DETAIL: I.  Popular tour activities:

Place Normal activities in classic tours Extra thing in the same place Optional activity at other places Remarks
Hanoi Trishaw ride, walk in old town, visits to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Ethnology Museum, Fine Art Museum, water puppet show, Tran Quoc pagoda Shopping in the Old Quarter, enjoying ice cream and cozy atmosphere by the Hoan Kiem lake Visits to famous Bat Trang ceramic village or Van Phuc silk village; visit minority villages in Hoa Binh; golfing in Chi Linh, Tam Dao, Dai Duong, etc. Interesting to explore the old town on foot or by rickshaw
Halong Bay cruise for 4 or 5 hours or over night aboard, excellent swimming except in winter Tea time or happy hour aboard; kayaking Cruise to Cat Ba island (about 6 hours), visit Mong Cai border Delicious seafood and relaxing time
Sapa Trekking to villages of the H’mong, Red Dao, or Giay peoples: Ta Phin, Lao Chai, Ta Van, Y Lin Ho, Ban Ho, Thanh Phu, Cat Cat, etc. Swimming, fishing in rivers or lakes; climbing Phan-si-pan - the highest peak in Indochina Visit colourful  markets of the mountaineers in Muong Khuong, Bac Ha, Muong Hum, Coc Ly Long bus trips between Hanoi – Sapa, night trains available
North-West (Hoa Binh, Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Lao Cai) Scenic North-West loop by landcruiser through passes, mountains, rivers, minority villages; visit historic vestiges in Dien Bien; Visit minority villages in Mai Chau Short visits to minority villages on the way; Trekking to minority villages near Dien Bien, Lai Chau, Phong Tho Some rough roads,
Breath-taking sceneries,
Tourists are  not warmly welcome at some villages as intruders
North-East (Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son) Scenic North-West loop by landcruiser through passes, mountains, rivers, minority villages; visit Ba Be national park; Lung Cu northern tip and minority villages in Dong Van, Meo Vac; Historic vestiges in Pac Po; Ban Gioc waterfall; Short visits to minority villages on the way; Visit Ky Lua market, Huu Nghi Border gate, Tam Thanh Pagoda in Lang Son etc. Extra scenic ride to Hoang Su Phi; highlights for conifer collectors Good roads but sole,
Breath-taking sceneries,
Minority people are still very shy, not touristy
Ninh Binh Visits to Hoa Lu Temples, Bich Dong grotto; rowing boat trip through the Tam Coc caves; trekking in Cuc Phuong National Park Walking, biking through rice fields; visiting interesting villages Visit Phat Diem stone church; highlights for bird watchers Very scenic boat ride in Tam Coc; adventurous treks in Cuc Phuong
Hue Visits to the Forbidden city, Minh Mang tomb, Tu Duc tomb, Khai Dinh Tomb, Thien Mu pagoda, Dong Ba market, boat trip on Perfume River Motorcycle or bike ride through villages and rice fields; cooking class on boat, Royal Feast, lunch ceremony at Tu Hieu Pagoda Visit Thuan An beach, Lang Co beach, Thanh Tan hot spring, Bach Ma national park Choose between similar tombs of Minh Mang and Tu Duc ; Relaxing and peaceful city and activities
Da Nang Visit Cham Museum, Marble Mountains Many photo stops on route from Hue to Da Nang Visit Ba Na hills, China beach Scenic drive, interesting marble stone handicraft village
Hoian Walk in the ancient town, shopping, swimming, relaxing at the beach or café hangouts Fantastic bike rides through rice fields and villages; boat trip through fishing villages, palm plantations Visit My Son Holy Land – Cham ruins – a World Cultural Heritage; Cruise to Cham Island Great cozy town with cheap and good food, shopping
Nha Trang Great cruise on one of the most beautiful bays of the world, swimming, snorkeling, diving, seafood Beautiful bike or motorcycle rides in the countryside; enjoy a pleasant healthy mud bath On route from Hoian to Nha Trang, visit the My Lai Museum in Quang Ngai; Whale Island; Ba Ho Waterfall Great swimming and snorkeling; Delicious seafood; relaxing beach massage
Da Lat Visit the Golden Valley, Truc Lam Meditation Institute, Bao Dai Summer Palace, Waterfalls, Linh Phuoc pagoda, Valley of love, etc. Horse ride, Dalat by night by bike, enjoy a drink at café hangouts; trek on Lang Bian mountains; visit minority villages; visit local work shops of making silk, wine, sweets; Visit Cat Tien National park, Bi Dup national park; highlights for conifer collectors, bird watchers Pleasant temperature round the year; beautiful landscapes; romantic city for honeymooners; paradise for flower and vegetable lovers
Central Highlands (Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Nong) Visit Dray Sap waterfall, minority villages of Jun, Don, Dektu of Mnong, Ede, Banar groups in Dak Lak and Kontum; enjoy elephant rides; trekking in Jun village and Don village; historic vestiges in Ban Me Thuoc and Kon Tum Dug-out ride in Lak Lake; swimming in rivers, lakes; enjoy traditional gong music, straw wine and festivals Trekking to villages near Kon Tum and Pley Ku Interesting minority villages, traditional music and festivals; enjoyable elephant rides; Not touristy
Mui Ne Relaxing, swimming, walks on beach, sand dunes, enjoying seafood; etc Visit Poshanu Cham temple, fishing villages, colourful harbours, fish sauce villages Explore the scenic Suoi Tien Creek; climb Ta Ku mountain; cruise around the scenic areas by motorcycle The beaches may become dirty or invisible due to the tides
HCMC Visit  Notre Dam cathedral and central post office, War Museum, History museum, Reunification Hall, China town, Thien Hau Temple, Jade Emperor pagoda, Giac Lam pagoda, Cu Chi Tunnels;  Rickshaw ride in the hustle bustle of the city; visit a school or an orphanage; visit Dam Sen park;  shopping at Ben Thanh market, along Le Loi street, Dong Khoi street, Le Cong kieu antique street; killing time by watching the chaotic traffic at many café hangouts; Enjoy choices of good international foods; enjoy massage and spa Visit Can Gio eco-tourism park, Suoi Tien Amusement park; golfing in Thu Duc, Binh Duong, Long Thanh etc.; Boat trips on the Saigon River to Thanh Da island, Cu Chi tunnels, Can Gio park; Cozy metropolitan city with great atmosphere, shopping, various choices of food
Mekong Delta (My Tho, Ben Tre, Cai Be, Vinh Long, Can Tho, Chau Doc, Xeo Quyt, Phu Quoc island) Fascinating boat trips on the Mekong River, through small canals, villages and orchards; enjoy lively floating markets, walks though villages and gardens; visit local houses and family workshops; enjoy delicious local food and tropical fruits; admire the people’s hospitality and friendliness, enjoy Sun-Sea-Sand on beautiful beaches in Phu Quoc Terrific tuk tuk, bike, or motorcycle ride through villages, gardens, rice fields, bridges and canals; tasting Mekong Whiskey Trip to Soc Trang  and Tra Vinh to visit beautiful Khmer pagodas; visit bird gardens and  nature reserves Home stay is a really enjoyable and memorable activity; Boat trips to bird gardens or nature reserve are long and stiff; Express boats to Phu Quoc from Chau Doc and Rach Gia; border crossing to Cambodia in Ha Tien, Tinh Bien, Chau Doc
Tay Ninh Cao Dai Holy See – a very colourful construction and interesting religion Visit family work shops of making rice paper cakes, rice fields, rubber plantations on the way, etc. Climb/ Cable car on the Black Lady Mountain; visit the former Headquarter of the Communist troops Combined with the Cu Chi tunnels in 1 day trip
II. Lengths of trips:
4 – 6 weeks : Good duration for a thorough understanding of the country, seeing most of the places at a relaxing pace, chance of attending some big events
3 weeks : Good duration for a good understanding of the country, seeing most the places at an average pace
2 weeks : proper duration to see most of the popular cities or tourist attractions at an average pace
8 – 10 days : A glimpse of Vietnam through big cities of Hanoi, Halong, Hue, Hoian, HCMC at a high pace
4 – 7 days : Proper durations for only 1 region: North, Middle, South at average pace; Possible durations to see 2 regions: North/Middle; North/South; South/Middle at a high pace
III. Time to travel:
  • It’s reasonable to travel in Vietnam all year round. The weather seems to compromise among the regions: If it rains a lot in the South, it may be very dry and hot in the North and Middle or vice versa; If it is very cold in the North and Middle, it may be warm in the South; The scenery and its colors vary throughout the year in different regions.
  • Though it may be stormy in the Middle from October to December, it is still considered the best time to travel in Vietnam. The weather is quite mild in those months throughout the country except for unlucky storms in the Middle. The scenery seems to show its best mixture of colours of green, yellow, blue and grey.
  • Though the period from January to April is considered high season to travel in Vietnam, it’s not quite worth the high season extra costs as it can be very cold and misty in the North and very hot in the South.
  • Though the period from May to September is considered low season to travel in Vietnam due to wet season in the South and hot summer in the Middle and North, it is still worth traveling. You may get some discounts on hotels, it’s not too touristy, it does not rain heavily everyday in the South, and you can enjoy swimming in the sea in hot days in Nha Trang, Hoian, Ha Long.
IV. Entrance fees to attractions:
Sapa : VND 15,000/VILLAGE
HCM House : VND 15,000
Temple of Literature : VND 30,000
Museum of Ethnics : VND 40,000
Fine Arts Museum : VND 20,000
Water Puppet Show : VND 100,000 (FIRST CLASS)
Halong : VND 170,000
Hoa Lu temples : VND 10,000
Tam Coc caves : VND 80,000
Perfume Pagoda : VND 65,000
Cable car to Perfume Pagoda : VND 100,000d/return
Cable car to Perfume Pagoda : VND 60,000d/way
Forbidden City in Hue : VND 150,000
Royal Tomb : VND 100,000/tobm
My Son : VND 100,000
HoiAn city : VND 120,000
My Lai : VND 15,000
Cham museum : VND 40,000
The Marble Mountains : VND 30,000
Oceanic Institute in Nha Trang : VND 30,000
Tri Nguyen Aquarium : VND 70,000
Nha Trang Bay fee : VND 15,000
Cham Temple : VND 22,000
Water Fall : VND 10,000
Bao Dai Summer Palace : VND 10,000
Train in Dalat : VND 100,000 (1 way)
Valley of love : VND 10,000
Flower Garden : VND 10,000
War Museum : VND 15,000
Presidential Palace : VND 30,000
Cu Chi Tunnels : VND 110,000
Suoi Tien Park : VND 35,000
Dam Sen dry park : VND 35,000
Dam Sen water park : VND100,000

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