Vietnam: Discovery

Departures: Vietnam

Vietnam Discovery

Explore the many faces of Vietnam—from Hanoi’s French Quarter, to Halong Bay’s towering limestone islands, Saigon’s culinary focus, and the Mekong Delta’s floating markets. Vietnam is both unified and diverse with a thriving economy and an optimistic gaze fixed firmly on the future.


We believe that to travel responsibly, a portion of our tour cost should benefit the communities we visit. For this trip, our donation will go to PATH that has been working in Vietnam for over 35 years to improve access to health care including vaccines and immunizations; improving reproductive, maternal, and child health and nutrition, expanding health technologies, and disease treatment.


Starting at $3,390*

For more information and to get started, contact us at How to Book.



13 Days, 12 Nights

Day 1

Depart Home—Hanoi

Depart home and fly to Hanoi. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by your guide, who will assist you with your hotel transfer, orientation and check-in.

Day 2


After breakfast enjoy a private, guided half-day tour of Hanoi’s major sites, including the Temple of Literature—Vietnam’s first University, and Ngoc Son Temple, beautifully situated on a little island in Hoan Kiem Lake. This afternoon, attend a delightful Water Puppet performance, depicting rural daily life and traditions.

Day 3

Hanoi—City Tour

Continue your exploration of the capital with a rickshaw ride and walking tour of old quarter with its food vendors and antique shops. You may choose to visit the Museum of Ethnology which focuses on the 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam or the Women’s Museum which is dedicated to Vietnamese women and the role they’ve played in history, culture and the arts.

Afternoon at leisure.

Day 4

Hanoi—Halong bay

Depart Hanoi by road to the majestic Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arrive in Halong and board your deluxe ‘junk’ in time for lunch and begin cruising mystical Halong Bay.

In the afternoon, navigating between the karsts—some of which display extraordinary shapes—stop for a swim in the jade-colored waters of the Gulf of Tonkin (weather permitting). The day concludes with a cooking demonstration and preparation of tasty spring rolls. Other on board activities include Tai Chi, snorkeling, kayaking, movie nights, and spa services.

Day 5

Halong Bay Cruising

After breakfast, discover a series of caves and coves by rowboat or kayak. This remote part of the bay shelters semi-flooded tunnels and impressive limestone cliffs.

Lunch is served on board while the rest of the afternoon is spent cruising around to enjoy the amazing scenery. Various activities will be offered depending on time and weather conditions.

Day 6

Halong—Hoi An

Brunch will be served on board before disembarking and transferring to Hanoi by car. On the way, stop at Phu Lang Village in Bac Ninh for a short walk along a street lined with ceramics workshops. Afternoon check in at Hanoi airport for your flight to Da Nang where you will be met and transferred by private car to Hoi An.

Day 7

Hoi An—My Son—Hoi An

Explore two UNESCO World Heritage sites today with your private guide. First, drive to My Son, a Hindu temple complex built and occupied from the 4th – 14th centuries by the kings of Champa. Then return to Hoi An for lunch.

In the afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the Old Quarter of Hoi An with its historic houses, Japanese bridge, tailor shops, restaurants and lantern-filled streets. This is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port.

Day 8

Hoi An–Cooking Class

After breakfast, spend the morning with the team of Street International. This NGO prepares disadvantaged young people with the skills needed for the hotel and restaurant industry. After selecting ingredients at the local market, walk to the nearby school where the lesson begins. The course concludes with a lunch in their restaurant.

This afternoon is at leisure for shopping and exploring the town, or perhaps go for a swim at a nearby beach.

Day 9

Da Nang—Hue

After breakfast, depart by private car to Hue. On the way stop in Da Nang city, for a walk along picturesque My Khe beach (also known as ‘China Beach’). Visit the Lady Buddha statue with a view overlooking Da Nang Bay and cross scenic Hai Van Pass—descending to the imperial capital city of Hue.

Your guided afternoon tour will include lunch in a local restaurant and a visit to the Imperial City, the former seat of government. This sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates, shops, museums and galleries, features art and costumes from various periods of Vietnamese history.

Day 10


After breakfast, cruise on the famous Perfume River to reach the Celestial Lady pagoda, one of the most venerated sites in the city of Hue. Then visit the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang and the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam. The buildings and gardens have been shaped according to the directives of geomancy (Fengshui).

Optional village tour: Depart by bicycle to the ancient village of Thuy Bieu. The well-preserved communal houses, wooden architecture and Fengshui-based gardens, suggest a mingling of royal legacy and rustic lifestyle. Try your hand at making local handicrafts, take an herbal foot bath and join your hosts for a cooking demo and lunch.

Day 11

Hue—Ho Chi Minh City (aka HCMC or Saigon)

After breakfast, transfer to Hue airport for the morning flight to Saigon. You’re welcomed by your guide. Enjoy an afternoon tour of Saigon’s most interesting sites including the old colonial residential quarter, the French Colonial City Hall and Post Office, the Opera House, and Reunification Palace—which was used by the South Vietnamese President as a base of operations during the Vietnam War.

If desired, and time permitting you can also visit the War Museum, which contains exhibits, photographs and films relating to the ‘American’ war in Vietnam.

Day 12

Saigon—Cu Chi Tunnels or Cooking Class

Choose a market visit with a local chef followed by a cooking class or transfer to the city pier located downtown. Cruise the Saigon River by private speed boat to the historic Cu Chi Tunnels (about 1h15).

Visit the underground city, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels that are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Củ Chi tunnels were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. It is not necessary to enter the tunnels for an understanding of the site as many of the exhibits are above ground.

Return to Ho Chi Minh City around noon, remainder of the afternoon free for independent exploration—perhaps a visit to Ben Thanh Market.

A O show: The early evening is dedicated to an original cultural performance in the colonial-era Opera House. The various tableaux of traditional Vietnamese life are presented by a team of young artists as a pretext for spectacular acrobatics.

Day 13

Depart Saigon for home

After breakfast, time is at leisure or for last minute shopping before saying your goodbyes! Transfer to Saigon airport for the departure flight.


Choose to extend your stay to include Sapa & Northern Hill Tribes, Siem Reap & Angkor Wat, Cambodia, a short Mekong Delta cruise or a longer Mekong River Cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap.

For pricing and hotel information, contact us at How to Book. The specifics of this itinerary are subject to change based on local conditions at the discretion of Ponte Travels.

• Rates shown are per person, double occupancy. Airfare not included.