Discovery of Vietnam

18 Days, from AU $2,987

Ninh Binh

Mekong Delta at sunset

A beautiful beach in Nha Trang

Mekong Delta fishing market

Cham Po Nagar, Nha Trang

Van Long Nature Reserve

Your Discovery of Vietnam takes you along the length of the country from Saigon to Hanoi. Starting in the bustling metropolis of Saigon, explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, visit a Wildlife Rescue Centre and journey through the fascinating waterways of the tropical Mekong Delta. Enjoy a break in Vietnam’s beach capital of Nha Trang before heading to the magical merchant town and ancient trading port of Hoi An, with ample time to stroll the charming laneways or relax on Cua Dai beach. Discover the citadel and tombs of Hue, the former royal capital and seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, and visit an ancient village, providing a glimpse into this area’s royal past. Travel to Hanoi with its French colonial architecture and tree lined boulevards, and marvel at the natural beauty of Van Long, the largest wetland reserve of northern Vietnam. End your trip with a two day cruise on the emerald waters of Halong Bay, where thousands of limestone rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea.

Our Discovery itineraries explore a destination in depth, with carefully selected experiences, and ample free time for relaxation. Like all GetAboutAsia trips, Discovery itineraries can be customised to create your perfect holiday. 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

Tour Saigon with your guide and learn about the historic landmarks of this historic city. 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.

In the afternoon, enjoy free time to continue your exploration of Saigon.

Day 3: Cu Chi Tunnels

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.

Optionally visit the Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station to understand the risk to wildlife in this area of the world and what this non-government organisation is doing to assist. The Animal Rescue Station is operated by Wildlife at Risk (WAR) which is dedicated to protecting the biodiversity of Vietnam by combating illegal wildlife trade, raising environmental awareness and by promoting the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The Rescue Centre located near to the Cu Chi Tunnels rescues wild animals and returns them to their natural environment.

In the afternoon, return to Saigon and enjoy free time to continue your exploration of the city.

Day 4: Mekong Delta

Depart your hotel this morning for a 1.5 hour drive heading south to Ben Tre, known to be one of the biggest coconut orchards in Vietnam. Take in the lush surroundings of rice paddies and fruit farms alongside the highway as you leave behind the busy city.

Arrive at the waterfront pier and embark on an enjoyable motor boat excursion, take a glimpse at the Delta scenery, houses built on stilts and local fish farms along the way. Cruising among islands with names such as Dragon, Unicorn, Turtle and Phoenix. You will stop along the way to discover how Vietnamese farmers work their rice fields and observe the daily life of the villagers in the Mekong Delta.

Take a short horse cart (or moto-cart) ride along country roads to a tropical orchard for a tasting session of local honey and some exotic fruits. Engage in a casual chat with your host and stroll through the garden to get an insight into daily farming life. Take some time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the village observing tropical gardens along the way. Continue discovering the Mekong by cruising the small canals lined with palm and coconut trees.

Stop at Vinh Trang pagoda, which was built in 1849 and is one of the first pagodas to incorporate a mixture of Asian and European architectural features. Lunch will be served at My Tho, taste some local delicacies before returning to Saigon mid afternoon.

Day 5: Nha Trang

Depart Saigon for the beaches of Nha Trang.

Meet your guide in the airport on arrival. During the drive to Nha Trang your guide will provide an introduction to the area, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Nha Trang is located in central Vietnam and overlooks 7 kilometres of sandy beaches. The clear blue seas dotted with offshore islands provide the opportunity for diving and snorkelling, while the town itself offers interesting sightseeing, with a massive white Buddha statue and a cluster of Cham towers built between the 7th and 12th centuries. Popular with visitors are the mineral mud baths warmed by natural hot springs.

Nha Trang is relatively small and easy to find your way around and your guide can point you in the right direction regarding restaurants, bars and beach activities. If in doubt and you’re looking for a western style experience, head down to the classy Sailing Club restaurant, bar and nightclub on the beach. Run by an Australian, it’s a favourite among visitors.

Day 6: Nha Trang

Spend your time in Nha Trang with a balance of activities and free time to relax on the beach or by your hotel pool. For those that require additional action and a surge of adrenalin, activities like jet skiing and parasailing are available on the beach.

Today’s highlight is a cruise to tropical Mun Island, a protected marine area in the bay of Nha Trang. The island is also known as Ebony Island due to the black rock cliffs in the south eastern part. Every year swallows flock to the area to build their nests in the black stone caves found in the cliffs. Relax on the island or snorkel and explore the coral reef where you will be able to see some of the 350 species of sea life biodiversity that Vietnam has to offer. Cruise to an island restaurant for lunch passing fishing villages along the way, before returning to Nha Trang for an afternoon of free time.

Day 7: Nha Trang

Mid morning enjoy a meandering bike ride along the coast to Thap Ba Hot Springs. Treat your skin to a therapeutic mud bath followed by a swim in the mineral rich hot thermal springs. On your ride back to town, visit the Cham Po Nagar Temples built between the 7th and 12th centuries, before returning to your hotel.

Later in the afternoon accompany your local chef to the colourful central market and help select the fresh vegetables, spices and other ingredients for your shared group cooking class. Arriving at the award winning Lantern Restaurant, roll up your sleeves and learn how to prepare typical Vietnamese dishes including fresh spring rolls and fish or meat cooked in clay pots. Complete the session by dining on your finished dishes.

Day 8: Nha Trang to Hoi An

Fly to Danang 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 9: 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.

Day 10: Hoi An.

Today is at leisure for shopping and exploring this charming town, a protected UNESCO site. Hoi An is noted for its hand sewn, tailored clothing and beautiful white sand beaches so today is an ideal day to simply enjoy the environment, relax by the pool, or people watch to your heart’s content.

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 11: Hoi An.

After breakfast join your guide for a cycling tour around Hoi An. Set off along the Thu Bon River where you will be able to photograph the fishing boats and the small riverside houses. Continue cycling through Thuan Tinh Ecological Village where you will see betel nuts growing, family shrines and the villagers going about their daily lives. Pedal along quiet inland trails, past palm trees, fishing farms and rice paddies to Cua Dia Beach and Cam An fishing village with its picturesque ocean views, kumquat gardens and corn fields.

As you head back to Hoi An there is the opportunity to stop at Tra Que village where the farmers cultivate herbs and vegetables. Learn about the traditional farming methods and maybe help out with watering the plants or even fertilising the land.

Enjoy free time for your afternoon in Hoi An.

Alternative Itinerary Option: Cooking class; Lead by a Vietnamese chef, the class gives a fabulous insight into Vietnamese culinary skills in a friendly and relaxed setting. This wonderful course is suitable for both experienced chefs wanting to learn new techniques or amateur cooks who simply want a fun day out. The tour includes a local market visit.

Day 12: Hoi An to Hue

This morning accompany your guide to the 500 year old village of Phuoc Tich near Hue. Here there are a number of impressive garden houses, each house being connected to the history of a traditional Hue family and containing ceramic antiques and heirlooms dating back many centuries. Explore the village and visit a typical Hue style traditional wooden house with its spacious garden influenced by Feng-shui. Chat with the family to gain an insight into and understanding of what life was like back in the heyday of the village. Phuoc Tich was also renowned as a famous pottery village and there are still some families who undertake this craft today.

This afternoon you are driven to the ancient royal capital of Hue where you will spend the next two nights.

Day 13: Hue

This morning take a cyclo ride around the city of Hue. Visit the UNESCO listed Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. Enter through the towering main gate and you will appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains about the events and the intrigue of the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily, there are some incredibly well preserved sections still intact and others which are being restored. The visit also includes the Hue Royal Fine Art Museum which is housed within the former Dien Long An Royal Palace.

Continue to visit one of the famous, traditional garden houses of Hue. These houses are privately owned and set in large and attractive formal gardens. Some have connections with the old Royal Imperial Court and the house’s traditional architecture has long been associated with the natural environment and the ancient belief of ‘feng-shui’.

Visit Ming Mang Royal Tomb near Hue. Minh Mang was the second Nguyen Emperor whose interest in architecture brought major new construction to the Imperial City of Hue. His tomb is set in a large garden on the west bank of the Perfume River, with lakes and pavilions built in the old Chinese traditional style.

The next stop is Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument, which stands on the riverbank with its impressive seven storey tower. Later, take a boat trip along the romantically named Perfume River as it carries you through tranquil settings of gardens and lakes on the way back to town.

Day 14: Hue to Hanoi

Visit Ming Mang Royal Tomb near Hue before transferring to the airport for your flight to Hanoi.

Minh Mang was the second Nguyen Emperor whose interest in architecture brought major new construction to the Imperial City of Hue. His tomb is set in a large garden on the west bank of the Perfume River, with lakes and pavilions built in the old Chinese traditional style.

You will meet your guide on arrival in Hanoi. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hanoi, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first 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 15: 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), the Fine Arts Museum or the KOTO restaurant - a organisation that is supporting street kids with a career in the hospitality industry. Our staff can provide advice based upon your interests.

Day 16: Ninh Binh & Van Long Nature Reserve

Situated in Ninh Binh province is the ancient capital of Hoa Lu. This was the first centralised feudal state in Vietnam at the end of the 10th century. The temples of King Dinh and King Le still stand to this day amongst the rice paddies, and offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s ancient past.

Continue with your guide to Van Long Nature Reserve, known as Halong Bay on land, the largest wetland reserve of northern Vietnam and an area of astounding natural beauty. Marvel at ancient pagodas clinging to the rock formations as you meander by boat along the river, passing under rocky outcrops and through limestone caves. Look out for the rare Delacour’s Langur and Bonelli’s eagle which breeds in this region.

Return to Hanoi in the late afternoon.

Day 17: 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 18: Halong Bay to Hanoi

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 you your departure transfer and onwards flight.

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.
  • Saigon: War history tours, including itineraries that focus on Vung Tau and Nui Dat for Australian war veterans.
  • 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.
  • Hue: Enjoy a royal elephant ride at the Imperial Citadel.
  • Hue: Kayak down the Perfume River at sunset.
  • Hue: Explore the countryside via a driving or cycling tour, learn about Hue royal cuisine in a cooking class or culinary tour, or discover the Vietnam-American war DMZ.
  • Hanoi: Tour the countryside with options to visit ancient villages, local artisans, or Mai Chau hill tribes.
  • Hanoi: Other options include cycling tours, 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.

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 $2,987
Superior:from AU $3,436
Deluxe:from AU $4,484

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.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. 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 3 internal flights (Saigon-Nha Trang, Nha Trang-Danang and Hue to Hanoi) which retail at about 200 AUD per flight.

Visa for Vietnam
When obtaining your visa you should allow 2-3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. The Vietnamese Embassy in Edgecliff, Sydney has been known to issue a visa in 4 working days if all the correct documents are submitted at the time of application.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

Ask Us a Question


 

"It was a good trip, well organized, the accommodation excellent and the guides personable and helpful. The guide in Saigon was exceptional and we enjoyed her company. We did not all the tourist things and the guides were adaptable. It was a good experience and I shall certainly look to going again with you. " — Rosemary and Shelley, Perth and Sydney, May 2018

"Vietnam!! What a trip!! What a country!! The whole thing was perfect other than our flight delay. Anyway, it all ended well. Thank you so much for contacting the Vietnamese operators for us on your day off to reorganise our pickup. Much appreciated. Our guides were great also. They really gave us a good insight into Vietnamese culture and history, much more than we would have ever understood if we had done our own thing. I can't really rate any place in Vietnam higher than others since they were all so different. We also enjoyed Cambodia as well! Thanks very much for your organising of our trip" — Mr and Mrs Martin, Sydney, January 2018

"The trip was fantastic and we had great weather. The guides were lovely. La Siesta Hanoi - "Extremely comfortable bed. Great buffet breakfast. Perfect location. We had the two floor family room with a spiral staircase connecting the rooms. The amenities were great and the staff friendly. Thanks for a lovely stay." Overall we loved Vietnam. " — Walker Family, Sydney, September 2017

"So as far as Vietnam goes it was an amazing place, the people friendly and obliging, the food amazing and scenery spectacular. All in all we could not recommend a trip to Vietnam more highly and if you want a great hassle free time make sure you contact Nicole at GetAboutAsia she will look after you." — Don Cocking and party, Kingelsey WA , September 2016

"We loved the TOTAL Vietnam experience - its people, food culture and spectacular diverse scenery making each destination very different and unique. We loved Halong Bay in particular. We would not have experienced its full magnificent spender without traveling and seeing the entire country; thanks to the assistance and advice from GetAboutAsia we were able to do just that." — Interno & Gallace Family, Victoria, September 2015

"The cruise on Halong Bay would have to have been the highlight of the trip. We swam out the back of the boat and went on a guided trip to Surprise cave. The cabin, food and the company was very good. We could not fault the organisation of the trip, the standard of accommodation and the friendliness of the Vietnamese people." — Mr and Mrs Healey, Loch Victoria , July 2015

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