DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN HANOI
Arrive in Hanoi, the national capital and the heart of Vietnam’s growing economy. After dealing with immigration formalities, meet the local guide and leave the airport for the city center to check-in at the hotel. After some time to recuperate from the long flight, and if time permit, take a first orientation tour of the city. Begin with a visit to the Museum of Ethnology with its striking exhibition on the diverse ethnic groups inhabiting the country, their rich culture, traditions, and unique customs and clothing. Then pay a visit to Ngoc Son Temple by the Hoan Kiem Lake right at the city center, the place at which city dwellers come to enjoy an evening in leisure as temperatures turn down. After a walk along the lakeside, hop atop a traditional rickshaw for a one-hour tour of the old city. In the evening revert to the hotel for the first night in Vietnam.
DAY 2. HANOI URBAN SITES
Enjoy a full day of touring Hanoi and its sites. Begin at Ba Dinh Square, just out of the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, affectionately known to Vietnamese as ‘Uncle Ho’- the leader of the counter-revolution against the French and widely accepted as the Father of the Nation. Then continue to Uncle Ho’s residence before visiting the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, which has an interesting display of traditional gardens and architecture that has inspired generations of Vietnamese scholars. At the evening visit the workshop of a local Water Puppet Artisan. The Water Puppet Show is an art form unique to Vietnam, and so are the unique puppets that are used for this art form. Hear from Mr. Phan about this generations’ long tradition, and see how he puts together the puppets. Then enjoy a private Water Puppet Show before reverting to the hotel for a second night in Hanoi.
DAY 3. TO SAPA
This morning embark on a 5-hours’ ride over the new highway connecting the Vietnamese capital to the northern region of Lao Cai. Prior to 1912, when the French built a sanatorium for sick officers, the area was solely inhabited by hill tribes, mainly the H’mong, the Yao, the Tay, and the Giay. Located high in the mountain range of northern Vietnam, the Sapa region enjoys a very agreeable climate unlike that in the Vietnamese lowlands, which are hot and humid. This northern area attracted French people of all walks of life, among them missionaries and biologists. Over time, the growing presence of the French army stabilized the political borders with neighboring China, which made Sapa into a major trading city. At the afternoon enjoy a magnificent cable car ride to the top of Fanxipan, the highest peak on the Indochina Peninsula. This 20 minutes’ ride which takes passengers to the peak at 3,413 meters, reveals the beautiful ridge and hidden valleys of Sapa region. After exploring the impressive site built on the peak, take the ride back to Sapa, and enjoy an evening stroll through the lively night market.
DAY 4. HIKING AMID MINORITY VILLAGES
On the fourth day of this Vietnam private tour, head to Hoang Lien National Park to the trailhead near Sin Chai village. Prepare for exploring Sapa’s “off the beaten track” with beautiful views of high mountains, waterfalls and deep valleys. Walk to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu, meet the villagers, enjoy a cup of green tea in their traditionally built home, and learn about their history and traditions. Then follow a small dirt trail and soon be owed by the marvelous view of the deep valley carved with rice terraces and dotted with bamboo huts which used by local farmers as overnight lodge during harvesting season. Walk along the terraces, cross the river, and enjoy an easy hike to Nam Cang village. Follow the guide to explore the village’s surroundings and learn how the local villagers producing rice paper, jewelry and embroidery. A swim in the river is optional if weather and time permit. At the afternoon transfer back to Sapa, for a second night in the charming town.
DAY 5. BAC HA MINORITY MARKET AND BACK TO HANOI
Leave Sapa and drive to Bac Ha township, where a weekly tribal market takes place. The locals, from different ethnic groups, gather to trade mostly agricultural produce but also a variety of handicrafts, and to purchase their own supplies. This is a unique opportunity to see in one place a great variety of ethnic groups, some of whom live up in the mountains where it is nearly impossible to visit them. Walk through the bustling market amid the colorful booths to see the locals as they sit for a cup of tea and exchange information on who has married whom, whose child has left for the city, and other important items of news. In the afternoon take the five-hours’ drive back to Hanoi, arriving back in the capital city rather late in the evening.
DAY 6. FROM HANOI TO NINH BINH
Leave Hanoi and head to Ninh Binh Province. Here, take a bicycle trip amidst ancient villages, pause to greet the locals as they work their vegetables plots, and be invited to extend help. At the afternoon head to Tam Coc, also known as the ‘Ha Long on the land’ because its limestone formations resemble those at Ha Long. Take a small boat and cruise among the caves and stunning formations. In the evening drive to Ninh Binh, the provincial capital, and stay the night there.
DAY 7. CRUISING HA LONG BAY
Depart Ninh Binh in the morning and drive towards the Gulf of Tonkin. On arriving, take a small boat ride to board a ship for a relaxing 24-hour cruise and exploration of the magical Lan Ha Bay, the less known and less touristy part of Ha Long Bay which has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its landscape, geology, and geomorphology. This cruise is a must-do on every Vietnam private tour! At the evening enjoy some time to relax and enjoy a mouthwatering dinner while cruising amidst the stunning bay landscapes. Overnight aboard the ship.
Note: Visits and activities of the cruise might slightly differ depending on each ship’s itinerary. Your tour guide will be replaced by a local cruise manager onboard during the cruise.
DAY 8. BY AIR TO DANANG AND HOI AN
Wake up onboard the ship. Those rising early are invited to a Tai Chi session on the ship’s deck to welcome the sun rising over the bay. Then enjoy a kayaking excursion through the bay’s quite waters. Enjoy brunch as the ship makes its way back to land. Upon arrival back on solid ground, board the vehicle and head to Hai Phong airport, for the flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival in Da Nang, meet the local guide and take the 1-hour’s drive to Hoi An. If time permit, take a first orientation tour through the narrow alleys of the old city before setting in the hotel for the night.
Note: Breakfast, lunch or brunch will be served on board depending on each ship’s program.
DAY 9. EXPLORING ANCIENT HOI AN
After breakfast drive out of Hoi An to My Son, the ruins of an ancient Champa city. In a lush green valley stand dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. Visit this significantly important historic site, and on the way back to Hoi An pause by Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of a Champa kingdom hast ruled the region between the 4th and 8th centuries. Early in the afternoon arrive back in Hoi An.
From the 1st century AD, Hoi An played a major role as a trade center because boats had easy access to its port, which was then the largest in South-East Asia. From the 7th to the 10th century, the city became a strategic trade hub on the Spice Trade route. With such a significant role, the city attracted traders from the all over the world, among them Japanese, Chinese, Indians, and even Europeans from Holland, France, and Spain, who settled there and brought their cultural and architectural influences with them. In 1999 the old city of Hoi An was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Take an afternoon tour of the old city, visiting sites such as the Japanese Bridge, built by the Japanese community of tradesmen in the 16th century, the Fujian Congregation Hall built as a community center by Chinese traders also in the 16th century, the Hoi An Museum, with its detailed display on the rich history of the city and its international inhabitants, as well as visits to various typical buildings throughout the old town. In the evening revert to the hotel for a second night in Hoi An.
DAY 10. FLY TO CANTHO
This morning drive to Danang. Visit the local Cham Museum, featuring a permanent display of Cham sculptures. It is assumed that the Cham people originated from the Indonesian islands, from where they brought over their Indic native culture. And thus, the sculptures tell the story of how the early Indic culture has slowly assimilated into the local culture, with the sculptures and figurines gradually adopting local themes and religious iconography. Then drive to Danang airport for the afternoon flight to Can Tho, the largest city of the Mekong Delta. This is where the mighty Mekong, the world’s 12th longest river, ends its 4,350-km (approx. 2,700 miles) journey from the heights of the Tibetan Plateau through the territory of six countries all the way to the South China Sea. The river’s delta spreads over 40,500 sq. km (15,600 sq. mi), and is home to communities which thrives on fishery, agriculture, small scale industry and trade through the natural and manmade canals running along the islands and islets which form the delta. Upon landing in Can Tho pay a visit to the over 100 years old Binh Thuy house, where the current generation of the Duong family lives in the house built by the family’s forefather back in 1807. Serving as a magnificent example of fusion between colonial plantation-style architecture, Chinese traditional architecture and local Vietnamese architecture, the house has been the set for the shooting of the movie “The Lover” made here by the French director Jean Jacques Annaud. After checking-in the hotel, take a stroll by the promenade perched along the mighty Mekong, and make a stop at the town’s night market.
DAY 11. CRUISE ACROSS THE MEKONG DELTA
Check-out the hotel very early in the morning, and take to the pier to board a local boat for a morning cruise to Cai Rang floating market. Appetizing breakfast is served onboard while the boat navigates the mighty river. Locals bring to the market their fresh produce from all throughout the delta, and from here these are shipped to the mainland, to be distributed to city dwellers. After a visit to the colorful market, depart Can Tho. Around noon time arrive at Vinh Long for a cruise through the canals aboard a sampan, a traditional flat-bottomed boat. Stop for short walks on some of the islands, visit local workshops processing agricultural products and visit local orchards before disembarking at the town of Cai Be. Board once again the vehicle and continue the road journey to Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, the city that once served as the capital of South Vietnam, the American allied, anti-communist state.
DAY 12. EXPLORE HO CHI MINH CITY AND FLY TO CAMBODIA
This morning visit the War Remnants Museum, which tells the story of the U.S. led war from a different perspective than the people of the West know. After touring the museum continue to the beating heart of the city, to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral. The bright red color of the cathedral walls comes from the bricks which were brought here from France after being taken from the Marseilles palace in Paris. From here, take a short walk to the old Central Post Office, and then off to the central quarter, which preserves the colonial ambience of the city, with the Opera House and Hotel de Ville serving as living evidence to this vivid period in the city's history. From here drive to Ho Chi Minh Airport to mark the end of this Vietnam private tour, boarding the evening flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Upon arrival, and after immigration formalities, meet with the local guide and drive to the hotel in the city center.
DAY 13. DISCOVER THE ANGKOR TEMPLE COMPLEX
Once the center of the vast Khmer Empire that ruled the majority of South-East Asia, Siem Reap is home to a cluster of temples and palace complexes. The site is so magnificent, that a Portuguese monk visiting it during the 16th century wrote “it is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen…”, and the French explorer Henry Mohout, which have made the site known to the West at the mid-19th century wrote when first getting here: “One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michelangelo—might take an honorable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.”. Begin exploring Angkor Wat itself, the largest and, for most people, the most impressive temple in the entire complex. Then proceed to Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire, which thrived during the 4th century AD. On to the Bayon, better known as the ‘Temple of Faces’, a bizarre structure with several architectural styles, reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). Next visit the Elephant and Leper Emperor Terraces, followed by the Baphoun Temple, which its restoration project, completed in 2011 after 51 years of work, has been dubbed as the ‘world’s largest 3D jigsaw puzzle’. In the evening visit Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henry Mouhot. The temple’s eerie look made it a perfect location for the Hollywood movie “Tomb Raider” to be shot at.
DAY 14. BANTEY SREI AND KBAL SPAEN
Begin the day very early, driving back to Angkor Wat to enjoy the sun as it rises right behind this impressive monument, reflected in a water reservoir and creating a sight not to be missed, weather permitting of course! After the much-awaited sunrise, enjoy a packed breakfast by the ancient temple before driving out of the main temple complex for a visit at Banteay Srei – “The Citadel of Women”. This temple, made of red stone, considered to be the most decorated temple of all Angkorian temples, and its carvings are the deepest and clearest of them all. Walk throughout the temple before driving to Kbal Spean. Located 25 kilometers away from the Angkor Wat complex, this is a site of manmade and natural wonders. Along the banks of the Stung Kbal Spean River, the Khmer emperors have carved stunning figures into the surrounding sandstone. Hike through the tropical forest and along the riverbed to explore this marvelous site. On the way back to Siem Reap stop at a village which its inhabitants specialize in producing palm sugar. This is an opportunity not only to watch this traditional craft, but also an interesting glimpse into rural life of ordinary Cambodians. Back in Siem Reap, visit the Angkor National Museum, which is not only a state-of-the-art museum with thousands of exhibits that have been excavated through the vast complex, but also a great source for wealth of knowledge on the history of the area, the various pre-Angkorian and Angkorian civilizations that ruled it for centuries, shedding light on unique inscriptions and wall carvings that shows throughout the major temple complex. In the evening revert to the hotel for a third and last night in Cambodia.
DAY 15. CRUISE TONLE SAP AND DEPART SIEM REAP
On the last morning of the trip, travel to the fishing village of Chong Kneas. On arrival, board a boat for a trip on Tonle Sap to see the floating villages and the traditional fishing techniques. The boat trip amid these basic dwellings is a strong reminder of the major transition the country is going through. Back in Siem Reap, visit the Old Market before taking to the airport to end this Cambodia and Vietnam private tour, and board the departing flight out of Cambodia.
Dates & Pricing
Rates for Cambodia and Vietnam private tour are valid for two confirmed travelers and above.
- Note: Cambodia and Vietnam private tours rates are valid all year round, but are not valid for trips that occur (in whole, or in part) during the following dates:
20 December - 10 January (Festive Season)
10 February - 20 February (Lunar New Year)
30 April - 01 May (Labor Day)
Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$2165/ person
6 travelers- US$2025/ person
8 travelers- US$1984/ person
- Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.
3rd November, 2021–17th November, 2021
- $2,649 Per Person (From 2 people)
- $684 Single Room Supplement
2nd March, 2022–16th March, 2022
- $2,649 Per Person (From 2 people)
- $684 Single Room Supplement
- 3 Domestic and regional flight: Hai Phong/Danag/Ho Chi Minh City/Siem Reap
- Accommodation at selected hotels
- Transfer by private A/C vehicle
- Bottled drinking water
- Meals as indicated in the program
- Overnight cruise in a private cabin aboard a shared ship in Ha Long
- Boat for cruises in Mekong Delta and Tonle Sap
- English speaking guide for each area as per program
- Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned in the program
- All shows as per program
- International flights to Hanoi and from Siem Reap
- Travel insurance
- Vietnamese tourist visa
- Cambodian tourist visa
- Excess luggage
- Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
- Anything not clearly mentioned in the program
- Hanoi- La Siesta Trendy 4-star
- Sapa- BB Sapa 4-star
- Ninh Binh- Hidden Charm 4-star
- Ha Long- Azalea Cruise 4-star
- Hoi An- Hoi An Central Boutique 4-star
- Can Tho- Can Tho Ecolodge 3-star
- Ho Chi Minh City - Grand Saigon 4-star
- Siem Reap- Viroth Villa Hotel 4-star
Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.
This is just to let you know that we arrived safely home yesterday night after a riveting trip that was organized with the precision of a Swiss watch. In a hurry, thanks very much again for your efforts, one huge problem that remains is how we will ever be able to lower our standards again after this most pampering experience.Dr. David Hamburger, Holland
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