Travel from historical Hanoi to modern Ho Chi Minh City!
Capture the spirit of magical Vietnam on this compact tour from the colonial charm of Hanoi to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Sip coffee with locals in Hanoi and shop up a storm in the Old Quarter, cruise along emerald waters on a Halong Bay boat trip, travel through old-world Hue and Hoi An, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. This is an adventure full of beauty and contrast that introduces Vietnam as a country of incredible food, lively locals, stunning scenery and cosmopolitan cities.
This is our most popular trip in Vietnam, and one of the top trips from the entire Intrepid range
See the very best that Vietnam has to offer in just 10 days as you traverse the country from top to bottom with a small group of up to 15 new friends.
Travel by boat, train, plane, private bus, taxi and even on the back of a motorbike!
Sample local food wherever you go, from a seafood dinner on Halong Bay, street snacks at markets, a meal at a buddhist nunnery, coconut candy and tropical fruits in the Mekong Delta, and a final dinner at KOTO restaurant.
Settle in for the night and experience an overnight train journey, starting from Hanoi and waking up ready to head out and explore Hue.
Have expert advice on hand the whole way with an experienced local leader to help you get the best out of your time in Vietnam.
Visit some of the must see sights with your group such as a walking tour in Hoi An and the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as enjoy free time to make your own discoveries.
We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including an overnight train from Hanoi to Hue (approx 12 hours). Compartments are on a mixed gender basis and you may be sharing with locals or travellers from other groups.
The sightseeing tour by motorbike in Hue is great fun with bikes driven safely by professionals (and helmets provided), but alternative transport can be arranged for those who would prefer not to travel by motorbike.
Depending on where you come from, the weather in Vietnam might be hotter and more humid than what you are used to. We recommend checking online for what the typical temperatures will be at the time of the year you are looking to travel to see what to expect.
Some travellers find the pace of this trip quite fast as we are covering a lot of destinations in a short amount of time. If you would like a more relaxed pace with more time to explore, you might like to consider a longer trip, or additional days in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
This itinerary also runs in reverse direction, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi – see trip code TVSQ on our website.
If you arrive early into the capital of Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city. Start by visiting the Temple of Literature, drop into a traditional tea house, and learn the stories of the Hoa Lo Prison museum. This tour concludes at Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by modern office buildings and ancient Buddhist temples. Or take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.
There are no meals included on this day.
You may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend the group meeting and have time to explore Hanoi. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re expecting to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
Your wooden junk-style boat has twin share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There’s also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast.
It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.
Kayaking and swimming is restricted to designated zones within the bay.
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, occasionally you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels, in which case an Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
There are shared day use hotel rooms available this afternoon in Hanoi if you would like to freshen up before the overnight train. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day rooms.
Sleeper trains typically have four-berth compartments (occasionally six berths depending on the season), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided (although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but you may like to stock up on some food supplies before departure.
Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of the country’s royal past. You’ll have free time in the morning to rest or explore. The bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the foods that once graced the Nguyen emperors’ tables, such as banh khoai (royal rice cake). Reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Hue Imperial Citadel complex, which once contained temples, state houses and the emperor’s palace.
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a short boat cruise down the Perfume River before eating lunch inside a nunnery. Finally, visit the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to Hue.
This motorbike activity has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored. To participate please ensure your travel insurance covers riding pillion on a motorbike up to 150cc. If you prefer not to participate, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation (cost included).
Boats for the Perfume River trip may not be available if you’re travelling during festival periods. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities instead.
Enjoy a final group dinner at KOTO restaurant, an organisation dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of street kids.
8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
Boat, Motorbike, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Vehicle, Taxi
Hotel (7 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)