Vietnam Budget Tour (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Saigon, Mekong)
A Vietnam classic. Highlights include: Through the Vietnam budget tour we will visit; Halong Bay with its bizarre (French Riviera) rock formations rising up from the sea in North Vietnam, the picturesque port town of Hoi An in central Vietnam, the beach resort Nha Trang – Vietnam’s Nice – on the South China Sea and the vibrant mega city Saigon, bordering on the Mekong Delta.With only short interruptions, Hanoi has been Vietnam’s capital for almost 1000 years and, in contrast to the bustling and progressive Saigon, has stayed a city with a unique atmosphere and a touch of French charm. On this Vietnam budget tour we also visit the most important sites of the ancient Mandarin trade.
Noi Bai International Airport
VRT – 09
* Accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
* All transport and transfer with new 13-seat Mercedes
* Breakfast and Lunches in the best local restaurants, or picnics where no suitable restaurant is available
* Fully escorted English speaking tour guide at the places
* All entrance fee and permission
* Domestic flight tickets, including domestic airport taxes.
* International flight tickets and airport tax
* Visas and visa fee
* Drinks and other meals
* Gratuities and personal expenses
* Camera fees (if any)
TOUR COST per Person (in US $)
All inclusive in Twin or Double Room / Meal (Daily Breakfast and Lunch)
Number of tourists
Vietnam Budget Tour (28 days and 27 nights)
Particularly suitable for uncomplicated tourists with low requirements
Guesthouses and 2-Star Hotels, clean rooms w. window, A/C and bathroom
Private 16-Seat Minivan (Mercedes)
Soft berth, 4-bed compartment w. A/C (Ratraco Train to Lao Cai)
Particularly suitable for tourists with high requirements
3 and 4-Star Hotels (International Standard)
Private 16-Seat Minivan (Mercedes)
Soft berth, 4-bed compartment w. A/C (Ratraco Train to Lao Cai)
Deluxe Particularly suitable for sophisticated tourists
Accomodation 4-Star Hotels (5-Star Hotels extra charge) or best Hotel on site
Transportation Private 16-Seat Minivan (Mercedes)
Train Soft berth, 4-bed compartment w. A/C (Victoria Train to Lao Cai) Boat trip Private Boat
Day 1 Hanoi (the Capital of Vietnam)
Arrival in Hanoi. Transfer to the hotel. Short walk to the Ho Hoan Kiem “Lake of the Returned Sword”. We visit the jade mound with the red wooden bridge, one of Hanoi’s main attractions. Welcome dinner in one of the many good local restaurants.
Day 2 Hanoi - Night train to Lao Cai
On a morning bus trip, we see the capital’s most important and most interesting locations: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Uncle Ho’s house (from here Ho Chi Minh led governmental affairs), the One-Column-Pagoda (Chua Mot Cot), the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu, Vietnam’s first university) and the Maison Centrale (a prison dating from the French colony). We have lunch at KOTO, a restaurant managed by former street kids. In the afternoon we are ridden around the old French quarter in cyclos (Vietnamese bicycle-rickshaws). The literary expression for Hanoi is “City of the 36 alleys”. In the tree-lined alleys we have a look over the shoulder of the local craftsmen. In the evening we depart for the highlands, home to countless ethnic minorities. A longer train ride alongside the Red River to Lao Cai, the town at the Chinese border (Ratraco or Victoria Pullman Train, the colonial version of the Orient Express. Compartment for four people with A/C).
Day 3 Sapa
Bus transfer to Sapa at 1560 m above sea level, at the foot of Phan Si Pan Mountain (with 3143 m Vietnam’s highest peak). After checking into the hotel, we explore the town that was once made a mountain health resort by the French in the 1920s. Today Hmong and Red Dzao people grow vegetables, tea and cinnamon. We walk the four kilometers to Cat Cat village, home to the Black Hmongs, famous for their indigo-dyed dresses. After a short peek into their daily life (dying and weaving of hemp cloth), we walk down to the water fall. We find an old, defunct power plant from the French. On our return trail we pass through rice terraces and by browsing water buffalos. Motobike taxis bring us back to the hotel.
Day 4 Sapa
Russian jeeps are our vehicles today. The first hiking tour in this breath-taking scenery takes us to the minority village of Ta Van. Here we get a feel for the hard lives of the Giay and Hmong. The three-hour trip leads us through hamlets and rice terraces and over the May Bridge where we can cool off our feet in the chilly mountain river. Return by jeep. In the afternoon our jeeps bring us to Ta Phin, the village of the Red Dzao. The women with their red head scarves are famour for their elaborate embroidery. We stroll through rice paddies, visit a cave and chat with the locals.
Day 5 Sapa - Lao Cai - Hanoi
In the morning, a bus brings us down to the valley. Short visit at the Chinese-Vietnamese border bridge. Return to Hanoi by train. Arrival in the late evening. Transfer to the hotel.
Day 6 Hanoi
Today is for relaxation. After sleeping in, we go to the West Lake. Here we visit Den Tran Vu, Hanoi’s most important Taoist temple.
Day 7 Dry Halong Bay
Today our Vietnam budget tour will depart on day trip that provokes goose bumps with every photographer. After breakfast, we go by bus to Ninh Binh (the dry version of Halong Bay), arguably the most beautiful landscape in Vietnam. In small sampan boats we explore the beautiful scenery and arrive at the Tam Coc Grottos (length of the biggest and longest grotto is 160m). This beautiful route against the background of bizarre sugar loaf mountains takes about two hours. Short trip to Ninh Binh. The following bicycle tour through the rice fields leads to Hoa Lu, the former imperial city of the Dinh Dynasty. Visit ancient temples. We stay overnight in Ninh Binh.
Day 8 Perfume Pagoda
Today we visit the Perfume Pagoda (Chua Huong), a must-see for fans of nature and art. The trip to Huong Tich (Mountain of the Scenting Traces) takes two hours and can only be done by boat. This important place of pilgrimage consists of a a complex of pagodas, temples and shrines, carved into grottos, caves and cliffs. The two-hour hike leads us through limestone cliffs and lush vegetation up to the peak of Huong Tich with the main Grotto of the Scenting Traces, the final destination of the pilgrimage. Return to Hanoi.
Day 9 Cat Ba (Halong Bay)
This morning the bus brings us to one-of-a-kind Halong Bay (Ha Long means “descending dragon”, contrary to Thang Long, “ascending dragon”, the old name of Hanoi). Under way we visit the potters’ village Bat Trang. We go on to Hai Phong. At 1 pm, we take the public ferry to Cat Ba Island (a natural reserve). The interesting boat trip takes about two hours. After check-in we enjoy a tour through the harbor in small rowing boats.
Day 10 Cat Ba
On today’s tour (partly on motorbike, partly on foot) into the national park, we discover the natural beauties of this unique island: bizarre rock formations, frog ponds, traditional villages and a longer hike to the panorama mountain at the end of the trip. In the afternoon, motobike riders take us to gorgeous Bai Tram Beach (relaxing, swimming, strolling).
Day 11 Swimming in Halong Bay
After breakfast, our spectacular boat journey (private boat) through the breath-taking scenery of 2000 limestone islands begins. Now and then we stop for a swim. Our private boat passes by small floating settlements. Before dinner we visit an impressive cave and later we ascend the Ti Tov panorama mountain. We stay on a junk (shared boat, double room with toilet and bathroom, A/C). At new moon we see the haunting nocturnal glimmering of the plankton and prawns.
Day 12 Bai Chay - Hanoi
On goes our trip through this magic world. Taking a rowing boat we advance into the interior of a laguna grotto. After a rich meal our boat slowly returns to Bai Chay Harbor. Upon arrival, return trip to Hanoi. On our way we stop at the Van Phuc silk weaving workshop where physically handicapped children work as apprentices.
Day 13 Surroundings of Hanoi (Hanoi Countryside)
Today’s Vietnam budget tour program takes us around the rural surroundings of Hanoi. We visit ancient Chua Thay, the master’s pagoda. The pagoda dates back to the 15th century and is beautifully located at the bank of the Dragon Lake and at the foot of a limestone mountain. The master is also the protector of the water puppet players. Return to Hanoi. In the evening we watch a show of the puppet players.
Day 14 Hanoi - Danang - Hoi An
This morning Vietnam Airlines flies us to Danang. After a visit to the small but fine Cham Museum we head for the Marble Mountains. After a steep hike we arrive at the Rock Pagoda. A fantastic panorama of the other four Marble Mountains and China Beach. We explore various caves that already have been important places of worship since the Cham period. Then the bus brings us to Hoi An, the old port town of the Cham. Hotel check in.
Day 15 Hoi An
In the morning, we stroll through the small town and watch a cultural performance. Then we visit the Japanese Bridge, merchant houses from the 16th and 18th century, wood craft shops, Chinese temples, community houses and an old silk spinning factory ( Hoi An is widely known as having the best tailors). In the afternoon: free time, shopping or a short trip to the beach on rented motobikes, depending on weather and motivation.
Day 16 Rural Hoi An
Together with our friendly Honda drivers we make an unforgettable tour into the rural surroundings of Hoi An. Here time seems to have stopped. We spend the afternoon at the beach if the weather permits or go shopping the ancient city center.
Day 17 Danang - Nha Trang
Free time. Prior to lunch we go to Danang. At noon we board the “Reunification Express” train that brings us in 10 hours to Nha Trang. Transfer to the hotel.
Day 18 Nha Trang (Beach Resort on the South China Sea)
City tour on rented motorbikes: Yersin Museum, Big White Buddha, Po Nagar Cham towers, Hon Chong Rock. Lunch at the best seafood restaurant of the nearby fishing village. In the afternoon we give in to the seduction of the the kilometers-long white sand beach.
Day 19 Rural Nha Trang
Continue our Vietnam budget tour on a motorbike tour to the beautiful location of the Suoi Do Pagoda we see the nearer rural surroundings of Nha Trang. Most probably, the nuns invite us to a vegetarian lunch. After a siesta we visit the oldest traditional house of the province. Short walk through fruit gardens (mango, durian, papaya, cacao, lemon, orange, rambutan, banana and pineapple trees, depending on the season). On the way home we stop at various craft shops.
Day 20 Nha Trang
Free time or individual program on request.
Day 21 Nha Trang - Dalat (Central Highlands)
In the early morning we depart by bus to the highlands. The entertaining route goes along the coast of the South China Sea. On our way we visit well-preserved Cham temples dating from the 14th century. After lunch, we go on to Dalat, situated at 1475 m above sea level. Hotel check-in. The second half of the afternoon we stroll through Dalat, the “City of the Eternal Spring”, as this mountain health resort is also called.
Day 22 Dalat
In the morning we explore the colorful market. Then a bus brings us to the meditation pagoda Thien Vien Truc Lam, located in a beautiful mountain setting at the shore of a crystal clear mountain lake. Later a boat takes us to the islands. After a lunch under pine trees, we soak in the unique landscape on the back of an elephant. In the afternoon we take a ride on the legendary steam train route to Mat Trai Village. There we visit the Mosaique Pagoda. Return trip through the vegetable fields.
Day 23 Dalat - Saigon
A longer, yet interesting bus trip to Saigon, passing by coffee, tea, rubber and mulberry plantations. Half way, in Bao Loc, we make an excursion to the Dambri Waterfall. Short picnic in the amazing scenery. Arrival in Saigon in the late evening.
Day 24 Saigon
In the morning we explore the city on foot: Notre Dame Cathedral, Main Post Office, City Hall. Coffee break in the famous roof-top restaurant of the Rex Hotel.
Day 25 Trip into the Mekong Delta: Saigon - My Tho
In the early morning, we join other tourists on the Saigontourist boat into the Mekong Delta. My Tho, a small friendly town at the Upper Mekong is the starting point of our three-hour boat trip to the four river islands “Dragon”, “Phoenix”, “Unicorn” and “Tortoise”. We visit family businesses producing coconut candy, honey, rice wine and silverware made from coconut wood. We savor exotic fruits directly from the tree and listen to traditional songs. We stay overnight in Chuong Duong Hotel** set on the Mekong River bank.
Day 26 My Tho - Vinh Long - Can Tho
In the morning we make a boat trip on the Upper Mekong. In Vinh Long a bus waits for us. We let it wait a little more and stroll through the colorful fruit and vegetable market. After lunch we take the bus to Can Tho, the biggest city in the Mekong Delta. Hotel check-in.
Day 27 Can Tho - Cai Rang - Saigon
This morning, a sampan boat brings us to the floating market of Cai Rang. Later we explore the channels of the Lower Mekong and visit a rice noodle factory. In the afternoon we travel back the 180 km to Saigon by bus. Last night in Saigon.
Day 28 Saigon - Home
Free time. Our Vietnam budget tour ends with the transfer to the airport.