This is a completely unique and spectacular itinerary that shows you the best of the country but also enables you to avoid the crowds in Vietnam. We take you from Hanoi, onto an off the beaten track cruise of Halong Bay before taking you on an overnight sleeper to Phong Nha, a lesser visited area that is home to some of Asia’s best caves. Then it’s onto Hue for a slice of history before spending a few days on the beach near Hoi An (we’ve picked the beach where there are no big resorts for you) before taking you down to Saigon for some adventures in the south including a two-day bike ride in the Mekong (if you don’t like cycling we can change this very easily!)
Your private driver and English-speaking guide will give you a warm welcome when you land in Hanoi. They will then drive you through the bustling capital to your central hotel in the Old Quarter. where you can relax and enjoy the evening at your leisure. We love La Siesta Central in Hanoi’s Old Quarter – it’s one of our favourite boutique hideaways! (Exec room)
Today you will explore Hanoi like a local; walk down the capital’s winding streets with a private walking, try local street food and have a local whipped coffee in a hidden coffee shop before exploring Hoa Lo Priosn where American and French POWs were once held and the Temple of Literature built in 1076. Finish your day walking down the city’s railway tracks and then stop for a home brewed beer, the renowned Bia Hoi.
Today you will join your cruise companions in an air conditioned mini bus and travel four-hours east to Ha Long Bay, a beautiful emerald green bay pierced by hundreds of towering lush islets as far as the eye can see. Here you will embark on a wonderful overnight cruise. Treasure Junk is a wonderful boat as it takes a different route to the rest of the crowds on the bay. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is included each day, as is swimming and kayaking. (Standard cabin, B,L&D).
Rise early today to make the most of the short morning on board and visit a floating village in Halong Bay. You will return to Hanoi with your cruise companions and there will be time for dinner in town before catching the night train to Dong Hoi in the centre for your rural Vietnam adventure. First class sleeper tickets are included in the cost of this holiday – your guide will take you straight onto the activities below.
Your guide and driver will meet you at the train station and take you for breakfast at the Lakehouse before you continue your adventures. Today you will soak up history and culture at 8 Ladies Cave and a war martyr memorial before visiting the spectacular Paradise Cave, which is one of the most stunning in the region. After a lovely riverside lunch get ready for the more adventurous cave – Dark Cave which includes zip-lining, kayaking and a mud bath! Breakfast & lunch included. (Lakeview Room).
Enjoy this morning free at leisure to soak up the beautiful surroundings of Phong Nha – you can go for a walk or arrange kayaking or another local activity if you like, or just relax by the pool surrounded by beautiful scenery. This afternoon your driver and guide will transfer you to Dong Hoi railway station to take the train to Hue (SE7 16.35-19.45). Upon arrival your guide and driver will take you to your hotel – Eldora Hotel (deluxe room)
Avoiding the usual tourist route today, you will visit Thuy Bieu – an ancient village known as a symbol of transition and harmony. Explore the well-preserved communal houses and village life that is surrounded by original monuments attached to the rise and fall of the Nguyen dynasties. Cruise on the poetic Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda before exploring the Forbidden Purple City, constructed under the Emperor Gia Long’s Dynasty, in the early 19th century.
Take one of the most scenic journeys down the Vietnam coastline this morning, over a beautiful pass, and along miles of coast as you make your way from Hue to Hoi An by private chauffeur (or motorbike if you prefer!) We’ll make a day of it stopping for fabulous seafood, visit mountain caves and a fresh cool spring, before reaching Hoi An and checking into a Aira Boutique on one of the lesser-known beaches just 3 miles from the town. (deluxe room)
Take three full days to soak up this glorious beach town. Hoi An has it all; delicious cuisine, fabulous tailors and shopping and a beautiful beach. We haven’t organised anything for you so you can have a lazy breakfast, explore and sunbathe at your own pace (but do ask us about local excursions here including a fun fishing trip in traditional basket boats with local fishermen!) If you would like to extend your time here let us know.
At lunch time fly to Saigon and take the afternoon to marvel at the city’s marvellous skyline. This evening we will take you on a motorbike street food tour (you will be passengers with expert drivers) and there will be plenty of stops to sample some of the best and unique dishes to the city, finishing with an authentic Saigon streetwise barbecue, one of the most memorable meals of your trip. Stay at the Alagon d’Antique hotel tonight (deluxe window room).
This morning, after checkout, you will be driven to the edge of the Mekong Delta to start your 30m bike ride (if cycling is not your thing we can change the plan.) Cycling through small rural roads and concrete canal paths, you will visit artisans, weavers and growers who call this region home. You will be blessed with stunning vistas of rice fields, lush vegetable and fruit farms, temples, pagodas, and countless local markets on the way. Lunch is served in a private home before transferring by boat to Island Lodge.
Enjoy breakfast overlooking the river before jumping back in the saddle for a second day of riding and exploring deeper into the Delta. Our ride today continues along narrow canal paths, crossing canal and other tributaries of The Majestic Mekong by ferries. After lunch, the van will transfer you back to Ho Chi Minh city where you will check in to d’Antique Alagon.
Join a small group on a speedboat to the Cu Chi Tunnels this morning and enjoy a light breakfast on board as your guide explains rural traditions and aspects of riverbank life. Explore the underground world of Cu Chi, which includes weapon and booby trap exhibitions, navigating an authentic Viet Cong tunnel, visiting different underground bunkers (kitchens, meeting rooms, ammunitions etc.), a firing range and much more. Return to Saigon for a free afternoon.
This morning we have planned nothing for you so you can relax at leisure until your international flight home when your driver and guide will collect you from the hotel and take you to Saigon Airpot. Safe travels!
This itinerary costs from £2,520 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.
You can get flights from as little as £500 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.