Day 1: Hanoi - Arrival
Our guide will meet and greet you at the airport. Drive to your hotel. Free time and relax. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi - Lao Cai (B, L) - by night train
You are met at 08:30 in the hotel lobby. There is a morning and afternoon schedule, as well as an organised lunch.
Morning: Ho Chi Minh Complex including the Mausoleum, his former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Museum; The Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070; A local Vietnamese lunch.
Afternoon: Museum of Ethnology; Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake - the Ngoc Son Temple is set on a tiny island on HoanKiem Lake, its history dating back to the 13th century; A one-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! A traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets. You will finish city tour round 17:00. Come back hotel. Transfer to Hanoi Railways Station in time to catch a night train (approximately 21:30) for Lao Cai. Stay overnight aboard the train.
Day 3: Sapa - Trekking to Ta Van Village (B, L, D)
The journey by train stops at Lao Cai train station early in the morning. Lao Cai border town is where you can gaze across the Red River to China which is just on the other side. From Lao Cai the road winds up the terraced hillsides to Sapa, which offers the stunning mountain views of the North West of Vietnam. We arrive in Sapa. We trek through this beautiful mountain region and observe the varied customs and cultures of some of the minority people. The trekking will be difficult at times with some steep uphill and downhill walking, but the spectacular scenery, with a mixture of terraced rice-fields and hill villages, makes the hardship all worthwhile. A degree of physical preparation is suggested to ensure maximum enjoyment from the walk. We spend the nights in local villages, as guests of the villagers. The facilities are very basic, but the experience is definitely unique. Our first night of trekking is spent in a Zay village called Ta Van.
Day 4: Trekking to Ban Ho Village (Homestay) (B, L, D)
We continue our trek, passing through many different hilltribe villages along the way. On our journey we meet many of the local people. Black Hmong, Tay, Red Dao and Sa Pho are some of the many minority groups who have settled in this remote region. Our second night of trekking is most likely spent in the village of Ban Ho.
Day 5: Trekking to Fansipan - Lao Cai - Hanoi (B, L) - by night train
The scenery of the north is unequalled. The Fansipan range boasts Vietnam’s highest mountain and lends an alpine feel to the areas surrounding this hill station. We complete our trekking expedition in the afternoon and return to Sapa for a well-earned rest and a proper shower! Returning to Lao Cai, we catch the overnight sleeper train for an eight-hour overnight journey back to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi - Halong Bay (B, L, D)
07:30 - 07:45 Pick up from your hotel in Hanoi. Drive to Halong Bay. Enjoy the peaceful scenery as we travel through the countryside, farmlands and Red River delta.
10:30 Stopover on the way for short break
12:30 Arrive at Hon Gai wharf - Meet the captain, crews and join us for a welcome drink, cruise briefing, safety instructions and check-in cabins.
13:00 Lunch with fresh seafood is served while cruising towards Vong Vieng floating village, passing through extraordinary shaped-islands.
15:30 Drop anchor at Vong Vieng: visit local houses, fish farm, schools and have a chat with the friendly fish men. (You also swim here if you like) The other option is to travel by kayak (passenger row kayaks for themselves). The kayaking option is $10.00 per person unless pre-booked.
17:00 Back on board, enjoy the sunset and continue cruising to Luom Bo for anchoring.
19:00 Dinner is served.
21:00 Enjoy the comfort in your cabin or night fishing… and overnight on junk.
Day 7: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B, L)
06:30 Enjoy the bay’s morning landscape with a cup of tea or coffee.
07:30 Lightly breakfast is served.
08:30 Explore the mystery of Sung Sot cave, one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.
09:30 Back on board, continue cruising, enjoy the stunning views of the Bay and relax.
10:30 Lunch is served on board while cruising back through Halong Bay to the pier.
12:00 Arrive Hon Gai wharf. Farewell.
12:30 Return from Halong to Hanoi.
14:30 Stop-over in Dong Trieu town to visit a ceramics workshop.
16:30 Arrive in Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi - Hue (B, L) - by flight
Transferring to the airport to catch morning flight to Hue. Check-in at hotel upon arrival and take refresh for a while. This quiet city is widely known for the magnificent architecture of its citadels, palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples built under the Nguyen Dynasty. We visit the major sites including the Imperial Citadel with Forbidden Royal City like in Beijing. Free shopping in Dong Ba market. Overnight in Hue.
Day 9: Hue City Tour (B, L)
Morning touring to visit the royal mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc and the beautiful Thien Mu Pagoda are not to be missed. We include these in a guided cruise on the Perfume River, which also gives us a taste of the tranquil countryside. Returning to town, we then visit the Citadel and the Purple Forbidden City. Overnight in Hue.
Day 10: Hue - Hoi An (B, L)
This morning we embark on one of Vietnam’s most spectacular road trips by crossing over the Hai Van Pass, towards Danang. We continue south to East Sea, enjoyed as an ’R & R’ spot during the Vietnam War, which lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains. We also visit these ‘mountains’, which consist of five peaks that are actually limestone with marble outcrops and are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is a rich one. They were once used by the Chams for religious purposes, but in more recent times became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world. Good footwear is essential, as the paths between the rocks are sometime slippery. Our destination at the end of the day is Hoi An. There are many street-side cafes and restaurants in Hoi An - ideal places to finish off the day by sampling the culinary delights of this town. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 11: Hoi An (B, L)
Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced down the centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by before the river silted up. Today much of it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness. The tranquility and charm of this town with its low tiled houses makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. It is a constant favourite of our travellers and staff. A walking tour takes us to see a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. During a free afternoon, you can enjoy a bicycle ride in the countryside or relax at the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 12: Hoi An (B)
Free and easy in Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 13: Hoi An - Da Nang - Buon Ma Thuot (B, L, D) - by flight
Pick up at airport in Buon Ma Thuot and drive about 80 kms to the rural village of Nam Ka before walking the final 3 kms to our home for the night. Our homestay is in Rai village, which is an Ede minority village. Our accommodation, a traditional long house-on-stilt of Ede group, is very simple but clean and comfortable.
Day 14: Buon Ma Thuot - Rai Village (B, L, D)
We are picked up at Buon Ma Thuot in the afternoon. Driving about 80 kms to the rural village of Nam Ka before walking the final 3 kms to our home for the night. Our homestay is in Rai village, which is an Ede minority village. Our accommodation, a traditional long house-on-stilt of Ede group, is very simple but clean and comfortable.
Day 15: Nam Ka Forest - Buon Triet Lake - Jatu (B, L, D)
Today, we have a full day for trekking through evergreen forest to the lovely Buon Triet lake. The trek is 18 kms but is graded easy and the temperature remains quite comfortable. We are picked up by pedal boatsand enjoy a ride across this beautiful lake before enjoying an afternoon swim. This evening is spent in Jatu villagewhere our hosts belong to the M’nong minority.
Day 16: Jun Village - Lak Lake - M’lieng Village (B, L, D)
We will take private transport to Jun village. Enjoying a ride across Lak lake by elephant to M’Lieng village. Walking around the village to discover the daily life of ethnic minority in the Central Highlands. Back to Jun village by boat. This evening is spent at a hotel in Buon Ma Thuot where you can take the delights of a hot shower. By night, you take a walk on the streets and enjoy some of the best quality coffee in Vietnam.
Day 17: Buon Ma Thuot - Kon Tum (B, L, D)
There are some interesting things to do this morning. Visit Ethnology Museum where we can see many things come from the daily life of ethnic minorities in Vietnam such as: clothes, cultivated tools, musical instruments... We continue on to Khai Doan Pagoda, the last one of Nguyen Dynasty in the Central Highlands. The architecture of this pagoda is mixed between long house-on-stilts of Ede group and traditional house in Hue. Visit Buon Ma Thuot’s bustling regional market. You can buy some souvenirs before driving to Kon Tum in the afternoon. Overnight at hotel in Kon Tum.
Day 18: Kon Tum - Kon Ko Tu Village (B, L, D)
Visit the Big Seminary, the Wooden Church and drive to Kon Ko Lor II village. Start hiking through Kon Ko Ri village, across rice and sugar-cane fields. You will meet Bana ethnic people and discover the architecture of Rong house which looks like an axe blade pointing in to the sky. Later in the afternoon, enjoy a ride on the river by rubber boat to Kon Ko Tu village. This evening is spent in Rong house that belongs to the Bana minority.
Day 19: Dakto - Plei Phun - Plei Ku (B, L)
The private transport will take us to Dak To. Walk across a suspension bridge to visit some villages of Se Dang minority. Back to Kon Tum and transport to Plei Ku. Visit Phun village, a traditional village of Jarai ethnic group with a typical cemetery in the Central Highlands. The tombs are decorated by wooden statues. Going on to T’nung Lake before checking in hotel in Plei Ku.
Day 20: Plei Ku - Qui Nhon (B, L)
Today we drive to Qui Nhon via Highway No.19 with stopover at An Khe to visit the former bases: 1st Bn 7th CAV Base Camp, 3rd Bde "Garry Owen" Base Camp, Looking West from 3rd Bde, The Barrier Line, 1/9 CAV Area and Manyang passes, having lunch on the way. Proceed to Qui Nhon. Overnight at beach resort in Quiy Nhon.
Day 21: Qui Nhon - Nha Trang (B, L)
Morning departure for the beach city of Nha Trang by Highway 1, stopping at any point that interests you along the way. Arrive at Nha Trang, check into hotel. Free evening for strolling around the city. Overnight in Nha Trang city.
Day 22: Nha Trang Island Tour (B, L)
08:30: Pick up at hotel to Cau Da port. Cruise to Mun Island by private boat (Ebony Island). Stop for one hour of leisurely snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing. The snorkeling equipment is provided for viewing the marine wildlife and plentiful coral reefs.
11:00: Visit Bamboo resort where you will enjoy excellent fresh cuisine for lunch. After lunch, enjoy swimming and relaxing on the beach of the island
14:30: Continue the fun-filled day stopping at Tri Nguyen aquarium.
15:45: Visit a fishing village where you can see the villagers at work catching cuttlefish, shrimp, flower crabs. Test your skills in a basket boat - for hire. Overnight in Nha Trang.
Day 23: Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (B, L) - by flight
Free at leisure until transferring to airport to take flight to Saigon - Vietnam’s largest city has an exciting buzz as millions of people rush around on their daily business. We’ll see the historic Reunification Palace and some great examples of French colonial architecture from the comfort of a cyclo. You will be free at the rest of day to make your own exploration to discover the city. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 24: Ho Chi Minh City - Departure (B)
Free at leisure until transferring to Tan Son Nhat airport to take departure flight onward. End of services.