Explore the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with your local leader who will help to uncover the vibrant mix of influences, from the French to Asian traders, settlers and indigenous peoples.. Feast on an included lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a social enterprise organisation aimed at providing vocational and hospitality skills to young workers.. Enjoy your Premium feature stay – an overnight cruise in Halong Bay on a boat as beautiful as its surroundings. Take in spectacular views while enjoying a candle-lit dinner on deck.. Discover a traditional musical art form of Vietnam with an exclusive Hat Xam performance – an art form that dates back over 700 years to the Tran Dynasty.
Spend eight days in Vietnam discovering the highlights and traditions of this colourful country. Take part in enriching local encounters as your leader shows you the soul of this diverse pocket of Asia. Get lost in the districts of Hanoi, cruise past the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, discover the colonial charm of Hoi An, and navigate the winding streets and chaotic traffic of Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam is sure to surprise, delight and excite, so discover places of eternal beauty that have also played crucial roles in history.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 2
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s vibrant capital city. You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive early, Hanoi offers plenty of enticing experiences. Perhaps head to the city’s colourful old quarter and explore the charming jumble of shops and cafés, or check out the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum, showcasing ancient through to contemporary Vietnamese art. This evening, join your leader and small group for a welcome dinner at a beautifully decorated restaurant resembling an old-fashioned Vietnamese house. Dive into the exciting world of Vietnamese cuisine as your leader introduces you to a range of classic dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.
Depart Hanoi and travel to Halong Bay, one of the great natural treasures of Vietnam. Board your feature stay accommodation for the evening, a gloriously beautiful and traditionally decorated junk-style boat featuring modern conveniences. Set sail in total comfort as unforgettable views of scattered islands and towering limestone outcrops slowly unfold in front of you. Explore the bay while enjoying a pleasant seafood lunch onboard. Learn about the fascinating geography of the region and its importance to the Vietnamese people, visit Surprise Cave where your leader will point out interesting rock formations, and in the warmer months you can choose a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or take an optional kayaking tour. Sit back with a drink on the upper deck and face out to the spirit-lifting view that will be stamped on your memory of Vietnam. Soak in the stunning surroundings with a candlelit seafood dinner on deck before settling in for a night of stargazing and swapping stories.
Start your day with a peaceful breakfast and perhaps take part in some Tai Chi on board the boat before returning to Hanoi. This afternoon you’ll take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience and sit down to a soul-stirring traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an art form 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 these performances are rare, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house and treated to an exclusive performance in one of the few places where artists still sing acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes possible interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
This morning you’ll get to know Hanoi’s charms on a half-day tour with your leader. Discover a captivating city where traditional and modern sit side by side as your leader shares knowledge on the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Today’s lunch is extra special as you will visit the fantastic KOTO café, a social enterprise that provides hospitality training and experience while empowering at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam – not to mention a creative menu of food made with local ingredients. This afternoon you’ll say goodbye to Hanoi and fly south to Danang. Drive on to Hoi An and take in views of lush scenery along the way. Arrive in Hoi An in the late afternoon and check into your boutique accommodation. The rest of the day is yours – maybe make the most of your hotel’s fabulous pool.
Set off on a tour of Hoi An’s Old Town and discover a blend of traditional treasures and cultural influences from historical traders. Your leader will discuss the city’s history as you wander the pagoda lined streets, visit a Chinese assembly hall, cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, enter the ornately decorated historic house of a former trader and check out a local museum. A significant port of the Champa Kingdom for centuries, 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 desserts, enjoy some folk singing and chat to your host about the history of the Cham people and how the culture lives on today.
Ho Chi Minh City
The morning is free for you to enjoy more of delightful Hoi An and the surrounding area. Perhaps browse the market for silk and other materials or collect any garments that you might have had crafted by the efficient tailors, or hire a bicycle and ride along the lanes and out to a nice nearby beach. Your leader will have great recommendations for places to eat and drink. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market might beckon you over with the sweet and savoury aromas of pho and bun mam. Delicious!
Ho Chi Minh City
Head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive underground network dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. Enter a widened section of the tunnels with your leader who will help you imagine what life underground must have been like and explain how the tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools, and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the dynamic city where daily life plays out on the streets. Your leader will take you to the Reunification Palace, formally the Presidential Palace and the site of South Vietnam’s surrender in 1975, before visiting the War Remnants Museum. In the evening, perhaps spend some time with your fellow travellers and enjoy a final dinner at a local restaurant. Your leader will know of some wonderful options.
Ho Chi Minh City
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you wish to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh city, we would be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).