Vietnam Express Northbound - 10 days land only
|Starting from||R14 500|
|Package Validity||Selected departure dates: NOW - 31 DEC 2018. *** Book between 16 JAN 2018 - 16 FEB 2018 & only pay R25 deposit to secure your seat and price. Full payment is due 8 weeks prior to departure ***|
|Starts in||Ho Chi Minh City|
- Internal flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang
- 7 nights hotel accommodation
- 1 night on-board a junk boat in Halong Bay
- Overnight sleeper train from Hue to Hanoi
- Breakfast daily with selected lunches & dinners
- Touring & transport by boat, overnight sleeper train, plane, private bus, private vehicle & taxi
- Sightseeing as per itinerary
Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where & when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance & next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them at this meeting. Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere & a French influence. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) for a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat & explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit & flowers are grown for the whole country. The views along the canal will take your breath away. Disembark at Ben Tre & visit a local cottage industry - coconut candy - & sample the candy which the region is famous for. You’ll have the opportunity to take a tuk-tuk around this remote village & make a stop to sample tropical fruit & learn more about rural life. For lunch, go to a restaurant in the heart of the delta & try regional specialities such as the famous elephant-ear fish. After lunch, board sampans (small rowing boats) & paddle along the canals under the shade of lush water coconut trees. Get back on the main boat & cruise though more major waterways on your way to the town of My Tho. After a scenic cruise, take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City & fly north to Danang (approximately 1 hour). From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An with the five spectacular peaks of the Marble Mountains as a backdrop. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking of this unique town, influenced over the years by Europe, China & Vietnam. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, & the outside influences can be seen all over its architecture, with pagodas & assembly halls found across the town. For a small place it has a liveliness alongside its charm & serenity. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored & look much like they did over a century ago. Past low tiled buildings, you'll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall & a museum.
Enjoy a free day in the world heritage listed Hoi An. You may like to wander the Central Market & the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns & much more. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours. For those still feeling adventurous, why not hire a bicycle & tour the surrounding countryside? This is one of the best ways to get an insight into rural Vietnam. Other optional activities include a day trip to My Son Cham (elaborate World Heritage-listed temples that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), a cruise along the Thu Bon River & a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
Leave Hoi An today & head towards My Khe Beach. This area is famous for its role in the Vietnam War & its spectacular backdrop of the Marble Mountains. Continuing on your journey you’ll cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co, then continue to your final destination of Hue (approximately 5 hours including stops). Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, & has a interesting blend of bustling streets & tranquil settings. Your excursion here will be to the Imperial Citadel. This fortress houses the Imperial City & the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, & the ruins & holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war. In your free time you might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce & tantalising street food. This is a good place to try the specialties enjoyed by Emperor Nguyen such as the banh khoai royal rice cake.
Hue / Overnight Train
Today’s adventure will be taken on the back of a motorbike. You’ll have your own driver who will take you first on a drive around the Imperial Citadel, then to the Thien My Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This site dates back to 1601 & is still an active Buddhist monastery. Here you’ll also see the car left by a monk who set himself alight to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Hop off the motorbike for a bit & go on a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River. After the 40-minute cruise get back on your motorbike & ride to a special lunch spot at a convent or Buddhist monastery. After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes & pine trees. In the evening, board an overnight train to Hanoi (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience & the best way to travel long distances with the locals.
Notes: For those who prefer not to ride motorbikes, a car can be arranged upon request for transport between destinations.
Boats along Perfume River may not be available during festival season. During these times, you’ll be transported by land to reach the activities.
Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow & blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group.
Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning & transfer to your hotel. Vietnam’s capital is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks & Frenchy Old Quarter. As an emerging city in Southeast Asian, Hanoi has an attractive contrast of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples & a labyrinth of ancient streets. Later in the day you'll take a walking tour through the city. You’ll see Ho Chi Minh’s former stilt house & other icons such as the Temple of Literature. In your free time, perhaps stop by the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter, head to the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, or visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining & promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.
Notes: There are shared day rooms available prior to hotel check in.
Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands & caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations & caves and in the warmer months perhaps go for a swim from Ti Top Island Beach.
There’ll be a dining room & bar on-board where you’ll enjoy your meals, including fresh seafood for lunch & dinner. Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning & private facilities.
Notes: It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding & disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.
Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.
There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, we’re occasionally using a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) or splitting groups across different vessels. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, & the route taken & inclusions on-board will remain the same.
Leaving the memorable scenery of Halong Bay behind, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Return to Hanoi late this afternoon, & enjoy a couple of free hours to explore Hanoi's sights or do some last minute shopping. Otherwise, why not just relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter? Tonight there will be a farewell dinner to enjoy with the group at KOTO restaurant, an organisation that supports street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.