From £1,888 pp incl. UK flights
This holiday offers the perfect mix of rural, city and water landscapes. In the north start in beautiful Pu Luong Nature Reseve with a couple of days to explore the limestone hill country, paddy rice fields and minority villages, then combine the atmospheric energy of Hanoi with an overnight Halong Bay cruise. Fly south to Saigon and its fascinating modern history before finishing on your choice of tropical beach - Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island or Can Dao Island.
Day 1: Depart on your choice of overnight flights to Hanoi
Day 2: Transfer to Pu Luong Nature Reserve (3 nights) - forest, rice terraces & limestone panoramas
Day 3: Morning tour to water wheels and bamboo aquaducts before rafting along the Cham River
Day 4: Cycle or walk the surrounding hills and valleys. Relax and enjoy the hotel's wonderful setting
Day 5: Morning transfer to Hanoi for 2 nights. Evening Street Eats & Market tour with guide
Day 6: Morning city tour with Vietnamese lunch.
Day 7: Drive to Halong Bay - 1 night cruise exploring UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 8: Morning cruise. Evening flight to Saigon for 3 nights
Day 9: Private Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour
Day 10: Full day Mekong Delta tour with boat ride
Day 11: Fly or transfer to your choice of Beach Resort for 3 nights (or more)
Days 12-13: Beach days
Day 14: Overnight flight home
Day 15: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Hanoi
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi - Transfer to Pu Luong Nature Reserve (L / D)
Most flights arrive early morning and so rather than stay in the city we suggest you head straight out into the countryside where you can recover from the journey and enjoy a more relaxing start to your holiday.
Only four hours away from bustling Hanoi, it feels like another world as the reserve is a land of verdant landscapes dotted with villages, meandering streams and countless rice fields, all surrounded by dramatic limestone karst mountains. The varied landscape makes an ideal base for a range of hiking / biking options (as well as rafting) and to enjoy a side of Vietnam that's gradually disappearing. On arrival check-in to the Pu Luong Retreat for 3 nights. The afternoon is free to settle in and enjoy the hotel's stunning setting.
Day 3: Pu Luong Retreat - Village Life - Water Wheels - Rafting (B / L / D)
This just a suggested day, multiple other options are available or you can just relax and decide what to do locally.
This morning you have the chance to get close to village life and interact with locals living in the hills above the Retreat. Watch daily life play out around you, walk around working farm land and rice fields and learn about making rice wine and the weaving of colourful textiles, followed by lunch with a local family.
This afternoon transfer by local tuk tuk down the valley to a suspension bridge that crosses the Cham River. Walk across to discover the stunning water wheels that move water via handmade bamboo aqueducts from the river to the terraced paddy fields. Your local guide will explain their construction, history and continued use. From here continue on foot to a local fisherman’s house and begin your rafting adventure. Floating along the calm river enjoy the beautiful views of the valley, farms and villages along the way. You will be expected to help paddle and steer your raft, which won't require too much energy or skill! On arrival at Tan Lap bridge you disembark and are transferred back to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner.
Day 4: Pu Luong Retreat - Valley Hiking Day (B / L / D)
This just a suggested day, multiple other options are available or you can just relax and decide what to do locally.
Early start today as you head out with a local guide down into the beautiful valley that faces the Retreat, walking along small paths that wind their way down the tumbling rice terraces into a picturesque village at the mountain's base. Great views all the way.
Continuing on along the base of the valley you weave between roads and farm land, villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers, mountains and open land. Savour the ever-changing scenery as you trek to a beautiful spot to enjoy a simple picnic lunch. Post-lunch you're free to explore a little more under your own steam or perhaps take a refreshing swim in the nearby river. Mid-afternoon you'll be collected and transferred back to the Retreat for dinner.
Day 5: Pu Luong - Transfer to Hanoi - Evening Street Eats & Market Tour (B / D)
A final morning to enjoy the wonderful scenery and then it's time to head back to Hanoi. On arrival check-in in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi offers the chance to enjoy authentic old school Far East. The hotel is in the centre and we’d recommend that you take a walk through the Old Quarter. Don’t be put off by the thousands of motor scooters, just dive in.
This evening (5.30pm) you re-join your tour guide for an introduction to Hanoi life. Your guide will introduce the tour before heading to ‘bia hoi corner’ where you can try the local brew while watching the busy streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Bia Hoi is a draft beer that is brewed daily and usually drunk by locals sat on small plastic stools. Continue on through the bustling old quarter and listen as your guide tells you about the various foods on offer. Stop and try some samples before you head for a Vietnamese style barbeque dinner. Here your guide will select an array meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers while you sit down as they flame grill the food for you. Walk a little more along the streets and then to Hoan Kiem lake for dessert. On the way admire public aerobics classes that dot the park. Your final stop is at Hanoi’s most famous ice-cream street. An unforgettable experience shared with scores of young Hanoians.
Day 6: Hanoi - City Tour (B / L)
After breakfast you’ll be collected for a small group (2-8 people) city tour. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his former stilt-house, Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. From here you walk a short distance to the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Originally built as a temple dedicated to Confucius, it became the site of Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070. For lunch, sit down for a traditional Vietnamese meal with a contemporary twist at Home Restaurant, a boutique eatery within the quiet Truc Bach lake area. The yellow walls and rustic décor here hark back to Hanoi’s past life as a French colony. Tour ends at approx. 1.30pm and the rest of the afternoon's free to explore this fascinating city.
Day 7: Hanoi - Halong Bay Overnight Cruise (B / L / D)
This morning you’ll be transferred by minibus to Halong Bay (3 hours). Meet the crew and board the traditional wooden junk for 1 night, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads toward the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming (weather permitting). Return to the junk refreshed & invigorated to relax on deck with a drink watching the sunset and enjoy dinner looking out over the bay. This evening there’s the opportunity to try squid fishing.
Day 8: Halong Bay (B / L) - Fly Hanoi to Saigon
Early risers can take an informal Tai Chi lesson on deck before enjoying breakfast as the boat continues to cruise through the bay to Ti Tov Island. Your final stop at Ti Tov leaves plenty of time to explore, hiking up to the scenic viewpoint or swimming off of the beach. On the final leg of your cruise pass by well-known karsts of Thumb Island, Fighting Cocks and Incense Karst which is featured on the 200,000 dong note. From here cruise back to the dock over a light lunch and you're transferred back to Hanoi for the short flight south to Saigon. On arrival you'll be met and transferred to your choice of hotel for 3 nights.
Day 9: Saigon - Private guided Cu Chi Tunnels & Saigon City Tour (B / L)
Early departure with your private guide to escape city traffic and get ahead of the crowds on a half day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, legendary remnants of the Vietnam War that offer an evocative insight into the horrors that were faced by those involved.
During the guided tour it’s possible to descend into the layers of tunnels that although widened, still create a feeling of creeping claustrophobia. Few other places encapsulate the sheer will-power that the American military was up against - and the lengths that the Viet Cong were prepared to go to in order to evict them.
Back to the city for lunch in a local restaurant and then rejoin your private guide for an afternoon city tour. Highlights include the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office & Opera House, Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Back at the hotel late afternoon. Your guide would be happy to make dinner arrangements.
Day 10: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour with Boat Ride (B / L)
This morning you’ll be collected from the hotel lobby and driven south (with others) to the Mekong Delta where you board a boat to explore a less-visited area of the Mekong, home to luxuriant vegetation and lush coconut islands, as well as orchards and rice paddies. Visit a local coconut processing enterprise where this vital fruit is treated in the age-old way to separate oil, flesh and husk to be used in oil, matting and candy.
After the boat ride you will be taken on a short walk to a small village to see mat weavers at work, before jumping on the delta’s version of a tuk tuk to travel down the country roads to the pier. Here you board Le Jarai, a beautiful teak boat and continue your cruise along the river. Whilst on board join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialities. After lunch relax on the top deck and watch river life pass you by. Cruise back to Ben Tre where you’re transferred back to Saigon by early evening.
Day 11: Saigon (B) - Transfer or fly to your choice of beach
Now for the tricky bit, on which beach should you conclude the holiday? If you're travelling in winter keep south and either be driven 4 hours to Mui Ne or take a short flight to the Con Dao Islands or Phu Quoc Island just off the coast. Nha Trang, slightly north, is a great option from January to August, whilst Hoi An on the central coast offers the best beach weather from March to September. Each is slightly different and we'd be happy to offer our suggestion depending on how you'd like to end your holiday.
Days 12-13: Beach Days (B)
2 days to enjoy your beachside setting, swim, read and indulge.
Day 14: Beach (B) - Fly Home
Morning free then airport transfer and flight home. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Pu Luong & Mai Chau
Pu Luong & Mai Chau are lands of dramatic limestone hills, countless rice fields and beautful rural scenes
Hotels in Hanoi
The bustling but elegant city of Hanoi understandably provides a wealth of hotel choice.
Halong Bay Cruise Boats
An overnight cruise on Halong Bay is often seen as an essential part of a Vietnam holiday
Hotels in Saigon
A mix of grand colonial buildings and modern luxuries make Saigon a fantastic place to stay
Hotels on Phu Quoc Island
Relax in style on the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc Island
Hotels on Con Dao Island
Escape the crowds - Con Dao is Vietnam's up and coming beach destination
Hotels in Nha Trang
Nha Trang offers some on the best hideaway hotels on Vietnam's most beautiful beaches
Hotels in Hoi An
Hoi An is a stunningly atmospheric UNESCO town that doubles as a beach resort