16 days

Vietnam Experience

Vietnam Experience

The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An

Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi

The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon

Perfume River cruise to the Thien Mu Pagoda and royal mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc

Cu Chi Tunnels - the underground network of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong

Nha Trang cruise - the islands of the South China Sea

'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay

Trip rating
  • Vietnam is a land of contrasts. Hanoi’s boulevards are hectic and humming, while the tranquil Hoa Binh Province is checkered with rice fields and thickly forested mountains. Halong Bay is famous for its 3000 craggy island plinths, rising dramatically out of a jade green South China Sea, and is perfect for a scenic boat cruise or, for some, a kayak. Afterwards, stroll through the maze of narrow streets in the charmed port of Hoi An and take a boat around the offshore islands of Nha Trang to snorkel its warm waters. Later, explore the giant sand dunes and splendour of Mui Ne, then travel to lively Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), to get amongst its many pagodas, markets and museums. This trip takes us all the way from north to south, to discover the riches of Vietnam and its varied people and lifestyles. You can add a visit to the Mekong Delta at the end of your tour too, and make your Vietnam experience a comprehensive 16-day adventure.


    Why we love it

    • Vietnam is a land of contrasts. Hanoi’s boulevards are hectic and humming, while the tranquil Hoa Binh Province is checkered with rice fields and thickly forested mountains.
    • Halong Bay is famous for its 3000 craggy island plinths, rising dramatically out of a jade green South China Sea, it is perfect for a scenic boat cruise or, for some, a kayak.
    • Strolling through the maze of narrow streets in the charmed port of Hoi An and taking a boat around the offshore islands of Nha Trang to snorkel its warm waters makes for the perfect holiday.
    • The contrasts of this country are further highlighted when you go from exploring the giant sand dunes of Mui Ne, to the pagodas, markets and museums of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
    • This trip takes you all the way from north to south, to discover the riches of Vietnam and its varied people and lifestyles.
    • You can add a visit to the Mekong Delta at the end of your tour too, and make your Vietnam experience a comprehensive 16-day adventure.


    Day 1 - Hanoi

    • On arrival in Hanoi you will be met and transferred to your hotel. You will meet your tour leader here who will organise a pre-trip briefing, where you’ll meet the other members of your group. You will then head out for an optional group dinner.
    • Until the meeting, we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Hanoi has to offer. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.
    • Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities. The northern capital is a quiet contradiction to its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, and exploration by foot or bicycle is recommended. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes from the city.
    • Please note that your tour leader will collect your travel insurance details at the meeting, so please bring them with you. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Hanoi's fantastic eating spots.
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar

    Day 2-3 - Mai Chau

    • You should leave some luggage behind at the hotel before heading southwest from Hanoi to Hoa Binh province. All you'll need to take with you is an overnight bag for the two nights you are in Mai Chau. This area is home to many hill tribe people who you will have the opportunity to meet.
    • You will also have the chance to walk though some of the countryside, which is quite spectacular. The walking is not too strenuous; some physical preparation will enable you to appreciate it a little more though. The terrain can be quite hilly. If you have a reasonable level of fitness, you should have no problems.
    • After a short walk in the afternoon you will arrive in the hill tribe village near Mai Chau, where you will stay overnight in a local longhouse. The accommodation is simple and dormitory-style, but friendly and communal, with basic washing and toilet facilities provided, along with mosquito nets.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Hanoi

    • You will bid farewell to your friends in Mai Chau and drive back to Hanoi today.
    • On arrival you could go exploring of the Old Quarter, where streets are named after the goods once offered for sale, including Silk Street, Rice Street and Jewellers Street.
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar

    Day 5 - Halong Bay

    • You will continue by road to the coast, where you will be confronted by craggy and spectacularly formed islands. Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam's most impressive scenic sights. The view of sailing junks navigating over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops is nothing short of spectacular.
    • You will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board.
    • You will visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim.
    • Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to the usual hotel setting, but spending a night on the bay is such a wonderful experience. If the weather is obliging, the views at sunset are especially incredible.
    • There are only limited numbers of cabins on each boat, so the Single Supplement does not apply on the Halong Bay cruise, as all accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
    • All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
    • You may also have the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) while on Halong Bay.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Hanoi

    • In the morning you will sail back to the port, where you will disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
    • Arriving back in the capital, you will have free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street, or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel? In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
    Lan Vien Hotel or similar

    Day 7 - Hanoi - overnight train

    • You will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
    • The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
    • In the evening you will travel on an overnight sleeper-class train journey to Hue. The train is very basic; you will travel in soft sleeper class, a compartment for up to four people. It is a communal environment. The beds on board come with a pillow and sheets, although some people may wish to bring their own sleeping sheet (purely optional and not a necessity).
    • Breakfast on the train is not the best food you will find in Vietnam, so it is recommended that you purchase some snacks before boarding in Hanoi.
    • This journey is in keeping with the adventurous nature of our trips and allows you to experience a taste of the real Vietnam.
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 8 - Hue

    • Your destination today is Hue, the last imperial capital of Vietnam (1802-1945) and also one of its cultural centres. Upon arrival, you will freshen up before enjoying a tour of the city and its surroundings.
    • The royal mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc and the beautiful Thien Mu Pagoda are not to be missed. These will be included in a guided cruise on the Perfume River, which also offers you a taste of the tranquil countryside.
    • Returning to town, you will then visit the Citadel and the Purple Forbidden City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive; however it is still fascinating to walk among the ruins. In the evening you will have the chance to sample the local delicacy known as 'banh khoai'.
    Mondial Hotel or similar

    Day 9 - Hoi An

    • This morning you will embark on one of Vietnam's most spectacular road trips, by crossing over the Hai Van Pass towards Danang. You will continue south to China Beach, enjoyed as an 'R & R' spot during the Vietnam War. The beach lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains.
    • You will also visit these mountains, which consist of five peaks that are actually limestone with marble outcrops and are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal.
    • The history of the mountains is rich. The Chams once used them for religious purposes, but in more recent times they became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world.
    • Good footwear is essential, as the paths between the rocks are sometime slippery. Your destination at the end of the day is Hoi An. There are many street-side cafes and restaurants in Hoi An - ideal places to finish off the day by sampling the culinary delights of this town.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar

    Day 10 - Hoi An

    • Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced over the centuries by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets.
    • In centuries gone by, before the river silted up, Hoi An was a bustling port. Today it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness about it. The tranquility and charm of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam.
    • It is a consistent favourite for travellers and staff. A walking tour will take you to see a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall, and a museum.
    • During a free afternoon you can enjoy a bicycle ride in the countryside or relax at the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
    Hoi An Hotel or similar

    Day 11-12 - Nha Trang

    • You will fly to Nha Trang. On arrival in Nha Trang you will check into the hotel, which is close to the local beach.
    • A highlight of your visit here is a day trip out on a boat exploring the islands of the South China Sea (known locally as the East Sea).
    • You will spend a day on the water enjoying swimming, snorkeling, lazing on a beach, and feasting on a seafood lunch.
    Asia Paradise Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 13 - Mui Ne

    • You will continue down the coast to Mui Ne today, which is a quieter beach stop that offers a relaxing change of pace from Nha Trang.
    • Nearby, there are some very large sand dunes, which are one of the country's more renowned natural wonders. There are also interesting fishing villages nearby.
    Sea Links Beach hotel or similar

    Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

    • Your southbound journey continues as you head towards the tropical south today.
    • Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. In the afternoon a short city tour takes you to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, and allows you to admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings, such as the main post office and the former Hotel de Ville (City Hall).
    • The city is also renowned for its nightlife, ranging from international class cafes, to interesting bars and nightclubs.
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar

    Day 15 - Ho Chi Minh City

    • In the morning, you will head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of a district that covers an extensive underground network (approximately 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong.
    • The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used extensively for refuge and storage and also utilised as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City.
    • The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like (please note that this will be hot and sweaty and also a bit claustrophobic!). The afternoon is free for further exploration and shopping. Your final night together is an ideal opportunity to go out for a final group dinner (optional).
    Asian Ruby Hotel or similar

    Day 16 - Ho Chi Minh City

    • The tour will come to an end after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, the hotel staff will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Temple of Literature
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hue - Citadel and Purple Forbidden City, Thien Mu Pagoda and Emperor Tu Duc’s Mausoleum
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hai Van Pass; China Beach; Marble Mountain
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hoi An’s historical sites; Dai Lanh Beach
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral; and Cu Chi Tunnels.
    • Lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training and experience to underprivileged young people.
    • Overnight stay in a longhouse in a hill tribe village near Mai Chau (dormitory-style accommodation).
    • Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay. Accommodation in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning. A seafood lunch and dinner provided (non-seafood also available).
    • Perfume River cruise in Hue.
    • Full day boat cruise on the South China Sea off Nha Trang, with a seafood lunch included.
    • Visit to the sand dunes and beach at Mui Ne.
    • Overnight train from Hanoi to Hue. Accommodation in 'soft sleeper' class – a compartment for up to four people with beds (a pillow and sheets provided).
    • Free time to explore Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City.
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Accommodation: 11 nights comfortable hotel, 1 night overnight train, 2 night longhouse, 1 nights boat.
    • Meals: 14 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • International and domestic departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Departure transfer

    Safety Information

    It is recommended that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information prior to your departure.Peregrine strongly recommends the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Please leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Most of our hotels will have a safety deposit box, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and Peregrine makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING CONDITIONS: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Be aware that traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home.

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    SWIMMING POOLS: You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

    BALCONIES: Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Vietnam Experience

    Larry & Robynne - Australia, 13 Mar, 2013
    Overall Rating

    North to south best direction to do Vietnam. A very good blend of experiences/locations. Warning for Mi Chau treks should be higher. Climb on first day trek is more than "a bit hilly" and pretty severe. Not suitable for anyone with breathing conditions (eg asthma, etc). Should provide option of staying with bus and going to pick up village which was very interesting (guide not needed, very safe). Second day provide suggestion of walk around Mai Chau town in lieu of trek.

    Vietnam Experience

    Lisa - Australia, 13 Feb, 2013
    Overall Rating

    A really excellent trip and saw so much of the country.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PAVE
Start City: Hanoi, Vietnam
End City: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Style: Small Group

What to know

On Day 8 there is the option to fly from Hanoi to Hue.

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