This Family Holiday Vietnam tour takes you to experience the sheer excitement of Vietnam. You visit busy cities, scenic bays and river deltas for a fantastic mix of things to see and do which will keep the whole family entertained. Mixing with the friendly Vietnamese, you discover a fascinating country and of course some great food. Highlights include exploring by cyclo (rickshaw), a water puppet show in Hanoi, boat trips to fantastic islands with great beaches, ancient pagodas and temples, wonderful markets, a trip on an overnight train and much more! Anyone in good health should be able to take part. There is no real physical difficulty, though a few travelling days are quite long, modes of transport are a little antiquated and heat / humidity can be high.
Take an overnight flight to Hanoi. On arrival you’ll transfer to your first night’s accommodation. Hanoi is sometimes called the Paris of the Orient, with shaded boulevards, verdant parks and ochre buildings that retain an old-world charm.
- Church Boutique Hotel (Lan Ong)
- Essence Hotel & Spa
Today we enjoy a city tour which covers almost the best highlights of the city. We will have lunch at KOTO restaurant which is part of a program where street children can learn hospitality skills that will enable them to find employment. You can rest assured you are helping to improve lives as you eat your breakfast today! This evening you’ll make a visit to one of the water-puppet theatres to enjoy a performance of this fantastic art form - unique to Vietnam and best seen in Hanoi.
From Hanoi you’ll travel for four hours by charter minibus to the coast and beautiful Halong Bay, whose name means ‘descending dragon’. The name derives from a Vietnamese legend that the gods sent a dragon to protect the people there. Arriving around lunchtime you’ll jump straight on a boat in this secluded bay, marvelling at the 2000 limestone peaks that emerge from the sea. You’ll have the opportunity to visit spectacular caves crammed with stalactites and stalagmites and, weather permitting, to swim from your boat, before spending the night on-board.
Today you return to Hanoi (approx 3.5 hours). In the evening you board an overnight train to Hue. Conditions on the train are basic - but it's a great travel experience where you can mix with local people. The trains typically have four or six-berth soft sleeper compartments, a sheet, pillow and blanket are provided (you may prefer to bring your own sheet sleeping bag. Most trains have dining facilities but you may prefer to bring your own supplies with you. Berth on overnight sleeper train.
Hue was once the capital of the Nguyen emperors, packed with influential people: bureaucrats, royalty, traders, astrologers and courtiers, who left behind many beautiful reminders of their times. For a fascinating look at life in Hue today, you make your way down to the Perfume River to embark on a journey by dragon boat. Explore the Thien Mu Pagoda (the Temple of the Heavenly Lady), possibly the most famous of all Vietnam’s pagodas. Legend tells of ‘fairy maids’ who predicted that a king would build a pagoda and bring great wealth to the countryside. Situated on the banks of the peaceful Perfume River, it is one of Vietnam’s best-loved buildings.
Discover the elaborate tombs of the Nguyen emperors. The tombs are situated among the houses of local farmers who grow rice, fruit and vegetables here. It is this location that gives rise to the views of the Vietnam you know from television; local farmers in straw hats working in paddy fields beneath towering palms. You’ll visit one of the seven tombs, all of which follow a similar layout: statues of mandarins, elephants and horses, a pavilion where a stele (obelisk) tells of each emperor’s glorious reign and a temple where he was worshipped after death.
- Moonlight Hotel Hue
- Romance Hue Hotel
Thien Mu Pagoda, Perfume River, Tombs of the Nguyen Emperors
Travelling south by bus you climb up and over the spectacular Hai Van Pass, the top of which is crowded by hawkers selling all kinds of souvenirs and people who have stopped to enjoy the magnificent view below. Approximately four hours after leaving Hue, you’ll arrive in Hoi An - a relaxed and laid-back place, where cars are prohibited from the narrow streets of the old town, preserving the atmosphere in the centre as it would have been in colonial times.Settled over the years by a variety of nationalities, including the Spanish and Portuguese, the old town is a fascinating place to visit. The fading beauty of the beautiful shops, houses and cafés add to the charm; Hoi An is bound to be a highlight of the trip. Walking or cycling are the only ways to soak up the atmosphere of the old streets. Take a guided tour on foot and can walk down to the riverside market where fresh fish are unloaded and through the backstreets of this colourful town, past temples to the covered Japanese Bridge. Visit the Children's Hope in Action Centre and meet some local children at this community project.
The rest of your time is left free to relax in this beautiful area. You could take a taxi or make the easy five-kilometre bicycle ride through the rice paddies and shrimp ponds to Cua Dai beach. Alternatively Hoi An is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, especially if you’re looking for t-shirts, paintings or ceramics. For those interested in getting clothes tailored, this is definitely the place to shop – see Top Tips.
Another good idea is to take a boat trip out to a village specialising in ceramics and boat-building (optional).
Japanese Bridge, Children's Hope in Action Centre, Cua Dai Beach
Today you make the short drive (one hour) to Danang and take a flight south to Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon, the cosmopolitan powerhouse of the south and a fascinating mixture of old and new. You’ll visit key locations such as the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum before ending your day with a sunset speedboat ride along the Saigon River.
- Little Saigon Corner
- Lavender Saigon Hotel
Today we head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. We travel south to Cai Be by private bus which takes about 3 hours. Here we board our boats to cruise the Mekong Delta and explore its intricate waterways. Often referred to as the "rice bowl" of Vietnam, the fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals.We also visit an orchard where you can sample tropical fruits, before continuing on to visit some local cottage industries. Around sunset we make our way up one of the many canals to our homestay where we enjoy great local hospitality and a wonderful meal of local specialities. Tonight we sleep on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. The toilet and bathroom facilities are shared and with cold water only! Overnight in My Tho.
Life in the Delta starts with the sun so we are up early and after breakfast we visit the Cai Be floating market before heading back to Ho Chi Minh for one last night and a last chance to enjoy Vietnam before we fly out the following day home.
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