This is the ultimate private history and culture tour of Vietnam – it take you right into the heart of this ancient and magical Kingdom. From ancient dynasties and the Vietnam War to understanding the culture today, it is both an educational and inspirational journey through the country. Highlights include understanding the war history in Saigon, learning about propaganda through art, visiting the ancient town of Hoi An (where you will even meet a former tiger hunter) and visiting the demilitarised zone in the centre. It also takes in the capital of Hanoi, the magical mountains of Sapa and finishes with a cruise on Halong Bay.
Welcome to the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) in the south. Your private driver and guide will meet you at the airport and take you to the Hotel Majestic, a fitting beginning to your historical and cultural journey. Built in 1925, the state-owned, five-star Majestic is a genuine historical fossil with period charm, good service and a brilliant rooftop bar with river views. (Colonial pool view deluxe room)
After breakfast begin a private historical tour of city, passing the former American embassy and visiting the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and General Post office. We will take you to the War Remnants Museum, which has an incredible collection of photography from the Vietnam War. After, enjoy a coffee or cocktail on the roof of the famous Rex Hotel. The final stop is the lively Ben Thanh Market before enjoying your evening at leisure.
This morning you will be take a speedboat to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, more than 200 km of tunnels were built here by the Vietnamese guerrillas, where they lived and fought during the American War. You can explore the bedrooms, meeting rooms, air-raid shelters, smokeless kitchens, and experience a unique underground world. The best bit? Not only to you travel in speedboat to avoid the city traffic but you arrive before all the other tourists! Afternoon is free at lesiure.
This morning you will fly to Da Nang, and be driven 30 minutes to Hoi An. Enjoy a private walking tour of this charming small town made of hundreds of historic houses, congregation halls and pagodas. Highlights of this Unesco-heritage listed town include the Japanese Covered Bridges and a 200 year-old Tan Ky House – not to mention the many delectable restaurants. Spend tonight at the lovely La Siesta Hotel (deluxe room with balcony).
Today we will take you on a unique bike ride to see life beyond Hoi An, stopping to photograph the iconic Japanese bridge before continuing to the southern villages of Quang Nam Province, rich in family trades and traditions. Meet your village host, who is nearly 90 years old and vividly remembers his experiences in the American war, before peddaling through rice fields and vegetable farms along small canals and waterways of the countryside that so few see when here.
We have left today free for you to soak up this glorious beach town at your own pace. Hoi An has it all; delicious cuisine, fabulous tailors and shopping and a beautiful beach just 4km away. We haven’t organised anything for you so you can explore and sunbathe as you please. If you would like to spend longer here on the beach just let us know and we can revise the itinerary.
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 Hoi An to Hue by motorbike. You will be driven by experienced motorcyclists (or you can travel by car). We’ll make a day of it stopping for fabulous seafood, visit mountain caves and a fresh cool spring, before reaching Hue and checking into the Eldora Hotel (deluxe room).
Today you will explore the old border area of the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone), which divided South and North Vietnam. Some of the fiercest battles occurred here and you will visit key sites including Dong Ha, home to a US Marine Combat Base, as well as Doc Mieu Base, the McNamara Fence, Hien Luong Bridge and Ben Hai River. You will have a chance to see how the Vietnamese people survived the War by visiting the Vinh Moc Tunnels – known as “the Underground City” where an entire village lived. Return to Hue tonight.
This morning you will explore the ancient capital of Vietnam including the Forbidden Purple City, constructed under the Emperor Gia Long in the early 19th century. Afterwards, board a dragon boat and sail down the Perfume River to visit the striking Thien Mu Pagoda, then visit tombs of the emperors TuDuc and Khai Dinh. If time permits you can enjoy a short cyclo ride to Dong Ba market before catching a flight to Hanoi. Tonight you will check into the Viethouse (deluxe 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.
This morning you will be met by your guide and driver at Sapa Station and be driven to your luxury eco lodge for breakfast before beginning a day of trekking off the beaten track. You will walk through through splendid rice paddy terraces and hill sides with valley views – expect to see water buffalos, goats or mountain pigs – as well as tribal villages – on the way. After lunch you will visit Nam Gang village, renowned for some fo the most colourful and diverse costumes in Vietnam before checking into the scenic Topas Eco Lodge (exec bungalow).
This morning, take a short walk through the town of Sapa and along a dirt trail through beautiful gardens and lush pine forests. You will then pass through the Black H’mong ethnic minority village of Ma Tra before continuing through paddy fields and more spectacular scenery. During the walk, you will also be able to visit a local school. This evening you will catch the night train back to Hanoi and check into the Viethouse in the early hours.
You may be a little tired this morning after your early morning train ride so we have left today as a ‘recovery day’, where you can explore the winding streets of Hanoi at your own leisure. You may wish to visit Hoa Lo Prison Museum, nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by US POWs during the Armerican War. We will give you our special guide full of ideas for the day. Spend a second night at the Viethouse.
On Day 15 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 two-night 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. (Superior cabin)
Rise early 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 from here you can catch your international flight home. We recommend flying after 6.30pm tonight. Bon voyage!
This itinerary costs from £3,180 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.
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