Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City! Upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh City Airport (SGN), a tour driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is spent at your leisure. Take the time to understand Vietnam’s dazzling metropolis and you’ll be rewarded: the streets and thoroughfares run loud and fast and the hustle of the city’s markets is a haggler’s delight. If you’ve got the time, highlights could include a visit to the War Remnants Museum, the incense-smothered and delicately carved Jade Emperor Pagoda or the colonial-era Fine Arts Museum.
Meet with your guide and embark on a scenic journey through the green rice fields of the Mekong Delta towards Ben Tre and the market town of My Tho. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Vinh Trang, a beautiful garden temple ringed by giant statues of the Buddha that has operated since the 19th century. After, take a leisurely sampan ride along the winding river.
Admire fishing villages along the riverbank as you visit Dragon, Phoenix, Tortoise and Unicorn Islands, stopping at the latter for a tour of the island’s orchid gardens and fruit plantations. Moving onward through the Thoi Son canal, you’ll see buzzing honey farms and be able to experience a coconut candy workshop before having lunch at a local restaurant.
Next, cycle through picturesque Tan Thach, the birthplace of the infamous Coconut Monk, and meet with the villagers to get a taste of local life in the Mekong Delta, or simply relax in a hammock and enjoy the cool breeze. Return to Ho Chi Minh City after a day well spent.
Rise early and move on towards Cu Chi, located 60 kilometres south of Ho Chi Minh City. It’s considered a powerful symbol of the strife that engulfed Vietnam and has become legendary for the seemingly endless serpentine tunnels that lie beneath the earth. See a place of solemn pilgrimage for socialists and schoolkids alike and an extraordinary testament to the Viet Cong’s ingenuity.
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Da Nang. After a little over an hour in the sky, you’ll be picked up at Da Nang Airport (DAD) and transferred to your hotel in the charming coastal city of Hoi An. Once a bustling Southeast Asian trading port, the city is still a powerful melange of cultures, influences and traditions. Marvellously preserved, ancient Japanese merchant houses and historic Vietnamese trading warehouses rub shoulders with grand Confucian temples and modern offices to form a colourful tapestry.
After breakfast at the hotel, the rest of the day is spent at your leisure. Every street in the peaceful port town is a gift, but the real treasure is a chance to explore Hoi An Ancient Town, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed district that brilliantly preserves the synthesis of cultures that led the city to flourish.
Other highlights include the ancient Japanese Covered Bridge, first constructed in the 16th century and surviving even the French fascination with the automobile, and the masterfully preserved merchant residence Tan Ky House. If you wish, why not join the optional cooking class and biking tour? Meet with a local guide and visit the market, then watch as these ingredients are used in a cooking class and savour a delicious lunch which may include papaya salad, fish in a clay pot and more.
Optional Activity: Cooking class and biking tour (from A$59 per person).
After breakfast, you’ll have another full day to catch the sights and sounds of Hoi An at your leisure. If you’re feeling adventurous, book an optional activity with the tour, or visit the Hoi An Night Market, the perfect place to pick up a cherished souvenir to commemorate your Vietnamese escape. Alternatively, you could walk the golden sands of An Bang Beach, take in the moored fishing boats or catch a glorious cultural performance at the Hoi An Lune Center for the Performing Arts.
Optional Activity: Ba Na Hills and Golden Bridge Tour (from A$170 per person).
After breakfast, enjoy a little more time to explore Hoi An before being transferred to Da Nang Airport (DAD) for your flight to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi, you will be transferred to your hotel to enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure. Vietnam’s electric capital offers folding layers of Chinese and French influence, gaggles of scooters and a wealth of world-class restaurants. Visit the revered Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius and the site of the country’s first university, or wander through the notorious Hoa Lo Prison Museum, once filled with American prisoners of war.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and you will drive through the countryside to the Tuan Chau Marina to begin your overnight cruise. After a brief meet and greet with the captain and crew, you’ll enjoy a welcome drink and delicious lunch and cruise through the strikingly emerald waters of Ha Long Bay. Witness the majesty of the bay’s jungle-topped limestone islands and take the opportunity to explore the stalactite-lined Sung Sot, a secluded grotto the French termed 'Grotte des surprises', or Surprise Cave, for its size and beauty. Return to the vessel and experience an onboard cooking class before disembarking at Tuan Chau Marina and returning to Hanoi. Cruise onward to Tiptop Island and appreciate the views from the summit, before enjoying a sunset party dinner on the cruise.
Enjoy dawn tai chi and a hearty breakfast on the boat before cruising to Ha Long Bay’s Natural Preservation Zone. Kayak through the serene waters, or visit a floating house and learn about the fishermen who call the bay home. Return to the vessel and have brunch before disembarking at Tuan Chau Marina and returning to Hanoi.
- Optional Activity: Hanoi Street Food Tour (from A$59 per person).
Your Vietnam experience has come to an end. After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.