Authentic Vietnam: An Exploration of Culture

13 Days / 12 Nights

Authentic Vietnam: An Exploration of CultureAuthentic Vietnam: An Exploration of Culture

Immerse yourself in true Indochina on the Authentic Vietnam tour, an enthralling 13-day journey that connects you with the country’s most spectacular attractions as well as many lesser-known locales. Savor this remarkable experience while enjoying fine dining and sumptuous comfort every step of the way.

Daily arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, year-round

A Journey by Private Car and Guide, featuring luxurious accommodations, touring, sightseeing and unforgettable experiences in Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Danang, Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi.

Journey's Highlights »

Discover a side of Vietnam few travelers ever experience without missing any of the country’s most famous attractions. This trip connects you with the people of Vietnam and allows you to gain unique insight into one of the world’s most complex cultures. It’s a tour for those who crave adventure but also appreciate luxury.

  • Explore the top attractions of Ho Chi Minh City as well as little-known sites
  • Cruise the tranquil waters of the Mekong Delta in a Private Boat
  • Visit a unique floating market
  • See the remarkable Cham museum and a quaint fishing village
  • Experience the impressive ruins of the Imperial Citadel in Hue
  • Tour the famous Long Bien Bridge
  • Sample Hanoi’s delicious street-food scene and experience colorful markets
  • Cruise past stunning limestone formations in Halong Bay
  • Explore historic buildings and pagodas in a rural village

Included in Your Journey »

Deluxe Accommodations:

  • 2 nights in Ho Chi Minh City at the Park Hyatt Hotel in a Park Room
  • 1 night Mekong Delta Cruise aboard the Song Xanh, Private Boat
  • 2 nights in Hoi An at the Nam Hai Hotel in a One-Bedroom Villa
  • 2 nights in Hue at the La Residence Hotel in a Deluxe River View Room
  • 4 nights in Hanoi at the Sofitel Legend Hanoi in at Premium Room
  • 1 night Halong Bay Cruise aboard the Private Violet Boat in a Violet Suite

Private Touring and Sightseeing:

  • All tours and transfers via Private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Local English-speaking guides in each location
  • Entrance Fees and National park Fees to all sites that are mentioned in the itinerary
  • Boat Trips as mentioned in the itinerary


  • Daily breakfasts at the hotels
  • Other meals as mentioned in the itinerary. B = Breakfast; L= Lunch; D = Dinner

Not included:

  • International and Domestic Flights
  • Items of purely personal nature
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Travel Insurance


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  • Day 1 - Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City

    Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, meet your guide and then unwind in your hotel. (D)
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    When you arrive at the airport, look for one of our guides holding a sign with your name on it. After introductions, you’ll be driven to your hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City where you can relax after your long flight. But if you’re too anxious to unwind, explore the bustling streets right outside your hotel. (D)

  • Day 2 - Ho Chi Minh City By Vintage Vespa

    Experience Indochina culture by exploring the city’s most ancient streets, Chinese medicine shops and other little-known attractions. Must-see sights like Reunification Palace are also on the itinerary. (B, L, D)
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    Delve into the rich culture and enthralling history of Ho Chi Minh City during this half-day tour. Your guide picks you up in the morning and takes you to the tranquil Tao Dan Park where you sip coffee and learn about the art of bird-keeping in Saigon.

    Visit the monument of Thich Quang Duc, which pays tribute to a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who burned himself to death in protest, and then stop at the vibrant Ho Thi Ky flower market before riding to the Funeral Home to learn about ancient Vietnamese funeral ceremonies.

    Cruise through Chinatown and admire the ornate “Khẩu” architectural style of the Nhi Phu temple before learning about herbal remedies at Chinese medicine shops. A drive through District 2 illustrates the modern new development taking place in HCMC and then it’s back to more traditional traveler-focused attractions: the exquisite architecture of the Post Office, the iconic Reunification Palace and finally a stop at the historic Opera House.

    Gaze at the HCM City People’s Committee, which features an elegant façade and gardens, and then return to your hotel. Savor traditional Saigon fare for lunch at ‘Com Nieu Sai Gon’ before venturing into the oldest quarter of the city – an area rarely visited by tourists. Stroll the cluttered sidewalks of Antiques Street, past carved wooden chests, opium pipes and rusted military relics from the Vietnam War. Explore the Beaux-Arts Museum and then enjoy a treat at Fanny’s, a quaint French-style ice cream parlor.

    In the evening, gain unique insight into Indochina culture by dining with a local family in their home. This is a rare opportunity to discover how people here really live. Then it’s back to your hotel for the night. (B, L, D)

  • Day 3 - Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta

    Ply the caramel-colored waters of the Mekong Delta in a traditional sampan and explore ancient relics along the way. (B, L, D)
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    Your journey to the Mekong Delta begins after breakfast. Our staff drives you past rolling emerald hills and through tiny villages before arriving at the delta. Board the ‘Song Xanh,’ a private vessel modeled after a traditional sampan. It’s the perfect size for navigating the meandering canals of his area.

    Visit the home of Mr. Huyen Thuy Le, a famous character from the novel ‘The Lover’ by Marguerite Duras, and then explore the Thien Hau Pagoda. After lunch, stop and gaze at the magnificently unusual murals within the Cao Dai Temple while en route to Can Tho. As the sun starts to set, dine at a glorious 19th century home by candlelight. An hour later, moor at Can Tho and then spend a comfortable night aboard the Song Xanh Boat. (B, L, D)

  • Day 4 - Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City – Danang – Hoi An

    Venture deeper into the Mekong Delta and experience a traditional floating market before catching a flight to the ancient city of Hoi An. (B)
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    Continue your journey along the Mekong, passing long wooden barges piled with rice and bright-colored fruit. On the river banks, men haul fishing nets and women stir giant bubbling pots beneath thatched huts. This is authentic Vietnam.

    Experience the colorful bustle of a floating market and then return to HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat Airport for a flight to central Vietnam. After arriving at the Danang airport, our staff drives you 30 minutes to the historic port town of Hoi An. Roam the ancient streets of this remarkable community, the center of which has remained unchanged for more than 200 years. After exploring these fascinating streets, unwind at your hotel. (B)

  • Day 5 - Hoi An

    Help a traditional farming family maintain their gardens and then share a meal with them. Afterwards, tour Hoi An’s most enthralling attractions before ending the day with a sumptuous meal. (B, L, D)
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    Cycle through the countryside to a traditional farm in the Tra Que Village and experience rural life in Vietnam. Help producers tend to their vegetable garden and then assist in making the tam huu delicacy before savoring a home-cooked meal of banh xeo – a delicious pancake wrapped in rice paper.

    Upon returning to Hoi An, take a leisurely walking tour along the twisting streets of this ancient city. Explore quaint merchants’ homes, a 400-year-old Japanese covered bridge and a bustling market. Finally, enjoy a sumptuous lunch at the famed Brother’s Café.

    For dinner, dine on a unique fusion of Vietnam-Latin American-Japanese cuisine at one of the finest restaurants in Hoi An. Return to your hotel for an evening at your leisure. (B, L, D)

  • Day 6 - Hoi An - Hue

    Travel to the former imperial capital of Hue, visiting a Cham museum and quaint fishing village en route. (B, L )
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    Relax and enjoy breakfast in the morning before embarking on a scenic three-hour drive to Hue. Visit the Cham museum in Danang along the way, home to the finest collect of Cham statues, before cruising through the stunning Pass of Ocean Clouds and then to the charming fishing village of Lang Co.

    Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, with ample time available to explore the city. Enjoy a decadent lunch at Ancient Hue restaurant and spend the afternoon at your leisure. (B, L)

  • Day 7 - Hue

    Delve into a vibrant market before exploring the ruins of the Imperial Citadel. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch at ‘garden house’ and then visit a unique mausoleum and tomb. (B, L)
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    Greet the rising sun with breakfast and then delve into the Dong Ba Market, a kaleidoscope of bright-colored produce, handicrafts and local residents going about their day. Tour the Imperial Citadel – an ancient city and ornate collection of ruins where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled until 1945.

    Carry on to the Hue Royal Fine Arts Museum, housed within the former Dien Long An Royal Palace, and then have lunch in a private ‘garden house’ designed by one of Hue’s most famous architects. The lady of the house personally prepares an exquisite meal served in the traditional manner.

    After lunch, visit the Mausoleum of Tu Duc – a tomb once used a palace retreat – and then complete the day with a trip to the tomb of Khai Dinh, which blends traditional Vietnamese design with a European flair. As an optional afternoon tour, venture beyond the tombs on a cyclo to experience the daily life of Hue’s people.

    Spend the evening at your leisure and then retire to your Hue hotel. (B, L)

  • Day 8 - Hue - Hanoi

    Fly to the capital city of Hanoi and tour the famous Long Bien Bridge before admiring the elegance of the Tran Quoc pagoda and Taoist temple of Quan Thanh. (B, L, D)
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    Relax the morning before transferring to the airport and taking a short flight to Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam. Meet your guide upon arrival and then travel to your hotel for check-in.

    Enjoy a decadent lunch in a restored colonial villa and then take a tour of the Long Bien Bridge, which stretches 1.5 miles across the tranquil Red River. Continue to West Lake and admire the unique elegance of Tran Quoc, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas, and the Taoist temple of Quan Thanh.

    Dine at one of Hanoi’s finest restaurants before returning to your hotel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 9 - Hanoi

    An acclaimed chef guides you through Hanoi’s delicious street-food scene: colorful markets, quaint cafés and a popular restaurant few travelers know about. (B, L)
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    Your guide today is an American chef, culinary instructor and author of five cookbooks. Begin your tour with a Pho breakfast and then continue to a local market to learn about the ingredients used in traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Chat with vendors who will teach you about their wares.

    Sip coffee at sidewalk café in the historic French Quarter before driving to Truc Bach Lake and enjoying Phở Cuốn, a grilled beef and rice noodle roll. Explore a bustling neighborhood market and then enjoy lunch at one of Hanoi’s best bún chả establishments. This quaint and little-known restaurant serves enticing meals of grilled pork and rice vermicelli noodles.

    Today’s final stop is at one of Hanoi’s Bia Hoi – a traditional gathering spot for locals –where you enjoy a cold beer and snacks. Mingle with residents and get dinner recommendations before the conclusion of the day’s tour. (B, L)

  • Day 10 - Hanoi – Halong Bay

    Travel to the magnificent Halong Bay and cruise past jungle-covered limestone cliffs, golden beaches and unique caverns. (B, L, D)
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    After breakfast, our staff drives you through the lush farmlands of the Red River Delta, passing by fields of rice where villagers tend to their crops. Arrive in Halong City late morning and board your traditional wooden junk (boat) for an overnight excursion into the dream-like beauty of the bay. Enjoy lunch along the way.

    Cruise alongside magnificent limestone cliffs that jut up from the sea and deep caves dripping with stalagmites. After anchoring for the night, dine on fresh seafood and salads as the sun sets over the bay. Overnight on your vessel. (B, L, D)

  • Day 11 - Halong Bay - Hanoi

    Cruise past spectacular rock formations on the way back to Halong City and return to Hanoi. (B)
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    Cruise past spectacular rock formations on the way back to Halong City and return to Hanoi. (B)

    Wake to the shimmering beauty of the bay and then enjoy brunch as your junk drifts back to Halong City, weaving between stunning rock formations. After disembarking your vessel, our staff drives you back to Hanoi.

    You also have the option of visiting ‘But Thap’, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam, on your return journey. (B)

  • Day 12 - Hanoi - Duong Lam - Hanoi

    Explore historic buildings and pagodas in a rural village before being treated to a farewell dinner crafted by a master chef. (B, L, D)
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    In the morning, travel to the agricultural village of Duong Lam, a rustic community tucked along the shores of the northern Red River Delta where well-preserved 100-year-old homes can be found. Tour the amazing Mong Phu temple in the Mong Phu commune and then wander past unique laterite-made houses.

    After having lunch in a century-old home, our staff will drive you to the 15th century Mia Pagoda. Discover more than 280 statues and sculptures that dot the landscape. The return trip brings a visit to the ornate Tay Phuong Pagoda – one of the first pagodas built in Vietnam – before continuing back to Hanoi.

    Enjoy a farewell dinner in the home of a Hanoian culinary master, whose mother used to cook for the French elite in the 1930s. Retire to your hotel room in Hanoi. (B, L, D)

  • Day 13 - Depart Hanoi

    Transfer to the airport for your departing flight. (B)
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    Our staff drives you to the airport for your departing flight. (B)

    This is your final day in Hanoi. Savor it. Explore the area at your leisure with access to a private car and guide until your flight from Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport. (B)

    Did we miss something?
    Would you like to experience an attraction or activity not listed in this itinerary? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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