On foot, in the saddle, with paddle – actively discover the length of
Whether it’s kayaking beneath towering cliffs in the sea, cycling by vibrant
green paddy fields in the Mekong Delta or trekking amongst colourful
hilltribes, this dynamic trip allows us to interact with the local people and
environment in a way we couldn’t by vehicle alone. We get a great insight
into everyday life as well as seeing all the major sights. Of course all this
activity needs fuelling, which gives us the perfect excuse for sampling the
superb Vietnamese cuisine.
* Cruise and kayak along the emerald waters and limestone peaks of Halong
* Dip into traditional Vietnamese culture by trekking through lush hill
* Walk and cycle on a tour through historic towns of Hue, Hoi An and Hanoi
* Dig a little deeper into Vietnams history by crawling through theCu
Chi war tunnels
* Sample local produce and float through the Mekong Delta by boat
Upon arrival your adventure begins in Hanoi, a city where an unstoppable
energy thrives alongside traditional Vietnamese culture and a colonial charm
permeates the broad tree-lines boulevards, most noticeably from the faded
French architecture. The leader will of course be on hand to point the group
in all the right directions, so whether youre buying baguettes and
inexpensive coffee from the grand doorways of a past era, drifting alongside
Hoan Kiem Lake or roaming the animated streets, Hanoi offers a delicious
first taste of Vietnamese culture. Even crossing one of many manic roads
serves as a memorable experience!
This evening there will be a welcome briefing with your leader followed by an
optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
*May de Ville City Centre Hotel or similar*
To Da Bac; trek through Dzao Tien country; overnight in hill-tribe longhouse
This morning we transfer (approx. 4 hours) to Hoa Binh Province. Travelling
up and over the Truong Son Mountain Range affords lush green views, serving
as the perfect precursor of the scenery for the following days. We journey to
the peaceful Sung Village, the home of approximately 70 Dzao Tien ethnic
Upon arrival, we will be served lunch cooked by a local family before heading
off on an afternoon trek where we will learn about traditional agriculture
and also visit a limestone cave and an ancient tea plantation. We will spend
the night staying with a family and have the chance learn more about rural
life in this beautiful part of the country.
*Sung Village Homestay*
Trek amongst hill-tribe villages
By now the beeping and bustling of Hanoi will be a faint memory, and the day
is spent delving deeper into this slice of rural paradise. After an early
breakfast, we start our trek. Walking for approximately 5 hours we will pass
through a picturesque valley made of quilt-like rice terraces, palms and
small villages. Were also rewarded with fantastic views of the Da
Reservoir and its turquoise waters. We will arrive in the village of Da Bia
in time for lunch served by a Muong family that we will be staying with.
There will be some time near the end of the day free for those who might like
to swim in the reservoir or choose to hire a kayak and explore a little
*Da Bia village Homestay*
Boat to Thung Nai; Hanoi city tour
A short walk this morning will take us to the reservoir where we will board a
private boat for our journey (approx. 1-1.5hrs) to Thung Nai harbour. Well
stop for lunch and if time permitting, have the option of visiting the Muong
ethnic minority museum to learn a little more about one the main ethnic
groups of the area.
On return, our city tour of Hanoi introduces the many layers of Vietnamese
culture and history. Sites include Hoa Lo, the Temple of Literature, and the
Old Quarter, the centuries-old soul of Hanoi. Stepping into this commercial
labyrinth is not as confusing as it first may seem, but only once you realise
that its 36 streets indicate the type of products sold. So why not
take a turn down Silk Street, Souvenir Street or even Gold Street? The
remainder of the afternoon/early evening is free, perhaps to enjoy the view
from a lakeside caf. If you wish to opt for an optional activity, your tour
leader can arrange a viewing of the famous water puppets, an art form dating
back to the 11th century where folktale and legends are playfully recounted
among the sounds of wooden bells, bamboo flutes and cymbals.
*May De Ville City Centre Hotel or similar*
To Halong Bay; cruise/kayak; dinner and overnight on boat
After an early start, we transfer (approx. 4 hours) to Halong Bay where a
boat awaits us, ready to cruise along the legendary Halong Bay, otherwise
known as where the dragon descends into the sea. Legend has it that
Halong Bays islands were formed by a dragons plunge into the waters.
Carving crevasses on its way, the dragon left what is now roughly 3000
exquisitely eroded limestone peaks rising from emerald waters. Soak up the
enigmatic atmosphere this karst scenery creates, before kayaking to places
inaccessible by boat (weather permitting). A sea food lunch is served on
board, and the evening is yours to unwind upon tranquil waters. The night is
spent in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.
Cruise then return to Hanoi; overnight train to Hue
As the boat continues to cruise along the majestic peaks, there will be new
opportunities to immerse ourselves in Halong Bays mystical quality. After
returning to port, we will transfer to the train station in Hanoi and board
the Reunification Express for the overnight train ride to Hue (approx. 13
hours). The overnight train journey is a great way to travel like the locals
and really experience Vietnam.
Sightseeing by private bus in Hue
Arrive in the morning in the cultural and historical centre of Vietnam, Hue.
Brimming with charisma, Hue has impacted several poets in its time and serves
as a reminder of Vietnams imperial glories. Today we take a bus transfer
to the Imperial Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda to peep into the life of Nguyen
emperors. With walls six miles in length, the Imperial Citadel is the most
outstanding sight in town. We will explore the palaces, halls of the
Mandarins and the remains of the Forbidden Purple City, once only open to the
emperor, his eunuchs, and of course his concubines.
The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax and enjoy at leisure.
*Park View Hotel or similar*
Visit Tu Duc Mausoleum; drive to Hoi An
This morning after breakfast, we take a transfer by bus to visit Emperor Tu
Duc’s Mausoleum. Standing amidst a lake and a boundless pine forest, this
tomb is deemed the most extravagant mausoleum of the great Nguyen Emperors
and one of the most beautiful pieces of royal architecture in Vietnam.
Following this, a 130km drive to Da Nang will pass through the beautiful
peninsula of Lang Co, situated between the crystal waters of a lagoon and the
Eastern Sea, as well as the awe-inspiring Hai Van pass, known as the Pass
of the Ocean Clouds. Once in Da Nang, climb the Marble Mountains and
uncover the large caves used by the Viet Cong as a hospital base during the
war. Rewarding views stretching over My Khe beach and the surrounding
countryside will be waiting for you once you reach the mountain peak, the
latter of which makes up our next home for 2 nights, Hoi An.
*Le Pavillon Hoi An Boutique Hotel or similar*
Walking tour of Hoi An; free afternoon
Embrace the sleepy ambience seeping through Hoi An on our walking tour
(approx. 3-4 hrs) of Vietnams original European trading port town dating
back to the mid-16th century. Often described as a living museum, Hoi An
boasts more than just grace and atmosphere. Wooden merchant houses and
pagoda-style temples line the streets, architecturally reflecting the
Japanese, Chinese and European influences on the town.
The afternoon is free to enjoy what many call their favourite town in
Vietnam, and its easy to see why. Take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River,
relax by the riverside, meander around the thriving riverside markets, or
indulge in shops famous for their silk. Alternatively, why not hire a bike
and make your way through Hoi Ans pretty countryside towards Cua Dai
beach, past markets, schools and villages (5km). There may also be the option
to spend the afternoon kayaking through the coconut-palm lined canals in Cam
Thanh village for those keen.
(Walking tour approx 3-4 hrs)
*Le Pavillon Hoi An Boutique Hotel or similar*
Fly to Saigon; afternoon visit Cu Chi Tunnels
Transfer to Da Nang airport and fly to Saigon (approx. 70 mins), a city full
of chaotic thrills. Please be aware that as Saigon is located in the south,
it is likely to be much warmer and humid than the north of the country.
Upon arrival into Saigon, a 1.5 hr drive will then take us to the Cu Chi
tunnels. Crawl through the infamous and intricate system of tunnels and
experience the spirit of guerrilla warfare! Used by the Viet Cong during the
war for its escape routes as well as living quarters, the network covers 3
levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Although they were traditionally
very narrow, they have now been widened to allow an extensive exploration of
the system. Even so, claustrophobes should feel free to bask outside in the
sunshine if they do not wish to take part!
*Huong Sen Hotel or similar*
Cycle ride to Cai Be; visit handicraft workshops; drive to Can Tho
Arrive in the small market town of My Tho after a 1.5 hr drive. After hopping
onto our bikes we will follow the Mekong River through quiet back roads
towards Cai Be (approx. 30 km). Known as the rice bowl of Vietnam, the
Mekong Delta produces the majority of Vietnams tropical fruits, some of
which you will have a chance to sample, as well as sugar cane and coconuts.
Transfer back to Can Tho to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this quiet
riverside town, or explore the maze of backstreets and wide boulevards.
*TTC Can Tho Hotel or similar*
Boat trip to floating markets; cycle ride; boat trip to island homestay
Early start for a boat trip along the Bassac River towards Cai Rang, the
largest and liveliest floating market in the Delta. Float through a maze of
boats, rife with fruits, vegetables and plants and watch the techniques
locals use to make a living. One includes attaching their produce on to long
poles and hanging them above the boat, enabling them to showcase their items
to buyers from all angles and distances. Since youll be witnessing
authentic trading in full swing, there will be countless opportunities for
you to capture traditional scenes on camera.
Afterwards, we cycle to Vinh Long through rural villages and scenic
landscapes (approx. 40 km). Reaching the end of the day, we will be
transferred by motor boat to an island in the middle of the Mekong River for
overnight at a simple homestay guesthouse built in the style of a local
house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
Cruise to Cai Be; to Saigon for afternoon city tour
Cruise by boat along the Cai Be Floating Market and stop to visit small
cottage industries manufacturing local products such as popped rice, sweets,
pancakes and wine.Recently, Cai Be floating market is becoming less crowded
and smaller as fruit trading is mostly now done by trucks due to the bridge
being built. However, this is still a great opportunity to see a local market
and the trade being conducted traditionally on a smaller scale.
Return to Saigon, a city once devastated by the Vietnam War, and now a
bustling free market city. A combination of old and new diversifies the city
with temples standing defiantly among zooming scooters and modern
developments. The Reunification Palace is one of the stops on our city tour,
famous for its 1960s architecture and slightly garish appeal as much as its
association with the fall of Saigon in 1975. Another stop is the War Remnants
Museum, housing a vivid collection outlining the horrors of modern history
and warfare and effects on innocent civilians. Be aware that these records of
the Vietnam War are often very graphic and distressing.
Heading to the romantic Catholic Notre Dame Cathedral throws yet another
light on Saigon.
*Huong Sen Hotel or similar*
Free time before departing Saigon to fly to London
For those on the group flight, this usually departs in the evenig and arrives
in the UK the following day. You are free today to relax or go ahead with
individual sightseeing. Either way, the city is yours to enjoy sample the
street food, bargain your way through local markets, indulge in modernized
shopping malls, or simply engross yourself in the whizzing motion that is