8 days

Essence of Vietnam

Essence of Vietnam

Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi

'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay

The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An

The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon

Cu Chi Tunnels - the underground network of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong

Trip rating
  • Spend a week in Vietnam discovering the highlights and traditions of this colourful country. This short adventure enables us to sample the Old World charm in this pocket of Asia that was part of the former French Indochina. But equally as evocative are the oriental influences that stem from a historic mix of Asian traders, settlers and indigenous people that have made this part of the world a cornerstone for empires and colonies. By visiting cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, we uncover that vibrant mix of the various major influences. By stopping in Hoi An and Halong Bay, we discover places of eternal beauty that have also played their part in Vietnam's history.

    It’s not hard to see why Vietnam is such a popular travel destination. This quick trip travels from exciting, full-on Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to the historical treasure-trove of Hoi An, then on to enchanting Hanoi and the thrilling natural wonders of Halong Bay. In between, there is still much to discover – this trip distils the country’s finest moments, with plenty of time for hidden treats and quiet surprises.

    Why we love it

    • Spend a week in Vietnam discovering the highlights and traditions of this colourful country.
    • This short adventure enables you to sample the old world charm of this pocket of Asia, which was part of the former French Indochina.
    • Equally as evocative are the oriental influences that stem from a historic mix of Asian traders, settlers and indigenous people that have made this part of the world a cornerstone for empires and colonies.
    • By visiting cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, you will uncover that vibrant mix of the various major influences.
    • By stopping in Hoi An and Halong Bay, you will discover places of eternal beauty that have also played their part in Vietnam's history.
    • This quick trip travels from exciting, full-on Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to the historical treasure-trove of Hoi An, then on to enchanting Hanoi and the thrilling natural wonders of Halong Bay.
    • In between, there is still much to discover – this trip captures the country’s finest moments, with plenty of time for hidden treats and quiet surprises.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

    • Your trip starts today with your arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the welcome board or reception desk, located on the ground floor of the hotel, for information on your upcoming tour.

    • This will advise you of your tour leader’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group's Welcome Meeting. Normally, the meeting is at 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Vietnam has to offer. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.
    • Please note that your tour leader will collect your travel insurance details at the meeting, so please bring them with you. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Ho Chi Minh City's many fantastic eating spots.

    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City

    • Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. A short city tour takes you to the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum, and also allows you to admire the exterior of the many beautiful French colonial buildings such as the main post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
    • The bustling Binh Tay Market in Cholon (Chinatown) will offer you a new perspective on the city; you will see the abundance of fresh local produce that is such an important feature of Vietnamese cuisine.
    • In the afternoon, you will head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of the district that covers an extensive underground network (approximately 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong.
    • The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used extensively for refuge and storage and also utilised as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City.
    • The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like (please note that this will be hot and sweaty and also a bit claustrophobic!).
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Danang - Marble Mountain - Hoi An

    • You will depart Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang today, where you will enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China Beach (locally known as My Khe Beach), enjoyed as an 'R & R' spot during the Vietnam War, lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains.
    • The five peaks, which are actually limestone with marble outcrops, are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is rich. The Champas once used them for religious purposes, but in more recent times became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world.
    • You will arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and settle in for your two-night stay in this historical ‘oasis’.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Hoi An

    • Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by, before the river silted up. Today it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness about it. The tranquility and charm of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. It is a consistent favourite among travellers and staff alike. A tour will take you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
    • You will enjoy a free afternoon to make the most of delightful Hoi An and its surrounding areas. The market is a good place to buy silk that can be made up into fine garments, all within a day. Close to town there is a nice beach, which can be reached easily by bicycle.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Hanoi

    • You will be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to the capital.
    • Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities. The northern capital is a quiet contradiction to its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, and exploration by foot or bicycle is recommended. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes from the city.
    • You will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
    • The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
    • In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 6 - Halong Bay

    • You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a four-and-a half-hour drive to famous Halong Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
    • The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular.
    • You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim.
    • Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to the usual hotel setting, but spending a night on the bay is such a wonderful experience. If the weather is obliging, the views at sunset are especially incredible.
    • There are only limited numbers of cabins on each boat, so the Single Supplement does not apply on the Halong Bay cruise, as all accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
    • All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
    • You may also have the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) while on Halong Bay.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Hanoi

    • In the morning you will sail back to the port, where you will disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
    • Arriving back in the capital, you will have free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street, or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel?
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Hanoi

    • The tour will come to an end after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Saigon's Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Binh Tay Market
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Cu Chi Tunnels; China Beach; Marble Mountain
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hanoi's One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Temple of Literature.
    • Local flights: Ho Chi Minh City to Danang and Danang to Hanoi.
    • Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay with accommodation in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning, and a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available).
    • Lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training to underprivileged young people.
    • Free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An and Hanoi.
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Accommodation: 6 nights comfortable hotel, 1 night boat
    • Meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Departure transfer

    Safety Information

    It is recommended that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information prior to your departure.Peregrine strongly recommends the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Please leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Most of our hotels will have a safety deposit box, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and Peregrine makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING CONDITIONS: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Be aware that traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home.

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

    BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Essence of Vietnam

    Jacqualine - New Zealand, 8 Mar, 2013
    4
    Overall Rating

    Excellent coverage of Vietnam for the duration of the trip. Also enough free time to enjoy our own individual experiences.

    Essence of Vietnam

    Wiliam - Australia, 11 Jan, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    Being new to this type of travel I was very pleased with the service provided. The accomadation food information were excellent. Our guide was a wealth of information and only too pleased to help where needed. I would have no hesitation to recommend the tour to others.

  • From our Blog

    Peregrine picks: 7 of Asia's best markets

    Image courtesy of Tartatin2009, Flickr

    There’s likely no finer place to really get to know the culture of a destination than a market. And when it comes to markets, Asia has some of the best in the world (followed closely by South and Central America!)

    Upon entering almost any market...

    Read on...

    A brief history of Indochina’s French influence


    Photo courtesy of Nguyen Ngoc Chinh, Flickr

    Under the guise of protecting the work of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, France became heavily involved in Vietnam during the 19th century. It gained control over the North of the country following a victory over China in the Sino-French War...

    Read on...

    The essence of Vietnam: Tuyen Vu

    Tuyun Vu is about as passionate a Peregrine leader as you can expect to find. And over the course of the past four years, he’s made loyal friends of many of his travellers, who are blown away by his knowledge and the insight he can offer of his home country, Vietnam.

    How long have you been a...

    Read on...

    Kids choice: Picking the perfect family holiday

    My name is Ben, I’m just a normal teenager. I struggle to get out of bed before 10, I find talking to my parents painful and school is a drag. The only thing that makes school liveable is the thought of holidays and the opportunity to travel around the globe.

    So parents, here is my guide to...

    Read on...

    Snapshot of Halong Bay

    The story behind Halong Bay is a real beauty. Legend has it that when invaders came to Vietnam, the gods sent fierce dragons to protect the Vietnamese people. These brave dragon warriors spat thousands of jade jewels into the water to form a great wall against the invaders. These jewels became the...

    Read on...
From US $1495
*Per Person, Twin Share

Select a trip date below

Trip Start Dates
Trip Duration
Guaranteed Departure Start Date
Discounted departure
Trip Selected:
Price: US $
Start:
End:
Discount price: US $

*Please note: To receive the discounted price for this departure, please enter the Promo Code at Step 4 of the booking form.

No Code available
View all departures

Trip at a glance

Trip Code PACL
Start City: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
End City: Hanoi, Vietnam

Contact an expert

1-800-663-5132We'll call you

Simply enter your details and we'll call you back within the next business day.