12 days A Glimpse of Vietnam
Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Ke Bang, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City
Day 1 Arrival
Upon arrival at Hanoi airport we are picked up and transferred to our hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore Hanoi as you please.
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.
For lunch we sit down for a traditional Vietnamese meal at one of the finest restaurants in Hanoi.
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 and the market holds vendors selling almost everything from jeans to raw fish.
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 head back to our hotel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 3 Hanoi / Halong Bay
This morning we start from our hotel located in Hanoi's Old Quarter between 7.30am - 8.00am. We travel by minibus for 3.5 hours to Halong Bay, the journey is through the early morning streets of Hanoi on the way to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay.
The bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour, with some 1,600 limestone islands jutting out of the waters of the Tonkin Gulf.
On arrival we board our private boat. Our traditional junk-style boat is designed with its beautiful woodwork and bamboo, and has cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities.
There's also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast.
We calmly float among the dramatic limestone peaks - time to relax and appreciate the sublime beauty of the bay. The captain finds a serene spot, so soak up the sun on the top deck.
Those who are feeling energetic and wish to get a close view of the scenic rock formations can climb aboard a sea kayak for a leisurely exploration of the bay. Everyone is issued with water buoyancy vests.
The limestone cliffs just tower above us when we're floating alone on the calm water. We explore a cave filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
With great food, beautiful surroundings and a peaceful night on board, beneath the night sky and to the sounds of gentle waves lapping at the hull, we have an enjoyable and memorable evening. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 4 Halong Bay / Ninh Binh
We enjoy breakfast on the boat this morning and perhaps head out for an optional early morning kayak among towering limestone formations and across the mysty waters of Halong Bay.
Next we continue boating to explore some of the bay’s truly awesome scenery – vertical and unusual rocks and islets emerge from the sea.
Around noon the boat returns to the dock. From there, we board our minibus for a journey to Ninh Binh.
On arrival we combine a wonderful boat ride along Ngo Dong River with hiking around open rice fields and looking around at the amazing folds of the impressive rock formations.
The Ngo Dong River is one of the most serene sights in Vietnam. Best experienced aboard a local rowboat, a two-hour trip along this enchanting river passes through the Thung Nang cave system - a series of several caverns, including the stalactite-studded Thung Nang cave - and incredible karst scenery all around.
Following that we settle in with a family for making authentic Vietnamese food, such as succulent Spring Rolls, zesty dipping sauce and sticky rice.
We then enjoy the family’s gracious hospitality as they share delicious dinner with us. The night is spent in a comfortable lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 5 Ninh Binh / Dong Hoi
We depart our lodge for our journey to Van Long Nature Reserve. From here we enjoy a boat ride along peaceful backwaters and among magnificent limestone peaks.
Next, we drive to Cuc Phuong National Park. Cuc Phuong National Park is located in Ninh Binh Province and covers over 200 sq kms. This is Vietnam’s most famous park, and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
At Cuc Phuong National Park we take a short hike in the lush rainforest, and visit the Endangered Primate Rescue Centre to see the conservation efforts being made to save the endangered Langur, a primate species.
We also call in the Turtle Conservation Center to witness how threatened
tortoises and freshwater turtles are preserved.
This is followed by our return journey to our lodge for shower and dinner. We are transferred to Ninh Binh railway station for boarding the overnight train to Dong Hoi. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 6 Dong Hoi / Phong Nha / Ke Bang National Park
On arrival at Dong Hoi railway station we are picked up and transferred to a local restaurant for breakfast. Following that we continue on to Phong Nha and Ke Bang National Park. From here we visit the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.
This UNESCO World Heritage site contains the oldest known karst mountains in Asia. The area is also known for its enormous cave system.
We visit the Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave), then take a boat trip up the Son River towards the Phong Cave. The scale of the place is truly astounding. The night is spent in a farm stay. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 7 Phong Nha / Ke Bang National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park is home to more than 300 caves, imposing karst mountains, jungle treks, and underground rivers.
It's here where we find the storied Son Doong Cave, which has been named the largest cave system in the world.
Today we set off on a challenging excursion visiting Hang Chuot, Hung Ton Caves and To Mo Valley. We explore karsts, jungles, waterfalls and river caves in a journey into the heart of central Vietnam’s natural phenomena.
We trek up to 8km through buffalo fields, dense jungle and have an opportunity to swim through an unbelievable river cave. We see the immense formations of Hang Chuot before trekking to impressive Hung Ton Cave and To Mo Valley. The night is spent in the same farmstay. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 8 Phong Nha / Vinh Moc Tunnels / Hue
We get on a car or minibus this morning on our way to the Hien Luong Bridge on the way. It's smack bang on the 17th Parallel, so it separated the North from the South during the war.
Following that we journey to the Vinh Moc Tunnels. These were used during the Vietnam War as shelter for the villagers who were escaping intense bombing.
The locals lived in the underground system that went over three levels. We are able to enter the tunnels which remain in their original form. This afternoon continue on to Hue for the night stay in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 9 Hue sightseeing
Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, and has hundreds of monuments and ruins that take us back in time. Our excursion here is to stroll 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.
Afternoon finds us seeing the Thien Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This site dates back to 1601 and is still an active Buddhist monastery. In our free time we might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and street food.
After lunch, we drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. At the end of the day, we head back to Hue for the night in the same hotel. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included).
Day 10 Hue / Hoi An
We begin with a drive through coastal rice paddies, then traverse the spectacular Hai Van Pass along the mountains en route to Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major trading port with the West from the 15th to the 19th century.
Today it has been restored to look exactly as it did more than a century ago, giving it an old-world feel full of nooks and crannies to explore. On arrival in Hoi An we take a delightful stroll along the narrow streets and a visit to a local temple or some traditional Vietnamese houses.
We have some free time in Hoi An. Hoi An is very much a shopping mecca. Why not browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics, embroidery all made by the locals?
The city is also famous for its talented tailors who work with beautiful fabrics for a good price. The night is spent in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 11 Hoi An sightseeing
After our breakfast we stroll at a leisurely pace, with a mix of eras and styles from the Japanese Covered Bridge to the colourful French colonial buildings to wooden Chinese shophouse to Vietnamese tube houses. Parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago.
We also head out to spend the morning at Cua Dai beach. This beach is known for its stunning palm-fringed white sand and views of the Cham islands.
Afternoon finds us driving to My Son Temples. From here we take a short walk to explore the very former capital of the ancient Cham civilization that ruled central Vietnam between the second century and the thirteenth century.
Late in the afternoon we return to Hoi An for the night in the same hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Day 12 Hoi An / Danang / Ho Chi Minh City
This morning we take a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival we are picked up and transferred 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.
We delve deeper into Chinatown, visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Markets, which are full of energy and dazzling array of goods.
Time permitting we check out all the major Ho Chi Minh City sights like Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, General Post Office, and the Opera House.
We settle into our hotel for the night. The trip comes to an end this evening. (Breakfast and lunch are included).
Our itinerary includes easy walks, hiks, kayaks and bicycle rides. They include:
- a 3-5 km walk on Day 2.
- a 1-2 hour kayak ride on Day 3 and Day 4.
- a 2-3 km hike on Day 4.
- a 6-8 km hike on Day 5.
- a 1-2 km walk on Day 6.
- a 8-10 km hike on Day 7.
- a 3-5 km walk on Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11 and Day 12.
Our experienced, friendly and professional tour guides speak fluent English. They are knowledgeable about local cultures, history and the environment.
- hotels (7 nights).
- overnight stay boat (1 night).
- lodge (1 night).
- overnight train (1 night).
- farmstay (2 nights).
We choose local ingredients, typical of the way people eat in the area, at local restaurants, homes or markets. We also cater for Vegetarians but please request this at time of booking.
- $896USD per person for a group from 2 to 6 people.
- $785USD per person for a group from 7 to 12 people.
The cost of the trip includes:
- tour guides
- meals listed on the itinerary.
- entrance fees.
- two bottled of mineral water.
- permits during guided excursions.
The cost of the trip does not include:
- travel insurance.
- drinks (soft drinks, alcohol, bottled water).
- admission fees during free time.
- personal expenses such as shopping, telephone, laundry and bar bills etc.
What to take:
Pack essentials, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities.
It is essential to bring your passport on this trip.
We also recommend packing: small day pack, insect repellent, swimsuit, sun cream, raincoat, sun hat…
Have a great journey!!!