Day 1: Arrive Hanoi
Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, one of Asia’s most enchanting cities, packed with culture and history. You will be met at Noi Bai airport by your local Yomads guide for your transfer to the hotel. For those that are hungry there are many small local restaurants and food stalls that represent the culinary heart of the Vietnamese. In the evening we join a Hanoian family for a warm and hospitable meal. Around the dining table, they will tell us more about Vietnamese cuisine which is prepared with plenty of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices.
Day 2: Discovering Hanoi
Those wanting to rise early will be rewarded with a visit to Hanoi’s biggest flower market in Quang Ba. On our way back to the old centre we visit the banks of Truc Bach Lake where Hanoians gather to practise Tai Chi, daily fitness exercises and badminton. Here you can join the locals for a bowl of Pho, Vietnam's most famous dish, and the remainder of the day is for you to explore the area. Our recommendations include visits to the Presidential Palace, Vietnam History Museum, Hanoi Opera House, Old Quarter and the city centre. Additionally, an optional cycling tour along Red River and West Lake can be arranged.
Day 3: Tu Ne community and eco tour
Today we embark on a guided eco tour with the Tu Ne Community Based Tourism Project, an environmental and cultural tourism group focusing on the traditions of local Muong people. On the way, we visit Muong Culture Space to learn about the lifestyles of the Muong People, the different types of their traditional houses and their working tools and medicinal plants.
After a few hours of exploring the village we head back to our homestay where a “herbal foot bath” is waiting for us. This concoction of aromatic leaves soaked in hot water is said to replenish your feet. For dinner we enjoy speciality Muong dishes followed by a traditional Muong music performance where we can sing, dance and learn to play the instruments!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Tu Ne, Hoa Lu and Ninh Binh
This morning we enjoy a walking foray of the rural villages, including an encounter with Vietnam’s largest banyan tree, a true wonder of nature. We then drive on to Hoa Lu, the capital of the Dinh and Early Le dynasties in the 10th and 11th centuries, to explore its palaces, pagodas, tombs and pavilions.
Meals: B, L
Day 5: Ninh Binh to Ha Long Bay
After breakfast, head to Ha Long Bay for an overnight cruise. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is home to over 3,000 limestone islands and karsts rising majestically out of the turquoise bay. The afternoon on board the boat is free for you to choose from a variety of optional activities including kayaking, swimming and cooking demonstrations. The boat’s sun deck is an excellent place to enjoy a cocktail as you watch the sunset over the water.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Ha Long Bay to Hue
Start the day with an amazing sunrise over the breathtaking landscape of the bay. Passing picturesque spots including Trong and the Me Cung Caves, we head for Surprise Cave for the chance to explore before brunch. Back at the dock, we will transfer to Hanoi for the overnight train to Hue, Vietnam’s last feudal capital.
Day 7: Hue
Arrive in Hue after an overnight journey on the train. The day is free for you to explore at leisure. We recommend visiting Hue Imperial Citadel, a vast citadel that once housed royal quarters, Thien Mu Pagoda, the seven story octagonal tower that serves as a symbol of Hue, and Tu Duc Tomb, a sprawling compound situated around the lake and connected by walkways.
Day 8: Bach Ma National Park and Hoi An
After breakfast, drive to Bach Ma National Park to choose from a range of unique hiking trails. The distinctive natural beauty of the park gives insight to the area’s wildlife and history. Follow a trail to Rhododendron Falls, the most spectacular waterfall in the park, before continuing to Five Lakes cascades. In the afternoon, transfer south to the charming ancient port town of Hoi An. Another UNESCO listed site, Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port.
Meals: B, L
Day 9: Farming and fishing life in Hoi An ancient town
This morning we jump on our bicycles and take a beautiful scenic route through the rice paddies outside Hoi An, experiencing the friendliness of the local people greeting you along the way. Travelling down village lanes you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the daily life of local communities, passing vegetable and seafood farmers, masons and carpenters along the way.
The rest of the day is free for you to spend at leisure. Our recommendations are:
- Explore Hoi An ancient town, one of the most appealing towns in Southeast Asia
- Witness the fusion of Chinese and Japanese architecture with traditional Vietnamese aspects in homes, restaurants, buildings and bridges
- Enjoy the shopping in Hoi An, a paradise for silk and fashion clothing and accessories
Day 10: Mekong Delta
In the morning, transfer to Da Nang for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, head to the Mekong Delta and Vinh Long province. Travelling via boat deeper into the countryside, you’ll have time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and witness the local farmers going about their daily routines. Stopping at a village, enjoy seasonal fruits and traditional music. In the afternoon we arrive at our homestay to learn more about the rural life in South Vietnam.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 11: Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh and Saigon nightlife
Early in the morning, admire the sunrise over the Mekong during breakfast. We then visit Cai Be floating market and experience the everyday life in this beautiful part of the world. We'll stop at local workshops to see how rice paste, coconut candy, pop-rice and pop-corn are made before visiting the Cai Be market on land.
Later, we return to Ho Chi Minh to journey from colonial to modern Saigon. The Notre Dame Cathedral, built between 1877 and 1883, is one of the city's major landmarks. We’ll also take in the Saigon Post office, the War Remnants Museum, and Ben Thanh Market. The remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy Saigon's nightlife at your own pace. We recommend joining an optional night tour to experience Saigon the way the locals do – from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter.
Day 12: Trip concludes Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast, the day is yours to continue exploring Ho Chi Minh City at leisure. For those heading home, we transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for departure flights. Today, an optional excursion can be arranged to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels.