The best of Vietnam: Ho Chi Min to Hanoi Vietnam
What do you get when you add a vintage Vespa trip in Ho Chi Minh City, kayaking in Phong Na, a visit to UNESCO World Heritage-listed town Hoi An and lunch in Hanoi with a local family to your 14-day Vietnamese itinerary? The perfect combination of culture, adventure, nature and food... It’s the Vietnam you’d expect, only better.
This tour kicks off in Ho Chi Minh City, a former French enclave and bustling hive of activity and culture. It’s the perfect starting point for your adventure and it is here that you will feast on pho, noodles, rice paper rolls and banh mi. But indulge in the culinary delights of Vietnam is not all you’ll do. You will, however, eat pho from a restaurant that’s been serving noodle soup for more than 35 years. You can even contemplate your future at a famous fortune-telling temple nearby. But do you really want to know?
You’ll visit the incredible Cu Chi tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground passages used by the Viet Cong as hiding spots during combat. If you’re the size of a pixie you may just squeeze into one.
You’ll barely have had time to wipe your sweat-laden brow, before you’re off for a jaunt around Hoi An’s Cam Thanh village, known for its coconut jungles and rice paddies. Transfer to the Coco River for a bamboo basket boat ride to Thanh Dong village and the only organic farm in Hoi An. Explore the Thu Bon River by kayak.
The following two days will be spent in Lang Co, where you’ll head out in a local boat to enjoy being on the water and spectacular views of the jungle-covered Annamite Range. You can even try your hand at local fishing techniques, visit families in the village, and have lunch in an authentic stilt house above the waters of the lagoon.
After a chilled night sipping cocktails at Lang Co Beach Resort, you will put your walking shoes on for an eight-kilometre hike along the sub-tropical forest trails of the Bach Ma National Park. There’s also time for a splash at the Ngu Ho Lake and Do Quyen Waterfall.
Transfer to Hue, a city renowned for its historical monuments, to visit the home of a local family and see traditional delicacies being made. Afterwards ride to the citadel to visit a doctor of herbal medicine and his shop. You know that dodgy back you’ve been complaining about? Dr Nguyen will fix it – no problem.
After a biking trip around Bong Lai Eco-Village, a boat journey will take you along Son River to the Phong Nha Cave and drive to the 31-kilometre-long Paradise Cave. After lunch you’ll go zip-lining and kayaking on the Chay River and don headlights and specialised equipment to explore Dark Cave.
Your time in the Phong Nha region will include a hike in the lush jungle of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Phong Nha–Ke Bang National Park, where you’ll learn about the culture of the Ruc Ca Roong people. When you reach Pygmy Cave, you’ll have to duck (joke). It’s a real treat to spend the day underground at Hang Over Cave, the fourth largest cave in the world.
Spend the final four days of the trip in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and a city renowned for its centuries-old architecture as well as Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences. You’ll head up the Cham River to gear up for a rafting adventure that takes you to the scenic Tan Lap Bridge.
The following day wander around tumbling rice terraces and trek along small paths shrouded in vegetation before finishing at a picturesque local village where you’ll have the chance to interact with locals living in the hills. Explore working farms and rice fields, and learn about making rice wine and weaving colourful textiles. Finish off having a lunch with a local family. Don’t be shy – seconds are encouraged. If you still want more after this itinerary, you’re just being greedy.
- An in-depth look at this fascinating country
- Meeting the locals as you go
- Travel using lots of different modes of transportation
- Tasting the huge variety of culinary delights that Vietnam has to offer
- Getting stuck in the tunnels at Cu Chi (you won’t but you won’t be able to get in them either)
- Is 14 days really enough?
14-day group tours from approx US$4060
14-day private tours from AU$4400 (minimum two people).