ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam, where the movie Kong: Skull Island was filmed! Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Day 2: Story of Hanoi
Begin your Story of Hanoi with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Here, you will hear about the man who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from French colonial rule. Next, visit the imperial citadel, the apex of regional political power for more than a millennium where research and excavation is still underway. After a Vietnamese lunch, head to another 11th century relic, the Temple of Literature, which was built as an homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. You will then see the iconic Long Bien Bridge. Constructed across Red River between 1899 and 1902, when Vietnam was still ruled by the French, it is now jammed with whizzing motorbikes and an occasional passenger train chugging into nearby Long Bien Station.
The tour continues with a 30-minute cyclo tour through Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter, a place where Hanoians buy everything from noodles to light fixtures to Buddha statues. The quarter’s 36 streets were named for the products that were sold from their shops. Today, vendors on Tin and Bamboo Streets still sell the same wares. After exploring the old quarter’s shady alleyways, sip a strong Vietnamese coffee in a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake - an important symbol in Vietnamese folklore. Snap a photograph of the downtown skyline before returning to your hotel at around 4.30pm.
Day 3: Essence of Ninh Binh – waterways and karsts
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 that rises from 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 - 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. This is also where many of the scenes from Kong: Skull Island took place.
Float past poetic landscapes and rolling jungle hills that are perfect for photos, before heading back to Hanoi for arrival in the early evening.
Day 4: Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
Depart from Hanoi and travel by shuttle bus to the seaside port of Halong Bay. Transfer to Tuan Chau island to board the L’Azalee Deluxe, a beautifully restored traditional wooden junk. Settle in and enjoy the view from the water.
Lunch is served as you leisurely cruise between Cat Ba Island and Ha Long Bay, before dropping anchor for a tour through Sung Sot cave. Cruise on through to the Lom Bo Canal area to visit a local Pearl Farm and have the opportunity to purchase a unique Halong Bay gift. If you’re feeling adventurous, disembark for a spot of kayaking in the floating village.
Back on board, head on to your mooring for the evening and take part in a Vietnamese cooking demonstration from the on board chefs! Enjoy dinner on the deck and wrap up your day with a cocktail or try your hand at squid fishing.
Day 5: Transfer back to Hanoi – Overnight train to Dong Hoi, Quang Binh
Rise early to catch the sunrise over Bai Tu Long Bay while taking part in a Tai Chi class with the boat’s Tai Chi guru. Enjoy breakfast on the sundeck before cruising onward to Ti Tov Island. Your final stop at Titov leaves plenty of time to explore, hiking up to the scenic viewpoint or swimming off of the beach. On the final leg of your cruise pass by well-known karsts of Thumb Island, Fighting Cocks, the Incense Karst which is featured on the 200,000 dong note. If you have watched the movie, you will recognize many of these iconic karsts which appeared several times throughout Kong: Skull Island.
Say goodbye to the crew at the main harbour and take the private transfer about 4 hours back to Hanoi arriving late in the afternoon.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the train station to catch the train at 19:30. Your train arrives in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh at 05.25 the next day
Day 6: Phong Nha – Tu Lan – explore the Home of Kong
Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to transfer you for breakfast.
On a whirlwind, one-day trek into the heart of tropical Tu Lan, experience the epic natural majesty of Phong Nha National Park - home to the largest cave in the world, also known to be the home of Kong in the movie.
Set off on a challenging excursion visiting Hang Chuot, Hung Ton Caves and To Mo Valley. Explore karsts, jungles, waterfalls and river caves in a journey into the heart of central Vietnam’s natural phenomena. With your English-speaking guide and local jungle men from the nearby ethnic village of Tan Hoa, you will trek up to 8km through buffalo fields, dense jungle and have an opportunity to swim through an unbelievable river cave. See the immense formations of Hang Chuot (Rat Cave) before trekking to impressive Hung Ton Cave and To Mo Valley. You’ll get wet, you’ll get dirty and you’ll enjoy an awesome BBQ beside a stunning waterfall! This is a full day of adventure so be prepared!
Day 7: Flight to Ho Chi Minh city – City tour with Sky view
Your driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight from Dong Hoi to Ho Chi Minh city. Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
After relaxing at your hotel, your guide will meet you at the lobby and driven to the city’s Central Post Office, which was designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel, and Notre Dame Cathedral, the iconic landmark built between 1863 and 1880. Admired for its neo-Romanesque architecture, the cathedral is a popular backdrop for local wedding photographers. Next, stroll toward the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous Vietnam novel, The Quiet American, to the Saigon Opera House, a commanding building completed in 1901. Shelled during World War II, it was used to shelter French citizens fleeing North Vietnam in 1954, the year Vietnam earned its independence from France.
The tour continues with a stop at the Reunification Palace, where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates in 1975 to end a war that killed an estimated 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese. You will also visit the War Remnants Museum, where Vietnam’s government has assembled presentations - some of them graphic - of wartime hardships and atrocities. The tour ends with a quick visit to Bitexco Tower, the city’s tallest building, to see Saigon’s skyline and snap some panoramic photographs. Note the stark contrast between downtown and a nearby island that is still largely marshland.
Day 8: Mekong Delta - Cai Be Princess cruise
Be picked up at EMM hotel, No. 157 Pasteur, District 03 or your hotel in District 1 in Saigon at 8:00 am and transfer about 2 hours to the Cai Be jetty to board your traditional Samapan boat. Your crew welcomes you with cold towels and a refreshing drink as the Cai Be Princess sampan sets off for its leisurely cruise on the busy waterways of the Mekong Delta.
Observe a little of river life as it plays out on the banks - noting the people and the stunning landscapes - while your attentive crew serves you tea and seasonal fruit. At Tan Phong Islet board a little rowing boat to explore the canal’s hidden mangroves. Return to your sampan to visit an ancient house built in the 19th century. Make stops along the way to provide glimpses of local cottage industries, including factories for the production of coconut candy and puffed rice (the local equivalent of popcorn), products that provide a living for the river people.
Your cruise ends at Le Longanier Restaurant. Lunch is served in this exquisite colonial-style villa set in a lush tropical garden by the river, surrounded by fruit trees, giving you a sense of life during the Indochina of yesteryear. After lunch, take a short walk along a small canal, towards the Ba Bon Bridge where your personal vehicle awaits to drive you to Ho Chi Minh City. Arrive at your hotel in the afternoon.
Day 9: Depart Ho Chi Minh city
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight.