Day 1 - Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. This adventure kicks off with a group meeting at 6 pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. At the meeting have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Hanoi, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Check out your reflection in beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, wander along shaded boulevards or relax in a public park with some delicious street food (spring rolls inside rice paper rolls, anyone?). Museum-wise, why not visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, drop into the serene Temple of Literature or get arty at the city's Fine Arts Museum. Tonight, grab a streetside stool and a fresh Beer Hoi and watch the motorbikes zoom by.
Day 2 - Halong Bay
Travel by private minibus (approximately 4 hours) to the awesome World Heritage site of Halong Bay. This secluded harbour has something like 2,000 little limestone islands. And the water is one pretty green scene. It's one of Vietnam's most 'scenic' places, so get that camera ready. You'll jump on a boat and cruise the bay so you can take it all in. You'll explore some of the awesome caves in the area and fill up with both lunch and dinner onboard. What's on the menu? Seafood of course. Once you settle into junk boat life you won't want to go anywhere – so spend the night rocking away on the waters of Halong Bay (with the waves and maybe a spot of karaoke).
Day 3 - Hanoi - Overnight Train
Take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 4 hours). Then take your overnight train bound for Hue (approximately 12 hours).
Day 4 - Hue
Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. You have today free to explore. You could easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace that's enclosed within it. Perhaps jump on board a ‘Dragon Boat’ and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda. You could also check out Dong Ba Market, which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and some tasty, tasty street food. This is a good place to try the grub that Emperor Nguyen used to feast on (banh khoai royal rice cake – can you taste the royalty?). If you like being on two wheels then maybe cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (one of the most excellent remaining examples of its kind), or set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages.
Day 5 - Hoi An
Continue along the coast to Hoi An by private bus (approximately 3 hours). Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of this unique town which has been influenced over the years by Europe, China, Vietnam and Japan. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and its old-school flavour is written all over its architecture. For a small town, it's pretty lively in places. In others, it's chilled out. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look a lot like they did 100 years ago or more. You'll check out a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
Day 6 - Hoi An
Enjoy a free day in Hoi An. Maybe wander to the Central Market and browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors, so if you’ve been wearing the same shirt every day and it's starting to smell like coriander, why not hit one of the same-day tailors and get yourself something new? Or, if you're still feeling adventurous, hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside (this is one of the best ways to experience rural Vietnam).
Day 7 - Hoi An - Overnight Train
Lucky you – it's another free day in paradise. You could take a trip out to the My Son temples (World Heritage-listed beauties that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), hop on a cruise along the Thu Bon River and or get beachy with a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Afterwards, board your next overnight train. This one's to Nha Trang (approximately 8 hours).
Day 8 - Nha Trang
Arrive in Nha Trang at around 7 am and transfer to your hotel. Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a (dare we say it) trendy feel prevails in the town itself. 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 here to catch some rays, swim, snorkel and feast on freshly caught seafood. Bliss!
Day 9 - Nha Trang - Overnight Train
Don't get so relaxed from your chilled time in Nha Trang (lazing in a deck chair, swimming or perhaps taking a mud bath) that you forget that tonight it's back on the Reunification Express for one last ride (approximately 7 hours).
Day 10 - Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive very early (approximately 4 am) and transfer to your hotel. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is whirl of sights and sounds. A blend of old and new, East and West, if you will. You can still see the French influence in the top-notch baguettes and coffee on offer. Compared to the south the food is spicier, sweeter and more varied. Much of city life happens on the streets, which are lined with shops, stalls and vendors whose wares are spread on the footpath – everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. Your leader will take you on a walk through the city to point out the best places and sites. Then you have some free time this afternoon. Well worth the visit are the Reunification Palace, and War Remants Museum. Maybe join your newest and best travel buddies for a celebratory meal and drink tonight on Pham Ngu Lao Street.
Day 11 - Ho Chi Minh City
Your trips comes to an end today. There are no planned activities, and you can depart at any time. As you only have limited time here it is well worth booking additional nights to explore. The Cu Chi Tunnels are an interesting day trip nearby - ask your leader to book you an Urban Adventure to visit.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 2 Lunches: 1 Dinners: 1
Balance on a tiny streetside stool in Hanoi's Old Quarter, soaking up the buzzy vibes and watching motorbikes zoom past
Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty? Cruising on Halong Bay is bliss
A little touch of France here, a little bit of China there - and all in Vietnam! Chill out in the cultural mixed bag of Hoi An. Hit up the local beach, cycle through rice paddies or get some sweet threads tailor-made
Is there anything more awesome than Nha Trang? Yep! It's free time in Nha Trang. Whether you fill it with beachside lolling, village hopping or partying is up to you
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money