18-Day China and Vietnam Highlights Tour

By Ruby Zhao | Updated Apr. 16, 2024

This 18-day comprehensive tour offers you the very best features in China and Vietnam. This wonderful tour combination is highly recommended for a first-time visit to these two amazing countries.

Days

18

Price

from US$4,508 P/P

Best For

First-timers

Best Time

Oct. to Apr.

Tour Highlights

Discover the Forbidden City through exclusive access to avoid the crowds.
Discover the Forbidden City through exclusive access to avoid the crowds.
Get to know the habits of the lovely pandas at Beijing Zoo.
Get to know the habits of the lovely pandas at Beijing Zoo.
Enjoy a high-speed train experience from Beijing to Shanghai.
Enjoy a high-speed train experience from Beijing to Shanghai.
Make lanterns in Hoi An to enrich your tour with a cultural experience.
Make lanterns in Hoi An to enrich your tour with a cultural experience.
Have some free days to enjoy the tropical paradise of Nha Trang.
Have some free days to enjoy the tropical paradise of Nha Trang.

Itinerary Details

This itinerary is just a suggestion for you to plan your vacation. We specialize in designing private customer-oriented tours so just let us know your interests and expectations, and we will create a tour that satisfies your preferences.

Day 1
Arrive in Beijing

Hello Beijing!

Upon arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by your private tour guide who will be holding a sign with your name on it. Then you will be transferred to your hotel. Your guide will assist you with the check-in process and leave you to enjoy some free time for the rest of the day. It is recommended to adjust to the jet lag on your first day.

Day 2
Beijing | Visit the Forbidden City Through Exclusive Access

After a leisurely breakfast in the morning, your tour will start with a visit to the Forbidden City, which is also known as the "Old Palace". The Forbidden City has a history of over 600 years — it is said there is a story behind every brick and a legend behind every hall. Your expert tour guide will take you to enter the palace with exclusive access to avoid the crowds, and share with you the interesting history and hidden stories behind the palace.

Climb Jingshan "Coal Hill", which is a man-made hill that served as a shield to protect the palace from northern invaders during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It takes about 20 minutes to reach the top of the hill and you will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the whole palace as well as its surroundings.

Day 3
Beijing | Excursion to the Great Wall

In the morning, you will be escorted to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. This section is reputed as being one of the most beautiful parts of the Great Wall with fewer tourist groups. You are advised to get on the wall via a cable car ride and have a leisurely hike back down the wall. You will be able to see both the renovated and wild parts and to appreciate the splendid view of the surrounding mountains along the way.

Lunch is included at the foot of the Great Wall. Then you will be transferred back to Beijing city, which takes about 2 hours by car.

In the afternoon, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site — the Summer Palace. Stroll along the world's longest corridor filled with paintings, walk through the significant halls, and enjoy the breeze from Kunming Lake on a dragon boat. Learn about the stories that happened in the palace from your tour guide and just imagine how the Chinese royal family spent their vacations at this beautiful resort in the old days.

Day 4
Beijing to Shanghai | Meet Some Lovely Pandas

Before heading to the train station, you will stop at Beijing Zoo to enjoy the lovely pandas. Compared to the other animals' areas, the home that has been built for the pandas can be called a "mansion" because this cute and rare creature is regarded as China's national treasure. Get to the zoo in the morning when the pandas are at their most active. You will be able to see how they are fed and have fun with each other, watch them climbing, or see them resting right after eating.

Later, travel to Shanghai via a high-speed train. The distance is 1,318 kilometers, which only takes about 4½ to 6 hours.

Your Shanghai tour guide and driver will meet you at the train station's arrivals area and transfer you to your selected hotel. Your guide will assist you with the hotel check-in process and leave you free for the rest of the day.

Day 5
Shanghai | The Window of Modern China

Yu Garden is known as the most classical Chinese garden in Shanghai. Get up early to visit it before it gets crowded so you can enjoy seeing the pavilions, corridors, water, rocks, and plants. Later, visit Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall. It will be interesting to experience this magical city from looking at a 600 m2 city model to visiting a 360-degree 3D animation exhibition hall. Discover how old Shanghai's lifestyle has evolved to today's modern way of life.

Lunch is included at a local popular restaurant.

In the afternoon, you will have a relaxing walk along the Bund to feel the prosperity, learn about the history and development, and witness the charming mix between the West and the East in this amazing city.

Take a short tour of the elegant French Concession, which will end at Nanjing Road. Alternatively, go to any other attractions you would like to explore on your own. We will transfer you back to your hotel if you wish.

Day 6
Flight to Hanoi — the Capital of Vietnam

Have an enjoyable free morning and then you will be transferred to the airport for the flight to Hanoi. Your private tour guide will meet you at the arrivals area in the airport in Hanoi, then transfer you to your selected hotel. After checking in at the hotel, enjoy some free time for the rest of the day.

Kindly note the time difference: China is 1 hour ahead of Vietnam.

Day 7
Hanoi's Highlights and Old Quarter Discovery

Good morning Hanoi! You will start your tour with the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology where you will experience the ordinary life of ethnic groups in Vietnam and learn more about their culture and history. Visit the Temple of Literature, a Confucian temple and the first university in ancient Vietnam. Later, pay a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This is a must for history lovers as you will learn how Vietnam started and how it has evolved over the years.

In the afternoon, navigate the famous Old Quarter to immerse yourself in local life. Have a nice conversation with some locals and don't forget to bargain when shopping there. You are also encouraged to try out the local food, such as some fresh tropical fruit or egg coffee.

Day 8
Hanoi to Halong Bay via a Private Transfer | Enjoy a Cruise Along Halong Bay

After a leisurely breakfast in the morning, you will be picked up by the cruise staff and transferred to the port for your cruise along the scenic Halong Bay.

Halong Bay is about 160 kilometers away from Hanoi and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are hundreds of thousands of islands with karst hills making various fantastic shapes on the sea, which are very picturesque. You will have the chance to stop at some fishing villages and landmark islets, such as Fighting Cock Islet and Human Head Islet, during the journey.

Enjoy a beautiful night on the cruise ship in a quiet port.

Day 9
Halong Bay to Hanoi via a Private Car for the Flight to Hoi An

Have a nice breakfast and disembark the cruise at about 11am. Your private tour guide and driver will pick you up from the pier and transfer you to the airport in Hanoi for your flight to Hoi An. Your private tour guide will meet you in the arrivals area at the airport in Hoi An, then transfer you to your selected hotel. After you have checked in to the hotel, enjoy some free time for the rest of the day.

Day 10
Hoi An | Leisurely Walk in a World Heritage Site: Hoi An Ancient Town

After breakfast, you will have a leisurely walking tour in Hoi An Ancient Town. The value of Hoi An's heritage lies in the many well-preserved ancient buildings and streets, which reflect the organic combination of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures and architectural styles. They have not been damaged by war nor have they been demolished for the construction of high-rise buildings. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Fujian Assembly Hall, and the Old House of Tan Ky. These are must-see heritage sites in Hoi An Ancient Town.

Lunch is included at a local restaurant.

Many travelers are impressed when this elegant old city is lit up by colorful lanterns at night. Like many other traditions, the skill of handmade lanterns has been continued. In the afternoon, you will have the chance to learn how to make a lantern in a workshop. The workshop is run by the Lifestart Foundation Workshop, a non-profit organization that inspires locals to create items and to improve their lives.

Day 11
Hoi An to Da Nang via a Private Car for the Flight to Nha Trang

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Da Nang International Airport for the flight to Nha Trang.

Your private tour guide will meet you in the arrivals area at Nha Trang Airport and then transfer you to your selected hotel. After you have checked in at your hotel, enjoy some free time for the rest of the day.

Day 12 and 13
Nha Trang | Free Days to Enjoy the Beaches

Nha Trang Bay is endowed with pristine beaches and an excellent diving environment. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Have some free days to enjoy this tropical paradise.

Day 14
Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City via a Flight, Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho via a Private Car

Enjoy some free time in the morning before being transferred to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Your tour guide will meet you in the arrivals area at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Then he/she will escort you to Can Tho, which is located in the Mekong Delta. Have a good rest during this 4-hour car ride.

Day 15
The Mekong Delta to Ho Chi Minh City via a Private Car | Market Tour in the Mekong Delta

Be an early-bird and arrive at the bustling Cai Rang Floating Market by 7am. It is the most popular floating market in Vietnam where vendors trade fresh fruits, vegetables, and most of the agricultural goods from their farms.

Later, take a private boat ride through a narrow tree-lined canal to a small picturesque island with many fruit orchards. Cycle around the villages on the island and you will spontaneously give way to the local lifestyle in the beautiful countryside.

After lunch in the village, you will be transferred back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 16
Ho Chi Minh City | Cu Chi Tunnels Adventure

In the morning, you will have about an hour's drive from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This site is one of the most important remnants from the Vietnamese War. Learn about the history of the Vietnam War from your guide. You can also have an authentic experience as you crawl in a tunnel to experience how the soldiers had to hide to prevent being killed during the war.

After lunch, you will be transferred back to your hotel. The rest of the day will be free for you to have some rest.

Day 17
Highlights in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is also known as Saigon, a name that sounds very sentimental. After breakfast in the morning, take a relaxing walk from your hotel to the downtown area. Stretch out against the warm breeze, listening to Vietnamese along the way and the roar of motorcycles, and sniffing the rich coffee fragrance — everything is so real and romantic. The Saigon Central Post Office, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, and Reunification Palace are not to be missed when sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City.

The War Remnants Museum is highly recommended for history lovers and is an educational tour experience. This was the former site of the United States Intelligence Agency. The main entrance of the museum looks very simple and there are no magnificent buildings but it records a very heavy page in Vietnam's modern national history — the Vietnam War. The museum mainly displays pictures and, in the small yard, it also displays some heavy weapons and equipment used by the US military in the Vietnam War, such as vehicles and the wreckage of aircraft as well as artillery and bombs. Kindly note you will probably visit this museum without being accompanied by your tour guide because this sad history is a painful memory that many Vietnamese cannot erase.

After the museum, take a rickshaw tour to slowly appreciate the charm of the city.

Day 18
Departure from Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning after breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight home. We hope you have had a wonderful time with us!

Price Includes

Price from: $4,508 (Tour code: gh-ah-4)

One-to-one consultancy
One-to-one consultancy
Knowledgeable local guides
Knowledgeable local guides
Private drivers/driver guides and vehicles as listed
Private drivers/driver guides and vehicles as listed
Hand-picked hotels
Hand-picked hotels
Breakfasts and meals as listed
Breakfasts and meals as listed
Entry to all attractions on the itinerary
Entry to all attractions on the itinerary
Transportation as listed
Transportation as listed
A 24/7 helpline while traveling
A 24/7 helpline while traveling

Trip Notes

Seasonal information

Designed for all year round, however, this tour still has its favorite traveling time. Traveling during late September to early December, as well as late March to early May, gets you to less-touched places where you see more landscape than tourist crowds. Weather is lovely, too.

Biggest rush-in of tourists comes from mid Decemeber till the end of January, followed by national break of the Tet Festival, when streets will be deserted. While in China, public transportation before the Spring Festival in February can be chaotic and tight, which means you better plan at least 3 months ahead if you would like a taste of traditional Chinese New Year.

However, consider yourself brilliant if you decide to make the trip in other time spans, as you will great great deals of hotels, flights and cruises. Occasional rainfalls and possiblity of typhoon will be in your consideration.

Not matter when your honeymoon falls, we will suggest a 4-month window for planning and reservation.

China visa

Make sure you can get a visa for China at least one month ahead of your travel time. Usually most foreigners traveling to Chinese mainland, whether for business or pleasure, require a visa. Tourists holding ordinary passports of Singapore, Brunei and Japan are allowed to enter China for up to 15 days without visas for tourism or family/friend visits.

For a China-Vietnam journey with Global Highlights, we will help you with the invitation letter and the visa process.

Vietnam visa

Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa for Vietnam ahead of the travel time. Holders of British, German, French, Spanish and Italian passports are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days for all purposes. Instead of applying for Visa-on-Arrival (VOA), we would suggest you get your Vietnam visa at least one month ahead of your travel, which can be done either by application at your nearest embassy or online.

Meals

Daily breakfast at hotels and a lunch for days with sightseeing are included, so are some dinners as mentioned in the itinerary. For meals that are not included, your tour guides will be happy to offer suggestions.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when making your inquiry. We will do our best to accommodation and we appreciate your understanding at some places that are not within our control.

Transportation

You will have a private car in each destination; our cars are within 5 years of usage and your private drivers will be polite and drive with strong regard for safety.

Shanghai - Hanoi airfare is included in this trip, operated by China Eastern Airlines or similar class.

Internal flights that are detailed in this very tour are operated by Vietnam Airlines, a national-run and trustworthy company runs on good punctuality and safety. During your visit to Phong Nha Ke-Bang and the Mekong Delta, you will use local boats. We will have life jacket for every traveler and the boatmen will proceed with caution.

Tour Arrangements

Sightseeing, activities and accommodations that are mentioned in this tour you are looking at are just for your inspiration.

If you would like walking to find street food in Hanoi, instead of cyclo, change it; if you would like a junior suite in Ho Chi Minh City, change it; if you want to spend more time in Hoi An, change it; it is always up to you to make the trip just the right way you want. If you are looking for experiences that are not done by others, Discovery your way, Global Highlights' motto suites you the best.

Also, as for an exploration tour, it is designed with some mildly intense physical activities such as trekking. However, we encourage you to talk with our travel advisor and set your own pace.

Responsible travel

Travel avails you with special experiences. Somehow its impact on the local community can be more beyond imagination and what Global Highlights wishes to do is lead the impact onto a good path, a path that helps the local people (not only your tour guides) boarden their outlook and the local communities develop.

During your trip, you will eat at a training restaurant where underprivileged youngsters get trained as a chef, ride on local cyclo to reduce your carbon footprints and most commonly learn about the country's cultures with respect. Taking baby steps one at a time, we highly appreciate you would like to be part of it. With that being said, detours to so-called factories or specialty workshops are strictly prohibited. We make sure your tour guides earn enough to support their families without squeezing commissions out of you.

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