By staying in local accommodation, you’ll get a true insight into real Vietnam. Spend a memorable night in a locally run guesthouse on the Mekong Delta, and an unforgettable boat stay on Halong Bay.. Spend time at your own pace on the coast in the idyllic seaside town of Phan Rang. You’ll have time to stroll the sandy beaches and head out on the water to snorkel.. Historic Hoi An is easily covered by foot, and you’ll have time to marvel in its delights. Laze on Cua Dai Beach, discover the renowned tailors, eat your way through the local food market – it’s up to you!. Discover the bustling centres of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – with their French colonial influence and region-specific cuisine, your eyes (and tastebuds!) will never go hungry.
From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of colourful characters, varied cuisine and diverse landscapes. Unlock the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City, explore the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi, meet the locals as guests at a local Mekong Delta guesthouse, and eat breakfast the local way in Hue. Experience historical temples, laze on the spectacular coastline, gorge on delicious banquets and explore lively cities – all with a touch of comfort – on this 15-day Classic Vietnam adventure. No way? Yes Hue.
Breakfast Included: 14 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 4
Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City – a French-infused city with a dynamic atmosphere. If you arrive early, perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-air market or visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner with your group at one of the city's excellent eateries.
Travel south by private bus for about three hours to Ben Tre. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. The delta is known as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ for its abundance of rice paddies, fruit and flower orchards. During the boat trip, you’ll stop to sample some of the fresh tropical fruit and visit some cottage industries in the area. Around sunset, make your way to your local guesthouse to spend a night with the locals and enjoy a wonderful meal of regional specialties.
Ho Chi Minh City
Return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a walking tour in town. Experience the hustle and bustle of former Saigon and explore some of the city's more interesting sights such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the grand post office and War Remnants Museum. In your free time, perhaps visit Reunification Palace or book in to see a cultural show at the Saigon Opera House. Otherwise, go in search for the best food with some of your fellow travellers – your group leader will know where to go for meals of any budget.
Make a day trip to the renowned Cu Chi Tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, and offers a glimpse of what life was like during the war. Your group leader can recommend somewhere local if you'd like a final taste of southern Vietnamese cuisine, before you head for Phan Rang. First, take an afternoon flight to Cam Ranh, and from there, travel 1.5 hours by minibus to the historic city of Phan Rang – your base for the next two days.
Today, take a day trip to Vinh Hy Bay, a beautiful, crescent-shaped harbour between Phan Rang and Nha Trang. On your way to the bay, you’ll stop at the Bau Nai fish market for a glimpse of the bustle of activity as fish are unloaded and locals hurriedly shop for the best deal. Continue through the Vietnamese countryside to the sprawling salt flats – truly a sight to behold. Witness workers raking and collecting salt that has evaporated from the salty waters of Vietnam’s coast, which has been funnelled inland into shallow fields. Next, visit another place of great natural beauty – the moss-covered rock formations and fossilised coral reefs of Hang Rai. Finally, arrive at Vinh Hy Bay, where you’ll have plenty of time to swim and snorkel in its warm, coral-filled waters.
Phan Rang/Overnight Train
Enjoy a free day at your own pace in Phan Rang. Perhaps use this time to see some of the grand remnants of the Cham dynasty – an ancient kingdom that had control of the central and southern coastal region of Vietnam from the second to the 17th-century scattered throughout the region. You may like to take an optional visit to the nearby Po Nagar Cham Towers – an archaeological site from the middle ages dedicated to the indigenous goddess, Yan Po Nagar. Alternatively, gain an insight into an ancient tradition with a visit to the oldest pottery village in South East Asia, Bau Truc. This evening, board an overnight train to Da Nang. Conditions are basic on these trains and hygiene standards may be lower than what you’re used to at home, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time.
Arrive early into Da Nang, then travel by minibus for 1 hour to Hoi An. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the World Heritage-listed Old Town. The city was a major trading port with the west during the 16th and 17th-centuries, and has various architectural influences from Europe, China and Japan. Today, the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago. You'll see Chinese temples, Japanese pagodas, French-colonial houses, wooden shop-houses and old canals during your walk. After lunch, enjoy free time to participate in optional activities or simply soak up the ambience of the place. You may like to wander Hoi An Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. The town is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within hours.
Enjoy a free day to further explore Hoi An and its majestic surrounds. Perhaps rent a bicycle and take a trip out to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Better yet, why not book into an Urban Adventure, like Hoi An Boat & Bike, which offers a guided tour of the area, including a countryside bike ride and a sunset cruise along the Thu Bon River. Vietnam is, of course, known for its delicious food, and Hoi An is no exception. Unlock the flavours of Hoi An's vibrant Old Town on Hoi An Food Adventure. See urbanadventures.com/destination/Hoi-An-tours for more information. Your leader can help arrange optional activities and tours if this interests you.
Spend another day as you please in this historic haven. If you can muster an early rise this morning, head to the local produce market to watch animated shoppers haggling over fresh fish, spices and vegetables. Otherwise, if you’d like, your leader can help you arrange an optional Vietnamese cooking class, or a visit to the ruins of My Son – Vietnam's most important Cham site. Set in a verdant valley, surrounded by hills and overlooked by the massive Cat's Tooth Mountain, the elaborate World Heritage-listed temples here reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation that flourished in this region between the fourth and 12th-century.
Continue on your journey north today and drive over the spectacular Hai Van Pass – an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a stop at beautiful Lang Co to buy yourself some lunch. Travel time is approximately 5-6 hours, including stops. In the afternoon, you’ll arrive in Hue – Vietnam’s former Imperial capital. Here you’ll visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City which was almost entirely destroyed by bomb blasts during the war.
After a local breakfast of bun bo hue – a spiced beef noodle soup – take in all the historical highlights of Hue. You’ll stop off at the Thien Mu Pagoda and get the chance to see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists. Break up your sightseeing with a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River. Lunch today will be a delicious vegetarian feast at a nunnery. You’ll also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its lake, frangipani and pine trees. There’s nothing like a culture and history lesson to get you hungry, so be sure to keep snacking on some of Hue’s favourites – it’s not known as Vietnam’s culinary capital for nothing.
Fly from Hue to Vietnam’s charming capital of Hanoi. Upon arrival, enjoy a delicious lunch at KOTO restaurant – an Intrepid Foundation supported program that teaches disadvantaged youth hospitality skills. After lunch, take a half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laidback, tree-lined capital. You’ll visit major sights including the Temple of Literature and One Pillar Pagoda. You’ll also pass by Hoan Kiem Lake and enter the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter – a series of interwoven lanes and roads that historically sell a certain product in each street. Silk, bamboo, ceramics, kitchen products – and upwards of 32 more! Today, the group will also enjoy a unique water-puppet performance hosted by a local family, who are experts in this art form.