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Exploring Vietnam Holidays

The Ultimate History & Culture Tour

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.

Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Vietnam!

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)

Day 2 - Explore the historical wonders of Saigon

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.

Day 3 - Travel by Speedboat to the Cu Chi Tunnels

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.

Day 4 - Fly to the quaint beach town of Hoi An

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).

Day 5 - Get off the beaten track on two-wheels

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.

Day 6 - Enjoy Hoi An at your own pace

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.

Day 7 - Travel to Hue by motorbike

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).

Day 8 - DMZ Tour by Army Jeep

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.

Day 9 - Explore the ancient capital of Hue

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).

Day 10 - Explore the hidden charm of Hanoi

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.

Day 11 - Explore the mountainous beauty of Sapa

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).

Day 12 - Enjoy a second day in Sapa

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.

Day 13 - Enjoy Hanoi at your own pace

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.

Days 14 & 15 - Board a cruise on Halong Bay

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)

Day 16 - Bid farewell to Vietnam

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.

What's included?

  • Prices start from £3,180 per person
  • Accommodation on B&B basis
  • Cruise has breakfast, lunch and dinner included
  • Private transfers (air-conditioned vehicles)
  • All entrance fees with service of English speaking guide for excursions
  • Lunch on Days 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11
  • Internal flights (two)
  • Local taxes
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are fully covered
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This vibrant capital of Vietnam has a fascinating display of street life, food and architecture in its charming Old Quarter – let us take you on a walking tour down its winding alleyways, weaving through hundreds of motorbikes and fruit sellers. It's our favourite city and we've found a selection of fabulous boutique hotels. More
Mai Chau & Pu Bin
This glorious rural corner of the country offers a mountainous landscape full of rice paddies, greenery and tribal groups. We love it because it's a bit more off the beaten track than the more popular Sapa area and have even established our very wooden stilt homestay in a local community. This is the place to head for hiking, cycling and just observing a more simple life. More
The ultimate mountain retreat in Vietnam - Sapa is a night train away from the capital, Hanoi. Those who venture here are rewarded with the image of colourful tribal groups set against a backdrop of green mountains and terraced rice paddies. Some of the most beautiful scenery of Vietnam is on offer - although the tourist traffic can be high in peak season. More
Halong Bay
The must-see attraction of Vietnam: Hundreds of islets pierce through the waters of an emerald green bay. We have a fabulous selection of one and two-night cruises on offer, which are without a doubt the best way to see this area of outstanding beauty. More
Ninh Binh
A lovely slice of rural life is on offer here. We especially love Ninh Binh during the summer butterfly and rice harvest seasons. Expect gorgeous caves, wooden boat rides and pretty cycle rides. We especially love the Emeralda Resort here. More
The old imperial capital - this is the place to head for an insight in the ancient kings and dynasties of Vietnam. Set on the banks of the idyllic Perfume River, you can explore magnificent royal tombs of Kings gone by and the old Imperial Palace (that despite suffering in the American war is still well worth a visit). And we have discovered a fabulous selection of hideaway resorts. More
Hoi An
This is the place that has it all; arguably the best architecture, cuisine, shopping (tailors aplenty) and beaches of all of Vietnam. Most who make it here never want to leave - this Unesco World Heritage town is full of fabulous old Japanese merchants homes, French colonial homes and classic Vietnamese styles. Pick up a bike and explore on two wheels. More
Nha Trang
Home to some of our favourite beach resorts in all of Vietnam, Nha Trang offers a little piece of Paradise on the coast of Vietnam. The town itself lacks a little inspiration but if you're looking for sand, sun and luxury then look no further. More
Mui Ne
Sun, surf and sand, oh my! This lovely little fishing-cum-beach town has a plethora of fabulous resorts and boutique hotels. World renowned for kite surfing and waterspouts, Mui Ne is a great beach destination. More
A popular weekend getaway for the Vietnamese, Dalat offers a cooler climate in the mountains. Lovely walks along with more adrenalin-fuelled activities like canyoning and mountain biking are on offer here. More
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
The mad, modern metropolis of Vietnam is alive with the sound of a thousand motorbikes. Officially named Ho Chi Minh City but affectionately know as Saigon by the locals, this city is fun and fast paced. It's the ideal base from which to explore the infamous tunnels of the Vietnam War where guerrillas and there families lived for many years. More
Mekong Delta
This enormous waterway of canals, streams and rivers is a lifeline for the locals - and people watching is perhaps the best activity of all on the Mekong Delta. Get up early for the floating markets or perhaps watch it lazily with a beer in hand from the sun deck on one of our cruises. More
Phu Quoc Island
Attention all beach lovers! This is the penultimate beach destination in all of Vietnam. Whether you are taken by its serenely calm waters, long sandy beach or cute cottage-like accommodation, Phu Quoc is stealing hearts across the world. We especially love it after sunset when lanterns and candles are lit on tables along the beach. In fact, we can't think of a more perfect setting for a seafood feast, while digging your toes into the sand. More
Con Dao Islands
If the budget can stretch to it, the Con Dao islands offer one of the most luxurious and beautiful beach experiences in Vietnam. Leave the rest of the world behind you when you enter Six Senses Con Dao, which feels like an ultimate private-island getaway. More

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