Day 1: Australia –– Hanoi, Vietnam
Depart Australia for Hanoi. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to the hotel for check in.
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (B,L)
This morning, you’ll be on a half day tour to discover the most outstanding attractions of Hanoi. First, pay a visit to Cho Hom, the vibrant city market and get caught up in the lively atmosphere. This is where the city dwellers come daily to purchase the local food, fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, seafood, meat, and household appliances. Then, continue on to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, Ho Chi Minh Complex (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda) and Tran Quoc Pagoda, one of the oldest pagodas in Vietnam. The rest of the day is at leisure. Why not explore the Old Quarter for shopping, bars and restaurants.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Hanoi Street food (Dinner included) – Enjoy a walk around the Old Quarter in the afternoon and appreciate the local lifestyles as you wind through Hanoi’s streets. Taste Northern Vietnamese delicacies such as: stuffed pancake, banh my, stuffed sticky rice balls, the unique egg coffee and many more.
Day 3: Hanoi (B)
Today is a day of leisure to explore Hanoi.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Wake up today the local way! This unique gives you the option to see Hanoi in another light. Rise early to find yourself among thousands of locals doing Tai- Chi and exercise around Hoan Kiem Lake. A stark contrast from the bustling city after 7:00 a.m., this time gives you a fresh perspective on the peaceful city. Continue on to try Pho Bo—beef noodle soup—at a local restaurant, located just a seven-minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Pho Bo is loved by both locals and tourists and is the typical national dish. It is made from fresh beef served with fresh rice noodles in a tasty hot beef broth with various types of seasonings. Eat like the locals do—add some slices of hot chilli and squeeze a lime wedge or vinegar into your pho, and enjoy the distinctive taste of the spicy, tangy broth. Stroll to the Roman Catholic Cathedral, just a few minutes walk from the restaurant. This city landmark was built by the French in late 1880s in the Neo-Gothic style, beautifully designed with stained-glass windows and a high-vaulted interior. Stop at a sidewalk and take a seat like the locals do, and enjoy an iced lemon tea and some roasted sunflower seeds, or slowly sip a cup of hot jasmine or lotus tea, watching the people pass you by on their way to work. Head back to the hotel where the rest of the day is yours to enjoy.
Optional Tour (at own expense): A half day water puppetry village. Although metropolitan Hanoi is truly impressive, there is another side that is waiting to be discovered. This half day option is exclusively designed to connect you with the city vicinity and offer you an enjoyable way to view daily life and familiarise yourself with the culture of the Vietnamese people who populate the region. Dao Thuc is located just a short drive away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s city centre. This lesser known village whose origins date back to the foundation of the art of water puppetry still remains very traditional. During your exploration, you will have a chance to admire not only the charming rice fields, local houses, gardens, and interact with friendly local working in their farms… a beautiful village with poetic scenery, charming rivers….but also a water puppet show performed right where this art form originated!
Day 4: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B,L,D)
Today you will travel by coach through the rich farm land of the Red River Delta to arrive at Halong Bay. Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1994, Halong Bay’s spectacular scatter of islands, dotted with wind- and wave-eroded grottoes, is a vision of ethereal beauty. Upon arrival you will board a ship to visit the thousands of limestone islands filled with caves of all shapes and sizes. The sails of junks and sampans gliding along the clear and emerald waters of the bay form a magnificent scene that blends into the sky. You will also have the opportunity to visit some of the hidden grottoes beneath the towering cliffs.
Day 5: Halong Bay – Hanoi (B)
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and enjoy the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands, a sight not to be missed, especially if you are into photography. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for breakfast and take advantage of the sundeck , admiring the amazing rock formations of Halong Bay. Your driver will meet you at the Halong jetty to drive you back to Hanoi.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Halong Seaplane – A unique vantage point to appreciate the vastness and beauty of Halong Bay’s incredible limestone by air in 25 minutes. Witness with your own eyes the panorama of the famous film “Indochine”. Combined with a wooden junk cruise, you’ll truly get to appreciate the awe of this beautiful bay, before returning back to Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi (B)
Enjoy the day at leisure. Perhaps take part in one of our incredible optional tours.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Hoa Lu & Tam Coc Day Trip. Hoa Lu had been the imperial capital of many dynasties in history. Due to the natural location surrounded by mighty mountains and deep water, the citadel was considered to be the “Great Wall” of Vietnam. In the morning, arrive in Hoa Lu and start exploring the ancient kingdom, home to a thousand year-old buildings. Visit the famous temples worshipping the kings of Dinh & Le Dynasties, before proceeding to Tam Coc. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch before embarking on a boat trip to witness the exquisiteness of the karst formations and caves. We will travel back to Hanoi in the late afternoon. Please note – lunch is included if you buy this option
Day 7: Hanoi –– Hue (B)
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to Noi Bai airport to catch the morning flight to Hue. On arrival in Hue airport, you’ll be transferred to your hotel.
The afternoon tour offers an insight into the historical city, starting with a visit to the Imperial Citadel. This was the centre of power for the Nguyen Dynasty who ruled between 1802 and 1945. Here, we will visit Flag Tower, Noon Gate, Nine Dynastic Urns, Nine Holy Cannons, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Forbidden Purple City. Later, we will board a boat for a wonderful trip on Perfume River and a visit to Thien Mu pagoda. Call in on the vibrant Dong Ba market on the way back to the hotel. The remainder of this afternoon yours to enjoy.
Day 8: Hue – Hoi An (B)
Enjoy the day at leisure. Perhaps take part in one of our incredible optional tours.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Phuoc Tich Old Pottery Village. The tour is crafted to offer you a chance to visit an old village that is located away from the main touristy sites, and will give you the opportunity to interact with the locals at their homes and farms. Your guide will pick you up at the hotel for a 45 minute scooter ride to Phuoc Tich village. Alternatively, if you don’t want the ride, a car with a driver can be provided instead for your convenience. Upon arrival, we will drive around the village to visit the ancient houses and view traditional handcrafts such as rice flour making and hand-made pottery (nowadays, the production has not been as frequent as before. Your guide will help you learn more about this history). Take a break and walk around the village to view the charming scenery, communal houses, river wharf’s, and Cham culture vestiges that remain. Meet and talk with locals. By strolling along O Lau River, the village facilitator and your guide will help you get to know more about the village, as well as O Lau River’s geographic location, which is one of the three largest rivers in Hue leading to Tam Giang Lagoon, and also the biggest one in the Southeast Asia region.
Transfer back to the hotel to check out, before embarking on the next part of your day.
This afternoon, leave Hue behind you as you make your way to Hoi An. Today’s trip takes you over the famous Hai Van Pass which crosses over a spur of the Annamite Range that emerges from the west and juts into the South China Sea, forming the Hai Van Peninsula and the adjoining Son Tra Island. The pass, which once formed the boundary between the kingdoms of Dai Viet and Champa, also forms a boundary between the climates of northern and southern Vietnam, sheltering the city of Da Nang from the “Chinese winds” that blow in from the northwest. For example, during the winter months (November– March), weather on the north side of the pass might be wet and cold, while the south side might be warm and dry. On the other side of the pass, you will be transferred to the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Hoi An, a place that is holds a unique blend of culture, cuisine and architecture. After checking in to the hotel, you will have the remainder of day to enjoy at leisure.
Day 9: Hoi An (B)
Today you will explore Hoi An on foot, visiting an old merchant’s home, Hoi An Market, a local Chinese temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge was first constructed here in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters. Over the centuries the ornamentation has remained relatively faithful to the original Japanese design. The French flattened out the roadway for cars, but the original arched shape was restored in 1986. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to wander through the town or relax at one of the many cafes along the picturesque Thu Bon River.
Day 10: Hoi An (B)
Free day at leisure – continue exploring the Ancient Quarter or head to the beach/swimming pool to relax.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Hoi An Eco &Photo Tour (S.I.C) This half-day tour brings you out of town to discover the countryside life. Start by boarding a coach to the Thu Bon River. You’ll have a chance to learn how to fish like the locals. Climb aboard a bamboo basket boat and paddle through the small canals of the mangrove palm forest, whilst learning the technique of catching crabs. Take a leisurely walk through coconut Cam Thanh village and discover how thatched houses are made of palm leaves. Enjoy a delightful lunch or dinner at a local restaurant before being transferred back to your hotel.
Day 11: Hoi An – Danang – Nha Trang (B)
Today you will take a day train to Nha Trang, a famous beach city of Vietnam. On arrival, the remainder of the day is at leisure. Why not explore the buzzing nightlife, plentiful seafood restaurants or souvenir shopping at the night markets.
Day 12: Nha Trang (B)
Enjoy a free day of leisure.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Island tour – Begin your tour making your way from your hotel to Cau Da port. Tri Nguyen Aquarium on Mieu Island is the first place we’ll visit, followed by Mun Island. This is the best island for snorkelling and will give you the best chance at seeing a variety of colourful corals and fish. See the caves that line the islands, before relaxing, swimming or participating in a number of water sports at your next destination Mot Island, Tranh Beach Island or a small island calling “Mini beach”. Enjoy a fresh lunch at the island, before visiting a local fishing village on your way back to Nha Trang.
Day 13: Nha Trang – Da Lat (B)
After breakfast, we will travel overland to Da Lat, the “City of Eternal Spring”. Along the way, we’ll have the chance to see a large Catholic church, another reminder of the French influence that remains here. Admire the rice paddies, vegetable patches, tea plantations, pine forests and gently sloping hills that will pass us on our journey. Arrive in Da Lat at around noon and enjoy a short break before the next part of the day begins.
This afternoon’s tour covers most of Da Lat’s main attractions. Start with Chua Linh Phuoc and admire its amazing architecture and huge collection of Buddha statues. Transfer to Trai Mat nearby, where you’ll board a 30-minute train ride toward to Dalat’s crémaillere (cog railway) train station, one of the city’s main symbols. Established by the French in the early 20th century, the railway linked Dalat to Thap Cham before ceasing operation in 1964 due to Viet Cong attacks. Transfer back to the hotel where your guide will conduct a round table talk about the Last King of Vietnam.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Home-hosted dinner – This option offers a special chance to visit a local family, interact and share dinner with them. By doing this we’ll have an insight into Dalat and learn more about how the local people live their life. At 6:30 pm our host will pick us up at the hotel. Once in their home we are introduced to all members of the household. This could be the first time we’ll be shown a house in details and when we come back to the living room the host will share the family stories about their job, their beliefs and tradition. Different from the restaurant meals, dinner tonight is what the local eat daily. Sit down and enjoy it with all the family members. We’ll leave around 9 pm for our hotel. Because of its pleasant temperate climate, beauty of its surroundings of lakes, waterfalls, and pine forests that we’ll see on the way back, this area becomes popular with the French after 1912 as a cool retreat from the heat of the plains. Dalat became known as “Le Petit Paris”.
Day 14: Da Lat (B)
Today you are free at leisure or you may choose to take the optional tour that focuses on Dalat’s agricultural production.
Optional Tour (at own expense): Da Lat Village Life tour. Dalat is well-known not only as the summer hill station but also as the flower, coffee centre and home of the minority people. This activity is exclusively designed to take you out to the vicinity and offers you the insight into the life of people who live in the highlands.
Schedule: At 8 am the bus is ready for those who signed up for the optional. We first stop at a large greenhouse to learn about flowers growing in Dalat. Greenhouse growing has greatly enhanced the economy of the region. Then, we’ll move to the weasel farm to study the next topic of how the famous Dalat’s coffee is produced. So many of the homes in the highlands have yards with coffee beans spread out on the front yards. We’ll make stops here in the coffee fields, giving us the chance to see the beans up close. Next, we’ll travel by car further to visit a Montagnard village of Buon Chuoi to meet the Chill people, a hill tribe that practices subsistence farming. When we come closer to the village, the uphill grade becomes great and we’ll transfer from the bus to a tractor-like truck. Once we are in the village, we’ll be welcomed by the local friendly Chill who speak different language than Vietnamese. After passing a school, we’ll stop to visit the village chief who shows his great hospitality and shares with you so many interesting stories. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll be dropped off at the central market so we could experience the market place.
Day 15: Da Lat –– Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Today is free at leisure before your transfer for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, we’ll be picked up and driven to the hotel check in.
Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Cu Chi Tunnels (B,L)
After breakfast, you will have a half day tour of Ho Chi Minh City with highlights such as, Notre Dame Cathedral, Post Office, War Remnant Museum and soaking up the atmosphere at Ben Thanh market, one of Ho Chi Minh’s liveliest areas. In the afternoon we continue on to Cu Chi Tunnels. During the Vietnam War, guerrilla fighters built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels, using them to hide in during bombing raids and to stage surprise attacks. Today, the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction, giving visitors a unique understanding of what life was like during the Vietnam War.
Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta (Can Tho) (B,L)
Today you leave Saigon and travel to the Mekong River Delta. Enjoy an early breakfast at the hotel before driving to the riverside town, Cai Be. Along the way, stop at a candy factory and orchard garden, where you have an opportunity to listen to traditional music. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at a riverside restaurant, then cross the Mekong by motorised boat to visit some fluvial islands and explore the countryside by bicycle. Your driver and will meet you at Vinh Long jetty and take you to Can Tho City for the night.
Day 18: Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating Market – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Wake early and leave the hotel to visit the famous Cai Rang floating market by motor boat. Continue the boat ride to visit the Mekong Delta’s famous orchards and sample the fresh, exotic fruit. Then venture deeper into the country side, passing traditional houses made of wood and palm leaves as you observe the activities of the local people. Return to Can Tho for lunch then drive back to Saigon, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 19: Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Today you are free at leisure to further explore Ho Chi Minh City at your own pace, shopping or simply relax at the hotel.
Optional Tours (at own expense):
Vespa Adventure Tour – Discover Saigon’s nightlife on the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. You will be picked up at your hotel and start off your amazing night with some cocktail and appetiser at Café Zoom. Afterwards, enjoy some Saigon’s best authentic local food, followed by a stop at a Vietnamese-style coffee shop featuring live music. Your perfect evening will be wrapped up at an exciting music bar where local people party.
Saigon Unknown Parts – Join us on a guided tour to discover the lesser known parts of Saigon. To get us started we will board a coach for 20 minute drive to the Saigon riverside in District 3 where we find a local floating fruit market. Walk along to learn about a variety of tropical fruits grown in the Mekong Delta and transported here daily by boats. The exploration also includes the colourful flower market nearby. From here we will walk along the narrow alleys of the Old Saigon, stopping at a special local cafe where the owner still prepare the coffee in the way as it was decades ago. Take a cup while interacting with the locals all around then transfer back to the hotel.
Saigon at Dawn – Experience the lives of the local Saigonese community with a walk throughout the park. Whilst there, witness the morning rituals that people perform to start their day, from Tai Chi to bird cafes. This walk is sure to further immerse you in the local life of Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 20: Ho Chi Minh City –– Australia
Today you are free at leisure before your transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Day 21: Australia
Arrive home in Australia this morning.