12 Days | from $2100 per person
South & Central
Start by Exploring Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, Vietnam’s southern metropolis and the country’s biggest city. Take in the bright lights and fast pace of the city center before discovering a side of the city’s fascinating history at the Cu Chi tunnels. You’ll also uncover the Mekong Delta, Vietnam’s iconic waterway destination, before heading to central Vietnam.
Fly to Danang and transfer straight to Hoi An, Vietnam’s best-preserved old town, where you can take part in a lantern making class and basket tour. Then finish in Hue, Vietnam’s most serene city, and uncover the lives of the imperial kings with grand palaces, crumbling tombs, and excellent cuisine.
Take a peek in more detail at each day of this itinerary!
Arrive in Vietnam’s biggest city and let it all soak in.
Leaving Ho Chi Minh City behind, head to the fertile rice bowl of Vietnam: the Mekong Delta. This lush land of palm trees and great rivers is home to some of the best fruit farms found anywhere in the world. Check in to your riverside lodge and relax in the surroundings.
The Mekong Delta is remarkably flat – perfect for push bikes. Take on two wheels and explore the area to understand how this part of the country feeds the rest of Vietnam. Explore duck farms on water, vibrant green rice paddies, and a dragon fruit farm where you can sample fruit straight from the tree. Then relax and absorb the scenery with a sundowner – the Mekong Delta is famous for its dramatic sunsets.
Return to your lodge, enjoy a traditional music show, a cooking class, and then a delicious dinner using only local ingredients from the delta.
Get an early start and discover more about one of the produce items that keeps this region in business: coconuts. Witness the boats piled high with coconuts destined for the factory – nothing goes to waste! After the coconuts are shelled, the fibers are removed from the husk and used to make rope and rugs. You can watch the whole process before returning to the lodge.
If time, you’ll learn how even the coconut tree leaves are important, from their use in construction to being employed in the crafting of local instruments. Then check out and head back to the city.
Start the day by delving into the Cu Chi tunnels, a vital base during the wars and a fascinating piece of Vietnam’s history. Pick up from your hotel in the morning and head to this 200km underground network of passages, chambers, and living quarters. An energetic guide will explain how it all worked, and why these tunnel systems were so important during Vietnam’s most turbulent years. The journey there and back is an activity in itself, taking you through classic southern Vietnamese countryside. Then lunch back in the city.
Time to explore Vietnam’s southern metropolis. Start by exploring the heart of Ho Chi Minh City by delving into the striking Reunification Palace. This is the former presidential palace and is one of Vietnam’s most storied pieces of architecture. Then head to the Post Office, a colonial-era masterpiece, before gawping at the Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral’s red bricks make it a unique structure in Vietnam. Visiting the War Remnants Museum is an important activity when visiting Ho Chi Minh City, as it details the atrocities of war and the human spirit to rebuild in the aftermath. After this sobering experience, you’ll return to your hotel.
Relax for your last day in the big city before flying to Danang and transferring to the old town of Hoi An.
Time for an early start with pick up at 8am. Hop onto a road bike and explore the countryside surrounding Hoi An – morning is the best time to see it! Crisscross vibrant rice paddies and traverse streams before reaching the traditional village of Cam Kim. Deep in the countryside, these locals make handicrafts from wood and sleeping mats from rattan.
Continue on the countryside lanes until you reach Cam Thanh village, another picturesque village that survives off farming. Feeling brave? Hop onto a water buffalo and plough through the paddies! Then continue to the hidden side of An Bang beach, a spotless strip of yellow sand that meets calm and shallow waters. Enjoy lunch with a local family, and rest.
After lunch you can enjoy a quick fishing trip with a local fisherman before heading to an organic vegetable garden in Tra Que village and returning to your hotel.
Hue is connected to Hoi An along a stunning coastal road where you’ll glimpse lagoons, mountains, and the vast ocean. Explore the gorgeous and colorful An Bang “ghost city” along the way, an example of how the Hue people venerate their ancestors.
Lace up and take on a road bike to explore Hue, Vietnam’s poetic former capital of gentle hills and sweeping rivers.
Climb gently to the hills of Hue, passing the Nam Giao Esplanade – now a leafy park – before reaching Tu Duc Tomb, the most elegant of all the royal tombs in Hue, decorated with lotus ponds and ancient shrines.
Enjoy a local lunch before speeding down to the river and boarding a colorful dragon boat. Move downstream towards Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most impressive Buddhist sites. Absorb the atmosphere of this important religious complex, situated on a picturesque bend of the river, before getting back on your bike and cycling back into town through Kim Long, Hue’s garden neighborhood.
Bike back to the city and unearth the Citadel, the palace that the great kings constructed and improved upon over the centuries. Explore the proud flag tower, ornate gates, and various royal chambers before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Leave Hue and head north, crossing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) as you go. Explore the historic battle grounds, a village that moved underground, and the friendship bridge, now a symbol of home. Arrive in Phong Nha and relax for the evening.
The Tu Lan cave system is one of Vietnam’s greatest outdoor wonders: a network of wet and dry caves that offer incredible stalactites and stalagmites, fascinating fauna, and some of the country’s best campsites. Pick up from your hotel and head straight to Tan Hoa, a small village close to the caves. The journey takes around 90 minutes.
Then trek through the countryside as you move towards the caves, enter the jungle, and get the adventure started. Some caves you can walk through, others you’ll be completely submerged in water as you paddle from rock to rock. Don’t worry – a lifejacket makes things easy and safe.
Helmets and headtorches ensure that you feel secure as you light up the chambers – some of which allow no natural light at all – and illuminate your path. Marvel at bizarre stalagmites and stalactites; some looking like oversized vegetables while others look like creatures from another planet. Make sure you ask your guide plenty of questions, as they can explain how each one was formed.
In the evening you’ll settle into a gorgeous riverside campsite enveloped by mountains and jungle. You can’t shower, but instead there is a rock pool offering fresh clean water from the mouth of a cave. And for dinner you can expect a mouthwatering barbeque with dishes such as chicken and lemongrass or pork with herbs. Accommodation is in comfortable one- or two-person tents.
Finish the trek on the afternoon of the second day, with a cold beer and a welcome shower.
Take in the last few moments of the Vietnamese countryside before transferring
13 Day Itinerary
From $1200 per person
Is this tour right for you?
This suggested tour itinerary is great for those who are visiting Vietnam for the first time and looking to spend more time in the south of the country, and discover Central Vietnam with an active twist.
There are some physical activities such as cycling and light trekking but it is nothing strenuous that a person of average fitness couldn’t complete comfortably.
Our trip designers are very happy to adjust any part of this itinerary to best suit your requirements, including style of hotel, or perhaps more or less strenuous activities in each destination. We can also add or remove any section of the itinerary to suit your schedule.
From USD 2100 per person
This tour price is quoted based on two people sharing one room through the tour, and includes all local taxes, entrance fees where required, accomodation and meals as specified, local English-speaking guides, and local transportation between each destination as specified. It does not include drinks and meals as specified, travel insurance, tips for guides and drivers, and any personal expenses.
Ready to start planning your adventure in Vietnam?
Topas Travel | 1B, Alley 12/2/5 Dang Thai Mai Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi | Phone +84 (24) 3715 1005
A registered tour operator and travel agency based in Vietnam