This holiday offers a mixture of city landscapes in atmospheric Hanoi, a 3 centre overland tour to Pu Luong and Ninh Binh and overnight Halong Bay cruise before flying south to the beaches of Hoi An or Phu Quoc.
Day 1: Depart on your choice of overnight flights to Hanoi
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi for 2 nights. Private transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day free.
Day 3: Morning city tour with Vietnamese lunch. Evening Street Eats & Market tour with guide
Day 4: Travel to Pu Luong Nature Reserve (3 nights) - rich forest, rice terraces & limestone panoramas
Day 5: Morning tour to water wheels and bamboo aquaducts before rafting along the Cham River
Day 6: cycle or walk the surrounding hills and valleys. Relax and enjoy the hotel's wonderful setting
Day 7: Head south to Ninh Binh (2 nights). Visit Hoa Lu, ancient capital, & Van Long Wetlands by boat
Day 8: Day tour to Cuc Phuong National Park, a true jungle experience
Day 9: Drive to Halong Bay - 1 night cruise exploring UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 10: Continue cruise in the morning then fly to Hoi An for 3 nights on the beach
Days 11-12: Free days to enjoy the beach, explore UNESCO Old Town and surrounding countryside
Day 13: Overnight flight home
Day 14: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Hanoi
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Hanoi.
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi offers the chance to enjoy authentic old school Far East. The hotel is in the centre and we’d recommend that you take a walk through the Old Quarter. Don’t be put off by the thousands of motor scooters, just dive in.
Day 3: Hanoi - City Tour - Street Eats & Market Tour (B / L / D)
After breakfast you’ll be collected for a small group (2-8 people) city tour. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his former stilt-house, Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. From here you walk a short distance to the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Originally built as a temple dedicated to Confucius, it became the site of Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070. For lunch, sit down for a traditional Vietnamese meal with a contemporary twist at Home Restaurant, a boutique eatery within the quiet Truc Bach lake area. The yellow walls and rustic décor here hark back to Hanoi’s past life as a French colony. Tour ends at approx. 1.30pm
this evening (5.30pm) you re-join your tour guide for an introduction to Hanoi life. Your guide will introduce the tour before heading to ‘bia hoi corner’ where you can try the local brew while watching the busy streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Bia Hoi is a draft beer that is brewed daily and usually drunk by locals sat on small plastic stools. Continue on through the bustling old quarter and listen as your guide tells you about the various foods on offer. Stop and try some samples before you head for a Vietnamese style barbeque dinner. Here your guide will select an array meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers while you sit down as they flame grill the food for you. Walk a little more along the streets and then to Hoan Kiem lake for dessert. On the way admire public aerobics classes that dot the park. Your final stop is at Hanoi’s most famous ice-cream street. An unforgettable experience shared with scores of young Hanoians.
Day 4: Hanoi to Pu Luong Nature Reserve (B / L)
This morning you’ll be picked up for the drive out of the city to Pu Luong. Only four hours away from bustling Hanoi it feels like another world as the reserve is a land of verdant landscapes dotted with villages, meandering streams and countless rice fields; all surrounded by dramatic limestone karst mountains. The varied landscape makes an ideal base for a range of hiking and biking options (as well as rafting) to enjoy a side of Vietnam that's gradually disappearing. On arrival check-in to the Pu Luong Retreat for 3 nights. The afternoon is free to settle in and enjoy the hotel's stunning setting.
Day 5: Pu Luong Retreat - Village Life - Water Wheels - Rafting (B / L)
This morning you have the chance to get close to village life and interact with locals living in the hills above the Retreat. Glimpse at daily life, walk around working farm land and rice fields, and learn about making rice wine and weaving colourful textiles, followed by lunch with a local family.
This afternoon transfer by local tuk tuk down the valley to a suspension bridge that crosses the Cham River. From here walk across to discover the stunning water wheels that move water via handmade bamboo aqueducts from the river to the terraced paddy fields. Your local guide will explain their construction, history and continued use. From here you continue on foot to a local fisherman’s house and begin your rafting adventure. Floating along the calm river enjoy the beautiful views of the valley, farms and villages along the way. You will be expected to help paddle and steer your handcrafted rafts, which won't require too much energy or skill! On arrival at Tan Lap bridge, you disembark to be transferred back to Pu Luong Retreat for dinner.
Day 6: Pu Luong Retreat - Valley Hiking Day (B / L)
Early start today as you head out with a local guide and head down into the beautiful valley that faces the Retreat, walking along small paths that wind their way down the tumbling rice terraces to a picturesque village at the mountain's base. Great views all the way.
Continuing on along the base of the valley you weave between roads and farm land, villages and wild fields, ponds and rivers, mountains and open land. Savour the ever-changing scenery as you trek to a beautiful spot to enjoy a simple picnic lunch. Post-lunch you are free to explore a little more under your own steam or perhaps take a refreshing swim in the nearby river. Mid-afternoon you'll be collected and transferred back to the Retreat for dinner.
Day 7: Pu Luong - Hoa Lua - Van Long Wetlands - Ninh Binh (B / L)
This morning your overland adventure continues to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of the Dinh and Le dynasties dating back to the 11th century which is about 3 hours away. Not much of the capital remains, but fortunately some of its ruins and tombs have survived for a millennium and the scenery is stunning. After lunch in a local restaurant continue to the Van Long Wetlands Reserve, which forms part of a series of dramatic interlinked waterways, surrounded by impressive limestone scenery and nicknamed 'Halong Bay on the Rice Paddies'. Here your board a local boat and are paddled through the wetland scene, passing by the towering limestone peaks, through grottoes and past rice paddies. If you’re lucky you’ll hear and perhaps see the threatened Delacour’s Langur (ape), but you will see plenty of birds as you’re gently rowed through this beautiful scenery. From here continue on to Ninh Binh for 2 nights in your choice of accommodation.
Day 8: Ninh Binh - Cuc Phuong National Park - Jungle Walk (B / L)
This morning your guide will collect you for a day tour to Cuc Phuong National Park, the first in the country and a true jungle set in beautiful limestone hill country. The exact day can be adapted to suit your energy levels and interest, but your guide will plan to take you on the loop trail that takes you on a 3 hour moderate walk through the centre of the park and is a rare chance to experience an authentic jungle environment that has all but disappeared in Vietnam.
Over a picnic lunch enjoy the sounds of the forest as you dine between 1000-year old giant trees. You may be lucky enough to hear or spot the gibbons that live here, but you’re more likely to see butterflies and birds. On the way out of the park take a short walk to caves once inhabited by prehistoric humans.
Day 9: Ninh Binh - Halong Bay Overnight Cruise (B / L)
An early start this morning as you're transferred (3.5/4 hours) to Halong Bay. On arrival meet the crew and board your choice of traditional wooden junk then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads toward the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming (weather permitting). Return to the junk to relax on deck with a drink watching the sunset and enjoy a seafood dinner under the stars.
Day 10: Halong Bay (B / L) - Fly Hanoi to Hoi An - Beach
Enjoy breakfast as you continue to cruise through Halong Bay and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng to learn about daily life living on the water. From here cruise back to the dock over a light lunch and you're transferred back to Hanoi for the short flight south to Hoi An. On arrival you'll be met and transferred to your choice of hotel for 3 nights (or more) on the beach.
Days 11-12: Hoi An (B) - Free days - Beach, Old Town & Countryside
Hoi An is a great place to spend a few days by the beach, but don’t ignore the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Beautifully preserved and car free at night, visitors can leisurely explore the historic streets, spending time watching local artisans at work with silk, ceramics, paint and wood. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring heritage and is a popular place to have a little something run up. The town is lantern lit by night and its cobbled streets house some beautifully atmospheric restaurants & cafes. There are a host of excursions we can offer, for example a cycling tour or the surrounding countryside or perhaps an informal cooking course in a beautiful setting.
Extra…If you’d like to extend your holiday in Saigon this can easily be arranged.
Day 13: Fly (B) Hoi An / UK Airport
Morning free then airport transfer and flight home via Saigon, Hanoi, Singapore or Hong Kong. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Hanoi
The bustling but elegant city of Hanoi understandably provides a wealth of hotel choice.
Halong Bay Cruise Boats
An overnight cruise on Halong Bay is often seen as an essential part of a Vietnam holiday
Hotels in Cuc Phuong Area
Cuc Phuong can be found in the Ninh Binh region just south of Hanoi, a land of dramatic scenery and beautiful countryside
Hotels in Hoi An
Hoi An is a stunningly atmospheric UNESCO town, and we know all the great places to stay