Vietnam. From North to South

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Overview

If you don't count on much time to visit Vietnam but you still would like to visit the north, central and south parts of the country, then this is the perfect choice for you. This trip will bring us to the most celebrated and iconic spots in Vietnam.

However, remaining true to our motto, we have added healthy servings of authenticity and creativity so that you can still enjoy an individual and memorable experience thanks to the trails and hidden gems that others overlook in their haste and that we won't miss. Even when visiting the 'must-see' attractions, we'll give you a deeper insight into them, but be sure that you will be stumbling upon plenty of other Vietnamese treasures all along the way! 

Highlights

  • A unique cruise around the less travelled routes of Bai Tu Long in the majestic Halong archipielago, natural World Heritage Site.
  • See the very best of the World Heritage ancient cities of Hue and Hoi An.
  • Discover some exceptional rural sceneries and traditions in different provinces in the north, central and south of the S-shaped country.
  • Cruise around the picturesque Mekong Delta, along its maze of canals to experience very close the lush of its forests and lively culture.
Hanoi arrival

Day 1 Hanoi arrival

Meal: not any | Accommodation: hotel in Hanoi

Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. Time for relaxing after the journey.

Hanoi orientation

Day 2 Hanoi orientation

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Hanoi

08:00 AM – Pick up from your hotel, we'll start the day with an exploration of Hanoi Old Quarter on foot. This bustling are of Hanoi is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. We’ll take an unusual trail –the city railway tracks – to discover a amount of local life plays out around the line, and it’s surprisingly quiet as well. There’s time to visit the lovely Temple of Literature - Vietnam's first university, which was established in 1070 before lunch break.

In the afternoon, we head to the Ho Chi Minh Complex, including Ba Dinh square, and his modest stilt-house which provide valuable insights into the life and times of one of the most successful leaders of the 20th century. We conclude the day with a drive to the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam's 54 distinct ethnic groups and enjoy a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam at the museum outdoor stage (a good, light-hearted introduction to our rural culture). Service ends at around 17.00.

The day program includes a visit to a religious architecture; it’s advisory to wear long trousers/blouse (enough to cover your shoulders/knees)

Hanoi - Halong

Day 3 Hanoi - Halong

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: Treasure Junk

7:45 – Pick up from hotel to Handspan office for tour check-in procedure.

8:00 - Depart from Hanoi for a 3.5 hours drive to Halong City through the Red River Delta. Upon arrival, get on board of the Treasure Junk and start the cruise to the boundaries of Halong bay while lunch with fresh seafood is served (vegetarian and kids menus available).

After lunch, just make yourself at ease and relax. Limestone rock formations will parade all around us for about 2 hours before our first stop. We reach the perfect spot, where the waters of Halong and Bai Tu Long hit and wave together. Let's get ready for a closer look to the water and explore the bay in depth with your own kayak & paddle.

We’ll get back on the Treasure board before sunset refresh and an aperitif on the sundeck. The boat cruises to its anchorage area. Dinner is served either inside or outside depending on weather conditions. Overnight on board in a cozy air-conditioned cabin with en-suite bathroom facilities. 

The transfer from Hanoi to Halong is by shuttle bus. On the way to Halong we will stop at a place with food, beverages and souvenirs for sale. This is not to trick you and that will be the only times of the whole trip you may feel in the tourism mass. But that is the only place on the way, where you, your driver and your guide can use clean toilets without being forced to buy anything. Thanks for your understanding.

Halong - Tam Coc

Day 4 Halong - Tam Coc

Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner | Accommodation: hotel in Tam Coc

6:30 - Coffee, tea and cakes will be served. Wake up smoothly while witnessing the silence of beautiful misty bay. A 30-minute Tai Chi session will be organized, energize your body and soul or just allow yourself some farniente time on a sunbath with a cup of coffee.  

About 7.45am, we hop on bamboo boats to go visiting a secluded floating village surrounded by the mountains. We trace our way between numerous floating houses and small rowing boats that serve the everyday life as vehicle, itinerant shops, fishing utility, sometimes overnight shelter.

Back on treasure before 9am, we start cruising back to the pier. From 9.30am, a brunch will be served. Take a last glance at the rocks, standing still as the eternal guardians of a kingdom, we are about to reach the pier.

11:30 – Transfer from Halong to Ninh Binh. The driving takes around 5 hours, you’ll reach Tam Coc (known as one of the most scenic spot of the region) in the late afternoon.

Tam Coc - Hanoi - night train to Hue

Day 5 Tam Coc - Hanoi - night train to Hue

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: Night train - sleeper cabin

In the morning, we hop on bicycles for an easy-paced to the local pier for embarking on a rowing sampan for about one hour on a less travelled canal of the region. It goes through caves and along the border with the natural site of Trang An.

Afterwards, you continue our cycling route through scenic rural landscapes in Tam Coc and have a closer look to the villages’ rural life with opportunity to stop en-route and help a local farmer in his daily work. Lunch will be served at one of the village’s houses.

Make your way back to the lodge for collecting your luggage, we’ll then head back to Hanoi with a stop en route to visit the temples of the ancient imperial capital in Hoa Lu.

In Hanoi, there’s a chance to enjoy a traditional massage at the Sen Garden before your night train to Hue. Set up in by a talented Vietnamese therapeutist, this medicine-free healthcare centre provides a unique experience of professional Vietnamese massage by combining a lot of traditional and effective method.

Travelling by train should be seen as an experience rather than a mode of transport. They offer 4-berth soft sleeper in air-conditioned cabin (so you’re likely to share with others). The beds are provided with clean blanket and pillow, but not so soft.  Each carriage has 2 toilets, tiny but clean and at American standard.  Please discuss with our travel consultant if you’d like to take a flight option instead.

Hue

Day 6 Hue's heritage, people and nature

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Hue

Upon arrival in Hue, you’ll be picked up from railway station to a local restaurant for freshmen and breakfast.

Around 9:30 AM – we starts with a visit of the citadel for an introduction to Vietnam History, its emperors, mandarins, and feudal system. A past heritage that is reinvented by the person we visit next. This artist took the tradition of using bamboo for paper production to a whole new level with his innovative techniques. Our morning ends with an easy paced visit of the Thien Mu pagoda, one of the prettiest religious buildings in Vietnam that was built in early 1600’s.

We cross the Perfume River on a local boat and reach Thuy Bieu village to have lunch at a local house. The village is a real maze of narrow alleys giving access to ancient garden houses all more beautiful than another. But the real treasures of this village are the people, descendants of the Mandarins. We have a gentle walk around and will stop by some house to meet villagers and taste some of their fruits.

On the way back to the city center, we visit emperor Tu Duc’s tomb and climb up a little hill to have a scenic view over the Perfume River.

Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An

Day 7 Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Hoi An

9:00 AM – Pick up from your hotel, we’ll then head to Thanh Thuy village for a visit to Hue’s rural life, starting with its daily market, crossing the village roofed-bridge to a small local museum, which introduce about local farming tools and technique.

Afterwards, your car head to Danang. On the way, you'll cross the Hai Van mountain pass. The views from the top are excellent – you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with Danang spread out before you to the south.

There’s time for a visit to Cham museum before lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll have a guided visit to the Marble Mountain and Hoi An ancient town before settle down at your address in Hoi An

Hoi An rural & river life

Day 8 Hoi An rural & river life

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Hoi An

8:00 AM - our guide picks up from your hotel with bicycles; we’ll then set off towards Duy Vinh – the country side of Hoi An. The picturesque cycling route is highlighted with rice fields, local garden and market... Stop as often as you wish for taking photograph or some easy chat with locals. There’s also time for a visit to a local family who are making sleeping mats in traditional way or a local carving workshops nearby.

After around 1 hour cycling, you’ll meet your water gear, let’s explore Cam Thanh coco palm forest in your own way by kayak or SUP (stand-up-paddle). The area is a unique mangrove ecosystem to Hoi An and the scenery is spectacular. The Coco palm forest provides the locals with products such as fish, shells and Nipa leaves which are commonly used as a roofing material for local homes.

You’ll back to the boat pier after 1-1.5 hours paddling. Cool down with lunch at a local family before heading back to hotel. The rest of day will be free at leisure. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An

Hoi An - Da Nang - Ho Chi Minh city

Day 9 Hoi An - Da Nang - Ho Chi Minh city

Meal: breakfast | Accommodation: hotel in Ho Chi Minh city

Time will be on your own until our driver arrives and takes you to Danang airport for boarding a flight to Ho Chi Minh city.

Upon your arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh city, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel in the city centre. After checking in, you’ll be free for a preliminary wander around District 1. Your overnight will be in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh city - Cu Chi tunnels

Day 10 Ho Chi Minh city - Cu Chi tunnels

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Ho Chi Minh city

8:00 AM - We depart from your hotel to visit Cu Chi - a byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used during the war. You'll be able to get an idea of what it would have been like to live, sleep and eat in the underground passages and bunkers during the fierce battles above and below the surface. Return to the city for lunch at a tasty restaurant in the city centre.

In the afternoon, you'll discover the Reunification Palace - a blend of traditional ritual and modern architecture, served as the presidential palace of South Vietnam until reunification in 1975. The building now functions as a museum, offering tours of the former state rooms, presidential office and library, living quarters of the president's family, and underground war rooms.

Our next destination is Binh Tay market and its surrounding area – known as Cholon or China town. The market is always busy, crowded and messy with small aisles selling all manner of goods, our main point is not for shopping but to enjoy the authentic Chinese atmosphere that has existed here for hundreds of years. There’s also time to visit Thien Hau pagoda before heading back to your hotel.

Ho Chi Minh city - Can Tho

Day 11 Ho Chi Minh city - Can Tho

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: hotel in Ho Chi Minh city

8:00 – 8:15 AM – pick up from your hotel by shuttle bus for an approximate 2.5 hour drive to our exploration area. We let the touristy spots behind and travel beyond, where very few other visitors have the chance to go.

We arrive at Cai Thia pier at about 10h30. Boat hits the waterways bring you to the village of Hoa Loc. We will cycle through the villages on the winding countryside to visit local houses en-route, with opportunities to learn about their local handicraft and/or be invited for a cup of tea with some local snack.

We later meet our boat again and ride further to a less busy area of the Mekong, where you’ll find a bamboo sampan (rowing boat) is waiting to take us deeper into the countryside of the Delta through its networks of small canals.

In the afternoon, we cruise toward Vinh Long with more stops at local workshops. 16:00 – a quick transfer from Vinh Long pier to Can Tho, where you check-in your hotel and enjoy the night in this “mega city” of the Mekong Delta.

Ho Chi Minh city departure

Day 12 Ho Chi Minh city departure

Meal: breakfast, lunch | Accommodation: not included

6:00 AM – An early start is necessary as you’d like to see the Cai Rang floating market at fullest. While our boat glides slowly through the market mayhem, please feel free to take photographs, talk or bargain with local vendors. There are fantastic photo opportunities amidst the variety of agricultural bounty on sale here. 

We’ll back to hotel for breakfast, and then check-out at around 8:00. A quick transfer brings you further to Phong Dien – the rustic area of Can Tho city. Collect your bicycles then we’ll make our way to visit a blacksmith family and also a fruit orchards in Nhan Ai island. Lunch will be served at a local house. 

After lunch, saying goodbye to the hospitable host for a drive back to Ho Chi Minh city airport, in a good time for boarding your departure flight. End of our services.

Price per person based on a group tour

Validity

Accommodation

Category

Price per person

based on twin-shared room

Single Supplement

1 Jan - 30 Apr & 

1 Oct - 31 Dec 2019

Standard USD 1226
[vnd 28 445 000]
USD 294
[vnd 6 822 000]
Superior USD 1345
[vnd 31 216 000]
USD 408
[vnd 9 470 000]
1 May - 30 Sep 2019 Standard USD 1202
[vnd 27 890 000]
USD 278
[vnd 6 453 000]
Superior USD 1305
[vnd 30 290 000]
USD 386
[vnd 8 960 000]

 

* Fixed prices in USD. Prices in VND are subject to currency fluctuations upon making the trip reservation.

* Single supplement: to be applied for those who travel with others but require a single room for her/himself.

* Prices valid till 31 December 2019 for the ready-to-book adventure outlined on this detailed program which has been handcrafted by our production team and that includes the best of each destination (highlights and some lesser known assets as well!). Our travel consultants will also be glad to customize this journey to suit your specific interests and travel-style. 

* Would you like to adapt the itinerary, accommodation, length of the trip or any activity as per your needs and preferences? Then just forward us your comments at info@handspan.com.

* Special prices for larger groups, children and the possibility to connect the tour with other stages of your trip around Indochina by contacting us. 

Included

  • Standard accommodation option:
    • Hanoi
      • Church Hang Ca Boutique Hotel (or similar), Premium room
    • Halong
      • Treasure Junk (or similar),  Superior cabin
    • Tam Coc
      • Tam Coc Rice Field Lodge (or similar),  Bungalow
    • Hue
      • Emm Hue Hotel (or similar), Superior room
    • Hoi An
      • Vinh Hung City Hotel (or similar), Standard room
    • Saigon
      • Lavender Central Hotel (or similar), Deluxe room
    • Can Tho
      • Hau Giang Hotel (or similar), Superior room
  • Superior accommodation option:
    • Hanoi
      • La Belle Vie Hotel (or similar), Superior room
    • Halong
      • Treasure Junk (or similar), Superior cabin
    • Tam Coc
      • Tam Coc Rice Field lodge (or similar), Bungalow
    • Hue
      • Romance Hue Hotel (or similar), Deluxe room
    • Hoi An
      • Atlas Hoi An Hotel (or similar), Deluxe room
    • Saigon
      • Lavender Boutique Hotel (or similar), Premier room
    • Can Tho
      • Hau Giang Hotel (or similar) Superior room
  • Deluxe accommodation choices also available upon request.
  • Meals as specified on the program.
  • Travel in appropriate air-conditioned vehicles with experienced drivers.
  • Train ticket Hanoi – Hue in 4-berth sharing soft sleeper cabin.
  • Air ticket Danang – Saigon, economy class.
  • 1-night Halong cruise on board the Treasure Junk (or similar category cruiser).
  • The services of experienced English-speaking local guides.
  • All entrance fees, visits and activities mentioned on the program.
  • VAT and other taxes.

Not included

  • Flight tickets or visas.
  • Beverages, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Personal travel insurance.
  • Supplements on peak season.
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