From the busy streets of Hanoi and old Saigon, to the historic provincial towns dotting the South China Sea coast, this active Private Collection exploration reveals the natural and cultural treasures of Vietnam, on the dates the work for you.
Vietnam Trip Overview
This Private Collection exploration of one of Southeast Asia's most interesting countries begins with Hanoi, long called the “Paris of the Orient”. In the following days, you'll discover sacred caves, relax aboard longboats on scenic rivers, cruise Ha Long Bay in a traditional sailing boat, immerse yourself in historic towns, and peruse evening markets with your expert local guide. Our journey ends in the southern capital of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, where you'll have the opportunity to explore poignant war sites such as the Cu Chi Tunnels.
Vietnam Private Tour Itinerary At a Glance
SAMPLE ITINERARY: Other private customized options are available.
Days 1-2: Explore the former city of Saigon, from the Chinese quarter of Cholon, to the Reunification Palace and Cu Chi Tunnels. We'll discover that this city and its surroundings have many stories - both ancient and modern - to tell. Enjoy Vietnamese specialties and learning about the incredible variety of dishes, flavors, and spices.
Days 3-4: Hué. Explore the life and times of Vietnam's greatest Emporer, Tu Duc. Visit the Citadel, Imperial Palace, and Forbidden Purple City. Enjoy a sunset boat ride on the Perfume River.
Day 7: Hanoi. Tour historic and cultural sites of Hanoi including Ho Chi Minh’s house, the One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, and the city’s Old Quarter. Dine at renowned restuarants featuring a fusion of Asian and colonial influences.
Days 8-9: Ha Long Bay. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay while on an overnight cruise on a luxury traditional junk. Enjoy a farewell dinner in Hanoi at a favorite restaurant.
Days 10: On the morning of Day 10, depart from Hanoi at your leisure.
The Private Collection Advantage:
- Independent travel at its best. With your own exclusive party of family or friends, you'll enjoy itineraries developed from our years of experience.
- Your dates, your friends. You chose your dates and traveling companions, and let us do the rest!
- Reconnect in remarkable places. What better way to celebrate important milestones than with family and friends in amazing places, with all of the details handled for you so you can simply relax and enjoy each other’s company?
- Do your own thing. Customize your journey to indulge your most amazing travel fantasies.
- Travel with Trusted Leaders in Adventure Travel. Recognized by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine as a Top 10 "World's Best Tour Operator and Safari Outfitter".
Our tours often fill months in advance, and our maximum group size is smaller than most tour operators. It's very quick and easy to reserve a trip. Give us a call at 800-941-8010 or complete the online Reserve a Trip form. We will confirm your reservation with a $500 per person deposit, payable by check or credit card.
Trip Rating (1 Easiest - 5 Most Strenuous)
Traveling To and From
Most Convenient Airport for Arrival:
Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (airport code SGN)
Meeting Time and Place:
Tan Son Nhat International Airport, upon the arrival of your international flight on Day 1 of the tour.
Most Convenient Airport for Departure:
Hanoi International Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam (airport code HAN)
Departure Time and Place:
Day 10, at your leisure. Airport transfers to Hanoi International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam will be provided.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Typical Trip Rating
Boundless Journeys’ trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Cultural Explorer Private Adventure is rated 1+, easy with some moderate options on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being the most strenuous). The walks on this trip are day walks with some vehicle support. Much of the walking will be flat terrain, in and around villages, towns and temples, 4-6 hours per day, broken up by rest and meals. As this is a Private Collection trip, there is some flexibility to make the trip easier or more challenging to suit your group.
Preparing for this Trip
It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. The more well-prepared you are for the activities on this trip, the more you will enjoy yourself! Please engage in moderate aerobic activities (walking, jogging, cycling) for at least 30-45 minutes several times a week for 4-6 weeks before the trip. If you live in a flat area, try to incorporate some stairs into your workout, or use a treadmill with varying incline capability. Consult your doctor before undertaking any new fitness program.
During our trip, you will likely experience a range of weather conditions, as various locations fall within different climate zones. While Hanoi will be relatively cool, Ho Chi Minh City will be warmer. The range of temperatures you might expect to encounter is listed here:
October: 84°F 71°F
November: 76°F 66°F
December: 71°F 59°F
January: 68°F 55°F
February: 67°F 60°F
March: 73°F 63°F
Ho Chi Minh City:
October: 87°F 76°F
November: 87°F 74°F
December: 87°F 72°F
January: 88°F 72°F
February: 90°F 73°F
March: 92°F 76°F
You can obtain more detailed weather information at www.weatherbase.com.
When to Go
The cooler dry season lasts from October to March. In October and November, arriving just after the rainy season, you’ll have the benefit of being there for the newly greened trees and rice paddies, as well as the much clearer air quality that can be expected at this time of year. December through March remain much drier and a bit cooler than during the summer months. However, it is possible to have some rain at any time of year.
Vietnam Tour Accommodations
Overview: Deluxe, first-class hotels, ideally located, and a deluxe Ha Long Bay junk (a traditionally rigged Asian sailing vessel). All with private baths and many amenities.
Nights 1 & 2: Rex Hotel
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Strategically located in old downtown Saigon, Rex is a luxury heritage hotel dating to early 20th century when it originally opened as a French garage. For over 80 years, the Rex has been a landmark, as well as a witness to the ups and downs of the city’s history.
Nights 3 & 4: La Résidence Hôtel and Spa
La Résidence Hôtel and Spa in Hué, Vietnam is an enchanting boutique hotel on the banks of the Perfume River, overlooking the former Imperial Citadel.
Nights 5 & 6: Anantara Resort
Hoi An Town, Vietnam
Located in the French colonial quarter of Hoi An, this tranquil property has landscaped gardens and is situated on the riverbank, just a few minutes walk from the center of town. All rooms have a bedroom, living area and private porch.
Night 8: Jasmine Luxury Cruiser
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Nights 7 & 9: Sofitel Legend Metropole
On Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious 2010 "Gold List" as one of the best hotels in Vietnam.
This Colonial-style building has stood proudly in the heart of Hanoi since 1901. The hotel has a rich history and lovely rooms, a recently built spa, and swimming pool.
Vietnam Private Tour Itinerary
SAMPLE ITINERARY: Other private customized options are available.
Ho Chi Minh City
Afterwards we enjoy a special lunch prepared by the nuns of Dong Thuyen pagoda (perhaps featuring Banh Khoai, a delicious Hué trademark). Following lunch, we focus on the life of one of the most interesting emperors of Vietnam, Tu Duc, and visit the elaborate grounds of his tomb and where he spent the latter years of his life. Vietnam’s fourth emperor, living from 1829 until 1883, is said to have had 104 concubines. During his reign, his country lost its independence to France.
We then continue to Hoi An, a picturesque town along the Thu Bon River. This exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port, dating from the 15th century, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Upon our arrival, we will enjoy some regional specialties for lunch.
The evening will be yours to explore Hoi An, which is very festive at night, and you may enjoy dinner at one of the many wonderful restaurants in the Old Quarter.
This afternoon, we have the unique opportunity to visit the art studio of a local Vietnamese painter, Sinh Trong. Sinh grew up in an orphanage in Hoi An, and through the Lifestart Foundation (an organization supporting disadvantaged youth through skills and employment training) he was able to become a successful artist. Over Vietnamese tea, we learn more about the Lifestart Foundation, and may have the chance to make a miniature Hoi An lantern, under the instruction of workshop staff. You will see these lanterns at night glimmering along the Tu Bon River.
Optional Cycling - 1-2 hours
Next we visit the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Built after King Ly Thai To’s vision of a bodhisattva sitting on a lotus in 1049, the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda sits atop a pillar jutting out of a lily pond. Soon after the temple was built, the King’s wife gave birth to a son, and today childless couples visit the pagoda to make prayer offerings. The Temple of Literature is perhaps Hanoi’s best-preserved ancient site. Also built in the 11th century, Van Mieu, as it is known in Vietnamese, served as the national university for 700 years.
Following a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake, we take a midday break for lunch at a local restaurant, featuring the famous dish of Hanoi, Cha Ca, a delightful mixture of lightly fried fish and fresh herbs over rice noodles. After this we take a relaxing one hour “cyclo” tour through the Old Quarter. Also known as the “36 Streets,” this bustling area of narrow alleys is home to hundreds of small businesses and shopkeepers. It’s a great place to explore, with plenty of photo opportunities.
After freshening up at our hotel, if there is time, we may enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show at the Thang Long Opera, before dinner.
We enjoy a lunch of Asian-fusion specialties on board while sailing into the bay, soaking up the scenic views and unwinding for the last leg of our journey. Various excursions are available this afternoon. You can visit Hang Sung Sot cave (sometimes called “Surprising Cave”) and we’ll moor at a pristine beach for a swim, or perhaps a paddling adventure by kayak (no experience necessary). There will also be a cooking demonstration by the ship’s chef to reveal some of the secrets of Vietnamese cuisine.
This evening, enjoy sunset from the deck before an elegant five-course dinner in the restaurant. Afterward, you can relax on the deck and socialize with other travelers before retiring to your bunk.
We disembark the cruise by midday, and return to Hanoi by road. This afternoon, our guide will take us on a street food tour of the old quarter of Hanoi. There will be plenty of opportunity to purchase handicrafts to take home with you or you may simply choose to take in the vibrant scene of street vendors, while enjoying coffee at a traditional Vietnamese coffee house.
After some time to relax at our hotel we attend a special perfermance of Ca Tru, an ancient genre of chamber music featuring female vocalists, combining a unique style of poetry and music. Ca Tru originated in northern Vietnam dating back to the 11th-century, and was performed at royal receptions and religious rituals. Following the show, we enjoy a farewell dinner, savoring Vietnamese cuisine one last time while we toast to our journey.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary to take advantage of weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these should the need arise.
When to Go
2014 Land Cost
From $4,495 per person
2014 Land Cost Details
2-3 guests: $4,695 per person
4+ guests: $4,495 per person
Please inquire for solo traveler pricing. Prices not valid over Lunar New Year beginning January 31, 2014. December holiday supplements may apply.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement may be charged to participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. We have made every effort to eliminate or greatly reduce this cost for most of our scheduled small-group departures; however, these savings are limited to two single supplements per departure. Therefore, the first two single participants to reserve will receive the savings. This is not applicable to our Private Collection journeys.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary).* Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This does not apply to cruises in the Galapagos Islands or Antarctica. Please see these trip pages for more details.
Ho Chi Minh City - Hué; Danang - Hanoi
- Expert local guide in each location
- All accommodations, including an overnight on a deluxe traditional junk on Ha Long Bay
- Private, air-conditioned ground transportation
- Meals as noted in the itinerary.
- Entry fees
- All activities as noted in the itinerary
Please complete the following information to request a reservation. A trip deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your reservation (payable by check or major credit card). Once we receive your request we will contact you within one business day to confirm availability and answer any questions you may have.
About our guides
With a Boundless Journeys guide, your experience is that of friend and local adventurer. We believe strongly in working with local guides, experts in the areas to which we travel, and they hold the keys to unlocking the hidden delights of your chosen destination. Although you will never know they are at work – the mark of a truly great leader – our guides make magical things happen and add a dimension to your trip that you could not experience on your own.
Over the years we have forged bonds with some of the best guides in the world, and we typically work with a small team of guides in each region. You will be informed of the guide for your trip one month prior to your departure.
Elske de Vries: Elske was born in Surabaya, Indonesia, and later raised in a small village in the Netherlands, giving her a unique perspective on global culture and travel. Currently living in Bangkok and working as a tour leader in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Elske loves introducing guests to new experiences. When not working, she enjoys exploring Asia with her camera in hand. Throughout your travels in Vietnam, Elske will be joined in each region by a local guide to further enhance your experience.
What other guests have said about our guides in Vietnam:
"Elske was the best! She was just so good in every way ― very knowledgeable and easygoing. I wanted to visit a hospital and she arranged that too. She did an A+ job! This was a trip of a lifetime. I have wanted to go to Vietnam and Cambodia for 35 years and this was everything I wanted to see and more. I would highly recommend this trip for anyone who is interested in Vietnam as it was very well planned and included everything one could want to see and do! It was the dream adventure of a lifetime and I will tell all my friends to take a Boundless Journeys trip.” – S.H., Keene, NH
Picture Yourself Here:
Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ha Long Bay, Hué, and Hoi An
Immersing yourself in Hanoi, the "Paris of the Orient"
Discovering poignant sites of war history, from the Cu Chi Tunnels to China Beach
Perusing markets and indulging in authentic Vietnamese cuisine with its blend of French and Asian influences
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Latest Blog Posts About Vietnam
"The trip was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. Dawa and Pema are both very special people and just could not have been nicer, more caring, or more professional. Every day, in every way, they were excellent! The itinerary was perfectly planned and executed. I can't wait for you to use me as a reference for future Boundless Journeys travelers – I will give you a glowing recommendation!"
- Kim Cox, Bhutan: A Journey Into the Peaceful Kingdom