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Vietnam Highlights

VN13: 11 Days Hanoi - Halong Bay Danang - Hoian - Hue Ho Chi Minh City
  • Itinerary
Day 1 Arrival in Hanoi
Upon arrival at Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport, please take a taxi to the downtown area and find a cozy hotel to get some rest. We suggest you the 3-star Noble Boutique Hotel Hanoi, which is 450 yards away from Hoan Kiem Lake in the city center. A taxi ride from the airport costs around VND250,000. You are suggested to take taxis regularly run by Mai Linh Company, which are in green and white colors.

Tips: Some restaurants, hotels, shops, and attractions in Hanoi don't accept foreign currency. Please find a nearby bank to exchange for Vietnamese Dongs.

Accommodation Suggestion: Noble Boutique Hotel Hanoi (3 stars)
Day 2 Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi
Your independent Vietnam tour starts today. The first destination is Ba Dinh Square. Take bus no. 9 from Hoan Kiem Lake to Le Hong Phong and you can walk to the square.

At the heart area of Hanoi City, Ba Dinh Square has witnessed many events and celebrations. Here you can also learn the past of Ho Chi Minh, the Father of Modern Vietnam, by visiting his mausoleum, former residence, and Ho Chi Minh Museum, to the west of the square. Don't miss the One Pillar Pagoda near the Ho Chi Minh Museum. As the name indicates, it is a temple building on one single stone pillar in the middle of a pond. It is really a unique scene.

Then, walk southwards for around 10 minutes to find Temple of Literature on Quoc Tu Giam Street. It is the first college in Vietnam built in 1070, and also a place for people to pay homage to Confucius, a renowned ancient Chinese educationist and ideologist. There usually are grand celebrations during the Vietnamese New Year in January or February. You must go there if you happen to visit Hanoi around the festival.

Having seen many traditional Vietnamese buildings, you may then take a taxi to a French-style building, St. Joseph's Cathedral. Although looks a little bit mottled on the outside, the elaborately-designed decorations, stained-glass windows, and lofty towers of the cathedral can still provide great views.

Head eastwards for around 200 yards to the next stop of your independent Hanoi tour, Hoan Kiem Lake. Local people often stay there to spend a leisure afternoon. Go northwards for 550 yards to the 36 Streets, which includes shoes street, hat street, silverware street, leather street... Each street only sells one particular kind of products and you can surely buy satisfactory souvenirs there.

Today's backpacking tour will end here. From the next day, you are going to take a 2-day cruise on Ha Long Bay. You are recommended to book the tickets from the Sinh Tourist Office in advance.

Sinh Tourist Office Branch 1:
Location: No. 64 Tran Nhat Duat Street
Tel: +84.4.39290394
Opening Hours: 06:00 - 20:30

Sinh Tourist Office Branch 2:
Location: No. 52 Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, Hoan Kiem District, and opposite A25 Hotel
Tel: +84.4.39261568
Opening Hours: 06:30 - 22:00
Day 3 Ha Long Bay
Arrive at the Sinh Tourist Office during 7:45 - 8:15. Then you will be transferred to the harbor by a 4 hours' bus ride to get onboard the Golden Lotus Garden Cruise Ship. Along the way, you can enjoy the joyful scenery of isolated hills standing in the peaceful water.

You will reach the Surprising Cave at 15:30 or so to admire colorful and bizarre stalactites. There are also chances for you to go kayaking and swimming today. At night, you may join some evening activities, such as singing karaoke and squid fishing.

Accommodation Suggestion: Golden Lotus Garden Cruise or Golden Lotus Premium Cruise (3 stars)
Day 4 Ha Long Bay - Hanoi
Cruise on Ha Long Bay
Today, you will cruise to the Titop Island, where you can swim, climb mountain, and enjoy the sun-bath on the beach. After that, get onboard and continue your cruise. You will return to Ha Long Bay Wharf at around 12:30 and then be transferred to Hanoi.

Upon arrival, take a taxi back to your hotel and have a rest. If you want more fun, a puppet show at Thang Long Water Puppet Theater is recommended. You can find the theater at the northeast corner of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Accommodation Suggestion: Noble Boutique Hotel Hanoi (3 stars)
Day 5 Hanoi - Da Nang - Hoian
After breakfast, take a taxi to Hanoi Airport for your onward flight to Da Nang. After landing, hail a taxi to the recommended 3-star hotel, Villa Orchid Garden Riverside, at a cost of VND 400,000.

After a short break, set out to Hoian Ancient Town which is famous for traditional Chinese as well as Japanese style buildings and streets. The hotel provides bike rental service and you can ride one to reach the town. The night scenes there are really worth seeing. The water town will be lightened by numerous lanterns at night. Besides sightseeing, you can set a floating lantern on the river and make a wish, just like the natives.

The next day, you may head for the Hue City, either by private car or a 4-hour's bus arranged by the Sinh Tourist Office. If you choose the latter, remember to make a reservation today at the tourist office, located at No. 587 Hai Ba Trung Street of Hoian Town.

Accommodation Suggestion: Villa Orchid Garden Riverside (3 stars)
Day 6 Hoian - Hue
This morning you can either rent a bike to Cua Dai Beach or continue exploring the Hoian Ancient Town. After lunch, you may set out to the Hue City. If chartering a car, you can ask the driver to go along the coastal highway, which can provide better views along the way. You can even stop off in the midway, especially at the Hai Van Pass.

Upon arrival in the Hue City, take a taxi to the recommended Orchid Hotel and have a rest there. After meals, you may take a leisure walk around to get familiar with the surroundings.

Accommodation Suggestion: Orchid Hotel (3 stars)
Day 7 Hue City
Japanese Bridge in Hoian
It is suggested you follow this independent route today: Imperial City - Pagoda of the Celestial Lady - Tomb of Tu Duc. Taking taxi to these sites is convenient.

The Imperial City is located at the center of the old city of Hue, with a history of over 200 years. The next stop, the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, at the northern bank of Perfume River, is a renowned temple in Vietnam. Besides 10 gilded palaces, a 7-storey pagoda is the highlight there. This 70-foot high pagoda is the tallest religious building of the whole country.

Different from other imperial tombs, Tomb of Tu Duc is more like a secluded garden with elegant pavilions and a smooth lake. It may look a little dilapidated after all these years, but it still reveals the beauty of quietness to backpacking visitors.
Day 8 Hue City - Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast, hail a cab to the airport of Hue City in around 30min for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon landing, take bus 49 or 109 to Pham Ngu Lao Street and then walk east towards the Ben Thanh Market. The recommended Avanti Hotel is near the northwest corner of the market. You can also take a taxi directly to the hotel at a cost of VND 150,000 - 170,000.

After a short break, start your independent tour in Ho Chi Minh City with the War Remnants Museum, located at No. 28, Vo Van Tan Street, District 3. It is about 15 minutes' walk from your hotel. Here, you can have a better understanding of the war history of Ho Chi Minh City by viewing precious pictures, documents, as well as old helicopters, bombs, and tanks.

After 1 - 2 hours' visit, walk 10 minutes to the Notre Dame Cathedral on Duong Nguyen Du, District 1. It is the landmark of the city, built in late 19th century. The French-style Central Post Office is just opposite the cathedral. You can not only admire glorious architectural features and the history of Vietnam, but also pick some post cards and send them back home.

The last stop of today's independent tour is the Ben Thanh Market, the largest trading market of Ho Chi Minh City. Walk there and you can buy some distinctive souvenirs and enjoy the fun bargaining with the sellers.

When the whole day's backpacking tour is over, go back to your hotel and get ready for your next day's Mekong Delta tour to Cai Be and Vinh Long.

Tip: the Mekong Delta tour should be booked one day in advance. Don't forget to make the reservation at the Sinh Tourist Office, at No. 246 - 248, De Tham Street, District 1.

Accommodation Suggestion: Avanti Hotel (3 stars)
Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City
A local market
Reach the Sinh Tourist Office at 7:00 and take the bus to Cai Be Floating Market directly, where locals exchange and bargain goods on the boats. Then you will be led to traditional workshops to experience the producing process of rice paper and coconut candy. After lunch, you will head for Vinh Long tropical fruit market by boat.

Today's Mekong tour will end here and you will be taken back to Ho Chi Minh City by 18:00. Upon arrival, remember to book the next day's tour to Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels at the Sinh Tourist Office.
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
The bus will leave the Sinh Tourist Office at 7:45 for the first stop, Cao Dai Temple. It is the headquarter of Cao Dai in Vietnam, a religion that combines ideas of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, and Confucianism. The architectural style of the temple is also unique. You can see both Gothic towering steeples and Chinese-style carvings there.

After that, you will be transferred to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which played a vital role during the past war times. If you are interested, you can even experience AK47 and M16 live firing.

The bus will take you back to Ho Chi Minh City by 18:00. Have a big meal in a good restaurant and then return to your hotel by taxi.
Day 11 Departure from Ho Chi Minh City
Your independent Vietnam tour will come to an end at this point. Take your entire belongings to check out the hotel, and then hail a taxi to the Ho Chi Minh Airport in around 20 minutes. You are suggested to reach the airport 2 hours in advance for your leaving flight. Bon Voyage!
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 More Vietnam Itineraries:
Ethnic Charm of Vietnam: 7 Days Hanoi - Sapa - Lao Cai
Southern Vietnam Adventure: 6 Days Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam Open Bus Tour: 16 Days Ho Chi Minh City - Nha Trang - Hoi An - Hue - Hanoi

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