Travel the length of Vietnam, uncovering centuries of history and culture in Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An; and witnessing everyday life in spectacular places from Halong Bay to the Mekong Delta.

Starting at: $5,397 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Terraced rice fields in Vietnam. Credit: Hoang Long Ly
 Throwing fishing nets along the river in Vietnam. Credit: Amanda Mack
 The breathtaking Ha Long Bay
 Temple of Literature, Hanoi
 The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi
 Ha Long Bay
 Terraced rice fields
 Da Nang Harbor
 Traditional musicians
 The village of Hoi An, a World Heritage site
 The canals of Hoi An
 The Perfume River near Hue
 Pavilion in the Imperial City, Hue
 Tomb area of Khai Dinh, Hue
 Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue
 Pavilion at the Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue
 Woman working with flowers on the Mekong. Credit: Nhiem Hoang
 Floating market on the river
 Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City at dusk
 Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City

Discovering Vietnam

15 days from $5,397 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Travel the length of Vietnam, uncovering centuries of history and culture in Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An; and witnessing everyday life in spectacular places from Halong Bay to the Mekong Delta.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

This was our first Smithsonian tour and we were impressed! It combined first class transportation and accommodations with intelligent and thought provoking seminars plus knowledgeable tour directors and study leaders. It won't be our last Smithsonian Journey. 

- Carol R.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL VALUE

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty, Vietnam’s traditions endure, rewarding travelers with a glimpse of the past amid modern changes. Make your way from the delightful Old Quarter of Hanoi to villages of the lush Mekong Delta, where local farmers still sell their produce in floating markets. Explore history amid the World Heritage sites of Hue’s Imperial City and Hoi An, glide among otherworldly karst formations on Halong Bay, and get acquainted with the timeless rhythms of rural life on a visit to a farming village.

Highlights Include

  • Hanoi and Halong Bay: Discover historic Hanoi on a guided tour that includes the ancient Temple of Literature and the One-Pillar Pagoda as well as more recent sites such as the “Hanoi Hilton” prison.  Then enjoy a boat excursion on breathtaking Halong Bay, a World Heritage site known for its mystical karst cliffs and islands.
  • Da Nang and Hoi An: Delve into ancient Cham culture in Da Nang, and spend a full day exploring the World Heritage site of Hoi An, a beautifully preserved medieval trading port.
  • Hue: Experience the grandeur of the imperial Hué, cruising the Perfume River to the peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda and visiting the palatial and diverse tombs of the Nguyen emperors.
  • Mekong River: Spend two days on the Mekong, riding local boats along small tributaries and inlets to the bustling floating market at Cai Rang and to other traditional villages.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: On a city tour, visit Reunification Palace, kept as it was when Saigon fell in 1975, and learn about Vietnam’s cultural history and fine arts at the city’s renowned museums. Venture into the Cu Chi Tunnels, used by the Viet Cong during the war.
  • Cultural Experiences: Learn to prepare local dishes during a private cooking lesson, visit a farming settlement, and sit down to lunch in the home of a local historian. 

This was our first Smithsonian tour and we were impressed! It combined first class transportation and accommodations with intelligent and thought provoking seminars plus knowledgeable tour directors and study leaders. It won't be our last Smithsonian Journey. 

- Carol R.

Itinerary

Days 1 and 2 — Depart the U.S. for Hanoi, Vietnam

Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Vietnam’s capital. Settle into your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 3 — Hanoi

Begin the day with a walking tour of Ba Dinh Square, which is flanked by some of the city’s most important sites.  See the marble and granite mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and the Presidential Palace, and learn the legend behind the One Pillar Pagoda, originally built nearly a thousand years ago. After lunch on your own, set out to discover more of this French-influenced city on an orientation tour. View the ethereal Hoan Kiem Lake, and visit the Temple of Literature, built in the 11th century to honor scholars. Venture into the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. Later, stroll the narrow, bustling streets of the Old Quarter, where you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 — Hanoi and Halong Bay

Depart on a full-day excursion to the World Heritage site of Halong Bay. Here, the coastal waterway is surrounded by a magical landscape of vertical karst peaks, tufted islets, and hidden caves. Glide across this mystical bay on a tour by local boat to discover some of its 3,000 islands and dramatic rock formations. Enjoy a seafood lunch along the way. (B,L)

Day 5 — Da Nang

Fly south to Da Nang, Vietnam’s third-largest city, stretched along the shores where the French navy first landed in 1858. Visit the acclaimed Cham Museum, which celebrates the Cham people’s Hindu legacy with a fine collection of sculptures and artifacts dating from the 7th to 15th centuries. Then check in to your beachfront hotel and take advantage of an afternoon at leisure. (B,D)

Day 6 — Da Nang and Hoi An

Spend the day in nearby Hoi An, a once-thriving port town that drew traders from Europe, Japan, and China during its heyday in the 15th to 19th centuries. Now a World Heriage site, the town still boasts hundreds of beautifully preserved wooden houses and intricate urban planning that reflect the global influence on local architecture. Soak up the charms of the vibrant Old Town, a pedestrian zone lined with tailors, shops, and art galleries. Tonight, return to Hoi An for a cooking lesson and dinner. (B,D)

Day 7 — Da Nang

Pay a visit to a local farming settlement to get acquainted with everyday life in rural Vietnam. The community is set among dazzling rice fields, where timeless scenes play out: villagers threshing and harvesting rice, water buffaloes plowing the fields, and residents riding to the market on bicycles piled high with produce. Enjoy lunch together in a local restaurant, then have the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 8 —Hue

Travel to the imperial capital of Hue, where palaces, temples, and tombs evoke the grandeur and opulence of the Nguyen Dynasty whose emperors ruled here until the 20th century. Venture into the Imperial City, now a World Heritage site, and visit the Central Market where locals shop. Gain insights into Hue’s past during lunch at the home of a local historian. Tonight, gather for a special dinner accompanied by a traditional music performance. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Hue

Embark on a morning cruise along Hue’s Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, a Buddhist monastery.  Admire the architectural details at the majestic Tomb of Minh Mang, and trace the evolution of the Nguyen emperors—and Vietnam—at the tombs of Tu Doc and Khai Dinh. End today’s tour with lunch at Thien, and a visit to a buddhist nunnery, where guests will meet the head bhikkhunī (nun) along with other nuns, and learn about the simple lifestyle the nuns live there. (B,L)

Day 10 — Mekong Delta and Can Tho

Make your way to the fabled Mekong Delta in Vietnam’s southernmost reaches today. Board an early flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Continue your journey with a four and a half hour drive south to the Mekong River town of Cai Be. Travel through the lush delta by road, arriving in the provincial capital of Can Tho, set at the confluence of two Mekong tributaries. Check in to your waterfront hotel and enjoy dinner together. (B,D)

Day 11 — Can Tho and Cai Rang

Rise early for a journey by boat to the floating market at Cai Rang on the Mekong’s lower reaches. Experience the sensory feast of the bustling market, where local farmers and merchants hawks their wares from sampans filled with colorful piles of produce, fish, and other goods. After lunch together at a local restaurant, the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 12 — Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City

Drive to the upper reaches of the Mekong, where you’ll climb into motorized sampans for an closer look at life on the banks of this storied river. Following lunch at a local restaurant, return by coach to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving late in the afternoon. Take advantage of a free evening to try out one of the city’s many restaurants. (B,L)

Day 13 — Ho Chi Minh City

Discover the city once known as Saigon on a morning tour. Visit Reunification Palace, the wartime headquarters of the South Vietnamese government wartime headquarters until the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. Meander through palace rooms frozen in time, preserved almost exactly as they were on that day. At the History Museum, browse an excellent collection of art and artifacts that showcase the indigenous cultures of Vietnam. Then delve into Vietnam’s fine art traditions on a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Fine Art museum. Later, attend a traditional water puppet performance. (B,D)

Day 14 — Ho Chi Minh City

Step back in time on a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the infamous network of hand-dug tunnels and underground chambers from which North Vietnamese forces operated during the Vietnam War. Tonight, toast your Vietnam journey at a farewell dinner. (B,D)

Day 15 — Depart for the U.S.

Depart for the airport to catch your return flights to the U.S. (B)

Please note: Depending on flight schedules, certain U.S. cities may require an evening flight from Ho Chi Minh City on Day 15, arriving in the U.S. on Day 16. In this case, hotel rooms will be reserved for late check-out on Day 15.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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