Map of Essential Vietnam including Vietnam

North to south and all in between – let’s hit up Vietnam.

As you slink from old-world Hanoi through ancient Hue, past historic Hoi An and to bustling Ho Chi Minh City, you'll quickly realise that the Vietnamese know a thing or two about delicious food. Pho, banh mi, rice paper rolls – oh my! You’ll be bowled over with the number of offerings on this 11-day Essential Vietnam tour, from north to south. Not only will you be eating, you’ll be cruising, riding, relaxing, exploring and enjoying all of the Vietnamese hospitality. It sure is a damn tasty slice of this South East Asian nation, so there’s only one thing to say: Viet-nom.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

Some of our under-30 travellers prefer to get around with people their own age. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

Over 29? We’ve got over 900 other great adventures to choose from for solo travellers, friends, families, food lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and more.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Destination
Vietnam
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
TVYE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Travel solo, together

You're never alone when travelling solo with Intrepid

Why you'll love this trip

  • Balance on a tiny street side stool in Hanoi's Old Quarter, soaking up the bustling vibes and watching motorbikes zoom past.

  • Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty? Kayaking on Lan Ha Bay is bliss, and you’ll be doing something good for the environment.

  • Cycle tour to the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and check out the temples, pagodas and monuments all backed by what some call ‘Halong Bay on land’.

  • A little touch of France here, a little bit of China there – and all in Vietnam! Chill out in the cultural mixed bag of Hoi An. Hit up the local beach, cycle through rice paddies or get some sweet threads tailor-made.

  • Sit down to a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee in a busy Ho Chi Minh City market and listen to stories from your trip leader about the city’s vibrant culture and history.

Is this trip right for you?

  • We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including on overnight trains. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight.

  • 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 and eat where you like. Your leader is always there to give you tips and suggestions.

Itinerary

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. This adventure kicks off with a group meeting at 6 pm. Get to know your leader and your group mates and see who’s up for grabbing some food and a fresh bia hoi at a roadside stall and watching the motorbikes zoom by tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex - VND80000
  • Hanoi - Street Food Experience Urban Adventure - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
You do you in Hanoi today. The day is yours to explore however you’d like. Check out your reflection in beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, wander along shaded boulevards or relax in a public park with some delicious street food (spring rolls inside rice paper rolls, anyone?). Museum-wise, you could visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, drop into the serene Temple of Literature or get arty at the city's Fine Arts Museum.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Street Food Experience Urban Adventure - USD35
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex - VND80000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by bus and ferry (approximately 3.5 hours) to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. With thousands of little limestone islands scattered around, this area is one of those quintessential Vietnamese scenes in which bright green water is dotted with traditional junk boats and limestone karsts. Take a cruise around Lan Ha Bay and enjoy a seafood lunch prepared by your on-board chef. Hop off the boat to get up close and personal with this other-worldly landscape by kayak.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay
  • Cat Ba Island - Kayaking
Meals Included
  • Lunch
This morning, ferry back to the mainland and head to Ninh Binh province, once the site of Vietnam’s capital which is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Join a local guide on a cycling tour to visit the ancient citadel. This once covered 300 hectares of land, however the passage of time has left few remains of this once glorious capital. You’ll pay a visit to the 17th century temples built in honour of King Dinh and King Le among other temples, pagodas, monuments and lush grounds surrounded by mountains.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoa Lu - Temple of King Dinh and King Le
  • Ninh Binh - Bike Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The day is yours to explore the many other wonders of Ninh Binh. You might choose to lace up your hikers to trek to the incredible Mua Cave. While the cave sits at the base of a mountain, be sure to make the trek up the 500 steps to the mountain peak for amazing views of Hoa Lu and Ngo Dong River. Or maybe get out on the water and take a boat tour past limestone karst peaks, caves, temples and maybe even the locations of scenes from a King Kong movie. Tonight, board an overnight train to Hue (approximately 13 hours).
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ninh Binh - Mua Cave Hike (entrance fee and taxi) - USD12
  • Ninh Binh - Trang An Boat Trip (entrance fee, boat, taxi) - USD21
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Arrive by train in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. You have today free to do as you please. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace that's enclosed within it. Perhaps jump on board a dragon boat and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda. You could also check out Dong Ba Market, which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and some tasty street food. This is a good place to try the dishes that Emperor Nguyen used to feast on: the banh khoai royal rice. If you like being on two wheels then maybe cycle out to one of the royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (one of the most excellent remaining examples of its kind). Tonight, head into the home of a local family and enjoy a prepared dinner. You’ll be chatting and laughing over your chopsticks in no time!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Home cooked dinner
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (without lunch) - USD23
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (with lunch) - USD28
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda - VND220000
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Continue along the coast to Hoi An by private bus (approximately 3 hours). Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of this unique town which has been influenced over the years by Europe, China, Vietnam and Japan. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and its old-school flavour is written all over its architecture. For a small town, it's pretty lively in places. In others, it's chilled out. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look a lot like they did 100 years ago or more. You'll check out 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 - Old Town walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD37
  • Hoi An - Cooking class - USD28
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Start the day by cycling through the beautiful surrounds of Hoi An to the organic vegetable and herb gardens of a local chef. See, smell and taste what makes Vietnamese food so delicious. After a tour of the gardens, enjoy a freshly prepared lunch using some of the ingredients you picked during your tour. Much of the food waste here is composted, recycled or reused. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own explorations. Maybe wander to the Central Market and browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors, so if you’ve been wearing the same shirt every day (who hasn’t), why not hit one of the same-day tailors and get yourself something new? Or, if you're still feeling adventurous, hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside, or take a ride to the coastline for an afternoon on the South China Sea – this is one of the best ways to travel in and out of town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Garden-to-Table with A Local Chef
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Cooking class - USD28
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD37
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Special Information
You’ll get the chance to help collect ingredients for today’s lunch. Please advise your booking agent of any dietary requirements to ensure this can be requested in advance.
Lucky you, it's another free morning in this historic haven. You could take a trip out to the My Son temples (World Heritage-listed beauties that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), join a cooking class or take the stairs or the escalator up the Marble Mountains to explore the many pagodas, tunnels, caves and shrines. Afterwards begin your overnight train journey to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 16 hours).
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Cooking class - USD28
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD37
  • Danang - Marble Mountain - VND40000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City very early (approximately 5:45 am) and transfer to your hotel, then leave your gear in a day room at the hotel. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a whirl of sights and sounds. You can still see the French influence in the top-notch baguettes and coffee on offer. Compared to the north, the food here is spicier, sweeter and more varied. Perhaps take advantage of the early morning by checking out the markets and tucking into a bowl of pho with the local traders. Your leader will let you know the best places to check out during your free time. Well worth the visit are the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Included for today is a visit to a local market, where you can browse the exotic street foods and maybe take the chance to try some. Then finish the visit by sitting down to try the iconic Saigon café sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk) amid the market’s everyday bustle as your leader shares stories about life in Ho Chi Minh City. Tonight, why not get your group together for a meal and some drinks on Pham Ngu Lao Street?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City – Local Market Visit
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Local Coffee Experience
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
There are shared day use hotel rooms available on arrival into Ho Chi Minh. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day use rooms.
With no planned activities today, you can depart at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we don’t blame you! We’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). The Cu Chi Tunnels are an interesting day trip nearby, plus the city is a great springboard to head down to the Mekong Delta or to Phu Quoc Island. Ask your group leader for more recommendations or, better yet, book an Urban Adventures tour! Find out more at urbanadventures.com.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD39
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Discovery Urban Adventure - USD63
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD32
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

2 lunches, 1 dinner

Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus

Accommodation

Hotel (8 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay
  • Cat Ba Island - Kayaking
  • Hoa Lu - Temple of King Dinh and King Le
  • Ninh Binh - Bike Tour
  • Hue - Home cooked dinner
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Hoi An - Garden-to-Table with A Local Chef
  • Ho Chi Minh City – Local Market Visit
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Local Coffee Experience

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Essential Vietnam trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement exclude Days 3,7,9 (Sleeper Train) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. 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 new tickets.

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.

View Essential Trip Information

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