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Departure Point: Hanoi - Vietnam

Trip code: WHIVN14D

Duration: 14 days / 13 nights

Vietnam is one of the most diverse and exciting destinations in South East Asia and this trip is the perfect way to discover it if you like to make your explorations on foot. We enjoy both walking tours around the must-see city sights in Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, and easy walks in the countryside. Rural rambles take us from the stilted tribal villages of the north, to ancient temples in the jungle and the heat and quiet of the sleepy Mekong Delta. A junk cruise among the karst landscapes and still waters of Halong Bay is an undoubted highlight.

Trip Inclusions

    • Accommodation based on Double/Twin sharing room at specified hotels or similar
    • Modern transport with AC
    • Domestic flight tickets
    • English speaking tour guide
    • Meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lucnh, D=dinner)
    • Entrance fee,
    • Service Charge

Trip Exclusions

    • International airfare
    • Visa and visa arrangement
    • Tips and personal expenses
    • Personal travel insurance

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    Tour itinerary

    Day - Join trip in Hanoi: Explore the Old Quarter on foot (L)

    This afternoon we are introduced to life in Vietnam on a walking tour through the bustling streets and markets of Hanoi's Old Quarter. The maze of fascinating alleys is known for its interesting 'tube' houses, whose narrow frontages give way to long rooms that stretch back from the road. Street vendors tempt you with noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights from shoulder panniers, all adding to the charm of Hanoi's historic heart. 

    We can expect today's four kilometre walking tour to take around one-and-a-half to two hours.

    Day - Drive to Pu Luong; hike to our comfortable stilt house retreat (B/L/D)

    Leaving Hanoi behind this morning, we drive west to the Pu Luong Nature Reserve, a beautiful region of limestone cliffs, forests and terraced fields that is richly biodiverse. This area is a home to the Thai ethnic minority tribe who live in villages of stilt houses. We will be staying in the heart of the Reserve at the Pu Luong Retreat, an eco-friendly lodge built from traditional materials in a 'boutique' style, with breathtaking views all around. There is even an infinity pool in the former fish pond! At the Retreat we will be staying in its unique stilt house, a beautifully appointed and traditional structure where we sleep on comfortable mattresses in one very large room that can be divided into sections by curtains. The shared bathrooms are connected to the stilt house and open to the elements. See On arriving at the Nature Reserve, we to hike across the paddy fields to our accommodation while the bus continues there with our luggage. 

    We can expect today's eight kilometre walk to take around two-and-a-half hours across gently undulating terrain.

    Day - Hiking in Pu Luong Reserve; lunch with Thai family (B/L/D)

    We spend today hiking among the beautiful landscapes of the Reserve, alongside the bubbling river with its vast wooden waterwheels which transport its waters to irrigate the terraced paddy fields. We will enjoy plenty of stops along the way and to spend time in some of the villages of the Thai minority tribe. We plan to have a traditional lunch at a local house en route.

    Today's leisurely paced hike of approximately 10 kilometres will take around five hours across gently undulating terrain.

    Day - Morning walk and bamboo raft trip; return to Hanoi (B/L)

    In the morning we enjoy another hike to a spot where we take to the river on simple bamboo rafts. Floating along at in this tranquil place we will no doubt feel rejuvenated and ready for our adventure ahead! We return to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi today with time in the evening to enjoy a performance of traditional water puppets (optional). These puppet shows date back to the 11th century, and performances took place in the flooded rice fields of the villages in the Red river Delta. 

    This morning's walk covers approximately five-and-a-half kilometres and is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours.

    Day - Walking tour in Hanoi; drive to Halong Bay (B/L)

    This morning we will discover more of Hanoi outside the Old Quarter on a walking tour. 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 that we will visit 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 and which we will see in the Palace grounds. In the afternoon we drive to our hotel at Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. 

    We can expect today's seven kilometre walking tour to take around four hours including sightseeing.

    Day - Junk Cruise around Halong Bay; overnight train to Hue (B/L)

    This morning we enjoy the romantic scenery of Halong Bay on a junk cruise amongst the thousands of jagged limestone islands that 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. During our cruise we'll have the chance to stop at a grotto beneath towering cliffs and perhaps visit a beach and enjoy a delicious freshly caught seafood lunch on board the boat. After disembarking, we return to our hotel in Hanoi to freshen up before boarding the 'Reunification Express' to Hue. We travel 'soft sleeper' class on the train, with four people to a compartment with all bedding provided.

    Day - Afternoon walking tour around Hue Citadel (B/L)

    Awaking aboard the train, we pass through a rural landscape of seemingly endless rice paddies before arriving in the city of Hue mid morning. This afternoon we will discover Hue's fascinating history on a walking tour around the Imperial Citadel. Located on the left bank is the river, the 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.

    We can expect today's seven kilometre walking tour to take around three-and-a-half hours including sightseeing.

    Day - Hike through villages; cruise on the Perfume River (B)

    This morning we drive out of the city to enjoy a hike through some of the villages that lie along the banks of the Perfume River. Exploring on foot enables us to observe rural life up close and our leader is always on hand to explain what we see. The river supposedly got its name from the aromas carried by the river downstream from the forests and mountains of its source. After our walk, we will catch a boat for a short cruise along the river back to our bus.

    Today's leisurely-paced hike of approximately seven kilometres will take around three hours. We will walk along village footpaths and the terrain is flat.

    Day - Drive to the laid-back town of Hoi An (B)

    Today we enjoy a scenic drive south to Hoi An, crossing the spectacular Hai Van Pass en route and passing through rural scenes of thatched, wooden houses and lime-green rice paddies as well as panoramic sea views. The UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An was one of the busiest international trading ports of Southeast Asia in 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 afternoon has been left free to explore Hoi An at your own pace. You may choose to visit the Japanese Bridge or some of the Chinese temples and meeting halls in the Old Town. There are also many shops, bars and restaurants and it is a great place to buy souvenirs, have clothing tailored or simply watch the world go by in a riverside cafe.

    Day - Hike to the Cham temples at My Son (B)

    Today we drive for around an hour from Hoi An and enjoy a hike through a hilly landscape of pine forest and grasslands to the ancient Cham site of My Son. The Chams were dynastic lords who rejected the authority of China in the second century and established their own kingdom in what is now Vietnam. Although they benefited from strong sea links with the rest of South East 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 site is impressive, despite the fact that much it site was bombed in the 1960s and there are several groupings of Cham temples to be visited. 

    We can expect today's seven kilometre hike to take around four-and-a-half hours across undulating terrain with a high point of 168m.

    Day - Travel to Binh Hoa Phuoc Island in the Mekong Delta (B/D)

    After a short drive to Danang Airport first thing this morning, we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, from where we drive further south to Cai Be in the Mekong Delta. Surrounded with lush and fertile land the area is home to small villages and swaying coconut palms. We take a walk on Tan Phong Islands to see local Delta life. Later we travel by boat to the island of Binh Hoa Phoc where we spend the night in a local homestay-cum-guesthouse. At the homestay we will be accommodated in a mix of twin and triple rooms with attached bathrooms. The rich soil of the Mekong provides an abundant harvest, including coconut, fruits, rice and of course fish and tonight we will enjoy a dinner of local produce

    We can expect today's four kilometre hike to take around one-and-a-half hours across undulating terrain with a high point of 168m.

    Day - Walks in the Mekong Delta; drive to Ho Chi Minh City (B)

    This morning we plan a walk on the island, stopping off along the way to observe some of the traditional cottage industries of the Delta such as the production of rice paper and coconut sweets. Other glimpses of everyday life may include seeing people catching fish from the river, or mending baskets and repairing tools by the river bank. Departing by boat once more we meet our bus in Vinh Long and drive to our final destination of the trip, Ho Chi Minh City. Still unofficially referred to as 'Saigon', the city is the largest in Vietnam with a population of around eight million. You will find an eclectic mix of the traditional and the new, where pagodas and markets compete alongside the trappings of Vietnam's newly discovered entrepreneurial spirit.

    We can expect today's eight-and-a-half kilometre hike to take around three hours across at a leisurely pace. The terrain of the Delta is flat.

    Day - Walking tour of Old Saigon; free afternoon to explore Ho Chi Minh City (B)

    This morning we walk around the central sights of Old Saigon, now known as 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 continue to the Independence Palace (renamed the Reunification Hall) and the War Remnants Museum. The afternoon is free for you to explore the city further, perhaps with a visit to the huge Ben Thanh market for some shopping.

    We can expect today's five kilometre walking tour to take around four hours including sightseeing.

    Day - Visit Cu Chi tunnels; return to Ho Chi Minh City where trip ends (B)

    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 trip ends back at our hotel.

    Tailoring your trip _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _Tailoring


    Any part of this itinerary can be altered to fit your need, e.g.accommodation, add/skip city, tour length...

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