The essential experiences with a touch of class, from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi.

From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of colourful characters, varied cuisine and diverse landscapes. Unlock the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City, explore the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi, meet the locals as guests at a local Mekong Delta guesthouse, and eat breakfast the local way in Hue. Experience historical temples, laze on the spectacular coastline, gorge on delicious banquets and explore lively cities – all with a touch of comfort – on this 15-day Classic Vietnam adventure. No way? Yes Hue.


Start
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Finish
Hanoi, Vietnam
Destination
Vietnam
Style
Comfort
Theme
Explorer
Code
TVKT
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • By staying in local accommodation, you’ll get a true insight into real Vietnam. Spend a memorable night in a locally run guesthouse on the Mekong Delta, and an unforgettable boat stay on Halong Bay.

  • Spend time at your own pace on the coast in the idyllic seaside town of Phan Rang. You’ll have time to stroll the sandy beaches and head out on the water to snorkel.

  • Historic Hoi An is easily covered by foot, and you’ll have time to marvel in its delights. Laze on Cua Dai Beach, discover the renowned tailors, eat your way through the local food market – it’s up to you!

  • Discover the bustling centres of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – with their French colonial influence and region-specific cuisine, your eyes (and tastebuds!) will never go hungry.

  • Sample regional specialties and support local communities on your way, from seafood in Halong Bay, street snacks at markets, tropical fruits in the Mekong Delta and a special breakfast at KOTO restaurant.

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.

  • While the pace is generally easy, there is some walking involved on this trip, with walking tours in the downtown areas of each city, as well as a walk in the caves at Halong Bay.

  • At the guesthouse in the Mekong Delta, we stay in more basic accommodation than other destinations on the trip. Amenities are shared and may have cold water only.

  • This includes a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels – an incredible insight into life during the war. Going inside the tunnels is optional as it can be a little claustrophobic for those who don’t like small spaces.

  • Depending on where you come from, the weather in Vietnam might be hotter and more humid than what you are used to. We recommend checking online for what the typical temperatures will be at the time of the year you are looking to travel to see what to expect.

  • If you are looking for a shorter trip in Comfort style that takes in all the major highlights of Vietnam you might like to consider our Treasures of Vietnam itinerary – search trip code ‘TVKB’ on the Intrepid website for more information.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City – a French-infused city with a dynamic atmosphere. If you arrive early, perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-air market or visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group at one of the city's excellent eateries.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving today or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

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).
Start the day with a buffet breakfast at KOTO Restaurant – an Intrepid Foundation-supported program that teaches disadvantaged youth hospitality skills. Continue the day with a drive for approximately 3 hours to Cai Be. Here, you’ll board a boat to explore the canals of the Mekong Delta. The delta is known as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ for its abundance of rice paddies, fruit and flower orchards. During the boat trip, you’ll stop to sample some of the fresh tropical fruit and visit some cottage industries in the area. Around sunset, make your way to your local guesthouse to spend a night with the locals and enjoy a wonderful meal of regional specialties.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - KOTO lunch
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Your guesthouse is operated by local hosts, with simple twin and double rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are supplied. Please note that bathroom facilities may be shared and may only have cold water available.
Return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a walking tour in town. Experience the hustle and bustle of former Saigon and explore some of the city's more interesting sights such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the grand post office and War Remnants Museum. In your free time, perhaps visit Reunification Palace or book in to see a cultural show at the Saigon Opera House. Otherwise, go in search for the best food with some of your fellow travellers – your group leader will know where to go for meals of any budget.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Make a day trip to the renowned Cu Chi Tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, and offers a glimpse of what life was like during the war. Your group leader can recommend somewhere local if you'd like a final taste of southern Vietnamese cuisine, before you head for Phan Rang. First, take an afternoon flight to Cam Ranh, and from there, travel 1.5 hours by minibus to the historic city of Phan Rang – your base for the next two days.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, take a day trip to Vinh Hy Bay, a beautiful, crescent-shaped harbour between Phan Rang and Nha Trang. On your way to the bay, you’ll stop at the Bau Nai fish market for a glimpse of the bustle of activity as fish are unloaded and locals hurriedly shop for the best deal. Continue through the Vietnamese countryside to the sprawling salt flats – truly a sight to behold. Witness workers raking and collecting salt that has evaporated from the salty waters of Vietnam’s coast, which has been funnelled inland into shallow fields. Next, visit another place of great natural beauty – the moss-covered rock formations and fossilised coral reefs of Hang Rai. Finally, arrive at Vinh Hy Bay, where you’ll have plenty of time to swim and snorkel in its warm, coral-filled waters.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Phan Rang - Vinh Hy Bay snorkelling
  • Phan Rang - Hang Rai fossilised coral reefs
  • Phan Rang - Bau Nai fish market & salt fields
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a free day at your own pace in Phan Rang. Perhaps use this time to see some of the grand remnants of the Cham dynasty – an ancient kingdom that had control of the central and southern coastal region of Vietnam from the second to the 17th-century scattered throughout the region. You may like to take an optional visit to the nearby Po Nagar Cham Towers – an archaeological site from the middle ages dedicated to the indigenous goddess, Yan Po Nagar. Alternatively, gain an insight into an ancient tradition with a visit to the oldest pottery village in South East Asia, Bau Truc. This evening, board an overnight train to Da Nang. Conditions are basic on these trains and hygiene standards may be lower than what you’re used to at home, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time.
Accommodation
  • Overnight train (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are shared day use hotel rooms available this afternoon 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 use 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 early into Da Nang, then travel by minibus for 1 hour to Hoi An. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the World Heritage-listed Old Town. The city was a major trading port with the west during the 16th and 17th-centuries, and has various architectural influences from Europe, China and Japan. Today, the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago. You'll see Chinese temples, Japanese pagodas, French-colonial houses, wooden shop-houses and old canals during your walk. After lunch, enjoy free time to participate in optional activities or simply soak up the ambience of the place. You may like to wander Hoi An Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. The town is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a free day to further explore Hoi An and its majestic surrounds. Perhaps rent a bicycle and take a trip out to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Better yet, why not book into an Urban Adventure, like Hoi An Boat & Bike, which offers a guided tour of the area, including a countryside bike ride and a sunset cruise along the Thu Bon River. Vietnam is, of course, known for its delicious food, and Hoi An is no exception. Unlock the flavours of Hoi An's vibrant Old Town on Hoi An Food Adventure. See urbanadventures.com/destination/Hoi-An-tours for more information. Your leader can help arrange optional activities and tours if this interests you.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike with Sunset BBQ Urban Adventure - USD51
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend another day as you please in this historic haven. If you can muster an early rise this morning, head to the local produce market to watch animated shoppers haggling over fresh fish, spices and vegetables. Otherwise, if you’d like, your leader can help you arrange an optional Vietnamese cooking class, or a visit to the ruins of My Son – Vietnam's most important Cham site. Set in a verdant valley, surrounded by hills and overlooked by the massive Cat's Tooth Mountain, the elaborate World Heritage-listed temples here reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation that flourished in this region between the fourth and 12th-century.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Continue on your journey north today and drive over the spectacular Hai Van Pass – an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a stop at beautiful Lang Co to buy yourself some lunch. Travel time is approximately 5-6 hours, including stops. In the afternoon, you’ll arrive in Hue – Vietnam’s former Imperial capital. Here you’ll visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City which was almost entirely destroyed by bomb blasts during the war.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After a local breakfast of bun bo hue – a spiced beef noodle soup – take in all the historical highlights of Hue. You’ll stop off at the Thien Mu Pagoda and get the chance to see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists. Lunch today will be a delicious vegetarian feast at a nunnery. You’ll also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its lake, frangipani and pine trees. There’s nothing like a culture and history lesson to get you hungry, so be sure to keep snacking on some of Hue’s favourites – it’s not known as Vietnam’s culinary capital for nothing.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Perfume River Cruises may not be available during festival season. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities. During your trip to Hue, you’re likely to visit a Buddhist nunnery or monastery for lunch. The lunch helps to provide economic support to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, and gives you an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddhism.
Fly from Hue to Vietnam’s charming capital of Hanoi. This afternoon, take a half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laidback, tree-lined capital. You’ll visit major sights including the Temple of Literature and One Pillar Pagoda. You’ll also pass by Hoan Kiem Lake and enter the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter – a series of interwoven lanes and roads that historically sell a certain product in each street. Silk, bamboo, ceramics, kitchen products – and upwards of 32 more! Today, the group will also enjoy a unique water-puppet performance hosted by a local family, who are experts in this art form.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Tour
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Hanoi - Local water puppet performance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel by private minibus for approximately 4 hours to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay. This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places – a bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore Surprise Cave and surrounding rock formations, and in the warmer months perhaps go kayaking or opt for a swim from Ti Top Island. Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. You’ll spend the night on a traditional cruising boat. The sailing junk has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where you’ll enjoy all of your meals, including fresh seafood for lunch and dinner.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
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.

Please note that 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, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same. The boat is not likely to be a traditional sailing junk, as many older or imported vessels do not comply with waterway traffic safety laws.
Take the 4-hour drive back to Hanoi. Along the way, you’ll stop at Dong Trieu Factory to watch locals creating ceramic art pieces. If you have some free time this afternoon, you may like to visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum in the city. This museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities. Tonight, gather together as a group with your leader and enjoy dinner together – a perfect time to reminisce on the highlights of your Vietnam adventure.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND180000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave any time after breakfast, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out times. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to end! If you would like to spend some more time in Hanoi, we’ll be happy to organise some additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
  • Hanoi - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Urban Adventure - USD88
  • Hanoi - Village Discovery by Bike Urban Adventure - USD33
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 4 dinners

Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Plane Private minibus, Taxi

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 night), Hotel (11 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Hanoi - KOTO lunch
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Phan Rang - Vinh Hy Bay snorkelling
  • Phan Rang - Hang Rai fossilised coral reefs
  • Phan Rang - Bau Nai fish market & salt fields
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
  • Hue - Perfume River cruise & Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Tour
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Hanoi - Local water puppet performance
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and 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. An airport arrival transfer is included. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking.
3. 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 day 2 (guesthouse), day 6 (overnight train) and day 13 (overnight boat) where you will be in shared accommodation. Day use rooms are also excluded.
5. This trip includes a domestic flight. Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20kg, with up to 7kg 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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