Vietnam Sample Itinerary
Spend the day further exploring Ho Chi Minh City – the hustling Binh Tay market is a must and the War Remnants Museum, though not a suitable place to take younger children, is excellently done. Children would, however, enjoy the water theme park just outside the city.
Board the overnight sleeper train to Nha Trang.
Hoi An is well known for is its tailoring services and you can get anything made here from suits to ball gowns and all at reasonable prices with a very quick turnaround time.
There are also many old and attractive Chinese temples and houses plus a small beach just out of town which is nice to visit as the sun goes down.
Night time is a great time to take a stroll as numerous colourful, silk lanterns adorn the streets and the locals are out and about enjoying the cool evening air.
Time to pick up any tailoring you may have had made before catching a mini-bus north via Marble Mountain where during the war the caves were used as a hospital by the Vietcong but are now used by marble carvers.
Continue north via China Beach, the stunning Hai Van Pass, and Da Nang where you will see plenty of evidence of American bunkers as you cross the demilitarized zone before arriving at Hue, a lovely quiet town built on the river.
Being the orignal capital of Vietnam, there is plenty of history in Hue and the old Citadel used by the 19th and early 20th century Nguyen Emperors is well worth a visit. The octagonal Pagoda, Thien Mu, which includes a very peaceful Buddhist monastery is also worth seeing.
Once again catch an overnight sleeper bus, this time to Hanoi.
Spend the day exploring Hanoi. There are plenty of great food places, spa treatments, shops and markets to visit. A particularly good thing to do is to head to the water puppet theatre and be entertained by an hour long show – lots of fun for kids and adults alike. Take a stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of town which is a great way to see the locals partake in their communal exercises, dancing and martial arts.
If you have time for one more side trip, take a tourist van to Ninh Binh where you can easily organize a car and driver to Trang An. This is an amazing location with karst caves laden with stalactites, crystal clear lakes and lush, forested hills similar to Halong Bay but without as many tourists.
From Ninh Binh, take a bus to visit the nearby Primate Rescue Centre in Cuc Phuong National Park where you can see a number of endangered species including gibbons and types of langor monkeys.
You might also take the opportunity to walk through fields of rice paddies, full of ducks and water buffalo, to a cave complex which you will enjoy exploring with torch light.
Make your way back to Hanoi.
You have one final day to enjoy the sights and sounds of Hanoi. For a sobering experience and not one for younger children, visit Hoa Lo Prison. Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum is also highly interesting.
On a lighter note, there is another water theme park here and of course, great shopping and eateries.