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Inside Vietnam
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Mixed Groups

14 Days / 13 Nights Trip to Vietnam

Inside Vietnam

Get ready for cultural immersion, local escapades, plenty of fun and un-pho-gettable times all rolled into one.
One trip, double the fun! 
 
From the temples of Siem Reap to the limestone karst wonderland of Ha Long Bay, and the beautiful old-world charm of Hoi An to the buzzing local vibrancy of Hanoi, experience the best of Vietnam with us. Explore a mix of ancient-modern cities, floating villages and colourful market streets that crackle with energy, eat steaming bowls of noodle soup, and enjoy plenty of good times with new friends in between.
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  • Duration
    14 Days
  • Starting From
    $1,552
    /person
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
    Explore
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Hoi An will completely charm you
Highlight #1
Hoi An will completely charm you
Paper lanterns line the streets and a small river flows through, with over 100 candle lit lamps floating on the water - it's as beautiful as it sounds.
Discover the hidden treasures of Hanoi
Highlight #2
Discover the hidden treasures of Hanoi
From pretty paper lanterns to glass jars of ancient herbal remedies, in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, there's a surprise waiting around every corner.
Cruise the world-famous Halong Bay!
Highlight #3
Cruise the world-famous Halong Bay!
Thousands of limestone karsts rising like dragon's teeth from the sea; there's a striking sight everywhere you turn.
Cruise down the Mekong Delta
Highlight #4
Cruise down the Mekong Delta
See lush green mangroves, languid backwaters, and life in sleepy little villages glide by. From a fisherman casting his net out into the water to impossibly green rice paddies, you never know what moments of wonder are just waiting beyond the next bend.
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Itinerary

Join tour in Hanoi

Arrive Hanoi and check-in at the hotel. The remainder of the day is free to make your first impressions of the Vietnam's capital city. You may choose to take a walk around the shores of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Discover the sights of Hanoi including the Old Quarter

This morning we make a tour of the main sights of Hanoi. Architecturally styled like a French provincial town with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses the city is wonderfully nostalgic. Among the interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, Confucius Temple and the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh himself, a spartan-living and scholarly man, chose not to live in the Presidential Palace; he preferred instead a simple teak stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. This walk through the narrow lanes of the fascinating Old Quarter, where the streets are named after various crafts or specialties: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street and so on. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as tube shops. On the pavements food sellers sell noodles, snacks and stir-fries from shoulder panniers. The smell of food mixes with the smell of incense from small temples dotted around.

Free time in Hanoi, then drive to Halong Bay

We have some free time in Hanoi this morning perhaps to visit some of the many museums or Ho Chi Minh's austere mausoleum, which resembles Lenin's in Moscow. Afterwards we drive out towards the iconic Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. Thousands of jagged limestone islands rise out of the jade green waters like the hairy scales of a submerged dragon. In fact Halong means: 'Where the dragon descends to the sea'. As legend has it the rugged seascape was created by the pounding tail of a dragon as he ran from the mountains into the sea, carving the islands in his wake.

Cruise Halong Bay; from Hanoi overnight train to Hué

This morning we enjoy the romantic scenery of Halong Bay on a cruise amongst the islands. We'll have the chance to stop at a grotto beneath towering cliffs and perhaps visit a beach. It is interesting to see the curious assortment of tourist boats, traditional junks and wooden sampans gliding through the waters. We enjoy a seafood lunch on board the boat, before returning to a hotel in Hanoi to freshen up before boarding the Reunification Express to Hué.

In Hué; boat along Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda

We arrive in Hué, one of the great cultural and religious centres of Vietnam, a quietly impressive place. The Perfume River divides the city in two and has been the inspiration for poets and painters for many centuries. This afternoon we to take a trip by boat along the Perfume River from Hué to the Thien Mu Pagoda. This serene temple is the oldest in Hué and also the symbol of the city.

In Hué, visit the Imperial Citadel; free afternoon

This morning we appreciate Hué's fascinating history with a visit to the Imperial Citadel. Located on the left bank is the river, this palace was built by the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam's ruling emperors from the early 1800s to 1945. The Citadel has formal moats and impressive ramparts that were constructed by 20,000 men and was a copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Although most of the inner part of the city was totally destroyed during the month-long Tet Offensive in 1968, the vast outer walls and the west wing remain an eloquent reminder of the palace's former glory. The remainder of the day is free to perhaps explore some of the outlying Tombs of the Emperors.

Scenic drive via Danang to Hoi An

Early this morning there is the option to drive out to the peaceful setting of Tu Hieu Pagoda, nestled in a pine forest a short distance outside the city. Here we can witness the morning chanting before taking part in a meditation lesson led by the head monk. The monk will explain how meditation is central to Buddhism, promoting peace of mind and a healthy mental balance. He will then lead a meditation session for us in the quiet back-corner of the temple. We return to Hue for breakfast, before driving on to Hoi An.

We enjoy a scenic drive across the spectacular Col des Nuages, otherwise known as the Hai Van Pass observing rural scenes of thatched, wooden houses and lime-green rice paddies as well as enjoying panoramic sea views. Pausing in Danang, once the centre of the Kingdom of Champa (2nd century AD - 1720) we visit the Cham Museum, home to a fine collection of Cham sculptures. Our next stop is at the nearby five peaks of the Marble Mountains, said to represent the five elements of water, wood, fire, gold and earth. Naturally formed grottoes have been transformed into heavily carved Buddhist sanctuaries. A short distance from the mountains we find the white sands of My Khe Beach (nicknamed China Beach by American troops)- an ideal spot for a brief rest. Finally we reach our destination - the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An.

Free day to explore Hoi An; optional visit to My Lai

The historic, merchant town of Hoi An had become one of the busiest international trading ports of Southeast Asia by the 17th and 18th centuries. First colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century it still retains its medieval charm today, with many of its old buildings superbly preserved. The day is free to explore at leisure. You may choose to visit the Japanese Bridge or some of the Chinese temples and meeting halls in the Old Town. There are many shops, bars and restaurants in this charming town and it is a great place to buy souvenirs, have clothing tailored or simply watch the world go by in a riverside café. You may wish to take an optional excursion out to the site of the My Lai village massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the American War and the horrific story is told through a very emotive exhibition of photography.

Another option would be to take a fishing trip out to the Thu Bon River Delta, where we learn how to fish using a traditional cast net. Travelling out by boat we meet local fisherman and try our hand at cast net fishing as well as trying the bamboo winches used to haul in the huge drop nets from the river. We also have a chance to go out in a Vietnamese 'basket boat' - a circular boat constructed from bamboo that takes a little practice to row!

Visit to ancient My Son; free afternoon in Hoi An

A further day is spent based in this lovely historic town. This morning we take an excursion to the holiest and most evocative of Vietnam's Cham sites, My Son. The Chams were dynastic lords who rejected the authority of China in 2AD and established their own kingdom. Although they benefited from strong sea links with the rest of Southeast Asia the kingdom's interior could not supply sufficient food for a strong military force. For 1000 years they managed to stave off attacks by the Vietnamese and Chinese, before being overcome by the Vietnamese in the 15th century. The track that leads to the site is slow and bumpy through wooded hills, but the site is certainly impressive with several groupings of Cham temples to be visited. Nowhere are the fine masonry skills of the Chams more evident than at My Son, despite the fact that much of the site was bombed in the 1960s. The afternoon is free to enjoy Hoi An further. A cookery class at one of Hoi An's restaurants is a popular choice, as is the lantern-making workshop where you can learn how to make the beautiful lanterns that are ubiquitous in Hoi An. The beach is only a short drive by taxi alternatively a boat trip on the river as the late afternoon sun lights up the riverfront is a treat.

Fly to Ho Chi Minh City; drive to Mekong Delta

After a short drive to Danang Airport we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, from where we drive further south to Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. Surrounded with lush and fertile land the area is home to small villages and swaying coconut palms. We take a local ferry to a nearby village, which we explore by trishaw. Later we board sampans, which are small Chinese wooden boats, and cruise along the narrow canals that shoot of the main vein of the Mekong River. After lunch at a local house we have some free time to explore the area further. Finally we return to Ben Tre by boat where we spend the night in a local homestay, with shared facilities and dorm-style accommodation.

Mekong Delta cruise, then drive to Ho Chi Minh City

We spend the morning exploring the Nuoc Trong canal in the Mekong Delta, meeting some hard working locals, perhaps with time to see coconut processing and trading. We also have options to walk or cycle along the canal to explore further. Later on we drive back to Ho Chi Minh City.

In Ho Chi Minh City; explore Old Saigon, and discover 'Secret Weapons Bunker'

This morning we walk around the central sights of Old Saigon, now District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. We see the Notre Dame Cathedral and the GPO building as well as some of the old French Colonial hotels such as The Rex. We then drive to the Independence Palace (renamed the Reunification Hall) and the graphic War Remnants Museum.

This afternoon we will experience a different side of Ho Chi Minh City, away from the major sights where we take a walk through Old Saigon's back alleys. We make our way to District 3 and turn off the main thoroughfare and into the maze of narrow streets of this bustling district. Our walk takes us past ramshackle shopfronts, through local markets selling anything from colourful fruit to bootleg DVDs, and past houses, churches and schools, all squeezed into the small buildings that line the narrow alleys. It's a fascinating inter-connected community here that is a stones-throw from the city centre, yet feels a far cry from the modern buildings and throngs of tourists. We stop at a local stall for a traditional Vietnamese coffee (brewed coffee served sweet with condensed milk) where we can also sample 'Banh Mi' - a Vietnamese take on the humble French baguette - freshly baked and packed with a combo of traditional and more exotic, aromatic ingredients.

The walk ends the so-called 'secret weapons' bunker'. A small unassuming 'tube house' nestled in a quiet neighbourhood hides a trap door in the floor, concealing a basement stocked full of rifles, grenades and ammunition. The bunker played a key role in the TET Offensive of 1968, it was the base from which the Viet Cong's "Team 5" launched their assault, and its location was only revealed after the end of the war. We have some time to explore the house and bunker, filled with decommissioned weapons and photographs, news clippings and memorabilia from the wartime.

From Ho Chi Minh City, visit Cu Chi Tunnels

This morning we take a short drive out of the city to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, which formed an incredible underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops and were a major part of the 1968 Tet Offensive. The site is a fascinating insight into the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese. There is the opportunity to crawl through a small specially adapted section of the tunnels should you wish to sample the claustrophobic conditions in which the Viet Cong lived. Returning to Ho Chi Minh City the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Tour ends in Ho Chi Minh City

Tour ends after breakfast. If you have time you may wish to pick up some last minute bargains at one of the city's markets.

Inclusions

 Meals - Breakfast: 12, Lunch: 2, Dinner: 1

 Trip staff - Explore Tour Leader, Boat Crew, Driver(s), Local Guide(s)

 Transport - Bus, Boat, Flight, Train

 Accommodation - 1 nights simple homestay, 11 nights comfortable hotel, 1 nights simple overnight train

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST

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Dates and prices

Start date

11 Oct 2020

End date

24 Oct 2020

4+ Spots left

14 Days / 13 Nights

$1,754

$1,552

Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

Start date

18 Oct 2020

End date

31 Oct 2020

6+ Spots left

14 Days / 13 Nights

$1,831

$1,552

Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

Start date

25 Oct 2020

End date

07 Nov 2020

4+ Spots left

14 Days / 13 Nights

$1,800

$1,552

Byond Postpaid starting at $216/month! Enquire with us now!

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This Trip Is Operated By Explore

At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Our authentic travel experiences explore the sights and culture of a country, with hand-picked accommodation that balances comfort and location. Our average group tour size is just 12; perfect for meeting new people and getting to the heart of our destinations.

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