Highlights of Northern And Central Vietnam

Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hoi An - Hue - Hanoi

  • Bustling capital, Hanoi
  • Hue, ancient city of Nguyen Dynasty
  • Hoi An, Heritage old town
  • World Nature Heritage
  • Overnight in Lan Ha Bay - the hidden part of Ha Long Bay
  • History, culture, local life and stunning landscapes
  • Less touristic routes
  • Authentic experience
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This eight day Highlights of Northern And Central Vietnam Tour starts from stately Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. We will see the real Hanoi and see the Water Puppet Show – the most impressive, traditional performance of Vietnamese culture.

Following a scenic route through the Red River Delta, the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay will enchant you with its majestic landscape and many beautiful caves.

In Central Vietnam, you will discover the natural beauty and long standing culture of the ancient cities of Hoi An and Hue with their historic relics and amazing architecture.  You will learn some of the history, meet the friendly locals and wander the tranquil but colourful streets and enjoy the stunning landscapes.  

Day 1: Hanoi Arrive
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (B,L)
Day 3: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Hanoi (B,L,D)
Day 4: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi - flight to Danang -Hoi An (B,L)
Day 5: Hoi An Explore (B,L)
Day 6: Hoi An - Danang - Hue (B,L)
Day 7: Hue Highlights (B,L)
Day 8: Hue - flight to Hanoi (B,L)



Day 1: Hanoi Arrive
Welcome to Hanoi, enjoy a Walking Tour in the Old Quarter

Landing at Noi Bai Airport, you are met and welcomed by your tour guide and driver at the pickup lobby. Enjoy the 45-minute drive to the city centre (Hanoi Old Quarter) with an information briefing about the  city's most visited spots, culture, traffic and cuisine. Check in at your hotel and have a rest. 

Continue the day with a Walking Tour. Start with the small pagoda named Ba Da, quietly located in a small alley - only a few steps from the Hanoi Great Cathedral, built by French colonialism in the 19th century. Your guide takes you to typical streets of Hanoi such as Lan Ong Street selling traditional medicine and Lo Ren Street where metal items are produced. Stop to visit the Dong Xuan Central Market - the largest in Hanoi. Continue walking to the area famous for night activities and street food - the vibrant Ta Hien Street, where you can see the amazing local foods and drinks. Try tasting some for an unforgettable experience.  End at your hotel.

Note: If your flight arrives late or you are jet lagged after a long journey, the walking tour will be moved to the City Tour, next day.

Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (B,L)
Explore the Temple of Literature, Van Mieu, the outstanding Museum of Ethnology, visit the French Quarter and discover Old town

9:00 AM: Collected by your tour guide and first stop is at the Temple of Literature which was built during the Ly dynasty in 11th century for worshipping Confucius and teaching the Royal children. Enjoy a walk in the garden to the city’s symbol, Khue Van Cac. You will then visit the World Heritage "Stone Steles” which show the names of outstanding students. Continue to explore the Quoc Tu Giam which is considered as the first national university of Vietnam.

Next stop is at the Ethnology Museum (closed every Monday) which offers a deep insight into Vietnamese culture through traditional costumes, tools, musical instruments and the traditional houses of many ethnic groups. To fully explore this interesting museum, it takes you around two hours. 

In the afternoon you visit the French Quarter – a “little Paris” in Hanoi, with tree-lined boulevards, government head offices and a big square. Visit (outside) Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum before taking a leisurely walk in the botanical gardens to visit the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts where he lived and worked. Then,  the unique One - Pillar Pagoda which is one of the city’s symbols. It takes us from 1 to 2 hours to explore this complex, depending on the number of travellers.

Come back to the city centre and rest before enjoying a performance of the unique Water Puppet Show, which first appeared in the 11th century. In these shows, the daily life, culture and beliefs of Vietnamese people are described by puppets on water. The show usually integrates a traditional music performance as well.

Return to your hotel. End of the day.

Day 3: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Lan Ha Bay (B,L,D)

8:30 – 9:00 your local English speaking tour guide and ultra-luxurious limousine van will meet you at your hotel, and we depart, travelling to the northeast of Vietnam, along the expressway to Tuan Chau Ha Long Tourist Wharf.

12.00: Arrive at Tuan Chau Marina Harbour, and enjoy 20 minutes speed boat ride from the wharf to Gia Luan area where our main vessel is anchored. You will be welcomed onto your Sena Cruise with fresh drinks while listening to a safety briefing, before checking into your cabin.  A beautiful lunch will be served in the luxury restaurant while cruising past the many rocks formations that emerge from the emerald water.

14.30: Arrival at Dark and Light Cave area where you are going to enjoy kayaking in the tunnel grotto. With the advantage of engine power, we will arrival at least 30 minutes to an hour before the area becomes busy.

16.30: After kayaking, you will return tothe Sena for a shower and to relax on the top deck for a small sunset party and happy hour as darkness comes over.

19.00: This evening, a delicious fresh  seafood barbecue will be served at the Roof Top Restaurant. What could be more enjoyable than sharing fine dining and memories of the day? Overnight on your Sena Cruise.

Day 4: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi - flight to Danang - to Hoi An (B,L)
6.00: Wake early to the sounds of the sea for another beautiful day, this time, experiencing a typical Oriental martial art Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck while a cool breeze blows and the sun slowly rises on the horizon. Following is your choice of a a western and/or Asian combination for breakfast also including kosher and vegan options.

7.30: You are transferred by tender to the boat wharf where we start a 20 minutes cycle to Viet Hai Village, slowly paddling along curve village lanes with a short break visiting a local family. Enjoy tea and talk with a Veteran who come back from the Vietnam War and went through difficult, subsidized, economic times in Vietnam.

8.30: We say farewell to our local host and continue cycling back to the harbour where we are transferred back to the cruise by tender.

9.30-10.00:  It's time to shower and change then check out.

11.00: Our last cruise lunch will be served while our Sena cruises back towards the pier. We take another 20 minute speed boat ride back to the shore where we disembark.

12.00: We board back into our luxury van and enjoy the two and a half hour ride via the Expressway, back to Hanoi.

15.00: Arrive back at Hanoi for the flight to Danang Airport, followed by our transfer to Hoi An.


Day 5: Hoi An Explore (B,L)
9:00 AM: You are collected at your hotel for your Hoi An Old Town Highlights Tour. First visit, Cam Pho - one of the oldest communal houses in Hoi An. It was built in the shape of a Chinese character and means the place for worshipping and trading, business and cultural exchange between local, Chinese and Japanese traders. We then go to a non-tourist destination, enhancing your visit making it more enjoyable and enriched by learning about the Japanese Tea Ceremony or making toys from coconut leaves with a local expert. 

We take a leisurely walk to the Hoi An city’s symbol - the Chua Cau or the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built in the 17th century to allow the Japanese quarter access from the Chinese neighbourhoods. The bridge’s original style has been carefully preserved for the last 400 years.

Immersing into the life of the town, we walk through the town to Quan Thang Ancient House - one of the most authentic old houses in Hoi An, with it's lively and fine architecture and sculptures which were made by craftsmen of the famous Kim Bong carpentry village, in the oriental style. The house offers a good insight into Hoi An daily family life. 

Next stop is the Phuc Kien or Fujian Assembly Hall which was built around 1690 and functioned as a traditional assembly hall for the Chinese ethnic group from Fujian, China - to socialise. But later, it was transformed into a temple dedicated to their deity, named Thien Hau – the Goddess of the Sea who protects sailors from danger. We spend some time shopping and have lunch in the town.

In the afternoon, we start the day with a welcome drink at Hai Café (98 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An town).

Visit the colourful Hoi An Market and experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas of this busy marketplace. We will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and learn about all the ingredients to be used in a cooking lesson, later.

We board the Red Bridge boat for a leisurely 25 minute cruise along the Hoi An River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. This is a chance to view local river life so make sure your camera is handy.

On arrival, we explore the cooking school’s herb garden, before learning about some of Hoi An’s and Vietnam’s well known dishes. The cooking lesson runs for about 2 hours – the Red Bridge chefs first demonstrate each dish before we prepare the same dishes ourselves. Included in the class is a brief introduction to Vietnamese food carving (plate decorations). After the lesson, we sit down and eat what we have cooked.

Transfer back to hotel at the end of the day.


Day 6: Hoi An - Danang - Hue (B,L)
Travelling to Hue, visiting Cham Sculpture Museum, Hai Van Pass, Thien Mu Pagoda and Hue Citadel

8:00 AM: You are collected from your hotel then travel to Hue by passing Da Nang along the Sea Road. On arrival in Da Nang, stop to visit the Cham Museum which preserves the most important Cham culture collections in the world. Walk to My Khe Beach where you enjoy the view of the giant Goodness of Mercy statue in the Linh Ung Pagoda. Take photos of fishermen by the beach before continuing the drive along the coastline to Hue ancient capital. Make a stop at the top of the Hai Van Pass to enjoy the breathtaking view of the ocean. 

On arrival in Hue, enjoy lunch then visit Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Hue, dating back to 1601. This is the spiritual highlight of the city and well known for its majestic octagon tower and beautiful view of the Perfume River.  

Keep your tour visit to the most important sites in the city - Hue Citadel, the only vestige symbol for what was once the Imperial City of Vietnam. It is inspired by the fortification of Vauban.

The city is composed of three parts: Kinh Thanh (the Capital City), Hoang Thanh (the Imperial City) and Cam Thanh (the Forbidden City). The most beautiful sites in Hue are concentrated in this area including the Flag Tower, the South Gate, the Palace of Supreme Harmony, the Dynasty Temple Area and the Settlement Area.

End of the day, check into your hotel and enjoy your stay in the ancient capital.


Day 7: Hue highlights (B,L)
An amazing day exploring Perfume River by boat, an excursion to Tien Non, Thanh Tien, Sinh village and Khai Dinh King's Tomb.

8:00 AM: Transfer to the Huong River (Perfume River) to embark on a Royal Boat trip to the villages to the east of the city. This is an opportunity to discover the local life on both sides of this poetic river. Upon arrival in Tien Non, disembark for a bike ride in the countryside through three villages: Tien Non, Thanh Tien and Sinh. During the trip, you will be immersed in the daily rhythm of life in those villages.

In Tien Non Village, meet the villagers working in the fields and vegetable gardens. Then, visit a family worship house. Next, reach Thanh Tien Village, an artificial paper flower village dating back 400 years. As well as the rural works, they make paper flowers for the New Year festival to offer to their ancestors with best wishes. Visit Mr. Hieu’s family, one of the well-known artisans in the village to learn how to make paper flowers under his instruction. Continue on to Sinh Village, the cradle of 400 year old folklore prints in Hue. Meet Mr Phuoc who will explain the techniques of traditional printing. You will find beautiful souvenirs available on this trip. Later, take the boat back to the city.

In the afternoon, drive to Khai Dinh King's tomb, built over 11 years (1920 – 1931) on Chau Tru Hill. Khai Dinh King's tomb is distinguished from other emperor's tombs by the mixture of oriental and western styles. A one hundredstep climb will take you to the worship palace at the top. You will discover the amazing decorations with delightful porcelain fragments, a giant painting on the ceiling and a small royal objects museum, next door. Finally, the descent offers a panoramic view to the tomb and surrounding area.

Tour end around 4:00 PM. Overnight in Hue.


Day 8: Hue - Flight to Hanoi (B,L)

Your private driver will pick you up at the hotel lobby (in Hue city center) for the approximately 30 minutes drive to Phu Bai Airport for your flight. Thank you for the visit to our city.

Note: Domestic flights require you to be at the airport 1.5 hours before your departure time.

Prices are in US Dollars ($*) and are subject to change depending on the season.

Please contact our Sales Department at for detailed pricing information.


  • English speaking tour guide following itinerary
  • All entrance fees and tickets mentioned in the Itinerary
  • Selected Accommodations with daily breakfast
  • Cruise: Sena Cruise - 2D1N
  • Boat trip and cooking class in Red Bridge Restaurant or similer one
  • Private transportation following itinerary
  • Shuttle bus: Hanoi - Got Ferry
  • Flight Tickets: VN181 HAN - DAD (Vietnam Airlines - Economy) , VN1542 HUI - HAN (Vietnam Airlines - Economy)
  • Meals: Breakfast: 07, Lunch: 04, Dinner: 01
  • Bike: Viet Hai Village cycling
  • Kayak: Ha Long Bay
  • Entertainment / Show: Water Puppet Show, Beach swimming, Squid Fishing, Morning Tai Chi, Foot Massage with traditional herbs
  • Cooking Class: Ha Long Bay
  • 01 bottle of water per pax per day
  • Service charges and Taxes


  • International flight from/to your country
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Tipping and Gratuities
  • Other not mentioned in the Program

Cancellation by Customer

  • Cancellation received before 60 days: No charge
  • Cancellation received from 30 days to 59 days prior arrival date: 10% of total rate
  • Cancellation received from 15 days to 29 days prior arrival date: 30% of total rate
  • Cancellation received from 7 days to 14 days prior arrival date: 50% of total rate
  • Cancellation received less than 7 days prior arrival date or No show: 100% of total rate

Children Policy

  • The rate for children applicable for one child sharing a twin or double cabin with two adults
  • For infant (<04 years old): FOC except domestic ticket cost
  • 04 - 11 years old without bed: 50% adult rate
  • 04 - 11 years old with extra bed: 75% adult rate
  • 04 - 11 years old in twin share: 90% adult rate

Service Details During The Trip

We’ll immerse you in the diverse cultures of Vietnam and Cambodia by showcasing the unique local flavors. By balancing included sightseeing and free time, we can customize your dream vacation with the things you have always wanted to do.

  • Private Local Tour Guide: You will have a fully licensed local tour guide from 'welcome' until you are farewelled at the airport. Your guide will guide, help, assist and take care of you in order to make your tour worry-free. Vietnam Exploration Booking Tours offer the best tour guides based on the features of your itinerary and the make up of the group, to maximize your tour while travelling. Having the right guide means you have the best experience.
  • Private Drivers and Vehicle: Safety is the first priority for transportation. All vehicles are in good condition and are well maintained with fully licensed and experienced drivers ensuring you are in safe hands. To maximize your comfort and enjoyable experience, cold drinking water and refreshing towels are provided in the car. 
  • ​​Local Flavor Meals: You don’t worry about meals; we select both restaurants and menus for you. Vietnam Exploration Booking Tours only chooses clean restaurants with pleasant environments for our guests. The menu is also carefully selected to ensure you can try different food at every meal. We will recommend and arrange local cuisine since it is part of the cultural experience while travelling. We can also recommend where to eat so you can enjoy your favourite food when not eating with the group.
  • Well-Selected Hotels: Comfort and good value are our priorities when choosing hotels for our guests. We do our best to ensure good rest by the comfort of the mattress and bedding and offering rooms with a pleasant decorative style, user friendly facilities, good service and a great breakfast!

Things to bring:
Wear comfortable shoes and clothes suitable for activities such as riding in the sampan, walking, cycling and for long drives. Prepare for hot weather. Bring a hat/cap, sun screen, sun glasses, a swimsuit and insect repellent. The weather is normally hot from May to October.

You should bring cash with you, preferably in Vietnamese Dong because the banking system doesn’t always function well. US Dollars and Euro are accepted in many places too. You should bring your medications with you although there are pharmacies throughout Vietnam if you do get sick.


Did we hit all the items on your travel bucket list for your holiday?
If not, don’t worry. We specialize in tailor-made tours and can customize this program to create your dream trip. Get in touch with your personal Travel Consultant to create your personalized program.

Don't want the fun to end?

Why not combine this tour with Ninh Binh toursSapa toursSaigon tours, cambodia tours, laos tours, Myanmar tours or spend a few days in the tropical paradise that is the Viet Nam coast? We take care of everything from flights to transfers and accommodation so that you can relax and enjoy your holiday. Explore our other destinations or speak with your personal Travel Consultant for some expert advice on suitable combinations.