1 Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As you won't be spending much time in Ho Chi Minh City, we recommend arriving a few days early to see more of this incredible city. See the ancient pagodas and cathedrals near the former Presidential Palace, the historic Dong Khoi Street, and the chaotic markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Consider taking a day trip such as 'The Cu Chi Experience' with our partners Urban Adventures. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
2 Mekong Delta
Make your way to the province of Ben Tre, where you'll get on a boat to tour the canals of the Mekong Delta. This fertile area is famous for its abundance of fruit, flower and rice crops, and is known as 'the rice bowl' of Vietnam. During your boat ride you'll visit some local cottage industries and then head to your local guesthouse. Staying in simple local accommodation close to the Delta and hosted by a Vietnamese family will be one of the highlights of your trip as you get a taste of the life of a local and enjoy a home cooked meal.
3 Mekong Delta - Overnight Train
Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy some free time in Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon, perhaps visit the War Remnants Museum or Reunification Palace. This evening, board an overnight train to Tuy Hoa. Conditions are basic on these trains and hygiene standards may be lower than what you're used to at home, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers like to take some food for the journey.
4 Tuy Hoa
Arrive in Tuy Hoa early this morning for two days by the beach. Though Tuy Hoa is much quieter than its southern neighbours, you'll still find the perfect spot of sand to lay down a towel and plenty of dining options. Check out the Eglise de Mang Lang and Da Dia Reef, or head south to the Mui Dien lighthouse for a nature fix.
5 Tuy Hoa - Overnight Train
Today is all yours! Soak up some more free time on the beach. Board an overnight train late in the evening, bound for Danang (approx. 8 hours).
6 Hoi An
Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus for one hour to Hoi An. Hoi An was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is being beautifully restored. It was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago. Your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town and visit some of the city's major attractions. A sightseeing pass is included in your tour for you to visit a selection of the major sights as you wish. Hoi An is also a shopping mecca, so head down to the markets and street stalls to browse paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is famous for its tailors who can make beautiful items to order.
7 Hoi An
Go on a bike ride through the countryside near Hoi An. There's no better way to explore the peaceful area than by bike. You'll see places few tourists get the chance to see among green rice paddies and small creeks. You'll get a true insight into rural life in Vietnam.
Say goodbye to Hoi An this morning and make your way to Hue. The drive in our minibus will take about five hours, but along the way you'll stop at My Khe Beach (China Beach) and the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. You'll be travelling on the incredible Hai Van Pass, through lush mountains. Once in Hue, you'll have a free afternoon to explore. Hue was once Vietnam's Imperial capital and has a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil enclaves. Perhaps visit the Dong Ba Market, which sells everything imaginable and is a great place to spend some time.
9 Hue - Overnight Train
Enjoy a free day in Hue. Perhaps visit the Imperial Citadel which includes the Forbidden Purple City that was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam war. The gaping holes left by bombs give you an idea of how much destruction occurred in this country. Another optional activity is a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River and then a visit to Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. Here you'll see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601, and a car belonging to a monk who set himself alight in protest against the treatment of Buddhists. You may also like to visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees.
Arrive in Hanoi at about 5am and transfer to your hotel. Today you'll take a walking tour of Vietnam's charming capital. Explore the 36 streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter, including the Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem Lake and the unique architecture nearby. Hanoi has a French provincial feel remaining from its colonial times, but it also has a Buddhist influence and striking modern buildings. The rest of the day is yours to explore Hanoi as you please.
11 Da Bac
After an early breakfast, leave Hanoi around 8am and make the drive to Sung village (approximately 4 hours). Enjoy lunch at the Sung village homestay before heading out on a 6-kilometre trek (3.7 mi) through this beautiful, practically untouched landscape of rivers, mountains and rice fields. We start at 500m and maintain around the same elevation for the first 4km of the trek. We descend over the last 2km to finish at around 120m. This trek can be quite slippery after or during rain, so we highly recommend suitable footwear. Our home stay hosts can provide bamboo trekking poles on request. At the end of the trek, take a boat to Da Bia village, home to the Muong ethnic group and where you'll spend the night in a homestay.
This morning is free to make the most of your lovely surrounds and just soak up the serenity of this place – or maybe use the time soak in the reservoir instead! This afternoon, return by bus back to Hanoi (approximately 4 hours). This evening is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter.
13 Cat Ba Island
Rise and shine for the 7.30 am bus, stop for a quick break, then jump on the ferry. This morning of travel will deliver you to beautiful Cat Ba Island before midday. There's no time to waste, so begin exploring the picturesque waters around Cat Ba. You'll board a boat and spend the rest of the day cruising the breathtaking Lan Ha Bay. Located in the greater Halong Bay area, Lan Ha Bay is one of Vietnam's most scenic places, where limestone islands and caves rise from the emerald waters. Enjoy lunch on board, then get up close and personal with giant karsts in a kayak. Stay overnight on Cat Ba Island and enjoy a dip at one of the beaches and a cold beer.
Wake up in paradise, maybe starting your morning with a refreshing swim. Make sure you soak up as much sun and sand as possible, because this afternoon it's back to Hanoi via ferry and bus. Tonight you can head out for an optional last dinner with your fellow travellers.
There are no activities planned for today and you're able to depart the accommodation at any time after check out.