Days
15
Price from
€935EUR

The Ho (Chi Minh) to the Hanoi. See how the locals live on on the Mekong Delta staying in a local guesthouse, then get your beach on in Nha Trang. Pagodas, history and yum yums galore in Hoi An and Hue. Drift 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.


Start
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Finish
Hanoi, Vietnam
Country
Vietnam
Code
GTVB
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
210 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • There's nothing quite like getting to see what local life is like by staying in a guesthouse on the Mekong Delta. You'll be feasting and gossiping with the locals down the in no time

  • Where better to enjoy loads of free time than in the coastal city of Nha Trang, which features irresistable beaches, crazy-good snorkelling and, wait for it...mud baths!

  • Get your bike on (get on a bike) in pretty Hoi An, the best way to see the town and surrounding countryside. Also, the food here? Completely delicious 

  • Hue is a historical city with a lot of pizazz. Wander around a citadel-within-a-citadel and dare to gaze upon the Forbidden Purple City (it's not forbidden just to LOOK)

  • It's taken 400 million years for Phong Nha to look this good, so you'd better take advantage – explore a spectacular scene of caves, underground rivers, and caverns big enough to sail into

  • Limestone karsts, blue-green waters, mysterious caves and super ancient jungle - Halong Bay feels a lot like paradise

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 staying in a simple local guesthouse in the Mekong Delta, with basic bedding, dorm-style rooms, shared amenities and cold water only. Although the accommodation is basic, this is an authentic experience of life on the Delta with some delicious Vietnamese home-cooking!

  • 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 will always be there to give you tips and suggestions.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

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.

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.

If you arrive early, this city has a vast array of sights and sounds to explore: ancient pagodas and cathedrals sit squarely up against the former Presidential Palace, historic Dong Khoi Street (the Rue Catinat from Graham Greene's novel, The Quiet American) and the bustling markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Ho Chi Minh Discovery Urban Adventure - USD53
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit unexplored Ben Tre where coconut is everything and anything. The fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers as well as boating along the canals. On arrival, we board our private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries. Then head to our overnight local guesthouse along the water.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
We'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms with all meals included. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy some free time in Ho Chi Minh City to go check out a few more sites or some tasty street food snacks. Late this afternoon board an overnight train to Nha Trang departing (approx 11 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are all part of the experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
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.

Shared hotel rooms are available after check out time, shared between up to 6 members of the group, so you can prepare if needed before your train journey.
Arrive in Nha Trang at approximately 5am 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. Spend your days here soaking up the sun on a lovely beach, exploring the local markets or checking out the ancient Cham Towers nearby. Make sure you try some of the excellent seafood restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nha Trang - Boat trip - VND1316000
  • Nha Trang - Row boat tour - VND20000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Shared use hotel rooms are available at your hotel this morning before regular check in.
Today is the day is yours! Soak up some more free time in Nha Trang. Board an overnight train late in the evening, bound for Danang (approx. 8 hours).
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
  • Nha Trang - Bao Dai Villa - VND120000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus to Hoi An (approx 1 hr). 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - cooking course - VND420000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There's no better way to explore the peaceful countryside of Hoi An than by bike. Your leader will take you to places few tourists get the chance to see, past green rice paddies and small creeks, this is a true insight into country living in Vietnam.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Countryside bicycle tour
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
  • Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip - VND100000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Departing Hoi An, we can pass by My Khe Beach before crossing the dramatic Hai Van Pass to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops). 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. Your afternoon is free day to explore. The Dong Ba market, which sells everything imaginable, is a great place to spend some time. Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is a free day. You might like to take a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Imperial citadel - VND150000
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda - VND220000
  • Hue - Royal tomb - VND136000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Jump on the bus and make your way to Phong Nha. On the way there's the chance to check out the Hien Luong Bridge – it's smack bang on the 17th Parallel, so it separated the North from the South during the war. You can also choose to head underground at Vinh Moc, an expansive network of limestone tunnels that locals used as shelters from the bombing.
Travel on to Phong Nha and take the afternoon to explore your surroundings. You'll stay just outside Phong Nha Town, and there are loads of optional activities to take advantage of. The town is near Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, an amazing landscape riddled with caves and underground rivers. Maybe take a boat through Phong Nha Cave, or check out one of the spectacular caverns like Paradise Cave.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take the day to make the most of your time in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the oldest karst (which basically means underground eroded limestone) mountain range in Asia. This bad boy is over 400 million years old so there's plenty to explore. Jump on one of the optional activities, or just sit back and take in this stunning scenery. Later today you'll head back to Dong Hoi and hop back on a sleeper train (approximately 8pm - 5:50am) – you'll be pro at this now and know exactly what to do.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive in Hanoi very early (approx. 5.30am) and transfer to your hotel. Then leave your gear in a day room at the hotel. 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. Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter. You'll visit the Dong Xuan market, the biggest wholesale market in northern Vietnam, stroll through the ancient '36 streets' where you can discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, Stilt House and Museum - VND80000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Village Discovery by Bike - USD33
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Shared use hotel rooms are available at your hotel this morning before check in.
Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stopping en route for refreshments at a handicraft village run by disabled people. 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 your boat and cruise the breath-taking bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters. You'll explore some of the awesome caves in the area and fill up with both lunch and dinner on-board. 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).
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay as it will make it easier for boarding your boat. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

Kayaking and swimming is restricted to designated zones within the bay.

There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight. To ensure all travellers can be accommodated on board available boats, on rare occasions you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels. If this happens a group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
Perhaps wake up early if you want to practice some Tai Chi on the deck. All that is left to do is enjoy another delicious meal prepared by your crew as you cruise on in to port at around midday. Take a bus back to Hanoi (approx. 3 hours) for some free time and a optional final group dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The trip ends in the morning today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle - USD88
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Boat, Private bus, Private van, Sleeper train, Taxi

Accommodation

Guesthouse (2 nights), Hotel (8 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)

Included Activities

  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay
  • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
  • Hoi An - Countryside bicycle tour
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise

Reviews

Our Vietnam Highlights trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 210 reviews in the last year.

Vietnam Highlights, September 2017

Erin Leeder

Vietnam Highlights, September 2017

Tavis Tagaloa

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Please provide your full name as per passport and passport number 45 days prior to departure in order to secure Vietnam train tickets.
2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes nights 2 (guesthouse), nights 3, 5 & 11 (overnight train) and 13 (overnight boat) where you will be in shared accommodation.

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.