Essential Vietnam

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

5 out of 5 based on 131 reviews submitted.
18 to 35s
EUR €536
View dates and book
This trip is for the 18 to 35 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 35s
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 35
Group size
Min 1 - Max 16
Trip code
This trip generates 58 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 Hoi An where you can get some sweet threads tailor-made before you head out to 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.
  • Take in the views of Lan Ha Bay by kayak as you explore the limestone islands during your visit to Cat Ba Island. Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty?
  • 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.

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 trip is part of a longer itinerary. You might be joining travellers who have already spent some time together. If you have more time to explore, you might like to check out Epic South East Asia or Epic Vietnam to Cambodia.


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 - VND70000
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex - VND80000
  • Hanoi - Street Food Experience Urban Adventure - USD40
  • 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 - USD44
  • Hoi An - Cooking class - USD33
  • Hoi An - Private Hoi An: My Son Discovery (from) - USD77
  • 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 - USD45
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Discovery Urban Adventure - USD73
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD36

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


5 out of 5 based on 131 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Matthrw · Traveled June 2024
Intrepid was such a great organisation to travel with. Great memories. New friends. I’ll never forget
Review submitted 26 Jun 2024

Kyla · Traveled June 2024
This trip was a great way to start my solo travel journey. In a group of like minded travellers with an outstanding tour guide I felt like I was able to learn, see and experience a lot in a short period of time and for a great price. Highly recommend!
Review submitted 23 Jun 2024

Hailey · Traveled June 2024
Truly gives you the authentic local experience. Our tour guide had great recommendations and knew each city well.
Review submitted 23 Jun 2024

James · Traveled June 2024
I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone. Every aspect was perfect and exceeded my expectations. Each day brought a new level of excitement and surprise.
Review submitted 24 Jun 2024

Rachael · Traveled June 2024
Such a wonderful trip! It has the perfect itinerary and you cover a lot of ground in such a short amount of time, but it doesn’t feel too rushed and you definitely have time to enjoy it all. Would absolutely recommend this trip!
Review submitted 27 Jun 2024
Essential Vietnam
EUR €536