries, boutique restaurants, bars and cafes. Hoi An is surrounded by attractive countryside with traditional farming and fishing, and by sandy beaches with modern seaside resorts.

Day 5: Hoi An

Experience the charm of Hoi An on a walking tour with your guide. Wander along the narrow lanes and gain an insight into Hoi An’s illustrious past as you explore this heritage listed town. Take in the old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture. See the 400 year old Japanese Bridge, a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, and the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to the side. Visit the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its outstanding wood carvings and explore the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk which can be turned into fashionable garments within one or two days.

Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day. There is plenty to see and do in Hoi An, but many visitors find themselves relaxing by the beach, browsing the markets and boutique shops, or visiting one of the many tailors in town.

GetAboutAsia Favourite: Our customers rave about Hoi An, so check out our suggestions on personalising your trip to get the most out of your visit.

Day 6: Hoi An to Hanoi

Enjoy free time in Hoi An until your afternoon flight to Hanoi and meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hanoi, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day.

Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city and home to seven million people. Traditional and refined, with French colonial architecture, tree-lined boulevards, scenic lakes and a bustling Old Quarter, Hanoi has a sophisticated charm. Observe elderly people practicing Tai Chi by the lake, with barbers and food vendors plying their sidewalk trade.

Hanoi has many great restaurants with French, Vietnamese and international cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 7: Hanoi

Accompanied by your guide, the day starts with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. See the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda which rests on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, and then explore the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, to gain an overview of Hanoi culture and ancient Vietnamese architecture.

In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Ethnology offering a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. Enjoy a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter before ending the day with a show at the water puppet theatre – a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history.

Itinerary Option: Your Guided tour can include alternate attractions like the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) and/or the Fine Arts Museum. Our staff can provide advice based upon your interests.

Day 8: Halong Bay

Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay and board your deluxe junk for your overnight cruise. Marvel at the dramatic vista and relax onboard, as you sail amongst the thousands of limestone islands that rise from the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea and the numerous caves and grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world.

Set sail through Bai Tu Long Bay whilst a seafood lunch is served, then sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as you cruise past various islands en route to Cua Van fishing village. Explore the floating village by bamboo rowing boat. Visit Tien Ong Cave before returning to the junk for sunset cocktails and canapés, followed by dinner served on the deck or in the restaurant.

Day 9: Halong Bay

Why not begin the day with a Tai Chi class on the top deck? Or just admire the beautiful scenery as the sun rises over the azure waters. Choose between an excursion to a secluded island with a sandy beach for a morning swim, or join the chef for a cooking demonstration to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy a buffet brunch as your junk cruises Halong Bay, passing islets and caves as you make your way back to the dock.

You have the option to visit a pottery workshop on the trip back to Hanoi before flying to Hoi An in the afternoon. Meet your guide on arrival in Hoi An and transfer to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hoi An, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Day 10: Beijing

Today you fly from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam to Beijing, the capital of China. You will meet your new guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Beijing, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Beijing has served as the capital of China for over 800 years and is the second largest city by population. Home to the sprawling Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, as well as the most popular spot to visit the world famous Great Wall.

Beijing has many great restaurants and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 11: Beijing

Today you'll visit historic Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world. Followed by a visit to the sprawling Forbidden City that dominates central Beijing, as it has done since it was it was completed in 1420 AD. This amazing complex is divided into political, living and entertainment areas, and is a highlight of any trip to China.

In the afternoon visit the Summer Palace, with its lush gardens and lakes it is easy to understand why it was a favoured place for emperors to relax.

Tonight you are treated to Beijing's world famous dish, Peking Duck.

Interesting Forbidden City Trivia:

  • The Forbidden City consists of 980 buildings with 8,886 rooms.
  • The city is built on the site of the former Mongol Yuan Dynasty Imperial City that was destroyed following the founding of the Ming Dynasty.
  • In the Second Opium War of 1860 the British and French forces forcefully occupied the city temporarily.
  • From its overall layout to the smallest detail, the Forbidden City was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and to symbolise the majesty of Imperial power.
  • Your guide will explain why particular colours were chosen, why particular statuettes line the sloping roof ridges, and how numbers influenced the layout and design of the complex.

Day 12: Beijing

Head out to visit the Ming Tombs built for thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) and its Sacred Way, also known as the Way of Spirit. From there travel northeast to the Great Wall built to protect China from invasions from the north, namely the Mongolians and Manchurians. Climb the wall at the Mutianyu section followed by a barbecue lunch at a local restaurant.

Day 13: Beijing

This morning visit China’s largest temple and altar complex as well as the city’s symbol, the Temple of Heaven, built in the Ming Dynasty and surrounded by purpose designed parklands. Afterwards grab a bargain or simply window shop at the famous Hongqiao Pearl Market or Silk Alley.

In the afternoon explore Beijing's hutongs, or old residential laneways, that are slowly disappearing to redevelopment. Visit a family's hutong residence to see how Beijing locals have lived for centuries. Visit Prince Gong’s Palace, followed by the Bell or Drum Tower, which once formed a section of Beijing's city walls, and were used to announce the time of day to residents.

Take an afternoon flight to Xian where you will meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Xian, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Well established two centuries before the founding of Rome, Xian was the capital of China throughout a number of important dynasties. When trade via the Silk Road began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) Xian was the capital and at the eastern junction of the route. The introduction of exotic Chinese goods to the rest of the world started at Xian.

Having grown progressively through several ruling dynasties, Xian, known as Chang'an in the mid seventh century, was the largest city in the world before it was devastated at the end of the Tang Dynasty. However, the city was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty with the new city wall completed in 1370 based on the inner palace walls of the Tang Dynasty city. The Ming Dynasty walls are well preserved and can be circumnavigated on foot or bicycle.

Day 14: Xian

Today you will visit Xian's Muslim quarter to see the Chinese styled Great Mosque which was founded in 742 AD, when Xian was the largest city in the world and home to many thousands of foreigners. In this fascinating area you'll notice that many of the residents come from mixed ethnic backgrounds possibly dating back to the early days of the Silk Road traders. Some of the Islamic-Chinese food you'll see in the market and on restaurant menus is unique to this region.

Explore Xian's ancient city walls. At 12 metres high and 12-18 metres thick they are the best preserved in China.

Each warrior, horse and chariot of the famed Terracotta Warriors is unique, having been intricately created by hand in 209 BC, over two thousand years ago, and rediscovered by accident in 1974. We've all seen them on television, but nothing can prepare you for the awesome scale of over 8,000 life-sized models, complete with armour, weapons, and individual facial features. Truly something that has to be seen to be appreciated.

To complete your introduction to Xian, enjoy the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show in the evening.

Day 15: Xian

Visit the Provincial Museum to learn the history of Xian and the ancient Silk Road. Visit both the Small Wild Goose Pagoda and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which were initially built in the seventh century to house Buddhist scriptures brought back from India by pilgrims.

In the afternoon you fly to Shanghai and meet your guide on arrival. Your guide will provide an introduction to Shanghai and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Shanghai is China's largest and most prosperous city, consuming countryside and ancient villages in its relentless growth outwards and upwards. Coming to prosperity as a trading concession for European and North American merchants, today the city is one of the world's greatest trading hubs and financial centres. If Beijing and Xian are China's living museums, then Shanghai is an insight into the future of this amazing country.

Shanghai has a multitude of restaurants and bars and some of the world's best shopping. The centre of Shanghai is accessible, safe and fun to walk around, if not a little crowded during the day. Ask your guide for advice and personal recommendations.

Day 16: Shanghai

Following breakfast, accompany your guide for a visit to China's premier museum, the Shanghai Museum, which covers the history of China from ancient times to the modern age. Afterwards visit to the Jade Buddha Temple, and the Yu Garden and Bazaar.

Walk the streets of the former British and French concessions established under the Treaty of Nanking, following the first opium war in 1842. The settlement was established north of the original Shanghai city walls and today makes up part of the riverfront referred to as the Shanghai Bund, or embankment, still home to many grand buildings from that period.

Directly across the river is Pudong, the contrasting new Shanghai which serves as the modern financial and commercial centre. The CBD in Pudong sprang up in the 1990s where agricultural villages once stood. Growing at a stagging pace, Shanghai is the largest city centre in the world and is still the fastest growing city in the world too.

Leaving the former British and French concessions, travel to Pudong and ascend China's tallest building, the Shanghai World Financial Centre. Enjoy the panoramic views of Shanghai and the Bund back across the river.

To complete your introduction to Shanghai, in the evening, enjoy the world famous Acrobatic Show at the Centre Theater.

Day 17: Shanghai

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer with your guide.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:

  • Cu Chi Tunnels: Learn about life in the tunnels from a Viet Cong war veteran who lived here during the war.
  • Saigon: Squeeze in a Vespa motor scooter tour. Options include street food tours, a wartime landmarks tour, an art and architecture tour, and a locals insider tour.
  • Saigon: Add a cooking class to spice up your itinerary, either at the renowned Saigon Culinary Arts Centre, or an exclusive class at an historic villa.
  • Mekong Delta: Consider adding a night in the Mekong Delta to spend more time getting to know this fascinating area of Vietnam.
  • Hoi An: For those not inclined to relaxing, Hoi An has the most exciting array of activities in Vietnam, from cooking classes, culinary tours, cycling trips, fishing or farm visits, to island snorkelling and lantern making lessons.
  • Hanoi: Tour the countryside with options to visit ancient villages, local artisans and/or Mai Chau hill tribes.
  • Hanoi: Other options include cycling tours, Van Long nature reserve including a boat trip (recommended), Perfume Pagoda and grotto tour, wildlife tours, cooking classes, culinary tour and art tours.
  • Halong Bay: Why not spend two nights on your traditional junk boat? Refer below for details on the different boats.
  • Beijing: Attend a martial arts show at the Red Theatre.
  • Xian: Spend longer in Xian and cycle around the city walls and further explore the Muslim quarter.
  • Shanghai: Spend extra days in Shanghai to enjoy the waterfront, restaurants, night life and shopping, and better gain an insight into the China of tomorrow.
  • Shanghai: Travel to one of China's famous water towns on a day trip from Shanghai.
  • Shanghai: Travel to the ancient town of Suzhou, famous for its silk, gardens and canals; and take a short cruise along the Grand Canal, one of the ancient wonders of Chinese engineering.
  • Shanghai: China's most dramatic mountain wilderness scenery, Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is close to Shanghai.

Halong Bay Cruise Ships

Note that the schedule above refers to the Image Legend Cruise, Victory Cruise & Paradise Luxury Cruise. All our GetAboutAsia cruise itineraries adhere to the highest standards of safety whilst providing our guests with an outstanding level of comfort and quality.


Image Legend Cruise, Victory Cruise & Paradise Cruise Photos

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $5,939
Superior:from AU $6,671
Deluxe:from AU $8,594

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels or Halong Bay Junk each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel or aboard your Halong Bay Junk each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • We do not include lunch or dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 5 internal flights (Saigon-Hoi An, Hoi An-Hanoi, Hanoi-Beijing, Beijing-Xian, Xian-Shanghai) which retail at about 200-400 AUD per flight.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"Thanks for organising the tours in China. We did enjoy the entire experience > travel & sightseeing. We loved the mountains near Guilin, high speed trains were efficient and all guides helpful. The Bravo hotel in Guilin was the best." — Mr and Mrs Fernandez, Sydney, NSW, November 2015

"This holiday would have to have been the best holiday we have ever had. We would definitely recommend it to our friends. We could not fault the organisation and the standard of accommodation and the friendliness of the Vietnamese people. Thank you for planning such a fantastic holiday. We had a wonderful time." — Mr and Mrs Healey, Loch Victoria , July 2015

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