Aimed at those with more time on their hands, this 23-day programme is designed to give you a comprehensive picture of Việt Nam from south to north, following the beautiful coastline to visit key attractions in the south, central and northern regions and introducing you to the many different aspects of this fascinating land.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Enjoy city tours of Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City.
  • Unwind on the beaches of Mũi Né and Nha Trang.
  • Explore four of Việt Nam’s UNESCO World Heritage sites – the charming old port of Hội An, the imperial capital of Huế, the Hindu temple complex of Mỹ Sơn and the awe-inspiring Hạ Long Bay.
  • Enjoy biking and walking trips to remote ethnic villages in national parks.
  • Ride an elephant in the Central Highlands.
  • Visit a floating fishing village in a traditional sampan.
  • Interact with local people though home-hosted meals and school and village visits.
  • Acquire an in-depth understanding of Vietnamese culture and history through talks with war veterans and local people.

Day 1: Arrival in Hồ Chí Minh City

Upon arrival in Hồ Chí Minh City you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check in and a briefing on to expect and how to prepare for the trip ahead. The rest of the day will be free.

Overnight in Hồ Chí Minh City

Day 2: Hồ Chí Minh City - Củ Chi (B,L)

This morning we will enjoy a tour of Hồ Chí Minh City’s main historic landmarks, including the former Presidential Palace, the War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and the City Post Office. The tour will include a walk with plenty of photo opportunities. After lunch we will travel to see the underground tunnel complex at Củ Chi. At its height during the war with America, this place housed an extraordinary network of over 200km of underground tunnels from which VC guerrillas infiltrated Sài Gòn to carry out attacks or to spy on the American airbases that ringed the city. It was equipped with bunkers, trenches, kitchens, dining rooms, water wells, hospitals and many other facilities necessary for the guerrillas’ survival underground for weeks on end. After a talk and video presentation you can tour the site and crawl inside specially-enlarged sections of tunnel. You can also view the underground meeting rooms where campaigns such as the Tết Offensive were planned and enjoy a simple meal of food that VC fighters would have eaten. While you are there you can meet with a veteran guerrilla to understand more about the war from a local perspective.

Overnight in Hồ Chí Minh City

Day 3: Hồ Chí Minh City - Cái Bè - Cần Thơ (B,L)

Today we will take a 2.5-hour drive northwest from Hồ Chí Minh City to begin a two-day exploration of the lush green Mekong Delta. Boarding a private motor boat in Cái Bè town, we will cruise along the river to observe the daily life of local people on the waterways. The tour will include a sampan ride through the winding canals and visits to the floating market at Cái Bè and a family-run business which makes popcorn and rice paper. After lunch we will continue to Cần Thơ.

Overnight in Cần Thơ

Day 4: Cần Thơ - Hồ Chí Minh City (B,L)

This morning we will take a boat trip from the Ninh Kiều Wharf in Cần Thơ to visit the fascinating Cái Răng floating market, one of the biggest and busiest floating markets in the Mekong Delta, where all the activities take place on boats. You will be amazed by the sights and sounds of bargaining between customers and vendors as the boat takes you through the market. You will then continue along a small canal to visit an orchard and sample some local fruit before returning to town for lunch. You will return to Hồ Chí Minh City in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Hồ Chí Minh City

Day 5: Hồ Chí Minh City - Mũi Né (B)

Today you’ll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to Mũi Né beach resort for two days’ relaxation. 

Overnight in Mũi Né

Day 6: Mũi Né (B)

A full day doing whatever you please!

Overnight in Mũi Né

Day 7: Mũi Né - Đà Lạt (B,L)

Today you’ll travel by coach uphill to Đà Lạt for a journey “from sea to mountain.” This is a great chance for you to learn about the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) region, which is home to many ethnic minority people and much spectacular scenery. After a smooth and scenic drive, you will arrive in Đà Lạt and have lunch, followed by a city tour to visit the highlights of the town, including a cable car ride affording panoramic views of the city, the famous Trúc Lâm Pagoda, the “Crazy House,” King Bảo Đại’s Summer Palace and the Flower Garden. Our tour ends at Đà Lạt Market. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.

Overnight in Đà Lạt

Day 8: Đà Lạt (B,L)

This morning you will take a tour in the countryside outside Đà Lạt to visit a flower farm, a cricket farm, a silk factory and a coffee plantation. We will also stop in Buôn Chuối village to meet with some local ethnic minority people before experiencing a ride on an old-style truck called a “Xe công nông.” Then it’s back to town for lunch, after which you will be free for the rest of the day.

Overnight in Đà Lạt

Day 9: Đà Lạt - Buôn Ma Thuột (B,L,D)

This morning we leave Đà Lạt for Buôn Ma Thuột, enjoying the countryside scenery with plenty of photo stops on the road. We arrive in Buôn Ma Thuột in the afternoon and transfer to Đôn village, which is famous for its elephants. Here we can explore the legend of traditional wild elephant catching and taming by the M’nông ethnic group, visit an ancient wooden house on stilts and the tomb of the “King of elephant catchers,” and take a walk on a suspension bamboo bridge. Our visit will also include a one-hour elephant ride through the woods.

Overnight in a bungalow in Đôn village.

Day 10: Buôn Ma Thuột - Nha Trang (B,L)

This morning we visit Buôn Ma Thuột’s bustling regional market before leaving for Nha Trang. On the journey we stop to visit the very impressive Đray Sáp Waterfall, where the water drops down from a high cliff, turning it into mist which looks like smoke. In the Ê Đê language, “Đray Sáp” means “Smoke Waterfall.” Lunch will be taken on the way. After arriving in Nha Trang, we embark on a city tour with the following highlights: Ponagar Chàm Towers, Long Sơn Pagoda, Nha Trang Cathedral and the Oceanographic Institute.

Overnight in Nha Trang

Day 11: Nha Trang - Quy Nhơn (B,L,D)

In the morning you can enjoy Nha Trang’s turquoise waters and white sandy beaches by taking a boat cruise to offshore islands in Nha Trang Bay. In the afternoon we will leave Nha Trang and drive to Quy Nhơn, passing through what is perhaps the most beautiful stretch of coastline in all of Việt Nam. The range of colours and vistas seen along this coastal drive are unparalleled in Southeast Asia. We will stop en route at Đại Lãnh Beach to enjoy the transparent, azure water. On arrival in Quy Nhơn you will check into your hotel.

Overnight in Quy Nhơn.

Day 12: Quy Nhơn - Hội An (B,L)

In the morning we’ll drive to Hội An, stopping to visit the Tháp Đôi Chàm Towers and Sa Huỳnh Beach, as well as observing en route the daily life of rural villagers processing cassava, farming rice and weaving grass. We will arrive in Hội An at noon, check into our hotel, have lunch and then take a walking tour around this delightful UNESCO World Heritage town, visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge, the local market, Tấn Ký House and the Phúc Kiến Assembly Hall. The town is a paradise for local artists and there are galleries galore. Hội An is also particularly well known for its tailors.

Overnight in Hội An.

Day 13: Hội An (B,L)

We start the day with a two-hour bike ride along the banks of the Thu Bồn river. This scenic route will take you through lush green fields and gardens and into many local villages, giving you a great view of the daily life of local people. Arriving at a harbour, you will board a private boat and cruise through the fishing villages before stopping for lunch at the airy Red Bridge restaurant, on the riverbank. Then it’s back to town for a free afternoon.

Overnight in Hội An.

Day 14: Hội An - Mỹ Sơn - Hội An (B,L)

In the morning we will take a half-day excursion to Mỹ Sơn, a Hindu temple complex built between the 4th and the 14th centuries by the kings of Champa to worship the god Shiva. Mỹ Sơn is one of the foremost remaining examples of Hindu influence in Southeast Asia and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then it’s back to Hội An for lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the day is free.

Overnight in Hội An.

Day 15: Hội An - Huế via Đà Nẵng (B,L)

Today we drive along the coast to Huế, passing the Marble Mountain and the spectacular Hải Vân (“Ocean cloud”) Pass en route. We will stop at Lăng Cô beach so that you can stretch your legs and enjoy the white sand. After checking into your hotel you will enjoy a vegetarian lunch at a Buddhist pagoda. Then in the afternoon you’ll visit the mausoleum of Emperor Tự Đức (1829-1883), which is a peaceful resting place enclosed by walls, featuring pine woods and a lakeside pavilion with lotus blossoms where the emperor once fished, listened to music and wrote poetry. The mausoleum was constructed between 1864 and 1867 by a force of 3,000 labourers.

Overnight in Huế.

Day 16: Huế city tour (B,L,D)

In the morning you will visit the Huế Imperial Citadel and Forbidden City, built in 1802 by the Emperors of the Nguyễn dynasty and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. This complex functioned as a fortress, office place and residence for the Nguyễn emperors and the royal court. After lunch you will take a boat ride along the Perfume River to visit a fishing village and take a walk off the beaten path to visit a handicraft village on Hến island. The boat trip ends with a visit to the historic Thiên Mụ Pagoda, Huế’s best-known religious site. In the evening you can enjoy a multiple-course royal banquet at a family-run restaurant whose chef is the descendant of the royal family.

Overnight in Huế.

Day 17: Huế - Hà Nội (B,L,D)

This morning we leave Huế for to Phú Bài airport and fly to Hà Nội. In the afternoon, after lunch at a local restaurant, you will take a one-hour cyclo ride through the fascinating Ancient Quarter (known as the “36 streets”) with its unique sights, sounds and smells, gaping in disbelief at the “orderly chaos” in which streams of people in different modes of transportation weave their way through narrow intersections. The tour continues with visits to the Hoàn Kiếm (“Restored Sword”) Lake, Ngọc Sơn Temple and an evening performance by the famous Hà Nội Water Puppet Theatre.

Overnight in Hà Nội.

Day 18: Hà Nội - Hạ Long Bay (B,L,D)

After breakfast at the hotel we will drive (3.5 hours) to the famous Hạ Long Bay - Hạ Long means “Descending Dragon” in Vietnamese. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an area of great natural beauty, with over 3,000 limestone islands rising dramatically out of the water. The islands assume intriguing formations and many local legends and stories abound, inspired by their shapes which have been likened to chickens, dragons, sails or human heads. Upon arrival, we board a traditional junk and start cruising the bay. After a seafood lunch on board, you can visit one of the most beautiful caves in Hạ Long Bay, Sửng Sốt or Surprise Cave, before cruising further into the serene Bái Tử Long Bay to see amazingly varied karst formations with names like “Heaven gate,” “Sail grotto,” “Horse’s paddle” and “Man’s head island.” Enjoy swimming in the bay or simply rest onboard, after which you can enjoy a delicous dinner.

Overnight on board a charming wooden junk in Hạ Long Bay

Day 19: Hạ Long Bay - Hà Nội (B,L)

At sunrise, enjoy an early-bird tai-chi exercise on the sundeck. An international breakfast is served while cruising to the other areas of Bái Tử Long Bay. Board a bamboo sampan to explore the fascinating floating fishing village in Vông Viêng, where you can visit local houses, see fish farms and interact with schoolchildren or kayak through a water tunnel into a hidden lagoon. Then it’s back to the boat for a gourmet lunch while the junk heads back through the bay to Hạ Long harbour. Leave the boat for your transfer back to Hà Nội.

Overnight in Hà Nội.

Day 20: Hà Nội - Mai Châu (B,L,D)

This morning we depart by coach for a scenic drive to Mai Châu, a beautiful valley located 150 kilometres northeast of Hà Nội. It is a mountainous area of outstanding natural beauty, inhabited by White Thái and Flower H'mông ethnic minority groups. After checking in to your hotel you will have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon you will enjoy a walking tour around the Mai Châu valley, visiting Lạc and Pom Coọng villages, stopping to visit one of the householders to interact and learn the about the daily life and culture of the White Thái people. 

Overnight in Mai Châu

Day 21: Mai Châu - Pù Luông (Hang village) (B,L,D)

After breakfast we will embark on a cycling trip along the village road to Ban Hang, another village of the White Thái minority group located within Pù Luông Nature Reserve. First we will cycle on a beautiful tarmac road through the Mai Châu valley and then we will take the undulating dirt path, reaching Hang village at around 11am. Lunch will be served there, then in the afternoon you can walk around the village for a couple of hours before returning to your host home for rest and dinner.

Overnight in a traditional White Thái stilted house.

Day 22: Pù Luông - Mai Châu - Hà Nội (B,L)

The daily life of the locals here starts early, often at dawn. You will be given the opportunity to join your host in preparing breakfast for everyone. Your day will start with a trek to visit the little-visited Pù Luông Nature Reserve, where the spectacular senery of the primitive forest awaits you. After a three-hour walk you will be picked up and transferred to Mai Châu town for lunch and the return journey to Hà Nội.

Overnight in Hà Nội.

Day 23: Depart Hà Nội (B)

This morning you will enjoy free time on your own until your transfer to Nội Bài airport for departure.