Best of Vietnam
Experience quintessential Vietnam on this comprehensive trip from south to north. Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and experience dynamic cities, tranquil backwaters, imperial ruins, faded colonial elegance and picture-perfect landscapes dotted with reminders of the past. Explore the narrow cobbled streets of Hoi Anâs Old Town, slurp on noodly pho in Nha trang and cruise the gentle Perfume River in Hue as you uncover the very best of Vietnam.
- Travel to both popular and lesser-known destinations in Vietnam, including tourist hotspots like Halong Bay and hidden gems such as Quy Nhon
- See Vietnam through an exciting mix of transport, including motorbike, basket boat, dragon boat, junk boat, bus and train
- Experience local life during homestays in the Mekong Delta and Mai Chau. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal
- The drive to Quy Nhon features some of the best scenery in Vietnam. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride
- Visit the mind-boggling Phong Nha and Thien Duong Caves. These labyrinthine systems were used to shelter civilians and win the war against the Americans
- Spend a day in Hue, touring the city's sights on a motorbike, cruising down Perfume River and eating lunch at a serene nunnery
- Go deep into some of the worldâs largest caves in Phong Nha
- See beautiful Halong Bay on a boat tour
- Enjoy a water puppet show in Hanoi
|Physical||Cultural||Max Group Size||12||Duration||20 days|
|Themes||Explorer, Local Life, Make a Difference, Once Upon a Time, Set Sail, The Great Outdoors|
|Category||Silver||The classic small group tour, with some included activities and staying at reasonably priced accommodation.|
Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
Because this trip doesnât spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or one of the amusements parks.
Day 2 - Ho Chi Minh
Later in the day, take a tour of the city, passing the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Head to the War Remnants Museum for a sobering yet informative lesson on the Vietnam War. Here youâll see things like old military equipment, an F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter.
Day 3 - Mekong Delta Homestay
Hop off the boat to visit an orchard and sample some tropical fruit. Youâll then continue on the cruise towards some local cottage industries. Get to see local life and the industries surrounding the river up close. Around sunset, youâll make your way up one of the many canals to your homestay where youâll enjoy a wonderful meal of local specialities. The accommodation tonight will be simple, but the experience will be rewarding.
Day 4 - Ho Chi Minh City / Overnight Train
Travel back to Ho Chi Minh City (about three hours) and enjoy some free time to do a bit of sightseeing. We recommend exploring the cityâs restaurants and trying Ho Chi Minh Cityâs distinctive food. In contrast to the north of Vietnam, the cuisine here is spicier, sweeter and more varied. There are also plenty of street food stalls if youâd like to try a several bites.
In the evening, board an overnight train to Nha Trang which will take about 11 hours. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Youâll have the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, fruit and cheese before the journey, and most trains also have a dining carriage which serves simple food.
Day 5 - Nha Trang
Day 6 - Nha Trang
Day 7 - Quy Nhon City
En route, youâll stop for a visit to the striking Po Nagar Cham Towers, medieval temples remaining from the Cham civilisation.
Quy Nhon is a hidden gem, remaining off the tourist trail despite its beautiful beaches and bay. When you arrive, youâll visit the Nguyen Nga Training Centre, a not-for-profit venture which provides support to people with special needs, in particular those with physical disabilities, through their education, training and job placement programs. Take a guided tour around the centre and then perhaps meet some of students. You can also purchase handicrafts made in the centreâs workshop.
Day 8 - Hoi An
Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major trading port with the West from the 15th to the 19th century. Today it has been restored to look exactly as it did more than a century ago, giving it an old-world feel full of nooks and crannies to explore.
Youâll have some free time this afternoon. Hoi An is very much a shopping mecca. Why not browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics, embroidery all made by the locals? The city is also famous for its talented tailors who work with beautiful fabrics for a good price.
Day 9 - Hoi An
Day 10 - Hoi An
Day 11 - Hue
Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue contains the treasures of Vietnamâs royal history, and has a curious blend of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Your excursion here will be to the Imperial Citadel. This fortress houses the Imperial City and the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, and the ruins and holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war.
In your free time you might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and tantalising street food. This is a good place to try the specialties enjoyed by Emperor Nguyen such as the banh khoai royal rice cake.
Day 12 - Hue
Hop off the motorbike for a bit and go on a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River. After the 40-minute cruise get back on your motorbike and ride to a special lunch spot at a convent.
After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. At the end of the day, head back to Hue.
Day 13 - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
This afternoon continue on to the a picturesque village outside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
Our accommodation here is situated on a farm, with rooms set in bungalows positioned throughout the property. The 'farmstay' was established the help the small town to benefit economically from tourism, while it has also adopted recycling and waste management programs.
Day 14 - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park / Overnight train
In the late afternoon, travel to Dong Hoi and catch and overnight sleeper train to Hanoi. The journey will take about 10 hours.
Day 15 - Hanoi
Later in the day, youâll visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, including the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
In the evening, enjoy a performance of water puppetry, a unique and traditional Vietnamese art form.
Day 16 - Mai Chau
Youâll spend the night in a local stilt-house homestay in the village of Poom Coong. Your amiable hosts will cook you a fabulous home-style meal and maybe even serve up some of the regional wine. Tonight youâll enjoy a traditional dance performed by the local villagers.
Day 17 - Hanoi
Day 18 - Halong Bay
Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. Thereâs also a dining room and bar where you can enjoy the dayâs meals.