Vietnam Itineraries Idea for 12 Days – What to Do in Vietnam 12 Days

Vietnam Itineraries idea for 12 days

Hey, if you are planning to visit Vietnam for the next holiday, below are perfect suggested sample of 12 days discovering Vietnam. This itinerary is ideal for family holiday, group of friends or couple with more relaxation time available.  Highlights include an overnight cruise around Halong Bay on a junk boat, the historic towns of Hue and Hoi An, a home stay in the Mekong Delta and the two main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Check it out!

Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam. Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, obtain your Vietnam visa (with pre-approval letter), and then clear Immigration and Customs.

Take the bus to the hotels and just relax there after the long flight and get ready to explore the best of Vietnam holiday 12 days.

Day 2: A palace, a museum, pagodas in Hanoi

Morning, you’ll head out to visit Ba Dinh Square to see Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the museum to his life and the simple cottage where he lived and worked, along with his “house on stilts” and his final resting place; and take in Hanoi’s famous One-Pillar Pagoda, constructed in 1049 to resemble a lotus blossom.

Chua mot cot - One Pillar pagoda
One-Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi

 

From One Pillar Pagoda, you can walk or take the car to Temple of Literature, and continue to the Temple of Literature, which dates back to 1070 and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius.

Vietnam itinerary
Sword Lake at night

This afternoon, drive through Colonial Hanoi, seeing the Opera House and other local sights. Go inside infamous Hoa Lo Prison (“Hanoi Hilton”), where Senator John McCain and Douglas “Pete” Wilson were once imprisoned, Next enjoy an electric tram tour or cyclo tour through the Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a network of narrow alleys and shop houses also known as “The 36 Streets.” This is a wonderful place to watch the local life, and peruse items from fabrics to crafts to exotic medicines. Enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet performance, a uniquely North Vietnamese art form celebrating rural life and folklore for over 1,000 years, this evening. 

>>> See 41 incredible things to do in Hanoi

Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay

After breakfast you will leave Hanoi for the 3.5 hour journey to Halong Bay, passing through a number of North Vietnamese towns and villages. Begin a relaxing and unforgettable cruise around the breathtaking and unique limestone karsts and islets. A delicious fresh seafood lunch will be served as you cruise this spectacular bay, a UNESCO listed site.  

Halong Bay

After lunch, explore some of Halong Bay’s famous caves by bamboo boat or kayaking based on your preference. And then reach on the top of Soi Sim beach to have a panorama view of Halong Bay. All activities arranged by the cruise are on a shared basis. 

Return to your junk boat to watch a cooking class or fruits & vegetable carving on sundeck – How to make spring rolls.

Day 4: Halong Bay – Hue via Hanoi

In the morning, wake up early to see the sunrise over the spectacular horizon, reflecting in the pristine waters of the bay, with a cup of tea or coffee. Then join a Tai Chi class on the sundeck if you wish before enjoying breakfast in the fresh air. Continue to sail around this natural wonder. Visit to the Sung Sot Cave by walking up about 100 steps to the cave entrance and tour the cave for approximately 45 minutes. Walk down about 100 steps and return to the boat. Proper shoes are highly recommended.

 

Start off a new day with tai chi class on the sundeck

Return to the boat then check-out of the cabin. Start cruising towards the harbor while an A la carte lunch is served. The crew will bid you farewell and you disembark with our tender boat to the Tuan Chau Pier. Return your Hanoi hotel by cruise’s shuttle bus to collect big baggage and take a private transfer to Hanoi airport for your short flight to Hue, Vietnam’s most beautiful city, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the central coast of Vietnam. 

In the evening, Fly Hanoi to Hue. Please note that flight from Hanoi To Hue on Vietnam Airlines  take off  at 19:05, arriving at 20:15

Settle in and enjoy the evening in Hue.

 

Hue city at night
Hue city at night

Day 5: Hue

This morning visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City nearby. Modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing by the Nguyen emperors in the early 19th century, the city was badly damaged during the war but the imposing city walls surrounded by a large moat afford good views of Hue. The palace retains a feeling of its past scale and importance, with detailed stonework and pavilions and it is at the moment in the process of being restored to its former magnificence.

Continue to Thien Mu Pagoda, sitting on the riverbank outside the city, this octagonal seven tier stupa has long been regarded as the symbol of Hué and was founded in 1601. It is still a site of Buddhist worship and its huge bell is said to be audible from the city. 

Explore Emperors Tombs Hue’s environment is dotted with tombs of past emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Construction of the tombs was meticulous carried out starting whilst the king was still alive in order to ensure his comfort in the next life. Most of the tombs have courtyards, a temple for worship, statues of elephants and figures and a pond, but the layout of each is different reflecting differing each king’s personality and style. They have a lovely peaceful atmosphere. Khai Dinh and the tomb of 19th-century emperor Tu Duc, considered the most beautiful mausoleums around Hue. Each ruler of the Imperial City built his own tomb during his reign.

Day 6: Hue – Hoian via Danang

Road journey from Hue to Hoian: After breakfast, drive south along highway 1 to Hoian about 3 hours for a short visit Cham architecture & art museum in Danang.

Afternoon tour of Hoi An: We will discover Hoian Ancient Town to see how the traditions of the past are treasured in the present in town along the Thu Bon River. Touring Hoi An’s historic highlights such as well-preserved, centuries-old streets, dwellings, temples and pagodas; Explore its shop-lined streets, view the red-painted Japanese Covered Bridge – the three Chinese characters over the door mean “bridge for passers-by from afar” and Meet the 200-year-old “Phung Hung” house, noted for its unique architecture. What you’ll see there will reveal much about the lives of Hoi An merchants long ago.

Visit the workshop of a traditional lantern maker for a demonstration of this time-honored craft; chat with artisans and try your skills as you create your own lantern to take home.  Hoi An, the cobblestone streets in the old French Quarter are a delight to roam with many cafes, art galleries and handicraft shops. Hoi An is especially well known for its local artists and tailor made clothing, with over sixty shops providing this service in town.  The remainder of the day is free at leisure. 

Day 7: Hoian leisure time

Hire a bicycle to see the countryside of Hoian or soak up the sun at the beautiful Cua Dai Beach. There is also a  good chance to catch up with your tailor or search the numerous galleries for a masterpiece.

Hoi an beach
Hoi an beach with white sands and clear blue water

Day 8: Hoian – Ho Chi Minh City

Morning: Tranfer to the airport in time for your flight to Ho Chi Minh. Fly Danang to HCMC  on Vietnam Airlines VN 7129, departing 09:35, arriving 10:55 

Welcome to HCMC. Upon arrival at HCMC Airport. After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside our guide. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely hotel. 

Afternoon : we’ll discover Saigon’s historic landmarks including the War Remnants Museum, established in September 1975 in Ho Chi Minh City, it contains countless artifacts, photographs and pictures documenting some of the less heroic activities carried out by the US army in Vietnam. Planes, tanks, bombs and helicopters are also on display. Next visit the FITO Museum, it is the first museum of Vietnamese medicine. On display are nearly 3,000 items dating back to the Stone Age. Exhibits include tools used to prepare medicine, knives, mortars and pestles, documents and objects from a traditional pharmacy. The museum regularly screens a documentary about the history of medicine. Continue visiting to the 1880’s General Post Office and the late 19th century Notre Dame cathedral, located in a peaceful part of the city. Ending at Ben Thanh Market or House of Saigon for shopping and café. 

Day 9: HCMC – Cai Be floating market – Unique Homestay

Road journey through the Mekong Delta to Tan Phong, through Cai Be.

Floating market in Cai Be

Leave the city by minivan and drive south to Cai Be in the Mekong delta, a journey of approximately 2 hours. The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’ – a fertile region of flat farmland interlaced with thousands of waterways and tributaries of the Mekong. The delta’s waters are interspersed with rice fields, colorful floating markets and isolated villages accessible only by boat. 

On arrival in Cai Be embarkation, set off by motor boat to visit the Cai Be floating market and watch the locals trading fruit and many other commodities on board their vessels. Visit a small family business to see how coconut candy and crispy rice popcorn are made. Then wander into the small villages to visit the orchard and fruit plantation, accompanied by traditional southern Vietnamese folk music.  Keep cruising to canals to experience the charms of the Upper Mekong Delta.  Arrive in Tan Phong island, the green pearl where you can immerse yourself in nature. Enjoy your cooking experience and learn how to prepare special Vietnamese dishes. Food cooked by yourself and fresh river food served in the heart of the garden. Relax on the hammocks to get back your energy. 

Afternoon we cycle around the village path with fruit orchards and bonsai garden. Meet the local islanders to learn more about the local daily life in the Mekong delta. Continue transferring to the island for the overnight home-stay experience with the local people. After meeting your home stay hosts, you’re free to walk around the house and village to explore the countryside. You will prepare your own dinner (Vietnamese dishes) with help from your host. Overnight home-stay with your hospitable island hosts. 

Day 10: Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh

After breakfast, you will be visiting Mr Ba Duc ‘s ancient house. It’s one of several houses preserved in harmonious combination of two architectural styles: Vietnamese and French, whose shape is unique to the colonial period. Today, you will also visit a rice husking mill to learn about the procedure for rice production. Mekong Delta is popular for its own unique charm. In Cai Be, a lot of materials are still hand-crafted, such as: “Cham La”, the coconut leaves used to weave the roofs of homes. If you want to see how bricks are made, you’ll see it here. 

After lunch at a restaurant serving local cuisine, you will taking back your hotel in  HCMC by minivan.

Day 11: Cu Chi Tunnels by minivan

Morning tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels: This morning, enjoy scenic drive through the countryside as people work on their rice paddies and thatched hut villages scattered along the way. Visit a local village making rice paper, a well-known product used to make the delicious spring rolls. Arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels to explore part of the 151-mile underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Cambodia to the Saigon River. Cu Chi is a must for anyone interested in understanding a vital aspect of guerrilla warfare fought by the Vietnamese against both the French and the Americans. These criss-crossing tunnels were begun in the late 1940s by local resistance fighters looking for a place to hide their weapons from the French. Discover secret trapdoors, field hospitals, command posts, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms. 

cu-chi-tunnel ho chi minh city
Cu Chi Tunnels

Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh

See more Vietnam itineraries 12 days with cost here

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Vietnam Itineraries Idea for 12 Days – What to Do in Vietnam 12 Days
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