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OVERVIEW

Dalat / Lao Cai / Sapa / Duong Lam / Ha Long Bay / Hanoi / Cu Chi / Tay Ninh / Ho Chi Minh City / My Son Sanctuary / Danang / Hoi An / Nha Trang

From ancient cities, beachside towns to Vietnam’s natural landscapes, go on this absolute Vietnam trip that will cover all things essential for an in-depth understanding of the country. From historical walks pass colonial and national monuments, to visiting a 700-year old university, trekking Vietnam’s hillside tribes and tasting the local flavours, this trip will be sure to leave an experience like none other.

Exo Travel

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

Tour Highlights for Absolute Vietnam
Major sites of colonial Ho Chi Minh City

Major sites of colonial Ho Chi Minh City

Take a walking tour past the War Remnants or History Museum, the former Presidential Palace and major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City. 

Mekong Delta waterways

Mekong Delta waterways

Cruise down the Mekong Delta waterways to see the Cai Be floating market  and cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made.

Visit ancient cities of Vietnam

Visit ancient cities of Vietnam

City hop Hoi An to Hue to Hanoi to see ancient sites and monuments that have been left unchanged and preserved over the years. 

Exo Travel

ITINERARY

Absolute Vietnam - 19 Days / 18 Nights

DAY 1 - Arrive Hanoi

Exo TravelNoi Bai Airport to your chosen hotel in Hanoi (35km): 45mins

On arrival in Hanoi, be welcomed by the guide and transfer to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi.

DAY 2 - Hanoi – City with a twist

Today’s tour tour starts at 08:30. Begin with a drive pass the historical Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independence of Vietnam in 1945. Be dropped off at Lenin Garden, a communal space for locals and take a leisurely stroll through the area where sewing shops have been in family hands for generations and admire the daily life of local people who still practise old an old way of life in the alleys of Hanoi. Proceed to the millenia-old Temple of Literature and explore its role in the country’s past, as both a university and a temple.

If interested, make a stop at the last courtyard where Vietnamese traditional instruments contribute to the oriental feel. For travelers who are musicians, opportunities to play some notes will present themselves, all under the guidance of the artists.

Then visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum (closed Mondays), which is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam.

Lunch will be served before towards Then make a stroll around the  charming Hoan Kiem Lake to enjoy local daily life passing by. Then stop at the home of Hanoian for tea break and listen to the story of family in each period.

Finish the day with a Water Puppet show. This is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.   

Overnight in Hanoi.

DAY 3 - Hanoi - half day biking - Overnight train to Lao Cai

Today’s tour will begin at 8:00. Leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind for this experience of cycling the Hanoi countryside. After a safety briefing and bike fitting, start pedaling through small back alleys of Bac Bien Village. Arrive at the banks of the Duong River and board a local ferry for a short crossing, enjoying the scenes as the boat glides across the water.

Back on the bikes, pedal parallel to the river then turn in to quaint villages. This presents the perfect opportunity to discover traditional local houses, ancient pagodas and temples, lively markets and gardens. Stop often for photos or simple to enjoy the atmosphere of authentic Vietnamese country life. Pop into a family’s house for a visit, learning about their daily life while sipping tea.

Responsible Travel: Traveling by bicycle is an eco-friendly, emissions-free way to sightsee.

FORM REQUIREMENTS: Participants in any adventure travel will be required to complete and submit a signed terms and conditions agreement including the voluntary participation, assumption of risk, release from liability and hold harmless provisions. Where minors are involved, parental or guardian permission may also be required. Travel documentation will not be released unless these forms are complete and on file with Exotissimo adventures.

NOTE: This program may alter due to local conditions, the strength of the group and other unexpected circumstances. We will do our very best to adhere to the set itinerary, however we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, the biking or guide will have the final say.

In the afternoon, return to the hotel (late checkout is arranged until 18:00).

This evening, be met by the guide who will assist with a private transfer to Hanoi Railway Station for an overnight train to Lao Cai.

Overnight on train.

DAY 4 - Lao Cai - Sapa

Arrive Lao Cai early in the morning and be greeted by the guide and transfer to a local restaurant for breakfast. Then driving to visit a local market (Ban Cam on Tuesday/ Cao Son on Wednesday/ Lung Khau Nhin on Thursday/ Y Ty on Saturday/ Muong Hum on Sunday. (Note: The market visit may be on the arrival day depending on the day).)

Here, see mostly Flower Hmong however Phu La, Black Dao, Tay, Nung hill tribe groups also gather here. The market offers a variety of local products, which could not be found in others areas such as an interesting animal market where pot-bellied pigs, cows and buffalos can be seen. Continue the tour on a short walk to a hill-tribe village. Here, have the opportunity to visit some local homes to understand more on the daily life of these tribes as well as their culture and traditions. Transfer to the former hill station of Sapa.

Overnight in Sapa.

DAY 5 - Sapa - Full day Sa Seng - Hau Thao

This morning, take a short 15 minute drive to Sa Seng Village for a hike.

Begin walking on a small concrete path with beautiful views of the rice terraces that lead to a village of the Black Hmong people. Experience how the local people set up their homes with the surrounding rice and corn farms. Then, continue ascending uphill on a small rocky trail with lush green bamboo forest and bushes.

Lunch is prepared at a nice spot on the top overlooking the large and beautiful Muong Hoa Valley.

This afternoon, descend downhill passing some small hamlets of Hmong ethnic tribe in Hau Thao Village. Be sure to snap some great photos of the mountain that looks towards Fansipan Mountain - the highest in Vietnam. Get a chance to visit a local’s home and learn about the Hmong ethnic culture and their way of life. The last part of the trip is an easy walk in between villages and rice terraces.

End with a pick-up by car at the main road to be transfer back.

Tour summary: Road transfer 45 mins/ Easy walk and visiting local homes for about 5 hours.

Important notes:

• This trip can be organized the whole year around.

• Moderate trekking with distance ~13 km

Overnight in Sapa.

DAY 6 - Sapa morning free at leisure - Hanoi

Spend the morning at leisure before being picked up by the guide and driver for a drive back to Hanoi. 

Overnight in Hanoi

DAY 7 - Hanoi - Halong Bay overnight cruiseMealsMEALS [B|L|D]

After breakfast leave Hanoi for a 3hr30mins drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way. Arrive at the jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After a welcome onboard, lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.

Overnight on Halong Bay

DAY 8 - Halong bay - Hanoi // Fly Danang - Hoi AnMealsMEALS [B]

Enjoy a fresh morning in the middle of the bay, the sun rises on Halong in the morning and breakfast is served (brunch on some boats) while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi Airport for the flight to Danang.

Arrive in Danang and be greeted by the guide and transfer to the hotel in Hoi An.

Overnight in Hoi An.

DAY 9 - Hoi An - Half day Tra QueMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelRoutes can change subject to client’s interest.

Spend a morning like a local in charming Tra Que herb village. Travel to Hoi An’s countryside and join farmers in the garden, chit-chatting about their lives while assisting in their daily tasks. Having worked up an appetite, prepare a delicious lunch of traditional Hoi An dishes with a local family

In the afternoon, take a half day trip to visit the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Here, 40km southwest of Hoi An in a lush green valley, are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. On the way back to Hoi An visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum originated from here.

Overnight in Hoi An. 

DAY 10 - Hoi An – Danang – Da LatMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelRoutes can change subject to client’s interest

Transfer to Da Nang airport for the 70-minute flight to Dalat. Dalat is located 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City. Established as a hill station at the beginning of the century, Dalat is reminiscent of an alpine town with its French chalets and pine forests.

Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel for check-in.

Overnight in Dalat. 

DAY 11 - Da LatMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelRoutes can change subject to client’s interest

This morning, go on a sightseeing tour of Dalat. First, visit Bao Dai's Summer Palace that sits on a hill just outside the main centre. Bao Dai was the Last Emperor of Vietnam and the Palace has been preserved exactly as he left it in 1954. It is a classic example of art deco that is a tourist attraction in itself. Continue the tour with the former railway station (in use only for an optional steam train ride) which is remarkable with its architecture and its old steam locomotive.  Visit Xuan Huong Lake and Lam Ty Ni Pagoda where the folkloric a Buddhist monk, Vien Thuc, produces his abstract paintings and writes poetry. End the tour at the town's bustling central market, renowned for its fresh vegetables and fruit that is rarely found in a tropical country.

This afternoon, enjoy a chillout atmosphere of the central highland.

Overnight in Dalat. 

DAY 12 - Da Lat - Ho Chi MinhMealsMEALS [B]

This morning, be met by the guide and driver at the hotel in Hoi An and be transferred to Danang Airport for the onward flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

In the afternoon, head to Cholon, Saigon’s Chinatown district to start a walk through one of the biggest fabric markets, which is known far and wide for its long-established role as a crucial distribution hub of fabrics, not only for the city but the entire southern region. Continue strolling down the street and pass by Le Chau Clan House, the temple of silver. Listen to the stories of Vietnamese traditional silver handicraft before paying a visit to Cha Tam Church built in 1900.

Walk down one of the busiest streets in Cholon, as well as the wholesales tobacco market, observe the street life of the area by venturing through a lively local fruits market. (This area is a bit crowded with traders and vehicles)

Be picked up by a car on standby at the end of the market for a drive to one of the most famous Chinese clan houses. Dedicated to Chinese General Quan Cong, Nghia An Hoi Quan was most impressive for its exquisite gilded woodwork, where devotees gather to perform daily prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom.

Then hop on a xích lô, a traditional form of transportation and ride around the area to admire the beauty of Old Chinese architect and ancient buildings of 19th – 20th century, ride along the herbal street and take a chance to learn about various kinds of herbs before making a stop at another corner of Cho Lon for an insider look at Silver Street and its neighbourhood, which is considered as the wholesale centre for silver in Southeast Asia because Vietnamese silver handicrafts remains the best ones in the world with their designs, skilled silversmiths & quality of silver.

Then, get a true experience of traditional handicraft by going on a join-in hands-on silver jewellery-making class and create a personal jewellery piece. After this insightful visit, return to the hotel.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.

DAY 13 - Ho Chi MinhMealsMEALS [B]

Exo TravelRoutes can change subject to client’s interest

This tour begins at 08:30. Be met with the guide for a morning discovery of Saigon, the habits of the local people and the significance of coffee drinking in Vietnamese culture.

Coffee was introduced to Vietnam by the French in the late 19th century but the country quickly became a strong exporter as vast swathes of the highlands were given over to this important new cash crop. Today, the Vietnamese have taken coffee to new gastronomical levels!

Start with a stroll through a buzzing local residential area and delve right into local life while browsing the street café, watching people enjoying their morning coffee, reading newspapers or chatting with each other. The locals usually drink coffee after having breakfast. Join in the typical daily routine by ordering ‘bun thit nuong’ consisting of fresh noodles topped with grilled pork at a eatery. Then, walk around to observe the bustling street eats scene and try a piece of sticky rice or hollow donut snack. 

Carry on to discover an 80-year old coffee shop and warehouse. Get to know the unique way of making coffee while listening to tales related to this trade.

Conclude the tour by heading to Barista Saigon coffee studio. Meet with a certified barista, be introduced to Vietnamese specialty coffee and learn expert coffee brewing techniques. Choose from a variety of courses, focusing on espresso, latte art or professional ways to judge the quality of coffee.

This afternoon, start with a visit to the iconic Saigon Central Post Office built between 1886 and 1891. Based on the design of French architect Foulhoux, it is the creation of a unique vaulted ceiling with wrought iron beams and columns reminiscent of industrial architecture, which is now considered a symbol of Saigon and one of its most famous landmarks.

Walk along Dong Khoi street, formerly la rue Catinat and pay a visit to Gialong Palace – Ho Chi Minh City Museum for its beautiful architecture and listen to its history through times. Continue to ‘Le Loi Street’ to meet a local artisan who specialises in traditional engravings.

Next, stroll through the old central market (Note: the vehicle will be available)  before arriving at the city’s oldest colonial-era apartment, built in 1886, and see what the young creative Vietnamese are up to from their funky boutiques and coffee shops. Sit down at one of the stylish coffee shops and interact with a local resident who moved here in 1975.

Leave the compound and have a look at the building on the other side, which used to be ‘Banque de l’Indochine’ (Indochina Bank) during the 1920s. It’s a stunning example of the ‘Indochinois’ east/west fusion style of architecture that this area is known for. After this last stop, head back to the hotel.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

DAY 14 - Ho Chi Minh - Tay Ninh - Cu ChiMealsMEALS [B|L]

Exo TravelHCMC to Tay Ninh Province (100km):2hrs

Depart Ho Chi Minh City at 08:00 in the morning for the drive to Tay Ninh. Observe the scenery as it changes from a city view to rice paddies, villagers drying noodles by the side of the road and other scenes typical of southern Vietnam. Visit the Cao Dai great temple at Tay Ninh, with its flamboyant architecture, where all the major faiths of the world blend together in a unique religious mosaic.

After lunch in a local restaurant visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels which consist of an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars. Start the visit with the Ben Dinh or Ben Duoc sections of the tunnel.

Here, imagine what it was like to be a guerrilla complete with Russian Carbine rifles and AK 47’s on display. In the late afternoon journey back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

DAY 15 - Ho Chi Minh - Mekong Delta - Ho Chi MinhMealsMEALS [B|L]

Exo TravelHCMC to Cai Be (100km):2hrs

This tour begins at 08:00. Leave the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and drive deep into the Mekong Delta on this Cai Be day tour. Upon arriving in Cai Be, disembark the boat when reaching Tan Phong Island and start a very interesting cycling tour through small villages and narrow roads. Ride along the pathways and take the opportunity to visit local families making traditional products such as handicraft items made from water hyacinth, roofs made from palm leaves, hammocks made from coconut ropes, and rice papers.

Enjoy lunch with specialties of the Mekong Delta in the ambience of an ancient house. After lunch,

walk through narrow lanes of a local market to enjoy the hustle and bustle before getting on board and continue cruising on the Mekong River, witness everyday life in the watery world passing by while sampling local fresh fruits. Leave the boat for a while to visit local businesses such as family-run rice wine making and rice mill factory and interact with the host learning about their daily lives.

At the end of the tour, drive back to Ho Chi Minh City

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

DAY 16 - Ho Chi Minh - Phu QuocMealsMEALS [B]

After breakfast, be transferred to the airport for a flight to Phu Quoc.

On arrival in Phu Quoc, be transferred to the resort by the resort’s scheduled shuttle bus. 

Spend the rest of the day to relax by the pool or on the sandy beach.

Overnight in Phu Quoc.

DAY - Phu QuocMealsMEALS [B]

A full day at leisure in the resort or on the beach.

Overnight in Phu Quoc.

DAY 18 - Phu QuocMealsMEALS [B]

A full day at leisure in the resort or on the beach.

Overnight in Phu Quoc.

DAY 19 - Phu QuocMealsMEALS [B]

Spend the morning at leisure before checking out. Be transferred to the onward departure flight to Ho Chi Minh City via the resort’s shuttle bus.

Exo Travel

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English or French speaking guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle
  • Train tickets as mentioned in the itinerary (shared cabin)
  • Boat trip as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits

Our services do not include:

  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Other services than mentioned
  • International and domestic Flights
  • Laundry, telephone calls and expenditure of a personal nature
  • Tips, Travel insurance
  • We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance (covering emergency medical evacuation) for trips to Vietnam.
  • Prices are valid 30 days from date of offer. Past this date price and conditions may be readjusted.
  • The cost of air tickets is subject to change without prior notice by the airlines.
  • Reservations during peak times (Christmas, New Year, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, National Holidays) may be subject to supplementary charges.
  • Rooms at hotels are available only from 1400 on arrival day till 1200 on departure date. A supplement will be added if early check-in or late check-out is desired.
  • Please note that all the above services & tours have yet to be booked, they are proposed for your information only and we will not make any reservations before we receive your confirmation to do so.
  • If one or some proposed service(s) is (are) not available at the moment of booking, we will try to find other possibilities/options or other similar service(s) in order to avoid changes to the program
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