Itinerary & Map
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Take an overnight flight to Hanoi. On arrival you’ll transfer to your first night’s accommodation. Hanoi is sometimes called the Paris of the Orient, with shaded boulevards, verdant parks and ochre buildings that retain an old-world charm.
A welcome meeting is at 6pm this evening when you will meet your group leader and the rest of your family group. Please ask at the hotel reception for details.
Hong Ngoc Hotel (AAA) 2 nights (B)
Today begins with breakfast at the KOTO restuarant which is part of a program where street children can learn hospitality skills that will enable them to find employment. You can rest assured you are helping to improve lives as you eat your breakfast today!
Later take a cyclo tour through the ancient "39 Streets" to discover amazing selection of shops in the Old Quarter; silk, silver, enamel bracelets and embroidery are among the best buys and the street names bear testimony to the business conducted there; Silk Street, Rice Street, Vermicelli Street, and even Boiled Fish Street! Some of the galleries boast the works of painters from all over Vietnam.
This evening you’ll make a visit to one of the water-puppet theatres to enjoy a performance of this fantastic art form - unique to Vietnam and best seen in Hanoi. The kids will be mesmerised! (B)
From Hanoi you’ll travel for four hours by charter minibus to the coast and beautiful Halong Bay, whose name means ‘descending dragon’. The name derives from a Vietnamese legend that the gods sent a dragon to protect the people there. Arriving around lunchtime you’ll jump straight on a boat in this secluded bay, marvelling at the 2000 limestone peaks that emerge from the sea. You’ll have the opportunity to visit spectacular caves crammed with stalactites and stalagmites and, weather permitting, to swim from your boat, before spending the night on-board.
Halong Bay Junk - 1 night (BLD)
Today you return to Hanoi (approx 3.5 hours). In the evening you board an overnight train to Da Nang. Conditions on the train are basic - but it's a great travel experience where you can mix with local people. The trains typically have four or six-berth soft sleeper compartments, a sheet, pillow and blanket are provided (you may prefer to bring your own sheet sleeping bag. Most trains have dining facilities but you may prefer to bring your own supplies with you.
Berth on overnight sleeper train - 1 night (B)
Hue was once the capital of the Nguyen emperors, packed with influential people: bureaucrats, royalty, traders, astrologers and courtiers, who left behind many beautiful reminders of their times. For a fascinating look at life in Hue today, you make your way down to the Perfume River to embark on a journey by dragon boat. Explore the Thien Mu Pagoda (the Temple of the Heavenly Lady), possibly the most famous of all Vietnam’s pagodas. Legend tells of ‘fairy maids’ who predicted that a king would build a pagoda and bring great wealth to the countryside. Situated on the banks of the peaceful Perfume River, it is one of Vietnam’s best-loved buildings.
Discover the elaborate tombs of the Nguyen emperors. The tombs are situated among the houses of local farmers who grow rice, fruit and vegetables here. It is this location that gives rise to the views of the Vietnam you know from television; local farmers in straw hats working in paddy fields beneath towering palms. You’ll visit one of the seven tombs, all of which follow a similar layout: statues of mandarins, elephants and horses, a pavilion where a stele (obelisk) tells of each emperor’s glorious reign and a temple where he was worshipped after death.
Thanh Lich Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights (B)
Travelling south by bus you climb up and over the spectacular Hai Van Pass, the top of which is crowded by hawkers selling all kinds of souvenirs and people who have stopped to enjoy the magnificent view below. Approximately four hours after leaving Hue, you’ll arrive in Hoi An - a relaxed and laid-back place, where cars are prohibited from the narrow streets of the old town, preserving the atmosphere in the centre as it would have been in colonial times.
Settled over the years by a variety of nationalities, including the Spanish and Portuguese, the old town is a fascinating place to visit. The fading beauty of the beautiful shops, houses and cafés add to the charm; Hoi An is bound to be a highlight of the trip. Walking or cycling are the only ways to soak up the atmosphere of the old streets. Take a guided tour on foot and can walk down to the riverside market where fresh fish are unloaded and through the backstreets of this colourful town, past temples to the covered Japanese Bridge. Visit the Children's Hope in Action Centre and meet some local children at this community project.
The rest of your time is left free to relax in this beautiful area. You could take a taxi or make the easy five-kilometre bicycle ride through the rice paddies and shrimp ponds to Cua Dai beach. Alternatively Hoi An is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, especially if you’re looking for t-shirts, paintings or ceramics. For those interested in getting clothes tailored, this is definitely the place to shop – see Top Tips. Another good idea is to take a boat trip out to a village specialising in ceramics and boat-building (optional).
Van Loi Hotel (AAA) - 3 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx3)
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you make the short drive (one hour) to Danang and take a flight south to Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, the cosmopolitan powerhouse of the south and a fascinating mixture of old and new.
Victory Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
Today we head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. We travel south to Cai Be by private bus which takes about 3 hours. Here we board our boats to cruise the Mekong Delta and explore its intricate waterways. Often referred to as the "rice bowl" of Vietnam, the fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals.
We also visit an orchard where you can sample tropical fruits, before continuing on to visit some local cottage industries. Around sunset we make our way up one of the many canals to our homestay where we enjoy great local hospitality and a wonderful meal of local specialities. Tonight we sleep on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. The toilet and bathroom facilities are shared and with cold water only !
Life in the Delta starts with the sun so we are up early and after breakfast we visit the Cai Be floating market before heading back to Ho Chi Minh for one last night.
Victory Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
Day 14 - There are no activities planned for today and clients travelling on our group flights transfer to airport for your overnight flight home. (B)