Vietnam's color, chaos and natural beauty bring a new adventure every day. Feel your senses come alive when you hike in the national park, trek the hill tribe trails in Sapa, kayak in Ha Long Bay, rock-climb in Phong Nha caves and cycle your way through the paddy field in Mekong Delta. At the same time, you will be gifted with a staggering abundance of flavorful local food, fascinating culture, untouched nature and friendly local people. All come in a 15 day tour will truly amaze you.
Day 1: Arrival at Ho Chi Minh CIty
Arriving at Tan Son Nhat International airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 2: Cu Chi Tunnels/Ho Chi Minh City Tour
In the morning, your guide will arrive at your hotel and take you to Cu Chi Tunnels - an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about 60 km North West of Ho Chi Minh City. The tunnel system included countless trapdoors, constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. It was used by Viet Cong soldiers as their base as well has effective hiding places for guerrilla tactic in the American War.
After lunch, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City and have a visit to the Museum of War Remnants which will provide you a partial perspective about the “American War” with more than 1500 documents, artifacts and films displayed. You’ll also have a look at the Notre Dame and the Post Office nearby, two iconic buildings of the city with French colonial architecture. From there, you’ll have a short walk to Dong Khoi Street, the heart of the city’s commercial life with many French colonial style buildings before wandering around Ben Thanh Market to see the central market of Ho Chi Minh City, filled with colourful food, clothes and other commodity. The remaining time of the day will be your own. You’lll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City/Cai Thia/Vinh Long/Ho Chi Minh City
Escaping the bustling Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll travel to Cai Be district in Tien Giang Province to begin your exploration of the Mekong Delta. Arriving in Dong Phu Pier, you’ll cruise along the Mekong River and have a glimpse of local life on boats on the way. You’ll disembark in Cai Thia canal and wander around to visit Cai Thia church, My Luong temple and a brick factory, then continue your boat trip to a local village where you’ll see how to make rice paper. “Feel the rural”, explore Hoa Loc mango village’s small roads on your bike, see many traditional houses made from wood and palm leaves and prepare, then have a taste of local cakes and hot tea with local people.
You’ll have return to you boat for a delicious lunch while cruising to Tan Phong Island. A rowing sampan will be waiting for you at Ba Nam Canal to take you discover the maze of small canals. You’ll pass by the fishermen and have a chance to talk to them and see how they catch fish with traditional method. Your trip will end at Cai Thia fishing village where your car will transfer you back to Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City/Nam Cat Tien National Park
Today, your driver will take you to Nam Cat Tien National Park. A short break, then your bikes will take you via the rough path (5 kilometres at least) to see the abundant fauna and flora in the Park. You’ll stay overnight in the guesthouse in the centre of the park.
After dinner, an hour jeep night cruise into the forest for the wild life spotting. You’ll be equipped a good pair of binoculars to see monkeys, deer and other small mammals.
About 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas – a complicated network of wetlands and tropical forest nearly 74,000 hectares in two sections bisected by a river, the larger about fifty or sixty kilometres across in both directions. Its bio-diversity is considerable with over fifty endangered species listed in the ‘Red Book’ including the Javan Rhinoceros, the Siamese Crocodile and the Indochina Tiger. Of particular interest is its large bird population – well over three hundred species have been identified so far.
There are several trails through the forest. Although they avoid the deeper areas that are the habitat of the rarer species, they are well designed and offer good opportunities to see a wide range of flora and fauna. The best time to visit Nam Cat Tien National Park is the dry season from December to late May.
Day 5: Nam Cat Tien Park Hiking
In the morning, you’ll drive 9 km in a Jeep then hike for three kilometres through the rainforest to Crocodile Lake - you may see some of the typical wild fauna en-route before rowing on the lake to watch the park’s feathered inhabitants.
Fortified by a canteen lunch, a cruise down Dong Nai River on a motor boat takes you to Ta Lai village to visit the farms and houses of S’Tieng and Chau Ma ethnic minorities. Your night will be in the National Park’s Guest house.
The Bird Lake is a good alternative for the Crocodile Lake for those who like bird watching. The Orange-necked Partridge is one of the rare bird species that live in the park. The best time for bird watching is from February to April.
The people of Ta Lai village are now committed to protecting the forest by returning to their traditional weaving skills instead of hunting and logging. You can contribute to this sustainable development by purchasing their products.
Day 6: Nam Cat Tien Park/Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast you’ll hike along the forest trail to the giant Ficus Tree which covers over two hectares. After wandering around the massive trees, dripping vines, and visiting the rapids (water level permitting) it’ll be time for lunch in the canteen and your return to Ho Chi Minh City where you will spend the night.
The flora in the Ficus Tree area was heavily depleted by defoliation during the war, thus allowing fast growing bamboo to take over. Somehow, the Ficus tree that you’ll see survived, and has become one of the most spectacular trees in the park.
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City/Dong Hoi City/Paradise Cave and Paddle Tour/Phong Nha
Your driver will arrive and take you to the airport for your early flight to Dong Hoi City. Upon arrival in Dong Hoi City, your day tour starts by driving on the road 20 Victory a historical site of the Vietnamese war. This road extends from Phong Nha village into Laos to pass the demilitarized zone (DMZ) to go to the South of Viet Nam.
You will then visit the Botanical Garden by the road and do a short walk under the tropical forest and learn about the nature and its ecosystem. Continuing driving on the Ho Chi Minh west road to go to the Paradise cave a part of hang Vom cave system which is 31,4 km long. The Paradise cave was found by a local man names Ngo Phong in 2005 with its original name is entrance number two.
By afternoon after lunch, you will start a kayak trip from Chay river down to Son River with the end at Tram Me village a beautiful countryside village by the river. You will be driven back to your hotel to spend the night.
Day 8: Phong Nha/Tan Hoa Village/Tu Lan Cave/Hung Ton Valley/Phong Nha
Your day will start early to explore the untamed jungle and limestone mountain region of Tu Lan Cave System. After 2 hour drive over the Da Deo Mountain Pass, you will reach the ethnic minority village of Tan Hoa. After have a chat with the minority people, you will have a 2 km walk across peanut and buffalo fields to reach the Rao Nan River.
After crossing the river, you’ll reach the impressive Hang Chuot (Rat Cave) to explore its massive formations for up to 280m. Return back to the river another way, then trek through Hung Ton Valley to reach Hung Ton Cave. Explore this wild cave by descending a 15m ladder with a safety rope before swimming 50m through the cave and following an underground river to reach To Mo Valley, where a delicious lunch will be awaiting you beside the waterfall.
After swimming at the waterfall, trek over Hung Ton Mountain (1km), across Hung Ton Valley (500m), and another small hill down to Rao Nan River (500m). You’ll finish the day crossing back over peanut and buffalo fields (2.5km). You will be back at your hotel in the late afternoon and spend the night here.
Day 9: Phong Nha/Dong Hoi/Hanoi Discover
Your driver will arrive to take you to Dong Hoi airport for your early flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will be driven to the hotel for refresh. After that you’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city to see things you didn’t see in our elegant capital. Your guide will take you to visit the The Hoa Lo Prison – better known by captured US pilots as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ and the Hanoi Citadel: This former residence of the royalty of Vietnam was used between 1010 and 1810. Most of the structure that makes up the citadel was destroyed by the French in the 19th century, but the gate, steps, Princess's Palace and Hanoi Flag Tower still exist. You can now visit a few of the buildings, which were kept guarded from visitors for centuries. It’s newly recognized as World Heritage Site.
The day also includes a ‘Street Life’ experience. You’ll spend a couple of hours wandering around the back streets in and nearby the Old Quarter. A street food brunch is included – take your pick from traditional Hanoi Pho (beef noodle soup), Nom (green papaya salad with seasoned beef), Banh Goi (pillow-shaped rice pastry with minced pork and mushroom), Banh Cuon (hot rice paper with pork and fried onion) or Bun Cha (fresh noodle with grilled pork). If you’re hungry, try two or three varieties – they’re snacks rather than a meal. After the tour, you will spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 10: Hanoi/Ha Long Bay - Kayaking
At 8:00 you’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests and spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. At 12:00 you’ll embark at Hon Gai International harbor. Upon boarding you are greeted with a welcome drink and gather in the dining room for a comprehensive safety and boat orientation briefing followed by itinerary details.
After the briefing and check in we have a bit of free time till lunch is served at 1:30pm. During lunch you’ll cruise through the Bai Tu Long Bay, with its thousands of extraordinarily shaped limestone islands, considered by the Vietnamese to be heaven on the earth. From 3:00 to 5:00pm, you’ll explore the Lờm Bò area and be charmed by this outstanding masterpiece of Mother Nature. Also, you’ll visit Me Cung Cave – one of the most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay and climb up to see the panoramic view of the bay from above. Enjoy swimming in the peaceful, crystal water of the Bay (optional). Then, you’ll be back to junk for refreshing before having a Sunset party to admire the best moments of the day when the sun starts to set.
You’ll savor an amazing and dreamlike dinner in Fairy cave (or Drum cave) with extremely delicious food and be awed by a fascinating fruit and vegetable carving performance. Afterwards, you’ll socialize with new friends and crew members, enjoy squid fishing, or simply relax on your boat’s top deck in the middle of the tranquil bay and overnight on board.
Day 11: Ha Long Bay/Hanoi/Lao Cai
At 7:00 you’ll start your new day with a Tai Chi session with the Tai Chi master or a photo hunt before enjoy breakfast in the fresh air and peaceful beauty of the Bay. At 9:00, you’ll visit Vung Vieng floating fishing village by a rustic row-boat, get closer to the characteristic landforms and learn more about the local way of life. Then, you’ll be back on board; it’s time for final packing and freshening up. While the boat starts cruising towards the harbor, a buffet lunch is served around noon. From the dock you‘ll be transferred back to Hanoi; you’ll arrive in late afternoon and be driven to the train station for your train to Lao Cai. You will spend the night on train.
A La Fairy cruise will take you through Ha Long Bay’s natural wonders, and beyond into less traveled waters, all while you enjoy luxurious accommodations on one of our newly-built, traditionally-styled vessels. On your voyage you will view thousands of the stunning limestone (karst) formations that make Ha Long Bay famous, and explore a unique and beautiful cave in the less accessible Ba Tu Long Bay. The friendly, attentive staff will guide you on an adventurous kayak trip to a local fishing village, and when weather permits, to a sandy private beach where you can swim and relax in the sun. At bedtime, retreat to your cozy, air-conditioned cabin with its luxurious appointments, private bath, and picture windows.
Day 12: Lao Cai/Ethnic Market/Sapa
Upon arrival at Lao Cai train station, you’ll be met and greeted by your local guide and driver. Have breakfast at restaurant before transferring to the Ethnic market. On the way, you will have a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the road. It is a small market situated in a valley surrounded by mountains and near the border with China. The market epitomizes the cultural values of the minorities in remote mountainous areas in Vietnam. Enjoy seeing the ethnic people dressed in colorful costumes representing their culture. The market is also an opportunity for them to chat and bargain with people from different ethnic groups. You can talk to the locals using the guide as your interpreter.
After exploring the market, you’ll have the opportunity to make a short walk to a Black Dzao village. You’ll then head back to town where you have lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, you get on the car for journey back to Sapa where you’ll spend your overnight.
Day 13: Sapa/Lao Chai/Ta Van/Thanh Phu
After breakfast at your hotel, a short hide down from Sapa to the Black H’mong village in Lao Chai where excellent panoramas of the larger valley, paddy terraced fields and the H’mong village are offered. We take a small local path leading into the bottom of the valley, to a local family, a perfect spot to take a rest and have lunch.
After lunch you will visit the Dzay people of Ta Van, which lies in the middle of the Muong Hoa valley. You’ll then continue your hiking to Thanh Phu village where you’ll have dinner and spend the night in a Tay ethnic minority group stilt-house.
Day 14: Thanh Phu/Nam Toong/Ban Ho/Sapa/Lao Cai/Hanoi
After breakfast, keep leaving Thanh Phu, you follow the trekking route built in the bottom of the valley, which offers the best view to the surrounding mountains. You continue toward village of Xa Pho tribe, the smallest ethnic group in Sapa who have very little contact with modern Vietnam and they can speak very little Vietnamese. The route will continue taking you through the rice fields to the Red Dao village of Nam Toong. You will be attracted by the wonderful hospitable atmosphere of the Red Dao, stop at a nice spot for lunch, the trip takes you into a fabulously mountainous area, the most remote part of Sapa. Then you will have an opportunity to enjoy great views of an ever green valley lying along the west bank of the Red River. After that you’ll depart to Hanoi on the highway. Arrive in Hanoi in the late afternoon, you’ll be transferred to the hotel and spend your night.
Day 15: Hanoi Departure
You’ll be free until your driver arrives to take you to the International airport in Hanoi in a good time to connect with your international departure flight. Tour ends!