12 days Treasures of Vietnam
Hanoi, Mai Chau, The Red River Delta, Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta
Day 1 Arrival
We touch down in Hanoi airport and are transferred to our hotel in the Old Quarter. In free time we spend time wandering around the Old Quarter and its surroundings.
Day 2 Hanoi
After breakfast we see the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh on a visit to the imposing mausoleum erected in his honor. Time is also spent strolling around the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh's living quarter and One Pillar Pagoda. We drop into the serene Temple of Literature and Vietnam's first University.
Let us sample delicious local food. Afternoon finds us in the Museum of Ethnology. A colourful and comprehensive museum and dedicated to Vietnam’s more than 50 ethnic minority people.
We see its beautiful indoors and outdoor exhibits and learn more about the diverse heritage of Vietnam. Following that we wander through the most fascinating portions of Hanoi's Old Quarter.
We pass through some guilded streets and to the colourful local market of Dong Xuan where we can get a real glimpse into the locals’ daily life.
An ideal way to spend the rest of afternoon is to admire the city's French-colonial architechture and stroll along the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by lush trees and ancient Buddhist temples.
We conclude our day with attending an incredible water puppet show, a form of traditional Vietnamese entertainment that started in rice fields centuries ago, is performed alongside traditional Vietnamese music that employs drums, wooden bells, horns and bamboo flutes. After the show we return to our hotel for the night. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 3 Hanoi / Mai Chau
Situated in a scenic valley 160 km northwest of Hanoi, Maichau is home to White Thai and Muong ethnic minority people.
Known for their hospitality and resistance to assimilation, their indigenous and diverse cultures provide an individualism unique to others.
The rolling hills coupled with their sculpted rice terraces make an ideal place for walking around. In the morning we leave Hanoi between 7.30am to 8.00am and drive to Mai Chau.
Here, we hike through open rice fields, pass tiny villages and meet the local farmers at work, as they plough their paddies behind water buffaloes, tend their seasonal crops or fish in the river.
Finally, we descend into a valley, home to White Thai people. We settle in with a hospitable local family in a traditional wooden stilt-house for the night. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 4 Mai Chau / The Red River Delta
The day begins by a morning hike along a footpath amid splendid rice terraces and verdant small hills. We enjoy a hike through the rice terraces and several villages.
The next 4 km are rewarding as we walk along the trail used by local people and the view down to either side becomes more and more impressive.
When we have finished our walking we will board our car and drive to The Red River Delta. Here we spend the night in a local lodgel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 5 The Red River Delta
Today we explore the fertile, lush plains of the intricate waterways. We take a leisurely boat ride across the transquil river of Hoang Long.
As we journey through the scenic landscape, we witness the local activities dependent on both water and land. We stroll along the river front and through a fabulous limestone scenery, then descending in a hidden and verdant valley filled with open-wide rice fields and aquatic farms.
Cycling is also one of the ideal ways to explore miles of vivid green rice fields stretch along the shores of river tributaries and enjoy the intimacy of the countryside.
We cycle along the river front of Hoang Long River, down tiny lanes, through rural villages and beyond. Here, water buffaloes lumber and graze on the grass, the local people tend their crops and kids greet us warmly.
Upon our arrival in the village of Trang An, we combine a short sampan ride along a scenic canal with a delightful walk around a unique area, which is known for its magnificent twisted rock formations caused by earth movement some hundred million years ago.
Following that we return to our local family. Here, we settle in with a local family to make authentic Vietnamese food, such as succulent spring rolls, zesty dipping sauce and betel leaf-wrapped spring rolls and other local delicacies that typify Northern Vietnamese cooking.
We then enjoy the family’s gracious hospitality as they share dinner with us. The night is spent in the same lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 6 The Red River Delta / Halong Bay
Departing The Red River Delta we journey to Ha Long City. We follow its fertile road through flatlands of the Delta flanked by green carpets of rice paddies. We then head north to Ha Long City.
Here, we embark on a boat trip which navigates through some of the spectacular limestone peaks of Ha Long Bay - time to relax and appreciate the sublime beauty of the bay, while enjoying lunch on the boat.
After that we find a beautiful spot for taking a kayaking ride among towering rockformations. Our boat anchors at Hang Trong Bay for an overnight stay. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 7 Halong Bay / Bai Tu Long Bay
A morning boat trip brings us to some of the bay’s truly awesome scenery – vertical and unusual rocks and islets emerge from the sea. Weather permitting, there will be an opportunity to swim in the clear waters.
Leaving Halong Bay, we drive due north to Cai Rong Island. In Bai Tu Long Bay we enjoy a beautiful boat trip among the spectacular limestone peaks.
Weather permitting, we take a kayaking ride through stunning rock formations and fishing villages. Arriving on Quan Lan Island, a serene and beautiful island in Bai Tu Long Bay, we head to our lodge.
Our lodge is tastefully designed with textile and bamboo accents on the bedding, adorned with traditional furnishing, the room is peaceful and exotic.
At our warm and friendly lodge we have the opportunity to learn to make traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls and succulent fish dipping sauce and Squid dish. Tonight we stay overnight in our comfortable lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 8 Bai Tu Long Bay / Ho Chi Minh City
Quan Lan Island is located in Bai Tu Long Bay. The island is blessed with stunning beaches, scenic hills, sand dunes and surroundings sprinkled with tiny villages.
There is so much to see and do on Quan Lan Island - why not get a feel for the island by exploring an early fishing market or taking a quiet morning strolling around the picturesque village of Quan Lan and watching the day unfold on the island.
Next, we take a bicycling ride across the island before we board our boat to discover further northern reaches of Bai Tu Long Bay. We find a beautiful spot for taking a delightful kayak ride among numerous spectacular small islands.
Finally we navigate to Cai Rong Island. This is followed by a short transfer to Van Don airport for boarding a flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
On arrival we are met by our driver for a transfer to our hotel for the night. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City / Cu Chi Tunnels
Departing from our hotel between 7.30am to 8.am we journey to Cu Chi tunnels. Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels served as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate from close to the Southern Vietnamese capital.
Before arriving at the Cu Chi tunnels, we visit with some local friends and gain an insight into local life in the area, both past and present. We learn about their lives, culture, and customs and get an insight into the recent past through local eyes.
We continue on to the Cu Chi tunnels. The location of the tunnels was of significant strategic importance: they're at the end of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, and within striking distance of the southern Vietnam capital.
Initial construction started in 1948 when the Viet Minh required somewhere to hide from French air attacks, and by 1965, the tunnel complex was estimated to consist of 200 km of tunnels.
It included, hospitals, schools, meeting rooms, kitchens, and sleeping quarters. Life was difficult for the inhabitants, and to protect against outside intruders, booby traps were laid throughout the complex.
Today, the Vietnamese government have preserved approximately 75 km of the Cu Chi tunnels as a memorial park, and in some areas the tunnels have been widened and low powered lights installed so that visitors can now fit through the complex.
Our local guide takes us on a fascinating tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, where we learn more about the conditions the people lived in, the hardships they faced, and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels.
We walk past huge bomb craters, evidence of the heavy bombing campaigns in the region during the Indochina conflict, discover hidden entrances right beneath your feet, wander past tiny little chimneys in the ground that dispersed smoke from the underground kitchens.
There is an opportunity to sample some of the simple cuisine that local fighters would have survived on, and have an opportunity to venture into the tunnels and explore the complex.
Finally, we return to Ho Chi Minh City at around 3pm. The night is spent in the same hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City / Mekong Delta
From Ho Chi Minh City we drive to Vinh Long where we board our boat to venture into the green, watery world of the Mekong Delta.
We visit bonsai gardens, various cottage industries and fruit orchards. The night is spent in a comfortable hotel in the township of Vinh Long. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 11 Mekong Delta / Ho Chi Minh City
This morning we continue boating to explore the tributaries of the Mekong River then to Cai Be, where we observe the floating markets and learn about the way of life in the delta.
Following that we board our vehicle and drive back to Ho Chi Minh City. Here, we have free time for some exploration of the city, before we conclude the day with an overnight stay in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing
This morning we head to China town and wandering through the fascinating back streets near Cho Lon.
This area is one of the busiest commercial districts of Ho Chi Minh City and its atmospheric streets are home to some of the city’s most interesting sites.
From there, we transfer to Ben Thanh Market, considered by many to be the heart of Ho Chi Minh City and the market hosts vendors selling everything from herbs to raw fish.
Next, we drop in the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Markets, which are full of energy and dazzling array of goods. Following our market visit, we have a traditional local Vietnamese lunch.
Then, we check out all the major Ho Chi Minh City sights like Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, General Post Office, and the Opera House, before we head back to our hotel. The trip is complete this evening. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Our itinerary includes bicycle rides, walks and hikes. They include:
- a 6-9 km hike on Day 3.
- a 9-12 km hike on Day 4.
- a 3-4 km walk and a 9-11 km bicycle ride on Day 5.
- a 1-3 hour kayaking ride on Day 6 and Day 7.
All of our experienced, friendly and professional tour guides speak fluent English.
They are flexible and knowledgeable about local cultures, history and the environment.
- hotels (6 nights).
- local homestays (2 nights).
- local lodge (2 nights).
- boat (1 night).
Clean and comfortable homestays with mosquito nets provided.
- 11 breakfasts.
- 10 lunches.
- 7 dinners.
A wide variety of food is commonly available in local restaurants, markets and family homes, using fresh local ingredients, typical of the way people eat in the area.
We also cater for Vegetarians but please request this at time of booking.
- $742USD per person for a group of 2 to 7 people.
- $669USD per person for a group of 8 to 12 people.
The cost of the trip includes:
- meals listed on the itinerary.
- tour guides.
- entrance fees.
- two bottles of mineral water.
- permits during guided excursions.
The cost of the trip does not include:
- travel insurance.
- drinks (soft drinks, alcohol and bottled water).
- other personal expenses such as shopping, telephone, laundry and bar bills etc.
- admission fees during free time, tips and gratuities.
What to take:
Pack essentials, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities, small day pack for cycling, walking and hiking.
It is essential to bring your passport on this trip.
We also recommend packing: comfortable hiking shoes, insect repellent, sun cream, raincoat and sun hat…
Have a great journey!!!