Wildlife & Nature
Itinerary & Map
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Arrive in Hanoi and make your way 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.
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)
This morning you leave the city behind and head for Vietnam’s rice-bowl – the Mekong Delta, a journey of approximately three hours. Enroute visit the village of My Tho and learn about rural life. In a garden restaurant in the heart of the Delta you can sample the "elephant ear fish". Board sampans (local rowing boats) to reach the main boat. Cruise through the waterways of the Mekong, zigzagged with ramshackle ‘monkey bridges’ and busy with local traders. Disemark at Ben Tre town where you make a visit to a local candy factory, including some sampling of course!
Mekong Delta Homestay - 1 Night
Ho Chi Minh City
Victory Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
There are no planned activities for the final day and you're free to explore the city as you wish or take on of the optional excursions available. (B)