The ultimate Vietnam trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.

Discover the spirit of Vietnam on a trip from south to north, taking in all the attractions in between. Explore Vietnam's fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City, wander the ancient Vietnamese streets of Hoi An, experience the history-soaked monuments of Hue and bask in the undeniable charm of Hanoi. Experience Vietnam's beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine and the renowned friendliness of the Vietnamese people. Top it all off with an overnight cruise on mystical Halong Bay and you won't ever want to leave.

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Terms & Conditions

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

Why you'll love this trip

  • This is one of our most popular trips in Vietnam, and one of the top trips from the entire Intrepid range

  • See the very best that Vietnam has to offer in just 10 days as you traverse the country from top to bottom with a small group of up to 15 new friends.

  • Travel by boat, train, plane, private bus, taxi and even on the back of a motorbike!

  • Sample local food wherever you go, from a seafood dinner on Halong Bay, street snacks at markets, a meal at a buddhist nunnery, coconut candy and tropical fruits in the Mekong Delta, and a final dinner at KOTO restaurant.

  • Settle in for the night and experience an overnight train journey, starting from Hue and waking up ready to head out and explore Hanoi.

  • Have expert advice on hand the whole way with an experienced local leader to help you get the best out of your time in Vietnam.

  • Visit some of the must see sights with your group such as a walking tour in Hoi An and the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as enjoy free time to make your own discoveries.

Is this trip right for you?

  • We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including an overnight train. Compartments are on a mixed gender basis and you may be sharing with locals or travellers from other groups. 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 sightseeing tour by motorbike in Hue is great fun with bikes driven safely by professionals (and helmets provided), but 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. 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 - this website might be useful: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam

  • Some travellers find the pace of this trip quite fast as we are covering a lot of destinations in a short amount of time. If you would like a more relaxed pace with more time to explore, you might like to consider a longer trip, or additional days in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

  • This itinerary also runs in reverse direction, from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City - see trip code TVSF on our website.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2019 - 31 December 2019

Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.

Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD41
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
You may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the group meeting and have time to explore Ho Chi Minh City. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
If you're expecting to be late for your welcome meeting, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) for a day trip 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. The views along the canal will take your breath away. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit the coconut gardens, stopping at a local home to sample tropical fruits & coconut jams. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past water coconut trees along the Mekong. Take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages, learning about local rural life and how they make their living making coconuts 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. Then it’s back to the private boat to cruise the delta’s major waterways to Ben Tre boat pier. After the cruise return via bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens visit and village tuk tuk tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and fly north to Danang (approximately 1 hour). From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An with the five spectacular peaks of the Marble Mountains as a backdrop. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking of this unique town, influenced over the years by Europe, China and Vietnam. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and the outside influences can be seen all over its architecture, with pagodas and assembly halls found across the town. For a small place it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look much like they did over a century ago. Past low tiled buildings, you'll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a 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. For those still feeling adventurous, 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
  • Hoi An - Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Hoi An today and on your journey you’ll cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co, then continue to your final destination of Hue (approximately 5 hours including stops). Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, and has a interesting blend of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Your excursion here will be to the Imperial Citadel. This fortress houses the Imperial City and the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, and the ruins and holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war. 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
  • Breakfast
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, then to the Thien My 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 dragon 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. In the evening, board an overnight train to Hanoi (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
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 up to 150cc. If you prefer not to participate, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation (cost 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.

Shared day use hotel rooms are available today after check out if you would like to freshen up or organise your luggage. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements exclude 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 p
Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning and transfer to your hotel. Vietnam’s capital is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks and Frenchy Old Quarter. As an emerging city in Southeast Asian, Hanoi has an attractive contrast of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and a labyrinth of ancient streets. Later in the day you'll take a walking tour through the city. You’ll see Ho Chi Minh’s former stilt house and other icons such as the Temple of Literature. In your free time, perhaps stop by the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter, head to the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, or visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Prior to standard hotel check in this morning, shared day use rooms are provided with one room for up to 6 members of the group.
Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and in the warmer months perhaps go for a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or perhaps go kayaking.

There’ll be a dining room and bar on board where you’ll enjoy your meals, including fresh seafood for lunch and dinner. Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities.
Accommodation
  • Overnight boat (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
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.

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.
Leaving the memorable scenery of Halong Bay behind, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Return to Hanoi late this afternoon, and enjoy a couple of free hours to explore Hanoi's sights or do some last minute shopping. Otherwise, why not just relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter? Tonight there will be a farewell dinner to enjoy with the group at KOTO restaurant, an organisation that supports street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - KOTO dinner
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today your exploration of Vietnam comes to an end. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Maybe consider continuing your adventure with a short tour such as ‘Hanoi Street Food by Night’ or ‘Village Discovery by Bike’ with our partners Urban Adventures (see urbanadventures.com for more information). Or perhaps visit the Hoa Lo Prison aka the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ which was used for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. There’s also the Museum of Ethnology with its fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits. Consider booking some extra nights in Hanoi to further explore this delightful city.
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Village Discovery by Bike Urban Adventure - USD33
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
  • Hanoi - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Urban Adventure - USD88
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Transport

Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Motorbike

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Included activities

  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens visit and village tuk tuk tour
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Hue - Imperial Citadel
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • Hanoi - 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 internal flights and train 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 bookable on this trip with exception of Day 6 (Overnight train) and Day 8 (Halong Bay boat), subject to availability.
3. 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

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.

Reviews

Our Vietnam Express Northbound trips score an average of 4.85 out of 5 based on 572 reviews in the last year.

Vietnam Express Northbound, August 2018

Vanessa Nicholls

Vietnam Express Northbound, July 2018

Susan Heighway