Days
11
Price from
£565GBP

VietNOM! As you slink from old-world Hanoi to ancient Hue and on to pretty Hoi An, beachy Nha Trang and bustling Ho Chi Minh… you will quickly realise that the Vietnamese know a thing or two about delicious food. Pho, bahn mi, rice paper, oh my!

Surviving the overnight sleeper train:

* Make nice with the locals. Offer them a Pringle and they’ll probably share their entire homemade banquet
* Break out the noise-cancelling headphones because there’s bound to be some snorers on board
* Know at least one card game you can teach your new mates


Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Country
Vietnam
Code
GTRE
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
125 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • 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

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip includes three overnight train journeys, each one taking up to 12 hours. You'll be sharing a cabin with three to five other people and amenities with the rest of the carriage. Although the rides are long and the conditions basic, this is an awesome way to see Vietnam and travel alongside the locals.

  • You'll be taking a public bus from Hue to Hoi An along a windy ride through the hilly Hai Van Pass. For any small amount of discomfort, you get the pleasure of local company and a great adventure story to tell your friends.

  • Vietnamese roads can be hectic and intimidating to cross. Never fear - your leader will show you how to do it like a local in Hanoi's Old Quarter.

  • This trip is for travellers who appreciate a bit of independence. You'll get plenty of free time in each location to make your own choices and do your own activities. Your leader is always there to give you tips and suggestions.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

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.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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. Enjoy a nice seafood lunch on board, and explore some of the limestone caves in the area. In the afternoon, head back to the dock and stay overnight in a hotel in Halong City (Bai Chay).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Entrance and half day boat cruise
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter. You'll visit the Dong Xuan market, the most epic wholesale market in northern Vietnam. Wander through the ancient '36 streets' where you can discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing to beautifully embroidered tablecloths. Your leader will point out some of the unique architecture around Hoan Kiem Lake and the myths and legends of the lake. Then take your overnight train bound for Hue (approximately 12 hours).

Notes: Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Geckos experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four-berth compartments (occasionally six-berth, depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment, and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda - VND220000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue up the coast to Hoi An (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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
Optional Activities
  • Danang - Marble Mountain - VND15000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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).
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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).
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • HCMC - Orientation Walk
Optional Activities
  • HCMC - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Discovery Urban Adventure - VND59
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 lunch

Transport

Boat, Private bus, Private van, Public bus, Sleeper train

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)

Included Activities

  • Halong Bay - Entrance and half day boat cruise
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
  • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
  • HCMC - Orientation Walk

Reviews

Our Vietnam Traveller trips score an average of 4.78 out of 5 based on 125 reviews in the last year.

Vietnam Traveller, November 2016

Sophia Johnston

Vietnam Traveller, November 2016

Katharine Lawley

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. The single supplement excludes:
Day 3 - Overnight Train
Day 7 - Overnight Train
Day 9 - Overnight Train
2. Please provide your full name as per passport and passport details 45 days prior to departure in order to secure Vietnam train tickets.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.