Ready, set, let’s pa-go-da on a trip through the real Vietnam.

From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, experience authentic Vietnam on this epic 15-day adventure from south to north. See how the locals live on the Mekong Delta, discover rich history in Hoi An and taste some awesome food in Hue. Drift on the emerald waters around Cat Ba Island by boat and go for a snoop through some of Hanoi's many markets. This is the make-em-jealous, full-on, once-in-a-lifetime trip up the coast of Vietnam you've been waiting for. Ready, set, pagoda.

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.

15% OFF Asia

Final days to get 15% OFF Asia adventures. Book now to save on everywhere from the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall. But hurry, this offer ends October 17, 2019.

Terms & Conditions

Start
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Finish
Hanoi, Vietnam
Destination
Vietnam
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
TVYB
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

  • Experience local life during homestays in the Mekong Delta and Da Bac. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal.

  • Get on a bike in charming Hoi An; the best way to see the town and surrounding countryside. Also, the food here? You guessed it: completely delicious.

  • Hue is an historical city with a lot of style. Wander around a citadel-within-a-citadel and dare to gaze upon the Forbidden Purple City – it's not forbidden just to look, is it?

  • It's taken 400 million years for Phong Nha to look this good, so you'd better take advantage. Explore caves, underground rivers and caverns big enough to sail into.

  • Limestone karsts, blue-green waters, mysterious caves and super ancient jungle - Cat Ba Island feels a lot like paradise.

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.

  • You'll be spending two nights with local families on this trip. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to connect with the local people (and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals!). Read more about the experiences here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-vietnam/ and https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodia-homestay-experience

  • 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. Your leader will always be there to give you tips and suggestions.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2018 itinerary
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. After your welcome meeting, why not head into the Ben Thanh night market for a serving of pho or bun with your fellow travellers? It’d be rude not to.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Ho Chi Minh Discovery Urban Adventure - USD53
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD41
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
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. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, 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 down to the Mekong Delta and visit Ben Tre, where the humble coconut is everything and anything. The fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers as well as boating along the canals. On arrival, board a private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries, where you’ll have the chance to interact with locals of the area. In the evening, head to a guesthouse along the water and enjoy some time relaxing in the delta.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise with visits to local producers
  • Mekong Delta - Homestay
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Facilities at the guesthouse are basic and can vary as we stay with several different families. We sleep on camp beds in a communal room for all members of the group. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Your guesthouse will be located near the Mekong, but may not be on the banks of the river itself.
Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding a boat and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy some free time in Ho Chi Minh City to go check out a few more sites or some tasty street food snacks. Included for today is a local experience with uni students called Ca Phe Bet, which literally translates to ‘coffee on the flat ground’. Enjoy this city ritual of coffee and a snack in one of the many parks. Late this evening board an overnight train to Hoi An, a historical town on the central coast. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are all part of the experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Ca Phe Bet with locals
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
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. Your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but we recommend that you stock up on snacks and drinks before departure.

Shared hotel rooms are available after check out time, shared between up to 6 members of the group, so you can prepare if needed before your train journey.
Arrive in Danang in the early afternoon and travel by minibus to Hoi An (approximately 1 hour). Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past. It's also a shopping mecca, with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of tailors and fabrics to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied. Included today is a walking tour of the Old Town, which finishes with a delicious banh mi for lunch. Afterwards, you’re free to explore Hoi An at your own pace.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Hoi An - Banh mi lunch
Meals Included
  • Lunch
There's no better way to explore the peaceful countryside of Hoi An than by bike. For a true insight into country living in Vietnam, join your leader in cycling past green rice paddies, over small creeks and through rural villages. Later in the day, you may like to cycle or catch a local bus to Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An centre for an afternoon on the stunning South China Sea. If you would like to see more of the Vietnamese countryside and visit some temples, you could book yourself into a My Son Cham day trip. The best thing is, the afternoon is yours to do as you please.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Countryside bicycle tour
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Departing Hoi An, we cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass with a quick stop and photo opportunity before continuing on to Hue (approximately 5 hours including stops). As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Your afternoon is free to go exploring. The Dong Ba market, which sells everything imaginable, is a great place to spend some time. See the Imperial Citadel, including a visit to the Forbidden Purple City, which was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive. In the evening, sit back, relax and enjoy a traditional dinner in a local home. These experiences off the beaten track are the ones you’ll remember.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Home cooked dinner
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel - VND150000
Meals Included
  • Dinner
You’ve got the whole day to explore stunning Hue. Head with your group on a street food experience in the morning to pick up a market breakfast and pass by all the local traders. Later on, you may like to take a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Otherwise, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on an optional motorbike tour, riding with a local guide around the sights.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Street food breakfast
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda - VND220000
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc - VND136000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Jump on the bus and make your way to Quang Tri. If you’re keen, it’s just a small fee to visit the Hien Luong Bridge and Vinh Moc tunnels. Hien Luong Bridge separated the North from the South during the war. The tunnels at Vinh Moc are an expansive network of limestone tunnels that locals used as shelters from the bombing. Travel onwards to Phong Nha and spend the afternoon exploring your surroundings. You'll stay just outside Phong Nha Town, which is near Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: an amazing landscape full of caves and underground rivers.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Quang Tri - Hien Luong Bridge - VND40000
  • Quang Tri - Vinh Moc Tunnels - VND40000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day to explore Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. At 400 million years old, this World Heritage site is the oldest karst mountain range in Asia. You might like to take a boat through Phong Nha Cave or check out the spectacular Paradise Cave. If caves aren’t your thing, chat with your leader about a kayaking adventure in Suoi Mooc. Otherwise, chill out with a coffee and soak in the river views. Later today you'll head back to Dong Hoi and hop back on a sleeper train (approximately 8 pm to 6 am) – you'll be a pro at this by now.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park - Paradise Cave - VND250000
  • Suoi Mooc - Kayaking and Swimming - VND180000
  • Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park - Phong Nha Cave - VND150000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
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. Your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but we recommend that you stock up on snacks and drinks before departure.
Arrive in Hanoi very early (approximately 5.30 am) and transfer to your hotel. Then leave your gear in a day room at the hotel. The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with over six million people. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, lush public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface. Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter with uni students accompanying the group. You'll visit the Dong Xuan market, the biggest wholesale market in northern Vietnam, stroll through the ancient '36 streets' where you can discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths. Your leader will point out some of the unique architecture around Hoan Kiem Lake and the myths and legends of the lake, and you’ll have the chance to get a decadent Vietnamese coffee along the way.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Vietnamese coffee
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter walking tour with local student guides
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum - VND80000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi - Village Discovery by Bike Urban Adventure - USD33
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
There are shared day use hotel rooms available on arrival into Hanoi. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day use rooms.
Leave Hanoi after breakfast around 8 am and make the drive to Sung village (approximately 4 hours). There are around 70 families living at Sung Village and the majority are Dzao ‘Tien’ people. Farming and forest plantation are their main source of income. Enjoy lunch at your homestay then take an introductory walk around the village. After getting to know the village better, take a short trek (2 kilometres) to the alluring Sung Cave and visit a 100-year-old tea plantation. The trek has some steep and slippery sections so please ensure you have suitable footwear for this activity. After a handicraft workshop, return to your homestay accommodation for a nice hot shower and a delicious dinner.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Da Bac - Homestay and activities
  • Da Bac - Sung Cave hike
Meals Included
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Tonight's homestay is shared accommodation, usually with the whole group in a single room together. There are separate beds with clean linen, blankets and mosquito nets provided.

Depending on weather, availability and number of visitors to this region, we may stay overnight at an alternative village. If we do change the village on your departure, your leader will advise you as soon as possible. Trek length and activities may vary, depending on which village you’re staying in. Should this region be completely inaccessible due to weather conditions, we will put an alternative itinerary in place, visiting Mai Chau.
This morning, have an opportunity to take in more of the Vietnamese highlands on a 10 kilometre (6.2 mi) trek from Sung Village to Da Bia. The first 8km of the trek is mostly flat ground along well-worn buffalo tracks. The final 2km gradually inclines and for a period of approximately 300m there are some steps to climb, however the walk will be a steady relaxed pace. Keep an eye peeled for the monumental stone at the peak of Da Bia Mountain during the hike that takes us through the local villages, meeting people from the ethnic Muong tribe along the way. Stop for lunch at Da Bia before enjoying a scenic 1.5 hour boat cruise on Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir. Arrive at Thung Nai then board a bus transfer to Hanoi (approximately 2 hours). Arrive in Hanoi at around 6 pm. This evening is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not relax with a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter?
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Da Bac - Sung village to Da Bia hike
  • Da Bac - Hoa Binh Reservoir cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Comfortable supportive footwear (running shoes) will be suitable however you are welcome to bring hiking boots if you prefer. It can be quite slippery if there has been recent rain. The homestay hosts can provide bamboo trekking poles on request. Please ensure you have a 1.5 litre water bottle with you for the trek; we will fill bottles at Sung Village and there are no refill points along the way until we have concluded the trek.

Should you wish to skip the 10 kilometre (6.2mi) trek, a taxi can be arranged locally for approximately USD70.
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 limestone islands and formations scattered around the bay, this area is one of those quintessential Vietnamese scenes in which bright green water is dotted with traditional junk boats. Take a boat around Lan Ha Bay with an included rice paper roll making class while you cruise, then get up close and personal with this other-worldly landscape by kayak. There’s also the option to have a net on the side of your kayak and help the locals’ clean-up efforts. This initiative hopes to eliminate the rising amounts of plastic waste in the bay – you’ll make the locals’ day! Stay overnight on Cat Ba Island and enjoy a dip at one of the beaches and a cold beer.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cat Ba Island - Kayaking
  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay
  • Cat Ba Island - Rice paper roll class
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Wake up in paradise, maybe starting your morning with a refreshing swim. Ensure you soak up as much sun and sand as possible, as it's back to Hanoi later in the afternoon via ferry and bus. Being such a large city, Hanoi has so much to explore. This afternoon, you could head to the French Quarter to see the European influences on parts of Hanoi’s architecture, or otherwise, get your gang together and stake out a roadside stall for some chargrilled meats or pho cuon (rice noodle rolls).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There’s so much to see and do in Hanoi, so why not book an Urban Adventures tour? Citadels, Karsts & Cycle is our pick – a tour where you’ll cycle through Hanoi and take a sneaky rowboat through caves and past rice paddies. See urbanadventures.com/destination/hanoi-tours. If you would like to spend some more time in Hanoi, we’ll be happy to book some additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Urban Adventure - USD88
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Boat, Private minibus, Overnight sleeper train

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (9 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

Included activities

  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise with visits to local producers
  • Mekong Delta - Homestay
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Ca Phe Bet with locals
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Hoi An - Banh mi lunch
  • Hoi An - Countryside bicycle tour
  • Hue - Home cooked dinner
  • Hue - Street food breakfast
  • Hanoi - Vietnamese coffee
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter walking tour with local student guides
  • Da Bac - Homestay and activities
  • Da Bac - Sung Cave hike
  • Da Bac - Sung village to Da Bia hike
  • Da Bac - Hoa Binh Reservoir cruise
  • Cat Ba Island - Kayaking
  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay
  • Cat Ba Island - Rice paper roll class

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

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

Prices may change, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport), for internal 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 is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2 and 11 (homestays), Days 3 and 9 (overnight trains) and Day 8 (guesthouse) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

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

Reviews