Vietnam Tour Plan
As a country that starts with V listed on Countryaah.com, the Southeast Asian coastal country Vietnam is almost as big as Germany. It extends about 1,650 km from the north, where it borders on China, to the south to the Gulf of Thailand. Laos and Cambodia are neighboring to the west. At the narrowest point in Central Vietnam, the country is only approx. 50 km wide. The highest point in Vietnam is the 3,144 m high Fansipan in the Yunnan Mountains in the north-west of the country. Visit Bridgat.com for other countries that start with V.
- Day 1: Off to the Land of Dawn!
- Day 2: Hello, Hanoi!
- Day 3: Halong Bay & Lan Ha Bay by ship
- Day 4: Explorations on Cát Bà
- Day 5: From Cát Bà to the water puppet theater in Hanoi
- Day 6: Colorful, multifaceted, pulsating: Hanoi
- Day 7: Off to the mountains!
- Day 8: Hike – (not only) on the trail of tea
- Day 9: Personal encounters along the way
- Day 10: Back to Hanoi via tea plantations, rivers and rice terraces
- Day 11: The old imperial city of Hue
- Day 12: By train over the cloud pass to Hoi An
- Day 13: By bike through Hoi An
- Day 14: From Hoi An to the Mekong Delta
- Day 15: Floating markets & bike tour in the Mekong Delta
- Day 16: Saigon – city of contrasts
- Day 17: Farewell to Vietnam
- Day 18: Hello Europe!
There, now the famous Halong Bay appears in front of us: One limestone rock after the other juts out of the water. Some stand in groups, others come in a double pack and many defend the sea all by themselves. On board a comfortable ship we cruise through La Han Bay, the quieter sister of the famous Halong Bay. If you like, you can explore the hidden caves and tunnels by kayak, which can only be reached from the sea. In the evening we enjoy a romantic candlelight dinner and let the gentle waves of the sea rock us to sleep.
Just like the lavish nature of Vietnam, we get to know its historical cities. The tombs of the Nguyen dynasty in the old imperial city of Hue look like small palaces. In Hanoi we experience a performance of the legendary water puppet theater, our guide shows us the metropolis of Saigon through insider glasses. Every now and then we spend the night in charming boutique hotels.
In the far north of Vietnam we continue hiking through bamboo forest and tea mountains. We are invited to lunch with local families, we spend the night in an eco-lodge and simple homestays. Our hosts for the first night are members of the Red Dao, an ethnic minority. Even in this remote corner a lot has changed in the last few decades, electricity and roads have found their way – but the red-patterned turbans of women are still there.
Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner
Off to the land of dawn!
Farewell to home. Our great journey to the Land of Dawn begins!
At the airport in Hanoi we are already expected by our guide with a worldwide hiking sign and taken to our hotel in the heart of the city. If you feel like it, you can start your first orientation walk in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. We stroll through the small alleys and along the Hoan Kiem Lake with its famous Jade Mountain Temple – an oasis of calm in the middle of the lively capital.
In the evening we get to know each other better over a welcome dinner in a charming old town restaurant. Which Vietnamese delicacies will be served to us?
Overnight at the Conifer Grand Hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
(- / – / A)
Halong Bay & Lan Ha Bay by boat
We leave Hanoi behind us and head towards Hai Phong, crossing the new Bai Chay Bridge, one of the longest bridges in Southeast Asia. Our ship is waiting there, we are setting sail! Past the island of Da Chong, where we see an old lighthouse that was built by the French over a century ago, we go through a labyrinth of limestone cliffs, past floating fishing villages. The rocks rise majestically from the turquoise-blue glittering sea into the sky. There are many myths about Halong Bay. According to legend, dragons are said to have created this unreal natural spectacle to protect Vietnam from the sea. Our destination is Lan Ha Bay, the quieter sister of the famous Halong Bay.
After lunch we explore hidden places by kayak. When the sun sinks into the sea, we indulge in culinary experiences. The chef shows us how to prepare Vietnamese summer rolls or bun cha. We end the day with a romantic candlelight dinner and are finally rocked to sleep by the gentle waves of the sea.
Driving time: approx. 2.5 hours.
Overnight on board a ship (Peony Cruises)
(B / L / D)
Note: The kayak trip is also suitable for beginners, life jackets are mandatory. If you don’t want to go kayaking, just stay on board the junk and enjoy the view.
Explorations on Cát Bà
The morning is the best time of the day in Lan Ha Bay! We can take part in the Tai Chi exercises on the upper deck or take in the breathtaking scenery with a cup of tea. We row to the Dark & Bright caves, a wild and mysterious beauty in the middle of the world natural heritage. After brunch we say goodbye to our ship’s crew and go on a voyage of discovery on Cát Bà.
Together with the Cát Bà National Park, the island has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1994. Langurs, seahorses and the dragon tree have given the region this status. Bicycles are already waiting for us at the pier. We swing on our saddles and cycle through the deep green tropical landscape across the island to Ben Beo. Later we drive to the historically significant Hospital Cave. During the Vietnam War, the cave played an important role as a secret hospital. Here we get an interesting insight into the eventful history of this area. Those who wish can climb up to Cannon Fort or take a taxi. This fort was built by the Japanese in a strategically important place during World War II. Old guns await us above,
Bike tour: approx. 20 km –
overnight stay at Cat Ba Island Resort
(brunch / A)
From Cát Bà to the water puppet theater in Hanoi
A boat awaits us in the morning. Let’s go on a discovery tour to small bays, unusually shaped rocks and islets! Later we switch to kayaks and explore caves, lagoons and secluded beaches. Strengthened with lunch in the stomach, it goes back to Hanoi, first over water, then over land. Our evening program in the pulsating capital is dedicated to a tradition that only exists in Vietnam: the water puppet theater. What might that be?
Travel time by bus: approx. 2.5 hours.
Overnight stay in the Conifer Grand Hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
(B / L / -)
Colorful, multifaceted, pulsating: Hanoi
Winding streets with colorful markets, fragrant street food cuisine – from Pho to Bun Cha and summer rolls. People with woven cone hats carrying dragon fruit, rambutans and guavas in their baskets. Lo and behold: two, three, four – no, even five people on just one scooter! The Vietnamese are virtuoso not only transporting their entire family through traffic on motorized two-wheelers, but everything imaginable. It is not for nothing that Hanoi is nicknamed “the city of motorcycles”. Wherever our eyes fall, we are always amazed. This is Hanoi, this is Vietnam. Here all life takes place on the street, life pulsates here.
With our local guide we explore the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (from the outside), the Imperial Citadel and the One Pillar Pagoda – Hanoi’s oldest sacred building. The rest of the day is at our disposal.
Overnight at the Conifer Grand Hotel in Hanoi
(B / – / -)
Off to the mountains!
After breakfast we leave Hanoi behind us and drive north to Pan Hou in Ha Giang province, which is the starting point of our three-day hiking tour. We will have lunch in a typical, simple restaurant before continuing our journey through the fertile landscape. We reach Pan Hou and move into our Ecolodge bungalows, which are lovingly surrounded by lush gardens and small ponds. We can look forward to dinner! Why? We will find out soon! Here in our Ecolodge we can relax wonderfully after the lively Hanoi and before our hike the next day.
Driving time: approx. 6 hours
overnight in bungalows in the Ecolodge Pan Hou Village
(B / L / D)
Hike – (not only) on the trail of tea
Exciting hikes await us today and tomorrow. A short drive brings us to the traditional Fin Ho tea factory, which produces the best tea in Vietnam. Here we take a look behind the scenes, where precious leaves are dried and processed. A small tea tasting should of course not be missing. Then we hike through lush green rice terraces, here and there a water buffalo wallows in the artfully laid out terraces. We take a break at rushing waterfalls and around noon we reach the traditional house of a local family, who spoil us with local specialties. Our hiking trail then leads us through the dense bamboo forest to our host families of the Red Dao, one of Vietnam’s many ethnic minorities. We are warmly received and welcomed in a friendly manner.
Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (approx. 15 km, + 400 / – 200 m)
Overnight stay with host families
(B / L / D)
The luggage stays in the Ecolodge. We pack what we need for the next 2 days / nights in our backpack. The host families have mattresses and blankets, and it is advisable to bring a light sleeping bag.
Personal encounters along the way
This day is also dedicated to hiking in the midst of lush green nature and personal encounters with people we meet along the way. Again and again we pass tiny, simple villages of the local minority ethnic groups. Even today a family welcomes us for a delicious lunch and we get another insight into their way of life. In the late afternoon we reach today’s homestay, where we are once again warmly welcomed.
Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (approx. 15 km, + 600 / – 400 m)
Overnight stay with host families
(B / L / D)
Back to Hanoi via tea plantations, rivers and rice terraces
Hiking boots laced? Then on to our last hike here in the mountains of Ha Giang province. After our hike through tea plantations and rice terraces, we reach the main road, where our minibus is already waiting for us and driving us back to the Ecolodge. There we can change our clothes in peace before heading back to Hanoi over the mountains. On the trip we can look back over the last few days, inspired by the green terraces that lay like a carpet over the landscape. Small breaks and a lunch break loosen up our journey.
Hike: approx. 5 hours (+ 100 / -300m)
Travel time: approx. 6 hours
Overnight stay in the Conifer Grand Hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter (B / L
The old imperial city of Hue
Today we go to Central Vietnam. After Hue, more precisely. In just one hour’s flight, we can already reach the city that is known for the perfume river, its 37 meter high flag tower and the imperial tombs of the Nguyen dynasty. A total of thirteen emperors produced the Nguyen family – the last dynasty of Vietnam. The rulers had their magnificent tombs, which look like small palaces, built during their respective reigns. We visit the two most impressive with whom the former regents Khai Dinh and Tu Duc have set their monument. And in architecture we discover the philosophical tendencies of the respective client.
Overnight at Park View in Hue
(B / – / -)
By train over the cloud pass to Hoi An
Today a very special journey awaits us: We board the Reunification Express on the legendary railway road that connects the two metropolises Hanoi and Saigon over 1,700 km. We chug over the cloud pass from Hue to Da Nang. The train winds its way up into the mountains at walking pace in long serpentines and opens up views of the vastness of the South China Sea. The cloud pass is not only a climatic border between the subtropical north and the tropical south of Vietnam, but once also separated the two parts of the country. Once in Da Nang, the minibus continues towards Hoi An. On the way we make a stop at the Marble Mountains. Five wooded rock cones made of marble protrude up to a hundred meters high from the plain and accommodate countless, developed caves and ornate pagodas and temples. Our accommodation in Hoi An is another highlight. The Riverside Resort & Spa is located in the middle of a beautiful garden, idyllically on the river and is stylishly furnished. Not far away is the old town of Hoi An, which is nicely crisscrossed by canals.
Overnight at Riverside Resort & Spa in Hoi An
(B / – / -)
By bike through Hoi An
Today we dedicate ourselves to Hoi An. We start from our resort with bikes to the old town. There are hundreds of tailors here. We encounter wooden temples and French colonial houses and traditional houses with artfully decorated facades and balconies from earlier times. It is not for nothing that the old town center with around 800 buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the landmarks of Hoi An is the historic Japanese Bridge, a covered wooden structure. In addition to the architectural treasures, we also want to enjoy the colorful everyday life of Hoi An and, for example, the market with its varied stalls. Afterwards we have time to go on our own exploration tour. Many small restaurants with colorful lanterns invite us to stop. If you like, you can cycle to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
Overnight at Riverside Resort & Spa in Hoi An
(B / – / -)
From Hoi An to the Mekong Delta
This morning we have time for individual activities in the pretty town of Hoi An. Or we can lie down by the pool in our romantic hotel and relax. In the early afternoon we will be transferred to Da Nang Airport. It goes to the south of Vietnam: to Can Tho! Dinner is already waiting for us in the Can Tho Ecolodge.
Overnight in the Can Tho Ecolodge
(B / – / D)
Floating markets & bike tour in the Mekong Delta
It starts early in the morning: we chug on the Mekong with the longtail boat at dawn. We get to the famous floating markets. The life of a trader pulsates here. Giant melons are shuffled back and forth between the boats; green, red, orange, yellow shining fruits and vegetables peek out from the merchant boats. Too tempting all this sweet fruit? Then let’s try it!
Then we get on the saddle of simple Vietnamese bicycles. We explore the tropical vegetation of this fascinating natural area. The river is our common thread, along orchards and gardens a bike is perfect to get to know the small villages and their residents up close. We cross the numerous waterways over narrow wooden bridges and with a small ferry. Over a monkey bridge we come to an old house with an orchard, where a traditional lunch with rice wine, grilled ham and Vietnamese pancakes awaits us.
Later we explore the Can Tho Museum, which shows over 5000 historical relics of the Mekong Delta and documents the peaceful coexistence of Vietnamese, Khmer and Chinese in this area. Then we stop by the Binh Thuy Ancient House. Originally conceived as a place of ancestor worship, the house is now an outstanding example of the fusion of Western and Asian architectural elements and was the setting in the film “The Lover”, a famous love story by Marguerite Duras.
Bike tour: flat, paved paths, approx. 15 km
overnight in the Can Tho Ecolodge
(B / L / D)
Saigon – city of contrasts
This morning we are going to Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City, as “Saigon” is officially called, connects the past with the future like hardly any other city. Tradition and modernity are literally facing each other here on every corner. Small traders wander the sidewalks with their carrying bars while young women whiz past on their scooters. Buildings that have remained unchanged since the colonial era stand between modern glass palaces.
We visit a secret armory where weapons were hidden during the Vietnam War. The Pho Binh Restaurant at 7 Ly Chinh Thang Street used to be the headquarters of the Viet Cong, this is where the leaders planned the Tet Offensive in 1968. At this historical place there is a late lunch: “Pho” the famous noodle soup! Then we visit the former CIA building (only from the outside), where helicopters evacuated the remaining US citizens in 1975. Then we go to the roof terrace of the Rex Hotel, which was a popular meeting place for Americans during the Vietnam War. The tour guide explains the story behind it over a drink. In the Reunification Palace we are given a guided tour through the former headquarters of the South Vietnamese government.
Overnight at Liberty Hotel Saigon Parkview
(B / L / -)
Farewell to Vietnam
Let’s start the day very early today – like a real Saigon! Our tour guide accompanies us to sidewalk cafes and to lively local outdoor markets. Our first stop is a Vietnamese bread stand which is said to be the first bread stand in Saigon. In the midst of the locals, we sit down in a small alley to enjoy a simple but delicious breakfast. Then we zigzag through the alleys and stop for a cup of tea or coffee in Saigon’s oldest café. This cafe, now 78 years old, is something of a Saigon landmark. The owner tells us how she makes coffee using a very traditional method, a kind of “coffee straw.” We then stroll through the street markets where people haggle for fresh vegetables and seafood. Continue to the “Flower Alleys” – the largest flower market in Saigon! We can smell the bewitching scent of the exotic flowers from afar. We’ll also try some of Saigon’s most popular snacks and desserts, such as sponge cakes and sweet soups.
Free time in Saigon until our departure. Our rooms are available until 6 p.m.
(F / – / -)
When we get home, we should give ourselves enough time to acclimate. And to process all the experiences and impressions.
Extend your trip with our follow-up program “Highlights of Angkor”! The details can be found in the “Info” tab under “Download”.