Drop anchor in Phan Tiet to see the enormous Tra Cu reclining Buddha, the Fairy Spring and the beautiful sand dunes of Mui Ne. Enjoy a pottery demonstration in Bau Truc, the oldest pottery village in South East Asia. Stroll the tailors and artisan shops of Hoi An and take home that bespoke souvenir. Spend time at the Vinh Moc tunnels and Khe Sanh Combat Base, both of which provide eye-opening insight into the America-Vietnam war
Vietnam’s idyllic coastline is enjoyed mostly by local fisherman, with many travellers delving no deeper than the drawcards of Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang and the cities of Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Hue and Hoi An. Adventure cruising offers the best of both worlds – a way to experience not only those must-see icons, but the smaller gems that remain obscure to the outside world. Swim and snorkel around tiny islands, stroll along blazing sand dunes, gain insight into small-village tradition, and – perhaps most incredible of all – visit Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, an outstanding natural wonder of limestone cliffs and caves still largely untouched by the hand of tourism. Balancing leisure and discovery, comfort and adventure, this Intrepid small-ship voyage has all the makings of an unforgettable journey in South East Asia.
Breakfast Included: 14 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 14
Ho Chi Minh City
Welcome to Vietnam. Meet your shipmates and leader at a central hotel, then transfer to your ship, the Panorama II, for boarding. Attend a welcome meeting and safety briefing onboard, then set sail at 5 pm. Enjoy a welcome dinner with fellow travellers and settle in for a night at sea.
Travel to Tra Cu for a cable car ride to the Linh Son Truong Pagoda. Here you'll find an impressive reclining Buddha statue. At 49 metres long and 11 metres tall, it's the largest reclining Buddha in Vietnam. Also make a visit to Fairy Spring, a lovely waterfall amid the sand dunes. Take a stroll along the dunes of Mui Ne, an amazing geological wonder – the kind not usually associated with Vietnam. Sand-sledding is a popular pastime here, but it's enough to simply gaze and snap photos of this enchanting landscape.
Travelling by bus, embark on a road trip from Phan Rang to the bustling beachside town of Nha Trang. Pay a visit to the grand Po Klong Garai Cham Towers, an elaborate work of architecture dating back to around 1400 under King Jaya Simhavarman III. Head to Bau Truc, the oldest pottery village in South East Asia, and see some traditional pottery methods at work; this is a great place to buy a unique souvenir. Reboard the Panorama II at Nha Trang, where you'll stay overnight at port.
Arrive in Nha Trang at around 8 am. Nha Trang has been referred to as the ‘Cannes of the Orient’, thanks to its cosmopolitan seaside atmosphere, but the star of the show is of course the beach and bay itself. We will take a half day tour of the city taking in the Ponaga Cham tower and the Ocean Institute which catalogues the marine life and fishing culture of the local area.
Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to explore or relax on one of Nha Trang's stunning beaches.
Visit the museum dedicated to Quang Trung, a revered emperor who ruled in the late 1700s and was a forerunner to the Vietnamese nationalist movement. After witnessing a Tay Son martial arts demonstration, visit the nearby Twin Cham Towers, some of the largest towers of their kind in South East Asia. Head to beautiful beaches where fisherman use traditional basket boats, then dine onboard the Panorama II while sailing north.
Enjoy a relaxing day of cruising around the Dao Ly Son Island, a location just south of Danang that's known for garlic production as well as its attractive shoreline. Also visit some mainland coastal beaches today. There will be time for some swimming off the Panorama II, as well as kayaking, snorkelling and stand-up paddleboarding.
Travel by coach to Hoi An. This was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures over the ages. With its charming low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. Notice a distinctly Chinese appearance here, with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small lanes. Tour the town in small groups, and take a cooking class in which you'll learn to roll spring rolls (and of course enjoy some yourself). In the late afternoon, return to the boat for a cooking demonstration and tasting with a renowned local chef, followed by dinner. Your next destination is Danang.
With a free day in the seaside town of Danang, enjoy some swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or paddleboarding. Perhaps head ashore to explore the town, which is developing fast but not without some of its original charm intact. Perhaps visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum to read up on the revered revolutionary leader, or take a stroll to the impressive Dragon Bridge.
Depart at 9 am for the short sail to Chan May. From there, take a bus to Hue, the former imperial capital and hub of Vietnam's historic past. Here the group will split up into smaller groups for a tour of the city with local guides. You will visit the Thien Mu Pagoda (an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601) and enjoy tasty vegetarian fare there for lunch. Also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees. Later, return to the ship for dinner, and set sail at midnight for Vinh Moc.
Visit the intriguing Vinh Moc Tunnels today. These were built to shelter local communities in the Demilatarised Zone that separated North and South Vietnam during the war. As you'll learn, the the tunnels grew in sophistication as well as depth, and many families resided in this underground village in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some 17 children were born underground in this period. Today you'll also visit the Khe Sanh Combat Base, where the bloodiest conflict of the Vietnam-America conflict took place. Sail overnight toward Hon La.
Arrive in Hon La at around 9 am, then transfer by bus to the unspoiled Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Spanning 885 square kilometres and boasting some of Asia's most ancient limestone karst landscapes, this chunk of land is one of the last true paradises of Vietnam. You'll visit the Thien Duong cave, also known as Paradise Cave, which is an astounding 31 kilometres long and was only discovered in 2005. Later, set sail for Halong at 7 pm.
Cruising to Halong Bay
Settle into a full day's sailing, heading north towards Halong, which is located just north of Na Trang. Take the opportunity to relax with a drink, play some board games, chat with fellow travellers, or curl up on a comfortable chair on deck with a good book as the sea streams by.