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Vietnam Explorer - 14 days/13 nights

Hanoi - Sapa - Hoi An - Hue - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) - Mekong Delta

Experience the pristine beauty of the mountains with short treks and hill tribe villages in the "Alps of Tonkin". Visit historic cities in two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Hoi An and Hue. Interact with diverse cultures from North to South of Vietnam and relax in the countryside atmosphere of the Mekong River Delta. 

Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, drop offs, and daily excursions. 
Choose Your Own Dates! This is not a fixed-departure-date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you and we will arrange everything.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you and let you know the change in costs.
Click here to read what our clients have told us after they return.

Trip Highlights

  • Short treks to hill tribe villages 
  • Visit an authentic colorful hill tribe market 
  • Cycling around countryside villages and mingle with local people
  • A visit to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels
  • A Mekong Delta overnight cruise aboard Mango Cruises


Day 1:  Arrive Hanoi
Upon arrival at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel for check in. Overnight in Hanoi.

Day 2:  Hanoi
Hanoi is a city of lakes, shaded boulevards, and public parks and is the capital of Vietnam. This morning visit the French Quarter and discover why this city is called the “Paris of the East”. After, proceed to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and visit the “Father of Nation” of Vietnam. Then stroll over to the Presidential Palace, Presidential Garden, his House on Stilts, and One Pillar Pagoda, followed by the famed Temple of Literature. Afternoon, visit the Museum of Ethnology to learn more about the ethnic groups of Vietnam. Then take a walking tour around the back alleys of the Old Quarter, famous for its original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi. (Breakfast)

Day 3: Hanoi to Lao Cai
After breakfast, drive about 1.5 hours to Ky Son Village in the morning. Take a pleasant walk around the village to get a taste of the northern countryside lifestyle of Vietnam. After, set out on a bike ride (or drive) to Duong Lam village with stops for taking pictures, chatting with children and farmers. Visit Mia pagoda, some old houses, the Mong Phu communal house and Ngo Quyen & Phung Hung temples. Enjoy a home cooked lunch in one of the oldest houses at Duong Lam village.

Then drive to another local village known as the birthplace of water puppetry in the Red River Delta. This is a very unique traditional art that originates from Northern Vietnam. You will watch an authentic outdoor water puppet performance while sampling some local delicacies. You’ll get to bring home a wooden puppet as a souvenir! Return back to Hanoi in the evening and transfer to the railway station for the night train to Lao Cai departing at 9:55pm. Overnight on board train. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 4:  Lao Cai to Sapa
Arrive early morning at Lao Cai train station at about 6am, you will be welcomed by our representative and drive about an hour to Sapa at an elevation of 5,200ft. Early check-in at the hotel to rest briefly and enjoy a sumptuous buffet breakfast. Later, meet your local guide and drive about 2 hours to the village of Ban Ho. Today, you will view the work and collection of traditional designs of a local weaver. Learn the local techniques of dyeing and weaving of Tay textiles, as well as visiting an indigo farm. Alternatively, you can also learn how to make colorful sticky rice, a local staple. Watch a short musical performance of Tay people before taking lunch in the village.

Afternoon, you will explore the landscapes of Ban Ho Village. Cross a suspension bridge and continue hiking through rice fields to Nam Toong Village to meet Red Dao people. Enjoy some local tea before heading back to Ban Ho Village. Continue hiking uphill to Su Pan where you will return to Sapa by car. Overnight in Sapa. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 5:  Sapa to Lao Cai to Hanoi
Early morning, visit an authentic minority market to experience different hill tribes gathering to sell their local produce. You will have excellent photo opportunities of locals dressed in their colorful and traditional costumes as part of their daily wear. Such markets usually occur once a week and falls on different days in various villages, thus the final destination will be confirmed based on your final itinerary. Afternoon, visit some other hill tribe villages before driving back to Lao Cai station for the night train back to Hanoi departing at 9pm. Overnight on board train. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 6:  Hanoi to Hue
Arrive at Hanoi train station at about 5 am. You will be welcomed  and taken to a restaurant for a typical local breakfast of Pho or morning coffee if you prefer. Visit a big colorful Flower Market in Hanoi that is opened only in the early hours, then walk around Hoan Kiem Lake - where you can join many local people practicing Tai chi. Transfer to the airport for your flight from Hanoi to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, you'll be welcomed and transferred to your hotel for a brief rest.

Afternoon, take a cyclo ride from your hotel over famous Trang Tien bridge and Dong Ba market. The cyclo will take you around the ancient citadel of Hue, local streets and shops for an over view of daily life. Stop at Noon gate of Imperial Citadel for the walking tour to the inner area of the citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945 including Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and Forbidden Purple City. Overnight in Hue. (Breakfast)

Day 7:  Hue
The tranquil villages and picturesque countryside make Hue an ideal place for cycling. In the morning, drive to Trieu Son village located by the Perfume River outside of Hue. Have a short walk before taking a 15-minute boat ride to Sinh village and visit a local family specializing in making traditional wood paintings. You will have some hands-on experience by taking part in making this craft with the local artisans. Start a leisurely bike ride around Sinh village and along countryside lanes to Thanh Tien village which is famous for paper lowers used for worship purposes. Continue riding through paddy fields and countryside and arrive at Tien Non village.

In the afternoon, visit a Tha Om Garden House to discover the friendliness and hospitality of the host family and taste traditional Hue confectionaries. Proceed to the Thien Mu Pagoda to witness a daily Buddhist prayer before enjoying a cruise on the river back to town. Overnight in Hue (Breakfast)

Day 8:  Hue to Hoi An
In the morning depart for Hoi An via Danang on a scenic 3-hour drive over the Hai Van Pass for breath taking views over the coastline and surrounding mountains. Then drive along the famous My Khe Beach where American marines take their vacation during the Vietnam War. Afternoon you will do a walking tour to explore the old town of Hoi An, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include an ancient merchant house, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the vibrant riverside market. Visit one of Hoi An’s famous lantern workshops and learn how make a lantern. Then enjoy some free time for discovering the town on your own or shopping. Hoi An is known for its tailor shops where you can get clothes tailored quickly for very reasonable prices. Overnight in Hoi An. (Breakfast)

Day 9:  Hoi An
Today you will spend the morning with a group cooking class with STREETS International. Trainees at STREETS are young people in the midst of an 18-month program where they study English, the culinary arts and hospitality, as well as gain experience at the renowned STREETS Restaurant Café. You will visit a local market with a chef and trainees to choose the freshest ingredients, and then back to the kitchen and how to make several Vietnamese dishes. The outing concludes with a satisfying lunch at STREETS Restaurant Café. You will receive recipe cards to remember this unique experience.
The rest of the day is free at leisure to explore the Old Town on your own. Overnight in Hoi An. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 10: Hoi An to Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast, drive about 30 minutes to Danang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City also known affectionately as Saigon. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit the Reunification Palace - the former Presidential Palace of the Southern Vietnamese Government before 1975. Proceed for photo opportunities at some of the most iconic buildings in the city, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, City Hall and Opera House. Head up to the observation deck at the new Bitexco Financial building for a bird's eye view of Saigon at 627 feet high. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. (Breakfast)

Day 11:  Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Liem (Start of your river cruise)
After breakfast,  drive about 1.5hours to My Tho, a small provincial town in the Mekong Delta region. At Chuong Duong Pier, you will meet your crew from Mango Cruise and board your private “sampan” boat where you will spend 2 nights. Your boat is equipped with comfortable beds and hot shower, and all meals are prepared fresh onboard.

Begin cruising to Phong Nam village where you will take a rowing sampan boat through the small canals, stop at a local house to taste the tropical fruits and chat with the farmer. Visit the rice noodle factory before starting your bike trip around the village. Relax and enjoy lunch at Mango Restaurant before getting back on the boat and continuing to cruise to Mo Cay canals. Stop for a visit at the coconut processing workshop where you can see how the locals utilize every bit of the coconut.  Continue cruising to Vung Liem province and stop for a visit at the brick making factory.  Here you will see how bricks are made using traditional methods, which are centuries old.  Return to your boat and freshen up for your cooking demonstration and dinner on board. Overnight onboard a private boat. (All Meals)

Day 12:  Cruise to Tra On
In the morning, breakfast will be served on board before starting to explore the town of Vung Liem by bicycle. Visit the Happy Buddha Temple, a beautiful and characteristic Kh’mer Temple of this small town.  After that continue on to visit the Cao Dai Temple in one of the most popular local religions, which is a combination of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucius. The boat will then cruise to Tra On where the boat will moor for the night. Tonight, enjoy a sumptuous freshly cooked dinner onboard. Overnight onboard a private boat. (All meals)

Day 13: Cruise to Can Tho and Return to Ho Chi Minh City
Get up early in the morning to visit Tra On floating market before heading to Can Tho.  Then visit the biggest floating market at Cai Rang, cruise around the market by a smaller boat amongst tons of trading vessels. Disembark late morning at Can Tho Ninh Kieu pier where your guide awaits. Then continue by car for about 3 hours to Ho Chi Minh City and the rest of the day is free at leisure to explore the city on your own. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. (Breakfast)

Day 14:  Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (Breakfast)

Inclusions and Exclusions

Our Package Rates Include

  • Private airport transfers
  • Daily accommodation with breakfast
  • Private vehicle transportation for all excursions per itinerary
  • Meals as listed in above itinerary
  • Services of a local, English-speaking guide for all visits and excursions
  • All tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary, including entrance fees
  • Internal flights for Hanoi to Hue, Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
  • Private boat cruise at Mekong Delta

Rates Do Not Include

  • International airfare
  • Vietnam visa application fees
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Expenses of a personal nature

To Book This Tour

Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you are interested in this tour. To prepare a proposal, we'll ask questions about how many people are traveling, your preferred travel dates, standard and types of accommodation, and any special interests that we may be able to accommodate.

Once we have finalized a customized price quote for you, your agent will inform you a per-person non-refundable deposit to initiate reservations (typically 20% of tour cost). Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.

If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.

Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Please review our complete terms and conditions:
Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellation/Refund Policies

- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.
- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.
- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.
- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.
- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.
- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.

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