12 DAY BEST OF VIETNAM
Limited spaces available
Vietnam is filled with stunning natural beauty and deep culture. Its mountains, jungles, and coastlines range from virtually untouched to well-groomed. Rural communities remain authentic and hospitable, and major cities are cosmopolitan but retain much of the old-world charm of the colonial and precolonial eras.
This medium-paced tour covers some of the best historical and cultural sights Vietnam has to offer, while also providing plenty of free time for you to relax or explore further. From the peaceful capital city of Hanoi to the stunning natural beauty and emerald waters of Halong Bay; from the ancient streets of Hoi An to the to the rural charm of the Mekong Delta; from the vibrant city life of Ho Chi Minh City to the poignant Cu Chi Tunnels, there’s so much to explore and discover!
From lofty mountains to green rice fields, plus relics of its long history of independence struggle, a trip to Vietnam is to see and experience the fusion of nature and history. A must-see when travelling to Vietnam is to sail out to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site comprising over 1600 islands and islets in the clean green water of the gulf of Tonkin.
After the core tour, extensions are available to Angkor (to spend two days exploring Angkor, one of the mightiest cities of the ancient world and home to the astonishing temples of the Khmer empire), or to Phu Quoc Island, to relax in the pristine beach environment of this beautiful tropical Vietnamese destination.
Vietnam Airlines return economy class airfares departing Sydney or Melbourne (or if unavailable, China Southern Airlines or Thai Airways)
Vietnam internal airfares
9 nights accommodation (twin/double) plus 1 night on board during your Halong Bay cruise
Round trip airport & hotel transfers
Daily meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Coach transportation and all transfers
English speaking tour guide(s)
Government taxes and service charges
Tipping prepaid in Australia: $70
Optional excursions and activity fees
Vietnam visa application fees
Travel insurance (strongly recommended)
Personal expenditure & anything not stated on the itinerary
Day 1: Australia to Hanoi
Fly to Hanoi via connecting cities. On arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by your guide and driver who will bring you to your hotel in Hanoi City to rest up for the tour ahead. Hanoi is over 1000 years old and is currently the capital of Vietnam, as well the commercial, political, and cultural heart of the country.
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour
We will pick you up at your hotel and drive to the historic Ba Dinh complex, to visit Ba Dinh Square, where the former President Ho Chi Minh read Viet Nam’s Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945, after almost a century of domination by France. Visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (just to visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum from outside if your visit is on Mondays & Fridays as it’s closed and from 5th September to 5th November due to the annual maintenance), as well as One-Pillar Pagoda, a must-see monument in Ha Noi. One-Pillar Pagoda is an ancient Buddhist pagoda built in the early 11th century during the reign of King Ly Thai Tong. The pagoda resembles a lotus blossom and gets its name from its lone support pillar. Next, we will visit the Temple of Literature, the first university for the sons of mandarins (high government officials), for an overview of Hanoi culture and appreciation for ancient Vietnamese architecture. You will have lunch at a local restaurant, then visit the infamous Hoa Lo prison – known as ‘the Hanoi Hilton‘ during the American War. Those incarcerated at Hoa Lo included Pete Peterson, who later became the first US Ambassador to a unified Vietnam in 1995, and Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for the US presidency in 2008. Then we will take a cyclo (pedicab) ride around the ’36 meandering streets’ of Hanoi’s Old Quarter stopping to visit historic Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple before returning to the hotel.
Optional activity (at your own expense), Hanoi Foodie tour: Meet your guide at the hotel, and walk through the bustling old quarter as your guide tells you about the various foods on offer – stop and try some if you like! Then we will stop at a ‘Bia hoi’ store, sit down and share a relaxing moment with locals. At night, the sidewalks are full of popup restaurants which offer truly local food like Banh Cuon (rice rolls with pork and herbs inside), and many kinds of noodle dish. For dinner, you will enjoy Southern beef-noodles in Hang Dieu street. End the night with a drink at a local coffee shop. At here you can spend a little time to talk about life in Vietnam before heading back to your hotel
Day 3: Hanoi to Halong Bay
Travel by coach to Halong Bay and take a boat trip to explore one of the world’s great natural wonders, cruising the thousands of limestone islands filled with caves of all shapes and sizes. The sails of junks and sampans gliding along the clear and emerald waters of the bay form a magnificent picturesque scene that blends with the sky. You also get a chance to visit some of the hidden grottoes beneath the towering cliffs. A seafood lunch and dinner will be served on board the charming junk. Stay overnight on board.
Day 4: Halong Bay to Hoi An
Enjoy the aquamarine waters of the bay at its best as the junk continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations. Disembark from the junk at noon and transfer to Hanoi airport for a short flight to Da Nang. On arrival, you will be picked up and transferred to Hoi An, an ancient town recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. Check into your hotel and enjoy free time at your own leisure to discover the city.
Day 5: Hoi An
You will be escorted by our local guide to discover Hoi An by walking tour through the narrow streets of this charming town. Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years merchants from China, Japan, France, and Portugal settled in the prosperous town resulting in a distinctive blend of culture, cuisine, religions and architecture. In 1999, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed for having the most unique architecture in Southeast Asia. It has been restored extensively over the following years. The afternoon is free at your own leisure.
You may also take one of the following optional tours (at your own expense);
Half-day cycling tour from Hoi An to Tra Que Village; Take a scenic bicycle ride through the rice paddies to Tra Que Village just outside Hoi An. This little village is well-known for supplying the many restaurants and hotels in the area with fresh herbs and vegetables. You will walk through the vegetable gardens, experience how the local farmers work the land and learn more about the history of the village and the importance of herbs in Vietnamese medicine and cuisine, before your relaxing pedal back to town.
Fishing Village & Waterway Eco-tour; Enjoy an authentic social and cultural insight into the local Vietnamese way of life. Drive to a local farming village traveling along picturesque country roads. Explore the now tranquil coconut-palm flanked waterways of a past war and hear of the extreme conditions endured by soldiers on both sides. Meet local fishermen and experience their daily life. You will take a wooden boat to a ‘water coconut forest’, and join local fishermen on the river to experience round net and cast net fishing. Learn to paddle bamboo basket boats and join in a basket boat race.You’ll also learn how to use reeds or palm leaves to make grasshoppers, birds, rings, sunglasses, etc. Return to the boat to enjoy lunch and a cold beer or soft drink and then return the hotel by car.
Day 6: Hoi An to Da Nang
Today you are free to explore Hoi An until your coach transfer to Da Nang. On arrival, check in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day free at leisure.
Day 7: Da Nang to Hue
Today you will drive from Danang to Hue City stopping along the way to take pictures at Lang Co Beach. On arrival, check into your hotel and enjoy free time at leisure. Hue City, during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945), was the political, economic and cultural capital of Vietnam and its historical monuments were recognised as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993. One of the largest battles of the Vietnamese revolutionary war was fought in Hue, as part of the 1968 ‘Tet Offensive’ that turned the tide of the war against the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. On arrival, you will take a boat trip to Thien Mu Pagoda – an historic pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River. Apart from the scenic riverside and hilltop location, the Thien Mu Pagoda and its environs are rich in history, standing witness to almost four hundred years of tumultuous nation-building in Vietnam. Transfer back to the centre of Hue city to visit the massive Kinh Thanh Citadel, the most well-known and iconic site in Hue, a sprawling complex within 2.5 km of walls, comprised of the Imperial City, several museums, lakes, and lovely gardens, all laid out in a series of concentric circles. We also visit Hue Royal Antiques Museum – a collection of ornaments from the Nguyen Dynasty. Finally, drive to visit Khai Dinh Tomb (or Tu Duc Tomb) before returning to your hotel. Optional activity; Enjoy a sumptuous Royal Dinner (at your own expense, four people minimum). Dress in beautiful traditional clothes (provided by the restaurant) and be served dishes which used to be made for King and his family, and enjoy live music during dinner.
Day 8: Hue to Ho Chi Minh City
We transfer to Hue Airport to catch a morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you are picked up for transfer to the city centre to visit to imposing Dong Khoi Street (formerly Catinat street) before going to the Notre Dame Cathedral. This is the most famous landmark in Vietnam, as the twin bell towers can be seen from a great distance. In the same square is the famous Saigon Post Office, the largest functioning post office in Vietnam. Continue on to visit Reunification Palace, the palace of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975, and the War Remains Museum, where you can learn about the Vietnam War. At the end of the day, visit Ben Thanh Market before returning to your hotel, after which you are free at leisure, or may join an optional (at your own expense) Dinner Cruise on Saigon River
Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta
Depart with our guide and driver for a scenic drive through the Mekong Delta, home to the richest agricultural lands in Vietnam. On arrival at My Tho City, take a boat trip on the Mekong River to fishing villages and Dragon, Unicorn,Turtle and Phoenix Islands. Crossing the Mekong River, you’ll cruise along a small canal to see the daily life of locals in Bến Tre Province, visiting Quới An bee farm and handicraft workshop to enjoy some honey-tea and see how people make things from coconut wood. Take a horse-cart along country roads to visit fruit orchards, enjoy tropical fruit and listen to traditional music. Then, take small sampans back to your cruise to ‘Coconut Village’ for a coconut candy workshop and tasting. Visit Phoenix Island for a rice-paper workshop, then return by boat to My Tho by road back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy the rest of the day free at leisure.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi Tunnels
After breakfast, we visit the amazing Cu Chi Tunnels, a well-known historical vestige of the Vietnamese revolution. This cobweb-like tunnel complex is a network of underground dug-outs over 200 km long, consisting of many layers and turnings with meeting, living, and fighting quarters where we learn firsthand how the Viet Cong survived their extraordinary underground existence during the Vietnam War.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City to Australia
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home.
Day 12: Australia
Arrive home this morning.
THE FINE PRINT
Interstate Surcharge: Brisbane/Adelaide $300, Perth $300 (flights may be via Sydney or Melbourne)
Stay Behind/Early Arrival Surcharge: From $200 subject to availability & applicable fare difference
Pre/Post Tour Accommodation (inc. breakfast): From $100/person/twin room, $200/person/single room
Airline Upgrade (economy class international long haul sectors only): Singapore Airlines from $500 subject to availability & applicable fare difference. Tip: upgrade to avoid paying the interstate & early arrival/stay behind surcharge
Child Price: Same as adult
Hanoi Foodie Tour (Day 2): Includes English-speaking guide, transportation, sample food, Southern-style beef noodle dinner, local beer, drinks at Bia Hoi and coffee – $65pp (min 2 pax)
Cycling Tour from Hoi An to Tra Que Village (Day 5): Includes private tour, English-speaking guide, bicycle rental – $45pp (min 2 pax)
Tour from Hoi An to Fishing Village (Day 5): English-speaking guide, tour activities as mentioned in itinerary – $110pp (min 2 pax)
Royal Dinner in Hue (Day 7): Includes English-speaking guide and transfer, dinner – $95pp (min 4 pax)
Dinner Cruise on Saigon River (Day 8): – $50pp (min 2 pax)
All prices, itineraries, airlines, hotels and cruise ships are subject to availability and change without prior notice. Unless otherwise stated, all prices are per person. Nexus Holidays reserves the right to provide substitutes of similar standard and adjust the itinerary as we see fit to ensure the smooth running of the tour. Itinerary and sites to be visited are subject to change due to local and seasonal conditions, minimum and maximum numbers, time and other unforeseen constraints beyond our control. Passengers must remain with the tour group at all times and must not deviate from the set itinerary. The total length of the tour in days includes time spent in flight and is subject to change depending on the flight schedule, please refer to the day by day itinerary for the time spent on land. Please check all information before booking.