Day 1: Hanoi
Arrive in Hanoi and fall into the pace of the city with an evening street eats tour. Hanoi is famous for its street food cuisine and this walking tour has been designed for you to enjoy some of the very best of Vietnam’s street food. Pull up a stool and sample the local brewed beer while you people watch, then head through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter to have a Vietnamese style barbeque dinner of flamed grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers.
Day 2: Hanoi
Discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum — the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an 11th century archaeological site, and the famous Temple of Literature. End the afternoon viewing Long Bien Bridge, which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing up with a coffee in a local café. Tonight board the overnight train to Sapa.
Day 3: Sapa
Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Sapa.
You will take a short way north of Sapa town to the quiet valleys and gorges surrounding the village of O Quy Ho. The shallow winding valley sits in the shadow of Indochina’s highest peak, Fangxipan Mountain, and on clear days you can enjoy superb views of the range. Away from the major tourist routes, this trek is the perfect escape. Pass by oolong tea farms before joining a local footpath that clings to the contours of the rice terraces and takes you gently down the valley past grazing buffalo and working farmers. Walk along ancient stone paths and hear the story of the Black H’Mong migration to these mountains centuries before. Learn about the distinct cultures, languages and lifestyles that make northwestern Vietnam so fascinating, and visit an authentic Black H’Mong house, home to a local family. Transfer back to Sapa town in the early afternoon.
Day 4: Sapa
This morning, meet your guide at your hotel and walk south of Sapa towards the busy village of Cat Cat. The valleys that surround the village of Y Linh Ho are some of the most picturesque in the region, and this route allows you to explore one of Sapa’s less-traversed areas. Make your way along a gentle incline, through emerald paddy fields above a deep river gorge, before arriving on the river bank. Take a rest, dip your toes in the cool mountain waters and watch local children fishing with nets, before continuing deeper through the villages and terraces of the Black H’mong. Walk at your own pace and take in some of the best panoramas Vietnam has to offer. Enjoy lunch with a view at a local village restaurant before continuing through the valley towards the village of Lao Chai.
Take a well-earned rest and enjoy a soothing cup of tea before learning the art of Batik painting. The beautiful textiles of the Black H’mong are famous around the world and Batik is a traditional part of H’mong culture. Under threat from modernization, Batik is now only practiced by a handful of villagers. Join a hands-on master class led by a local expert and take your creation home! You will be supporting a sustainable tourism project that supports local women and ensures this amazing art form is handed down to the next generation.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City
Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war. Then visit a farm and taste an unusual local specialty – cricket!
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Can Tho
Travel into the heart of the Mekong Delta to explore the waterways. See small home based factories perched on the river banks producing candy and oil from coconuts as you meander by boat through rivers and small creeks. Take part in a cooking demonstration and learn how to make the perfect spring roll before sitting down to feast on a three-course lunch aboard Le Jarai, a beautifully restored teak rice barge. Return to the pier and drive to Can Tho, the economic hub of the delta.
Day 12: Can Tho – Chau Doc
Rise early and travel by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Watch as vendors hawk their wares from boats teeming with produce and buy a coffee from one of the floating cafes. Then, drive approximately three hours to the township of Chau Doc, a colorful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
This afternoon drive approximately 20kms from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.
The lush green paddy fields of Chau Doc are the perfect place to escape modern life and discover the authentic Mekong Delta at its very best. Cycle out along quiet dirt tracks, through villages where life has changed little over the decades and through fields busy with busy farmers and water buffalo. Stop for a picnic breakfast and recharge over a glass of traditional ice tea or coffee before getting back on the saddle and continuing your journey. Stop along the way for a chat with locals and some of the best views Southern Vietnam has to offer. Return to your hotel and a well earned break! Overnight in Chau Doc.