Uncover Vietnam from South to North

12 Days / 11 Nights

  Ho Chi Minh City - Hoi An - Hanoi

12 Days / 11 Nights

Uncover Vietnam from South to North

  Ho Chi Minh City - Hoi An - Hanoi

Discover the ‘real’ Vietnam on this 12-day journey travelling from south to north. Visit three of the country’s most fascinating destinations and explore the urban hub of Ho Chi Minh, wander through the enchanting streets of Hoi An and immerse in the bustle of Hanoi. Through numerous fun activities, from organic farming to lantern making and mask painting, delve deeper into the heritage and culture of the country. End this thrilling adventure in one of the world’s most spectacular places, Halong Bay, and be blown away by the awe-inspiring landscape of towering limestone formations.

 

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Experience Vietnam’s fascinating culture in three captivating destinations
  • Visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels and learn about their role in the war
  • Explore the picturesque town of Hoi An
  • Discover local lifestyles through several fun activities, including farming and lantern making
  • Indulge in the delectable flavours of Vietnamese cuisine on several foodie adventures
  • Soak up the scenic beauty of Halong Bay on an overnight cruise through the towering limestone islands

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Professional and fluent English-speaking guide
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers and entrance fees according to program
  • Boat cruise and activities as mentioned in program
  • Water bottles

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Ho Chi Minh City

DAY 1 - Ho Chi Minh City

Good morning Vietnam! Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, transfer to the hotel and spend the rest of the day strolling around this dynamic city, formerly known as Saigon.

DAY 2

DAY 2 - Ho Chi Minh City

Start the first full day exploring the cultural and creative side of the city by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Museum of Fine Arts. This stunning French-inspired mansion is home to an impressive collection of some of the finest artworks in Saigon. Enjoy a walk around the museum and admire fascinating artworks from some of the regions most talented artists.

Continue the creative journey at a local artist’s house which has been turned into an art gallery. Talk with the owner to uncover her story and passion for teaching local youth to paint. Next, get creative and experiment with different colours and styles in a glass bottle painting workshop, creating a personal and unique souvenir.

After a morning of artistic excellence, indulge in the vibrant flavours of Vietnamese cuisine at a homemade lunch. Take the afternoon to relax; explore the city independently; or join an optional city excursion, touring some of Saigon’s main landmarks, including the Vietnam War Remnant Museum, the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral and a local market.

In the evening, get ready for a culinary adventure in the heart of Saigon. Delve into the flavours of the South, tasting a variety of dishes, including freshly grilled beef wrapped in tender and peppery wild betel leaf, fresh spring rolls and even rice paper pizza! Snack on banh xeo, a savoury pancake, and try some local shellfish before ending the meal with one of the city’s most popular dishes – broken rice served with roasted pork, pickled veggies and a steamed egg cake drizzled with spring onion oil. Full and content, enjoy a last drink at a local night spot before returning to the hotel to sleep.

DAY 3

DAY 3 - Ho Chi Minh City

Set off from Ho Chi Minh City and embark on a scenic ride to the charming delta town of Cai Be, famous for its rustic floating communities. Along the way, stop for a stretch and visit the local Cao Dai Temple, home to a religion that blends Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and a bit of Christianity. Continue the ride until reaching Cai Be’s floating market.


By boat, meander through a maze of narrow canals, leading to a local family producing rice paper. Using age-old traditional methods, watch how the family creates their Vietnamese culinary staple.


Next, leisurely cycle around the village, stopping to visit a family who use coconut leaves to thatch roofs and two others that weave hyacinth products and make net rice paper. Then take a sampan to enjoy the charming Mekong scenery before enjoying a late lunch at a local house. For a special twist, watch a demonstration of how to make a Vietnamese favourite - banh xeo, a Vietnamese savoury pancake. End with a gentle ride aboard the boat back to Cai Be and return to Saigon.

DAY 4

DAY 4 - Ho Chi Minh City - Hoi An

Wake up fully refreshed and travel back in history with a visit to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. From Ho Chi Minh City, hop onto a speedboat and cruise along the Saigon River into the countryside, leaving behind the commotion of the city. Upon arrival, witness the ingenious and extensive tunnel network which played a crucial part in the Viet Cong’s strategic operations during the war. Some of the cramped tunnels were several stories deep and included kitchens, schools and hospitals.

Following this memorable jaunt into the nation’s past, drive through the countryside to arrive at a cricket farm. Considered a delicacy, learn how the tiny insects are raised and turned into nutrient-rich snacks. Dare-devils also get the chance to sample some crunchy crickets wrapped in spring rolls.

After these crispy appetizers, dig into a local lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant before returning to the hotel. Back in Saigon, pack all bags and head to the airport for a flight to Danang.

From Danang Airport, transfer to Hoi An an exciting UNESCO heritage town to explore over the following two days.

DAY 5

DAY 5 - Hoi An

Start the day by taking a short trip to Cam Thanh Village, a small community located on the outskirts of Hoi An and stop by a local family’s home. Get the opportunity to talk to them and learn about their lifestyle before hopping onto a bamboo basket boat to paddle through a water coconut forest. Next, swap the bamboo basket for a bigger boat, and cruise down the Thu Bon River taking in the stunning riverside scenery before arriving back in the ancient town of Hoi An.

Once a major trading port, the charming coastal town boasts a variety of stunning and well-preserved architecture, ranging from Chinese temples to colonial-era buildings. Wander through the picturesque streets, lined with vibrant yellow houses, and embark on a tour of some of the town’s most remarkable structures, including the Chinese-inspired Chua Ong Pagoda, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the Jinshang Temple and the 200-year old Tan Ky House. Stop at the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge and admire this historical masterpiece before taking a break at Reaching Out Tea House, a social enterprise that provides opportunities for people with disabilities. Freshen up with a cup of tea and continue to a local restaurant, sampling some traditional Hoi An delicacies whilst witnessing a cooking demonstration.  

Spend the rest of the day relaxing at the hotel or roaming the delightful town.

DAY 6

DAY 6 - Hoi An

Embark on a scenic bike ride, cycling along village roads and paddy fields, to the Tra Que vegetable village. Just outside of Hoi An, the village has developed into a community farming project, where local farmers grow organic veggies to supply the whole of Hoi An and nearby areas. Stroll around the lush fields, spotting different types of vegetable and herbs, and learn the traditional and non-toxic farming methods used to plant, fertilise and harvest the crops. Lend a hand and help with raking the ground and sowing the seeds before being rewarded with an herbal foot bath and massage. Next, experience a short cooking demonstration and dig into the delicious lunch made with organic vegetables from the garden – a true farm to plate experience!

After lunch, take part in a wonderful lantern making workshop. The iconic and colourful lights are ubiquitous in Hoi An, decorating the houses and streets of the quaint town. Listen to a local expert explain the historic and cultural significance of the lanterns before trying your hand at shaping bamboo stakes into form and securing them with wire threads. Pick from a vibrant selection of patterned and coloured silks to finish this unique and personal souvenir.

DAY 7

DAY 7 - Hoi An - Hanoi

Spend the last day in Hoi An relaxing on the beach and taking one last stroll through the enchanting town.  Alternatively, visit the ancient town of My Son (optional). It served as the former capital of the Cham civilisation who ruled central Vietnam from the 2nd to 13th century and is still home to vestiges of the once extensive kingdom.

Back at the hotel, pack up and leave for the airport to catch a flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival in the Vietnamese capital, enjoy a tasty dinner at KOTO. Short for ‘Know One Teach One’, this restaurant-cum-social enterprise aims to empower disadvantaged youth by providing career training opportunities.

DAY 8

DAY 8 - Hanoi

Begin the day with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the final resting place of the revolutionary leader who led Vietnam from French colonial rule to independence. After passing away in 1969, Uncle Ho’s body was preserved for posterity and can be witnessed at the mausoleum. Wander the extensive outside grounds and visit some of the nearby landmarks, including the One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace and the Temple of Literature, a 11th century relic dedicated to Confucius.

Enjoy an authentic Vietnamese lunch and take a leisurely stroll down grand Phan Ding Phung Street. Lined by large trees and impressive French colonial mansions, the boulevard is one of the most charming streets in the city. Continue this city exploration and stop at the imposing Cua Bac Church before wandering over to the royal citadel’s last remaining gate, Bac Mon.

Return to the backstreets of Hanoi’s Old Town and visit the very last family still producing traditional handmade papier-mâché masks at their workshop. Dating back many centuries, this craft is increasingly replaced by cheaper alternatives, resulting in the decline of this unique tradition. Listen to the inspiring stories of the owners before getting creative and trying your hand at painting a personal mask.

After finishing this masterpiece, kick back on a cyclo and whiz through the ‘Old Quarter’s 36 Streets’. The names of the individual streets reflect the different guilds that were once concentrated there, such as Silver Street or Silk Street.  

DAY 9

DAY 9 - Hanoi

Embark on a journey into the peaceful countryside and visit a 30-year-old tea plantation in Ri Village in the district of Ba Vi. Explore the lines of tea trees and help a local family harvest the leaves, learning how to pick the best parts. Get to know owner and war veteran, Mr Duoc, a who will explain the process of transforming the raw leaves into the delectable tea. Listen to his captivating stories, from tea to his time in the war, whilst savouring a cup accompanied by some homemade snacks.  

After this excursion into the world of tea, continue driving into the lush countryside and visit a host family in Moc Village. Experience the country’s unique flavours in a personal cooking class and learn how to prepare several Vietnamese dishes before feasting on the finished creations.  

Fully recharged, take some time to explore the village and local workshops, from tofu production to hat making, before cycling through the lush paddy fields. Meet local villagers on the way, learn about their daily lives, and stop for a fresh mint lemon juice accompanied by a rejuvenating herbal foot soak. Finish this authentic journey into the local culture with a boat trip along Da River before driving back to Hanoi.
 
In the evening, culture lovers have the opportunity to attend the mesmerising show of ‘The Quintessence of Tonkin’ (optional), an artistic open-air performance celebrating the country’s rich history.
 

DAY 10

DAY 10 - Hanoi – Halong Bay

Wake up early and embark on a thrilling adventure to Halong Bay. Famous for its spectacular rock formations dotting the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin, it covers over 1,600 islands and islets. From Hanoi transfer to Halong City, stopping for refreshment on the way, before boarding an overnight cruise to the hidden corners of the bay. Whilst sailing deeper and deeper into the scenic limestone forest, enjoy lunch on board before engaging in different afternoon activities. As evening nears, get comfortable on the deck and marvel at the awe-inspiring seascape as the sun sets behind the limestone pillars. End the day with a freshly prepared dinner before retiring to the cabin for the night.

DAY 11

DAY 11 - Halong Bay – Hanoi

Spend the morning soaking up the incredible landscape before heading back to the harbour and returning to Hanoi.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure or join an optional street food tour, meandering the alleys of the Old Quarter on the hunt for local specialities and a last taste of the country’s mouth-watering cuisine.

DAY 12

DAY 12 - Hanoi

Pack the bags and head to the airport for a connecting flight.

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