Best of Vietnam – Intrepid

Image

Best of Vietnam – Intrepid

The ultimate south to north adventure tour of Vietnam

Experience quintessential Vietnam on this comprehensive trip from south to north. Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi and experience dynamic cities, tranquil backwaters, imperial ruins, faded colonial elegance and picture-perfect landscapes dotted with reminders of the past. Explore the narrow cobbled streets of Hoi An’s Old Town, encounter local tribes on a hike in the mountains of Da Bac and whizz through the back streets of Hue as you uncover the very best of Vietnam.

Why you’ll love this trip
  • Experience local life during homestays in the Mekong Delta and Da Bac. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal.
  • Travel to both popular and lesser-known destinations in Vietnam, including tourist hotspots like Halong Bay and hidden gems such as Da Bac
  • See Vietnam through an exciting mix of transport, including motorbike, sampan, junk-style boat, bus and train
  • Visit the mind-boggling Phong Nha and Thien Duong Caves. These labyrinthine systems were used to shelter civilians during the Vietnam/American War
  • Spend a day in Hue, touring the city’s sights on a motorbike and eating lunch at a serene nunnery
  • Relax in the turquoise waters at Nha Trang and discover local fisherman’s life on a boat trip.
Is this trip right for you?
  • During this trip, there will be several long days of travelling and you’ll be sitting on a bus for many hours at a time. However, road trips often have the best views, and most private buses feature wi-fi
  • We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including on overnight trains. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight.
  • This trip involves a lot of walking – on city walking tours, the hike in Da Bac and during included activities. While being on your feet can be a bit tiring, this is the best way to truly get under the skin of a place
  • You’ll be spending two nights with local families on this trip, where the accommodation is shared and basic. But this is a great opportunity to connect with the local people (and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals!). Read more about the experiences here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-vietnam/
  • Vietnam has an incredibly diverse climate influenced by both tropical monsoons and its range of altitudes and latitudes. Temperatures can vary from a brisk 4°C (39°F) in the northern mountains during winter to a sweltering and humid 36°C (97°F) in Ho Chi Minh City during the middle of the dry season. Please check the weather for the time of year you’re travelling in order to pack appropriate clothing – this page may be useful: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam

 

Expired on Friday December 20th, 2024

Expired on Friday December 20th, 2024

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City

Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today, where you'll get to know your fellow travellers and meet your legendary group leader. If you arrive early before the meeting, perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or one of the amusements parks. Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence. After the welcome meeting, you may like to join your group for an optional meal at one of the city's fantastic eating spots. Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, you might even choose to spend an extra day or two here to see the sights.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

After breakfast today, you’ll visit one of the most important sites in Ho Chi Minh City, the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. These complex tunnels were used by the Viet Cong in the long war against the Americans and were instrumental to the Vietnamese victory. You'll be amazed by the ingenuity of these dangerous tunnels. Later in the day, take a tour of the city, passing the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Head to the War Remnants Museum for a sobering yet informative lesson on the Vietnam War. Here you’ll see things like old military equipment, an F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels
Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
Ho Chi Minh City - City tour

Optional Activities
Ho Chi Minh City - A O show - VND1050000

Meals Included
Breakfast

Today you'll travel south by private minibus to Cai Be. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit and flowers are grown for the whole country. You'll get a chance to get off the boat to visit an orchard and sample some tropical fruit. You’ll then continue on the cruise and visit a selection of local cottage industries along the way where you'll experience local life and the industries surrounding the river up close. For sunset today, you’ll make your way up one of the many canals to your homestay where you’ll tuck into a wonderful meal of local specialities. Your guesthouse accommodation tonight will be simple, but the experience will be rewarding.

Accommodation
Homestay (1 night)

Included Activities
Mekong Delta - Sightseeing Tour
Mekong Delta - Guesthouse Dinner

Meals Included
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Special Information
Today's total travel time is approximately 3 hours.

Facilities at the guesthouse are basic and can vary as we stay with several different families. We sleep on camp beds in a communal room for all members of the group. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Your guesthouse will be located near the Mekong, but may not be on the banks of the river itself.

Travel back to Ho Chi Minh City today and enjoy some free time to do a bit of sightseeing at your leisure. We recommend exploring the city’s restaurants and trying Ho Chi Minh City’s distinctive fresh and flavoursome food. In contrast to the north of Vietnam, the cuisine here is spicier, sweeter and more varied. There are also plenty of street food stalls if you’d like to take a few bites of the local fare.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
Today's total travel time is approximately 3 hours.

After exploring Ho Chi Minh City, take a bus transfer to Dalat. Temperate and cool compared to the rest of the country, Dalat has gained the name “City of Eternal Spring” due to the mists that cover its nearby valleys nearly all year around. This fairytale nickname spreads to its amazing architecture – the Hang Na guesthouse, an expressionist masterpiece, stands as a towering, melted stone obelisk over the lush garden below. There’s also plenty of charming Art Deco-influenced structures and gardens littering the area as well. This afternoon, perhaps go for a wander through the streets for a better feel of the city or find a café for a cup of artichoke tea, a regional specialty.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
Today's travel time is approximately 6 hours.

Dalat’s soothing climate isn’t just a great reprieve from the heat of Vietnam's coast, it also creates the perfect environment to grow a wide selection of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Take a full day to stroll through the tranquil gardens of this city, darting past plantations full of plump vegetables, dazzling flowers, medicinal herbs, aromatic lavender and juicy strawberries. You'll enjoy a guided garden visit to learn more about this fruitful area.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Dalat - Garden visit

Meals Included
Breakfast

After breakfast this morning travel by minibus to the coastal town of Nha Trang. On arrival, stretch your legs with a leader-led orientation walk. Then, enjoy free time in the afternoon and evening in this stunning coastal city -you might like to make a beeline straight to the beach or try a mud bath. Be sure to find a beach side bar for a cocktail at sunset and then tuck into some of this town's epic seafood - your leader knows all the good spots, so be sure to ask them for their top tips.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
Today's total travel time is approximately 3 hours.

After breakfast this morning, enjoy a leisurely boat trip in Nha Trang Bay. You'll stop at Mieu Island to learn about local fishermen's life here, and even get a chance to give it a go yourself with the rowing bamboo basket boat. Then you'll hop to Tam Island and enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the turquoise water amongst the stunning corals. Head back to Nha Trang in the early afternoon. This evening, board an overnight train to Da Nang. Conditions are basic on these trains and hygiene standards may be lower than what you’re used to at home, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but we recommend stocking up on snacks before you board.

Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Included Activities
Nha Trang - Nha Trang Bay Boat trip
Nha Trang Bay - Island hopping, Fishing Villages & Snorkelling

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
We always endeavour to get to the best spots for snorkelling but we won't be able to guarantee this as there's a growing concern of the bleaching of corals in these waters near Nha Trang.
Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group. Your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but we recommend that you stock up on snacks and drinks before departure.

You'll arrive in Hoi An early today. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major trading port with the West from the 15th to the 19th century. Today it has been restored to look exactly as it did more than a century ago, giving it an old-world feel full of nooks and crannies for you to explore. You’ll have some free time to wonder the city and adventure at your own leisure this afternoon. Hoi An is very much a shopping mecca. Why not browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics, embroidery all made by the locals? The city is also famous for its talented tailors who work with beautiful fabrics for a good price.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Hoi An - Old Town walking tour

Optional Activities
Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike with Sunset BBQ Urban Adventure - USD54

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Enjoy another free day in the town of Hoi An. You’ll have time to see the beautiful Chinese shophouses, enjoy the busy market, visit Cua Dai Beach, cycle to the rice fields or browse the array of art galleries. With plenty of options to keep you busy in this quaint city, you can build the day into whatever you wish.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Optional Activities
Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD37
Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD45

Meals Included
Breakfast

This morning, wave goodbye to Hoi An as we make tracks to the white sand and blue sea of My Khe Beach. Continue on the journey and cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass and make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co before making your way to Hue. The former imperial capital of Vietnan, Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, and has a curious blend of bustling streets and tranquil settings. You'll explore the Imperial Citadel this afternoon - this fortress houses the Imperial City and the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, and the ruins and holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war.

In your free time here you might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and tantalising street food. This is a good place to try the specialties enjoyed by Emperor Nguyen such as the banh khoai royal rice cake.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Hue - Imperial City Full Day Tour

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
Today's total driving time is approximately 5 hours.

Today’s adventure will be taken on the back of a motorbike. You’ll have your own driver who will take you first on a drive around the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, but its humble, foliage-covered ruins remain a testament to its proud history. Here you'll gain some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war. Next, you'll ride to a special lunch spot at a convent or Buddhist monastery for a delicious home-cooked vegetarian feast. After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. This evening, perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike

Meals Included
Breakfast
Lunch

Special Information
This motorbike activity has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored. To participate please ensure your travel insurance covers riding pillion on a motorbike. The motorbikes used are 125cc or less. If you prefer not to participate in the motorbike ride, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation between destinations (included).

Today, we'll take a minibus to the Vinh Moc Tunnels. These were used during the Vietnam War as shelter for the villagers who were escaping intense bombing. Incredibly, the locals here lived in the underground system that went over three levels. You’ll get a chance to enter the tunnels which remain in their original form. This afternoon, continue on to your home stay tonight located at the center of Phong Nha. Your host is a family of 3 generations and you'll be able to experience how the locals go about their daily routines while staying here.

Accommodation
Homestay (1 night)

Included Activities
Quang Tri - Vinh Moc Tunnels
Quang Tri - Hien Luong Bridge

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
The caves and the area surrounding Phong Nha are subject to flooding. For safety reasons it may be necessary to amend your trip itinerary to avoid flood affect areas.

After breakfast today, visit the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site contains the oldest known karst mountains in Asia. The area is also known for its enormous cave system. You’ll visit the Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave), then take a cruise up the Son River towards the Phong Cave - the scale of the place is truly astounding. In the late afternoon, travel to Dong Hoi and catch an overnight sleeper train to Hanoi.

Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Included Activities
Phong Nha Ke-Bang NP - Thien Duong (Paradise Cave)
Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park - Phong Nha Cave

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
This evening's train journey will take approximately 10 hours.

Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning and transfer to your hotel. Vietnam’s capital is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks and French-style Old Quarter. As an emerging city in South East Asia, Hanoi has an attractive contrast of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and a labyrinth of ancient streets. Later in the day, you’ll visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, including One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex
Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda
Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour

Optional Activities
Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Special Information
You'll get access to a day room on arrival in Hanoi to freshen up after your train journey.

Today you'll kiss goodbye to Hanoi after breakfast and make the drive to Sung village. There are around 70 families living at Sung Village and the majority are Dzao ‘Tien’ people. Farming and forest plantation are their main source of income. You'll enjoy a traditional lunch at your homestay then take an introductory walk around the village. After getting to know the village better, take a short trek (2 kilometres) to the alluring Sung Cave and visit a 100-year-old tea plantation. The trek has some steep and slippery sections so please ensure you have suitable footwear for this activity. After a handicraft workshop, return to your homestay accommodation for a nice hot shower and a delicious dinner.

Accommodation
Homestay (1 night)

Included Activities
Da Bac - Sung cave and village tour
Da Bac - Sung village to Da Bia hike
Da Bac - Homestay Dinner
Da Bac - Homestay Lunch

Meals Included
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Special Information
Today's travel time is approximately 4 hours.

Tonight's homestay is shared accommodation, usually with the whole group in a single room together. There are separate beds with clean linen, blankets and mosquito nets provided.

Depending on weather, availability and number of visitors to this region, we may stay overnight at an alternative village. If we do change the village on your departure, your leader will advise you as soon as possible. Trek length and activities may vary, depending on which village you’re staying in. Should this region be completely inaccessible due to weather conditions, we will put an alternative itinerary in place, visiting Mai Chau.

This morning, you'll get the opportunity to take in more of the Vietnamese highlands on a 10 kilometre (6.2 mi) trek from Sung Village to Da Bia. The first 8km of the trek is mostly flat ground along well-worn buffalo tracks. The final 2km gradually inclines and for a period of approximately 300m there are some steps to climb, however the walk will be a steady relaxed pace. Keep an eye peeled for the monumental stone at the peak of Da Bia Mountain during the hike that takes us through the local villages, meeting people from the ethnic Muong tribe along the way. Stop for lunch at Da Bia before enjoying a scenic 1.5 hour boat cruise on Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir. Arrive at Thung Nai then board a bus transfer to Hanoi, where you'll arrive at around 6 pm. This evening is free for you to explore this delightful city. Why not relax with a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter?

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Da Bac - Da Bia Lunch

Optional Activities
Hanoi - Street Food Experience Urban Adventure - USD35

Meals Included
Breakfast
Lunch

Special Information
Today's travel time is approximately 4 hours.

Comfortable supportive footwear (running shoes) will be suitable however you are welcome to bring hiking boots if you prefer. It can be quite slippery if there has been recent rain. The homestay hosts can provide bamboo trekking poles on request. Please ensure you have a 1.5 litre water bottle with you for the trek; we will fill bottles at Sung Village and there are no refill points along the way until we have concluded the trek.

Should you wish to skip the 10 kilometre (6.2mi) trek, a taxi can be arranged locally for approximately USD70.

After breakfast today, drive to Bai Chay Harbour towards the famous world heritage site of Halong Bay. A blue-green bay studded with limestone outcrops, this area is full of beaches and natural grottos. You’ll take a boat through the limestone peaks and caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites and have the chance to go for a swim or perhaps take a kayak out on the bay. Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There’s also a dining room and bar where you can enjoy the day’s meals.

Accommodation
Overnight boat (1 night)

Included Activities
Halong Bay - Dinner on Boat
Halong Bay - Lunch on Boat

Meals Included
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Special Information
Today's driving time is approximately four hours.

It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

Swimming and kayaking are limited to designated zones of the Bay.

There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, occasionally you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels, in which case an Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.

After breakfast today you'll return to Hanoi, arriving mid afternoon to enjoy a water puppetry performance - a unique and traditional Vietnamese art form. Afterwards, perhaps mark the end of your trip with an optional farewell dinner. Spend a final night in Hanoi before the trip ends tomorrow.

Accommodation
Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities
Hanoi - Water puppet show

Meals Included
Breakfast

Special Information
Today's driving time is approximately 4 hours.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There’s so much to see and do in Hanoi, why not stay a day or two longer? We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you have extra time, you may like to do an Urban Adventure tour. Your leader will be able to assist you in booking the tour of your choice. See urbanadventures.com/destination/hanoi-tours.

Meals Included
Breakfast

Departing Finish Price
01 October 2023 20 October 2023 AUD $3,715 AUD $2,972
05 November 2023 24 November 2023 AUD $4,040
03 December 2023 22 December 2023 AUD $3,860
07 January 2024 26 January 2024 AUD $3,930 AUD $3,734
21 January 2024 09 February 2024 AUD $3,930 AUD $3,734
04 February 2024 23 February 2024 AUD $3,780
18 February 2024 08 March 2024 AUD $3,780
03 March 2024 22 March 2024 AUD $3,815
17 March 2024 05 April 2024 AUD $3,930
31 March 2024 19 April 2024 AUD $3,970
07 April 2024 26 April 2024 AUD $4,080
21 April 2024 10 May 2024 AUD $4,080
05 May 2024 24 May 2024 AUD $3,930
07 July 2024 26 July 2024 AUD $3,780
01 September 2024 20 September 2024 AUD $3,780
22 September 2024 11 October 2024 AUD $3,780
06 October 2024 25 October 2024 AUD $3,930
20 October 2024 08 November 2024 AUD $3,930
03 November 2024 22 November 2024 AUD $4,080
17 November 2024 06 December 2024 AUD $4,080
08 December 2024 27 December 2024 AUD $4,080
22 December 2024 10 January 2025 AUD $4,080

*Price are per adult in a twin share room

Want your own room?
From an extra $685

Important notes

1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases, you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes days 3, 16 (homestays), days 8, 14 (overnight trains), and Days 18 (overnight boat) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

Booking Conditions

Before you book a trip with Intrepid, please take the time to read and understand what terms and conditions apply to your booking. For most of our trips, you will be booking directly with Intrepid so our Standard Booking Conditions and any applicable Special Conditions will apply. Please note that there are three versions of the Standard Booking Conditions depending on what location you are booking from.

The Booking Conditions you agree to when you make your booking apply to your trip.

With some of our specialist trips and travel products, Intrepid partners with carefully selected travel operators. In these circumstances, the Agency Booking Conditions apply to your booking, which will also be subject to the Operator’s Terms and Conditions. This currently applies to the following:

Expired on Friday December 20th, 2024

Inclusions

Expired on Friday December 20th, 2024

Enquiry Form
    Subscribe to our Newsletter
  • DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • DD slash MM slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.