Discover the many sides of Vietnam – from the quiet hills of the Da Bac region to the dynamic streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh

Journey from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on an incredible two-week adventure in Vietnam. Discover the stately capital Hanoi, the lush hills of the Da Bac region, the stunning limestone scenery of Halong Bay, the majesty of historic Hue, the fairytale atmosphere of Hoi An, the glorious waterways of the Mekong Delta and the dynamic streets of Ho Chi Minh City. Explore not only the main highlights of the cities, but also the remote countryside, well away from the tourist crowds. A homestay in Sung Village, nestled in the forest among caves and tea plantations, is a chance to trek through minority villages and experience Vietnam at its sleepy best.


Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Destination
Vietnam
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
TVSR
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

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.

  • Cruise a sea of limestone karsts, blue-green waters, mysterious caves and ancient jungle on an unforgettable Halong Bay boat trip

  • There’s no view of Vietnam quite like from the back of a motorbike. After a two-wheeled tour around Hue, take a boat trip down the Perfume River and enjoy a unique lunch at a serene nunnery

  • A 15-day itinerary allows for ample time in each location, with a great mix of included activities and free time to explore

  • A knowledgeable, homegrown leader and an exciting mix of transport (motorbike, basket boat, dragon boat, junk boat, bus and train) means you’ll experience Vietnam from a variety of perspectives with local insights

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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/

  • This trip involves a 10-kilometre trek in the hills of Da Bac, as well as included city walking tours. While being on your feet can be a bit tiring, this is the best way to really get under the skin of a place.

  • 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.

  • Vietnam has an incredibly diverse climate influenced by both tropical monsoons and its range of altitudes and latitudes. Temperatures can vary from a brisk 4°C (39°F) in the northern mountains during winter to a sweltering and humid 36°C (97°F) in Ho Chi Minh City during the middle of the dry season. Please check the weather for the time of year you're travelling in order to pack appropriate clothing.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet you tour leader and fellow travellers. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. In free time, step out onto the streets to explore the chaotic capital of Vietnam. Hanoi is an alluring city of contrasts, best discovered on foot. Tonight perhaps get to know your new travel buddies over a glass of fresh bia hoi. This is a foamy, light beer made fresh each day and served in basic, open-walled ‘brew halls’. Take up a brightly coloured plastic chair and sip your tasty brew.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome 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). 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 have these on hand.
Enjoy breakfast at the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, a community project dedicated to helping underprivileged children and victims of trafficking. Afterwards, head out on a city tour where you’ll see the city’s diverse past reflected in a mix of South East Asian, Chinese and French-influenced architecture. Stop by the aptly-named One Pillar Pagoda, the country’s most famous stilt house (former residence of Ho Chi Minh), Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature. In the evening, be entertained by a traditional water puppet show.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Blue Dragon breakfast
  • Hanoi - Water puppet show
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • 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
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
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.
After breakfast, board a bus heading north-east to Halong Bay (about 4 hours). You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag for staying on the boat. Crowned a World Heritage site by UNESCO, Halong Bay will take your breath away. The views of sailing junk boats navigating past thousands of limestone islands with rocky outcrops in Bac Bo Gulf are nothing short of spectacular. You’ll visit a cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or kayaking. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a night sky alive with stars. Your boat will have a dining room and bar where you’ll enjoy a sumptuous lunch, dinner and breakfast the following morning.

Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
Optional Activities
  • Halong Bay - Kayaking - VND250000
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 and kayaking are limited to designated zones of the bay.

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, occasionally you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels, in which case an Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
Wake to gorgeous views of emerald islands and waters. Enjoy brunch on board the boat as you sail back to port. Disembark and drive back to Hanoi, stopping at the Dong Trieu Factory on the way to see how locals make traditional ceramics. There will be free time to explore the city when you arrive back in Hanoi before boarding an overnight train bound for Hue around 10 pm. Shared hotel rooms will be available if you want to freshen up or organise your luggage. Otherwise, use this time to do some shopping on Hang Gai Street or seek out some delicious Hanoi street food. Meet back at the hotel lobby at 9 pm where you’ll transfer with the group to the train station. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a rewarding experience in Vietnam. They are an efficient way to travel long distances and a great way to get a sense of the country.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are shared day use hotel rooms available in Hanoi if you would like to freshen up before the overnight train. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day rooms.

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 Hue just after sunrise and proceed to the hotel to refresh. Hue is the hub of Vietnam’s historic past. This former imperial capital is an eclectic mix of busy streets and peaceful beauty. The rest of the morning is free for you to relax; perhaps pick up a classic Hue breakfast of bun bo Hue, a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo). After lunch you will visit the Imperial Citadel, a sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, gates, and walls. The Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace and the Ancestral Altars are still impressive, and the complex must have been awe-inspiring during its heyday in the 19th century. 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
There are no meals included on this day.
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, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, but its humble, foliage-covered ruins remain a testament to its proud history. Here you'll gain some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war. Then it's on to the Thien Mu 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 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. This evening, perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
This motorbike activity has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored. To participate please ensure your travel insurance covers riding pillion on a motorbike. The motorbikes used are all less than 125cc, the majority are 110cc. If you prefer not to participate in the motorbike ride, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation between destinations (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.
Travelling by bus, head south through coastal rice paddies before stopping in at Lang Co Beach. Then traverse the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views back to Lang Co Beach and beyond. The spectacular Marble Mountains will be your backdrop as you arrive at Hoi An (approximately 4 hours).

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 from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of times past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. On arrival, a walking tour will take you around the major sites of Hoi An’s charming Old Town, including an historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. You will notice a distinctly Chinese appearance to the pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. A sightseeing pass is included in your tour for you to visit a selection of the major sights as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
If you feel like getting active on your free day today, 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. Your leader will be able to help with suggestions on activities in Hoi An.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike with Sunset BBQ Urban Adventure - USD51
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy another 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. Bring your favourite piece of clothing, or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied. You might like to visit a local workshop to learn how to make your own rice paper, while a Vietnamese cooking class too is a great way to familiarise yourself with some age-old culinary techniques, not to mention being able to feast on the fruits of your own labour.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Transfer to Danang (approximately 45 minutes) for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by 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. Take a guided tour to get a feel for the city, going past the GPO, Reunification Palace, and the Opera house. Stop in at the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral.

With free time this evening perhaps drop by one of Vietnam’s most pulsing markets, Ben Thanh. This is the perfect place to pick up any last-minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients, or presents for friends and family before you return home. Perhaps enjoy some of the market fare for dinner as you shop.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - City tour
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) 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. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit a local cottage industry and sample the candy that 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, see a honey farm, 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.

Stay overnight at a homestay in the Delta. The accommodation is fairly basic with shared bathroom facilities and dormitory style rooms, but the sounds of nature thrumming softly in the night makes for a memorable experience.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • 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.
Take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Maybe spend the final night of your Vietnam adventure with a few glasses of street-side beer hoi.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your Vietnam adventure ends after breakfast today. There are no activities included, so you are free to depart at any time. For those who are staying on longer and want to explore Ho Chi Minh City further, maybe check out our Urban Adventure day trips.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Taxi, Train, Motorbike, Plane

Accommodation

Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (10 nights), Overnight Boat (1 night), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Hanoi - Blue Dragon breakfast
  • Hanoi - Water puppet show
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum
  • Da Bac - Sung village to Da Bia hike
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - City tour
  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Scenic 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 train and flight 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 on this trip, subject to availability. Please contact your sales agent if you would like to book this. Please note the single supplement excludes days 3 & 13 (homestay), day 5 (overnight boat) and day 6 (overnight train) where you will be in shared accommodation. Day use rooms are also excluded.

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