Vietnam in a Banana Leaf

Learn new road rules in Vietnam
Perfume River cruise to the Thien Mu Pagoda and royal mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc
The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An
Cu Chi Tunnels - the underground network of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong
Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay
Cai Be floating market and the longtail boats of the Mekong
  • The Ho (Chi Minh) to the Hanoi. See how the locals live on an overnight homestay in the Mekong Delta, then get your beach on in Nha Trang. Pagodas, history and yum yums galore in Hoi An and Hue. Drift through the emerald waters of Halong Bay by boat and go for a snoop through any of Hanoi's many markets.


    This is your full-on trip up the coast of Vietnam and into Halong Bay. From hectic Ho Chi Minh City to historic Hanoi. Ready, set, pagoda. 


    Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City

    You know how when you're camping, you can sit and watch the fire crackle for hours? That's what it's like watching the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. Grab an outside seat, a bowl of pho and prepare to be mesmerised.

    • Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City. There will be a pre departure meeting at approx. 6pm tonight!
    • Consider hiring a ‘cyclo’ (bicycle rickshaw) for touring the city sights (optional)

    Day 2-3 - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City - overnight train

    Cruise the mighty Mekong River before spending the night with local friends on a homestay by the water.

    Take a boat down the Mekong River. It's an experience that will fill you with joy, as will staying with a local family in the evening.

    Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit Ben Tre

    On arrival, board a private boat and cruise along the waterways to visit local cottage industries. 

    Head to our overnight homestay along the water.

    Sleep on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
    Rise early and enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding the boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
    Board an overnight train to Nha Trang - conditions are basic, but this is the best way to travel long distances in Vietnam. The berths sleep 4- 6 and you may be sharing with locals and different genders

    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4-5 - Nha Trang - overnight train

    When you’re lying on the beach and feeling peckish, it might be time to order fresh lobster. Pick a vendor, find the biggest lobster of the bunch and Bob’s your uncle (or is he?)

    • Enjoy plenty of time to worship the sun during two full days in Nha Trang
    • A great optional excursion (at additional cost) is a day to cruise around the islands where you spend stacks of time swimming and snorkelling and indulging in a lunchtime feast of freshly caught seafood
    • Board an overnight train to Danang

    Day 6-8 - Hoi An

    • Cheap is definitely tasty in Hoi An. Now’s your chance to try pho from the Motherland. Slurp away to your heart’s content.
    • Enjoy free time - there’s such a broad choice of things to see and do, and they can all be experienced without difficulty
    • Perhaps join an optional Vietnamese cooking class?
    • Perhaps rent bicycles and set off to explore the surrounding countryside, take a boat trip on the river, relax on the nearby beach, enjoy the cuisine on offer at some of the town’s numerous cheap cafes or have some clothes made up
    • Why not venture further afield to Vietnam’s world famous ‘China Beach’ (known locally as My Khe Beach) and the adjacent Marble Mountains
    • An optional visit to the Kingdom of Champa, the ancient ruins at My Son, can be completed in half a day

    Day 9-11 - Hue - overnight train

    Perhaps an optional bike ride in the countryside, then fill up on banh – Hue’s very own steamed rice cakes with a little fish sauce or a dollop of chilli sauce.

    Travel across Hai Van Pass to the fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops).

    Enjoy some free time, perhaps visit the Dong Ba market

    Check out the Forbidden Purple Palace and some royal tombs

    • Maybe take a Dragon Boat cruise up the Perfume River and also visit Thien Mu pagoda?
    • 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
    • Board overnight train to Hanoi

    Day 12 - Hanoi

    • There’s a big art scene here, so head to Art Vietnam in the West Lake area or Dong Phong Art Gallery in the French Quarter and pick up a memento before heading home.
    • Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter,
    • Visit the Dong Xuan Market and stroll through the ancient '36 Streets'

    Day 13 - Halong Bay

    Sure, the water looks a bit murky when you board your junk. But that's just because of all the other dirty, smelly boats stinking up the joint. Wait until you get out into the open - the water is so clear you'll be gagging for a swim. Which is exactly what we're gonna let you do.

    Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stop on the way for refreshments at a handicraft workshop run by disabled people
    Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2000 limestone islands rising from the water
    Board a boat and cruise the bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters

    Enjoy a seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer months
    Stay on Cat Ba Island. The foreshore is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset


    Day 14-15 - Hanoi

    Travel by ferry to Tuan Chau, then take the bus back to Hanoi.

    Feast your eyes and belly on the wondrous world of Hanoi once again. Do some final exploring or just grab a beer, Vietnamese coffee or freshly squeezed juice and get terminally chill.

    • Enjoy some free time, wander around town and check out the lifestyles of Hanoi’s people
    • Perhaps visit One Pillar Pagoda near the Soviet-inspired mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh or walk to the Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first educational institute
    • The trip ends in the morning on Day 15
  • Map Itinerary

  • Trip Dates and Prices

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    02 Oct 2014 - 16 Oct 2014 Available
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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.

    Vietnam in a Banana Leaf

    Nellie - Australia, 10 July, 2014
    Overall Rating

    I would recommend Geckos to anyone. I do like how our tour group was young (32 and under), I felt we could connect and bond easier. From day one we were all really close. 16 is a perfect number for a group tour, not too big that you don't become friends with some, and not too small that you get sick of (and stuck with) some people in the group. I loved that there was heaps of free time to explore, whilst also getting the most out of each city due to Tho's recommendations. The drinking water available to refill our drink bottles at each town was a great addition (the money from this was taken from Tho's tipping kitty), this resulted in me drinking more water as I was not constantly opening my wallet for it (not to mention the environmental benefit of refilling drink bottles).

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15 days
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- 16
Boat, Ferry, Private bus, Private vehicle, Sleeper train
3 nights Sleeper train, 10 nights Hotel, 1 night Homestay
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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