The ultimate Vietnam trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.

Discover the spirit of Vietnam on a trip from south to north, taking in all the attractions in between. Explore Vietnam's fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City, wander the ancient Vietnamese streets of Hoi An, experience the history-soaked monuments of Hue and bask in the undeniable charm of Hanoi. Experience Vietnam's beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine and the renowned friendliness of the Vietnamese people. Top it all off with an overnight cruise on mystical Halong Bay and you won't ever want to leave.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16
Carbon offset
392kg pp per trip


  • Jump on the back of a motorbike before gliding down the Perfume River in Hue
  • Experience the magic of Halong Bay
  • Experience the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Hit the shops in Hoi An


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2015 - 31 December 2015

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. Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, 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).
Today, head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board the boat and land at Ben Tre. Here you’ll visit a coconut candy factory and sample the candy which this 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.
This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang. From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the city. Hoi An was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and has various architectural influences from Europe, China and Vietnam. Today the city is being restored and looks much like it did over a century ago. The tour will take you to a historic house, the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
Enjoy a free day in the world heritage listed Hoi An. You may like to wander Dong Ba 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, a cruise along the Thu Bon River and the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
Leave Hoi An today and head towards My Khe Beach (China Beach). This area is famous for its role in the Vietnam War and its spectacular backdrop of the Marble Mountains. Continuing on your journey you’ll cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but very scenic route through the mountains. Make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co, then continue to your final destination of Hue. The journey will take about five hours in total, including stops. Hue is Vietnam’s former imperial and has a lovely mix of bustling streets and tranquil enclaves. This afternoon, pay a visit to the Hue Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. This site was heavily bombed during the war, and the foliage-covered ruins are a reminder of the devastation of the war.
Your second day in Hue will be filled with sightseeing. Get on the back of a motorbike and ride past key sites. You’ll revisit the citadel and then make your way to Thien Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who set himself alight to protest against the regime’s treatment of Buddhists. Get off the motorbike briefly for a forty-minute boat cruise on the Perfume River. After the river cruise, get back on the motorbike and ride to a special lunch stop in a nunnery or Buddhist monastery. After lunch you’ll visit the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set beside a lovely lake with frangipani and pine trees. If there is any more free time after the day’s activities, we recommend visiting the Dong Ba Market where you can try regional specialties such as the Emperor’s rice cake. In the evening, board an overnight train to Hanoi. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Notes: -For those who wish not to ride motorbikes, we’ll provide alternative transport between the sites. -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. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards and its thriving Old Quarter. 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 head to the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake to see the contrast of modern office buildings and old Buddhist temples.
Travel by private minibus for about four hours to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay. 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 go for a swim. 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. - Due to recent unforeseen late changes by local authorities in Halong Bay, a large proportion of boats are now no longer permitted to stay overnight. To ensure we can accommodate all Intrepid travellers on overnight boats we occasionally use a larger boat (approximately 12 cabins) and split our groups across different boats. The route and inclusions will remain the same, and an Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat.
Take a three-and-a-half hour bus ride back to Hanoi. The afternoon is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter? Enjoy a farewell dinner with the group at KOTO restaurant, an organisation that supports street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Consider doing a short tour such as ‘Hanoi Street Food by Night’ or ‘Village Discovery by Bike’ with our partners Urban Adventures (see for more information).
View trip notes to read full itinerary


8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Taxi
Hotel (5 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)
Included activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hoi An - Ancient town
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • KOTO dinner


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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Please provide your full name as per passport (including middle name) and passport details at time of booking. Required for the internal flight and train tickets.

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


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Vietnam Express Northbound , September 2015

Vietnam Express Northbound , September 2015