Day 1 - Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
If you arrive early consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city and it's sites, including the Temple of Literature, the Hoa Lo Prison museum and Hoan Kiem Lake. Or take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.
Day 2 - Halong Bay
Travel by private minibus for about four hours to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay. This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and, in the warmer months, go for a swim from Ti Top Island Beach. You’ll also enjoy a sumptuous lunch of fresh seafood. Spend a night onboard your boat in Halong Bay, with gentle waves rocking you to sleep.
Day 3 - Hanoi / Overnight Train
Disembark from your boat in Halong Bay at around midday and take a three-and-a-half hour bus ride back to Vietnam’s charming capital, Hanoi. Arrive back in Hanoi at around 4pm. Back among Hanoi's French provincial feel, left over from its colonial times, have some dinner with the group before boarding an overnight train for a twelve-hour journey to Hue around 6pm. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are the best way to travel long distances and brush shoulders with the locals. Most trains have a dining carriage which serves simple food, but some travellers like to take some fresh bread, cheese and fruit for the journey.
Day 4 - Hue
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
Packed with historic monuments, Hue is also perfectly located to explore the surrounding countryside, which features stunning scenery, quaint villages and the peaceful Tam Giang Lagoon. Hue is Vietnam’s former royal capital and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. Hue’s cuisine is influenced both by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) as well as its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the region. The bustling Dong Ba Market offers a plethora of goods and foods to see and sample, and it's a good place to try some of the specialities that graced the Nguyen emperors' banquet tables, such as the banh khoai, a royal rice cake. You have a free day to explore. You could also easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within. Perhaps jump on board a ‘Dragon Boat’, and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda. Or cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, one of the best remaining examples of its kind. Alternatively, set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages.
Day 5 - Hoi An
Continue on your journey to the World Heritage site of Hoi An, where your leader will take you on a walk around town. The city was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards, and has a various architectural influences from Europe, China and Vietnam. Today the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago. The rest of the day is free for you to do some optional activities or soak up the ambience of the place. You may like to wander Hoi An Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. It’s also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours.
Day 6 - Hoi An
Enjoy a free day to further explore Hoi An. Perhaps take a cruise up the Thu Bon River or learn the secrets of cooking delicious Vietnamese dishes. Visit some of the man art galleries or simply wonder around the beautifully restored Chinese shop houses. There’s also the option of cycling around the surrounding countryside, a truly unique way to get off the beaten track and see rural Vietnam up close. Your leader will be able to suggest activities to help you get the most out of your time.
Day 7 - Hoi An / Overnight Train
Make the most out of your last free day in Hoi An. Perhaps do some of the activities you couldn’t fit into your schedule over the past couple of days. There’s
Also Cua Dai Beach nearby, the perfect place to rest up before continuing on your way. This evening, board another overnight train to Nha Trang. The journey will take about eight hours.
Day 8 - Nha Trang
Arrive in Nha Trang at around 7am and transfer to your hotel. Nha Trang is a charming town on Vietnam's southeast coast with pristine beaches, consistently good weather, a vibrant nightlife and excellent diving. You have two full days to catch some rays, swim, snorkel and indulge in fresh seafood.
Day 9 - Nha Trang / Overnight Train
Enjoy your last free day in Nha Trang. In the evening, you’ll get on another overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 7 hours).
Day 10 - Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City very early this morning and transfer to your hotel. Today you’ll have plenty of free time to explore Vietnam’s largest city. Ho Chi Minh City has a busy atmosphere and a French influence. In your free time, we recommend visiting the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. There’s also the historic Dong Khoi Street, and the chaotic markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Ho Chi Minh City has a different style of cuisine to its northern counterpart Hanoi, so be sure get out for restaurant meals and street food.
Day 11 - Ho Chi Minh City
There are no activities planned for the final day and you can depart the accommodation at any time. As we don’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City on this tour, why not stay a few extra days to make the most of your time here? Perhaps take a day trip to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, where you can witness the strategic underground labyrinth that helped the Vietnamese win the war. Consider doing a tour such as ‘The Cu Chi Experience’ with our partners Urban Adventures. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money