Elephant riding on the Lak Lake in Ban Me Thuat

Vietnam Explorer

Overview

Vietnam Explorer Tour is an adventure for 23 days 22 nights exploring Vietnam thoroughly from the North to the South. The tour visits most off-the-tourist attractions of the country, allowing our travelers to have an in-depth understanding the authentic Vietnam. The tour pace is moderate adventure with activities including walking, culture-exploring, nature-touring, sea and river cruising.

In some areas accommodations are quite basic due to local conditions. On the adventure, we travel through the rugged mountains of north western Vietnam down to Ha Long Bay, we visit most World Heritage Sites in Vietnam and plough through the exotically mysterious Central Highlands and the verdant Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.

On the tour we also have some time unwinding on the luxurious junk cruise on Ha Long Bay and on the pristine white sand beach of Cua Dai. Vietnam Explorer is simply experiencing an authentic Vietnam.

Day 1    Arrive in Ha Noi
Day 2    Ha Noi/Night Train for Lao Cai (B)
Day 3    Arrive in Lao Cai/Lao Cai – Sapa
Day 4    Sapa (B)
Day 5    Sapa - Night Train for Ha Noi (B)
Day 6    Arrive in Hanoi. Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay (L/D)
Day 7    Ha Long Bay - Ninh Binh (B/L)
Day 8    Ninh Binh - Ha Noi. Night Train for Dong Hoi (B/L)
Day 9    Arrive in Dong Hoi. Dong Hoi - Phong Nha - Dong Hoi
Day 10    Dong Hoi - DMZ - Hue (B)
Day 11    Hue (B)
Day 12    Hue - Hoi An (B)
Day 13    Hoi An (B)
Day 14    Hoi An - My Son - My Lai - Quang Ngai (B)
Day 15    Quang Ngai - Kontum - Pleiku (B)
Day 16    Pleiku - Buon Ma Thuat  (B)
Day 17    Buon Ma Thuat (B)
Day 18    Buon Ma Thuat - Sai Gon (VN339: 1555 – 1650) (B)
Day 19    Sai Gon - Cai Be - Vinh Long - Can Tho (B/L)
Day 20    Can Tho – Long Xuyen - Chau Doc (B)
Day 21    Chau Doc - Xeo Quyt - Saigon (B)
Day 22    Sai Gon - Cu Chi - Sai Gon (B)
Day 23    Depart Saigon (B)

The tour price includes:

  • English-speaking guide;
  • Transportation as indicated on the tour itinerary;
  • Accommodation on twin-shared basis as indicated on the tour itinerary;
  • Junk cruise on Ha Long Bay;
  • Boat cruise on in Thung Nang, on the Lak Lake and on the Mekong River tributaries as on the tour itinerary;
  • Meals as indicated on the tour program: B= Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner;
  • All admission fees on the tour program;


The tour price excludes:

  • Insurance of any types;
  • International airfares;
  • Drinks or personal expenses;
  • Others not specified clearly in the included services;


Itinerary


Day1 Arrive in Ha Noi
Arriving at Ha Noi Airport, you’ll be welcomed by our Vietnamese tour guide and escorted to the hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
Overnight in Ha Noi.

Day2 Ha Noi. Night Train for Lao Cai (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Today we’ll tour the 1000 year old city of Hanoi. We’ll will visit different highlights of Hanoi including: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh Museum, the Ngoc Son temple, the Temple of Literature - 1st University of Vietnam,  the TranQuoc Pagoda - Nation founding pagoda,  the Quan Thanh temple.  In late afternoon, we'll have 1 hour rickshaw ride around the old quarter and a traditional water puppet show.
In the evening, we’ll transfer you to Ha Noi Train Station for the night train for Lao Cai.

Day3 Arrive in Lao Cai. Lao Cai – Sapa
Arriving at Lao Cai in the early morning, you can sip the hot coffee and enjoy the view of China on the other side of the Red River. From Lao Cai the road winds up the terraced hillsides to Sapa, which offers the stunning mountain views of the North West of Vietnam. We travel to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the morning free at leisure.

In the afternoon, we'll enjoy a walking, trekking and hiking adventure tour to the Cat Cat Waterfall and Cat Cat Village which is home to the Black H'Mong people. The fresh nature offers stunning atmosphere and beauty.
Overnight in Sapa Town.

Day4 Sapa (B)
Breakfast at the hotel
Our morning tour is first by jeep to Lao Chai village (Black H'Mong). From Lao Chai, we have a short trekking tour amid the green or golden terraces depending on seasons to Ta Van village (the Black H'Mong and the Giay people). We rejoin our jeep at Ta Van and travel back to town for a break.

In the afternoon, we continue with our trip to Ta Phin village visiting the Red Zao people. In Ta Phin we’ll enjoy the stunning nature settings and learn how the Zao live their life. After the tour, we’ll travel back to town and you enjoy free time at leisure.
Overnight in Sapa

Day5 Sapa - Night Train for Ha Noi (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
We enjoy our morning tour to the wild orchids of Ham Rong Mountain. The mountain is just close to Sapa Town. Climbing the mountain is not a real adventure, but it requires a bit of effort. Once here we’ll be rewarded with the beautiful orchid flowers, the panoramic view of Sapa surroundings and the traditional ethnic minority music performed by the local boys and girls.

In the afternoon, we check out of the hotel and journey to the Gate Way to Heaven and the Silver Waterfall. On Tram Ton Pass, we’ll feel small by the 360 degrees view of the fresh surrounding nature: the ranges of high mountains above, the green valleys with terraces below, dotted in the nature are hill tribe villages and the hill tribe colorful costumes. On a clear day with the sun shining across, we are quite sure that it’s no different from heaven. We cherish the nature beauty for a moment and tour back to Lao Cai Train Station. From Lao Cai, we’ll board the night train bound for Ha Noi. Overnight on board the train.
(Local train, air-con soft sleeper)

Day6 Arrive in Ha Noi/Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay (L/D)
Arriving in Hanoi early in the morning, we'll have a room in Ha Noi for refreshment for a couple of hours. At 08:45 A.M, our driver and tour guide will be back to take you to Ha Long Bay. The drive goes through the Red River Delta, so you'll have plenty of chances to take photos of the Vietnamese farmers tilling the vast green paddy fields. At half way, we'll have a break and a visit to a handicraft workshop with fine clothes, embroidered paintings, stone statuettes and all kinds of gems mined in Vietnam such as star rubies or sapphires...

Our destination is the World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. The bay offers some 3,000 mountain islands and islets towering in the Gulf of Tonkin in the East Vietnam Sea. Upon arrival, you’ll be welcomed on board our luxury junk and treated with wine and fresh local seafood. As our junk cruises further into the tranquility of Ha Long Bay, you'll have relaxing time combining the fine tastes of the wine and the freshness of Ha Long Bay. During the cruise, we'll stop for visiting the amazing Sung Sot cave and the Ti Top white sand beach before anchoring for the night.
Overnight on board the junk in the wild of Halong Bay.

Notes: Please know that on this tour, the clients are to have private car or van, but are to share the junk with other tourists and travellers. Private junk may be available upon request with additional cost.

Day7 Ha Long Bay - Ninh Binh (B/L)
After breakfast, we'll take a little sampan to explore a secret lagoon of Ha Long Bay while the surrounding mountains are just waking up. After that we cruise further into the Bay of Bai Tu Long traveling past the Human Head Island, the Turtle Island... to the studio site where the famous Indochine Film was shot. After the last feast, our junk travels back to the harbor for disembarkation at 12.00 A.M. We travel through the Red River Delta to Ninh Binh Town.
Overnight in Ninh Binh.

Day8 Ninh Binh - Ha Noi/ Night Train for Dong Hoi (B/L)
Breakfast at the hotel
Today we’ll have an excursion to the fresh countryside of northern Vietnam. We’ll have a boat trip touring the stunning Thung Nang Valley. Then we’ll move onto Hoa Lu Ancient Capital site and have a boat trip on Kenh Ga with authentic village life by the riverside. Leaving Keng Ga, we’ll travel back to Ha Noi.

In the evening, we’ll board the night train for Dong Hoi.
Overnight on board the train.

Day9 Arrive in Dong Hoi/Dong Hoi - Phong Nha - Dong Hoi
Arriving at Dong Hoi we’ll meet our local tour guide and travel the World Heritage Site of Phong Nha – Ke Bang. We’ll visit Phong Nha Ke Bang Cave by boat, then travel back to Dong Hoi for our beach resort and spa.
Overnight in Dong Hoi.

Day10 Dong Hoi - DMZ - Hue (B)
Breakfast at the resort.
Today we travel back in time to the infamous war in Vietnam. We’ll tour Vinh Moc Tunnels, Ben Hai River (former military line between North and South Vietnam), Khe Sanh and Quang Tri Citadel. Then we’ll travel further south to Hue Imperial Capital City.
Overnight in Hue.

Day11 Hue (B)
Breakfast at the hotel
Today we’ll have full day touring the Imperial City. We’ll start with a tour of Hue Imperial Citadel – A World Heritage Site. In the afternoon, we’ll have a cruise on the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, King Tu Duc’s Tomb and King Khai Dinh’s Tomb. Overnight in Hue.

Hue was the capital city of Vietnam from 1802 - 1945. Hue is a charming imperial city with combination of the new and the old. The Perfume River bisects the city into the northern and southern parts. To the north is the ancient citadel surrounded by moats which were home to the royal court of Vietnam in the 19th century. Visiting the ancient citadel you can visit the Palace where the king lived, the quarter for the royal family and concubines, the royal library….Lots of damages during the war are still found here though. To the south is where hotels and fine dining restaurants are located.

Hue is no doubt the city of harmony with the encircling green mountains, the meandering rivers, the architecture nestled in trees….Everything of Hue seems to be just in the right place and in perfect harmony. To the western side of the city is where the royal tombs are found. The Vietnamese kings thought that the West is the direction of sunset and permanent rest. That was why they built different royal tombs in the western part of Hue city. Here the kings would rest permanently in complete peace and tranquility.

Day12 Hue - Hoi An (B)
Breakfast at the hotel
We check out of the hotel in then continue with our journey through the scenic countryside of the Central Region of Vietnam to Hoi An. We’ll stop at the Lang Co Beach with fine white sand against the green mountain backdrop and on the Hai Van Pass which offers 360 degrees of breathtaking mountain and sea view. Descending the mountains, we’ll make our way to Da Nang where we tour the Cham Museum. At this museum we can adore the artifacts from the Cham Civilization which thrived in the Central Region of Vietnam from the 2nd through the 15th century. Then we have time for mid day break in Da Nang.

In the afternoon, we’ll drive to the Marble Mountains. There are 5 mountains which represent 5 elements of the Earth: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Soil. There are caves and pagodas built into caves visited by the local pilgrims. Right close to the Marble Mountains are the Stone-Carving Village and the famous Non Nuoc Beach which served as an R&R base for US Servicemen and war reporters in the past. Leaving Non Nuoc Beach, we’ll travel further to Hoi An.
Overnight in Hoi An.

Hoi An was a famous trading port back to the 16 – 19th centuries. Hoi An was visited by merchants from China, Japan, Persia, Europe….at the times. Hoi An residents are composed of Vietnamese, Chinese. Hoi An’s architecture is the perfect combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese styles. Hoi An nowadays still retains the atmosphere of the old town dated back to the heyday which never fails to charm the visitors. Apart from the cozy ancient town, Hoi An also offers the pristine white sand Cua Dai Beach which claimed one of the most charming beaches in the world. Hoi An has always been unforgettable memory of our dear travelers.

Day13 Hoi An (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
In the morning, we’ll have an oriented walking tour of Hoi An ancient town which was busy with trade back a few centuries ago. Walking in the narrow streets flanked by old merchant houses we can recall the hustling and bustling time when the town was filled up with merchants and goods from around the world. We’ll visit some old merchant houses, a Chinese Congregational Hall, Hoi An Museum, and the famous Japanese covered-bridge.
You have the afternoon free at leisure for relaxing on the beach or for checking the fine silk of the town.
Overnight in Hoi An.

Day14 Hoi An - My Son - My Lai - Quang Ngai (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
We check out of our hotel and continue our journey to My Son Cham Ruins. We’ll travel back to the 4-7th centuries A.D to the heyday of the Cham Pa Kingdom.

Our tour goes through the scenic countryside with different villages of which the hosts live a normal life like many others day by day contributing diligently to what we call the culture of Vietnam. We travel back in time to appreciate what human beings have achieved. Let’s spend a moment to cherish the people of Champa Kingdom.

Leaving My Son, we continue our tour to My Lai Massacre Site. At My Lai, we’ll learn about the crime committed in which 504 unarmed civilians were killed for no reason. Then we’ll leave My Lai for Quang Ngai Town on the bank of the Tra Khuc River.
Overnight in Quang Ngai.

Cham Pa was a kingdom in the central and south central region of Vietnam thriving from around the 2nd century A.D to the 15th century. My Son at the time was the Holy Land of the Cham Pa Kingdom. Each king who succeeded the thrown built a temple dedicated to the gods of his Kingdom. With time gone by, My Son had become the main religious center of the Cham Pa Kingdom where the Cham prayed, where all important religious ceremonies took place. Dedicated by the royal court and the people of Cham Pa Kingdom, My Son boasted its grandeur and magnificence like no others. Unfortunately wars ravaged the area and left only the ruins of the once great structures.

Day15 Quang Ngai - Kontum - Pleiku (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
We travel up the Central Highlands with evergreen coffee, tea and rubber tree plantations. The area is inhabited by various hill tribes with old and exotic traditions and culture. We’ll visit the wooden church and a Banar Village, then travel further to Pleiku. Arriving in town, we’ll have some time for refreshment, then we’ll leave for a discovery tour of the vicinity including Dektu Village (Bahnar), Phun Village (Jơ rai), Bien Ho Lake.
Overnight in Pleiku.

Day16 Pleiku - Buon Ma Thuat  (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Travel to Ban Me Thuot. Arriving in town, we’ll tour the Ako Dhong Village and the Ethnology Museum.
In the evening, we’ll get mesmerized by the magic gong ceremony and traditional music of the local ethnic people.
Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot.

Day17 Buon Ma Thuat (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
In the morning, we'll drive 55km out of Buon Ma Thuat for the Lak Lake. Arriving at Lak Lake, we'll embark on a pirogue and enjoy a trip on the tranquil water of the Lak Lake to M’liêng Village. Our elephant is ready to take us around the community of the Mnong People here and across the water to Jun Village. You'll have time for refreshment in a restaurant by the lakeside, then we'll drive back to Buon Ma Thuat.

In the afternoon, we’ll make our way to Ban Don where elephants are domesticated and trained by the locals. We’ll learn about the techniques and the patience required to tame and train a wild elephant; visit an Old House on stilts, the Tomb of the Elephant-Taming Founder and visit Yok Don National Park.
Overnight at Buon Ma Thuat.

Day18 Buon Ma Thuat - Sai Gon (VN339: 1555 – 1650) (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Morning tour to Dray Sap and Dray Nur Waterfalls, the best on the Serepok River. Travel back to Buon Ma Thuot for refreshment. In the afternoon, we’ll be transferred to the airport for the flight to Saigon. Arriving at Tan Son Nhat Airport, you'll be welcomed by our Saigon tour guide and transferred to the hotel.
Overnight in Saigon.

Day19 Sai Gon - Cai Be - Vinh Long - Can Tho (B/L)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Today we’ll discover the exotic lifestyle of the communities who live on the mighty Mekong River. We travel through the heart of the verdant Mekong Delta to Cai Be for our boat trip to Vinh Long.

In Cai Be we will engage in an exotic floating market with boats carrying loads of commodities for bartering. We can take part in the bargaining sessions with the local merchants for the fresh fruits of the region. Then we’ll move on to visit exotic occupations still carried out by the locals such as making snack from young rice, making rice papers, making coconut candy. After that our tour brings us to an old house with traditional Vietnamese architecture and we’ll learn about agricultural works through the ancient tools used here in the past.

Lunch is served right in a bonsai garden amid trees and tranquility. After lunch, we’ll relax with some walking tours or cycling tours through the village to learn more about the local life. We’ll also sample a bonsai garden and visit a ceramics workshop before rejoining our car to travel further to Can Tho. We check into our hotel and enjoy free time at leisure.
Overnight in Can Tho.

Day20 Can Tho – Long Xuyen - Chau Doc (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Enjoy the exotic floating market of Can Tho where from early in the morning boats and barges carrying loads of agricultural produces of the region gather on the water of the Mekong for trading.

Then we travel back to the hotel to check out and drive further into the Mekong Delta to Chau Doc. We visit Long Xuyen crocodile farm, and then continue the journey to Chau Doc.
Take a short tour by boat to visit Vinh Te Canal with floating houses of the Cham people and their fish farms.
Enjoy a view of sunset over Cambodia and Vietnam from the Sam Mountain.
Overnight in Chau Doc.

Day21 Chau Doc - Xeo Quyt - Saigon (B)

Breakfast at the hotel.
Travel back to Ho Chi Minh City with visits to Cao Lanh Town and Xeo Quyt former Viet Cong Base with meandering canals covered by cajeput forests. After a boat trip in the forest of Xeo Quyt we travel back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day22 Sai Gon - Cu Chi - Sai Gon (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
We travel 70 km to Cu Chi once famous for the legendary  tunnel system which at the height stretched  over 250 km. In Cu Chi, you can check out these tunnels of 3 levels by crawling through the dark and narrow way; you'll also learn more about the life of the local people during the war. We drive back to Ho Chi Minh City in time for lunch.
Free time in the afternoon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Cu Chi tunnel was built from 1948 and gradually turned into system of tunnels which sheltered the VC during the war. In the tunnel, there are dormitories, toilets, meeting rooms, dining rooms, water wells and even a rudimentary hospital which made it possible for the fighters to stay underground for weeks...

Day23 Depart Saigon (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.
You have free time for your last shopping before transferred to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your departure. Time to bid farewell to the beamy smiles of the Vietnamese and your Vietnam adventure tour comes to an end.

Trip Photos


 Hanoi Vietnam
Hanoi Vietnam





Sapa Vietnam
Sapa Vietnam





Ninh Binh Vietnam
Ninh Binh Vietnam





Halong Bay Vietnam
Halong Bay Vietnam



Hue Vietnam
Hue Vietnam




Hoi An Vietnam
Hoi An Vietnam



Quang Ngai Vietnam
Quang Ngai Vietnam




Kontum Vietnam
Kontum Vietnam




Daklak Vietnam
Daklak Vietnam



Mekong Delta Vietnam
Mekong Delta Vietnam




Cu Chi Tunnel
Cu Chi Tunnel




Saigon Vietnam
Saigon Vietnam

Testimonials

Jonathan Brown (2009-08-02 23:05:18)
Hello,
My friends and I are back home now. The tour was a fantastic experience
for us all. Still I would suggest you remind your travelers that it is a
several-day tour and families with children are not recommended to take this
tour. Hope you all well in Vietnam. Thanks a lot for all arrangements. Jonathan
Brown, Milford USA

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