In-depth Vietnam: Untold stories and untapped beauty

To truly understand Vietnam, one must embark on a journey from tip to tail. Beginning in the sophisticated capital Hanoi, be enveloped in cultural refinement as sumptuous as cà phê trứng (egg coffee). Venturing southwards, encounter Vietnam’s myriad biodiversity of dramatic mountain peaks, roaring waterfalls, and teeming tropical forests. Canal-lined Hoi An and culinary epicentre Hue’s colourful architectural preservation will transport you back to when Vietnam’s dynasties reigned. With Ho Chi Minh City’s futuristic urban-scape of gleaming skyscrapers casting a neon glow over the finale of your 10D9N cross-country expedition, you’ll depart furnished with stories that last a lifetime.

This journey outline is by no means fixed. As the traveller takes centre stage in our planning – from the type of lodging to daily activities – your journey will be crafted to suit you.

Day by Day Highlights

Day 1
Singapore — Hanoi (10m)

Touchdown in Hanoi and be privately transferred to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure. In the evening, your guide will take you to a small home in the Old Quarter of Hanoi where you’ll meet a local puppeteer and enjoy a water puppet show in his home-made theatre. Learn about the history of water puppets and his family traditions too. Water puppet shows date back to over 1,000 years and are a very special way of understanding the daily life of the Vietnamese and getting to know their legends and national heroes.

Day 2
Hanoi (10m) — Ninh Binh (120m) — Trang An (100m)

After an early breakfast, make your way to scenic Trang An, otherwise known as “Ha Long Bay Inland”, where you will spend the morning cruising through kart hills and rice fields. At noon, fuel up on local fare at a local eatery before cycling to Hoa Lu for an insight to the former capital of Vietnam during the Dinh and Le dynasties. Explore the monument complex built in dedication to the emperors. Drive back to Hanoi in the afternoon and have a free and easy rest of the day.

Day 3
Hanoi (10m) — Hue (15m)

Rise early and make your way to Hoan Kiem Lake to join locals in their routine morning exercise. In the middle of the lake sits Ngoc Son Temple, a great spot for watching locals as they go about their daily lives. Next, sniff your way to a charming coffee house to try the Vietnamese brew like cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee), or if you feel more adventurous, the egg coffee.

Continue on to a food street for some delicious bánh mì before wandering through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. For lunch, sample Hanoi’s specialty, bún chả (grilled pork noodles). The last stop for the day will be Hanoi’s railway tracks — famous for being within metres of the front doors of houses lining the track. Celebrate the end of your walk with bia hơi (local draft beers). Saving the best for last, enjoy evening tea with veteran fighter pilot, Hong My and hear his unforgettable and heart-warming story on friendship after the war. After a long day, get a private transfer to the airport for your flight to Hue.

Day 4
Hue (15m)

Spend the day with a local guide, exploring the city through his eyes and on trails he has discovered from growing up in this historical city. Hear stories of his childhood and life through the Vietnam War as you explore exciting creative corners of the city that would otherwise go unnoticed. Stroll through the historic seven-story Thien Mu pagoda, cruise along the Perfume River and journey through the renowned bronze factories in Phuong Duc.

Stop for lunch by the walls of the citadel before venturing into the beautiful home of descendants of the royal court. Uncover secrets of the once powerful family and hear stories of the ancient capital during the decades of devastating destruction.

Day 5
Hue (15m) — Bach Ma National Park (1,450m)

Depart from Hue and journey through stunning landscapes to a mountainous area with tropical flora and fauna, atmospheric jungle and spectacular views of emerald lagoons and coastal beaches. Founded by the French during the colonial period in the 1930s, Bach Ma is a hill-station that boasts rhododendron waterfalls that stretch up to 300m high and beautiful lakes that call to you to jump in. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the ethereal location before making your way to the summit for breath-taking views.

Day 6
Hoi An (2,598m)

After an early breakfast, embark on an immersive journey through an endless myriad of alleyways, beginning at the bustling Hoi An Central Market. Getting to the market early means seeing the best produce and avoiding throngs of people. Visit a number of local workshops and cultural sites en route.

Next, take a break on a veranda overlooking the river and watch fishing and tour boats cruise by. Make your way to a local family’s home where you’ll enjoy a home-cooked meal and learn to make lanterns. End your day at a local restaurant with a comforting bowl of cao lầu (pork and vegetable noodles).

Since moving to Vietnam from Japan, Reiko Usada has become a pillar in her community. Tucked along the Thu Bon-Hoai river, her café is built with locally-sourced materials. She promotes environment sustainability and provides vocational training for underprivileged students and women. Have a chat with Reiko and you’ll be inspired to live more consciously.

Day 7
Hoi An (2,598m) — Ho Chi Minh City (19m)

Wake early for a day of exploring Hoi An’s hidden alleys, passageways and beautiful landscapes by bike. Passing historic monuments, bewitching villages, vegetable farms and rice fields. Stop to meet locals along the way and learn about the traditions and local staple foods. You can even visit a family distillery where rice wine has been produced in the traditional manner for generations. Cruise back to town in a ferry, then be privately transferred to Da Nang airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 8
Ho Chi Minh City (19m)

Start the day with a relaxing morning stroll in Tao Dan Park in central Saigon. A short walk will bring you to the venerable Thích Quảng Đức (Burning Monk) Monument before stopping for a hot bowl of breakfast soup. Continue through winding backstreets and alleys to the lively Chợ Lớn quarter. Pass pagodas, parks and local craftsmen as your guide shares the history and significance of the area. You can stop by a famous sugarcane stall where you’ll learn to make sugarcane juice and enjoy the refreshment too.

After lunch, go to a neighbourhood where old apartment blocks have been transformed into funky cafés. After a long day of exploring, sit back and enjoy a relaxing Vietnamese tea-tasting experience. Unwind on the balcony and watch the world go by or get back up and out onto the bustling streets for more of what enthralling Ho Chi Minh has to offer.

Day 9
Ho Chi Minh City (19m) — Củ Chi Tunnels (19m)

Set out early this morning, hop on a speedboat and cruise along the Saigon River, gracefully slipping through knots of water hyacinths and enjoying the cool morning air on your way to the Củ Chi Tunnels. Uncover the secrets of the vast network of underground passageways built and used by the Viet Cong to evade detection as they moved troops and supplies throughout Ho Chi Minh City’s northern district.

After an insightful morning, tuck into a traditional Vietnamese lunch of local specialties before your boat ride back to the city. In the afternoon, meet with an expat personality who has travelled to all corners of Vietnam and is well known in Saigon’s arts scene for his knowledge of local history, culture and food; as well as for organising film festivals and DJing events. Gain access to private viewings of local art collections or even a private tour of the Museum of Fine Arts, and enjoy an unforgettable final dinner in Vietnam with this destination expert.

Day 10
Ho Chi Minh City (19m) — Singapore

Take the day to think back on your journey so far before being privately transferred to the airport for your departure home. Tạm biệt!

Let’s plan your perfect escape. To start the conversation, contact us via our interactive form or drop us an email at ask@blueskyescapes.co.

Practical Information

Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Trang An, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City

December to February is the most pleasant time to visit, with cool evenings down to around 20° (68°F)

Maximum 2,598m.

Easy to Moderate. No difficult hikes involved.

From US$2,280/person for a group of 2 on a private basis, including double-sharing rooms. Excludes flights.

As we’ll customise your journey based on your preferences and needs, please note that this indicative price is just a rough estimate. Prices can fluctuate depending on season, type of accommodation and activities/experiences chosen (private vs. shared) etc.

This journey outline is by no means conclusive. It is just a guideline and can be tailored according to your comfort level, interests and preferences for every detail from accommodation to activities.

Discover our Destinations

null

Bhutan

null

Cambodia

null

Chile

null

Iceland

null

India

null

Indonesia

null

Japan

null

Mongolia

null

Morocco

null

Myanmar

null

Nepal

null

New Zealand

null

Oman

null

Peru

null

Sabah, Malaysia

null

Singapore

null

Sri Lanka

null

Thailand

null

Vietnam

null

Yunnan, China

As seen in…

Let’s Escape