Vietnam Explorer    *alt*

15 days, from £2950
Wild Frontiers
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Description

Vietnam remains one of South-East Asia's most diverse and intriguing destinations and with its unique shape - stretching north to south over 1600kms and yet from east to west only 50kms in places - it offers incredible variety in its landscapes, food, architecture and culture.

This trip balances visits to some of the country's better known and much lauded sights - such as Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City with some more off-beat places such as Phong Nha-Ke Bang with its stunning cave systems & Bach Ma with its faded French colonial mansions, stunning vistas and impressive wildlife.

In addition, we'll spend two nights (rather than the standard one) aboard a privately chartered boat so as to be able to access some quieter areas of Halong Bay, with its world-renowned limestone scenery and we'll explore the less well-known Vinh Moc Tunnels of the DMZ rather than the more commonly visited Cu Chi Tunnels outside Saigon. We will also paddle the tranquil waterways of the Mekong Delta and discover the rural beauty of Vietnam's rice paddies by bicycle and on foot.

If you've always wanted to see and experience the Vietnam you may have only heard previously heard or dreamt about, then this trip is for you.

Highlights:

- Two nights exploring Halong Bay aboard a privately chartered boat
- Exploring lesser known National Parks - Phong Nha-Ke Bang & Bach Ma
- Discovering the DMZ zone
- Overnighting in the Mekong Delta
- Seeing the country's major highlights - Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City

Tour Includes:

- Full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides and drivers
- 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches,12 dinners (typically in local restaurants where viable)
- Drinking water throughout
- All transport (minibuses, overnight train journey in 4-cabin sleepr berths, 1 domestic flight, bicycles Mekong cruiseboat and local sampans)
- 14 nights' accommodation (9 in comfortable hotels, 2 onboard a privately chartered Halong Bay boat, 1 on an overnight train, 1 in a simple National Park guesthouse and 1 in a converted riverside villa)
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary
- A carbon-offsetting contribution to Carbon Clear (if booking international flights through WF office)
ALL OUR SMALL GROUP TOURS HAVE NO LOCAL PAYMENTS, HIDDEN EXTRAS OR COMPULSORY SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

Itinerary


 Days 1-2: Tour starts in Hanoi


 Day 1: Accommodation will be available from early afternoon today even though the suggested group flight does not arrive until the evening. Day 2: With ochre-coloured colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, Hanoi is full of charm and we'll spend the day exploring its many sights.



 Days 3-4: Hanoi - Halong Bay


 Day 3: In Halong Bay we'll board our privately chartered boat for 2 nights, enabling us to access some quieter spots amongst the striking limestone formations that give the bay such character. Day 4: With a full day at our disposal there will be ample time for further exploration of this stunning destination with options for being as active or as relaxed as you wish.



 Day 5: Halong Bay - Overnight Train - Dong Hoi

After a final morning on board (with perhaps the chance of an early morning Tai Chi class) we'll return to the jetty and drive back to Hanoi in time to take our overnight train.


 Day 6: Dong Hoi - Phong Nha National Park

We'll head to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to explore Paradise Cave, one of the longest dry caves in the world. Later we'll explore the countryside by bicycle.


 Days 7-8: Phong Nha National Park - DMZ - Hue


 Day 7: Today's journey sees us heading south via the DMZ passing various places of military significance including the Vinh Moc Tunnels and parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Day 8: Hue once served as an imperial capital and today retains much of its royal charm. We'll have the day to explore some of the city's fascinating sights including the Imperial Citadel and the Thien Mu pagoda.



 Day 9: Hue - Bach Ma National Park

Leaving Hue, we'll head up into the steep mountains and dense forests of Bach Ma National Park to take a walk through one of the most bio-diverse areas of South-East Asia.


 Days 10-11: Bach Ma National Park - Hoi An


 Day 10: Rising early we plan to take a bird-watching walk which also offers spectacular vistas over the Tam Giang lagoons and Lang Co beach. Later we'll descend from the mountains to Hoi An. Day 11: The once prosperous trading port of Hoi An has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is without doubt one of Vietnam's gems. Today has been left free for you to explore this town with its narrow lanes and old merchants' houses at your leisure.



 Day 12: Hoi An - Danong - Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta

After a short flight we'll head out into the Mekong Delta meeting locals along the way and exploring the waterways by bicycle, on foot and by sampan.


 Days 13-15: Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City


 Day 13: After a further morning to enjoy the Delta, including a visit to the bustling market of My Long, we'll return this afternoon to Ho Chi Minh City for our final two nights in the country. Day 14: The former city of Saigon may be known as the city that never sleeps but it also retains its connections with the past and today we'll take a walking tour to admire some of the city's historic landmarks. Day 15: The tour ends after breakfast.