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Vietnam Highlands

Witness the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese city life surrounded by slow, retro village life. Tour iconic cities and ancient sites on this awe-inspiring adventure through the Vietnam Highlands. Start off in Hong Kong where the skyline is a sight to be seen; explore this modern metropolis and view the city from afar with a harbor cruise for the perfect view. Travel from the top to the tail of Vietnam, stopping at all of the unique cities that make up this bustling country along the way. Sapa, Hanoi, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh are just a few of the stops you’ll make as you go deep into the heart of Vietnam and understand why so many people fall in love with this culturally rich country. 

Trip Type: Cosmopolitan, Cultural, Rail

MapVietnam HighlandsVietnam Highlands

Day By Day

Day 1 – USA to Hong Kong
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price. 

Day 2 – Welcome to Hong Kong
You will be met by a representative holding a sign with the company logo at the waiting hall, which is after baggage claim and customs clearance. You will then be transferred to your hotel.

Hong Kong is a place of contrasts: geographically, socially and economically. Although many Asian cities claim to be where East meets West, the former British Crown Colony-whose largely Chinese population was ruled by Europeans for 156 years-is probably the closest the world comes to the genuine article.

Perched precariously on the edge of mainland China, Hong Kong has been battered by geopolitical forces for centuries. Thanks to its strategic deepwater harbor and proximity to Asia's most populous nation, the city profited as the capitalist gateway for the communist giant to the north. What was once a fishing village became one of the world's busiest international ports and business centers.

Scratch the cosmopolitan, high-tech surface, however, and you'll discover vestiges of ancient China lying just below the city's modern urban facade and, in some cases, right alongside it. Residents invariably live in two worlds: Skyscrapers and enormous shopping malls sit next to narrow alleys crowded with traditional vendors' stalls. Businesspeople use cell phones to consult fortune-tellers before making important decisions. Taoist priests exorcise evil spirits from buildings, even from the city's racecourses. In sleepy walled villages, farmers tend their crops in the same way they have for generations.

Starting Accommodation: InterContinental Grand Stanford

Day 3 – Hong Kong Island Orientation
Pick up from hotel to traverse the World-renowned Victoria Harbour via the Cross-Harbor Tunnel.  We then drive through Wanchai and take the Peak Tram to Victoria Peak, which operates on a double reversible funicular system with a maximum speed of 6 meters per second. Victoria Peak offers a breath-taking 360-degree view of the bustling harbor, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as far as the eye can see.  From Victoria Peak, the tour continues to Aberdeen village via the scenic resort areas of Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay. At Aberdeen board a sampan to see the fishing junks and the Jumbo floating restaurant moored there. The tour will continue to Stanley Markets where you will have free time to stroll around historic fishing lanes jam-packed with vendors selling Chinese artwork, silk collectibles and curios.

Starting Accommodation: InterContinental Grand Stanford (B)

Day 4 – Hong Kong to Hanoi
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Vietnam. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle.

Hanoi has been forever changed by the introduction of literally millions of motorbikes, which dodge, weave and honk through the narrow streets of the Old Quarter and down the broad, old avenues of the Colonial District. The noise is omnipresent and the streets are packed with traffic, and the sidewalks are covered with parked vehicles and outdoor shops.

Hoan Kiem Lake is the heart of the city. Stroll along the pedestrian paths around its edge, then enjoy an espresso and pastry at the lakeside cafe. Cross red-painted Rising Sun Bridge to enjoy the relative quiet around Ngoc Son temple. Visit the Temple of Literature, the only remaining original building at 1,000-year-old Hanoi University.

Starting Accommodation: Nikko Hotel Hanoi (B)

Day 5 – Hanoi City Tour
Hanoi, a capital city of Vietnam, is a very attractive city with French style buildings and less traffic than other cities in Asia. Visit to One Pillar Pagoda which was built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. Then proceed to Temple of Literature. Temple of Literature is a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, this monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next stop is Hoan Kiem Lake. Right in the heart of Hanoi, this lake contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda, topped with a red star.

After that visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh is a glass sarcophagus set deep in the bowels of a monumental edifice that has become a site of pilgrimage. Following Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is Opera House, a magnificent 900-seat opera house built in 1911. End the tour in Hanoi at St. Joseph Cathedral and Bao Tang Lich which exhibits artifacts from Vietnam's turbulent history including some from prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilizations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms.

Board the Victoria Express to Sapa
The Victoria Express Train is a 10 hour trip from Hanoi to Lao Cai, accommodating 48 passengers with comfortable seating, a dining carriage and two luxurious sleeping carriages.

Watch the beautiful scenery in front of you, from the luxury of your seat, or take a nap in the comfort of our cozy sleeping carriage. If you prefer, you can indulge yourself in our dining carriage, 'Le Tokin', (operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday only) where you can savor the delights of traditional Vietnamese and Western cuisine. Our talented Chef Nguyen Tien Duc will be waiting for you with a selection of the best wines, adding a further exquisite touch to a memorable experience.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Express (B)

Day 6 – Hanoi City to Sapa (Via Victoria Express)
Transfer from Hanoi City to station for departure to Sapa. 

The Victoria Express Train is a 10 hour trip from Hanoi to Lao Cai, accommodating 48 passengers with comfortable seating, a dining carriage and two luxurious sleeping carriages.
Watch the beautiful scenery in front of you, from the luxury of your seat, or take a nap in the comfort of our cozy sleeping carriage. If you prefer, you can indulge yourself in our dining carriage, 'Le Tokin', (operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday only) where you can savor the delights of traditional Vietnamese and Western cuisine. Our talented Chef Nguyen Tien Duc will be waiting for you with a selection of the best wines, adding a further exquisite touch to a memorable experience.

With its elegant carriages, the Victoria Express Train recalls a more romantic era. Passing through the exotic landscapes of North Vietnam, between the charming cities of Hanoi and Lao Cai (21 miles from Sapa), it offers every visitor a wonderful travelling experience.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Express

Day 7 – Trekking Lao Chai, Ta Van & Giang Ta Chai
Explore the stunning mountain scenery around Sapa, visiting local minority villages on the way. This day's trek is moderately easy, over level terrain.
You will commence your journey by driving south toward Muong Hoa valley to the village of Lao Chai. You will then start your walk by descending into the valley, which is the largest terraced rice paddy in the Sapa area. If you visit the valley sometime in between May and October, you will be able to observe and experience how the locals plant and harvest, one of the most important activities in their daily life. The walk takes you from Lao Chai village of the Black H'mong minority to Ta Van village of the Giay minority, and Giang Ta Chai, another minority village populated by Hmong and Dzay. After your trek, transfer by jeep back to Sapa.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Resort Sapa

Day 8 – Bac Ha Market
Bac Ha is the largest and most colorful market in the area. Every Sunday morning, many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. In the afternoon, you will walk to the Tay minority village of Trung Do where you will get onboard a traditional boat and cruise along the Chay River.

Transfer Sapa to Lao Cai Station
Transfer by private vehicle to the railway station and board your train – the Victoria Express with overnight service from Lao Cai back to Hanoi. The train departs Lao Cai 9:00 pm and arrives Hanoi 5:30 am the following day.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Express (B)

Day 9 – Hanoi to Hoi An
You will be met at the train station and transferred by private vehicle to the airport for the flight to Danang. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in Hoi An.

Settled on the banks of the Thu Bon River, the charming and colorful market town of Hoi An was a major port in centuries past, with ships arriving from all over the world to obtain silk and other fabrics, sugar, tea and ceramics. ts traditional Vietnamese architecture has been preserved, and there are many historic temples and pagodas in the area.

Popular sights include the 18th-century Tan Ky House, an ornate merchant's house built in traditional Japanese-Vietnamese style; the Phuoc Kien (or Fujian) Assembly Hall, which once served Hoi An's Chinese community, lavishly decorated with murals and a replica of a Chinese ship; the Chaozhou Assembly Hall, noted for fine wood carvings; and the Japanese-style covered bridge, the town's most famous landmark.

Hundreds of shops in Hoi An sell handmade silk and cotton garments, and custom tailoring is fast, inexpensive and mostly of good quality. Hoi An is also known for its silk lanterns. (The flexible bamboo frames are designed to collapse, so they're easily transported home as a souvenir.) If you're in the old section of town after dusk, you'll see the streets beautifully lit with these lanterns. If you time your visit right, you may see the lantern festival-held in November on the eve of the full moon.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa

Day 10 – Hoi An City Tour
Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This old town is best explored on foot or by cyclo. The walking tour of Hoi An will visit five following sites. Quan Cong Temple is a Chinese temple dedicated to Quan Cong, whose partially gilt statue is in the central altar at the back of the sanctuary. Phuoc Kien Pagoda is a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and then restored and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese 'clans' that were established in the Hoi An area.

Japanese Covered Bridge was built by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream. Tran Family Chapel is a house for worshipping ancestors was built about 200 years ago with donations from the family members. Sa Huynh Museum contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history. Phung Hung House is a combination of Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese style. Quang Dong Pagoda is a small Chinese style temple dedicated to Thien Hau with a lintel gate, a rockery courtyard and lucky animals depicted in statuary.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa (B)

Day 11 – My Son and Thu Bon River Tour
Journey to My Son, the former religious center of the Champa Kingdom, a sophisticated civilization which held sway over the region from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Today, all that are left are five archaeological sites from different periods, in a beautifully green setting of hills and winding streams. After a brief visit to the Visitor's Center for an overview of Cham history and culture, visit each ruin in turn, walking along forested paths. On the way back to Hoi An, board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River, enjoying the unspoiled countryside and stopping to visit a Pottery Village and a Wood Carving Village before drawing into Hoi An harbor.

Starting Accommodation: Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa (B)

Day 12 – Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle.

Vietnamese seem to use the names Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City or simply HCMC interchangeably. But by any name, it's the economic center of the country. With a rapidly growing population, new hotels, chic bars and trendy clubs, Ho Chi Minh City is enjoying its current climate of prosperity and growth. The old landmarks including Notre Dame Cathedral,the Rex Hotel and the Hotel de Ville still remain. But new office towers, built by multinational corporations now setting up shop in Vietnam, are radically changing the skyline. Ho Chi Minh City's millions of motorbikes emit a constant roar and palpable exhaust, and the city's two- and three-hour traffic jams are legendary.

Amid all this, there are nearly 200 temples and pagodas in the city. The Emperor of Jade Pagoda is filled with gilded figures and papier-mâché statues of Buddhist and Taoist divinities. History buffs should stop by the Reunification Palace, where the South Vietnamese government officially turned over power to the North in 1975. It's a trip back in time; particularly the 'strategy rooms' in the basement and the upper floors filled with 1960s furnishings.

The most interesting markets are Cho Binh and Cho Ben Thanh. Shop in Dong Khoi Street for the city's highest-quality wares (antiques and other souvenirs). Cholon is the city's Chinatown and is worth a visit for the bustle, the temples and assembly halls. Ho Chi Minh City is 700 mi/1,120 km south of Hanoi.

Starting Accommodation: Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon (B)

Day 13 – Saigon City Tour
Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, and one will see the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life everywhere. There are street markets, pavement cafes and sleek new cafes and pubs. The city churns and bubbles. Yet within this teeming metropolis are 300 years of timeless traditions and the beauty of an ancient culture. The sightseeing starts with a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral.

Then head to City Hall located at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard and continue the tour to Opera House. Next stop is Jade Emperor Pagoda, a key meeting place for Chinese secret societies.

Following Jade Emperor Pagoda is Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Reunification Palace was the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president and was stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state.

War Remnants Museum houses collections of weapons and photographs from 2 Indochina wars are exhibited along with the original French 'Guillotine' brought here in the early 20th century. See the oldest and the most active pagodas at Giac Lam Pagoda and Thien Hau Pagoda on the way to Ben Thanh, the central market of Saigon.

Starting Accommodation: Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon (B)

Day 14 – Mekong Delta Cruise
Your Mekong River cruise excursion aboard the Cai Be Princess, a deluxe sampan offering more comfort than a regular cruise of the Mekong, will begin with a hotel pickup before heading south towards the Mekong Delta. Upon embarkation of the Cai Be Princess you will be welcomed with fresh cotton towels.

The Mekong River tour will first visit the local colorful floating markets of Cai Be, where you will cruise among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. The Mekong cruise will then take you to some local home factories to discover traditional production of rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and the longans fruit drying process. Cruising on you will visit Dong Hoa Hiep Island, a peaceful escape where you will be able to visit an ancient mandarin house dating from late 19 century and where some green tea will be served to you. Its then onto Phu An for lunch at a superb Indochine villa, Le Longanier, located in a luxuriant garden by the river.

After lunch, your Mekong river cruise will head towards Vinh Long, passing beautiful landscapes along the river such as Dong Phu canal, Binh Hoa Phuoc and An Binh. These evergreen islands on the Mekong River bring about large networks of meandering rivers, criss-crossed with countless arroyos, and are unknown to most travelers who cruise the river. Stops can be made at An Binh ancient Church or Tam Ho bonsais garden to stretch the legs of for photographs.

After crossing the Co Chien River, your tour of the Mekong River aboard the Cai Be Princess will end at the Vinh Long pier around 3.30pm, where your vehicle will await you for your transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Starting Accommodation: Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon (B)

Day 15 – Ho Chi Minh City to USA
Transfer from your hotel to Saigon airport for your return flight to the USA. (B)

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Highlighted Activities

Bac Ha Market
Bac Ha Market
Length: Full-day
Hanoi City Tour
Hanoi City Tour
Length: Half-day, Full-day
Hoi An City Tour
Hoi An City Tour
Hoi An
Length: Half-day
Hong Kong Island Orientation
Hong Kong Island Orientation
Hong Kong
Length: Half-day


Hong KongInterContinental Grand Stanford
HanoiNikko Hotel Hanoi
TrainVictoria Express
SapaVictoria Resort Sapa
Hoi AnVictoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa
Ho Chi Minh CityRenaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon


Pricing for this package is on request. Please call a Swain Destinations Specialist to customize this journey.

Terms and Conditions

Prices are per person, twin/double share in USD. All highlighted savings are reflected in the price. Travel may be limited to certain days of the week. Hotels and tours remain subject to availability. Cancellation penalties and other booking or alteration restrictions may exist. Please note blackout dates may apply to Christmas, New Year and local special event periods. Pricing may increase over Holiday and special event periods and may not be reflected in price grid. Prices indicated remain subject to change without notice. Prices are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. CST #2012413-20 See our full Terms and Conditions: