- Active Adventure
- Animals & Wildlife
- Culture & Heritage
- Home Stay
- Learning Discovery
- Nature & Landscapes
- Ocean Cruising
- Off The Beaten Path
- Tours for Couples
- Day 1: Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 2: HCM City – Morning Tour
- Day 3: HCM City – Vung Liem (Mekong Delta)
- Day 4: Vung Liem – HCM City – Flight to Dalat
- Day 5: Dalat – Trekking and Kayaking
- Day 6: Dalat – Lake Lake – Buon Triet Lake
- Day 7: Buon Triet Lake – Nam Ka
- Day 8: Nam Ka – Buon Ma Thuot
- Day 9: Buon Ma Thuot – Elephant experience full day
- Day 10: Buon Ma Thuot – Pleiku – Kontum
- Day 11: Kontum – Hoi An
- Day 12: Hoi An – Cooking Class and Kayaking
- Day 13: Hoi An – Day at leisure
- Day 14: Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to Hanoi
- Day 15: Hanoi – Experience Off the Beaten Path by Russian Minsk Motorcycle
- Day 16: Hanoi – Da Bac – Sung Village
- Day 17: Sung Village – Da Bia Village
- Day 18: Da Bia Village – Thung Nai – Ninh Binh
- Day 19: Ninh Binh – Cat Ba Island – Lan Ha Bay
- Day 20: Lan Ha Bay – Further Discovery
- Day 21: Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island – Hanoi
- Day 22: Hanoi – Departure
The best tour for those who wish to see the lesser-known parts of Vietnam and steer away from the crowds. Enjoy an insightful tour of Ho Chi Minh City, followed with a bike tour to the small villages in Vung Liem (in the Mekong Delta). In Dalat, trek through lush forests with excellent views of nature and kayak on Paradise Lake. Discover the central highland, a hidden gem that travellers usually miss, and visit Buon Me Thuot, Kon Tum and Daklak – the three most important cities in this region. There will be a day for you to experience taking care of the elephants at Yok Don National Park. Feel the tranquil vibe of Hoi An and practice cooking a traditional meal. Tour Hanoi while riding on the back of the Russian Minsk Motorcycle. Venture up north, trek along the scenic mountain paths and lush rice paddies, through the villages of Sung and Da Bia. See the alluring karst landscapes of Ninh Binh. Finish the tour after Cat Ba Island and a cruise ride to admire the many stunning karst limestones in Lan Ha Bay.
Arrival in Ho Chi Minh CityDay 1
Xin Chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Upon arrival, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you at the arrivals lounge, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel in the city centre.
After checking-in, you will have time to relax and adjust to the pace of HCM City, still called Saigon by the locals. There will be a short tour briefing this evening with your guide followed by a welcome dinner at Bloom restaurant. Your visit will ‘Make A Difference’ to this Culinary Vocational Training facility developed by the charity ‘Aid to Children Without Parents’ that provides training to disadvantaged young people in the hospitality industry enabling them to become self-reliant.
Please note: Your travel documents contain a Visa-on-Arrival letter (unless otherwise arranged). Please ensure to pack this in your carry-on luggage. Your Visa-on-Arrival letter must be presented to Customs upon entry into the country.
Overnight in HCM City
HCM City – Morning TourDay 2
Rise early this morning (avoid the crowds) to enjoy an insightful tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Experience some of the city’s hidden treasures as your travel by cyclo (rickshaw) and private car with your personal guide who will get you off the crowded tourist trail.
Hop on your cyclo and begin with a leisurely ride through the quiet streets while the traffic is more sedate. Pause to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and the General Post Office (designed by Gustave Eiffel) as the streets start to stir.
Next is the local park of Tao Dan. In this vibrant metropolis, green spaces are cherished and locals flock here each day to relax and enjoy nature. Hop off your cyclo and enjoy a cup of coffee while being serenaded by beautiful bird calls in a special section of the park where ornithologists congregate with their prized birds.
From the park, you will head to the memorial site dedicated to the Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc. During the ride, your guide will take you to one of the best places in the city to eat Pho (Vietnamese Noodle Soup), usually a well-kept secret.
Pick up the pace when you swap your cyclo for your private car and travel along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street to visit a traditional wet market. This is a fascinating window into the local culture. Continue to visit a secret weapons bunker which was used to hide the arsenal of Sai Gon Commandos. Among them are about 2 tons of weapons, which were prepared for the Tet Offensive (January 1968).
End your fabulous morning tour with a fragrant stroll around Ho Thi Ky Flower Market, the city’s hidden gem. Here you will be lost by a hundred kind of flower and amazed by their beautiful colours.
After the market, you will get back to the hotel where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
Overnight in HCM City
HCM City – Vung Liem (Mekong Delta)Day 3
After breakfast meet your personal guide and driver and embark on a three-hour journey through the lush countryside to Vung Liem (in the Mekong Delta) where you will enjoy the real Mekong Delta experience away from the tourist streams.
Upon arrival, you will check into the bungalows at Co Co Riverside Lodge. Nestled into the side of the Mekong River surrounded by coconuts forest and rice farms, the lodge makes you feel as though it’s far from the civilization.
After a traditional lunch, select bicycles for a leisurely ride on quiet village roads passing coconut farms, green rice paddies, and small villages. Along the way, you will pause to visit one of the many dragon fruit plantations and taste it directly in the garden. This is a real chance to discover a rural Vietnam that most visitors never get to see.
Ride back to the lodge while capturing the picturesque Asian sunset scenes.
After some shower and rest, you will walk with locals using traditional torches made of dried coconut leaves to a neighbour’s house where you are treated to a traditional musical performance.
Get back to the lodge again and join a fun cooking class with the chef. Then sit down and enjoy what you have together cooked.
Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Overnight at Co Co Riverside Lodge in Vung Liem
Vung Liem – HCM City – Flight to DalatDay 4
Following breakfast, you will head out to visit a local school and a nearby market. After that take a leisurely boat ride through palm-fringed back canals visiting the local cottage industries. Situated alongside the river, these are small coconut-processing operations. Once the coconut has been shelled, the coconut fibers are removed from the husk to make rope, which in turn is used to weave rugs.
Cross a local ferry to visit a temple of the Cao Dai which is a fascinating insight into a local religion.
Back to the Lodge. If time permits, try our hand at weaving with water coconut leaves. The leaves are a key building material in the Mekong Delta and used to build the walls and roofs of homes. The local people will show you not only how they use these leaves but also how to make the ‘poon’ sticks that illuminated last night with the musical performance.
Check out. Bid a fond farewell to the staff at the lodge and wind your way back to Ho Chi Minh City. Then transfer to the airport for a short flight to Dalat, the former French Hill Station located 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level on the Langbian Plateau in the southern parts of Vietnam’s Central Highlands region. Temperate and cool compared to the rest of the country, Dalat has earned the name “City of Eternal Spring” due to the mists that cover its nearby valleys nearly all year round.
On arrival, you will be picked up by your private guide and driver and then transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Overnight in Dalat
Dalat – Trekking and KayakingDay 5
After breakfast, meet your personal guide and embark on a three-hour trek which starts from the beautiful Bao Dai Waterfall, also known as Jráiblian falls. From here you will walk through a small village and then the evergreen pine forest. Soon you will notice a dramatic change in scenery from pine to thick jungle. Walk the rolling hills among the vines, board-leaf trees and enjoy the cool jungle breeze. You will get to see the hundred-year-old trees and if you are lucky you can see the wild orchid in bloom or a solitary gibbon swinging off in the distance.
Upon exiting the thick jungle section you will reach Samson mountain, one of the most beautiful spots for pictures in Da Lat. From the peak of the mountain, you can see the fantastic view of Da Lat’s town, the surrounding area as well as the stunning view of the Langbian, the highest mountain in Dalat.
After about 3 hours of exploring you will arrive at Paradise Lake where you will enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by your guide.
After lunch, you will take your kayaks and paddle around the islets and secrets spots on the lake. This area is also known as the most popular spot in Vietnam for bird watching. Take in the beautiful scenery of the lush pine forest that borders the lake.
After about 2 hours of exploring you will get to the other end of the lake where your driver is waiting for you and take you back to your hotel.
Arrive at the hotel around 15.00 where you will spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure. You can go for a wander through the streets for a better feel of the city or find a café for a cup of artichoke tea, a regional specialty. A visit to Da Lat Night Market is highly recommended. Here you can sample many street food offerings; barbecued pork, grilled vegetables and especially Da Lat pizza, a round rice paper, covered in egg-bound toppings, and grilled over charcoal.
Overnight in Dalat
Dalat – Lake Lake – Buon Triet LakeDay 6
After breakfast, your guide and driver will take you on a four-hour drive from Dalat to Lak Lake. The journey takes you past ethnic villages, rice fields, and rivers.
Upon arrival, you will cross Lak Lake by dug-out canoe to M’Lieng village, meet the M’nong people, a tribe that relies on the lake for their livelihood and they can be seen fishing in traditional dugout canoes. You have time to walk around the village to find out more about daily life in the Central Highlands.
Leaving Lak Lake you will continue your journey for one-hour more towards Buon Triet Lake. Upon arrival, you are taken to paddle boats and ride across the beautiful Buon Triet Lake with the opportunity for a swim.
Later you will arrive at Jatu Village, home to the M’nong minority people, one of the native ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. The M’nong has many small groups such as M’nong Gar, M’nong Nong, M’nong Bih … who also practice the matriarchy and their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language system. Ja Tu is a small village with 14 households and about 60 people living together. They live on rice cultivating, raising cattle and gathering from the forest.
The house where you stay overnight in Ja Tu village is the long house-on-stilts. The host is Ama Loan who is also the chief of the village.
Overnight in Jatu Village
Buon Triet Lake – Nam KaDay 7
After breakfast, you will bid a fond farewell to the local family and embark on a full day’s trek (around 14km) through the evergreen forest and will involve a climb as well as descending through the forest and crossing a stream. Along the way, you will get to see many tropical birds, forest wildlife and meet some hill tribe people.
After enjoying a picnic lunch en-route you will continue to trek toward Nam Ka Lake where you hop on a boat and paddle for 4 km.
In the late afternoon, you will arrive at the rural village of Rai in Nam Ka, home to the Ede minority people. Like Jatu village, Rai has 15 households and about 75 residents in the village. People here also live mainly on rice cultivation, raising cattle, pigs and other kinds of poultry. Besides, they also earn more money by hunting and gathering. Ede people practice matriarchy and their language belongs to the system of the Malayo-Polynesian language system. They come to Vietnam from Malaysia South Island by boat so their house architecture also built in the boat shape to remember their ancestors crossing the sea to the land.
The family that you spend the night at Rai village is chief Ay Sel’s. This is a traditional long house-on-stilts of the Ede style with a staircase decorated with a young moon symbolizing faithful and a couple of breasts symbolizing prosperity and matriarchy.
Enjoy a delicious home-hosted dinner with the local family. Take a chance to learn about their lifestyle and customs.
Overnight in Rai Village
Nam Ka – Buon Ma ThuotDay 8
After breakfast and check out, say goodbye to the family hosts and take a three-km trek through the rural villages. Then you will be picked up by your driver and transfer to Buon Ma Thuot City, the coffee capital of Vietnam which has played a key role in Vietnam’s success as the world’s top Robusta exporter, and second coffee exporter after Brazil.
En route, you will pause to visit two of the most impressive waterfalls in the Central Highlands: Dray Sap and Dray Nu.
Arrive and check into your hotel in the City centre. After a short rest, you will seat out to Explore the city.
Start with a visit to Trung Nguyen coffee village, a lovely garden filled with fountains, interesting architects and of course lovely coffee! Here you can learn about Vietnamese coffee culture, coffee trees, the coffee processing industry.
The next stop is the impressive Ethnographic Museum. The exhibits here will give you an insight into the lives and cultures of the ethnic minority people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
Proceed to Kien Cuong Civet Coffee Garden. You will meet the owner Mr. Kien Cuong “the king of coffee” who will tell you how he farms and processes the famous Civet-coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world).
End the tour and return to your hotel where the rest of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure.
Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot
Buon Ma Thuot – Elephant experience full dayDay 9
After an early breakfast, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Yok Don National park to join with the team from the Elephant Conservation Project.
Upon arrival, after a brief introduction, you will meet the elephant caretakers and enjoy a full day exploring the forest in search of the three elephants who now freely roam the national park. Your guide will tell you about each individual elephants’ personality, their background and why they are living in Yok Don National Park. The ethnic minorities in this area have a long history of training and working with elephants and your guide can share these stories too.
During the trek, your guides will share their knowledge of the national park, pointing out the many species of plants and wildlife inhabiting this forest, and showing you the plants used in traditional medicine by some of the local ethnic minority people.
You may even encounter signs of the rare wild elephant community within the park, such as their footprints, foraging signs or dung.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in the middle of the park.
After lunch, you will continue to trek until you reach the elephants’ home deep in the jungle. You will have a chance to meet the Elephants and take part in washing them (30 minutes) and feeding them bananas and sugar cane. As the centre focuses on the conservation and ethical treatment of the elephants, they no longer allow elephant rides, but this just makes for a better experience as the elephants are happier and healthier.
Finish your fabulous day and wind your way back to Buon Ma Thuot.
Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot
Buon Ma Thuot – Pleiku – KontumDay 10
After breakfast, your private guide and driver will transfer you to Kontum via Pleiku. Pause to visit Phun village, a small village of the Jarai ethnic group, best known for their cemeteries adorned with wooden statues. You also have a chance to stop at coffee, rubber and pepper plantations along the way.
After the five-hour drive, you will arrive Kontum. Take a tour of the town including the museum, wooden church, an orphanage, and the Kon K’Lor suspension bridge. Later you will take a leisurely hike past tea plantations and the villages of Kon Ko Lor Lor I and Kon Ko Lor II.
Board a wooden boat on the Dakbla River and cruise to the village of Kon Ko Tu, home to the Bahnar minority people, where you are their guests for the night. The Bahnar people are famous for their “Rong” houses (the traditional communal house). The towering thatch curved axe-blade shaped roof is quite a magnificent sight when approaching the village from afar. Rong house is used for important town meetings, secret ceremonies and for tribal court, with cases decided upon by the village chief.
Enjoy the home-hosted dinner and spend the night at the local home, clean and comfortable.
Overnight in Kon Ko Tu village
Kontum – Hoi AnDay 11
After breakfast and check out you will meet your guide and driver again and depart for a seven-hour drive to Hoi An. Stop en route to visit Dakto Tan Canh victory monument and the former war sites such as Charlie hill & Phoenix Airfield, also known as Dak To Base Camp and Dak To II Airfield, now just a bare empty patch of asphalt farmers use to dry cassava.
Continue your road drive. Pause to visit Dak Che waterfall and the Rong house of Gie-Triêng minority people. Lunch at a local restaurant in Kham Duc town
Arrive in Hoi An and check into the beautiful Hoi An Eco Lodge, tucked away in a quiet village a couple of kms from Hoi An Ancient Town and the beach. Hoi An ecolodge is an oasis of peace, where you can totally regenerate.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Cooking Class and KayakingDay 12
After breakfast, you will meet your private guide and head to the local market. Here your Chef will greet and guide you around the market, demystify the local produce, explain the market culture and encourage you to taste some of its most exotic ingredients. Try your bargain skill and buy fresh ingredients for the cooking class’s menu.
After your exciting time at the market, walk to the jetty to embark on the motorized Chic Boat cruising down the Thu Bon River. Take in the stunning scenery along the river. Relax and feel the cool wind in your hair while watching the river life of the locals.
Later your boat will stop to launch the kayaks into the river for a leisurely paddle around (about 45 minutes). Explore and experience some of the hidden corners and the natural beauty of Hoi An.
Embark the boat again. Enjoy a welcome drink, then start the cooking class on board. Your personal chef will first show you how to prepare and cook each dish before you try your hands.
It’s time to roll up your sleeves, under the instruction of your chef, discover the “friendship” of flavors the medley with “Tam Huu”, enjoy an exciting feeling when you have a mouthful of greasy, salty, crispy of deep-fried fish spring rolls and get the strong taste of chicken braised with ginger, which will help you to unravel the secrets of authentic Viet cuisine.
Lunch will be served more with steamed rice, vegetable soup, and a dessert.
After lunch, you will spend time to relax and enjoy everything that the river has to offer you on your return journey to Hoi An. Disembark at the Jetty and transfer back to your Ecolodge
Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. You can take the bicycle from the lodge and ride around its neighborhood.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Day at leisureDay 13
The whole day is at your leisure. There are no planned activities. You may head to the Ancient Town for your exploration or perhaps you can ride the bicycle to the beach for some swim and relaxing time. Otherwise enjoy the comforts of the Ecolodge.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to HanoiDay 14
After breakfast, you are collected by your private driver and transferred to Da Nang airport to board a short flight to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
Your private guide and driver will pick you up at Hanoi’s Noi Bai airport and take you to your hotel in Hanoi Old quarter for check-in. Free to relax afterward.
Enjoy your free time. You may take a stroll through the narrow lanes of the Old Quarter.
Your tour guide will take you to Bong Sen theater where you will experience the Water Puppet Show, a unique and traditional Vietnamese art performance. Marvel at the craftsmanship of the colorful puppets and the skillful manipulating by the true artists as they control the puppets behind a “water stage.”
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Experience Off the Beaten Path by Russian Minsk MotorcycleDay 15
Today you will experience Hanoi Off the Beaten Path in the back of the Russian Minsk Motorcycle. This one-of-the-kind tour will bring you into the true livings museum of Hanoi life, give you a rich insight into how the locals live. With your experienced guides (also your drivers), you will explore Hanoi’s different neighborhoods, a few key attractions, local markets, and beautiful urban agricultural land on an island. They will show you some hidden gems of Hanoi and special places where you can taste amazing street food. Motorbike tour? It sounds a little scary but you will be safe with your courteous, friendly, and very professional drivers.
Note: If you are not keen on the motorcycle, there is an alternative option for your family to take an open-air war-time Jeep car.
After breakfast you will be met at the hotel lobby at the appointed time by your guides (also drivers) and after some safety briefing, set off as pillion riders on Russian built 1952 150cc motorcycles heading out of the city. While riding you will be shown some sights and your guides knowledgeably and proudly explain their city.
The first stop is at the black market where you will get through tiny zigzag alleyways. Meet and interact with the friendly local people. Pause at a food court in the back of the market and try some delicious street food.
Continue your ride zipping in and out of the backstreets. You will arrive at a local home where you are introduced to an old woman at her apartment to hear about her life stories.
Proceed to a narrow stretch of housing where the only space between both sides of the street is the railroad track. Here your guides have timed it so you can get to see a Reunification Express train passing through! It’s your Kodak moment.
Return to the City you are driven through the French colonial architecture of the precinct known as the French Quater. You will pass the French-style villas, the Vietnam History Museum, the heritage Metropole Legend Hotel, and the Opera House, name to a few.
Proceed to Hanoi’s Old Quarter (in contrast to the French Quarter) to explore the maze of small alleyways and narrow streets. You are safely skirted through traffic amongst the thousands of scooters as you marvel at the composition of the city. Stop at different AUTHENTIC eateries and food stalls to savor the tastiest of the tasty dishes of Hanoi including family heirloom & secret recipe dishes, local delicacies, and specialties.
Ride out of the city toward the historic Long Bien Bridge, a magnificent structure built by the French over a hundred years ago which spans the Red River.
From the bridge, you will get to Bai Giua, more commonly known as Banana Island, a 24ha stretch of land in the middle of the Red River. Running down from the centre of the bridge is a steel staircase leading to an island covered by a green canopy of banana, papaya and guava trees, interspersed with the cloudy-white flowers of the wild reeds. Thanks to the abundance of the Red River’s water, the island has been formed by warp providing shelters for many fishermen. The area is vast with no roads, just beaten paths zigzagging behind gardens and trees. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant city you left behind.
After meeting some locals and having a leisurely experience in getting to know them you will get back to the City. The final stop will be made at a hidden Cafe for an unmissable egg coffee.
Around midday your guides will drop you back at your hotel where you will bid them a fond farewell. Tour ends.
Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. Relax and enjoy the comforts of the hotel or have another stroll through the hidden Alleys of the Old Quarter.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Da Bac – Sung VillageDay 16
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your private guide and driver and transferred to Da Bac Commune, in Hoa Binh Province, 100km away from Hanoi where you will escape the tourist trail and discover one of the most authentic, rewarding tourism experiences on offer in Northern Vietnam. Da Bac is a small commune consisting of three remote hill-tribe villages known as the Community-Based Tourism. It is a social enterprise that was set up in 2017 to help create sustainable incomes for families in the area.
After three hours driving through the picturesque countryside, you will arrive at Sung Village, home to the Dzao Tien minority people. There are around 75 households and about 350 residents in the village and they live on farming and forest plantations.
Check into a local home where you will enjoy an authentic Vietnam homestay. The house is beautifully designed with the carved and painted rafters inside the house and the bedrooms. Clean linens and fresh towels are standard, and mattresses and pillows are comfortable. Every bed has a mosquito net and curtains that you can pull across for extra privacy.
After enjoying a delicious lunch cooked and served by the family hosts, you will take a leisurely walk around the village. This area has a cool climate and is famous for its Shan green tea, which you can purchase at a small tea shop in the village. You can also visit a local handicraft workshop where you can see the beautiful textiles which are still handmade using traditional dyeing and embroidery techniques. You will find all the local people in the village still dressed in their traditional costumes.
Take a short trek (approximately 2 kilometres) to the alluring Sung Cave and visit a 100-year-old tea plantation. The trek has some steep and slippery sections so make sure you’ve packed suitable footwear for this activity.
Return to the homestay for your leisure time. You can muster the energy to roll out of your hammock for a couple of hours easily.
End your day with a nice and hot shower and get ready for your authentic dining experience.
Enjoy a delightful dinner while getting to know your family hosts, and experience their lifestyle and culture.
Overnight in Sung Village
Sung Village – Da Bia VillageDay 17
Today will be spent delving deeper into this slice of rural paradise. Continue to immerse yourself in nature and the magnificent scenery.
After an early breakfast, say goodbye to your hosts and embark on a five-hour trek (approximately 12 kilometres). You will walk through the lush corn and rice paddies past the glistening lake and the breathtaking limestone karsts. It will be truly spectacular.
During the trek, there will be plenty of opportunities to take photos as you’re rewarded with fantastic views of the breathtaking mountains, valleys and especially the Da Reservoir and its turquoise waters.
Eventually, you will arrive in the village of Da Bia, home to Muong Minority people. Here you will enjoy a delicious lunch served by a Muong family that you will be staying with.
After lunch, you will have the remainder of the day at leisure. If you want to be more active, your guide will take you to visit the local fish farms, which float on the river’s surface. You can also enjoy swimming or kayaking in the Da Reservoir.
Enjoy dinner with your family hosts and spend the evening at leisure.
Overnight in Da Bia Village
Da Bia Village – Thung Nai – Ninh BinhDay 18
After an early breakfast, you will depart Da Bia village and head back to the Da Reservoir where you will board a private boat for your journey (approx. 1-1.5hrs) to Thung Nai harbour. From here you will be picked up and driven through the lush countryside to Son Ha village in Ninh Binh Province.
Upon arrival you will join a “countryside leisure excursion” ride on bicycles, between the lush green fields and through the narrow lanes, seeing the locals going about their daily lives.
After lunch, you will take a relaxing rowing boat down a small canal to visit Thien Ha caves, enjoying the natural scenery along the way. This is a newly discovered eco-tourism attraction and said to be the most beautiful cave in Ninh Binh by tourists, offering endless photo opportunities.
After discovering the Caves you will be rowed for 2,5 hours more on an untouched water route toward Thung Nang “Sunshine Valley”, a pristine area surrounded by sheer limestone cliffs and stunning rice paddies. This promises you a one-of-the-kind experience. Along the way, you can enjoy the fresh air, clean and clear water with underwater grass while having plenty of Kodak moments. Also, the absolute absence of crowds will be a big bonus.
Upon reaching the wharf in Thung Nang, you will be picked up by your waiting driver and taken to Hoa Lu, the location of the Ancient Capital of Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. Having been eroded over the millennia, the dilapidated ruins have nearly been absorbed by the spectacular scenery creating a mystical atmosphere that will be sure to titillate your imagination.
On arrival, dive into the history at the remaining two temples of Dinh and Le Emperors. Restored in the 17th century but the temples are believed to be built on the original foundations of the old palaces from the 11th and 12th centuries.
Leaving the temple, you will drive to Mua Cave Mountain where you enjoy a short hike which leads you to an incredible viewpoint with a spectacular sight of the Ngo Dong River below that cuts its way around the towering mountains.
Finish the tour and transfer to your hotel in Ninh Binh for check-in. The remainder of the afternoon and evening will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh – Cat Ba Island – Lan Ha BayDay 19
After breakfast, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Hai Phong city and then catch a local ferry to reach Cai Ba Island where you board a private wooden Junk Boat that is your home for two lovely nights.
On arrival around midday, you’ll be welcomed aboard your Junk boat and begin your cruise toward Lan Ha Bay. Lying south and east of Cat Ba Island, the 300-or-so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are just as beautiful as those of Halong Bay but more isolated and untouched. The special thing about Lan Ha is that the karst formations are close to each other which makes it become the best place for kayaking and swimming activities.
Around midday, the anchor is dropped in the middle of the bay for lunchtime. Enjoy the delightful Vietnamese cuisine along with fantastic panoramic views of the scenery.
Continue the journey to Ba Trai Dao beaches past the floating fish farms. Later your boat will stop to launch the kayaks into the bay for a leisurely paddle the limestone karsts before swimming and sunbathing on the tiny beach.
Return to your Junk boat for a cooking demonstration with the chef. Learn about local ingredients as well as the preparation of classic Vietnamese dishes.
As the sun sets, you will arrive at a remote spot where you get the anchor dropped. Take more swim off the boat if you wish.
After a scrumptious dinner, enjoy some more drinks on the top deck or have some fun fishing for squid with the boat crew before retiring to your cabin for a good night sleep.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay – Further DiscoveryDay 20
Get up early to enjoy the sunrise and it’s followed by breakfast. Then get ready to start your second day of adventure. The boat lifts her anchor and cruise to other parts of the bay include the Coconut beach area and Vung Kiem Lam area. You are escorted to discover a hidden lake that can be accessed by only one tunnel-like cave (Hang Sang). Take out the kayaks again and paddle around the lake to enjoy the quietness at this beautiful spot.
You will continue on your cruise toward Viet Hai Village. Once you reach the Viet Hai Pier you will enjoy close-up views of pristine natural surrounds on a leisurely bicycle ride of approximately 5 total km along the quiet, paved paths to the remote village of Viet Hai. Little has changed in Viet Hai since the ancestors of the 80 households settled here centuries ago. Situated in a valley within Cat Ba National Park and surrounded on all sides by forest and mountains, the locals are isolated from the island’s other villages and towns.
You will explore the village school and organic gardens meeting the local people. If you want to be more active you can take a hike up to the summit of Hai Quan Mountain for a wonderful view over the park and a part of Halong Bay.
End the tour and ride back to your boat then cruise to a hidden spot in Lan Ha for your second night.
Enjoy a set-menu dinner. After that try your luck again with the squid fishing before retiring in your cozy cabin.
Overnight on board in Lan Ha Bay
Lan Ha Bay – Cat Ba Island – HanoiDay 21
After breakfast, start your day with a gentle cruise, meandering around the sheer cliffs of Lan Ha Bay toward Monkey Island where the beautiful sandy beach is ideal for the last swim. Spend time to relax at the beach or take a short hike up to a viewpoint on the mountain for a wonderful bird.
Return to the boat to check out of the cabin. Then enjoy a set-menu lunch as you cruise back to the shore.
Disembark at the pier where your private driver will take you back to Hanoi.
After checking into your hotel, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure. Stroll around the town or visit Hoan Kiem Lake & Ngoc Son Temple, a short walk from your hotel. It’s beautifully lit up at night.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – DepartureDay 22
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
Inquire this trip
This sample itinerary was created by our travel experts as inspiration for your next trip. Ready for your customization. You pick to suit your budget, desires, and cultural experiences. The price of this trip will vary, depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and the availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and give us the necessary information to enable us to send you a FREE personalized quote within 48 hours if not sooner!
- Explore Ho Chi Minh City like a local, rising early for a cyclo ride through peaceful parks, sipping French-pressed Vietnamese coffee, perusing flowers at a local market
- Discovery Mekong Delta and enjoy a unique experience stay at Co Co Riverside Lodge
- Discover the forests surrounded villages and deep in local life and culture of the native ethnic groups in the Central Highlands of Vietnam
- Visit Buon Ma Thuot, the coffee capital of Vietnam which has played a key role in Vietnam’s success as the world’s top Robusta
- Explore two of the most impressive waterfalls in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: Dray Sap and Dray Nu
- Join a full day elephant experience in Yok Don National park with the stories of training and working with elephants
- Discovery the fascinating Ancient town of Hoi An and take a cookery course
- Experience Hanoi off the beaten path by Russian Minsk motorcycle
- Dip into traditional Vietnamese culture by trekking through lush hill tribe villages in Da Bac
- Row through a huge network of waterways out into lakes dwarfed by limestone mountains in Ninh Binh
- Take the overnight cruise trip, Admire Lan Ha Bay’s majestic beauty
- Free time to wander through the bustling narrow streets of the Old Quarter lined with shop-houses.
- 21 buffet breakfasts.
- 8 dinners and 14 lunches at well-selected restaurants
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, domestic flights, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights from and to Vietnam, the entry visa to Vietnam, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.
How to Plan a successful Trip to Vietnam, Step-by-Step
Why to visit Vietnam
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
How to Book a Tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to visit Vietnam
Vietnam, the S-shaped country, also commonly likened to the shape of a dragon, is located to the west of the South China Sea. The perfect combination of colonial elegance and rustic charm, it guarantees to satisfy all types of travelers with its rich experiences made all the more special by its charming people.
With cities to explore, temples to admire, and green countrysides to roam, there is plenty to see and do in Vietnam. Known as a colorful and diverse country from the wild mountainous north, with its myriad of ethnic communities, to the sleepless city of Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon) on the edge of the Mekong Delta, it is difficult to pick just one region to visit when coming to Vietnam.
The charming capital of Hanoi is a fascinating mix of fading colonial buildings and national monuments; the scenery of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is bound to leave you speechless; Hue, home to the old Kings of Vietnam, appears to have been frozen in time for several hundred years with its ancient atmosphere and architecture.
With a 3260km coastline, Vietnam is home to many top-tier beaches; the country’s most unsung beauties. My Khe beach – “one of the most attractive beaches on the planet” as described by Forbes – offers blue skies, smooth white sand, clear & warm water year-round. Phu Quoc island, boasting several luxury resorts, is also a favorite escape for the rich and famous. The abundance of mountains, rainforests, and natural lakes also makes Vietnam a great destination for trekking, hiking, mountain biking, sea and river kayaking, and classic overland tours.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Vietnam
• Sapa & Mai Chau – visit the hill tribe villages and plantations
• Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam
• Halong Bay – a UNESCO World Heritage site
• Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam
• Hoi An – the kitchen of Vietnam and paradise on Earth
• Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon) – the economic heart of Vietnam
• The Cu Chi Tunnels – walk through the history of the Vietnam War
• Mekong Delta – see the floating markets
When to Go
Even though Vietnam lies entirely in the tropic zone, its climate varies surprisingly from region to region. Therefore this charming land is well-known as an “all-year-around” available destination for travelers.
In the north, from Sapa to Hanoi, there are 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.
In the central region, from Nha Trang to Hue, sunshine lasts throughout the year, except for the months of November and December when heavy rainfalls occur. Dalat, at an altitude of 1500m, is cooler than the coastal area, particularly from November to March. Da Nang and Hue both experience typhoon activity from mid-October to mid-December when the climate becomes cooler, more overcast and wet.
In the south, from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, there are two main seasons: wet and dry. The wet season falls between April and September, with sudden heavy showers that don’t last very long. The dry season spans the months of October to March, with higher temperatures and long days of sunshine, followed by cooler nights.
Obtain a Vietnam Visa
Almost all visitors to Vietnam need a visa to enter the country, although some exemptions apply for citizens of countries with reciprocal agreements with Vietnam. Depending upon the nationality and passport of the applicant, a tourist visa can be obtained at the Vietnamese diplomatic office or consulates in foreign countries. Visas can also be obtained with the help of a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, known as a “Visa on Arrival”. Visas may be either single-entry or multiple-entry, as requested at the time of application.
Visa on Arrival (VOA)
The easiest way is to get your visa through a licensed Vietnamese Travel Company, such as Indochina Pioneer. We can quickly and efficiently organize your pre-arranged VOA if you wish. Our visa processing fee is a reasonable rate of USD$10 / person only. Except for American citizens who are required to pay a stamping fee of USD$135 to get a 1-year, multiple-entry tourist visa, other nationalities need to pay just USD$25 / person for a single entry and USD$50 / person for multiple entries.
- To apply for your VOA please email us the following information:
- Arrival and departure dates
- Full passport details:
- Passport number
- Issuing date
- Expiry date
Note: your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, and there must be several blank pages left on your passport.
- Once we have received your information, we will secure a Visa Approval Letter for you. This usually takes about 2 – 4 working days (ie. excluding weekends). We will then send you the letter via email or fax. You must present this letter upon boarding your flight. Also, you will need to prepare two photos (6 cm high x 4 cm wide – white background, no glasses, no smiling).
- On arrival at the airport (in Hanoi, Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh City) please find the Visa on Arrival window/counter where you will hand over your passport and photos, and be given a simple form to fill out. Pay the stamping fee of USD$25 for the single entry and USD$50 for multiple entries. The staff at the airport will shortly return your passport with your visa, after which you will be allowed to exit the airport.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a certain amount of time:
- Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia (maximum stay of up to 30 days)
- Philippines (maximum stay of up to 21 days)
- Japan, South Korea (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
- Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and United Kingdom (maximum stay of up to 15 days)
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for a VOA and will have to apply at their nearest Vietnamese embassy/consulate :
South Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa
Starting from February 1st, 2017, the Vietnamese government officially launched the electronic visa plan for foreign tourists of certain countries visiting Vietnam. To apply for an e-visa, please visit http://www.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn or http://www.immigration.gov.vn. For the list of
countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an e-visa to Vietnam, click here.
How to Book a Tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (MR. LAM) or +84 983 145 799 (MR. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at [email protected] with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook
Reviews on Our Service
We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.
We had a wonderful 7-day trip last July; Kata was awesome to work with. So professional, reliable and helpful!
"Lifetime of Memories"
Lam did an amazing job putting together an itinerary based on phone/text conversations. We told him the where and what and he did the rest. The accommodations were beyond expectation, the guides were unbelievably friendly, and the places we were taken were spectacular. Having guides and drivers is worth every penny. So much time and money would have been wasted had we tried to accomplish this ourselves.
We got to experience so much more because of our guides local knowledge. Lastly, how great it was not to worry about how we were getting to the next adventure. Had we not used Indochina Pioneer I truly believe I wouldn’t have as many astonishing memories.
"Amazing 30 Day Journey with Indochina Pioneer"
If you are looking for a private tour of SE Asia, look no further than Indochina Pioneer. I recently returned from a 30-day private tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all arranged by Indochina Pioneer and could not have been happier with everything they arranged for me. They are top-notch from working directly with you on planning your trip, arranging visas, having individuals at the airports to meet and walk you through everything when entering the countries, having amazing tour guides and drivers as well as organizing everything for you on the ground and being there to help you all along the way if you have any questions or problems. My tour was amazing with not only the normal tourist sights, but many off the beaten track sights and with your own guides, you learn so much more from these individuals who actually live in the places you will visit. I can’t recommend this tour agency enough. If you are looking to travel to any of the locations Indochina Pioneer has tours, you must book through them, you will not be disappointed.
"Excellent from the very beginning"
We had 21 days on a private tour and every detail was perfectly arranged. Perhaps, the Spanish speaking skills of guides can ve improved, but overall they were very helpful and committed with their job. I want to highlight the performance of Juan (Hanoi), Miguel (Hoi An), Chao (Ho Chi Minh City) and La (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Hotels were as we asked and the timing for the visits was very good.
I recommend this travel agency!