Discover Vietnam and all its delights travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

Travel to Vietnam and trace its mystical eastern coastline, traversing the country from south to north and discovering the many attractions that lie along the way. From the modern chaos of Ho Chi Minh City all the way up to old-world Hanoi, you'll experience tumultuous history, colonial charm, vibrant colours, delicious food and inspiring scenery on this Vietnam holiday.

Start
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Finish
Hanoi, Vietnam
Countries
Vietnam
Themes
Explorer
Code
TVRN
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
254kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Your homestay in the Mekong Delta will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your trip. Experience life with the locals and enjoy a delicious home cooked meal
  • Nha Trang is known as the Cannes of Vietnam thanks to its luxurious beaches and relaxed locals. You'll have plenty of free time here to go swimming, snorkelling or indulging in mud baths
  • Hoi An is another idyllic pocket of Vietnam that's best experienced from the seat of a bike. Take a guided bicycle tour through the rolling countryside
  • Vietnam's former imperial capital Hue is not a place where time goes slowly! We've allowed for plenty of free time to make the most of this historic city
  • Halong Bay feels like paradise, with its blue-green waters and spectacular caves. Spend an afternoon cruising and exploring its beautiful bay

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. 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.

As you won’t be spending much time in Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend arriving a few days early to see more of this incredible city. See the ancient pagodas and cathedrals near the former Presidential Palace, the historic Dong Khoi Street, and the chaotic markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Consider taking a day trip such as ‘The Cu Chi Experience’ with our partners Urban Adventures. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
Make your way to the province of Ben Tre, where you’ll get on a boat to tour the canals of the Mekong Delta. This fertile area is famous for its abundance of fruit, flower and rice crops, and is known as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam.

During your boat ride you’ll visit some local cottage industries and then head to your overnight homestay. Your stay with a Vietnamese family will be one of the highlights of your trip as you get a taste of the life of a local and enjoy a home cooked meal.

Notes: On the homestay, you’ll be sleeping on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement with people of the same sex. You’ll have basic shared bathroom facilities, and bedding and mosquito nets will be provided.
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 this afternoon, perhaps visit the War Remnants Museum or Reunification Palace.

This evening, board an overnight train to Nha Trang (approx 11 hours). Conditions are basic on these trains and they may be a little dirtier than what you’re used to, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers like to take some fresh bread, cheese and fruit for the journey.

Notes: 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 Nha Trang at about 5 am and transfer to your hotel. You’ll have today free to spend as you wish. Perhaps enjoy your time on the sunny beaches or explore the local markets. Be sure to try some of the excellent seafood in town. Also nearby are the Cham Towers, where you can go for a day trip to see the fascinating archaeological site.

Please note: Our hotel rooms will be available from the standard check in time this afternoon, but you can store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Nha Trang.
Today is another free day in Nha Trang.

In the evening, board another overnight train for Danang (about eight hours).
Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus for one hour to Hoi An. Hoi An was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is being beautifully restored. It was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago.

Your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town and visit some of the city's major attractions. A sightseeing pass is included in your tour for you to visit a selection of the major sights as you wish.

Hoi An is also a shopping mecca, so head down to the markets and street stalls to browse paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is famous for its tailors who can make beautiful items to order.
Go on a bike ride through the countryside near Hoi An. There's no better way to explore the peaceful area than by bike. You’ll see places few tourists get the chance to see among green rice paddies and small creeks. You’ll get a true insight into rural life in Vietnam.
Enjoy another free day in Hoi An. Perhaps take a cruise up the Thu Bon River or learn the secrets to cooking delicious Vietnamese dishes. Your leader can suggest activities to help you get the most out of your time.
Say goodbye to Hoi An this morning and make your way to Hue. The drive in our minibus will take about five hours, but along the way you’ll stop at My Khe Beach (China Beach) and the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. You’ll be travelling on the incredible Hai Van Pass, through lush mountains.

Once in Hue, you’ll have a free afternoon to explore. Hue was once Vietnam’s
Imperial capital and has a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil enclaves.
Perhaps visit the Dong Ba Market, which sells everything imaginable and is a great place to spend some time.
Another free day in Hue. Perhaps visit the Imperial Citadel which includes the Forbidden Purple City that was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam war. The gaping holes left by bombs give you an idea of how much destruction occurred in this country.

Another optional activity is a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River and then a visit to Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. Here you’ll see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601, and a car belonging to a monk who set himself alight in protest against the treatment of Buddhists.

You may also like to visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees.
This morning, catch up on any optional activities you couldn’t fit in yesterday before taking another overnight train bound for Hanoi. The journey will take about 12 hours.
Arrive in Hanoi at about 4 am and transfer to your hotel.

Today you’ll take a walking tour of Vietnam’s charming capital. Explore the 36 streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, including the Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem Lake and the unique architecture nearby. Hanoi has a French provincial feel remaining from its colonial times, but it also has a Buddhist influence and striking modern buildings.

The rest of the day is yours to explore Hanoi as you please.

Notes: There are shared hotel rooms available this morning if you would like to freshen up prior to our standard check in time this afternoon.
Drive through the Red River Delta for about four hours and arrive at Halong Bay. Along the way, you’ll stop for refreshments at a handicraft village run by people who experience a disability.

Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most scenic places, a secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands and caves rising from the emerald waters. You’ll board our boat and spend the rest of the day cruising the breathtaking bay. Enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch on board, stop for a visit to Sung Sot Cave, and take a swim at Titop Beach.
Take a bus for three and a half hours back to Hanoi. On the way back you’ll stop at the Hong Ngoc Humanity Centre which provides vocational training and employment to Vietnamese people who experience a disability.

Back in Hanoi, enjoy your last few hours of free time then join the group for an optional farewell dinner.
There are no activities planned for today and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
1 breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
Transport
Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Homestay (1 night), Hotel (10 nights), 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 hire
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
  • Halong Bay - Entrance and half day boat cruise

Dates

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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 is available on this trip, please see trip notes for excluded nights.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Vietnam Discovery trips score an average of 4.76 out of 5 based on 164 reviews in the last year.

Vietnam Discovery , August 2016

Vietnam Discovery , August 2016