8 days

Essence of Vietnam

Essence of Vietnam

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

The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon

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

Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi

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)

    • You are met on arrival in Ho Chi Minh City and transferred to your hotel.
    • Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
    • Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City

    • Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.
    • Check out the Reunification Palace. Formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975.
    • Visit the War Remnants Museum. Originally opened in September 1975, it displays old military equipment and other related items from the Vietnam War. In the courtyard you'll find some larger exhibits including a F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter.
    • Visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, as well as a unique sense of what underground life was like during the American War.
    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.
    • BOAT SHORTAGE:
    • Due to recent unforeseen late changes by local authorities in Halong Bay a large proportion of boats are now no longer permitted to stay overnight, thus resulting in a shortage of boats. To ensure we can accommodate all travellers overnight on a boat we are occasionally using a larger boat (approx. 12 cabins) and splitting our groups across different boats. An group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Hanoi

    • Take a bus back to Hanoi (approx 3.5 hrs).
    • The afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter or relax at a cafe.
    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
    • (From 1st Jan 2015) Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • (From 1st Jan 2015) Gratuities for non-essential services and for tour leader
    • 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.

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Trip at a glance

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

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