Saturday. Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s charming capital city boasting a wealth of historical and religious sights just waiting to be explored. Airport to hotel arrival transfer.
This morning offers free time. Early this afternoon we embark on a guided walking tour of the city visiting the incredibly scenic Hoan Kiem Lake and the quixotic web of streets known as the Old Quarter. Here we will browse local handicrafts in Kim Ngan Communal House and stop for a cup of coffee brewed the Vietnamese way at a unique coffee shop. The tour ends with an age-old puppet show at a local artist’s house. In the evening we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast, Dinner
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Hanoi. Waking up early, we set out on a scenic drive to the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, passing terraced rice fields, water buffalo and villages en route. Upon arrival we board a traditional wooden junk boat and embark on a cruise of the bay, studded with a thousand or so karst limestone islands. During the cruise we stop off at the strikingly beautiful Dau Go Cave, and the Thien Cung Cave, famed for its stalagmite and stalactites. We arrive back in Hanoi with time for a late evening meal at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hanoi – Dong Hoi. We start today with a visit to Uncle Ho himself at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum (if open, closed Oct-Nov), where he was embalmed after his death. We then visit the remains of Hoa Lo Prison, which was used during the Vietnam War to house prisoners, and was ironically referred to by American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton. Lunch is taken a little differently today, as a unique demonstration of Vietnamese cooking at a local home; here a host will show you how to prepare a traditional meal of rice and pancakes.
After a final afternoon visit to the Vietnam History Museum, the reminder of the day can be spent at your own leisure before boarding the overnight train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line bound for Dong Hoi.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast, Lunch
Dong Hoi – DMZ – Hue. Today we drive down to the Demilitarized Zone, a desolate wasteland on the Ben Hai River, which once formed the border between North and South Vietnam and now offers intriguing insight into the region’s complicated past. Our first stop is the Vinh Moc tunnel, a miniaturised village constructed deep below the earth’s surface in an effort to protect civilians from aerial bombing during the Vietnam War.
Next we visit the famous Hien Luong Bridge, which connects both sides of the river, and is now a Vietnamese symbol of national reunification. Following a lunch break we continue on to the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Rockpile, a karst outcrop that was used by the US Army as an observation post from 1966 to 1968. From here we visit Dakrong Bridge, one of the main branches of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, before driving to the Khe Sanh Marine Base, which served the US Army during the war, and houses a small museum with a collection of war memorabilia. On the drive back to Hue we stop off at the traditional hill tribe village of the Bru-Van Kieu in A Shau Valley.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast
Hue – Hoi An. In the morning we explore the charming ancient capital city of Hue. First stop is the Imperial Forbidden City, a majestic walled fortress and palace dating back 140 years when it was built under the Nguyen Dynasty. Later we drive to the elaborately designed tomb of King Khai Dinh on the outskirts of Hue. In the afternoon we drive along the Ocean Cloud Pass to Hoi An, making stops along the way.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An – My Son Holy Land. We start day 7 with a visit to the imperial city of My Son, a large complex of temples, religious relics and architectural works from the ancient Cham Empire. We then drive back to Hoi An for a lunch break and a half-day walking tour of the city, where we will visit the 19th century Chua Ong Pagoda, the vibrant Chinese Assembly Halls, the centuries old Tam Ky ancestral house, the graceful Japanese Bridge, and bustling local markets. Spend the next day taking in the sights of Hoi An at your own pace.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast x 2
Hoi An – Saigon. An early morning flight takes us to sizzling Saigon. Following our hotel check in, there is time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation before we set off to explore the thriving metropolis. In the afternoon we will stop in at the famous War Remnants Museum, a popular destination for history buffs; explore the deserted great halls of the Reunification Palace; visit the Old Saigon Post Office; and marvel at the city’s most famous landmark, the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Overnight: Saigon | Breakfast
Monday. Saigon – Long Tan – Saigon. Today brings to life the battle of Long Tan, one of the best-known Australian engagements in the Vietnam War. Travelling south east of Saigon, our first stop is to the remains of the former Australian military base at Nui Dat. Next we visit the Discourtesy Rubber Plantation and the Long Tan Cross, a memorial erected by the Australian military to commemorate those lost in the battle.
We continue on to the Long Phuoc Tunnels, a network of underground passages and bunkers used by the Viet Cong, where we visit Minh Dam, once known as the “Secret Zone” and the Long Hai Hills. We enjoy lunch in Ba Ria town before heading back to Saigon in the afternoon. In the evening there is a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Saigon | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our time in Vietnam isn’t over yet! In the morning we drive to the extraordinary network of Cu Chi Tunnels where the Viet Cong managed to survive underground during the Vietnam War. Here you can learn first-hand how they survived with a short tour of one of the tunnels, and various exhibits explaining the life of tunnel dwellers, including the display of various weapons and traps. Enjoy an afternoon lunch before transferring to the airport for your flight home.
Note: Onward flights from Saigon should be booked after 5pm, alternatively you can opt to extend your stay by booking post tour accommodation. Please contact us for more info.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
This ambient, boutique hotel combines traditional appeal with modern pleasures. Rooms are furnished in a contemporary fashion with an array of amenities for added comfort. Its restaurant provides a great variety of Vietnamese cuisine and you are welcome to enjoy cocktails and live music in the Jazz Bar or relax in the hotel's health spa.
Contemplate the beautiful city of Hue with the panoramic views afforded by this award-winning hotel. The well-appointed rooms blend traditional architectural styles with modern facilities including satellite TV and tea/coffee making facilities, whilst the chain of restaurants and bars cover a variety of international cuisine.
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort offers luxury and gracious hospitality in a traditional Vietnamese environment right on the banks of the Thu Bon river with top notch facilities.
In an excellent location, the Asian Ruby Luxury Hotel is contemporary in design and friendly in nature. Guest rooms are bright spacious and benefit from luxury hard wood floors and excellent amenities. Meals are served in the restaurant and there is also a bar for a refreshing tipple at the end of a great days sightseeing. Perfectly located just a few blocks from the Opera House, the War Remnants Museum and Reunifications Hall.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in Vietnam, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.
The tour was great. Cuong the guide was brilliant - full of information from personal experience. He answered all our questions and was always full of enthusiasm. We were very surprised when we learnt that not one other person had booked on the tour. We found that hard to believe especially as you only run the battlefield tour twice a year. Anyway we gained from what our absent friends missed out on - we had a personal tour and we were very well cared for. ”