Move down to the central coast and the UNESCO royal capital of Hue and beautifully preserved old town of Hoi An await. Saigon offers an energised couple of days and then the majesty of the Angkor Temples crown the trip. Packed with a variety of experiences, a beach can be added.
Day 1: Depart on your choice of overnight flights to Hanoi
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi for 2 nights. Private transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day to settle in
Day 3: Full day Hanoi City tour
Day 4: Board your overnight Halong Bay cruise exploring this UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 5: Morning cruise then fly to Hue for 2 nights
Day 6: Full day tour of the Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda with short cruise on Perfume River
Day 7: Private transfer down dramatic coast road to Hoi An (a UNESCO town) for 2 nights
Day 8: Private walking tour of Hoi An's historic streets, with time to watch local artisans at work
Day 9: Morning free before flying down to Saigon for 3 nights
Day 10: Private Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour
Day 11: Mekong Delta tour with boat ride through the spider web of canals watching delta life float by
Day 12: Fly to Siem Reap (Angkor) for 3 nights in Cambodia
Day 13: Private guided Angkor Temples Highlights tour
Day 14: Morning private guided tour to Tonle Sap Lake with boat ride
Day 15: Overnight flight home
Day 16: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Hanoi
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi offers the chance to enjoy authentic old school Far East. The hotel is in the centre and we’d recommend that you take a walk through the Old Quarter. Don’t be put off by the thousands of motor scooters, just dive in.
Day 3: Hanoi - City Tour (B / L)
After breakfast you’ll be collected for a small group full day city tour. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his former stilt-house, Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. From here you walk a short distance to the archaeological site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty and was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. Its history will be explained as you explore the site. After this, break for lunch in a lovely local restaurant.
The afternoon starts at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Originally built as a temple dedicated to Confucius, it became the site of Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070. Then you’re off to Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you’ll visit Long Bien Bridge that was built between 1899 - 1902, whilst under French occupancy. Your guide will take you across to the other side where you can see how close Hanoi is to countryside life. Back in the Old Quarter enjoy an hour’s exploration aboard a cyclo (Vietnamese cycle rickshaw). Also known as the 36 streets, this bustling warren of narrow streets is home to thousands of small businesses, including galleries, craft shops and restaurants. End your day with a Vietnamese coffee in a local café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake. Here you can spend some quality time with your guide and ask him questions about all the sights you have seen throughout the day. You will return to your hotel at 4.30pm.
Extra...If you'd rather enjoy a more informal City Tour we'd recommend a cycle tour that takes you round the city then out to the countryside or perhaps a Street Eats & Market tour that concentrates more on Hanoi's wonderful food & drink.
Day 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B / L / D)
This morning you’ll be transferred by minibus to Halong Bay (3.5/4 hours). Meet the crew and board the traditional wooden junk for 1 night, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads toward the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming (weather permitting). Return to the junk refreshed & invigorated to relax on deck with a drink watching the sunset and enjoy a seafood dinner under the stars.
Day 5: Halong Bay (B / L) - Fly Hanoi / Hue
Enjoy breakfast as you continue to cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng to learn more about daily life living on the bay. Cruise back to the dock whilst enjoying a light lunch for return drive to the city and onward flight to Hue. On arrival met and transferred to your hotel of choice for 2 nights. The afternoon is free.
Day 6: Hue - Citadel, Tien Mu Pagoda & Perfume River Private Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will collect you for the tour to the Imperial Citadel, a
UNESCO World Heritage site. Straddling the Perfume River, this was the Nguyen capital, the last dynasty in Vietnam. It dominates Hue and its moated walls protect the forbidden Purple City, the former home of the royal family that’s modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. Take your time wandering through the fascinating tombs, temples and museums and past pagodas, lakes and pavilions. As you walk around you’ll also see the scars still visible from the Citadel’s prominent role during the Tet Offensive. You may also have time to visit the Minh Mang tomb, perhaps the most majestic of all Hue’s elaborate Nguyen mausoleums that are scattered around the countryside.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant, then move on to Hue’s best-known religious site, the Thien Mu Pagoda. Built on a hill between the river and pine forest the distinctive seven-tiered octagonal tower is the focal point of the complex and is one of the oldest and most attractive in the country. Continue through the working monastic complex to a beautifully kept garden and cemetery at the base of the Truong Son Mountains. Back at the hotel late afternoon. This evening perhaps take a walk through the small night market that runs through the town.
Day 7: Hue (B) to Hoi An by car
This morning your guide will pick you up for the private car transfer to Hoi An via the dramatic Hai Van Pass, with plenty of time to stop and take some pictures looking down along the dramatic coastline. On arrival check in to your choice of hotel for2 nights.
Extra….Hoi An is also blessed with superb beaches and so you can choose to stay on the beach and in the town, depending on where you'd like to spend most of your time If you’re here from Match to September the weather should be perfect to enjoy the beach, why not extend for a few days?
Day 8: Hoi An (B) - Private Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
This morning your private guide will collect you for a private walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. Beautifully preserved and car free, you can leisurely explore the historic streets, watching local artisans at work with silk, ceramics, paint and wood. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring heritage and is a popular place to have a little something run up.
Historical highlights include the Chua Ong Pagoda dating back to 1653, the Jinshang Temple that is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors, Tam Ky House a 200 year old ancestral house and the 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen and is a major landmark of Hoi An. The historic streets also house some beautifully atmospheric restaurants and this evening we recommend that you come back for dinner, when the town is lit by lantern light.
Day 9: Fly Hoi An (B) / Saigon
Private airport transfer and short flight south to Saigon. On arrival you will be met and transferred into the city centre where you check-in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. The rest of the day is yours to get a first taste of this vibrant city.
Day 10: Saigon - Private guided Cu Chi Tunnels & Saigon City Tour (B / L)
Early departure to escape city traffic and get ahead of the crowds on a half day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, legendary remnants of the Vietnam War that offer an evocative insight into the horrors that were faced by those involved. During the guided tour it’s possible to descend into the layers of tunnels that although widened, still create a feeling of creeping claustrophobia. Few other places encapsulate the sheer will-power that the American military was up against - and the lengths that the Viet Cong were prepared to go to in order to evict them.
Back to the city for lunch in a local restaurant and then rejoin your private guide for an afternoon city tour Highlights include the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office & Opera House, Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Back at the hotel late afternoon. Your guide would be happy to make dinner arrangements.
Day 11: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour (B / L)
This morning you’ll be collected and driven south to the Mekong Delta to board a local boat at Ben Tre. This less-visited area of the Mekong is home to luxuriant vegetation and lush coconut islands as well as orchards and rice paddies. Visit a local coconut processing enterprise where this vital fruit is treated in the age-old way to separate oil, flesh and husk to be used variously in coconut oil, coconut matting and coconut candy.
After the boat ride you will be taken on a short walk to a small village to see mat weavers at work, before jumping on the delta’s version of a tuk tuk to travel down the country roads to the pier. Here you board a beautiful teak boat and continue your cruise along the river. Whilst on board join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialities. After lunch relax on the top deck and watch river life pass you by. Cruise back to Ben Tre where you are met and transferred back to Saigon by early evening.
Extra…Why not add a few days on the beach on the island of Phu Quoc, just an hour’s flight from Saigon and offers direct flights on to Siem Reap
Day 12: Fly Saigon (B) / Siem Reap
Morning free until airport transfer and flight to Siem Reap. On arrival met by your private guide and transferred to the town centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights.This evening you might like to visit the circus that performs nightly in the centre of town. We can arrange tickets.
Day 13: Siem Reap - Private Guided Angkor Temples Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire. Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings. In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sunsetover the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Extra…The great thing about having your own specialist guide is that the itinerary can be tailored to you and be adapted on the ground to take advantage of local knowledge and keep ahead of the crowds. Angkor represents the universe in miniature and you could spend weeks touring round the thousand or so temples, so on this tour we focus on the highlights, but we can easily extend your stay.
Day 14: Siem Reap (B) - Tonle Sap Lake Stilted Villages Tour
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Day 15: Fly Siem Reap (B) / UK Airport
Morning free then airport transfer and fly home. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Siem ReapAs the main gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap offers a great range of hotel accommodation.
Browse our suggestions for Siem Reap Hotels here
Hotels in Hanoi
The bustling but elegant city of Hanoi understandably provides a wealth of hotel choice.
Halong Bay Cruise Boats
An overnight cruise on Halong Bay is often seen as an essential part of a Vietnam holiday
Hotels in Hoi An
Hoi An is a stunningly atmospheric UNESCO town, and we know all the great places to stay
Hotels in Hue
Historic Hue is an ancient citadel but with a great selection of high quality accomodation
Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
A mix of grand colonial buildings and modern luxuries make Saigon a fantastic place to stay