Discover backwaters, karst-studded bays, bustling cities and bicycle-powered food carts

Discover the essence of captivating Vietnam on this ten-day tour through backstreets, villages, cities and waterways. Trace the east coast on this fast-paced adventure and take in World Heritage-listed landscapes and towns, feel the buzz of bustling cities and fuel yourself with banh mi and condensed milk coffee. As lively as it is lovely, Vietnam can seem an intimidating place to travel, but our local leaders will guide you to the best street food (and tell you how to order it), introduce you to fishermen on the Mekong Delta and give you the inside scoop on the best tailors in Hoi An. This is an adventure full of life, colour and flavour that introduces you to the highlights of this fascinating nation.

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Terms & Conditions

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

Why you'll love this trip

  • Fall in love with Vietnam one bite at a time, from pho slurped on a busy street corner to a vegetarian feast in a Buddhist nunnery.

  • Sail through Halong Bay’s limestone karsts and island caves and spend the night checking out the stars on an overnight cruise.

  • Travel like a local on a motorbike tour, riding pillion and taking in the historical pagodas, bridges and villages of Hue.

  • Embrace a slower pace during a private boat tour of the Mekong Delta and meet local craftspeople in the villages that line the river’s myriad waterways.

  • Wander through the remarkably well-preserved streets of Hoi An’s Old Town on a guided tour, where elegant wooden buildings line the canals.

Is this trip right for you?

  • In order to see as much as possible, this trip involves some long journeys, including by overnight train where the amenities are shared and basic. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight....

  • The motorbike tour of Hue has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored (helmets ae provided). However, alternative transport can be arranged for those who would prefer not to travel by motorbike.

  • Depending on where you come from, the weather in Vietnam might be hotter and more humid than what you are used to. Please consider your suitability to the season you wish to travel in. Check out https://www.intrepidtravel.com/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam for more info.

  • This trip is a great way to see a lot of Vietnam in a relatively short period of time. If you would like a longer tour in Vietnam, maybe check out Best of Vietnam (TVST).

  • This itinerary also runs in reverse, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. Enter trip code TVSQ on our website for details.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive before your tour begins there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Morning Highlights Urban Adventure, a wide-ranging tour with a local expert guide. This optional tour visits the Temple of Literature, stops by a traditional tea house, and takes you through the Hoa Lo Prison Memorial before concluding at Hoan Kiem Lake. Or maybe take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter to admire the city’s French-colonial architecture.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Hanoi - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Urban Adventure - USD88
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum - VND80000
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.

To book an Urban Adventure before you meet your tour leader, go to urbanadventures.com/destination/hanoi-tours.
Travel by private minibus to World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, which is dotted with sandy coves, grottoes and 1600 limestone islands formed over millennia by wind and water erosion (approximately 4 hours). Board a private boat and cruise the bay, exploring island caves and perhaps even enjoying a swim from Ti Top Island Beach during the warmer months. To end the day, spend an evening aboard the boat beneath the night sky. What better way to get to know your fellow travellers than an old school sleepover in an unforgettable location?
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
  • Halong Bay - Cave entry
Optional Activities
  • Halong Bay - Kayaking - VND250000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your wooden junk-style boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast.

We recommend packing a small overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi overnight.

Kayaking and swimming is restricted to designated zones within 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. The route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
Return by boat to Halong Bay. At approximately midday, return to Hanoi by bus. Arrive late this afternoon and enjoy free time until tonight’s train voyage. Be sure to grab a bowl of pho while you’re in town and slurp down this local specialty made from broth, noodles and meat. Maybe chill by Hoan Kiem Lake until you board an overnight train to Hue this evening.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are shared day use hotel rooms available this afternoon in Hanoi if you would like to freshen up before the overnight train. There is one room provided for up to six 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 this 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 at approximately 11 am and transfer to the hotel. Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of the country’s royal past. Enjoy free time in the morning to rest or explore. If you choose the latter (and who can blame you) the bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the specialties that once graced the Nguyen emperors' tables like banh khoai (royal rice cake). Reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Imperial Citadel, a sprawling city-within-a-city which contains the remains of temples, state houses and the emperor’s palace.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
See Hue like a local – from the back of a motorbike! Straddle the saddle and whiz around town with a local guide, taking in historic and contemporary sights along the way. Stop at Thanh Toan to see the 18th-century covered bridge and villagers shopping at their local market. Visit the 17th-century active Buddhist monastery of Thien Mu Pagoda and see the car that belonged to Thích Quang Duc, the monk who self-immolated in 1963 in protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Enjoy a short boat cruise down the Perfume River before a vegetarian feast in a nunnery. Finish at the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
The motorbike tour has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored. To participate please ensure your travel insurance covers riding pillion on a motorbike up to 125cc. If you prefer not to participate, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation (cost included).

Boats for the Perfume River trip may not be available if you’re travelling during festival periods. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities instead.
This morning travel by bus through coastal rice paddies and the spectacular Hai Van Pass (approximately 3 hours). After a photo stop en route, arrive into Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major international trading port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of the beautifully-preserved town retain the feel of centuries past. It's also a shopping mecca, famous for its plethora of tailors. On arrival your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town to visit a handful of the city's major attractions. You’ll also be given a sightseeing pass so you can further explore select attractions at your leisure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike with Sunset BBQ Urban Adventure - USD51
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day to explore Hoi An. Maybe browse the cobbled streets and art galleries or hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies out to Cua Dai Beach. Maybe browse for paintings, ceramics and colourful cloth lanterns in the town’s markets and preserved Chinese shophouses. If you’re craving a new look, you could pay a visit to one of the hundreds of tailors and get something special made. Hoi An is also known for its delicious regional food, so be sure to enjoy a meal at a riverside restaurant or perhaps partake in a cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take a short, early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1.5 hours). Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a fascinating history and is arguably Vietnam’s capital of commerce and culture. After landing, take a sightseeing tour around the city by bus. Pass the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House, then stop in at the War Remnants Museum to discover some of the sobering stories of the 20-year-long Vietnam/American War.
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 - A O show - VND1050000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board a private boat to Ben Tre to visit the coconut gardens and stop at a local home to sample tropical fruits and coconut jams. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past coconut trees along the Mekong Delta. Take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages and learn about rural life and the industry created around coconut products like brooms and coconut fibre mats. Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the Delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous elephant ear fish. Cruise the major waterways to Ben Tre boat pier, then return by bus to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy dinner this evening at KOTO, the restaurant arm of an organisation dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of marginalised young people.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens & village tuk-tuk tour
  • HCMC - KOTO dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
There are no activities included and you’re free to depart your accommodation at any time as long as you comply with check out time. If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we’re happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). Ask your group leader or booking agent for more recommendations or help booking an Urban Adventure if you plan to stay.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Boat, Motorbike, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private minibus, Taxi, sampan, Tuk-Tuk

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
  • Halong Bay - Cave entry
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - City tour
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens & village tuk-tuk tour
  • HCMC - KOTO dinner

Dates & availability

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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 note the single supplement excludes Day 2 (overnight boat) and Day 3 (overnight train) where you will be in shared accommodation. Day use rooms are also excluded.
3. This trip includes a domestic flight. Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20 kilograms, with up to 7 kilograms carry-on luggage. Any excess luggage charges will need to be paid directly to the airline at check-in.

Essential trip information

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