Scenic Vietnam

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Scenic Vietnam

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Description

Journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on an incredible two-week adventure in Vietnam. Discover the stately capital Hanoi, the lush hills of the Da Bac region, the stunning limestone scenery of Halong Bay, the majesty of historic Hue, the fairytale atmosphere of Hoi An, the glorious waterways of the Mekong Delta and the dynamic streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Explore not only the main highlights of the cities, but also the remote countryside, well away from the tourist crowds. A homestay in Sung Village, nestled in the forest among caves and tea plantations, is a chance to trek through minority villages and experience Vietnam at its sleepy best.

Trip Name
Scenic Vietnam
Last Updated
2019-01-21
Days
15
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Spend two days exploring the hills of the Da Bac region. You’ll stay with locals, encounter minority tribes and get a feel for rural Vietnamese life – all the while supporting community-based tourism.
  • Cruise a sea of limestone karsts, blue-green waters, mysterious caves and ancient jungle on an unforgettable Halong Bay boat trip
  • There’s no view of Vietnam quite like from the back of a motorbike. After a two-wheeled tour around Hue, take a boat trip down the Perfume River and enjoy a unique lunch at a serene nunnery
  • Spend a day coasting along the waterways of the legendary Mekong Delta, learning about local industries along the way
  • A 15-day itinerary allows for ample time in each location, with a great mix of included activities and free time to explore
  • A knowledgeable, homegrown leader and an exciting mix of transport (motorbike, basket boat, dragon boat, junk boat, bus and train) means you’ll experience Vietnam from a variety of perspectives with local insights

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet you tour leader and fellow travellers. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. In free time, step out onto the streets to explore the chaotic capital of Vietnam. Hanoi is an alluring city of contrasts, best discovered on foot. Tonight perhaps get to know your new travel buddies over a glass of fresh bia hoi. This is a foamy, light beer made fresh each day and served in basic, open-walled ‘brew halls’. Take up a brightly coloured plastic chair and sip your tasty brew.
Day 2 - Hanoi
Enjoy breakfast at the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, a community project dedicated to helping underprivileged children and victims of trafficking. Afterwards, head out on a city tour where you’ll see the city’s diverse past reflected in a mix of South East Asian, Chinese and French-influenced architecture. Stop by the aptly-named One Pillar Pagoda, the country’s most famous stilt house (former residence of Ho Chi Minh), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature. In the evening, be entertained by a traditional water puppet show.
Day 3 - Da Bac
After breakfast, set out on a four-hour drive to the Da Bac region. Stop for an included lunch before arriving at your accommodation for tonight, a quaint homestay with the Dzao 'Tien' people in Sung Village. Get acquainted with your homestay hosts over a local dinner.
Day 4 - Hanoi
This morning, take the opportunity to explore this curious landscape on a 10-kilometre (6.2-mile) trek from Sung Village to Da Bia. We climb from 500 metres and maintain a similar elevation for the first 4.5 kilometres of the route before descending over the next 2 kilometres to 120 metres. It can be quite slippery if there has been recent rain, so suitable footwear is highly recommended. Our homestay hosts can provide bamboo trekking poles on request. Keep an eye peeled for the monumental stone at the peak of Da Bia Mountain during the trek that takes us through the local villages, meeting people from the ethnic Muong tribe along the way. By the time the trek is done, you’ve likely worked up a hearty appetite – fill up on lunch, then sit back and relax as you set out on a scenic 1.5-hour boat trip across the local reservoir to the village of Thung Nai. From there, board a bus and transfer back to Hanoi (about 2 hours) for a free evening. You may want to use this time to revisit the Temple of Literature and learn more about Vietnam’s most respected scholars or see ancient Champ stone carvings at the Fine Arts Museum. Head to the Old Quarter for dinner where a slew of great cafes and restaurants are tucked within its atmospheric streets (though the number is closer to 70 rather than 36, as it’s moniker ‘36 Old Streets’ suggests).
Day 5 - Halong Bay
After breakfast, board a bus heading north-east to Halong Bay (about 4 hours). You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag for staying on the boat. Crowned a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Halong Bay will take your breath away. The views of sailing junk boats navigating past thousands of limestone islands with rocky outcrops in Bac Bo Gulf are nothing short of spectacular. You’ll visit a cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or kayaking. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a night sky alive with stars. Your boat will have a dining room and bar where you’ll enjoy a sumptuous lunch, dinner and breakfast the following morning.
Day 6 - Hanoi - Overnight train
Wake to gorgeous views of emerald islands and waters. Enjoy brunch on board the boat as you sail back to port. Disembark and drive back to Hanoi, stopping at the Dong Trieu Factory on the way to see how locals make traditional ceramics. There will be free time to explore the city when you arrive back in Hanoi before boarding an overnight train bound for Hue around 10 pm. Shared hotel rooms will be available if you want to freshen up or organise your luggage. Otherwise, use this time to do some shopping on Hang Gai Street or seek out some delicious Hanoi street food. Meet back at the hotel lobby at 9 pm where you’ll transfer with the group to the train station. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a rewarding experience in Vietnam. They are an efficient way to travel long distances and a great way to get a sense of the country.
Day 7 - Hue
Arrive in Hue just after sunrise and proceed to the hotel to refresh. Hue is the hub of Vietnam’s historic past. This former imperial capital is an eclectic mix of busy streets and peaceful beauty. The rest of the morning is free for you to relax; perhaps pick up a classic Hue breakfast of bun bo Hue, a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo). After lunch you will visit the Imperial Citadel, a sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, gates, and walls. The Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace and the Ancestral Altars are still impressive, and the complex must have been awe-inspiring during its heyday in the 19th century. 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 8 - Hue
Today’s adventure will be taken on the back of a motorbike. You’ll have your own driver who will take you first on a drive around the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, but its humble, foliage-covered ruins remain a testament to its proud history. Here you'll gain some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war. Then it's on to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This site dates back to 1601 and is still an active Buddhist monastery. Here you’ll also see the car left by a monk who set himself alight to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Hop off the motorbike for a bit and go on a 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 or Buddhist monastery. After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. This evening, perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties.
Day 9 - Hoi An
Travelling by bus, head south through coastal rice paddies before stopping in at Lang Co Beach. Then traverse the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views back to Lang Co Beach and beyond. The spectacular Marble Mountains will be your backdrop as you arrive at Hoi An (approximately 4 hours). Declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of times past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. On arrival, a walking tour will take you around the major sites of Hoi An’s charming Old Town, including an historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. You will notice a distinctly Chinese appearance to the pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. A sightseeing pass is included in your tour for you to visit a selection of the major sights as you wish.
Day 10 - Hoi An
If you feel like getting active on your free day today, why not hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside. This is one of the best ways to get an insight into rural Vietnam. Other optional activities include a day trip to My Son Cham (elaborate World Heritage-listed temples that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), a cruise along the Thu Bon River, and a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Your leader will be able to help with suggestions on activities in Hoi An.
Day 11 - Hoi An
Enjoy another free day in the World Heritage-listed Hoi An. You may like to wander the Central Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours. Bring your favourite piece of clothing, or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied. You might like to visit a local workshop to learn how to make your own rice paper, while a Vietnamese cooking class too is a great way to familiarise yourself with some age-old culinary techniques, not to mention being able to feast on the fruits of your own labour.
Day 12 - Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to Danang (approximately 45 minutes) for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Take a guided tour to get a feel for the city, going past the GPO, Reunification Palace, and the Opera house. Stop in at the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral. With free time this evening perhaps drop by one of Vietnam’s most pulsing markets, Ben Thanh. This is the perfect place to pick up any last-minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients, or presents for friends and family before you return home. Perhaps enjoy some of the market fare for dinner as you shop.
Day 13 - Mekong Delta
Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) to explore the Mekong Delta. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit and flowers are grown for the whole country. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit a local cottage industry and sample the candy that the region is famous for. You’ll have the opportunity to take a tuk-tuk around this remote village and make a stop to sample tropical fruit, see a honey farm, and learn more about rural life. For lunch, go to a restaurant in the heart of the delta and try regional specialities such as the famous elephant-ear fish. After lunch, board sampans (small rowing boats) and paddle along the canals under the shade of lush water coconut trees. Stay overnight at a guesthouse in the Delta. The accommodation is fairly basic with shared bathroom facilities and dormitory style rooms, but the sounds of nature thrumming softly in the night makes for a memorable experience.
Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City
Take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Maybe spend the final night of your Vietnam adventure with a few glasses of street-side beer hoi.
Day 15 - Ho Chi Minh City
Your Vietnam adventure ends after breakfast today. There are no activities included, so you are free to depart at any time. For those who are staying on longer and want to explore Ho Chi Minh City further, maybe check out our Urban Adventure day trips.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
09-02-201923-02-2019AUD $ 2,170-
13-02-201927-02-2019AUD $ 1,810-
16-02-201902-03-2019AUD $ 1,810-
23-02-201909-03-2019AUD $ 2,050-
09-03-201923-03-2019AUD $ 2,255-
16-03-201930-03-2019AUD $ 2,110-
23-03-201906-04-2019AUD $ 2,150-
06-04-201920-04-2019AUD $ 2,050-
13-04-201927-04-2019AUD $ 2,050-
17-04-201901-05-2019AUD $ 2,050-
20-04-201904-05-2019AUD $ 2,050-
04-05-201918-05-2019AUD $ 2,095-
11-05-201925-05-2019AUD $ 1,975-
18-05-201901-06-2019AUD $ 1,975-
08-06-201922-06-2019AUD $ 1,975-
22-06-201906-07-2019AUD $ 1,975-
29-06-201913-07-2019AUD $ 1,975-
06-07-201920-07-2019AUD $ 1,975-
13-07-201927-07-2019AUD $ 1,975-
20-07-201903-08-2019AUD $ 1,975-
27-07-201910-08-2019AUD $ 1,975-
03-08-201917-08-2019AUD $ 1,975-
17-08-201931-08-2019AUD $ 1,975-
24-08-201907-09-2019AUD $ 1,975-
14-09-201928-09-2019AUD $ 1,975-
21-09-201905-10-2019AUD $ 1,975-
28-09-201912-10-2019AUD $ 1,975-
05-10-201919-10-2019AUD $ 1,975-
12-10-201926-10-2019AUD $ 1,975-
19-10-201902-11-2019AUD $ 2,050-
26-10-201909-11-2019AUD $ 2,050-
02-11-201916-11-2019AUD $ 2,050-
09-11-201923-11-2019AUD $ 2,050-
16-11-201930-11-2019AUD $ 2,050-
23-11-201907-12-2019AUD $ 2,050-
27-11-201911-12-2019AUD $ 2,050-
07-12-201921-12-2019AUD $ 2,130-
11-12-201925-12-2019AUD $ 2,130-
14-12-201928-12-2019AUD $ 2,130-
18-12-201901-01-2020AUD $ 2,130-
21-12-201904-01-2020AUD $ 2,130-
25-12-201908-01-2020AUD $ 2,130-
28-12-201911-01-2020AUD $ 2,170-
01-01-202015-01-2020AUD $ 2,205-
04-01-202018-01-2020AUD $ 2,205-
11-01-202025-01-2020AUD $ 2,205-
15-01-202029-01-2020AUD $ 2,205-
22-01-202005-02-2020AUD $ 2,205-
08-02-202022-02-2020AUD $ 2,205-
12-02-202026-02-2020AUD $ 2,205-
15-02-202029-02-2020AUD $ 2,205-
22-02-202007-03-2020AUD $ 2,120-
07-03-202021-03-2020AUD $ 2,120-
14-03-202028-03-2020AUD $ 2,020-
21-03-202004-04-2020AUD $ 2,120-
28-03-202011-04-2020AUD $ 2,120-
04-04-202018-04-2020AUD $ 2,120-
11-04-202025-04-2020AUD $ 2,120-
18-04-202002-05-2020AUD $ 2,120-
22-04-202006-05-2020AUD $ 2,040-
02-05-202016-05-2020AUD $ 2,040-
09-05-202023-05-2020AUD $ 2,040-
16-05-202030-05-2020AUD $ 2,040-
06-06-202020-06-2020AUD $ 2,040-
20-06-202004-07-2020AUD $ 2,040-
27-06-202011-07-2020AUD $ 2,040-
04-07-202018-07-2020AUD $ 2,040-
11-07-202025-07-2020AUD $ 2,040-
18-07-202001-08-2020AUD $ 2,040-
25-07-202008-08-2020AUD $ 2,040-
01-08-202015-08-2020AUD $ 2,040-
15-08-202029-08-2020AUD $ 2,040-
22-08-202005-09-2020AUD $ 2,040-
12-09-202026-09-2020AUD $ 2,040-
19-09-202003-10-2020AUD $ 2,040-
26-09-202010-10-2020AUD $ 2,020-
03-10-202017-10-2020AUD $ 2,020-
10-10-202024-10-2020AUD $ 2,120-
17-10-202031-10-2020AUD $ 2,120-
24-10-202007-11-2020AUD $ 2,020-
04-11-202018-11-2020AUD $ 2,120-
07-11-202021-11-2020AUD $ 2,120-
14-11-202028-11-2020AUD $ 2,120-
21-11-202005-12-2020AUD $ 2,205-
28-11-202012-12-2020AUD $ 2,205-
05-12-202019-12-2020AUD $ 2,205-
12-12-202026-12-2020AUD $ 2,205-
16-12-202030-12-2020AUD $ 2,205-
19-12-202002-01-2021AUD $ 2,205-
23-12-202006-01-2021AUD $ 2,205-
26-12-202009-01-2021AUD $ 2,205-
30-12-202013-01-2021AUD $ 2,205-

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 night),Homestay (2 nights),Hotel (9 nights),Overnight boat (1 night),Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Transport

Boat,Overnight sleeper train,Private vehicle,Taxi,Train,Motorbike

Map