South to Central: Art, History & Culture

Trip Overview

10 days / 9 nights

Discover the magnetism of Ho Chi Minh City and get off the tourist track amongst the waterways and rice paddies of the Mekong Delta. This 10-day adventure takes you from Ho Chi Minh City’s best museums, attractions, and experiences to the historical cities of Hoi An and Hue, to delve into the rural life, traditional crafts and ancient past of two of Vietnam’s most captivating UNESCO world heritage sites.







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  • Staying at the world-renowned Topas Ecolodge high in the hills of Sapa 
  • Hiking through terraced rice fields, mountains and jungles deep in northern Vietnam and seeing minority villages
  • Discovering the capital of Hanoi and beautiful Halong Bay

This Tour is Perfect for

  • Exploring Northern Vietnam’s highlights and lesser visited mountain areas 
  • Relaxing after the travel restrictions due to Covid 19! 
  • Diving into the local culture of the Vietnamese as well as ethnic minorities  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Saigon 

Day 2: Saigon city and Vespa food tour 

Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta   

Day 4: Mekong Delta   

Day 5: Mekong Delta – Saigon – Hue 

Day 6: Hue city tour 

Day 7: Hue – Danang  

Day 8: Hoi An farming & Lantern making   

Day 9: Hoi An Free Day 

Day 10: Departure from Danang 

Day 1: Welcome to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) 


Xin Chao and welcome to Saigon, an intoxicating, vibrant city known officially as Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, our driver will welcome you before taking you into the heart of the city to settle into your accommodation for the next few days. 

Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure exploring all that the city has to offer. 

Included meals: N/A  

Distance and activities: 45’ drive, free time to explore the city 

Day 2: Saigon – City and Vespa food tour 


Kick off your day with a morning sightseeing tour, first stopping at the old Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral, two colonial masterpieces that are still operating today. Next, you’ll head to Chinatown, visiting Giac Lam pagoda along the way. Chinatown covers a whole district of Saigon, which operates like a giant market. An entire morning can disappear wandering through the tiny alleys of commerce where photo opportunities abound. The tour will finish in Ben Thanh market, one of Ho Chi Minh City’s biggest and most important commercial centers and a great place to pick up some souvenirs. 


You’ll have the afternoon to spend at your leisure exploring the city until sunset, when it’s time to do as the locals do, and jump on the back of a scooter. Your trusty driver will zip you down tiny alleyways and along wide boulevards flanked by skyscrapers to show you the Saigon few travelers get to see. Sample delicious street food dishes as you pass major tourist attractions, getting to know Vietnam in style. 

Included meals: Breakfast, dinner 

Distance and activities: 3h sightseeing tour – 4h motorbike food tour 


Day 3: Saigon – Mekong Delta – Coco Riverside Lodge 


8am: Transfer to Coco Riverside Lodge, Vung Liem; 3-hour drive. 

Upon arrival, a representative will lead you to the lodge along a countryside path. Here, you will be treated to a welcome drink while you check-in and make yourself comfortable, before enjoying lunch at the lodge’s restaurant. 

After a short rest, a cycle tour along village paths will lead you to the home of Mr. Cong, who will show you how he makes popped rice using a blend of traditional and modern agricultural methods. Mr. Cong will reveal the secret of making rice pop and creating the product that sustains the village. Your guide will also explain how the villagers raise their animals and collect ‘biogas’ to make free and sustainable cooking fuel. 

You’ll then continue riding along a quiet village road, passing by a duck farm, green rice paddies, agricultural fields and small villages. Stopping off at one of the dragon fruit or orange plantations, you can pluck some juicy fruit straight from the tree and enjoy it at its freshest. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop and capture the picturesque rural village scenes with the backdrop of the setting sun, before cycling back to the lodge. 

In the evening, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at cooking some local dishes in a traditional cooking class, before relaxing over dinner at the lodge’s restaurant. 

Accommodation at Coco Riverside Lodge 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner   

Distance and activities: cycling, village tour, cooking class, 3-hour drive 

Day 4: Coco Riverside Lodge 


After breakfast, a small ferry will take you across the river to visit the splendid Cao Dai temple. En route, you can take in the sight of loaded boats heading to the local market and transporting goods such as coconuts from one factory to another. Lining the banks of the river, these small coconut-processing operations are hives of activity. Once the coconuts have been shelled, the fibers are removed from the husks to make rope, which in turn is used to weave rugs. In just a short time you can see the whole manufacturing process. Most of the work is done by hand by skilled workers and the products are mainly sold to foreign companies.     

Lunch will be served back at the lodge, with some time to relax on the picturesque riverbank, watching the local people go about their day.  

The afternoon will begin with a sampan trip along the waterways to visit another village, before walking to a local household to see how the homeowner makes Vietnamese pancakes and trying your hand at making your own. You’ll arrive back at the lodge in the late afternoon.  

After time to shower and freshen up, you will start a walk to the home of a neighbor who fought during the Vietnam war and will share his story with you.  You’ll be treated to a performance of traditional music before walking back, traditional torches made from dried coconut leaves lighting the way. Dinner with a twist is served after the night tour. 

Accommodation at Coco Riverside Lodge 

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner 

Distance and activities: temple visit, village tours, 3-hour drive 

Day 5: Coco Riverside Lodge – Saigon – Flight to Hue 


After breakfast you’ll have a chance to explore the lodge garden, feed the fish or even try fishing. You can visit the family’s ancestral grave if you wish. You can help to harvest some water coconut leaves and try your hand at weaving with them. The leaves are a key building material in the Mekong Delta, used to build the walls and roofs of houses. The local people will show you how they use these leaves and how to make the ‘poon sticks’ that are used to light the paths at night.   

After check-out, you’ll be taken to the airport in Saigon for the short flight to Hue, where you’ll transfer to your hotel and have the remainder of the day for relaxation.  

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: Garden tour, 3-hour drive, 1 hour 20’ flight 

Day 6: Hue Spend the day with the locals  


A trip focused on the remarkable but lesser-known rural facet of Hue gives you the chance to experience the city beyond its impressive ancient architecture. The highlights of this tour include gaining insight into life in Central Vietnam’s countryside and experiencing the warm hospitality of the locals thanks to our hosts and some people that you may meet along the way. 

You’ll start the day with a short drive to the old parts of Hue City in Bao Vinh. After a short visit to the local market, you’ll take a local ferry to reach Sinh village. Here you’ll visit the home of artisan Ky Huu Phuoc who will introduce you to the woodblock painting artform. The workshop will be hands-on, and you’ll have the chance to create a simple piece to take home. After the workshop, you’ll start a relaxed cycling tour around the village. You’ll be free to set the pace as you wish, allowing plenty of stops for photo opportunities along the way.  

You’ll continue with a short drive toward Thanh Toan village to visit a local farmer’s house. Depending on the season you may have the chance to see the farmers at work, try your hand at gardening or cook some local dishes. Lunch will be served here, with plenty of fresh local home-grown products on the menu.  

Next, you’ll drive toward An Truyen village, where you’ll hop into a motor sampan to explore the lagoon. The scenery is beautiful and the snapshots of local life on the lagoon are fascinating. You’ll visit a family farm, where you can learn how to catch fish in a unique way. There’ll be a chance to catch the sun setting over the lagoon before stopping by a local restaurant, to enjoy some cold drinks served with the fresh fish you have just caught, before heading back to your hotel. 

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch 

Distance and activities: 8-hour drive, boat ride, cycling, woodblock workshop, lagoon tour  

Day 7: Hue – Drive Down the Ocean Cloud Pass – Hoi An


Today you’ll say goodbye to Hue after a relaxed breakfast and head for the charmingly beautiful ancient town of Hoi An, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hue is connected to Hoi An along a stunning coastal road where you’ll glimpse lagoons, mountains, rice fields, and the vast ocean. 

Along the way, you can explore the colourful An Bang “ghost city”, which serves as a fascinating example of how the Hue people venerate their ancestors, before continuing past the sunny beaches of Da Nang, finally ending at your hotel in Hoi An. You’ll have the remainder of the day to explore Hoi An at your leisure. 

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: 3.5-hour drive, An Bang tour 

Day 8: Hoi An – Farming and Lantern Making 


Our local guide will greet you at your hotel after breakfast to begin your tour around Hoi An. First stop on the itinerary is Cam Thanh village, a village of about 7 hectares that provided a location for sheltering citizens and soldiers during the Vietnamese war. Here you will take a ride in a locally made basket boat and marvel at the expert skills of the rowers. As you glide through the picturesque waterways lined with water coconut palms, you can learn about the daily life of Vietnamese fishermen, their families and their community. If you’re lucky, you may have the chance to see a catch or even have a fishermen teach you how to catch crabs. 

Leaving Cam Thanh mid-morning, you’ll pass through beautiful ride paddies lining the narrow roads, enjoying the fresh air and cool breeze of the countryside. Your guide will explain the sequence of rice cultivation and how the local Vietnamese farmers grow rice in the fields. You’ll cycle to Tra Que herb village to learn about farming. Your local guide will introduce the history of the village and its riparian ecosystem. Next, it’s time to get physical, by joining the local farmers in their work: from treating the ground with seaweed fertilizer, digging, land boarding and making beds, to transplanting vegetables and watering the crops. After all the hard work, you can relax with a footbath of herbs picked fresh from the garden. 

In the village, you can also learn how to make Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Pancake) and enjoy eating it for lunch, before resting under the leaf-roof house and enjoying the countryside breeze. 

After lunch, you will cycle to the home of a local craftsman. Here you will be introduced to the history of the town’s lantern making trade as well as learning about the traditional designs and colors. The craftsman will take you through the different stages of making the lanterns and you will then have the chance to make your own to take home with you. 

Local people believe hanging lanterns in front of their houses brings them luck, happiness and wealth. Traditionally, lanterns were only made of silk and were created in one of a few shapes, however, these days lanterns are made in a range of shapes and using a wider range of materials. Walking around Hoi An, you are likely to see lanterns shaped like lotuses, diamonds, triangles and even garlic, and made from modern materials such as cardboard and nylon fabric in addition to the traditional silk versions. 

You’ll head back to your hotel after the workshop and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure.   

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch 

Distance and activities: 8-hour basket boat tour, farm tour and cooking lesson, lantern making – about 10-15km cycling 

Day 9: Hoi An – Free day/optional activities


With bright pink bougainvillea spilling over the yellow walls of the ancient houses that line the picturesque streets, Hoi An is undoubtably one of Vietnam’s most charming towns. Enjoy the day at your leisure, ambling through the quaint alleyways and getting to know the restaurants, cafes, and tailors situated on the banks of the Thu Bon River. We suggest popping into Reaching Out Teahouse, a lovely ancient house providing work for the hard of hearing and serving delicious teas and homemade snacks. 

Included meals: Breakfast 

Distance and activities: Leisure time. Optional activities: kayaking, organic farm visit, basket boat ride, cycling tour. Please speak to one of our travel experts for more information and costs. 

Day 10: Departure from Danang 


You’ll spend today at your leisure until your transfer to Danang International Airport for your departure flight.  

Included meals: Breakfast  

Distance and activities: Leisure time, 45′ drive 

Tour Includes

Tour Excludes

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