Highlights of Vietnam with Cruise Extensions

12 Days, from AU $1,816

The stunning view of Halong Bay

Thien Dinh Palace in Hue

Trung Dao bridge and pavilion at Minh Mang

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Our Highlights of Vietnam trip with the two most popular extensions - an overnight stay in the Mekong Delta and an overnight stay on the waters of Halong Bay.

Experience the Highlights of Vietnam as you travel the length of the country from Saigon to Hanoi. Starting in the bustling metropolis of Saigon, explore the Cu Chi Tunnels and the fascinating waterways of the tropical Mekong Delta. Then on to the magical merchant town and ancient trading port of Hoi An. Discover the citadel and tombs of Hue, the former royal capital and seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, before travelling to Hanoi with its French colonial architecture and tree lined boulevards. End your trip with a cruise on the emerald waters of Halong Bay, where thousands of limestone rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea.

Our Highlight itineraries cover the key attractions at a relatively quick pace. Enjoy them as they are or extend them 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

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.

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 and travel to Can Tho where you will spend the night. Your guide will provide an introduction to Can Tho and take you to your hotel.

Day 4: Mekong Delta

Rising early you board your boat and head out to the floating markets where you witness boats of every size plying their trade. Cruising in close to the excitement you can watch as traders and farmers buy and sell fruit, vegetables and other produce between their boats.

Later, visit a fish farm and learn how Vietnam produces an abundance of fish in the Mekong Delta that's shipped all around the world. In the afternoon travel back to Saigon and enjoy the rest of the day free to further explore this interesting city.

Day 5: Saigon to Hoi An

Fly to Danang 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 6: 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 7: Hue

This morning you will be driven to Hue which served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. Despite heavy bombing during the Vietnam-American war, many historic monuments from this period remain, and even though Imperial rule ended more than six decades ago, Hue still bears the marks of its royal past. The city retains its royal charm with its emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel

A short cyclo ride takes you to the towering main gate of the UNESCO World Heritage Imperial Citadel. As you explore the grounds your guide will talk through the history of Hue, and you will be able to wander amongst the beautiful and ornate red lacquered pavilions of the Citadel, gaining an insight into the luxurious and secretive world of the court.

Next stop is Thien Mu pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument, which stands on the riverbank with its impressive seven storey tower.

The afternoon includes visits to Khai Dinh and Tu Duc Royal Tombs, and there is also the opportunity to visit an incense stick making house.

Day 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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 11: 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.

Day 12: Hanoi.

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

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.
  • 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 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.

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 $1,816
Superior:from AU $1,998
Deluxe:from AU $2,547

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 1 internal flight (Saigon - Hoi An) which retails at about 200AUD.

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

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"The Ha Long Bay adventure was perfect. Two days gave us time to really enjoy the boat and scenery not to mention the quality of the food on offer. Vietnam flights were comfortable and on time. Saigon was truly wonderful. Of course the traffic was stunning. Our guide Tammy bent over backwards to ensure we enjoyed the stay., We felt like princes as she helped us onto the first boat taking us across the Mekong river whilst dozens of tourists crammed onto boats around us. (and helped this 80 year old on and off several other boats during our time there.) We visited farms and businesses making chocolate from Cocoa bean and sweets from cocoanut cream.Our knowledge of tropical fruits expanded and we enjoyed the trip on the jaunting cart. Then there was the channel cruise on the small boat with the lady oarsman. On the practical side, all three guides were excellent. Were there to meet us at airports and were concerned to ensure that our passage through Airport Departure was smooth. All hotels were up to the standard we had hoped for and vehicles/water bottles etc spot on." — Mr and Mrs Brown, Sydney, April 2018

"Thanks so much for all the detailed organization GetAboutAsia. Loved the people in Vietnam and Cambodia. Halong bay cruise was wonderful. Beautiful ship. Loved it. Metropole in Hanoi was fantastic. Beautiful French restaurant. Flights all worked well. Had Dreamliner SA Sydney to Singapore. Saigon was also great , guide was good fun, tunnels amazing as well as Mekong . Hotel was great as well as final 8 course dinner,. The standard of your tour was very high.. Thank you so much, You are very good at your job. " — Mr and Mrs Helm, Picton, November 2017

"Everything went well. The guides and drivers were always on time in both Hanoi, Halong Bay & Siem Reap. The cruise on Halong Bay was excellent & enjoyed by the whole group. It was the highlight of our trip." — Mr Hickey and Family, Kirribilli , March 2016

"I found Getaboutasia a pleasure to deal with, and have already recommended them to fellow travellers. My favourite was waking up at Halong bay on my birthday. My favourite experience was the food. " — Mr and Mrs Sciban, Edmonton, QLD, October 2015

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