Essential Vietnam


11 days Hanoi to Saigon


Welcome to Cheap Vietnam Holidays...As we travel through Vietnam , we look forward to sharing our passion for this beautiful destination with you. As you explore this historic country you will marvel at the warmth of the people and the sheer beauty of the countryside. The faded ochre colonial buildings and wide tree lined boulevards make Hanoi a most attractive city and the maze of narrow streets in the Old Quarter are a delight to explore. Halong Bay takes you away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy cruising between the limestone peaks for an overnight stay on board. The imperial splendour of Hue , enchanting Hoi An and rural scenery of Mekong Delta combine to make this a most memorable trip. Finishing in dynamic Ho Chi Minh City , don't miss the Ben Thanh market for some fantastic shopping.



Take a cyclo ride in Hanoi 's Old Quarter, Dive into the emerald-green waters of Halong Bay , Explore Vietnam 's imperial past in Hue , Cycle among the rice paddies near Hoi An, Get a taste of local life in a Mekong Delta, Crawl down a Cu Chi Tunnel

itinerary disclaimer

The itinerary attached is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in reality. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Please note that our brochure is usually released by the end of each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to improve the itinerary. It is very important that you print a final copy of your Trip Dossier to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans


Hanoi - Halong bay – Hue - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon ) - Cu Chi Tunnels – Mekong Delta

Day 1 Hanoi arrival

You are met on arrival at Hanoi Airport and transferred to your hotel - please advise flight details at time of booking. Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a charming city of about 4 million people, famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards and verdant public parks. The city centre is an architectural museum piece, its blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a provincial French town of the 1930s, contrary to the fast living and bustling air of Saigon. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South East Asian countries, Hanoi's Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and tangle of ancient streets. The city hums with the never ending flow of bicycles, cyclos, latest model Mercedes Benzs and everything from the racy new Honda Dreams to 30 year old Russian motor bikes. The rest of your day is at leisure for independent exploration - a walking tour of the old quarter is a wonderful way to spend some of the day. You will find an amazing selection of shops in Hang Gai selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths and CDs.

Overnight: Hanoi A1 hotel or similar

Meals included: none


Day 2 Ha Long bay, Junk overnight

After breakfast we drive to Halong Bay (approx. 4 hours) and board our private boat. We enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch on board while cruising through some of the thousands of limestone karsts within this World Heritage site. There is an opportunity to swim in the bay's emerald waters, explore caves with incredible formations of stalactites and stalagmites and enjoy the tranquility of this bay of wonders. We spend the night in on board our boat.

Overnight: On board deluxe junk boat

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 3 Return to Hanoi

On the morning of day 3 we keep cruising for more exploration of Halong Bay before heading back to port for the transfer back, we may be able to visit Dong Trieu ceramic village as we make our way back to the capital, one of the favourite cities, there is free time to venture into the Old Quarter, stroll the tree-lined boulevards or enjoy the tranquility of the lakes.
In the evening we attend a performance of traditional water puppetry.

Overnight: Hanoi A1 hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast and lunch



You absolutely must go to a Water Puppet Show (mua roi nuoc) when you are in Hanoi …especially if you have children or are a child at heart. They are absolutely charming and it’s a uniquely Vietnamese art form that you really won’t find anywhere else in the world. The stage is a small pool and the puppeteers hide behind a screen…so the brightly colored puppets come in and out of the water in amazing ways. The live music is wonderful and here is quite a cast of puppets from men fishing, to dancing women, a wide variety of animals …and of course fireworks and some modern stage effects. The hour show is done entirely in Vietnamese with accompanied by traditional Vietnamese sting instruments. It consists of short skits of traditional Vietnamese stories (that if you’ve been in Vietnam for awhile you will know). But you won’t need to know the stories or language to be totally enthralled. It was such a wonderful show that when you leave you will be “walking on water” !

Day 4 Hanoi sightseeing, overnight train to Hue

On the morning of day 4 we visit the Ho Chi Minh complex. We see Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, his house on stilts and the museum. There is time afterwards to take in some more sights of Hanoi or simply rest before the train journey. Our adventure aboard the Reunification Express begins with the overnight journey to Hue. We use 4-berth, soft sleeper compartments, which are simple but comfortable.

Overnight: Reunification Express train, private soft sleeper cabin

Meals included: Breakfast


Days 5-6 Hue

We arrive in Hue, another World Heritage site. The pace of life is slow and tranquility prevails in this former imperial capital of Vietnam. We have the opportunity to visit the Imperial Citadel, one of the Nguyen emperors' tombs, the famed Thien Mu Pagoda, and also enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River. With 2 full days here, there is time to explore the city's many Buddhist pagodas, outlying handicraft villages and the busy Dong Ba Market. Enjoying a coffee at one of the riverside coffee shops at sunset is also an experience not to be missed.

Overnight: Asia hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfasts



When Hue was established as the country’s capital by Nguyen Emperor Gia Long, he built a vast citadel with the Imperial City at its centre, designed in keeping with the symmetrical layout of the Forbidden City in Beijing (about a north-south axis). During it’s period of prosperity the Imperial City consisted of some 148 splendidly decorated buildings - palaces, assembly halls, pavilions, ancestral alters, and gardens spread over 6km2. During the Vietnam War the site was devastated, but a number of the buildings have now been restored to their former glory.


Built in 1601, by Lord Nguyen Hoang, this is Hue ’s oldest and finest pagoda, romantically situated on the banks of the Perfume River . The pagoda takes its name from a legend about a lady who appeared to Nguyen Hoang and told him of the spiritual significance of this place by the river. He erected the pagoda to mark the event and the importance of the site. Throughout its history, the pagoda has been a centre for Buddhism in Hue and, more famously, its monks waged strong opposition to colonialism and the repression of Buddhists by President Diem in the 60s.


Unlike other Emperors in Vietnam ’s history, who were buried in ancestral villages, the Nguyen rulers had grand mausoleums built as their final resting places. They are situated in the forested valley of the Perfume River, 12km away from Hue city, surrounded by lovely gardens - a wonderfully tranquil place to spend a couple of hours.

Days 7- 8 Hoi An & Sandy Beach

Leaving Hue, our bus journey takes us south through rural countryside and the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co before ascending the dramatic Hai Van Pass. We drive the short distance south to famous Sandy Beach and then to the newly declared World Heritage Site of Hoi An (approx. 4 hours). Once a thriving river port, the town's architecture has been preserved and restored. This small town is a favourite with CTV passengers and leaders alike, and wandering the streets and narrow alleyways brings hours of pleasure and discovery. Today's trade is in ceramics, wood-ware, paintings and tailoring. There is something here for everyone and it is the perfect place to pick up gifts for those at home. There are options here for a half day tour to My Son, another World Heritage of Vietnam, or a boat trip to the handicraft villages of Kim Bong carpentry, Thanh Ha ceramics or simply lazing the day away on a neaby beach.

Overnight: Hai Au hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 8 Sai Gon

You are transferred to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City (included). You are met on arrival at Ho Chi Minh City Airport and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, there is much for you to discover on your own, how about scooting off on cyclos to Cholon, the Chinatown area of Ho Chi Minh City for a spot of temple hopping? Or perhaps you'd like to visit the Vietnamese version of a department store for some shopping - the choice is yours!

Overnight: Tan Hai Long 1 hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Days 9-10 Mekong Delta - Cu Chi tunnels

Today we travel south to Mekong Delta, this is our introduction to a world where life depends on the river. After 1,5 hours driving, we arrive in My Tho, you will enjoy different type of boat trip (motorized boat trip and rowing boat trip) to islands where you can visit local houses, see how they make delicious coconut caramels and enjoy some tropical fruit here, we jump on the car again for a drive to Can Tho City, across My Thuan Suspension Bridge and cross the Hau River by ferry. Upon arrival, you check in the hotel and relax after a long journey.

Overnight: Sai Gon Can Tho hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

Get up very early for breakfast so that we will be on time to catch amazing scene of Cai Rang Floating Market. The guide will pick you up in the early morning, check out and transfer you to the boat quay. Now you start a cruise to explore the floating markets
Leaving the market, you will take another boat trip along the river bank and canals to see how people there live, visit another orchard for relaxation. After that, you will boat to big river and have lunch at a floating restaurant docking at Can Tho River before re-boarding our car and heading to the tunnels of Cu Chi (approx. 4 hours). This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people.
We return to Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon

Overnight: Tan Hai Long 1 hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Floating markets are held every morning from 5:00 to about 11:00. On the floating markets you do not only find people buying and selling goods, you also find floating restaurants, floating bars, floating gas stations, and many other floating shops. Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit. Canals are here the easiest and fastest way of transportation. All big boats have a pole and each wholesaler hangs the goods he buys/sells on this pole. This way, people on small boats know where they have to go from a certain distance. Port Ninh Kieu, in Can Tho, is the center of local activity. A ferry crosses the river from this port to the local island of Xom Chai. This island is a nice visit, specially during the sun set.

Day 11 Departure

Today is at your leisure in Ho Chi Minh City. You are free for more exploration before transfer to Sai Gon airport for the flight home. Extra nights can be added in Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals included: Breakfast


Tour includes:
• Accommodation with daily breakfasts
• Extra meals as per the itinerary
• All transfers and transportation as dedicated in the itinerary
• Tours and excursions as described in the program
• Local English speaking tour guide
• Entrance fees and permits where applicable during guided time
Tour excludes:
• International flights and visas
• Pre & post trip arrangements
• Transfers beyond the itinerary
• Entrance fees and permits during free time
• Travel insurance (compulsory)
• Food & drinks not mentioned within the itinerary
• Tips and gratuities
• Expenses of a personal nature such as bar bills, laundry and telephone charges
• Other services not clearly described in the program


General Notes:
• Cheap Vietnam Holidays reserves the right to alter or revise the prices and the itinerary when circumstances beyond the company's control deem it necessary.
• Accommodation in hotels is subject to availability. If the listed hotels are fully booked, alternate accommodation will be offered at the same level.
• If there are any requests regarding special meals, dietary requirements, early check in, late check out, adjoining room and so on, please inform the company when booking. Such requests are subject to confirmation and availability.


Before you travel it is essential that you read carefully this dossier which you can download from our website.

We regularly update our dossiers. Please check our website to ensure that you have the most up to date copy

The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and DOES NOT form part of a contract between the client and Cheap Vietnam Holidays