The journey delves deeper into Vietnam lifestyle by using more homestay, by going to the trips that less tourists choose, by experiencing the local service like public train, or by getting engaged more the local belief with Buddhism and Caodaism. Beyond the cities of Hanoi and Saigon, and popular World Heritage listed Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An, stay with a hill tribe family in the upland valley of Mai Chau. Take a romantic boat trip thru a rice paddy field in Ninh Binh or switch boats at Mekong canal mazes; find yourselves local with floating market exchanging agricultural products, or find peace at the view over the huge rice field under the magical sunset over the border of Vietnam Cambodia, and so much more
The local flavor in the tour make it a journey of a lifetime.
The tour level is a bit close to adventure. There are more walking, more boat boarding, more exercise like pushing bikes, little boat swimming or arranging the picnic place.
18 days 17 nights in Vietnam.
START HANOI, MAI CHAU, NINHBINH, HALONG, HUE, SAIGON, CU CHI, TAY NINH, VINH LONG, CHAUDOC, SAIGON FINISH
13 nights hotel accommodation
3 nights homestay accommodation
1 night cruise accommodation
1 internal flights within Vietnam
1 local train Vietnam
transport in air-conditioned vehicles
small group touring
Local English-speaking guides
Items not indicated in the including should be in the list of excluding.
The tour can be done in the other way around from Saigon to Hanoi
This tour must be booked at least 7 working days in advance of your travel date
DAY 1: HANOI ARRIVE
On arrival in Hanoi, transfer to your hotel with our representatives. Get connected with your tour leader at a tour briefing and welcome drinks. The remaining time will be free at your leisure to rest or explore, discovering your own first impressions of Vietnam.
DAY 2: HANOI CITY
Learning all about the life and stories of ‘Uncle Ho’ at his mausoleum, enjoying the guard changing parade are the great and unique experience in Vietnam. Further walking in the ancient Temple of Literature will be the answer how university in a Kingdom happened a thousand year ago. Make a visit to the well know ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison and we end the day trip at KOTO restaurant where your food is cooked and served by former street children. You get your free time in the afternoon for your own exploration.
There is a lovely optional tour we often suggest to go further into by Hanoi Old Quarter on Cyclo. That’s a trip of relaxing on a rickshaw seeing a bustle life passing by your nose, passing by the ancient windows along the streets and passing by a the slow living style of Hanoians.
In the evening enjoy the water puppet show describing the cultural activities of Vietnam on water.
DAY 3: HANOI – MAI CHAU
Mai Chau is a community in Hoa Binh province, approximately 135 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh Town. It is the closest destination from Hanoi where we can and admire the superb panorama surrounded by green valley’s with spectacular karst scenery, with rice farm terraces and with stilt houses. Utmost, we meet the ethnic minority Thai people who are of very different feature to Vietnamese in language, dress, customs, etiquettes, singular blend of belief, worship and myth.
Drive to the beautiful upland valley of Mai Chau and do the two and a half hour trekking trip to the villages of La Poon, La Thia and Poom Coong to understand their culture, to meet their happy faces and to take opportunities for great cameras short on the landscape . In the afternoon, we get back to Lac Village for refreshment and spend the night at a home-stay in a Thai family, mosquito net and family spirit provided.
DAY 4: MAI CHAU – NINH BINH
Spend some hours exploring the surrounding Thai villages before enjoy a spectacular view from your bus to Ninh Binh. In Tam Coc, we take a rowing boat tour on the river which goes across the rice paddies, the karst mountain scenery, thru the caves under the mountains (still on sampan). This is one of the unforgettable moments of our trips in Vietnam. In the late afternoon, make a bike ride to explore more the beauty of this scenery of rice.
DAY 5: NINH BINH – HALONG
Sit back and relax as you watch farmers working their land on the drive to enchanting Halong Bay. Contemplate your navel while you cruise amongst the thousands of limestone islands. Enjoy the freshest seafood, the great beach, the lovely tea on board among the sunset. Find further your favorite activities like gathering at the roof top and drink, read your favorite book among the breeze and the fade run ray of a tropical region, swimming under the sky full of stars, or just do nothing.
DAY 6: HALONG – HANOI – HUE (night train)
Wake up in the morning in your own room, open the window and listen to the sound of the wave splashing into your boat. Have breakfast then start to explore further by visiting the caves and going kayaking along the streams. In the afternoon going back to Hanoi for the overnight train to Hue, the former imperial capital and a window into Vietnam’s complex past.
DAY 7: HUE
Hue with splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors, notable pagodas and the remains of the Citadel becomes one of Vietnam’s biggest attractions to tourists from all over the world, who like to explore the traditional cultural values of Vietnam. Understand further the oriental belief and ancient architecture techniques by visiting the ancient Citadel, the emperor’s tombs and the royal monuments. Royal dinner is an option to get the ambiance of a dynasty entertainment only a century ago.
DAY 8: HUE
Make a free day for your own exploration. We believe that a city full of oriental culture and values with the imperial city, monuments and fengshui arrangement, full of Buddhism spirits with a lot of pagodas, of more trees than peoples, of Vietnam specialized elegant etiquettes is a right place for your free day exploration.
Optional choice can be a cyclo tour taking you along the peaceful corners of this ancient citadel city.
DAY 9: HUE – HOIAN
Drive South to the lovely countryside and spectacular coastal scenery on your way to Hoian.
Hoian Ancient town is the living museum with charming traditional houses, temples, the iconic Japanese Bridge and especially the well preserved Vietnamese lifestyle from the 16th century. More feeling of old days will come with no-power nights (candles and lanterns instead), the night festivals, the street foods and other heavenly recipes.
Before that Hoi An town experience, the stopover at Marble Mountain will bring the enjoying of the Buddhism religious atmosphere of Vietnamese, the spectacular view to the China beach, and the cave exploration.
Check in hotel to have a rest, have a walking tour along the well preserved monuments and houses that are the hardware of the ancient town. Visit a handicraft producing center with the disadvantaged youth from the Streets organization.
DAY 10: HOIAN
Enjoy some free time in Hoi An for shopping at one of the many masterful tailors in town and further exploration like a short bicycle ride to the beach nearby.
Make an optional boat trip along the Hoai river to the land of coconut, the local farm and terraces. Party on the field with wine and BBQ among the Vietnamese countryside scenery is an unforgettable memory, before heading to Hoian Town for the fun cooking class.
An easy ride of bike to countryside to get touched more to the daily life of Hoian people. The fishing village, the rice paddy fields, the coconut lands will make the day really Vietnamese authentic. Free in the afternoon for any further exploration or just relax by a pub along the river.
DAY 12: HOIAN – SAIGON
Take a flight to Saigon, making a change from a quite city with cultural values to a bustling one with more historical imprint of the recent war.
Saigon is a very fast growing city by the dynamics and easy open mindset of its people. The ongoing changes in economy have given the city a really cosmopolitan and dynamic character, with high buildings, big roads and business spirits. However, the city remains the important corners with colonial styles, reminding stories of Saigon 40 years ago, and before, when Saigon was the capital of Indochina under French time or capital of South Vietnam, later on.
Check in hotel, take a refresh and make a walking tour along the city highlights at the city’s historic Dong Khoi Street, the former Rue Catinat, to understand more of that history.
DAY 13: SAIGON
The half day tour makes introduction on the history of the former capital of South Vietnam by the monuments and architecture like the Reunification Palace and with the stories at War Remnants Museum in Saigon. The Saigon impression would be added more colors with visits to a lacquerware factory, a Taoism temple and a huge market for Vietnamese for their daily life. In the afternoon, take it free for further city exploration on your own, or just sit back by a coffee on the the city’s historic Dong Khoi Street, the former Rue Catinat for a stronger feeling of a fastest moving city of Vietnam.
DAY 14: SAIGON – CU CHI – TAY NINH – SAIGON
This day is made by a colorful image of a special religion for Vietnamese only, and a war story full of surprises and wows. The three hour drive take you to the North of Saigon to visit a temple with a special mass of Caodaism, the combination of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. The Great temple, the colorful dress codes, the friendliness of the Caodaism followers makes the great morning. The afternoon is a simple answer on what is guerrilla war techniques as visiting fighting bulkers, the entrances, the living spaces, the hospitals, meeting rooms and schools of the Cuchi Tunnel with underground system of over 200km long.
DAY 15: SAIGON – VINH LONG
The Mekong Delta is always impressive with the natural scenery and lovely people that can only be fully discovered when traveling from place to place at a nice with a slow pace.
Heading to the wet land of Mekong Delta Basin and get inspired by Vietnam’s rural life with a day among the rivers, canals, water coconut, and orchards. Among the feeling of getting lost at the maze of water ways, your travel experience also gets enriched by the forklore music (which has been acknowledged by UNESCO as immaterial world heritage), local special dishes, or just a rest with a honey tea cup by a canal.
Overnight at the house of Mr Tam, enjoying the food cooked by his wife and the home made rice wine specially stilted by himself as a special treatment. Night life can be a visit to a neighbor or catching fire flights.
DAY 16: VINH LONG – CHAU DOC
This day is started by a trip highlight and end by another. The first one is a place named floating market, where people living along the canal maze comes to the market to sell things cultivated from their garden, and buy things for their cooking and dishes. It is absolutely on the river with hundreds of boats, big or small. More experience with this agriculture can come later with boating along the canals, visit an orchard and hear the stories of the farmers.
Get up early to adapt the Vietnamese life style, take the boat trip, have lunch with local dishes, and travel deeper into Mekong Delta, up to the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. Take a bus drive up to a mountain to see the spectacular of a rice paddy stretching to the horizon, among the sunset and the sound of daily life echoing from the rivers and canals around. This is the second highlight of the day.
DAY 17: CHAU DOC – SAIGON
Mekong is well known for rice farms but also for the fish farms, making Vietnam – America farmer war on cat fish fights which is still on. Take a boat trip to visit those floating houses with catfish farm beneath and enjoy the peace at this floating village.
If you expect to extend your trip to Cambodia, this is a great opportunity to end the tour and connect to boat trip to Cambodia which departs daily.
DAY 18: SAIGON DEPARTURE
Have a drive back to Saigon and save the last minutes for shopping before the farewell dinner.
DAY 1-2; HANOI
BELLE LA VILLE***
Belle la Vie hotel locates in the edge of Old Quarter which make s good start of walking to surroundings . Cozy decoration, spacious rooms, city or lake views, elegant furniture, friendly staff make the choice.
DAY 3: MAI CHAU
MAI CHAU HOMESTAY
The extended corner on the house of Thai minority people in a stilt house. You ‘ve got space there with soft mattress, mosquito net, sharing flush toilette, local food. Conversation is via tour guide as the hosts could usually not be able to speak English.
DAY 4: NINH BINH
THE LONG HOTEL**
The Long is small hotel but locates near the boat quay for the Tam Coc boat trip. The location helps it to have green view to the rice farm, and karst topography. Clean and standard but basic sense of decoration.
DAY 5: HALONG
Imagine this is a huge wooden boat with three stories (or four). The first is for living rooms with soft regular furniture and private flush toilette. The second is for public living room where we use for meals or resting on sofa. The upper deck is of no cover for great view and equipped with chair (or lying chairs) for relaxing, viewing magnificent Halong.
DAY 6: NIGHT TRAIN TO HUE
VIETNAM TRAIN EXPRESS
The train journeys are an experience in themselves as this is the ideal way for travelers to get around and see Vietnam at ground level. Meet some Vietnamese, see the families on the train, watching Vietnamese countryside from back views, picturing with the guards.
DAY 7-8: HUE
HUE HERITAGE HOTEL***
Hue Heritage Hotel locates in the middle of Hue city. The hotel is a mixture of Western classic wish and the pride of royal interior furniture and decoration. The hotel is marked 3 stars with clean and standard rooms, good swimming pool, and helpful staff.
DAY 9-11: HOI AN
PHO HOI RIVERSIDE RESORT***
Pho Hoi Riverside Resort locates right on the bank of Thu Bon river then it takes only 5 minutes to walk from the resort to the ancient town. Great point is the balconies viewing over Hoi An, plus the endeavor of a friendly resort.
DAY 12-14,17: SAIGON
MAY FLOWER HOTEL***
The star hotel locates near the center. Rooms are beautifully furnished by modern facilities and fitted with queen size beds. Well trained and professional staff with cool lobby site. Good breakfast with nice city view.
DAY 15: VINH LONG HOMESTAY
BA LINH HOME
Ba Linh was a real Vietcong. The homestay is to stay in his house with his wife, sons and grandchildren, enjoy the cool canal in front, swing in hammock, drink home whisky, taste special designed food, and hear his stories of his solder life
DAY 16: CHAU DOC
VICTORIA SAM MOUNTAIN*****
The 5 star standard with views overlooking the endless rice fields and with long man-made canals, luxurious interior decoration, well trained staff, enjoyable atmosphere, nice swimming pool and a good restaurant with a great view.
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We look forward to being your travel mates.
Hoang and Long