Vietnam Encounters tour

Vietnam Encounters tour

Tour Experience

This comprehensive tour of Vietnam covers the whole country from North to South

Available

All year round

Location

Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh City

If you’re visiting Vietnam for the first time or returning to take in its splendour one more time, this tour combines its most popular tourist attractions with visits to its rural areas - giving you a well-rounded experience that will stay in your memories forever.

We’ll explore the city of Hanoi - watching the locals enjoying morning Tai Chi, walking through the Old Quarter and tasting all the unique flavours of Vietnamese street food. We’ll hop onto a traditional junk boat to marvel at the limestone & rainforest scenery of Halong Bay, regarded by many as one the Natural Wonders of the World.

We’ll take an overnight train ride and head to the majestic Hue City before visiting the port town of Hoi An, made famous by its traditional architecture, relaxed lifestyle and its villages which specialise in pottery and carpentry.

A short flight takes us to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as many still call it. It contrasts from the traditional Vietnamese buildings we’ll see along the way, with its towering skyscrapers, it's easy to understand why it's known as the business hub of Vietnam.

One of the main highlights of this Vietnam tour is the vintage Vespa city tour, as we explore the city on two-wheels, try the food and drinks and listen to live music with the locals.

Our final stop is visiting the Mekong Delta, spending the night with a local fisherman and his family, and attempting to catch the famous Elephant ear fish, before visiting the village market and getting some lessons in Vietnamese cooking. All roads lead back to Ho Chi Minh, where extra nights and touring options are available, or you can continue from here on our Vietnam and Cambodia Encounters Tour.

The last stop on this tour is the former capital of the French Colony of Chochin India – Ho Chi Minh City, though many still refer to it as Saigon. Ho Chi Minh is the vibrant business hub of the country where you’ll see newly building sky scrapers standing in contrast beside traditional Vietnamese buildings. You’ll have guided tour of the city and also take an interesting side-trip to the Mekong Delta where you’ll spend the night in the home of a local family

VIEW THE PHOTOS

INCLUDED

  • All accommodation as stated in the itinerary
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Services of a local tour guide during sightseeing and activities
  • Admission fees, with instruction where necessary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Internal Flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh

EXCLUDED

  • International Flights
  • Visas fees (we can arrange a pre-registration VISA Letter for you for Vietnam, you will still need to pay for visa stamp fee upon arrival into the country (at customs check in counter) at a cost of $45 per person together with 2 passport photos. Please contact us for more information about the cost of this letter as prices vary depending on nationality.
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory)
  • Single room supplements (chargeable if a same-sex room share is not available)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks, tips and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for tour guides and drivers
  • Any other items not mentioned above

PACKAGE DETAILS

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Welcome to Hanoi! Airport transfers included

Once you arrive at the airport, we’ll meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in Hanoi. Once settled in, we’ll be briefed about what lies ahead a collection time will be arranged to get things started tomorrow.
You can choose if you want to visit Hoan Kiem Lake to watch or participate in some early morning Tai Chi with the locals.
OVERNIGHT:
Hanoi hotel
EXTRAS:
Single room supplement (VESGVE), Extra day in Hanoi – pre-tour

DAY 2: A historical and culinary adventure in Hanoi

Depending on your choice to sleep a little later or visit Hoan Kiem Lake to watch or join in on some early morning Tai Chi, we’ll have breakfast accompanied by Vietnamese language lessons – to help you interact with the locals during the rest of the tour.
On the schedule today is a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Presidential Palace. We’ll also have the opportunity to explore the Temple of Literature, built in honour of Chinese scholar, Confucius.
We’ll head to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, before travelling to Hanoi’s Old Quarter to sample different street foods and taste some of the local brews, some traced back to Eastern Europe. For dessert, we’ll head to Hanoi’s most popular ice cream parlour for some sweet treats.
OVERNIGHT:
Hanoi hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 3: Cruising the waters of Ha Long Bay

We take a scenic drive to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular travel destination in Quảng Ninh Province. Ha Long Bay is made famous by its emerald waters and its spectacular scattering of limestone islands.
Here, we’ll board a classic Junk boat, passing its mysterious caves dotted along the islands, before enjoying a tasty lunch on deck.
We’ll visit the Sung Sot Cave – dubbed the most beautiful cave in all of Ha Long Bay before we make our way to Titov Island, where you have the opportunity to swim or relax on the beach. As the sun goes down, we’ll return to the boat for a sunset party and a tasty hearty dinner. We’ll spend the rest of the night listening to the natural sounds of Vietnam.
OVERNIGHT:
Halong Bay junk boat
MEALS:
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: A kayaking adventure and an overnight train trip

This morning, we have the choice to enjoy some Tai Chi or to head out on a photo hunt before we have breakfast on board the junk boat. We’ll then kayak to the arc-shaped Luon Cave situated on Bon Ho Island. The cave looks like a natural gate with a lot of beautiful stalactites on the ceiling. The height of the ceiling ranges from 2,5 to 4 metres, depending on the tidal level, which means only small rowing boat or kayak can pass through it.
After the kayak, we’ll head back to the boat as we move further along the bay, drifting past the Ba Hang fishing village and Dog Islet. Once we arrive back at the harbour, we’ll be treated to a fruit carving demonstration and join a cooking class before digging into a traditional Vietnamese lunch.
We’ll return to Hanoi, you’ll have some free time in the afternoon. We’ll provide you with a day-use hotel room before we board the overnight Reunification Express sleeper train south to Hue City.
OVERNIGHT:
On board sleeper train
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 5: Welcome to Hue city

Wake up on board today to the sight of rice paddies with their attendant farmers and water buffalo, small villages and rural farmland rushing past us. On arrival in Hue we transfer to our hotel before enjoying a private tour of this historically and culturally rich city and its ancient temples.
We’ll spend the day exploring the Citadel – a UNESCO World Heritage site, before relaxing on a sunset cruise on the Perfume River as the evening ends with the sounds of traditional music. We’ll spend the night in Hue City.
OVERNIGHT:
Hue hotel
MEALS:
Lunch

DAY 6: Hue - Hoian – Ancient town

We’ll say our goodbyes to Hue City as we head along the coastline, traversing the scenic Hai Van Pas towards the ancient town of Hoi An – located along Vietnam’s central coast. It’s also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Hoi An, we’ll visit the traditional pottery village of Thanh Ha. The big landmark is the Terracotta Village, a park and centre devoted to all things pottery. Its front garden is full of clay replicas of the architectural wonders of the world, everything from the Taj Mahal to the Colosseum in Rome.
We’ll then visit the traditional village of Kim Bong, most notable for its carpentry and traditional woodworking. We’ll visit the area where the build wooden fishing vessels using traditional methods. We’ll then attend a carpentry workshop, where the carpenters amaze us with their craft, creating handcrafted furniture, sculptures and souvenirs.
We’ll hop back onto the boat, as we make our way down the Bon River, watching the fishermen cast their lines, and if you’re up for it, you can even join in.
OVERNIGHT:
Hoi An hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 7: A free day in Hoi An. Optional tours available

Ancient and peaceful, Hoi An is one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. You have a free day to explore its wonders or join in on a variety of local options, which includes a boat trip to the nearby islands, snorkeling, exploring the My Son Holy Land, visiting the markets and a bike ride. Other options include a cooking class in the Tra Que village or a tour with the local fishermen where you can learn how to cast nests, catch crabs and race basket boats.
If you’re keen to do some shopping, Hoi An is famous for its tailors, so if you’re looking for a new suit or dress – you’ll get one professionally made in record time here!
Exploring Cham Island
A local Vietnam tour guide will meet you at your hotel, before we head to Cua Dai Harbour to board a speedboat to Cham Island. We’ll visit Au Thuyen, a place where many fishing boats throw anchor, before heading towards the ancient temple of Hai Tang Pagoda and fishing village.
Afterwards, we’ll make our way to Bac Island, where you’ll have the chance to experience its rich sea life with some snorkeling and swimming before enjoying a seafood lunch.
Visit the My Son Holy Land
This optional tour takes you to the evergreen countryside of the My Son Holy Land – located in a narrow valley, surrounded by springs, mountains and green, dense jungle. You’ll get insight into the everyday life of the locals and the scenic landscape will provide you with lots of photographic opportunities.
You’ll be given a brief introduction to the history and culture of the Indian-Hinduism influence on the Champa Kingdom before visiting what’s left of a carefully-crafted red brick temple – its monuments and epitaphs unrivalled in south-east Asia.
Cooking lessons at the Tra Que Vegetable Village
If you’re looking to take home some Vietnamese cooking tips, then this cooking class in the Tra Que Vegetable Village is perfect for you. A tour guide will collect you at your hotel before cycling to Hoi An’s colourful central market to buy ingredients for your cooking lesson.
Once we have everything we’ll need, we’ll cycle to the Tra Que vegetable village. We’ll be met with a welcome drink before being taken on a tour of the vegetable gardens where the local farmers use traditional methods to take care of their crops – no modern machinery needed here.
We’ll then head to the restaurant to be introduced to the chef, who will give us a cooking master class on the traditional methods of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food, before digging into a tasty meal.
Fish and Chips Tour
We’ll cycle to the Tra Que Village, to witness how the local farmers go about their daily duties before making our way to the Hoi An Beach Dock, to board a boat to the Cua Dai Sand Dune. Here, we’ll learn how to cast nets like the local fishermen.
We’ll then head to the Cam Thanh Water Coconut Village, where the locals will teach us how to catch crabs, before being split up into groups for basket boat racing. Its lots of fun!
By now you may be hungry, so we’ll go to a local family house to enjoy a tasty lunch, learn how to make funny tools with a water coconut leaf, before visiting a craftsman’s house in the village.
OVERNIGHT:
Hoi An hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast, Lunch
EXTRAS:
Exploring Cham Island, Visit My Son heritage site, Cooking class at Tra Que village, Fish & Chips tour

DAY 8: A flight to Ho Chi Minh City & an evening Vespa adventure

We’ll be transferred to the Danang Airport to board a flight to Ho Chi Minh City – formerly known as Saigon is a dynamic city that rarely sleeps and famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War.
Once we arrive, we’ll have some time to settle in and refresh before exploring the city in a unique way – from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter – driven by a highly experienced driver.
We’ll start at Cafe Zoom for cocktails and a few appetizers before making our way to a popular eating spot for a meal. We’ll then hop back onto the back of the Vespa to experience the Saigon nightlife.
We’ll make our way through Chinatown and the busy streets of District 4 – as we greet locals and enjoy some street seafood and drinks. We’ll also head through District 3 and 1, marvelling at the sights of Banh Xeo and tasting its southern food.
We’ll continue to a hidden Vietnamese-style coffee shop, where we’ll listen to the sounds of live Vietnamese music before heading to another live music venue. All your drinks and food are included.
OVERNIGHT:
Ho Chi Minh City hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast

DAY 9: Exploring the Mekong Delta and Cai Be

We’ll pass the Mekong Delta as we make our way to Cai Be – a small town on the northern side of My Thuan Bridge, located two hours from Saigon, and the gateway to Vinh Long province. it’s famous for its floating markets.
We’ll tour the markets before boarding a private boat to explore the waterways and canals to Vinh Long, where we’ll enjoy lunch at the home of a Bonsai gardener, where you’ll taste the popular ‘Elephant ear fish’. Once full, we’ll say goodbye and head further down the tributaries and canals of the Delta.
As the day comes to an end, we’ll make one final stop at the home of a local family, where we’ll relax and try to catch fish by hand to prepare for dinner. We’ll have dinner with the locals, getting insight into their way of life before calling it a night
OVERNIGHT:
Mekong delta homestay
MEALS:
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City

We’ll start with an early breakfast before cycling to a local village to buy some ingredients to make food for lunch. Together with the locals, we’ll help to cook some Vietnamese dishes before saying “Tạm Biệt – Goodbye!” to the house owner and their children, as we head back to Saigon to relax. We’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
OVERNIGHT:
Ho Chi Minh City hotel
MEALS:
Breakfast
EXTRAS:
Saigon craft beer Vespa tour

DAY 11: Free time. Airport transfer included

It’s the last day of our Vietnam tour, and you have free time to relax before being transferred to the airport to board your flight back home. You can choose to do some optional activities today if you have a late flight, or if you’d like to extend your stay with a few extra nights.
Half day City Tour of Ho Chi Minh
This half day city tour of Ho Chi Minh takes you to its most popular tourist attractions, which includes a visit to the the Reunification Hall, the War Crimes Exhibition, a lacquer or rattan ware factory, the Notre Dame Cathedral, War Remnants Museum, Centre Post Office, Chinatown and Thien Hau Pagoda (built by the Cantos congregation in the early 19th century).
You’ll also visit Binh Tay or Ben Thanh Market for some shopping.
Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels
This optional tour takes you to the 250-kilometre-long Chu Chi Tunnels – which form part of a massive war museum that offers a sneak-peek into the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers back in 1948.
The Viet Cong soldiers could move around war areas undetected by American soldiers. It is believed that Cu Chi Tunnels are built on the land known as “Land of Steel” which is located at the end of Ho Chi Minh Trail.
This activity includes:
● Watching a documentary film about one of the most sophisticated man-made tunnels together with its extraordinary wartime legends
● Walking in the jungle and visiting the traps, the secret entrances, the bunkers, and underground hideouts
● Relaxing with shooting real guns at the rifle range of Cu Chi Tunnels. (Exclusive of bullets)
● Seeing the rice-paper (spring roll skin) and rice-wine production line
● Crawling into the tunnels and enjoying the special and fantastic feeling
● Taking a rest, drinking green tea and having tapioca – the main food served during the war time.
You’ll then head back to Ho Chi Minh for a rest, before heading back to the airport to board your flight home.
Saigon Craft Beer Tour – Vespa Tour
This optional tour takes you the best craft breweries in Saigon, as we make our way through the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh at the back of a vintage Vespa. Come and explore the unique flavours, made with local Vietnamese essences at four fascinatingly different places.
Every beer has been handpicked by a master brewer, giving you a taste of the broad range of flavours in this ever-expanding craft beer scene in Saigon. The brewers will share their knowledge with you, taking you through the entire journey of the brewing process.
Along with the craft beer tastings, each destination offers delicious food pairings, which includes pizza, gourmet tapas and a host of Vietnamese inspired bites.
Dining by the Saigon Riverside
You’ll be collected at your hotel by a guide, who will transport you in a restored army Jeep to the The Deck – a classy restaurant and bar in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Deck is a top dining choice among affluent locals and travellers due to its romantic setting and scenic views, leaving you with unforgettable moments of Saigon. After dinner, the Jeep will be ready to get you back to the hotel, passing some of the city’s landmarks.
OVERNIGHT:
N/A
MEALS:
Breakfast
EXTRAS:
Cambodia Extension, Extra day in Ho Chi Minh – post-tour, Half-day city tour, Cu Chi Tunnels tour

DURATION

11 days

Price

A$2013

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