A cyclo tour of Hanoi is an excellent introduction to bustling inner-city Vietnam, and the novelty of travelling on these three-wheeled wonders is a thrill for all ages.. There’s a perfect balance of included activities and free time, which is ideal in atmospheric destinations like Hoi An. Tailored threads, cooking class or beach day? Your choice.. Halong Bay is more than an amazing and unique natural wonder – it’s a proper escape from the world around you. Sleep under the stars on a comfortable cruise boat and enjoy a sumptuous lunch and dinner on board.. By dining at KOTO in Hanoi, you and your family will not only feast on delicious northern specialties, you’ll be supporting a cause that helps support disadvantaged youth with careers in hospitality.
With its friendly locals, delicious food and incredible scenery, Vietnam is the ideal place for a family adventure. Stroll the winding streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, laugh yourself silly at the water puppet theatre at Hoan Kiem and see ancient temples and pagodas alongside modern houses from a cyclo. Barter with stallholders at a floating market, explore the Forbidden Purple City and eat all the pho you can handle. With 13 days to adventure from the towering limestone karsts of Halong Bay to the frenetic markets of Ho Chi Minh City, you and your gang will get all the highlights of vivacious Vietnam in one neat package.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 4
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. You will be transferred from the airport to your hotel, and your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5pm. Afterwards, enjoy a welcome dinner with your fellow families. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and thriving Old Quarter. The latter is a veritable architectural museum piece that feels like a 1930s provincial French town – a great place to explore today if you have time.
Embark on a full-day tour of the city. You will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, and the tranquil Temple of Literature – an oasis of calm in the heart of town. Also head to the Museum of Ethnology to learn more about the diverse heritage of Vietnam. Enjoy some lunch at the KOTO restaurant – an excellent establishment and long-time friend of Intrepid which lives by the philosophy of 'know one, teach one'. It supports underprivileged local youth by giving them a chance at making a career in hospitality. In the evening, sit down to a traditional water puppet performance. This northern tradition, dating back nearly a thousand years, is performed alongside traditional Vietnamese music that employs drums, wooden bells, horns and bamboo flutes.
Travel by minibus to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). The bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with some 2000 limestone islands jutting out of the waters of the Bac Bo Gulf. Board your private boat and cruise among the dramatic limestone peaks. There's an opportunity to swim in the famous Vietnam East Sea and explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a sky alive with stars.
Enjoy breakfast on the boat this morning and perhaps head out for an optional early morning kayak. Return to Hanoi by bus (approximately 3.5 hours). From there you will board an overnight train bound for Hue. As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past. It's a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Although conditions are basic on your train journey, overnight trains are a classic South East Asian experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Lie back and enjoy the ride! Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but it's a great idea to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit before you head off.
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past. It's a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. As well as the Imperial Citadel, you will visit the Forbidden Purple City, which was almost totally destroyed during the American War's Tet Offensive. The gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. Thankfully the ruins are now World Heritage protected and being restored.
Enjoy a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River to visit the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. The tomb is set amongst 12 hectares of parkland that has been carefully decorated with frangipani and pine trees, tranquil lakes and impressive architecture – much of which survived the ravages of time and war. While you're here, take the opportunity to learn a little more about this figure who opposed the French involvement in Vietnam. You can also try your hand at making incense sticks and see how Hue’s unique conical ‘poem’ hat is made from palm leaves. You will also visit Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It has been an active Buddhist site since 1601.
Travelling by bus (approximately 4 hours), head south through coastal rice paddies before traversing the spectacular Hai Van Pass. You'll all be treated to some stunning mountain scenery en route. After a brief visit to the beautiful China Beach, arrive at Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An and its delicate beauty is being restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of it look exactly as they did more than a century ago – it's the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.
After breakfast, head out to spend the morning at Cua Dai beach. This beach is known for its stunning palm-fringed white sand and views of the Cham islands. Transfer back to town for lunch, before spending the afternoon learning how to make wonton cake. This hands-on experience is one the whole family will enjoy!
The rest of your time is left free to relax in this beautiful area. You could take a taxi or make the easy five-kilometre bicycle ride through the rice paddies and shrimp ponds to Cua Dai beach. Alternatively, Hoi An is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, especially if you’re looking for t-shirts, paintings or ceramics. For those interested in getting clothes tailored, this is definitely the place to shop. You might also like to speak to your leader about arranging a cooking lesson and learn about the many layers of fresh herbs and flavours that can be found in Vietnam's fresh and tasty cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh City
Take a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1 hour). Formerly known as Saigon, this bustling metropolis is full of vibrant sights and sounds; a fascinating blend of old and new. Check out Ben Thanh Market and feast on a delicious lunch of local street food, and take an orientation walk. Afterwards, you're free to explore the city as you please. Your leader will have plenty of interesting ideas for you and your family. Consider scooting off on cyclos to Cholon, the Chinatown area of Ho Chi Minh City, or for a bit of temple-hopping. Otherwise, you could visit the Vietnamese version of a department store for some serious shopping.
Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit unexplored Ben Tre where coconut is everything and anything. The journey to Ben Tre is south by private bus (approximately 2.5 hours). The fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers. On arrival, board your private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a different part of the local economy. Then head to your overnight homestay by the water. Be invited into a family home for a true local experience – a chance to see daily life from the inside. You'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms, with all meals included. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided.
Ho Chi Minh City
Rise early, as the locals do here on the delta. Enjoy a leisurely morning before heading back to Ho Chi Minh City on the bus. On arrival, you'll have free time to further explore the city at your own pace. This is an opportunity to do anything you might have missed the first time around. District 1 is a great place to walk around with the family. If you've fallen in love with Vietnamese food, sample some of the culinary delights you haven't got around to yet – perhaps some grilled cuttlefish or, for the adventurous, street-barbecued sea snails.