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Vietnam Grand Tour

22 days, 21 nights

Photo Gallery for this trip

Introduction

Explore Viet Nam from the Mekong Delta to the mountainous border area near China on the Vietnam Grand Tour. Highlights of the trip; Ho Chi Minh City, the resistance tunnels of Cu Chi, the beauty of the Mekong Delta, refreshing air in the Central Highlands, sun and beach time on the Central Coast, charming ancient Hoi An, the temples of My Son, World Heritage Hue, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, Dien Bien Phu and the turning of Vietnam’s history, the quiet mountain hill station of Sa Pa and the Grand Finale at Ha Long Bay.

This tour may be run in reverse order and depending on your time availability, be lengthened or shortened.

Bac Ho


Brief itinerary

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City Arrival
Day 2:  Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Day 3: Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City - Vinh Long - Can Tho
Day 5: Can Tho - Cao Lanh - Ho Chi Minh City
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City – Bao Loc – Dalat
Day 7: Dalat Tour
Day 8: Dalat - Nha Trang
Day 9: Nha Trang – Boat trip to the islands
Day 10: Nha Trang – Fly to Da Nang - Hoi An
Day 11:  My Son - Hoi An Tour
Day 12: Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue
Day 13: Imperial Tombs – Fly to Hanoi
Day 14: Ha Noi City Tour

Day 15: Hanoi Kenh Ga – Hoa Lu – Hanoi
Day 16: Hanoi – Fly Dien Bien Phu – Dien Bien Phu Relic Tour
Day 17: Dien Bien Phu – Muong Lay – Paso
Day 18:  Paso - Lai Chau – Sapa

Day 19: Sapa Valley Trek – Lao Cai – Night train to Hanoi

Day 20: Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay

Day 21: Ha Long – Hanoi

Day 22: Hanoi - Departure



Day to day itinerary


Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City Arrival

On your arrival at Tan San Nhat airport, you are met and greeted by your local guide and driver. You transfer to the hotel, refresh and enjoy lunch.  Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in the country and the heart of southern Vietnam and with a population of over 7.5 million, the city is continuously attracting people from all over the country hoping better their life.

 

In the afternoon, we sit with our guide and go over our planned itinerary.  We get an overview of HCMC and the depart for the a short walk about the city and also visit the History Museum to see an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the evolution of Vietnam’s culture.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: Airport transfer
Meal plan: L
Walking Time: Light


Day 2:  Ho Chi Minh City Tour

After breakfast at the hotel, we start a sightseeing tour to the Reunification Palace, which was once the symbol of South Vietnamese Government until April 1975 and some French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral – a neo-Romanesque with two 40m-high pinnacle towers and the Old Central Post Office.

 

We break for lunch and then continue to visit Cho Lon or China Town – a jewel box of interesting Chinese-style temples such as Thien Hau (the Protector of Mothers and Newborns and Quan Am Pagodas (the Goddess of Mercy) – the most active pagodas in Cho Lon. Emperor Jade Pagoda – one of the most spectacular and colorful pagodas in HCMC and the War Remnants Museum. We end the tour at Ben Thanh Market – a huge indoor market selling all manner of good surrounded by one of the city liveliest area.

 

We end our day by late afternoon. If you feel like thirsty after a long day sight seeing, the local beer Ba Ba Ba (333) is sure to satisfy!


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: short journeys around HCM
Walking time: 3 - 4 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 3: Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels

Today we drive west to Tay Ninh, the head quarter of one of Vietnam’s most interesting religions, Cao Daism. The Cao Dai Great Temple is one of the most striking structures in all of Asia. On arrival we attend mid-day prayer session but will not disturb the worshippers. The hall is filled of colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism – Vietnam’s Triple Religions.

 

On the way back, we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the struggle for independence.  The tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation, etc. and were used as a military base for the Vietcong in the American War. Cu Chi has become legendary and a place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese school children and communist party cadres.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by car
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy, tunnels are slightly challenging
Meal plan:  B/L


Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City - Vinh Long - Can Tho

Breakfast is followed by a transfer to Cai Be where were we take a boat for the cruise on the Lower Mekong Mekong Delta Life River to visit a Cai Be Floating Market – a bustling river market.  Customers in smaller boats can easily find what they need from wholesalers on bigger boats that hang samples of their goods from tall wooden poles.  The trip to Vinh Long passes along beautiful small islands in the river gives an overview to agriculture, especially the growing of tropical fruit. We’ll also visit a boat building site and some small islands (time permitting).

 

At Vinh Long, we have lunch and transfer to Can Tho. Can Tho is the centre and largest city of Mekong Delta. The city is connected to most other population centers in the Mekong Delta by a system of canals and rivers. We spend the night in Can Tho.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 hours by car, 2 hours by boat
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Meal plan: B/L


Day 5: Can Tho - Cao Lanh - Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast, we take a three-hour boat trip to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market – the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta and Phong Dien Floating Market – the best  floating market with fewer motorized craft and more stand-up rowing boats, the most original ones in the area. We then continue to visit rice noodles factory.

 

We break for lunch and transfer to Cao Lanh. Here we take a one hour boat trip to see the Xeo Quit Base Area – a Viet Cong base during the American War where top-brass VC lived in underground bunkers in the Rung Tram Forest.  The forest is a vast swamp with a beautiful thick canopy of tall trees and vines, one of the last natural forests left in the Mekong Delta. We return to Ho Chi Minh City by late afternoon.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by boat, return car transfer to HCM
Walking time: limited
Meal plan: B/L


Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City – Bao Loc – Dalat

Today we depart to the cool and fresh Highland Centre via the National highway 20.  We’ll enjoy a smooth drive with a beautiful landscape.  There is time to stop for photos at the La Nga Lake and the floating village.  We’ll stop at Bao Loc to visit the magnificent Dambri Waterfall - one of the tallest and easily accessible waterfalls in Vietnam. We enjoy lunch at local restaurant and sample tea and mulberry, the major local industry in Bao Loc.  On arrival to Da Lat, we visit the tea and coffee plantations in Lien Khuong.  

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 5 hours by car
Walking time: limited
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 7: Dalat Tour

After breakfast, we’ll start our tour of Dalat with a visit to the Bao Dai Summer Palace.  The palace is filled with artifacts from many generations of residents.  Next we carry on to Tuyen Lam Lake and Pagoda - a complex of pagodas and relaxation areas overlooking a beautiful lake where we may enjoy an elephant ride around the lake.   We then make our way to the Hang Nga Crazy House - this guesthouse, café and art gallery is the an oddity in Vietnam because of its architecture and art displays, most definitely unique to the country!  Our last stop before lunch is the Valley of Love - the valley was once called the Valley of Peace by Emperor Bao Dai and in 1972 was renamed by romantically minded students from Da Lat University.

 

We break for lunch at local restaurant and continue to drive to Langbian Mountain, visit the Lat village at the base of Lang Bian Mountain. The village is inhabited by the Lat ethnic group and four other ethnic minorities, each of which speaks different dialect. We return to Dalat by late afternoon.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 hours by car, 30 - 60 minutes by Elephant!
Walking time: 2 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 8: Dalat - Nha Trang

Today we depart for Nha Trang and there will be plenty of time to stop for photos along the way. OurNga Trang Beach fist stop is at the Ngoan Muc Pass - known to the French as Bellevue Pass that offer amazing view across the coastal plain to the South China Sea on a clear day.  At the base of the pass is Dan Nhim Power Station.  We continue to Phan Rang where we make another stop at the area’s best-known site, the Po Klong Garai Cham Tower.  This famous landmark is four brick towers constructed at the end of 13th century as a Hindu temple.  Before reaching Nha Trang, we stop again to view Cam Ranh Bay. This gorgeous harbor has long been considered one of Asia’s prime deep-water ports and was previously home to the US and later the Russian Navies.

 

We arrive to Nha Trang in mid afternoon. You check into hotel and the rest of the day is free at leisure.  Nha Trang is one of the most popular municipal beaches in all of Vietnam.  The clear water around Nha Trang is excellent for fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving.   Boat trips are also a real highlight of Nha Trang.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by car
Walking time: 1 hour
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L

 

Day 9: Nha Trang – Boat trip to the islands

You enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then take a morning boat trip to visit islands offshore.  With 71 islands in remarkably clear water, the boat trip to these islands is one of the best reasons for visiting Nha Trang.  We’ll visit the Mun Island and Tri Nguyen Aquarium.  Lunch is served on the Tam Island.


After lunch, enjoy swimming and relaxation before returning to Nha Trang.

 

Note - The 2 days in Nha Trang can be substituted by a package to Whale Island - a lovely beach retreat, where you are accommodated in wooden beachfront bungalow at Whale Island Resort (whaleislandresort.com). The island can be reach by one hour road trip and 2 hour boat trip.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 30 minutes by car/ boat cruise
Meal plan: B, L


Day 10: Nha Trang – Fly to Da Nang - Hoi An

Breakfast is followed by a little exercise. We cycle to Thap Ba Hot Spring Center via the beach side road. Hoi An Street scene Relax and revive yourself in a soothing mud bath and enjoy swimming in a mineral spring.  After we refresh our bodies, we’ll visit the Cham Po Nagar Temples nearby and cycle back through Nha Trang streets to view local daily life.

 

You have a transfer to Cam Ranh airport for boarding to Da Nang on flight No VN 336 (12:05 - 13:20) and enjoy late lunch in Da Nang. We then transfer to Hoi An Ancient Town, a living museum with charm and culture from every corner. You check into hotel and take a walk through the town on your own.



Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 1 hour by bicycle, airport transfer, 1 hour flight
Meal plan: B/L


Day 11:  My Son - Hoi An Tour

Following breakfast, we depart for My Son, a World Heritage site, 40 km southwest of Hoi An. Located in a lush valley; My Son was a capital and religious center of Cham people.  Today it is considered to be in the same league as some of Southeast Asia's greatest archaeological sites, including Angkor in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar and Ayutthaya in Thailand.  The towers and sanctuaries were built from the 7 to 13 centuries and have survived war and time itself with care from Vietnam to remember the distinct heritage of the Cham People.

 

We return to Hoi An for lunch and stroll around the town visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1590 by the Japanese community to link them with Chinese quarter.  We continue to the Museum of Trading Ceramics where a collection of white and blue ceramics of the Dai Viet period and a great ceramic mosaic are worthwhile.  Our next destinations are a sampling of beautiful architecture styles including Tan Ky House - a private home that features Japanese and Chinese influence, the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation - the temples and pagodas of molded on Chinese style. We end our day by walking along Silk Street of Hoi An.  You may have your silk clothing made in just a few hours!


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 2.5 hours by car,
Walking time:  2 - 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 12: Hoi An - Da Nang - Hue

Today we depart for Hue, another World Heritage Site, via Da Nang.  In Da Nang, we’ll stop to visit the Marble Mountain.  The mountains consist of five sizeable formations which are said to represent the natural elements Water, Wood, Fire, Metal or Gold and Earth.  Our next stop in Da Nang is the Museum of Cham Sculpture where you can see the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world.  We continue via Highway 1 north and will stop at the Hai Van Pass - an incredibly mountainous stretch with spectacular views and Lang Co Beach - a crystal clear turquoise lagoon beaches is certainly included. The picturesque view of sea and mountain is truly amazing!

 

We arrive in Hue, check into hotel and enjoy late lunch at local restaurant.  Afternoon, we’ll first visit Dong Ba Market, Hue’s largest market where anything and everything can be bought. We then continue on to the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled the country between 1802 and 1945 and the Ruins of the Purple Forbidden City which was constructed for personal use of the emperor and was entirely destroyed during Tet Offensive 1969.

In the evening, we’ll enjoy dinner on a Perfume River boat cruise.  The boat cruise and Hue folk’s songs performance mark the end of the day.Imperial Hue Architecture
 

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 - 4 hours car, boat cruise
Walking time: 1 - 2 hours
Meal plan: B/L/D


Day 13: Imperial Tombs – Fly to Hanoi

In the morning, we take another cruise on the Perfume River to visit the extravagant mausoleums that were constructed along this water’s edge. We first visit the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc who had the longest reign and lived a life of ultimate imperial luxury and then the Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, the most majestic of the royal tombs.  Our river journey includes a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, an icon of Vietnam and has become an unofficial symbol of Hue. During 1960s and 1980s, it became a flashpoint of anti-government demonstration.

 

We have lunch at local restaurant before transfer to Phu Bai airport for boarding to Hanoi on flight No VN 244 (14:55 - 16:10). You arrive in Hanoi, transfer to hotel, check in and take a small walk around the Old Quarter.  Hanoi, the Capital of Vietnam is the city of timeless grace, an architectural museum piece evolving in harmony with its history. Tree-lined boulevards, lakes and parks also make the city different from others.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 2 hour boat cruise, airport transfers, 1 hour flight
Meal plan: B/L


Day 14: Ha Noi City Tour

Today we spend a full day exploring the capital city and our first visit is to the Ho Chi Minh Complex.  We first visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - the number one place of pilgrimage of Vietnam to pay respect to Uncle Ho. We continue to the Residential Palace - a beautifully restored colonial building constructed as the residence of the Governor General Indochina and now used for official receptions that is not open to public yet.  We then spend time at Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts where he lived on and off from 1958 to 1969.  The house is built in the style of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, sitting in a well-tended garden next to carp-filled pond.  We then continue to One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi’s most famous pagoda is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, symbol of purity, rising out of a sea of sorrow.  Our last visit before lunch is the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university. It is an excellent example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture.

 

We break for lunch at local restaurant. Afternoon, we continue to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The museum features a fascinating collection of art and everyday objects gathered from Vietnam and its diverse tribal people. This wonderful museum is quite away from centre of Hanoi, but it shouldn’t be missed.  On the way back to town, we’ll visit Tran Quoc Pagoda which is one of the oldest temple of Vietnam and Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four important temples, each located at North, South, East and West of Hanoi and dedicated to the Gods who are the guardians of the old capital Thang Long.  

 At the end of the day, an optional cyclo ride around the old quarter streets from Hang Dau to Hang Gai.
 

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: short journeys around Hanoi by car
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 15: Hanoi Kenh Ga – Hoa Lu Hanoi

We depart early today to Hoa Lu, one of Vietnam’s earliest capitals where magnificent temples set strategically in a dramatic landscape of limestone cliffs and rice paddies.  We’ll visit the Kenh Ga Floating Market. This is the only other place in Vietnam where you can see anything like this in Mekong Delta and on the other hand nowhere in Mekong Delta you will find a stunning mountain backdrop like the one at Kenh Ga.  We’ll then enjoy a 3 hour boat trip to Tam Coc to contemplate the beauty of the natural landscape of ‘Halong Bay on the rice paddies’ and then visit to a hot springs and Van Trinh Cave.

 

After lunch we continue the trip to Hoa Lu. It was the Ancient Capital of Vietnam during the Dinh (968-80 and early Le (980-1009) dynasties, a smart choice for a capital city because of the natural protection.  Before returning to Hanoi, we visit to the remaining two temples of the King Dinh and the King Le in Yen Ngua Mountain, a scenic backdrop for Hoa Lu.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by car, 2 hours boat trip
Walking time: 1 - 2 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 16: Hanoi – Fly Dien Bien Phu – Dien Bien Phu Relic Tour

After breakfast, we take the first flight to Dien Bien Phu, one of the most remote parts of Vietnam. Dien Bien Phu is well known through out the world as a battle field in the first Indochina War. The city is 45 km from the Laos border, located in Muong Thanh Valley and surrounded by steep and heavily forested hills.

On arrival in Dien Bien Phu, we check into hotel and have lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, we visit the site of the battle. Our first stop at Dien Bien Phu Museum is very informative. We then continue to the bunker headquarters of the French commander Colonel de Castries.  On the other side of the bunkers is A1 Hill, where bitter fighting took place.  If time permits, you can visit Dien Bien Phu Cemetery that commemorates Vietnamese soldiers


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: Airport transfer
Walking time: 1 - 2 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 17: Dien Bien Phu – Muong Lay – Paso

Note - maps of this area unless printed after 2007 are inaccurate, all major towns between Dien Bien Phu and Sa Pa have been renamed after the provinces were redrawn.)

After breakfast, we drive to Muong Lay (old Lai Chau).  This town will be flooded when the Son La hydro electric project is complete!  We continue to Paso for lunch and then enjoy a boat trip on the Nam Na River in this quiet, remote part of Vietnam.swirling rice in northern Vietnam


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 - 4 hours car, boat tour
Walking time: limited
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 18:  Paso - Lai Chau – Sapa

The drive from Paso to Sapa is one of the most scenic and mountainous stretches of road in the whole of Viet Nam.  We pass many small villages of Red and White Hmong, Black Dao and White Thai ethnic minorities.  The road weaves its way through the picturesque valleys and mountains.  We ascend to the highest pass in Vietnam, “Heavens Gate Pass” slightly more than 2000 meter above sea level.  If the weather is clear the views here are magnificent, there are plenty of possibilities for making photo stops along the way.

We arrive in Sapa by lunch time. We check into hotel, refresh, enjoy lunch at a restaurant with a great mountain view and make a climb to Ham Rong Mount.  At the peak of Ham Rong is a Botanic Garden, Minority Dancing Show and a beautiful panoramic view of Sapa and the Hoang Lien Mountain Range.  Mount Fansipan can be seen on clear days, it is the highest peak in Indochina.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3.5 hours car
Walking time: 1 - 2 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L

 


Day 19: Sapa Valley Trek – Lao Cai – Night train to Hanoi

We first slip through the Sapa market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, we follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. We’ll stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before continuing the trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. We also will enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. We eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where we can take a rest while lunch is served nearby the river.

After lunch, you head toward Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through the Black Hmong minority village of Lao Chai and then the Giay minority village of Tavan. You will return Sapa from Tavan by car.

We repack our belonging and drive to Lao Cai for the night train back to Hanoi.  Before the train to Hanoi, we’ll make a short visit to the Vietnam/Chinese border and have a make an offering at the pagoda next to the Friendship Bridge crossing to China.  The train for Hanoi departs after 21:00.


Accommodation: 4 berth air conditioned sleeper berth
Transit: 2 hour
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy/Moderate, some stairs
Meal plan: B/L

 


Day 20: Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay

You arrive in Hanoi very early in the morning, transfer to hotel to refresh and have breakfast. We then leave for Ha Long through the Red River Delta with its scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday life in the villages. Upon arrival, you board a Traditional Style Junk and enjoy a well-prepared lunch of local fresh seafood while the junk cruises among thousand of odd shaped limestone islands. You will have opportunity to visit Surprise Grotto and have a swim at Titop beach or follow the steps all the way up to the top for a view over the Bay below.  You then have dinner on board while watching sunset.  Should you feel like taking another swim, there will plenty of time. Peaceful Ha Long Bay

 


Accommodation: Your choice of Junk from our list
Transit: 3 hours by car
Meal plan: B/L/D

 


Day 21: Ha Long – Hanoi

You enjoy breakfast in the fresh morning air and serenity of the bay while the junk continues its way among thousands of islets. You cruise through several beautiful views of Teapot Island, Chopstick Island, Horse Saddle and Charles De Gaulle Island.  You may wish for a swim before your lunch is served.  The Junk will disembark Halong wharf at noon, where your bus is waiting to transfer you back to Hanoi. You will arrive in Hanoi about 16.00.


Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 hours by car
Meal plan: B/L

 


Day 22: Hanoi - Departure

 

After breakfast at the hotel, you are free at leisure for shopping until transfer to Noi Bai airport for departure.

 

Transit: Airport transfer
Meal plan: B


Our trip includes

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transfer and pickup airport
  • Transportation by car or minivan
  • One way train ticket
  • Domestic flights
  • Tour as indicated
  • Entrance fee


Our trip excludes

  • International flights
  • Visa & visa arrangement
  • Meals not indicated
  • Drinking water, soft drink and alcohol
  • Tips & personal expenses

 Prices contact info@remoteasia.com