- Uniquely Red
- The Red Journal
Vietnam is a fascinating country of diverse landscapes and cultures. Hanoi provides a colonial backdrop of stunning old architecture to the crowded streets of the historic Old Quarters, while in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll feel the pulsating energy of this rapidly developing city. Explore numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout the country, from historic sites that witnessed the ravages of wars to jaw-dropping natural landscapes.
Discover the highlights and unique cultures of North, Central and South Vietnam including a legendary cruise at the spectacular Halong Bay. Throughout this trip, you will explore lesser known local neighborhoods, see amazing natural landscapes and interact with local hosts for intimate cultural experiences. Sample many delicious and authentic dishes that you cannot find at restaurants back home, including a fun cooking session at a local home.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel near the Old Quarters, about 45min drive from the airport.
Overnight at Hanoi
Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards, and public parks, is the capital of Vietnam. It is an exotic city filled with charming French-colonial style buildings and vibrant local streets showcasing century old traditions.
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 Presidential Palace before visiting the famed Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university built about a thousand years ago.
Stop at Maison Centrale, the famous Hoa Lo Prison built by the French in the early 20th century and was later named “Hanoi Hilton” by American prisoners of war, including John McCain who was imprisoned here for more than 5 years. Stop by Truc Bach lake where McCain landed after his plane was shot down.
Your final stop is 54 Traditions Gallery, the only gallery in Vietnam focusing on the antiques, artifacts and art of Vietnam’s 54 minority groups and the Kinh majority people. They have over 1000 objects on display and objects from their collection have been exhibited in museums in Hanoi. Although the items are on sale, this is not intended to be a shopping tour and there is no obligation to buy anything.
Overnight at Hanoi
Enjoy a stroll around the historic Old Quarters filled with local shops, residential areas and interesting local food vendors operating along foot pavements. Explore narrow alleys and see how multiple families share limited residential space in this historic area.
Stop for a famous cup of “Egg Coffee” before meeting a local artisan, the 7th generation of Water Puppeteers in his family. Have a try at controlling the puppets while hearing about the artist’s family and watch a short performance.
Later this evening, go an exciting Foodie tour to sample various iconic and delicious local dishes from street vendors and small eateries. Items include “Xoi Yen”, steamed sticky rice with pork, chicken or egg, a refreshing glass of “Bia Hoi”, Hanoi fresh draft beer, and “Banh Cuon”, steamed rice rolls stuffed with pork, an all-day beloved dish available day and night. If you are still hungry, go for “Banh Goi”, the Hanoi version of an egg roll with rice paper stuffed with meat and noodle, or perhaps a piping hot bowl of Pho, noodle soup Hanoi style with Chicken or Beef.
Overnight at Hanoi
Journey this morning for about 2.5h drive to the boat pier for your luxury cruise around the spectacular Lan Ha Bay, part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong.
During your 3 Days / 2 Night cruise, you can go on shore excursions that include cycling in small villages, sunbathing on beaches, kayaking or explore caves.
At night, enjoy a movie night in the dining room or join the crew fishing for squids.
Overnight at cruise ship
Rise early with a Tai Chi or yoga class before breakfast is served, then join in your cruise activity to explore the beautiful bay area and villages. There will also be free time to swim and sunbath at a secluded beach or just treat yourself to a pampering spa session onboard.
Overnight at cruise ship
Enjoy a relaxing morning with a sunrise breakfast before disembark from your cruise at about 11am. From the pier, it’s about 2 hours drive to Hanoi Airport for an hour’s flight to Hue, the former Royal Capital City in Central Vietnam
Overnight at Hue
This morning, take a cyclo ride from your hotel over the famous Trang Tien Bridge and past the Dong Ba Market. The cyclo will take you around the ancient citadel of Hue, through local streets and shops for an overview of daily life. Stop at the Noon Gate of the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. Visits include the Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City.
Continue to Tha Om Garden House, former home of a mandarin under the reign of Emperor Khai Dinh (1916-1925). Meet your friend host who is a royal descendant and enjoy delicious traditional Hue delicacies for lunch.
Your final stop is Khai Dinh Mausoleum, built for the 12th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last dynasty of Vietnam. This beautiful mausoleum took 11 years to build from 1920 to 1931 and is one of the most unique royal tombs in Hue with a blend of western and eastern influences. To get to the main palace, you will have to climb 127 stairs, but you will be rewarded with impressive art work and architectural designs.
Overnight at Hue
Start the day at a local market where you will meet your friendly local host to learn about local fresh produce. Continue to a local home where you will be warmly welcomed by the rest of your host family. Proceed to their kitchen where you help to cook a very famous local dish Com Hen (baby basket clams with rice, featured in Anthony Bourdain’s episode on Hue). Enjoy a delicious home cooked meal and meaningful conversations before bidding your hosts farewell.
After lunch, 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. Rest of the afternoon is free to explore the night markets on your own, a short stroll from your hotel located by the Old Town.
Overnight at Hoi An
This morning enjoy an easy cycling trip around Kim Bong Village. The carpenters’ village of Kim Bong is situated on the other side of the Thu Bon River where carpenters use traditional methods to create a variety of wooden statues, furniture and tools. Explore the village and surrounding area on bicycles, weaving our way through small hamlets. See some traditional handicrafts including coracle boat makers, mat weavers and some ancestral temples, dating back several hundred years. Visit Thanh Ha pottery village before returning to Hoi An.
Continue to Tra Que Herb Farm for a delicious local lunch and see a large variety of fresh herbs used popularly in Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy a herbal foot bath before your walking tour around the Old Town, a UNESCO 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.
Overnight at Hoi An
Today you will take a short one hour flight to Saigon in the far South.
Afternoon, visit various historic sites located around the city center including the Reunification Palace, the former Presidential Palace of the Southern Vietnamese Government before 1975. Admire the last remaining colonial architecture including the Central Post Office, City Hall and Opera House.
If opportunity permits, visit Mr. Hoang Van Cuong, a former United Press International photojournalist during the war. Most American journalists departed with the US Embassy staff when North Vietnamese troops took over Saigon on April 30, 1975. Mr. Cuong was one of the few journalists who stayed behind and documented this momentous period with his photos. He prefers not to reminisce about painful past as he was imprisoned in a re-education camp for seven years. However, you can view his award winning photos on the war and an extensive collection of precious antiques that is not for sale.
Overnight at Saigon
Early morning drive about 1.5 hours towards the Mekong Delta region to explore the quiet waterways of Ben Tre province with a private sampan boat. Your cruise will take you through quiet inner canals that hardly sees any visitors and visit small villages to see traditional livelihoods.
Stops will be made along the cruise to explore by bicycles or siting at the back of a motorbike so you can access the narrow village lanes. Make several visits to homes or small workshops see traditional crafts making bricks, rice noodle, rice paper, wooden boats and sticky rice. Visit a former Vietcong soldier who survived two years fighting the Khmer Rouge.
Overnight at Saigon
Transfer to airport for onward journey.
Our private tours include the things that make it so you don’t have to worry about logistics for your trip.
Consider a pre- or post-tour extension to this itinerary in either Thailand or Cambodia depending on which city your international flight is routed through. It’s quite easy to add a couple of days in Bangkok to indulge in authentic local food at our secret locations or Siem Reap, home to the majestic Angkor Wat temples and Tonle Sap, biggest freshwater lake in South East Asia.
Explore authentic century old neighborhoods including one of the world's largest Chinatown established in 1782 and a Thai-Portuguese Quarter. Discover hidden small eateries known only to local foodies, sample unique snacks and dishes you will never find on your own!
Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. Venture to other lesser known temples, largely un-restored and engulfed by strangling tree roots like the way early explorers discovered.
Here’s an explanation of what to expect and the planning process with a Red Lantern Journeys travel consultant.
The price for this trip will vary based on many factors including:
Your personal travel consult to work with you to prepare your itinerary, recommend tours and activities and accommodation and explain the reasoning behind every aspect of your tour.
You'll have your own private, chauffeur-driven vehicle for all of your airport transfers and daily excursions. These will also include your personal, English-speaking guide who is licensed and will provide the insights to make each of your tours an exceptional experience.
We've inspected hundreds of hotels and can recommend accommodation that fits your style and budget.
We have access to a wide range of activities to make your trip truly memorable. Activities range from visiting iconic sights to meeting local personalities, adventure sports, and exclusive dining experiences!
Any time of year is okay to visit Vietnam, but November to March is probably the best weather. North Vietnam can be a bit chilly in December through early February, especially in the mountains. Ha Long Bay can also get a bit foggy for the junk cruises during that time. The central coast is subject to occasional typhoons and tropical storms from July through October. The monsoon season, which consists of near daily thunderstorms can lasts throughout June to September.
Please provide as much information as you can to help us prepare before contacting you. For example:
Copyright © Red Lantern Journeys. All Rights Reserved