Discover Vietnam’s astounding histories, both modern and ancient, from the Cu Chi war tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City to old-word heritage and architectural marvels of Hue.. Stroll the historic streets of charming Hoi An, and perhaps explore the option of getting some tailor-made clothing sewn for you in some of the region’s high-quality fabrics.. A cruise along the waterways and a friendly guesthouse with local fare gets you up close and personal with life on the legendary Mekong Delta.. The splendour of Vietnam’s waterways doesn’t stop there! Enjoy a candle lit seafood dinner on a junk boat in Halong Bay – part of your Peregrine Feature Stay.
From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of fascinating history, hospitable people and picturesque landscapes. Imagine learning the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City or exploring the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi, and what better way to get to know the locals than to be their guests at a Mekong Delta guesthouse. Experience historical temples, visit Vietnam’s spectacular coastline, enjoy delicious banquets and explore lively cities, all with a touch of comfort, on this 15-day Vietnam journey. Uncover the delights and appreciate the history of Vietnam on a small group adventure.
Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. There are no activities planned until an important group meeting in the evening, usually at 6 pm. If you do have time, get out and acquaint yourself with the city beforehand – it is a bustling centre of shopping, historic sites and traffic mayhem. Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group at one of the city's excellent eateries.
After breakfast, drive south to Ben Tre for a boat cruise along the intricate and beautiful waterways of the Mekong Delta. En route you'll stop and visit an orchard and sample some local tropical fruit and visit some local cottage industries. As the sun starts to drop, continue to your local guesthouse, your place of rest tonight. Here you will enjoy a beautiful home-cooked meal of local specialties.
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you'll return to Ho Chi Minh City, and take a bus and walking tour around the city. You'll visit Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings along the way, such as the main Post Office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall). Ho Chi Minh City is full of history and you will visit many of the major sites today.
This morning after breakfast, head on a half-day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels – an extensive underground network (some 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. They contained hospitals, dwellings and schools and were used extensively for refuge and storage, as well as being a military base. As you explore this extraordinary labyrinth you will learn more about its history and the 1968 Tet Offensive. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the underground life must have been like. Please note that these tunnels will be hot and can get claustrophobic, so there is an option if you’d like to view from above ground. Later this afternoon, fly to Dalat (approximately 1 hour).
Dalat is high in Vietnam’s southern highlands, and is surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls – it is a natural mountain paradise. Dalat, commonly known as the City of Flowers, is part of a region ideal for growing crops and flowers that cannot be otherwise grown in Vietnam, because of its temperate climate and high rainfall. Today, visit some of these plantations, including the renowned flower and vegetable gardens, a coffee plantation, and an interesting visit to a cricket farm, where you may have the chance to taste these delicacies. Afterwards, see the process of silk making at a silk farm, then head deep into nature in search of some stunning waterfalls. Today is a jam-packed day, so perhaps choose to relax this evening. If you still want to keep exploring, there are some vibrant night markets in the centre of town, spilling into the streets around Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.
Enjoy a free morning in Dalat to perhaps explore the Bao Dai Summer Palace and gardens, or head to the Crazy House – a bizarre guesthouse commissioned by avant-garde architect Hang Nga, who still lives on site. In the afternoon, take a short flight to Danang (approximately 1 hour). From here you will embark on a short ride by private vehicle to Hoi An (approximately 1 hour). Hoi An was originally a Cham port town but has been influenced by traders from many cultures. With its charming low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. You'll notice a distinctly Chinese appearance here, with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the narrow lanes.
A morning walking tour today takes you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. Afterwards, sit down to a delicious lunch with the group. This afternoon you are free to make the most of Hoi An and its surrounding areas. Your leader will be able to help with suggestions for extra activities in Hoi An and the surrounding countryside.
The day is yours to spend as you please in this historic haven. Hoi An is renowned for its specialist tailors and some do same-day turnaround, so perhaps take this opportunity to get some clothing made from some unique local fabrics. If you feel like getting active, beautiful Cua Dai Beach is located nearby and is easily accessible by bicycle (you can rent them in town). Otherwise, book in a tour to My Son Cham to explore the ruins dating back to the 4th century. You might also like to visit a local workshop to learn how to make your own rice paper. A Vietnamese cooking class too is a great way to familiarise yourself with some age-old culinary techniques, not to mentioning feasting on the fruits of your own labour!
Depart Hoi An today bound for Hue: the former imperial capital and hub of Vietnam's historic past. En route, pass through the Hai Van Pass – a scenic mountainous stretch of highway with views across Lang Co beach. Arrive in Hue and discover its eclectic mix of frenetic streets and peaceful beauty. In the afternoon you will visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, but its humble, foliage-covered ruins remain a testament to its proud history. Here you'll gain some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war.
Venture out this morning for a local breakfast, feasting on a popular dish called bun bo hue, which contains rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo). This is a signature of the city, and is a fresh and delicious start to the day. Head in a private vehicle to Tam Giang lagoon – one of South East Asia’s largest freshwater areas, which provides this part of the country with a rich ecosystem and fruitful fishing ground. It is where the region’s three largest rivers – Huong, Bo and O Lau – meet before they reach the sea. Take a boat trip on the lagoon, passing by local fisherman on their daily catch, and then head to a local home for a prepared seafood lunch. If your fishing adventure did not provide much to eat, not to worry – the locals will ensure that there’s enough food to go around, including vegetarian options. In the afternoon, take a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. The Pagoda is an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601. You will also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees. Afterwards, travel back to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
Fly from Hue to Hanoi today (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes). Your departure will mostly likely be in the morning but can vary a little depending on flight schedules. After some free time on arrival, be taken through the ancient 36 Streets and discover a varied selection of shop-lined alleys that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery and beautifully embroidered tablecloths. In the afternoon, be treated to a traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an artform of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty, and literally translates to ‘singing in darkness’. Originally, this was performed by blind performers, and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences, right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today, this style of performance occurs rarely, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house for an exclusive performance; one of the few places where such artists still perform acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes some story telling aspects, performances and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
Enjoy a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Enjoy a delicious lunch at KOTO restaurant – an Intrepid Foundation supported program that teaches disadvantaged youth hospitality skills. In your free time, the Vietnam Fine Arts museum is well worth a visit. Walking is a great way to explore the city, many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes. You'll see that this enchanting northern capital can be quieter than its southern counterpart, and the West Lake, north of the main city, is an ideal place to interact with the locals and relax by its banks.