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Essential Vietnam

11 Days | From World-Heritage islands to hole-in-the-wall bars, you’ll see all the essentials in Vietnam

4.9 out of 5 based on 81 reviews submitted.
18 to 29s
EUR €748
View dates and book
This trip is for the 18 to 29 year olds

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! On this 11-day trip from north to south, you’ll be cruising, riding, relaxing, kayaking, drinking, exploring and enjoying all the Vietnamese hospitality. From sailing on the calm waters of Cat Ba Island to picking your own lunch ingredients from a local chef’s garden, you’ll discover that this place is even richer in culture and city hotspots than you thought.

Trip overview

Map of Essential Vietnam including Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
18 to 29s
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 18 - Max 29
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 42.41 kg of CO2-e per person per day.
We offset these emissions on your behalf. But we know that is not enough, so we also have a carbon reduction target.
Bucket list destinations

Tick off all the popular spots and enjoy unique local experiences

Great value

Affordable trips with the freedom to choose how you spend your time

Responsible travel

You book, we donate to help support local communities

Why you'll love this trip
  • Chill out in the cultural mixed bag of Hoi An and hit up the local beach, cycle through rice paddies or get some sweet threads tailor-made. Then, pick your own ingredients for lunch during a garden-to-table experience with a local chef.
  • Sit down for a cup of strong Vietnamese coffee after touring a busy Ho Chi Minh City market and listen to stories from your trip leader about the city’s vibrant culture and history as you tuck into some delicious street eats.
  • Balance on a tiny streetside stool in Hanoi's Old Quarter, soaking up the bustling vibes and watching motorbikes zoom past. Then, maybe hit a local bar for a refreshing beer with the locals or explore the nightlife in search of the best cocktail.
  • Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty? Take in the views of Lan Ha Bay by kayak as you explore the limestone islands during your visit to Cat Ba Island.
  • Cycle around the ancient temples and expansive fields in Ninh Binh – a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. With loads of free time, you can hike to Mua Cave or take a boat down in Tam Coc to the nearby caves.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, WildAct. Donations help them run educational programs that aim to stop the illegal hunting of threatened migratory birds in Vietnam.

Is this trip right for you?
  • You’ll 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:
  • 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, do your own activities and eat where you like. Your leader is always there to give you tips and suggestions.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2024 to 31 December 2024.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2023 - 31 December 2023

Map of Essential Vietnam including Vietnam



2 lunches, 1 dinner


Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus


Hotel (7 nights), Lodge (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)

  • 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
Add on activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex - VND80000
  • Hanoi - Street Food Experience Urban Adventure - USD35
  • Ninh Binh - Mua Cave Hike (entrance fee and taxi) - USD12
  • Ninh Binh - Trang An Boat Trip (entrance fee, boat, taxi) - USD21
  • 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
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD37
  • Hoi An - Cooking class - USD28
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD45
  • Danang - Marble Mountain - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • 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

Dates and availability

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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 5 & 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.

Read Essential Trip Information


4.9 out of 5 based on 81 reviews submitted.
While we try our best to display all reviews, removal may be due to the following: privacy concerns, profanity/inappropriate content or it is unrelated to this trip. We welcome honest feedback and will directly respond to negative reviews.

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Matthew · Traveled August 2023
This was an amazing trip where I’ve met so many great people and experienced so many aspects of this country. Our guide (Chieu) was fantastic and really made the trip special.
Review submitted 22 Aug 2023

Jacob · Traveled July 2023
This was a truly incredible tour that I will never forget! Amazing tour leader, food, and insights into Vietnamese culture and history.
Review submitted 14 Aug 2023

Jason · Traveled July 2023
Great Leader Duc.. made us all feel safe and welcome! Filled with a bunch of fun activities. Would highly recommend!
Review submitted 22 Jul 2023

Madison · Traveled July 2023
This trip exceed my expectations by far! What an incredibly refreshing and fun trip. Met the nicest boys (was the only girl on the trip) but it was fine and so much fun. Accomodation was clean and great. Transport completely easy and seamless. Destinations chosen so nice and worth it. The only thing I would say is I wish breakfast was included in each hotel for an easier and quicker start to the day. Otherwise bloody awesome will definitely be choosing intrepid again.
Review submitted 22 Jul 2023

Edin · Traveled July 2023
A great trip. We were blessed with an incredible leader and although we had a small group of only 4, we all gelled and have become best friends. I’d booked Intrepid again, and this is a great run of Vietnam. Just do it, trust me.
Review submitted 22 Jul 2023
Essential Vietnam
EUR €748