Uncover Vietnam’s astounding history during a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City, stroll the historic streets of charming Hoi An and discover the French influence of the northern city of Hanoi.. A cruise along the waterways and a wonderful local lunch will get you up close and personal with life on the legendary Mekong Delta.. Experience the beauty of Halong Bay from the comfort of a traditional style junk boat – your feature stay accommodation. Enjoy a candlelit dinner on deck and soak in the magnificent landscape.. Sit down to a soul-stirring exclusive Hat Xam performance in Hoi An – an ancient musical art form rarely seen today that dates back over 700 years to the Tran Dynasty.
Discover Vietnam’s kaleidoscope of fascinating history, hospitable people and picturesque landscapes on a 15-day Premium adventure. Learn the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City, explore the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi and get a glimpse of rural life as you cruise through the Mekong Delta. Experience historic temples, spend a night beneath the stars on Halong Bay, enjoy delicious banquets and learn what it means to be local. This journey will take you off the well-trodden track and leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
Breakfast Included: 14 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 3
Ho Chi Minh City
Welcome to Vietnam! Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City where you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. An important group meeting will take place here at 6pm, where you will meet your fellow travellers and local leader. 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. After your meeting, head out for dinner with your small group and leader. As you arrive at your restaurant you’ll step straight into a piece of Vietnamese history – the building was an old opium refinery station built in 1861, and nods to its past still visible today. Here you’ll enjoy a menu bursting with classic dishes and southern Vietnamese favourites – your leader will be on hand to provide recommendations for your first foray into this exciting food scene.
After breakfast, drive south towards the Mekong Delta via the region of Ben Tre. Here you will board a private boat and cruise the delta, stopping off at some coconut gardens to visit a local home where you’ll sample tropical fruits and coconut jams. Afterwards, return to the waterways of the delta on board sampans (small rowing boats) and row past the coconut trees and stilt houses that flank the river. Back on land, take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages for a glimpse at rural life and to learn how the coconut industry plays into local life. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then return to Ho Chi Minh City for an evening at leisure.
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you’ll see Ho Chi Minh City through the eyes of a local during a bus and walking tour with your leader. Visit the famous Reunification Palace and hear the story of the end of the war, take a sobering trip to the War Remnants Museum and stop by the beautiful Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral. Stroll the city’s captivating streets and admire its many French colonial buildings along the way, including the main post office, and the gorgeous Ho Chi Minh City Hall, modelled on Paris’s Hotel de Ville. The rest of the evening is yours – be sure to ask your leader for recommendations on some great local spots for dinner.
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 your leader will explain more about its history and the 1968 Tet Offensive. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow visitors 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.
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 you will have the chance to learn some more about your morning brew and see behind the scenes of speciality coffee production during a tour of a local family-run coffee farm. Follow the journey from growth to harvesting and roasting, and taste some of the carefully crafted final result yourself, leaving with a new appreciation for the humble cup of coffee. Sit down for lunch with the group, then enjoy a free afternoon. You may like to visit the historic Bao Dai palace, or perhaps take a wander around the vibrant local markets.
Enjoy a free morning in Dalat – perhaps 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. From here you will embark on a short ride by private vehicle to Hoi An. Hoi An was originally a Cham port town and many Cham descendants are still living in Hoi An today. This afternoon you will have the unique opportunity to visit the home of a Cham local for a special insight into their origins and way of life. Be welcomed with a warming cup of Cham tea, try some traditional sweets and deserts, enjoy some folk singing and chat to your host about the history of the Cham people and how the culture lives on today.
Join your leader on a walking tour this morning to discover the Hoi An’s stunning architecture and unique mix of influences. With its charming low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. Start with a visit to an opulently decorated historic house that was once home to a prominent trader. Cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, stop by the Chinese assembly hall and pay a visit to a local museum to learn more about the history you uncovered on your walk. 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 nearby countryside.
A significant port of the Champa Kingdom for centuries, many Cham descendants are still living in Hoi An today. This morning your leader will guide you around My Son Cham, a collection of temples constructed by the Kings of Champa and dating back to the 4th century. In the afternoon, you will have the unique opportunity to visit the home of a Cham local for a special insight into their origins and how they meld their ancient and modern traditions. Be welcomed with a warming cup of Cham tea, try some traditional sweets and desserts, enjoy some folk singing and chat to your host about the history of the Cham people and how the culture lives on today.
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 your leader will provide some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war.
Loosen your belt and ready your appetite as today you will be diving into Hue’s fabulous culinary scene. Meet with a local chef and explore a bustling local market where you will taste and smell all the wonderful herbs and ingredients that bring local dishes to life, while learning more about the culture of Vietnamese cuisine along the way. Stop for lunch and enjoy some of Hue’s most celebrated dishes. Continue to the local chef’s delightful home where you will learn how to cook up some simple and delicious dishes using the fresh ingredients you picked up at the market. Take your new knowledge and local recipes back home with you so you can recreate meals that will take you straight back to Vietnam. Later 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, and the Imperial Citadel.
Fly from Hue to Hanoi today. Your departure will mostly likely be in the morning but can vary a little depending on flight schedules. Settle in on arrival, then your leader will guide you through the ancient 36 Streets to discover a varied selection of shop-lined alleys that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery and embroidered tablecloths. In the afternoon, you will be treated to a traditional Hat Xam performance – this is truly an experience like no other. Hat Xam is an artform of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty. 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 includes some story telling aspects and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
Enjoy a guided half-day tour of Hanoi with your leader, gaining insights to the city’s history during visits to 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. Enjoy a free afternoon for further explorations. The Vietnam Fine Arts museum is well worth a visit, and walking is a great way to explore the city and its many lakes and parks. 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.