ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Arrive in Hanoi where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Relax at the hotel or take a walk and explore the nearby city streets with your family.
Day 2: Hanoi cooking class
In the morning, have some family fun and join a cooking class at a hospitality school for underprivileged children. Many of them were living on the streets of Hanoi and other cities, and their training will eventually help them work in some of Vietnam’s best hotels and restaurants. Next, explore the old quarter by cyclo, navigating its narrow streets and colourful markets the traditional way. Late in the afternoon, attend a water-puppetry performance - a sure-fire kid pleaser! The tradition dates to the 11th century, and many of the puppets are lacquered using a traditional Vietnamese painting technique. Enjoy the rest of the evening exploring Hanoi’s quaint alleys or head back to the hotel for some rest.
Day 3: Ninh Binh - Van Long
Meet your guide and driver in the morning and depart Hanoi bound to Ninh Binh Province. Known lovingly as "Halong Bay on land", this stunning province boasts similar limestone karst topography, but rather than rising out of the sea, the karst formations rise out of emerald rice paddy fields and winding rivers.
After a two and a half hour drive, arrive in Gia Vien District and swap your car for a bicycle. Then embark on a short cycling journey through paddy fields en-route to the nearby Van Long reservoir area. Along the way, stop at Mai Trung hamlet for an in-depth experience learning how locals here farm and tend to their rice. Follow the lead of your local host for seeding, putting down fertilizer, scooping water or harvesting, depending on the time of year.
Afterwards, cycle onward to a local family home, and get an up-close demonstration of traditional cooking using rice crackers or fried crab dishes. Then sit down with your local family hosts and enjoy these local specialties along with another Vietnamese favourite - rice wine! After lunch, challenge your hosts to a game of chess or kick back for a chat to learn about their lives here.
In the afternoon, reach Van Long wharf and set off on a short boat trip into the reservoir at Van Long Nature Reserve - the largest wetland in northern Vietnam. Float past poetic landscapes and rolling jungle hills that are perfect for photos, before heading back to Hanoi for arrival in the early evening. Either take a rest or head out with the family for ice-cream and snacks.
Day 4: Transfer to Cat Ba
Leave the hustle and bustle of Hanoi behind in the morning as you and your family travel to Hai Phong City, on Vietnam’s north-eastern coast. A speedboat shuttles you to Cat Ba Island, where your island-adventure will begin. On the way you’ll pass barges and industrial ports, signs of Vietnam’s growing economy. After checking into your Cat Ba hotel, take a gentle hike with your guide to Cannon Fortress, built during Vietnam’s French colonial period.
Enjoy a panoramic view of the bay’s limestone formations, and hear the stories of battles won and lost. Return to your hotel just as some local boats motor to sea for a night of squid fishing. Halong Bay is Vietnam’s unofficial squid capital, and features heavily in most of the restaurants in the area. Afterwards, head back to your hotel for some rest.
Day 5: Halong Bay day cruise
Today is jammed packed with activities that will be fun for the whole family. Take a wooden junk-boat and cruise to Lan Ha Bay, a less-travelled part of Halong Bay. Visit a cave and see beautiful coral and tropical fish swimming about, then kayak into a hidden lagoon. All of the kayaks fit two people and child-sized life-vests are available - perfect for adult-child pairings. Then it’s off to Moody Beach to climb the limestone cliffs. Our guides regularly work with climbers of all ages, and children tend to be naturals! After an exhausting but rewarding day, enjoy the rest of your evening in leisure.
Day 6: Transfer to Hanoi - Fly to Danang
After a beachside breakfast, a local guide takes you into the island’s thick jungle -and far from the beaten path. Break through forest canopy to the top of a limestone formation with superb summit views. After snapping a few photos, make your way to a local family’s house for lunch. Later, jump back on the speedboat and return to the port, where a private transfer takes you to back to Hanoi.
After arriving in Hanoi, transfer to the airport for your flight to Danang. Upon arrival you’ll be met by you guide who will transfer you to the coastal town of Hoi An –a drive of about 40 minutes. Hoi An is a restored 15th century fishing village recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Unlike many destinations in Vietnam, Hoi An has pedestrian streets that are ideal for leisurely strolling. The food here is particularly good -especially the tasty soup and noodle dishes! Enjoy the rest of your day and evening at your leisure, being sure to soak in some of the riverside ambiance with your family before tucking in for the evening.
Day 7: Hoi An farmer and fisherman
After breakfast, spend the rest of your day getting to know rural Vietnam. Start with a bike ride along green rice paddies to a nearby village where you will roll up your sleeves and help out the farmers. Head back to Hoi An and take a short river cruise to meet some fisherman for a hands-on lesson in net-fishing. Here you’ll gain a deep appreciation for how difficult (but amusing) it is to paddle bamboo basket boats.
Head back to your hotel early in the evening and either enjoy another night on the riverside promenade in Hoi An, or tuck in for an early night’s sleep.
Day 8: Hoi An cycling tour
Rising early in the morning for another exciting day in rural Vietnam, hop on a bicycle for a picturesque half -day tour of the countryside surrounding Hoi An. Pass rows of serene rice paddy fields en-route to Cam Thanh Village, where you’ll get a taste of the local life there. Once a shelter for locals and soldiers during the war, the village is now famous for its thatched roof cottages, woven from water coconut leaves of the region. Spend some time with a local family and learn about the villagers’ way of life. Then, board a bamboo basket boat and learn how to catch crabs alongside local experts. Take a well-earned rest and savour the refreshing flavour of fresh coconut water before cycling on to Ha Linh lantern workshop. There, you’ll learn how to make these delicate creations in a hands-on master class, and take home your very own. Enjoy the charming scenery as you cycle back to Hoi An.
Day 9: Free day in Hoi An
Spend the day exploring Hoi An at your own pace and do as much or as little as you choose. If the beach is not your thing then you might like to take part in a cooking class, or become ‘tomb raiders’ as you explore the ancient ruins of My Son on a day-tour. On your last evening in Hoi An, be sure to float lanterns along the river –it’s a local rite of passage that the whole family will be sure to enjoy!
Day 10: Fly to Ho Chi Minh city - Afternoon city tour
After breakfast your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
After freshening up, start at the magnificent Saigon Opera House –one of the city’s most iconic buildings. There you’ll see the unforgettable A O Show, which is a spectacular showcase of Vietnamese culture and performance art combining beautifully precise elements of both old and new. Featuring Vietnam’s most talented performance artists, traditional musicians and circus-like choreography, A O Show explores the lives of the Vietnamese people through its ensemble creations. Using props made of little more than bamboo and wood, performers recreate the peaceful serenity of the Vietnamese countryside, the ebb and flow of the coastal waves or the frenetic traffic in Hanoi and Saigon. It’s one of the most memorable experiences to be had in the city.
After the hour long show, take a short walk through the wide boulevards of central Saigon to Hoa Tuc Restaurant - a real culinary and architectural gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle of District 1. Renowned for its combination of contemporary Vietnamese cuisine and authentic French colonial architecture, Hoa Tuc is the perfect end to a memorable night in Saigon. Eat Al Fresco or within the elegantly white-washed walls of what was once an opium refinery. Afterwards transfer back to your hotel for a well-deserved snooze.
Day 11: Mekong Delta Le Jarai cruise
This morning depart from your hotel and drive approximately two hours to Ben Tre, and the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Here, you will board a small boat to start your sightseeing around the waterways of Mekong Delta. Known also as the rice bowl of Vietnam because of its large rice production, the area has also diversified into aquaculture, the rearing of animals, cash crops and fruit trees.
Then visit a brick factory before boarding a small boat for a meander through the canals and waterways of the delta. Along the way, stop at a small homemade coconut processing plant to see how coconuts have been turned into oil, candy and woven mats that are later sold in the market. After the boat trip you will have a short walk to a local village to see mat weavers at work before jumping on the delta’s version of a tuk tuk and travelling down the country roads to the pier. Here you will board a beautiful teak boat, the Le Jarai, and continue your cruise along the river. While on-board, join in the demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties. After lunch, relax on the top deck and take in the scenery back to Ben Tre where, on arrival, you will transfer back to Ho Chi Minh arriving late in the afternoon.
Enjoy one last evening in Vietnam with your family while exploring the immeasurable charm of Ho Chi Minh City’s nightlife before tucking in for the evening for a bit of rest before your flight in the morning.
Day 12: Depart Ho Chi Minh city
All things come to an end and, unfortunately, this is the end of your journey! Meet with your guide who will transfer you to the airport for your onward flight.