|Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
"I love taking people for an overnight homestay in the Mekong. You meet local people, see three generations of family living together and get an understanding of how to enjoy the simple life. It is better than any hotel." Phong Tran, Peregrine local leader.
Why we love it:
- From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of wonderful people and picturesque landscapes.
- Imagine learning the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City or exploring the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi.
- What better way to get to know the locals than to be their guests on a Mekong Delta homestay?
- Experience historical temples, visit Vietnam's spectacular coastline, enjoy delicious banquets and explore lively cities - all with a touch of comfort.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Meals included: 1 dinner
Accommodation: Asian Ruby Hotel or similar, HCMC
- Your trip starts today with your arrival in Ho Chi Minh City. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the welcome board or reception desk, located on the ground floor of the hotel, for information on your upcoming tour.
- This will advise you of your tour leader’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group's Welcome Meeting. Normally, the meeting is at 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Vietnam 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.
- Please note that your tour leader will collect your travel insurance details at the meeting, so please bring them with you. The meeting is followed by a Welcome Dinner at one of Ho Chi Minh City's many fantastic eating spots.
Day 2: Mekong Delta
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
- You will have the opportunity to enjoy a buffet breakfast at KOTO restaurant today. This restaurant is designed to give street children an education in hospitality.
- After breakfast you will drive south to Cai Be for a boat cruise along the intricate and beautiful waterways of the Mekong Delta.
- The Mekong Delta is renowned for its fertile land - rich in tropical fruits, flowers and rice. For this reason, it is often referred to as the rice bowl of Vietnam.
- You will visit an orchard in your cruise, where you will have the chance to taste some tropical fruits, before moving on to visit some local cottage industries.
- As the sun starts to drop you will continue to your homestay, where you will be sleeping for the night. Here you will enjoy a beautiful home cooked meal of local specialties.
- You will be sleeping in a dorm style room, with single camp beds. The beds will be fitted with bedding and mosquito nets. Keep in mind that the bathrooms and toilets are very simple, and will only have cold water available to them. This is very in keeping with the spirit of adventurous travel that you have undertaken to partake in!
Day 3-4: Ho Chi Minh City - overnight train
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Asian Ruby Hotel or similar, HCMC
- You will awake early with the locals today, and after breakfast you will be taken to visit the bustling Cai Be floating market – a place awash with colour and activity.
- You will then return to Ho Chi Minh City via Cu Chi Tunnels.
- Cu Chi is actually the name of the 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 Saigon.
- 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!).
- Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital, after visiting the tunnels you will partake in a short city tour that will take you to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, and will allow you to admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings, such as the main post office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
- You will then board an overnight train to Nha Trang. Overnight trains are not renowned for their cleanliness or opulence, but this is a true local experience, and it is also the best way to cover a long distance in Vietnam.
- The trains are usually made up of four berth compartments, and sheets and blankets are provided, Some travellers prefer to bring their own sheets, but this completely up to you. There is a chance that you will be sharing your berth with people of different sexes and on occasion with people outside of your travel group.
- There is a simple dining cart on the train, but it can be wise to stock up on bread, fruit and other delicacies prior to departure.
Day 5-6: Nha Trang
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Accommodation: Asia Paradise Hotel or similar, Nha Trang
- You will arrive in Nha Trang today, and spend the day exploring this idyllic seaside town. With palm trees, white sandy beaches and a hip cosmopolitan atmosphere, Nha Trang is often referred to as the Cannes of the Orient.
- You will venture out on a boat to explore the nearby islands, as well as a fishing village. You will also have the chance to snorkel in the pristine water, feast on a fresh seafood buffet and enjoy soaking up some sunshine on the deck of the boat.
Day 7-9: Hoi An
Meals included: 3 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Accommodation: Hoi An Hotel or similar, Hoi An
- You will take a short flight to Danang today, from where you will embark on a short minibus ride to Hoi An.
- Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by, before the river silted up. 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 among travellers and staff alike. A tour will take you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
- You get the chance to learn how to prepare Vietnamese cuisine in a cooking class. Better still, you get to enjoy the fruits of your labour!
- You will enjoy a free afternoon to make the most of delightful Hoi An and its surrounding areas. The market is a good place to buy silk that can be made up into fine garments, all within a day. Close to town there is a nice beach, which can be reached easily by bicycle.
Day 10-11: Hue
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Accommodation: Mondial Hotel or similar, Hue
- You will leave beautiful Hoi An today for Hue, stopping at China Beach (known locally as My Khe Beach) and passing through the beautiful Hai Van Pass – a scenic, mountainous stretch of highway with views across Lang Co beach. You will also stop at this beach for lunch.
- Hue is the hub of Vietnam’s historic past. The former imperial capital, Hue is an eclectic mix of busy streets and peaceful beauty.
- You will visit the Imperial Citadel here, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter of these 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, and offer a little insight into the horrific damage endured during the war.
- You will take a boat cruise on the Perfume River next, before visiting the Thien Mu Pagoda – the unofficial symbol of Hue. The Pagoda is an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601.
- You will also have the opportunity to visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees, and if time permits you will also see what is believed to be the most magnificent of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.
- While you are in Hue, you will also enjoy lunch at a local nunnery or monastery – this not only allows you to sample some of Hue’s famed vegetarian food, but also offers an insight into Vietnamese Buddhism. This is also presents an opportunity for you to help keep these institutions alive through donations.
Day 12: Hanoi
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Lan Vien Hotel or similar, Hanoi
- You will fly from Hue to Hanoi today.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the evening you get to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
Day 13: Halong Bay
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
- You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Ha Long Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
- The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular.
- You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where 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. We 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.
Day 14-15: Hanoi
Meals included: 2 breakfasts, 1 dinner
Accommodation: Lan Vien Hotel or similar, 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?
- You enjoy a final dinner in a Hanoi restaurant - a chance to farewell your fellow travel companions and new-found friends.
- Your trip will come to an end after breakfast on Day 15.
- The services of expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Cu Chi Tunnels; Hoi An historical sites; China Beach; Hai Van Pass
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hue's Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda and Emperor Tu Duc's Mausoleum, Ho Chi Minh's House and Temple of Literature.
- Enjoy a Dragon Boat cruise down Perfume River.
- Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available) and resting in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
- Enjoy a buffet breakfast at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training and experience to underprivileged young people.
- Internal flights between Nha Trang and Danang (for Hoi An) as well as between Hue and Hanoi.
- Arrival transfer.
Most meals are included on your trip (except for North America trips - please refer to your day-to-day itinerary). However, sometimes we think you'll benefit from getting out and discovering the local cuisine. So when a meal is not included, it's a great opportunity to try something new. For group trips, ask your leader for tips on where to get the best meal, or you might decide to dine out as a group and experience the fun together.
- International flights, airport departure taxes, visas, departure transfer, insurance, other meals, any optional tours and activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
- Airport departure taxes
- Departure transfer
- Other meals
- Any optional tours and activities during free time
- Items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
We have chosen some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. For group trips, speak to your leader if you are interested in any of the following:
- Hanoi - Citadel, Karst and Cycle tour
- Hanoi - Cooking class
Various prices, starting from US$30
- Hanoi - Ethnology Museum
- Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum
- Hanoi - Street food by night tour
- Hanoi - Village discovery tour
- Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclo and market tour
- Ho Chi Minh City - Vietnamese cooking class
Various prices, starting from US$30
- Hoi An - Boat & Bike ride tour
- Hoi An - Lifestart Foundation Craft Tour
- Hoi An - Thanh Ha Ceramic & Pottery Village
Free (located 5 km from town - allow for transport cost)
- Hue - Imperial tombs
- Nha Trang - Mud bathing
- Nha Trang - Po Nagar Cham Tower
What to know
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region.
Visas and Permits
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, a visa for entry is required by most travellers visiting and/or transiting Vietnam including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians. All other nationalities should check with the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. Your visa must be obtained prior to the commencement of your tour, as visas are not normally issued to travellers on arrival in Vietnam. In fact you will are likely to be denied boarding your aircraft bound for Vietnam without a visa.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in.
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
There are a number of books which make interesting reading and provide insight in the history, politics and culture of the country. Suggestions are: The Quiet American- Graham Greene The Sacred Willow-Duong Van Mai Elliot Paradise of the Blind-Duong Thu Huong Vietnam: Yesterday & Today -Ellen Hammer One Crowded Hour- Tim Bowden Catfish and Mandala-Andrew X Pham Hitchhiking Vietnam-Karin Muller Vietnam- Lonely Planet A Bright Shining Lie-Neil Sheehan (on the Vietnam-American War)
Kayaking on Halong Bay
At Halong Bay, we stay overnight on board our comfortable boat. Weather permitting, you may be able to try kayaking on the bay before watching the sun set over the spectacular limestone islands.
Local Tour Leaders
By employing and training local guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour leader’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success.
Infrastructure and Tet Holiday Period
Please note that Vietnam is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year).
During Tet (Vietnamese New Year), most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required.
Due to the style of accommodation on our tours it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights on the overnight trains and homestays and on boats. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
5 December 2013
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Peregrine