Quintessential Vietnam (12 days)
From: $0
US$ 1195 per person (based on a group of 2 people)
US$ 902 per person (based on a group of 4 people)
US$ 820 per person (based on a group of 6 people)

Code: E-VCLZZ0102
Tour Style: Classic
Duration: 12 days
Difficulty Comfort Exclusivity
Home » Vietnam » Classic Tours » Quintessential Vietnam (12 days)

This tour takes you to the quintessential destinations from the North to the South of Vietnam. In 12 days, you will visit Hanoi capital, explore Hanoi’s fascinating Old Quarter on a cyclo and enjoy a traditional water puppet performance. Cruise through stunning Ha Long Bay on a traditional junk and kayak through stunning limestone karst scenery. Be charmed by the former imperial capital, Hue, with the remains of the royal palace, and mausoleums of several emperors and then discover Hoi An ancient town with its narrow streets of traditional houses and myriad of shops. Visit Hoi An silk village to get a glimpse into the manufacture of traditional silk and the Cham people’s brocade cloth. Get a taste of frenetic Ho Chi Minh City. Spend a different and unforgettable night on the famous Bassac cruise to venture deep into the Mekong Delta and get a real taste of local life. Visit the famous Cao Dai temple, the Holy See of the Cao Dai religion and crawl through the Cu Chi tunnels.

Explore the Ben Tre and Cai Rang floating villages to venture deep into the Mekong delta and get a real taste of local life.


  • Brief Itinerary

Day 01: Hanoi Arrival.

Day 02: Hanoi City.

Day 03: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay.

Day 04: Ha Long Bay - Hue (by air).

Day 05: Hue Royal Tombs - Cruise on Perfume River.

Day 06: Hue - Danang - Hoi An.

Day 07: Hoi An ancient town - Silk Village.

Day 08: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City (by air).

Day 09: Ho Chi Minh City - Cao Dai - Cu Chi Tunnels.

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Tre “Coconuts homeland” - Can Tho.

Day 11: Can Tho - Cai Rang floating market - Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City departure.


  • Trip Grade:

Moderate - Suitable for travellers with an average level of fitness and mobility. However, some walking and hiking is required.

  • Weather:

Undoubtedly, weather is one of the determining factors for your traveling decisions. If you are heading to Vietnam, then, take it easy to make up your mind. Vietnam’s climate is not just steamy hot as what you are frequently exposed to on movies. All year round here, there is always a perfect place where it is pleasant to stay. Basically, the whole country falls into the tropic and subtropics but its stretching length and diverse topography allow it to span several different climate zones. The weather thus, tends to vary considerably from season to season and also from region to region.

Northern Part

The North of Vietnam is generally cooler than other South East Asian regions in the same longitude. It experiences two main distinct seasons. In winter months, the weather gets colder and colder from November to March and considerably warmer in April (a leap into summer). This is also time to observe much cloud and frequent drizzle. The average winter temperature is 17.2°C (62.9°F). Particularly, the mountainous areas (Northwest) are often much colder, temperature may keep below 10°C (50°F) for long period. Ice and snow even cover Hoang Lien Son Mountains and nearby Sapa town for some times with the lowest record of -3°C (26.6°F) in Feb 2008.

In the summer (from May to October), the whole region is quite hot. Temperature may rise to 37°C (98.6 °F) in the peaks of June and July. Hanoi and coastal provinces around the Red River Delta generally enjoy equitable weather with high average humidity (80%) all year round though they may occasionally be subjected to typhoons and heavy rain in late summers (September to November). Vietnamese people even identify four seasons in the Northern provinces (from Hai Van Pass toward the north) with their distinct features: pleasant spring (typically March-April) and autumn (October-December), a chilly winter (December- February) and a hot summer (June – July).

Central Part

The Central Vietnam with two sub-regions, coastal lowlands and central highlands, can be seen as an in-between climatic area of the North and the South. The coastal strip is usually dry and hotter than the rest in the summer, as the Truong Son Mountains do not allow it to enjoy most rainfall of south-western monsoon (from April to October). Unprotected coasts in their turn, however, make it wet and colder than the rest in winter-monsoon season (from November to March). Also, storms and typhoons strike this area more frequently than the northern coasts in summer months (from July to November). The Central Highlands in particular enjoys nearly double the average rainfall of the country. Two biggest towns in this plateau, Dalat and Pleiku, are ideally cool throughout the year. Near-the-south coastal cities, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang and Phan Thiet, on the contrary, experiences steamy hot weather (21°C-32°C / 70°F-90°F) all year round.

Southern Part

The South of Vietnam, merely 8 degrees north of the Equator, is typical of humid tropical climate which is excellent for growing rice. The region’s temperatures experience little variations in a year (around 27-32°C/80-90°F). There are two main seasons: the rainy and the dry. During the rainy/monsoon season (from May to November), downpours are expected to happen nearly every afternoon, resulting in occasional street flooding in and around Saigon. In the dry season, it is hot from late February to April then slightly cooler when first downpours come. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) enjoys rather equitable tropical climate with high humidity all year round. December to March is said to be the most pleasant time to hit this region’s center.

Note: In all, Vietnam climate is so diverse that there is almost no definition of an average temperature for the whole country. Thanks to these regional variations in weather, generally, you can drop in Vietnam at any time of year. Commonly, based on the duration of your stay, you should plan to catch the good weather and places by either dropping in Saigon in February or March then following the coast to north or hitting Hanoi in October-November then tracing southward.

Day 01: Hanoi Arrival.
You are welcomed by your guide and driver at Noi Bai international airport and then transferred to your hotel for check in. Free time at your leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi.


Day 02: Hanoi city.

After breakfast at the hotel, today you will have a full-day city tour starting with the Ho Chi Minh complex (Closed on Monday and Friday mornings and the whole of September and October for annual repairs). You visit the One Pillar Pagoda, founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049. This structure has become an important symbol for the people of Hanoi. Our next stop will be the Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university. Constructed in 1070, the temple is dedicated to one of the world’s most famous scholars, Confucius. Inside the temple grounds, huge stone stele rest on the backs of even larger stone turtles (in Vietnamese culture the turtle represents longevity).

Your lunch is recommendable (cost not included) at Cha Ca Street with “Cha Ca La Vong”, a favorite dish of Hanoians, (listed in ‘1000 places to visit before you die’), you continue with a visit to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The museum has successfully recreated the daily life together with the religious rituals and the symbolic festivals of each ethnic group in Vietnam. Visitors have the opportunity to admire costumes and embroidery as well as outside stilt houses and habitats from the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam.

Then you take a short walk to visit the oldest bridge in Hanoi, the Long Bien Bridge, to take photos and see the local life of Hanoi people before enjoying a cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as “36 streets.” This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It’s a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you. You will travel around the famous Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) in the heart of Hanoi.

Start your evening with a traditional water puppet performance (Roi Nuoc). The stage is actually a large container of water where the characters (carved wooden puppets) “act” out the story. Most of the stories are whimsical and fun, and the puppeteers stand in waist deep water behind a screen controlling the puppets with rods that mostly are under the water. Your dinner is recommendable (cost not included) at Wild Rice restaurant then some free time at your leisure to explore Hanoi nightlife.

Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: Breakfast


Day 03: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay.

After breakfast at the hotel you depart for Ha Long City (170 km), approximately three hours away to visit Ha Long Bay (a World Natural Heritage site and a New World’s Wonder). Ha Long bay features thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various sizes and shapes with 1969 islets. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves; others support floating villages of fishermen. You have a chance to observe close-up, the scenic countryside of Vietnam dominated by enormous lush rice fields.

On arrival at Ha Long you check in between 11:30 - 12:00 at the boat port. Enjoy a refreshing welcome cocktail on the sun deck. Enjoy lunch as the vessel sails to Ha Long Bay passing the Fighting Cocks islet, the Elephant Leg islet, the Castle islet, and the Soi Sim Island. Arrive at Surprise Grotto - one of the most famous grottos in Ha Long Bay; you will visit the cave by tender. After taking photos and admiring the beauty of the cave you visit a fishing village by local rowing boat (1 hour) with the opportunity to interact with the fishermen who have been living in the bay for almost three generations after which you return to the vessel for free time at your leisure.

You can swim in the clear emerald waters, soak up the sun over a cool beer on the top deck sun lounge or try your hand at some kayaking (at additional cost) amongst the huge limestone outcrops that surround us. You retire to the junk and relax on the top deck and enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar. We all enjoy a Vietnamese cooking demonstration on the sundeck. Your delicious seafood dinner will be served in the restaurant. You stay overnight onboard for an unforgettable experience.

Overnight onboard
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

(The itinerary above may be changed depending on the cruise we choose and is weather permitting).


Day 04: Ha Long Bay - Fly to Hue.

Greet the morning with Tai Chi exercises and an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. Sitting on the upper desk you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the rocky islands rising from the crystal-clear water of the bay. You can hear the birds singing, cicadas chirping ashore and the gentle lapping of the waves against our boat, the perfect soundtrack to accompany the fresh air and gentle breeze. An international brunch buffet is served in the restaurant. Check out on board and disembark at Ha Long city.

Your tour guide and driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport to take a short domestic flight to Hue city (1 hour). On arrival, you are welcomed and transferred to the hotel for check in. Free time at your leisure

Overnight in Hue.
Meals: Brunch


Day 05: Hue Royal Tombs - Cruise on Perfume River.

After breakfast at the hotel you will be set off on a boat trip along the romantic Perfume River, carrying us through a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes, where Hue’s best-known religious sites are located. You will visit Thien Mu Pagoda - one of the oldest ancient architectural structures for religious worship in Hue. We continue to visit the Mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes. This impressive landmark reflects the beautiful architecture, intricate decor and mysterious statues. Afterwards we take a short drive though the rolling hills to see the elaborate Royal Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc - One of the most beautifully designed complexes among the tombs of the Nguyen dynasty. Embedded in a lush pine forest, this tomb is the final resting place of Emperor Tu Duc (1848-83) who had the longest reign of all emperors of the Nguyen dynasty.

Your lunch is recommendable (cost not included) at the Tinh Gia Vien Restaurant.
Then after lunch you continue with a visit to the Hue Citadel complex including the Royal Citadel and the Forbidden Citadel, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, set up by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945, and is now one of the most famous relics of the Hue ancient capital.

The sightseeing continues with a walk to the bustling Dong Ba market; it is fantastic to wander along the boulevards, through the verdant parks and by the ochre buildings that retain an old-world charm. It sells all manner of items and is a lively place to spend a couple of hours; Dong Ba is also famous for making the best conical hats in Vietnam. 

Tonight you will have a chance to enjoy a “Royal Dinner“. Enjoy delicious food while listening to melodic music and feel like a King and Queen as everyone wears traditional royal clothes. All the served food is royal and includes fantastic carved vegetables in the shape of a dragon, phoenix, or peacock.

Overnight in Hue
Meals: Breakfast and dinner


Day 06: Hue - Danang - Hoi An.

After breakfast you continue with a visit to the Hue Citadel complex including the Royal Citadel and the Forbidden Citadel, both UNESCO World Heritage sites, set up by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945, and is now one of the most famous relics of the Hue ancient capital.

Your lunch is recommendable (cost not included) at the Tropical Garden Restaurant.

You continue your trip to Da Nang (110km). On arrival, you’ll have a brief look at the remarkable Hindu statues in the Cham Museum. We have a stopover at Marble Mountain, a cluster of marble and limestone hills south of Da Nang. Visit one of the pagodas and explore a nearby stone-cutting craft village before leaving for Hoi An ancient town (35km) - an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Hoi An has 1,068 ancient houses, 19 pagodas, 43 temples, 23 communal houses, 38 family temples, 5 assembly halls, 11 old wells, one bridge, and 44 ancient tombs. In the Old Quarter, there are more than 1000 relic sites. Free time at your leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast.


Day 07: Hoi An ancient town - Silk Village.

After breakfast at the hotel you enjoy a trip to visit a Silk Village where you can get a glimpse into the manufacture of Quang Nam’s traditional silk and the Cham people’s brocade cloth. You can study 40 kinds of mulberry, ancient styles of looms and silkworm breeds. You can also admire a collection of old costumes by 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam displayed in ancient houses. Incase you wish to have a tailored costume made or eat traditional Quang Nam food like Cao Lau (a soup made with noodles, pork and greens), mi quang (noodles Quang Nam style) and Com Niue (rice cooked in an earthenware pot), you can ask the artisans at the village.

To start off this trip you will visit a traditional house in Quang Nam and listen to the story of the craft of silk production in Quang Nam. You continue with a look at the collection of Vietnamese Ao Dai and costumes of 54 Vietnamese ethnic groups. Next you see the ancient Chapa mulberry and traditional mulberry garden, followed by a visit to the silkworm breeding house, where we learn how to feed the silkworms and to see the silkworm cocoons. You find out how to unravel the silkworm cocoons in the traditional way. Finally we discover the traditional handicraft textiles of Chapa and learn how to make Champa people’s traditional items. You will have leisure time to relax in the lush green mulberry garden and enjoy the local dishes.

In the afternoon, you enjoy a walk around the historic town soaking up the atmosphere, exploring the many Chinese assembly halls and fascinating ancestral homes, some of which have been occupied by the same family for fifteen generations. One of the most spectacular Assembly Halls is the Phuc Kien assembly hall, built in 1690. The pagoda inside contains intricate statues and artwork, in part dedicated to Thien Hau Than Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and protector of fishermen.

A walking tour of the ancient town centre takes us to the sites of former merchants’ homes, and to the 400-year old Japanese Covered bridge, the symbol of Hoi An. The Japanese Covered bridge was the first bridge in Hoi An and was constructed in 1593. It was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream.

The town is also famous for its shops in particular its large number of tailors. If you wanted, you could have a whole new wardrobe made for you here. You can enjoy browsing and shopping in one of the most colorful local marketplaces in all of Southeast Asia.

Your dinner is recommendable (cost not included) at the Nam Long Restaurant after which you have free time at your leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An.
Meals: Breakfast.


Day 08: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City (by air).

After breakfast at the hotel you will have free time until you transfer to the airport to take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). On arrival you are welcomed and transferred to the hotel for check in.

In the afternoon you enjoy a tour of many of the major sights in Ho Chi Minh City. First stop is Notre Dame Catholic cathedral and a short visit to French built post office nearby, after which we will visit the War Remnants museum, which primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Discover the history and fascinating street life of Ho Chi Minh City on a walking tour along Dong Khoi Street, known as Rue Catinat in French-colonial times.

Tonight you will be transfer to Binh Quoi village, where you are welcomed by friendly country villagers dressed in typically northern traditional clothes, appreciating the rich traditional southern Vietnamese cuisine and enjoy a traditional Vietnamese wedding ceremony. The show will tell you the story of the Southern Vietnamese traditional wedding with folk music and classic melodies, with some rituals expressing Vietnamese humanity. Later you have free your time to explore the Ho Chi Minh City nightlife.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Meals: Breakfast, dinner.


Day 09: Ho Chi Minh City - Cao Dai - Cu Chi Tunnels.

After breakfast at the hotel you travel by road about 100km to Tay Ninh province. Here you will see the famous Cao Dai temple, the Holy See of the Cao Dai religion, a unique combination of the Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam with colorful ceremonies that are unique to observe. Join Cao Dai worshippers for their daily noon ceremony where hundreds of worshipers attired in lively red, yellow blue and white, chant religious hymns.

Your lunch is recommendable at a local restaurant (cost not included) and then drive to the infamous Cu Chi tunnels. The incredible underground network in Cu Chi stretched for over 200 kilometers and became legendary during the American war. The extensive tunnels were specially constructed with living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres, plus accommodation.

On arrival at the Cu Chi tunnels, you watch a short introductory video showing how they were constructed, then spend the next hour exploring the maze of tunnels; you will even have a chance to crawl through the tunnels. Also on display are various mantraps, the remains of an American tank and numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs dropped by B52 bombers after which we transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City where you have free time at your leisure to relax or explore the lively Ho Chi Minh City nightlife

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Meals: Breakfast.


Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City - Ben Tre “Coconuts homeland”- Can Tho

After breakfast at the hotel you journey south to the Mekong Delta, known as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’, and spend a full day exploring one of Vietnam’s most fertile regions and the main cultivation area of rice and tropical fruits.

Next, you will be transfer to the “Coconuts Homeland”, Ben Tre (2 hours),The boat will cruise along the Ham Luong river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including a brickworks, where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand; a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products; and a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself!

The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can have a short walk to experience real Delta village life, before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) and traveling into the forest where you can visit fruit orchards before stopping at a riverside restaurant for a delicious and filling lunch (cost not included), featuring such local specialties as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers (cost not included).

It’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. You take the boat back to the pier where you meet your driver and transfer to Can Tho City where you have some free your time at leisure.

Your dinner is recommendable (cost not included) at the Sao Hom Restaurant.

Overnight in Can Tho.
Meals: Breakfast.


Day 11: Can Tho - Cai Rang floating market - Ho Chi Minh City.

After breakfast at our hotel you enjoy a short walk to Ninh Kieu pier to take a sampan to Cai Rang floating market - One of the most interesting sights in the delta. Every boat has a long upright pole on its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung. During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes.

Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners.

You stops at a Bun Tau noodle factory and take a short trek before arriving at a rice-husking mill. You can even try passing one of the many fragile monkey bridges along the canals - a great place for photos. 

Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City where you have some free time at your leisure.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch.


Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City departure.

After breakfast at the hotel you have some free time to relax or shop at the famous Ben Thanh market - the symbol of Ho Chi Minh City, then you will be transfer to Tan Son Nhat international airport for our departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast

This tour is private and can be tailor-made to suit your travel needs. As a result the price is quoted in US dollars and shown on a per-person basis. The 'Price From' quoted above is for parties of 2, 4 and 6 people and for accommodation in 3 star hotels. The final price will be privately quoted, based on the number in your party, your preferred time of travel, grade of hotel and any additional services requested. Please click on the BOOK NOW button and fill in the booking form, after which one of our travel consultants will customize the best value holiday for you.




We are aware that a good tour must have good hotels. In Indochina particularly, hotel price makes up most of the cost of your Cambodia cycling, Vietnam cycling, Laos cycling, Myanmar cycling or Thailand cycling. All of our prices are calculated on a twin-shared basis. As a guide, Travel Loops defines hotel grades as follows:

>>Superior Level (3 star hotels in good locations): > 40 USD/room/night
>>Deluxe Level (4 star hotels): > 80 USD/room/night
>>Luxury Level (5 star hotels): > 180 USD/room/night

Price based on twin shared accommodation.
Tour price is indicative only, please enquire for a detailed quotation.
More people means more discount. Please enquire for more details

If, after reviewing the details of this tour, you would like to receive a "Special Offer" tour price, just click on the "INQUIRY" button below. If you wish to “Tailor Make" your trip, simply click on the "CUSTOMIZE TRIP" and enter your contact details.



  • Experienced English speaking guide
  • Private transportation by air-conditioned vehicle
  • Accommodation in double/twin sharing rooms with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Bottled drinking water for sightseeing
  • All sightseeing entrance fee where required in the itinerary.


  • International/domestic airfares & tax
  • Visa fees
  • Travel Insurance. (We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance from home)
  • Personal expenditure (telephone, laundry, shopping and so on…)
  • Tips for guide, driver, porters and project cost
  • Beverage and alcoholic drinks
  • Any other services not clearly mentioned on itinerary and trip inclusive portion.

 The hotels listed below are just our suggestions offering the best value for this trip according to the hotel category chosen, but Travel Loops also offers more options to cater for different grades, personal taste, and budget. Please let us know if you have any specific choice of hotels, or personal preferences/requirements.

Note: Our choices for each level of accommodation have been highlighted in orange. As mentioned above our selection criteria are based on: prior client reviews, hotel management and staff training, facilities maintenance, location, business relationship and advantages given exclusively to our clients on price and service.

Quintessential Vietnam (12 days)
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