ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Hanoi
Arrive in Hanoi and fall into the pace of the city with an evening street eats tour. Hanoi is famous for its street food cuisine and this walking tour has been designed for you to enjoy some of the very best of Vietnam’s street food. Pull up a stool and sample the local brewed beer while you people watch, then head through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter to have a Vietnamese style barbeque dinner of flamed grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers.
Day 2: Hanoi
Discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum — the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an 11th century archaeological site, and the famous Temple of Literature. End the afternoon viewing Long Bien Bridge, which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing up with a coffee in a local café. Tonight board the overnight train to Sapa.
Day 3: Sapa
Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Sapa.
You will take a short way north of Sapa town to the quiet valleys and gorges surrounding the village of O Quy Ho. The shallow winding valley sits in the shadow of Indochina’s highest peak, Fangxipan Mountain, and on clear days you can enjoy superb views of the range. Away from the major tourist routes, this trek is the perfect escape. Pass by oolong tea farms before joining a local footpath that clings to the contours of the rice terraces and takes you gently down the valley past grazing buffalo and working farmers. Walk along ancient stone paths and hear the story of the Black H’Mong migration to these mountains centuries before. Learn about the distinct cultures, languages and lifestyles that make northwestern Vietnam so fascinating, and visit an authentic Black H’Mong house, home to a local family. Transfer back to Sapa town in the early afternoon.
Day 4: Sapa
This morning, meet your guide at your hotel and walk south of Sapa towards the busy village of Cat Cat. The valleys that surround the village of Y Linh Ho are some of the most picturesque in the region, and this route allows you to explore one of Sapa’s less-traversed areas. Make your way along a gentle incline, through emerald paddy fields above a deep river gorge, before arriving on the river bank. Take a rest, dip your toes in the cool mountain waters and watch local children fishing with nets, before continuing deeper through the villages and terraces of the Black H’mong. Walk at your own pace and take in some of the best panoramas Vietnam has to offer. Enjoy lunch with a view at a local village restaurant before continuing through the valley towards the village of Lao Chai.
Take a well-earned rest and enjoy a soothing cup of tea before learning the art of Batik painting. The beautiful textiles of the Black H’mong are famous around the world and Batik is a traditional part of H’mong culture. Under threat from modernization, Batik is now only practiced by a handful of villagers. Join a hands-on master class led by a local expert and take your creation home! You will be supporting a sustainable tourism project that supports local women and ensures this amazing art form is handed down to the next generation.
Afterwards, head to Ta Van village where you will be picked up and transferred back to your hotel in Sapa.
Day 5: Sapa - Hanoi
Relax and enjoy the cool mountain air as you have a free day to do as much or as little as you like! Shop for handicrafts in the market, climb to the top of Ham Rong Mountain for impressive views over Sapa or get a well-earned foot massage! This evening return to Lao Cai and board the overnight train to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi – Halong Bay
It’s an early arrival into Hanoi with stop to freshen up and have breakfast before driving about four hours to Halong Bay. Hop aboard a traditional wooden junk and admire the sublime beauty of the limestone karts jutting out of the jewel like water. Explore the bay by kayak as you discover sea caves and secluded bays. Visit a local fish farm and dine on fresh seafood before retiring to your cabin for the night.
Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hoi An
Wake with the sun and watch as the dawn breaks. You might like to take an early morning dip or do a spot of tai chi before breakfast. Then head off to visit the Surprising Cave, with its amazing limestone formations that have been created over time. Keep an eye out for the big Buddha and frog on a rock! Cruise back to the main harbour and travel towards Hanoi and the airport for your flight to Danang. From Danang it’s only a short 30 minute drive to the artfully restored ancient town of Hoi An.
Day 8: Hoi An
With its stunning mix of architecture, that tells a story of days gone by, to the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour, Hoi An is has a charm and style all of its own. This UNESCO listed site was once a 15th century fishing village, but now is renowned for its tailors, galleries boutiques and of course its food! Take a guided walking tour and see the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall and take a stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. All living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.
Day 9: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City
Fly to the bustling modern capital of Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. Discover the story of Saigon, from the days of the French rule to the war years with America – this is one city with a tale to tell! See all the main sights including the Reunification Palace, the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. End your day with a speedboat trip down the river to see a different side of the city.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City
Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war. Then visit a farm and taste an unusual local specialty - cricket!
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Can Tho
Travel into the heart of the Mekong Delta to explore the waterways. See small home based factories perched on the river banks producing candy and oil from coconuts as you meander by boat through rivers and small creeks. Take part in a cooking demonstration and learn how to make the perfect spring roll before sitting down to feast on a three-course lunch aboard Le Jarai, a beautifully restored teak rice barge. Return to the pier and drive to Can Tho, the economic hub of the delta.
Day 12: Can Tho – Chau Doc
Rise early and travel by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Watch as vendors hawk their wares from boats teeming with produce and buy a coffee from one of the floating cafes. Then, drive approximately three hours to the township of Chau Doc, a colorful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
This afternoon drive approximately 20kms from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.
Day 13: Chau Doc
The Mekong Delta is a land of winding waterways, lush paddy fields and floating markets where life is governed by the ebb and flow of Vietnam’s most iconic river. Today wake early and cruise aboard a small boat to Chau Doc’s famous floating market. Drawing traders and farmers from the surrounding countryside watch as fruits, vegetables and fish are bought and sold en mass. Continue past the floating fish farms on your way to a local Cham Village, where you will hear the story of one of Vietnam’s most fascinating peoples. After return to your boat and continue cruising towards the iconic Sam Mountain, passing along the fascinating Vinh Te Canal built from 1819 to 1823 by Emperors Gia Long and Minh Mang from the Nguyen Dynasty. Arrive at the banks of Sam Mountain and visit two of the iconic temples that draw pilgrims from miles around. Finish with lunch at the beautiful Nui Sam Lodge, with spectacular panoramic views of the countryside below.
The lush green paddy fields of Chau Doc are the perfect place to escape modern life and discover the authentic Mekong Delta at its very best. Cycle out along quiet dirt tracks, through villages where life has changed little over the decades and through fields busy with busy farmers and water buffalo. Stop for a picnic breakfast and recharge over a glass of traditional ice tea or coffee before getting back on the saddle and continuing your journey. Stop along the way for a chat with locals and some of the best views Southern Vietnam has to offer. Return to your hotel and a well earned break! Overnight in Chau Doc.
Day 14: Chau Doc – Siem Reap
It’s a long day as you drive for about 6.5 hours to Ho Chi Minh City. There will be stops on the way to stretch your legs and grab a snack. Arrive at the airport in the late afternoon and fly to Siem Reap. This evening, wander the old market area of the town with its labyrinth of lanes filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and small bars. It’s the place to be after dark!
Day 15: Siem Reap (Angkor Temples)
Explore the amazing temples of Angkor on a full day greatest hits tour from Siem Reap. Be awestruck by Angkor Wat, marvel at the smiling faces of Bayon and the tree entwined Ta Prohm. You’ll also see the Terrace of the Elephants and Leper King, the pyramid shaped Phimeanakas and watch the sun set over the ancient ruins. All the main highlight temples are covered so you won’t miss a thing!
Day 16: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang
Enjoy feel good tourism with a visit to a rural village supporting a proven model of tourism. Learn about rural life and roll up your sleeves and help out the community with their daily activities. Bid farewell to Cambodia and fly to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed town of Luang Prabang, with its golden temples with glittering spires.
Day 17: Luang Prabang
Explore the temples of Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai the spiritual hub of Luang Prabang with their sweeping roofs and gilded facades. Visit the National Museum that was once the former Royal Palace to view the relics from Laos’ royalist past. Then head out of town to the Kuang Si waterfall, where the cool turquoise pools have a magical appearance and visit the Sun Bear refuge centre to say hello to the furry residents. Pop into the Living Crafts Centre, where artisans are keeping traditional crafts alive and arrive back into Luang Prabang later in the afternoon.
Day 18: Luang Prabang
Cruise the tea coloured waters of the Mekong River to reach Pak Ou caves. The caves are home to hundreds of statues of Buddha, big and small, that have been left by devotees. You’ll be amazed to see how many are crammed in! Along the way you will stop at a riverside village to see weavers working on ancient looms.
Day 19: Luang Prabang
This morning rise early to watch the procession of monks walking silently down the street to collect their daily alms, or shop for last minute souvenirs before transferring to the airport for you onward flight.