“Fall in love with the endless hidden jewels of Vietnamese culture and nature!”
In only 15 days, see the array of stunning landscape, traditional and utterly aesthetic culture, and ancient ways of life that Vietnam has to offer. Begin in the bustle of Hanoi and see how modern and ancient cultures clash, weave into one another and amalgamate. Move out into the stunning panoramas of the luscious treed countryside, and explore paddy fields, country roads, and fishing villages by foot, boat, and bike. Glide among vendors in floating markets and hike trails hidden from most tourist routes. This is a unique and special opportunity to live in the home stays of locals who are willing to share their home, food and culture with you, and to learn about the roots of the beautiful Vietnamese culture.
Your tour guides take sustainability very seriously. You will see this in the way they collect trash wherever possible to create a cleaner and more beautiful environment and to set a good example. Your group size will be limited to 10 so that they can effectively guide you on how best to treat the environment and your hosts. Small numbers also allow for your food to be provided locally and sustainably. Your hosts will cook for you, giving you a taste of traditional Vietnamese fare. Your money will go to local people to support a livelihood in tourism rather than more destructive industries. In return for learning about the delicious local food and the beautiful culture, the guides will encourage conversations with locals about maintaining clean, healthy environments.
You will stay with locals in homestays and guest houses run by local people. Learn about Vietnam as locals see it and feel the warmth and hospitality of the culture. Homestays work in rotation through the villages since this shares the wealth and experience throughout the whole village.
Welcome to Hanoi! Meet your guide at the airport and go to check in at your hotel. Settle in and rest. Today is a free day where you can explore and get some impressions of Vietnam. In the evening, you may want to attend cultural shows such as Ca Tru, Tuong, Cheo, and the unique water puppet show. If you arrive at the weekend, you can explore the vibrancy of the night market. Overnight in Hanoi.
Try to get a good night’s sleep on your first night because you will rise early today for an 8.30 am start. You will be collected and driven a little way out of the main bustle of the city to learn about the traditions and customs of the quieter Hanoi villages. Walk and cycle along the streets, visiting local markets, old houses, temples, and communal houses on the way. To whet your appetite, you will have a cooking demonstration at one of the local family homes. In the afternoon, set out from Dong Ngac on your bikes. You will be mostly riding along rural lanes, through the surrounding villages to Lien Mac, a beautiful area of immaculately tended vegetables and flowers. Here, you will have a chance to admire the colourful fields and talk to locals about their traditional farming methods. Take another route back to Lien Mac and stop at your homestay for a refreshing drink and to bid farewell to your hosts before you catch the van back to Hanoi for the night.
Wake up ready to depart your hotel at 8 am for a transfer to Mai Chau. This four-hour drive will reveal the beauty of the densely treed countryside surrounding. Arriving in Poom Coom village in Mai Chau, you will take a short walk to meet the local ethnic Thai people before you sit down to lunch. At 1 pm, you will take a car transfer to the start of your afternoon hike through the stunning Pu Long nature reserve. The trek is intermediate level and will require some walking up hills but as you will see when you reach the top, the panoramas of this landscape make it well worth it! In the late afternoon, you will arrive at the traditional stilt homestay. Take a shower and rest if you wish before your traditional meal with the homestay family.
If you are up to waking up early today, you will have a chance to see the bustle of the town as they prepare for the day’s activities. After breakfast, say a fond farewell to your host and head out around 8 am ready for a good hike. Today’s hike will take you through verdant scenery with views of gems hidden from most of the tourist trails. Enjoy views of serene valleys, luscious terraces, and peaceful villages. Stop for a picnic lunch before continuing on to reach Hieu village in the afternoon. You will have some free time to rest and settle in at your next homestay. If you are curious, take a wander around the village and get to know the locals. There is also a beautiful waterfall nearby you may wish to visit. Head back to the homestay for dinner and a good night’s sleep. If you want a night of luxury, you are welcome to stay in the local eco-lodge instead. Just let us know in advance!
Today is your last day in the nature reserve at Hieu so take some time to meander through the tranquil natural landscape and talk to the villagers. Later in the morning, you will set out on a one and a half hour hike to another town, where your van will be waiting to take you to Hanoi. Lunch at a local restaurant before you start the journey back to the city.
Depart for Ha Long Bay around 8 am. Arrive at the port around noon, and here...welcome on board! You will be shown to your cabin and have a pre-trip briefing. Enjoy a fresh, local seafood lunch while cruising the bay. Enjoy the magic of this incredible area. You will stop for a swim and visit the mysterious cave. Take time on a secluded island-beach or explore more of the bay by kayak. Later, you will return to the boat in time to watch the sunset from the top deck. Have more fresh, local seafood for dinner.
Early risers can enjoy a stunning sunrise and the utter peace of the Bay’s landscape. Have breakfast around 8 am before you head out on a short rowboat ride. Lunch on the boat as you cruise slowly back to the pier. Hit the road back to Hanoi around 5.30 pm. At around 6.30 you will catch the night train to Hue. You will share an AC soft sleeper cabin.
Begin today with a visit to the Imperial City in Hue to learn about the historical royal kingdom here. The complex and resplendent citadel is truly a monument to the country’s past. See the intricate interiors and beautiful gardens. From the citadel, make your way to your boat ride along the Perfume River and stop at Thien Mu Pagoda. Otherwise known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, this is a historic temple. Continue your boat journey downstream, watching the beautiful scenery glide by. Enjoy lunch aboard the boat. The afternoon will start with a bike ride to the village of Tien Non. Along the way, you will be surrounded by a suffusion of heady flowers. A little further on, find yourselves in Thanh Tien, a paper-flower-making village. Try your hand at making one for yourself! You will also see some traditional folk painting before riding on through the countryside of Hue. Head back to your hotel for the early evening and relax and settle down for the night.
After breakfast at the hotel, head out on a cycle ride. This is an amazing way to explore, feel a breeze on your skin, and get a feel for the area. You will visit Dong Ba Market, then explore the Royal Tombs, prioritising Ming Mang and Khai Dinh for the sublime architecture. You have lots to do today so you will not see all of the tombs but you will certainly find the highlights take your breath away. After this, you will head onwards to Hoi An. The transfer is about four hours and the route offers incredible sightseeing opportunities. There will be chances to stop at Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass, Cham Museum, and the Marble Mountains, depending on time. Arrive at Hoi An in the evening to settle down and overnight.
At 8 am, meet your guide at the hotel for a very short transfer to the docks. Take a boat ride to a small, traditional fishing village, where you will get to experience the essence of traditional life on the coast. You will learn about the preparation and process of traditional fishing: the livelihood of the locals for generations. Following this, take a basket-boat ride then enjoy a delicious lunch. Hop on your bikes and start the cycle ride down tranquil country roads, through paddy fields of rice, coconut, and corn, heading for the main town of Hoi An. Over the afternoon, you will get to explore the main sights of Hoi An. This town has been described as the most atmospheric in all Vietnam. Once a major port, the grand architecture remaining harks back to days of plenty. Where once industry ruled, it is now a town which revels in its own beauty and tourism has begun to take the place of other commerce. This can be taken as a blessing as, to preserve the beauty and draw of the city, it has remained relatively free of the traffic and pollution which subsume other cities. Head back to your hotel in the early evening to relax.
Breakfast at your hotel before a transfer to the airport in Da Nang for an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. From the airport, you will be able to check in to your hotel and drop your belongings before heading out for a tour of the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh. Begin with a visit to the Binh Tay Market in Cho Lon; stop over at Thien Hau, a 150-year-old Chinese temple; visit a lacquer-ware workshop and the stunning Jade Emperor Pagoda. In the afternoon, visit the War Remnants Museum, the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the historic Central Post Office. You will end the tour at your hotel at around 5.30 pm.
From Ho Chi Minh, you will be heading south to the river town of Cai Be, a rural district in the Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta region. Arriving around 10.30 am, you will board a boat to head through Cai Be floating market. Here, you will see life on the delta. Produce from local farmers will pass from boat to boat as daily commerce continues as it has done seemingly forever. Pass from the busy throughways to some of the towns more peaceful canals and make stops at factories to see the way pop rice cakes, rice paper, and coconut candies are made, among other things. Truly hark back to pre-industrial times by taking a ride in a Sampan boat and pedal down some of the natural waterways. Make the journey unique by stopping at local homes to try seasonal fruits grown there. Off the boat, you will take a walk through the village before heading to another traditional homestay, where your hosts will prepare you a delicious local lunch. After lunch, return to the boat and head to the quay in Vinh Long province. From here, transfer by car to Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta. Before checking into your hotel, you will visit the Binh Thuy ancient house, built in 1870 in French-style architecture.
Today will be an early start! You will head out around 6.30 am on a boat trip to visit the Cai Rang floating market in the Mekong Delta. The market opens at 5 am and runs until midday. After the bustle of the market, cruise to Phong Dien and wander along a country road to take in the quiet magnificence of the surrounding countryside. Keep on to Chau Doc with a lunch break in Long Xuyen. Late afternoon, hike up the sacred Sam Mountain for panoramic views over the vast plains into Cambodia. Your guide will tell you tales of the Vinh Te canal, which connects Ha Tien to Chau Doc. The canal brings fresh water from the Bassac river into the immense delta area. On your descent, you will see the famous Lady Chau Xu Temple and the Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb. Thoai Ngoc Hau was a Vietnamese military administrator of the Nguyễn dynasty who conducted the digging of ThoaiHa (1818) and Vinh Te canal (1819). Overnight in Chau Doc.
Wake early for a cruise through the floating village. Float on to Da Phuoc, a Muslim Cham village across the river from Chau Doc’s centre, on Con Tien Island. Here, explore the village with its famous Mubarak Mosque and watch the locals as they make a living with their traditional weaving. Head on to the Cambodian border area and visit the Tra Su mangrove forest. Floating through Tra Su Nature Reserve will show you a unique and vibrant natural habitat and conservation site. Tra Su is the home of 140 species of plants and 70 bird species. Return to Chau Doc for lunch. In the afternoon, drive through the vast rice fields of Dong Thap and Long An province to Ho Chi Minh city. If you would like to stop and walk in the fields and learn about rice cultivation, this is the ideal opportunity. Arrive back in Ho Chi Minh city for around 5.30 pm.
Breakfast at the hotel and take some last moments to absorb the vibrant atmosphere of the country. Depending on the time of your flight, you may have time to explore more of the city or go for some last-minute souvenir shopping. Take a transfer to the airport, where you will say a fond farewell to your guides and jet off home, or on more adventures!
- The price shown is a 'from' price per person
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- Price is based on double occupancy. A single supplement applies
- 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund
- Entrance fees and activity fees
- Some meals
- Local bike
- Some meals
- International Airfare
- Drinks and snacks outside of the included meals
- Personal expenses