The ultimate trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hong Kong.

Discover the spirit of Vietnam and southwest China on a trip from Ho Chi Minh city to Hong Kong, taking in all the attractions in between. Wander the ancient Vietnamese streets of Hoi An, experience the history-soaked monuments of Hue, spend a night cruising the mystical Halong Bay and bask in the undeniable charm of Hanoi. Venture into the spectacular southern reaches of China. Stay in a Hani village in the colors of the draw dropping Yuanyang rice terrace , step back in time among the pristine Qing and Ming dynasty masterpieces in Jianshui, and finish with an epic rail trip to Hong Kong, where pulsing lights and music strike a very Chinese contrast with the splendour of the harbour.


Start
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Finish
Hong Kong, China
Countries
China, Vietnam
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
TVSYC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • In just over a week experience the best of Vietnam, from the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, to the stunning countryside of Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta, and the imperial streets of Hue and ancient trading port of Hoi An

  • This trip involves a day on the winding waterways of the Mekong Delta, the lifeblood and “rice bowl” of South-East Asia.

  • Spend the night on one of the iconic junk-style boats that cruise between the limestone peaks of Halong Bay

Is this trip right for you?

  • Although you will visit a few significant sites in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s limited time in this city. We recommend booking a few extra days before you trip in order to fully experience this city.

  • This itinerary is faster paced, covering a large area of Vietnam in a short amount of time. There is some driving involved (up to 4 hours at a time), however we mostly fly to maximise your time in each destination. It’s great for those who only have a limited amount of time to see the country, but consider also doing another of our Vietnam trips to spend more time at each destination.

  • This trip involves some long stints of travel, including a 12-hour overnight train to Hue. Although conditions are basic, beds, food vendors and conversations with the locals make the overnight train journey a truly Intrepid experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.

  • In Hue, one day is spent touring the sights on the back of a motorbike. The bikes are great fun and are driven safely by professionals, but alternative transportation can be arranged for those who don’t wish to ride.

Itinerary

Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.
Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the group meeting and have time to explore Ho Chi Minh City. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
If you're expecting to be late for your welcome meeting, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) for a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit and flowers are grown for the whole country. The views along the canal will take your breath away. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit a local cottage industry - coconut candy - and sample the candy which the region is famous for. You’ll have the opportunity to take a tuk-tuk around this remote village and make a stop to sample tropical fruit and learn more about rural life. For lunch, go to a restaurant in the heart of the delta and try regional specialities such as the famous elephant-ear fish. After lunch, board sampans (small rowing boats) and paddle along the canals under the shade of lush water coconut trees. Get back on the main boat and cruise though more major waterways on your way to the town of My Tho. After a scenic cruise, take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and fly north to Danang (approximately 1 hour). From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An with the five spectacular peaks of the Marble Mountains as a backdrop. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking of this unique town, influenced over the years by Europe, China and Vietnam. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and the outside influences can be seen all over its architecture, with pagodas and assembly halls found across the town. For a small place it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look much like they did over a century ago. Past low tiled buildings, you'll take in 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
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day in the world heritage listed Hoi An. You may like to wander the Central Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours. For those still feeling adventurous, why not hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside? This is one of the best ways to get an insight into rural Vietnam. Other optional activities include a day trip to My Son Cham (elaborate World Heritage-listed temples that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), a cruise along the Thu Bon River and a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
  • Hoi An - Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Hoi An today and on your journey you’ll cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co, then continue to your final destination of Hue (approximately 5 hours including stops). Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, and has a interesting blend of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Your excursion here will be to the Imperial Citadel. This fortress houses the Imperial City and the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, and the ruins and holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war. In your free time you might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and tantalising street food. This is a good place to try the specialties enjoyed by Emperor Nguyen such as the banh khoai royal rice cake.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today’s adventure will be taken on the back of a motorbike. You’ll have your own driver who will take you first on a drive around the Imperial Citadel, then to the Thien My Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This site dates back to 1601 and is still an active Buddhist monastery. Here you’ll also see the car left by a monk who set himself alight to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Hop off the motorbike for a bit and go on a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River. After the 40-minute cruise get back on your motorbike and ride to a special lunch spot at a convent or Buddhist monastery. After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. In the evening, board an overnight train to Hanoi (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
For those who do not wish to ride on the back of a motorbike, please let you leader know in advance and they will arrange a car (cost included).

Boats along Perfume River may not be available during festival season. During these times, you’ll be transported by land to reach the activities.

There are shared hotel rooms available this afternoon if you would like to freshen up or organise your luggage.

Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group.
Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning and transfer to your hotel. Vietnam’s capital is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks and Frenchy Old Quarter. As an emerging city in Southeast Asian, Hanoi has an attractive contrast of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and a labyrinth of ancient streets. Later in the day you'll take a walking tour through the city. You’ll see Ho Chi Minh’s former stilt house and other icons such as the Temple of Literature. In your free time, perhaps stop by the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter, head to the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, or visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and in the warmer months perhaps go for a swim from Ti Top Island Beach.

There’ll be a dining room and bar on board where you’ll enjoy your meals, including fresh seafood for lunch and dinner. Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.

There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, we’re occasionally using a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) or splitting groups across different vessels. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
Leaving the memorable scenery of Halong Bay behind, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Return to Hanoi late this afternoon, and enjoy a couple of free hours to explore Hanoi's sights or do some last minute shopping. Otherwise, why not just relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter? Tonight there will be a farewell dinner to enjoy with the group at KOTO restaurant, an organisation that supports street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - KOTO dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early in Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city. Start by visiting the Temple of Literature, drop into a traditional tea house, learn the stories of the Hoa Lo Prison museum and finish among the temples at Hoan Kiem Lake. Alternatively, take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that your leader will change at the border on Day 2 from a Vietnamese to a Chinese leader.
This is a combination trip, so today your group leader and fellow group members may change.
It'll be a long travelling day today. First you will take a private bus from Hanoi to Lao Cai, near the border with China. Meet your Chinese leader at the Hekou border crossing. From there, take a taxi to the bus station and board your bus to Menzgi. Transfer to your hotel and settle in. Spend your free evening kicking back and relaxing – or perhaps head out for a taste of the famous Yunnan rice noodles which originated here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This town is known for its French architecture – notice the simple, stately aesthetic of the European buildings, with their soft yellow facades and tiled roofs which set them apart from the Chinese and modern structures around them. Today you will visit the Bisezhai Station, the finest surviving station on the French-built Vietnam-Kunming railway. Learn about its history from your local Chinese leader. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please - the Nanhu Park area is great for a wander.
Included Activities
  • Mengzi - Bisezhai Station
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by private bus to Yuanyang (approximately 3 hours). If you're a keen photographer, you're in luck, as this is one picturesque destination. This place is famous for its beautiful rice terraces, idyllic rural scenery and the unique ethnic minority cultures. Some 88% of Yuanyang County belongs to ethnic minorities; the Hani and Yi people created the ornate rice terraces that impress so many visitors. We are staying right inside the Duoyishu Scenic Area. The terraces here are considered a superior spot to photograph the sunrise. 
Included Activities
  • Yuanyang - Rice Terraces
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Be sure to wear comfortable shoes today for your trek around the rice terraces with a local guide (approximately 4 hours). You'll be able to take it at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery. Most of the paths go through villages, which makes it easy to stop for a break.
Included Activities
  • Yuanyang - Village walk
  • Yuanyang - Sunrise from Duoyishu Rice Terraces
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If the weather is poor, an alternative route or activities may be organised for today.
Travel by private bus to Jianshui (approximately 3.5 hours). Jianshui County is a city in Honghe Prefecture, Yunnan province. With a 1,200-year history and a distinct cultural heritage, the ancient town is a veritable outdoor museum of magnificent buildings. Many of these date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. You will set out on a walking tour of the city and visit the Zhu Family Garden, as well as the incredible Confucius Temple.


Included Activities
  • Jianshui - Confucius Temple
  • Jianshui - Walking tour
  • Jianshui - Zhu Family Garden
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Visit Tuanshan Village, a cultural village of the Qing Dynasty that's still intact. You'll learn a little more about the Yi minority as you explore. It's a fascinating window to the China of the past. In the afternoon and evening, enjoy some free time.
Included Activities
  • Jianshui - Tuanshan Villlage
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we travel to Kunming (approximately 3-4 hours). Stop at the geological wonder of the Stone Forest on the way. The Forest covers an area of 400 square kilometres (96,000 acres) and includes both large and small clusters of towering limestone pillars, as well as many other scenic spots. An old local saying says that 'If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time'. Truly, the site is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Free time to explore this large but laidback city today. The 1,000-year-old Yuantong temple is most definitely worth a visit.

This evening, around 6.30 pm, you will board your overnight train to Guangzhou (approximately 19 hours).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (these are not provided in cabins). Bathrooms are basic, and as toilet paper isn't always available it's best to carry some of your own. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.
Arrive at the station in Guangzhou at approximately 11 am. From here you will transfer to Guangzhou East Station to board your day train to Hong Kong (approx 2 hours, including customs and immigration). Your bags will be with you for the duration. You will walk the short distance from the train station to the border, go through procedures to exit China, then enter Hong Kong. Once all that's done, travel on the KCR train to central Hong Kong. Transfer to your hotel and enjoy a free evening checking out the sights and lights of Hong Kong.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Reclaimed by China from Britain in 1997, Hong Kong remains an intriguing place to explore, with a spectacular, fast-paced cityscape, and islands and beaches on its doorstep. Enjoy a walking tour of the city and take a scenic journey across to Hong Kong Island on the famous Star Ferry. This gives you beautiful views of the harbour and surrounding areas. The rest of the day is yours. Perhaps ride the Peak Tram – the only way to truly experience Hong Kong's wonders. In the evening, gather your group to celebrate your final night and watch the harbour's spectacular light show – a spectacle of laser beams and searchlights synchronised to music and narration.
Included Activities
  • Hong Kong - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Hong Kong - Victoria Peak & Tram - HKD40
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Your trip comes to an end today, with no further activities planned.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Boat, Ferry, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights), Guesthouse (4 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)

Included activities

  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
  • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • Hanoi - KOTO dinner
  • Mengzi - Bisezhai Station
  • Yuanyang - Rice Terraces
  • Yuanyang - Village walk
  • Yuanyang - Sunrise from Duoyishu Rice Terraces
  • Jianshui - Confucius Temple
  • Jianshui - Walking tour
  • Jianshui - Zhu Family Garden
  • Jianshui - Tuanshan Villlage
  • Hong Kong - Walking tour

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Passport Details: Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport), for internal flights and train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.
2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes the nights on Day 6 and Day 18 (overnight trains) and overnight boat on Day 8.
3. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth cabin. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
4. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.

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.