Vietnam Express Southbound
|Resort:||Vietnam Express Southbound|
|Destination:||South East Asia|
Discover the essence of captivating Vietnam on this ten-day tour through backstreets, villages, cities and waterways. Trace the east coast on this fast-paced adventure and take in World Heritage-listed landscapes and towns, feel the buzz of bustling cities and fuel yourself with banh mi and condensed milk coffee. As lively as it is lovely, Vietnam can seem an intimidating place to travel, but our local leaders will guide you to the best street food (and tell you how to order it), introduce you to fishermen on the Mekong Delta and give you the inside scoop on the best tailors in Hoi An. This is an adventure full of life, colour and flavour that introduces you to the highlights of this fascinating nation.
Day 1 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm and is followed by a group dinner at KOTO restaurant. This organisation is dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of disadvantaged youth.
If you arrive before your tour begins theres plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Morning Highlights Urban Adventure, a wide-ranging tour with a local expert guide. This optional tour visits the Temple of Literature, stops by a traditional tea house, and takes you through the Hoa Lo Prison Memorial before concluding at Hoan Kiem Lake. Or maybe take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter to admire the citys French-colonial architecture.
Day 2 Halong Bay
Travel by private minibus to World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, which is dotted with sandy coves, grottoes and 1600 limestone islands formed over millennia by wind and water erosion (approximately 4 hours). Board a private boat and cruise the bay, exploring Surprise Cave and perhaps even enjoying a swim from Ti Top Island Beach during the warmer months. Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. To end the day, spend an evening aboard the boat beneath the night sky. What better way to get to know your fellow travellers than an old school sleepover in an unforgettable location?
Day 3 Hanoi Overnight train
Return by boat to Halong Bay. At approximately midday, return to Hanoi by bus. Arrive late this afternoon and enjoy free time until tonights train voyage. Be sure to grab a bowl of pho while youre in town and slurp down this local specialty made from broth, noodles and meat. Maybe chill by Hoan Kiem Lake until you board an overnight train to Hue this evening.
Day 4 Hue
Arrive in Hue at approximately 11 am and transfer to the hotel. Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of the countrys royal past. Enjoy free time in the morning to rest or explore. If you choose the latter (and who can blame you) the bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the specialties that once graced the Nguyen emperors’ tables like banh khoai (royal rice cake). Reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Imperial Citadel, a sprawling city-within-a-city which contains the remains of temples, state houses and the emperors palace.
Day 5 Hue
See Hue like a local from the back of a motorbike! Straddle the saddle and whiz around town with a local guide, taking in historic and contemporary sights along the way. Stop at Thanh Toan to see the 18th-century covered bridge and villagers shopping at their local market. Visit the 17th-century active Buddhist monastery of Thien Mu Pagoda and see the car that belonged to Thch Quang Duc, the monk who self-immolated in 1963 in protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. For lunch, savour a vegetarian feast in a nunnery. Finish at the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to town.
Day 6 Hoi An
This morning travel by bus through coastal rice paddies and the spectacular Hai Van Pass (approximately 3 hours). After a photo stop en route, arrive into Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major international trading port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of the beautifully-preserved town retain the feel of centuries past. It’s also a shopping mecca, famous for its plethora of tailors. On arrival your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town to visit a handful of the city’s major attractions. Youll also be given a sightseeing pass so you can further explore select attractions at your leisure.
Day 7 Hoi An
Today is a free day to explore Hoi An. Maybe browse the cobbled streets and art galleries or hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies out to Cua Dai Beach. Maybe browse for paintings, ceramics and colourful cloth lanterns in the towns markets and preserved Chinese shophouses. If youre craving a new look, you could pay a visit to one of the hundreds of tailors and get something special made. Hoi An is also known for its delicious regional food, so be sure to enjoy a meal at a riverside restaurant or perhaps partake in a cooking class.
Day 8 Ho Chi Minh City
Today take a short, early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1.5 hours). Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a fascinating history and is arguably Vietnams capital of commerce and culture. After landing, take a sightseeing tour around the city by bus. Pass the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House, then stop in at the War Remnants Museum to discover some of the sobering stories of the 20-year-long Vietnam/American War.
Day 9 Mekong Delta Ho Chi Minh City
This morning head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board a private boat to Ben Tre to visit the coconut gardens and stop at a local home to sample tropical fruits and coconut jams. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past coconut trees along the Mekong Delta. Take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages and learn about rural life and the industry created around coconut products like brooms and coconut fibre mats. Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the Delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous elephant ear fish. Cruise the major waterways to Ben Tre boat pier, then return by bus to Ho Chi Minh City.This evening, perhaps head out to sample some local specialties as a final farewell with your fellow travellers and leader.
Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City
There are no activities included and youre free to depart your accommodation at any time as long as you comply with check out time. If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, were happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). Ask your group leader or booking agent for more recommendations or help booking an Urban Adventure if you plan to stay.