15 Nights / 16 days
Go Beyond Tour ¦16 Days¦Physical Level 3
● Mekong Delta
● Hoi An
● Halong Bay
The perfect length for a more in-depth exploration of Vietnam, start in the very south in Saigon, venturing north through Hoi An, Hanoi and Halong Bay before heading up into the highlands to spectacular Sapa.
• Drift on the Mekong Delta • Enjoy a cooking class in Hoi An • Cruise the Perfume River • Explore Hanoi by cyclo • Discover Sapa's local villages • Admire the stunning Halong Bay • Marvel at the Quintessence of Tonkin show
Vietnam Trails tour inclusions:
All sightseeing and entrance fees
All transportation and transfers
English speaking National Escort (if your group is 10 or more passengers) or Local Guides
Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Please ask our sales agent to price the International Flights
The only thing you may have to pay for are personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Itinerary – Vietnam Trails
Day 1-2: Saigon
Fly to Saigon where you will be met at the airport in the arrival hall by your Local Guide or National Escort. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, you will transfer 45 minutes to your hotel and check into your room or store any luggage if arriving before the check-in time. There is no sightseeing today. Confront the reality of guerrilla warfare at the Cu Chi Tunnels. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they did not escape damage. American B52 bombers dropped hundreds of missiles leaving huge tell-tale craters behind. The Cu Chi experience can be emotional for some visitors but offers a fascinating window into the hardship and traumas of war. This afternoon, explore modern day Saigon with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. You’ll pass the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, stroll along Dong Khoi Street, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum. Please note: The Notre Dame Cathedral will be under renovation until 2023. During this time we are unable to enter the Cathedral; however we can view it from the outside.
Saigon – Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City, but still locally known by its older name of Saigon, this exuberant city is driving Vietnam forward into the modern world, but is also a treasure trove of fascinating heritage. It was a major base of the American military during the Vietnam War, and was the seat of the South Vietnam government until the events that led to the country's reunification. Today, the old mixes seamlessly with the new and you can wander through timeless alleys to incense-infused temples before catching up with the present in designer malls beneath sleek skyscrapers.
Day 3: Saigon
Confront the reality of guerrilla warfare at the Cu Chi Tunnels. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they did not escape damage. American B52 bombers dropped hundreds of missiles leaving huge tell-tale craters behind. The Cu Chi experience can be emotional for some visitors but offers a fascinating window into the hardship and traumas of war. This afternoon, explore modern day Saigon with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. You’ll pass the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, stroll along Dong Khoi Street, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum.
Please note: The Notre Dame Cathedral will be under renovation until 2023. During this time we are unable to enter the Cathedral; however we can view it from the outside.
Cu Chi – The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). They are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces.
Central Post Office
● Located next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The Central Post Office building was constructed in the late 19th century. It counts Gothic, Renaissance and French influences and was designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is often erroneously credited as being the work of Gustave Eiffel.
● Built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Vi?t Th? and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 30th April 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
War Remnants Museum – Comprised of numerous buildings displaying military equipment, photographs and artefacts relating to the Vietnam War and focusing especially on the years from 1961-1975. This museum illustrates a harrowing period in this nation’s history.
Day 4: Mekong Delta
Drive 2 and a half hours south-east to the picturesque province of Ben Tre situated along the mighty Mekong. This area is known as the ‘Rice Basket of Vietnam’, because its rich and fertile lands produce huge amounts of rice, coconuts, vegetables and tropical fruit. Spend the day cruising and exploring, travelling by motorised, wooden boats between the islands and changing to smaller, paddleboats in the canals. Sightseeing involves hopping on and off these boats, often on unsteady and slippery surfaces, sometimes without handrails or assistance. Return to Saigon this afternoon.
● Although primarily rural, the Mekong Delta is a densely populated area where life progresses around its fertile banks. The Mekong Delta is the 13th longest, and the 10th largest, by volume alone and people live, trade, travel and even go to school on the riverbanks. The rice which is cultivated in the many farming lands is said to be enough to supply the entire country with a little extra.
Day 5: Saigon – Hoi An
Fly 1 hour and 15 minutes to Danang and transfer to the charming town of Hoi An. This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the narrow and ancient streets of this charming town. Visit one of Hoi An’s oldest homes, built over 200 years ago and still occupied by the descendants of the merchant family that originally built it. You will also visit the traditional Hoi An Market, the Quan Cong Chinese Temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Later visit the Reaching Out arts and crafts workshop. If you wish to have anything custom-made by Hoi An’s many tailors, sandal-makers or glasses-makers, it is recommended to visit these locations today or early on Day 6.
● Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years merchants from China, Japan, France and Portugal settled in the prosperous town resulting in a distinctive blend of culture, cuisine, religion and architecture.
Japanese Covered Bridge
● First constructed in the 1590s to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters of the town. This iconic pink hued bridge has been restored to its former splendour. Reaching Out – Provides opportunities for people with disabilities to learn skills and gain meaningful employment. The arts and crafts workshop provides a platform for local people to showcase their talents.
Day 6: Hoi An
This morning, head to the colourful market to experience the amazing sights, sounds and aromas. There will be an opportunity to interact with the local sellers and purchase some of the ingredients to be used in our cooking class today. Next, head to a restaurant, where you will be given demonstrations of how to make some of the regions specialties, have a go at cooking yourself before enjoying the dishes you have prepared for lunch. The remainder of the afternoon is free at your leisure to explore the ancient town, or go to the beach.
Day 7: Hoi An
Enjoy a free day at leisure in Hoi An.
Day 8: Hoi An
Today, drive approximately 4 hours to Hue, this journey will take you over the scenic Hai Van Pass. Hue is the epitome of Vietnam’s dynamic past, and considered a scholarly city. Upon arrival, visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City which is still being restored many years after the destruction caused by street fighting and bombing during the American War in Vietnam. Explore the Royal Tomb of Minh Mang; the complex comprises of almost 40 monuments and is surrounded by gardens and pools, making it one of the more beautiful tombs. Continue by road to Thien Mu Pagoda and take a cruise on the Perfume River.
● Having been the imperial capital from 1802 until 1945 after the last emperor abdicated; Hue is still regarded as the centre of Vietnam’s culture and religion. The city is dominated by the Imperial Citadel that is modelled on the Forbidden City in China. There are many wonderful pagodas and temples of high significance and it contains the Grand Tombs of the Nguyen Emperors.
● A walled fortress accompanied by cannons, artilleries and surrounded by a moat for protection. Inside the Citadel are numerous gates, courtyards and the Forbidden Purple City.
Forbidden Purple City
● Constructed for personal use by the Imperial family, their concubines and eunuchs. This royal structure is still being restored many years after the destruction caused by street fighting and bombing during the American war in Vietnam. Wander the grounds and foundations whilst viewing the remaining woodwork and architecture.
Royal Tomb of Minh Mang
● Emperor Minh Mang reigned in the Nguyen Dynasty, the last of the Vietnamese dynasties, from 1820-1840. The construction of his tomb was completed after his death and is said to have taken approximately 10,000 workers to complete. The complex comprises of almost 40 monuments and is surrounded by gardens and pools, making it one of the more beautiful tombs in Vietnam.
Thien Mu Pagoda
● This seven-storey octagonal tower built on a hillock, overlooking the Perfume River is Hue's oldest and most beautiful pagoda. Wander the grounds where bonsai, ponds and the smell of incense set a peaceful backdrop.
Day 9: Hue
This morning, fly 1 hour and 20 minutes to Vietnam’s capital city, Hanoi. After lunch, visit the Confucian Temple of Literature before an exhilarating cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter and French Quarter. Each cyclo takes one passenger and is operated by a cycle driver behind the carriage. Wrap up your day’s touring with the opportunity to try a traditional Vietnamese egg coffee.
● With a population of approximately four million, Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and leafy open parks.
Ho Chi Minh Quarter
● Dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam and where Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum stands in Ba Dinh Square. Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945.
One Pillar Pagoda
● Rebuilt in 1955 after damage during the French evacuation, the pagoda is made of wood and sits on a single pillar. Designed to reflect the shape of a lotus flower emerging from the water, it has become a popular spot for locals to enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Humble House on Stilts
● In the grounds of the Presidential Palace sits the two-storey wooden home of Ho Chi Minh who ruled Vietnam from here until his death in 1969.
Temple of Literature
● Hanoi's first university dating back to 1070 and a historical centre of learning, now dedicated to Confucian worship.
Hanoi Old Quarter
● A maze of streets weaving through Hanoi and dating back to the 13th century. Each street specialises in merchants and artisans selling their wares of silk, silver, wood and more.
Day 10: Hanoi – Sapa
Take a road trip into Vietnam’s northern Highlands, arriving in Sapa in the later afternoon. The vast panoramas of ribboning rice terraces that snake their way across these highlands are a testament to the extraordinary farming skills of the many communities in the region. Your hotel here will be your base for the next three nights.
You will need to pack a smaller overnight bag for your trip to Sapa. Main luggage will be left in safe storage at the hotel in Hanoi and picked up your return.
Day 11: Sapa
Transfer to the small Giay village of Ta Van, in the breathtaking Muong Hoa Valley. Enjoy a scenic 1 and a half hour walk through the tranquil rice terraces towards the Black H’mong village of Lao Chai. Marvel at the cascading paddy fields that cling to the mountainside and take in one of Vietnam’s most breathtaking views before heading over to nearby Lao Chai village where you will learn the art of Batik painting. Join a hands-on master class led by a local expert and take your creation home. The day concludes with a stroll to the main road before transferring back to Sapa town.
Please note: Approximately 1 hour driving/ 1.5 hours walking
● Located 1,600m above sea level and close to the Chinese border. This mountainous area with its spectacular landscapes and temperate climate is sure to make a lasting impression on its visitors. The H'mong and Dao people, the largest and most colourful ethnic groups in the region, are a cultural highlight.
● The beautiful textiles of the Black H’mong are famous around the world and Batik is a traditional part of H’mong culture. Under threat from modernization, Batik is now only practiced by a handful of villagers. By taking part will be supporting a sustainable tourism project that supports local women and ensures this amazing art form is handed down to the next generation.
Day 12: Sapa
Start this half-day walking tour by visiting the rustic village of Suoi Ho. Take a stroll through its sleepy streets and get a glimpse of village life. Later, enjoy views of the stunning countryside as you walk along the Suoi Ho River, en-route to the second village of Ma Tra. Soak in its vibrant culture and visit its quaint Christian church, before being picked up by car and returning to Sapa Town. Walking today will be approximately 3 and half hours.
Day 13: Mt Fansipan, Sapa Museum & Drive to Hanoi
This morning you will have a chance to reach to the summit of Vietnam’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan by a brand new cable car to admire stunning views of Muong Hoa valley and Hoang Lien National Forest from above. The cable car transports you from the base of the 3,143-metre Fansipan mountain to its highest point within 15 to 20 minutes. It stops near the top of Fansipan mountain for fantastic photo opportunities. Time permitting, you may wish to take the 600 steps to reach the summit (not recommended in wet weather). Visit Sapa Museum before your afternoon drive back to Hanoi.
● Known as the ‘Roof of Indochina,’ the 3,143 metre high Mount Fansipan is located in Vietnam’s Lao Cai province very near to the town of Sapa.
Day 14: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Depart Hanoi and driving around 2 and a half hours to Halong, where you will take an overnight cruise to the farmost corners of the bay by boat. Boarding your boat could involve navigating your way over and through other boats, moored between it and the dock, sometimes without handrails, ladders or assistance from staff. Enjoy lunch onboard as you cruise out into the bay, stopping to anchor for an afternoon of activities (which are subject to change due to cruise selection and weather conditions). Sightseeing includes visiting underground caves on the islands, which require climbing up and down steps inside and outside of the caves. End the day on deck with a drink in hand to watch the sunset over the bay followed by a freshly prepared dinner, before retiring to your cabin for the night. You will need to pack a smaller overnight bag for your trip to Halong Bay. Main luggage will be left in safe storage at the hotel in Hanoi and picked up your return.
Please note: Weather conditions such as mist, fog, wind, rain and storms may delay the departure time of your cruise, or in some cases your cruise may be cancelled. Notifications of any delays or cancellations may not be known until your group’s arrival in Halong Bay. If your cruise is cancelled after your arrival in Halong Bay, you will have lunch in Halong City and return to Hanoi. If notification of the cruise cancellation is given prior to your departure for Halong Bay an alternative day trip will be arranged to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc or ‘Halong Bay on Land’, an area located approximately 2 hours from Hanoi. Our guides will make every effort to inform the group at the earliest possible moment should there be any itinerary changes.
● Compared to the landscape of the limestone islets of Guilin in China and Krabi in southern Thailand, Halong Bay shares a common border with China in the north and harbours some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam. Unique rock sculptures jut out dramatically from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and numerous grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world, looking out onto the horizon with the sails of the junks and sampans completing the picture.
Day 15: Halong Bay – Hanoi
Spend the morning sailing through Halong Bay. After an early lunch (or brunch meal) disembark your cruise and return to Hanoi. This evening, attend The Quintessence of Tonkin show, an artistic open-air performance celebrating the rich history of northern Vietnam.
Day 16: Depart Hanoi
Fly home, arriving the same or following day.
22/02/23 & 13/09/23 & 04/10/23 & 06/03/24 & 11/03/24 & 25/09/24