Start: Hanoi Finish: Ho Chi Minh City
Physical rating: Low, Moderate
Special diets catered: Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour code: FQVN
Group size: 4 - 20
Family 7 - 17 Years
Tour operated in:
Extra tourhub saving: $37
Experience an exciting introduction to Vietnam as we travel along the coast from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Kayak around the island cliffs of Halong Bay, take part in a martial art lesson and cook a Vietnamese meal staying in a traditional homestay in the Mekong delta.
Hanoi - Free time to wander through the bustling narrow streets of the Old Quarter lined with shop-houses
Hoi An - Charming ancient merchant's town on the banks of the Thu Bon River
Ho Chi Minh City - Learn about the resourcefulness of the Viet Cong at the Cu Chi Tunnels, visit an underground weapons bunker and explore old Saigon's bustling back alleys
Meals: No Meals
Arrive in Hanoi. Vietnam's bustling capital is architecturally styled like a French provincial town, with tree-lined boulevards and low-rise buildings. It's a wonderful city to explore on foot.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Hanoi at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), which is 30KM, around one hour's drive from the airport. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to head to the Old Quarter, a maze of narrow lanes named after the various crafts and specialities of the city's artisans. The pavements are filled with food sellers tempting you with steaming noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights.
This morning we join our tour leader on a sightseeing tour of Hanoi, visiting the One-Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literatures and the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. The afternoon is then free to perhaps take an optional cookery class, or explore Hanoi's elegant French Quarter on foot. In the evening there is the chance to witness a remarkable performance of traditional water puppetry. Set on a flooded stage, the stories tell tales of legendary heroes and everyday life, with dragons and unicorns often sharing the stage with fireworks and naval battles.
Location: Hạ Long Bay
Leaving Hanoi after breakfast, we drive using the new expressway for a two and a half hours to the Gulf of Tonkin and the breath-taking scenery of Ha Long Bay.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visually impressive landscapes in South East Asia, Halong Bay is the setting for an overnight cruise. Boarding just after midday, set sail towards Bai Tu Long Bay. Lunch is served shortly after embarking, there is ample time after lunch to sit back and admire the towering limestone islands topped by rainforest that Halong Bay is so famous for.
We make a stop to visit a Vung Vieng fishing village by rowing boat or kayak, the choice is yours. The rest of the afternoon is spent further exploring the bay scattered with hundreds of islands and dotted with caves and grottoes. Dinner is served on board, a chance to sample fresh sea food and regional dishes, we anchor overnight in Bai Tu Long Bay.
There are between 10-18 en-suite cabins on board with a restaurant, bar and sundeck area. All bedding is provided. Please be aware, the boat may not be exclusive to our group and consequently we may be sharing with other tourists.
Accommodation: Overnight Train
Sunrise takes place around 0630, if the weather is clear it's well worth making the effort to witness sunrise over the bay. A light breakfast of pastries, tea and coffee we disembark to visit the hidden Thien Canh Son caves with numerous stalactite and stalagmite limestone formations in an impressive cavern. Returning to our boat, continue to cruise in the bay. Brunch is served on board.
Returning to Hon Gai harbor, rejoin our vehicle and drive back to Hanoi. The rest of the afternoon is free, with two day use rooms provided for the group to freshen up before we head to the central train station in Hanoi to board the Reunification Express overnight sleeper train to Hue, Vietnam's old imperial capital.
We travel in soft sleeper compartments, with four passengers sharing each compartment with all bedding provided. Please note, breakfast will not be provided on the train, it's advisable to pick up snacks for the morning before boarding the train.
Arriving in Hue this morning, we enjoy some of the highlights of this historic city including a visit to the Royal Palace with its Terracotta Warriors guarding the entrance and the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city. We also visit the house of a national champion kite flier for Vietnam where we are shown how to make traditional Vietnamese kites. Taking time to decorate our kites with iconic symbols such as dragons, birds and peacocks, we take our completed kites to the nearby Citadel grounds to try them out. The Citadel is an impressive monument that is almost 10 km in circumference with the Imperial City located in the centre of the Citadel which is more than 600m long on each side. Access to the Imperial City can be made by four entrance gates although the Noon Gate is only used for the King.
We travel to Trieu Son village which is located by the Perfume River on Hue's outskirts for a guided walk and boat ride. Our first stop is to Sinh village where we meet a local family that specializes in making wood paintings and they will teach the group how to make these traditional artefacts. We then take a leisurely cycle ride around the village and along countryside lanes to Thanh Tien village which is famous for paper flowers. Continuing through paddy fields and the Vietnam countryside, we arrive at Tien Non village where we board our cruise boat which takes us back to Hue (total cycling distance is approximately 6km). An included martial arts lesson is our next stop with a visit to a dedicated martial arts school that practices the Vietnamese art of Kinh Van, the countries equivalent to Kung Fu which is based upon defence techniques from the actions of a tiger, cobra, and bird. The owner's ancestors were chosen to guard the Vietnamese king and he now teaches this ancient art. We then travel over the Truong Son Mountains and through the Hai Van Pass, as seen on the TV programme, Top Gear, to the historic merchant seaside town of Hoi An.
Location: Hội An
The morning is free to wander through the historic heart of this World Heritage Site, taking in the wonderfully preserved buildings of what was once one of the busiest trading outposts in South East Asia. Discovering this delightful town, we recommend an early morning visit to Hoi An's fish market which presents the perfect setting for some great photographs and some priceless interaction with the locals. Visit the city's famous Japanese Bridge, before wandering through its historic collection of traditional wooden houses and Chinese temples. This afternoon you could hire bicycles and explore the surrounding countryside, experience a gentle river cruise, spend time at the beach, or grab the chance to visit some of Hoi An's famous tailor shops.
Location: Ho Chi Minh City
Our drive to Danang this morning takes us past the five peaks of the Marble Mountains, originally believed to have been islands that were said to represent the five elements of water, wood, fire, gold and earth. On arrival in Danang, we then board the morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
This afternoon we will experience a different side of Ho Chi Minh City. We make our way to District 3 by cyclo (cycle carriages with a seat at the front) and turn off the main thoroughfare and into the maze of narrow streets of this bustling district. Our walk takes us past ramshackle shopfronts, through local markets selling anything from colourful fruit to bootleg DVDs, and past houses, churches and schools, all squeezed into the small buildings that line the narrow alleys. It's a fascinating inter-connected community here that is a stones-throw from the city centre, yet feels a far cry from the modern buildings and throngs of tourists. We stop at a local stall for a traditional Vietnamese coffee (brewed coffee served sweet with condensed milk) where we can also sample 'Banh Mi' - a Vietnamese take on the humble French baguette - freshly baked and packed with a combo of traditional and more exotic, aromatic ingredients.
The walk ends the so-called 'secret weapons' bunker'. A small unassuming 'tube house' nestled in a quiet neighbourhood hides a trap door in the floor, concealing a basement stocked full of rifles, grenades and ammunition. The bunker played a key role in the TET Offensive of 1968, it was the base from which the Viet Cong's "Team 5" launched their assault, and its location was only revealed after the end of the war. We have some time to explore the house and bunker, filled with decommissioned weapons and photographs, news clippings and memorabilia from the wartime.
After breakfast this morning we head out to visit the infamous Cu Chi tunnels. First constructed by the Vietnamese during their colonial war with the French, the tunnels were later greatly expanded and went on to achieve notoriety during the Vietnam War, when they served as an underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops. Exploring Cu Chi gives some idea as to the conditions that the Vietnamese and their American adversaries had to endure (the tunnels are narrow and can be quite claustrophobic). The afternoon allows for more time in the city including an optional visit to the waterpark, a great way to cool off from the mid-day sun.
Location: Mekong River Delta
Leaving the city, we drive to the Mekong Delta and catch a boat to the start point of our cycle ride. We cycle for around 10-12 km along the flat Cai Thai village path with constant views of the delta as we wind our way around its many tributaries. The route is often shaded which is helpful to combat the humidity (the boat can pick up cyclists at various stopping points if required). Along the way, we visit Mrs Nani's home who will show us how to make rice paper in the traditional way and Mr and Mrs Chin's home who will provide refreshments that include her famous 'Banh Tieu' (traditional doughnut). We return to the boat where we have lunch on-board and sail close to our night stop. Transferring from our cruise boat to a sampan craft, which is a small traditional boat that is regularly used by the villagers to travel along the delta, we complete our journey to our homestay close by. Set in a lovely garden setting with a main lounge area and dining room, accommodation is en-suite (shower and toilet) with traditional décor throughout. After settling into our comfortable accommodation, we have a Vietnamese cooking lesson in the early evening followed by a delicious home prepared meal.
Leaving the homestay behind, cruise back along the Mekong delta passing small floating markets and soaking up the atmosphere of this unique trading point, a vast network of rivers and islands that crisscross agricultural villages, paddy fields and mangrove swamps. Bidding farewell to our boat crew, drive back to Ho Chi Minh City.
We will aim to be back at Ho Chi Minh City around 3pm. For those with evening flights, a day use room will be provided. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Saigon's Tan Son Nhat International Airport (airport code SGN). The earliest your flight can depart is 5pm.
Why not extend your trip to Indochina with three nights on the tropical white sand beaches of Phu Quoc Island? Nestled in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand this Vietnamese island is 90% national park, a thick-rainforest interior framed by idyllic white sand beaches. Easily accessible by a short flight from Hanoi, Siem Reap or Ho Chi Minh City, this is a great way to unwind after an action-packed trip in Indochina.
100's of 1000's of quality tours worldwide to search and book.
Your money is fully protected by the PTS Trust.
All payments made online are encrypted and secure.
Recieve exclusive discounts when booking through TourHub.
Explore! requires a deposit of
to secure a place on this tour, and the final balance is not due till 60 days before departure..
All payments to TourHub are deposited into an externally regulated Trust account.
1 nights comfortable homestay
7 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights comfortable junk
1 nights simple overnight train
Yes, on the first and last day of the trip only
It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.
We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.
Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us
At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.
Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.
Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners
We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.
We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.
Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.
All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.
Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.
Yes on most of our trips.
Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o
Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.
Multiple Room Types
Multiple room types available. Choose your preferred room type when you book.
Extra TourHub Saving: $37
Extra TourHub Saving: $38