Riding Vietnam's Reunification Train

The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An
'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay
The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
Learn new road rules in Vietnam
  • 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

    TRIP CHANGES FOR 2015:
    From 1st January 2015 this trip will operate with the following changes:
    - visiting Halong Bay with a night in a hotel in order to continue to be able to include Halong Bay on a budget trip in the face of rising costs of overnighting on the boat.
    - taking an overnight train from Hoi An to Nha Trang instead of the day train in order to give more free time to spend in Hoi An. This means that we will have one less night in Ho Chi Minh city at the end of the trip.
    - boat trip in Nha Trang will be an optional activity based on feedback that travellers would like more free time for their own activities there.
    - As we will only have 1 day in Ho Chi Minh and from feedback that the activity is not enjoyed by all pax, the Cu Chi Tunnels Urban Adventure will be available as an optional activity.
    - to bring this trip in link with the global Geckos' style, daily breakfasts are no longer included.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Hanoi

    Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.

    Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

    Please 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, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception.

    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.

    The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town.

    As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.

    Hanoi Legacy hotel (formerly An Hung Hotel) or similar

    Day 2 - Halong Bay

    Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs).

    Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf.

    One of Vietnam's most scenic regions, this area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind.

    Board our boat and cruise the breathtaking bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters.

    We enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer months.

    Stay overnight in a hotel in Halong City (Bai Chay).

    Entity Hotel or similar
    Lunch

    Day 3 - Hanoi - Overnight Train

    Take a bus back to Hanoi (approx 3.5 hrs).
    Head out on a walking tour of the Old Quarter with your leader.
    Board an overnight train bound for Hue (approx. 12 hours).
    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 local travellers or 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.

    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.
    Mount local ‘shopping’ bikes and cycle down to the riverside.
    Place the bikes on board a ‘Dragon Boat’, and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda.
    Choose to either cycle back into town from here, approximately 8km, or staying on the boat to head back down river to the Citadel.
    Spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within.
    Perhaps 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.
    Victory Hotel Hue or similar

    Day 5-7 - Hoi An – Overnight Train

    Recently 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 during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
    Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.
    It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy.
    Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from.
    Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.
    You have time here to explore the beautifully restored and preserved Chinese shop houses, enjoy the vibrant and busy market, visit Cua Dai Beach, cycle to the rice fields and browse the array of art galleries.
    With lantern-lit streets, vibrant markets, skilled tailors, artisan shops, ancient houses, colourful temples and beautiful smiles, Hoi An is a Vietnamese wonderland.
    Late evening on Day 7 board your next overnight train to Nha Trang (approx 8 hours).
     
    Included Activities
    Hoi An - Ancient town
    Hai Yen hotel or similar

    Day 8-9 - Nha Trang - Overnight Train

    Arrive in Nha Trang around 7am 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 cosmopolitan 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.
    Two full days to catch some rays, swim, snorkel and pig out on freshly caught seafood.
    Then it's back on the Reunification Express for one last ride (approx 7 hours).
    Oriole hotel Nha Trang or similar

    Day 10-11 - Ho Chi Minh City

    Arrive very early (approx 4am) and transfer to our hotel.
    Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is 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.
    Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.
    As we only have limited time here it is well worth booking additional nights to explore.
    If you have extra time in Ho Chi Minh City ensure you make a visit to the Reunification Palace - formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975, and the War Remnants Museum - originally opened in September 1975, it displays old military equipment and other related items from the Vietnam War.
    In the courtyard you'll find some larger exhibits including a F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter.
    Quite a contrast to its more sedate northern counterpart, the city's food is spicier, sweeter and more varied, with an abundance of great restaurants to choose from for our evening meals or take to the streets to tackle the culinary delights of the street food stalls.
    The Cu Chi Tunnels are an interesting day trip nearby - ask your leader to book you an Urban Adventure to visit.
    Our trip ends on Day 11.
    Saigon Royal Hotel or similar
  • Safety Information

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    WATER SAFETY:
    Take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It is expected that anyone taking part in water activities are able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

  • Trip Dates and Prices

    Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
    08 Mar 2015 - 18 Mar 2015 Fully Booked
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    22 Mar 2015 - 01 Apr 2015 4 places left
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  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Riding Vietnam's Reunification Train

    JUDY - Australia, 30 Jun, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    THE MOST AMAZING AND FUN AND INTERESTING TOUR I HAVE BEEN ON, REALLY LOVED THE GROUP AND THE TOUR LEADER KHOA NGUYEN. I USUALLY TRAVEL INTREPID, BUT WILL DEFINATELY BE TRAVELLING WITH GECKO FROM NOW ON!!

    Riding Vietnam's Reunification Train

    daniel - United Kingdom, 30 Jun, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    An excellent trip well organised. Only wish It could have been longer.

from US
11 days
$850
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Nuts+Bolts

#GTRE
- 16
Private bus, Private van, Private vehicle, Public bus, Sleeper train
3 nights Sleeper train, 7 nights Hotel
Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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