Travel from Hanoi in the north to Saigon in the south and discover all that Vietnam has to offer with specialist tour operator Emperor Tours.
• Hanoi – French colonial boulevards and outstanding attractions including memorials to former founder of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh. Learn about the country’s ethnic origins at the Museum of Ethnology and explore the Old Quarter with its labyrinth of ancient streets.
• Halong Bay – change of pace and a day and overnight stay onboard a luxurious junk taking in the beautiful scenery of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonder with its 3000 towering limestone islands.
• Hoi An –explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site with its ancient streets, a wonderfully preserved old merchant town with it’s Japanese, Vietnamese and European influences.
• Spend five days enjoying some rest and relaxation on the golden beach at Hoi An.
• Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) – visit the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Vietnamese fighters during war time, as well as the major attractions of this vibrant city including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ban Than Market.
• Mekong Delta – take a boat trip from My Tho with stops along the way.
Today we begin our private tour of Vietnam by departing London Heathrow for international economy flight to Hanoi.
We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
We’ll be greeted by our guide upon arrival and take private transfer to the hotel for check-in and tour briefing. After we have rested we’ll take an orientation tour and a chance to acclimatise ourselves if time permits.
A scrumptious welcome dinner awaits us tonight!
Today we’ll be touring the most outstanding attractions of Hanoi. First, we pay a visit to the complex of memorials to Ho Chi Minh to understand the amazing life of the founder of modern Vietnam. Continue to the Temple of Literature to gain understanding of one of the driving forces in Vietnam culture.
Our next stop is the Museum of Ethnology which exhibits a large collection of artefacts about the 54 ethnic groups in the country. Then enjoy a rickshaw ride through the lively Old Quarter, a series of 36 ancient streets where peddlers still trade the way they have done for centuries. The rickshaw tour ends up at an old house on Ma May Street, an example of dwellings in the 19 century.
Finally today sit back, relax and enjoy a performance of the water puppetry, the famed traditional art form created by village farmers around the Red River Delta region – unique but widely known.
Today we journey east by private vehicle to Halong Bay, the greatest natural wonder of Vietnam, through the Red River Delta, where we see daily Vietnamese village life.
On arrival, we board a beautiful traditional junk (ancient Chinese ship) and spend a full day and night cruising the bay’s 3000 magnificent limestone islets. In the evening when the boat is anchored in the middle of the stunning lagoon, we enjoy a wonderful seafood meal and later there is opportunity for an evening swim from the side of the boat. Spend the night on our luxurious boat.
Wake up to fresh coffee then further cruising and sightseeing. En route the junk weaves through more rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons and even further!
We disembark after lunch and return to Hanoi for a late afternoon/early evening flight to Danang in Middle Vietnam. Meet up with our local guide at Danang airport and drive along the scenic coast to Hoian for the night.
This morning we’ll be on foot exploring the ancient quarter of Hoian, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its historic role in international trade, unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, a Sino-Vietnamese merchant house, a Chinese Temple, the Central Market, and the Culture Museum.
There’ll be plenty of time for independent exploration and shopping opportunities.
Enjoy five whole days of relaxation on the golden beach of Hoian.
We fly to Saigon in the morning and enjoy a tasty lunch of “Pho” noodle soup in restaurant “Pho 24” on arrival.
In the afternoon, we’ll be visiting the best known sites in the very centre of Saigon, taking in the Reunification Palace, the War Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office, the Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, etc.
This morning we travel to Cu Chi to explore the legendary network of underground combat tunnels. This incredible system, covering almost 250 km in length, served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the wartime. Known as the “Iron Triangle” during the war of the 60’s, the story of Cu Chi is one of struggle, determination against all odds, and eventual victory. Now the tunnels are a major site of interest for tourists and historians, and those interested in Vietnam’s military history.
After the tunnels we return to town and enjoy the balance of the day at own leisure.
After breakfast we leave the hustle and bustle of Saigon behind and travel into the Mekong Delta, a world that lives and works on the waters.
Arriving in My Tho, 80 km from Saigon, we get on a boat trip on the Mekong River, then into a palm-shaded canal towards an island. Disembark and roam into the insular village to see production of handicrafts and candy from coconut, taste freshly picked seasonal tropical fruits, enjoy folk musical by amateurs, and ride a horse cart along the village road. Row a sampan along a side arm of the river to further experience river life.
For lunch, we’ll sample some regional specialities such as Elephant Ear Fish, Rice Ball, Coconut Salad, etc.
After lunch we return to Saigon for overnight. A visit to Vinh Trang pagoda in My Tho or Thien Hau pagoda in the Chinese quarter of Saigon can be arranged upon request.
Sadly it is time to say “tạm biệt” (goodbye) and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Tour Prices include:
Tour Prices exclude:
FLIGHT TIMES: 12.50 hours direct from London Heathrow to Hanoi (Vietnam Airlines Sun-Tue-Thu-Fri only) / 12.35 hours direct from Saigon to London Heathrow (Vietnam Airlines Sat-Mon-Wed only). Other airlines fly indirect every day of the week.
TIME DIFFERENCE: +6 hours in summer time / +7 hours in winter time (BST).
CURRENCY: Vietnamese dong £1 = approx. 31,000 VND
MONEY: Almost all goods and services are calculated and paid for in US dollars. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, restaurants owned by foreigners and souvenir shops. Travellers cheques and currencies other than US Dollars are accepted only by major banks. We recommend changing a small amount into local currency on arrival, for drinks and gifts etc.
TIPPING: If you are happy with the services of the driver and guide in each city then tipping is an accepted way of showing your gratitude. We recommend anything from $10 upwards for each, usually more for the guide. We advise placing any tips in separate envelopes and handing to the guide and driver at the end of their service in a particular city.
VISA: No visa is required for UK passport holders if stay is 15 days or less in Vietnam.
LANGUAGE: The official language spoken in Vietnam is Vietnamese.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT: Generally Spring and Autumn months – February to April and August to October. The temperatures are more moderate and rainfall is lighter.
FESTIVALS: Here are the main Vietnamese festivals and what you will expect to see and experience during these festivities…
Vietnamese New Year ‘Tet’ – mid to late February
Vietnamese people gather with their families to exchange best wishes and pray for prosperity over the coming year. In big cities, the streets are adorned with beautiful flower decorations. It’s a great time to see the preparations and immerse in the festive atmosphere before Tet, but travel during the festival is not recommendable.
Mid Autumn Festival (whole of Vietnam) – 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar
Marked with fanciful lanterns, the festival is a favourite with children, as the occasion calls for more toys, candies, fruit, and entertainment than any other time of the year. Mid-Autumn parties serve cakes, traditional and modified. Lion dances are commonly performed by travelling troupers who go from house to house to perform for tipping.
Reunification Day (whole of Vietnam) – 30th April yearly
Also known as Victory Day or Liberation Day, this national holiday marks the fall of the Saigon government on 30 April 1975. The communist troops captured Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and brought the Vietnam war to an end. This began the process of reuniting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Republic of Vietnam in the south
National Independence Day (whole of Vietnam) – 2nd September yearly
This day commemorates Vietnam’s declaration of independence from France in 1945. On that day, President Ho Chi Minh, read out the Declaration of Independence. Nowadays, national red flags are raised high everywhere. People are entitled to one day off. Public and official celebrations can be found in all cities.
Lantern Festival (Hoi An) – 14th day of each lunar month
The festival features many hundreds of colourful lantern lit up throughout the town. The houses and shops are beautifully decorated and activities are often held in the streets and along the Thu Bon River.
Dong Da Festival (Hanoi) – 21st February
The festival celebrates the victory of King Quang Trung who defeated the army of 200,000 Qing dynasty soldiers at Dong Da Hill. A dragon procession, games and martial arts activities are performed to celebrate the strength of the Vietnamese people during this historic victory.
FOOD & DRINK: Light, subtle in flavour and astonishing in their variety, Vietnamese dishes are boiled or steamed rather than stir-fried, and a huge emphasis is placed on herbs and seasoning. In the south, Indian and Thai influences add curries and spices to the menu, while other regions have evolved their own array of specialities.
Buddhism introduced a vegetarian tradition to Vietnam, while much later the French brought with them bread, dairy products, pastries and the whole café culture. The quality and variety of food is generally better in the main towns than off the beaten track, where restaurants of any sort are few and far between.
SOCIAL ETIQUETTE: People throughout Indochina are very kind and easy going. People are very relaxed with foreigners and their different habits.
Showing anger is seen as a weakness.
Respect and care should be shown when visiting temples and shoes should always be removed before entering.
HEALTH ADVICE: Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Indochina, they are highly encouraged. Visitors are advised to check with their GP or travel immunisation clinic regarding protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A & B. Any essential medications should be brought with you as there is no guarantee they will be available in the areas you will be visiting.
If travelling in Summer months, please bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent etc.
It is not safe to drink tap water in Vietnam – please drink boiled water or bottled water only.