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Vietnam Family Holiday: 13-Day Southern & Central Exploration

From the bustling Saigon to the peaceful Mekong Delta, from the calm Hoi An to the vibrant Nha Trang, we have it all combining to fulfill the curiosity and activeness of the kids. Most of all, joyful and educational activities combine with local and nature interaction will promise an endless exploration for your family

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Exploring the city of Ho Chi Minh city, Hue, and Hoi An
  • Cruising along the Mekong Delta with Bassac Cruise
  • Cycling along the countryside of Mekong Delta & Hoi An
  • Learning about making traditional crafts in Hue & Hoi An
  • Beach Holiday in Nha Trang at one of the best beaches of Vietnam

Unforgettable moments

  • Crawling through the small tunnel of Cu Chi
  • Walking along the back lanes of Saigon and exploring the secret side of the city
  • Admiring the peaceful life of Mekong Delta during the Bassac Cruise & joining the vibrant Cai Rang Floating Market
  • Admiring the ancient citadel of Vietnam’s last dynasty of Nguyen.
  • Strolling through the small streets of the century-old town of Hoi An and admiring the life of local people.

Nature exploration

  • The nature of Mekong Delta area with a vast maze of rivers, swamps and islands
  • The nature of Hue countryside along the Perfume River.
  • The amazing beach of Nha Trang with plenty of water activities

Culture experience

  • Learn about the peasant life of Mekong Delta & the countryside of Hue
  • Learn about the last Vietnam’s dynasty of Nguyen
  • Admiring the charming town of Hoi An which still keeps its way of life since the century ago.

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Saigon

Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the center of Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam at its most dizzying: a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the country forward with its pulsating energy. A chaotic whirl, the city breathes life and vitality into all who settle here, and visitors cannot help but be hauled along for the ride.

Free to stroll around the town for your own exploration.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Notes

Check out the Ho Chi Minh City travel guide

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Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnel & The Secret Side of Saigon

In the morning, drive to visit the infamous Cu Chi tunnels. First constructed by the Vietnamese during their colonial war with the French, the tunnels were later greatly expanded and went on to achieve notoriety during the Vietnam War, when they served as an underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops. Exploring Cu Chi gives some idea as to the conditions that the Vietnamese had to endure (the tunnels are narrow and can be quite claustrophobic). 

In the afternoon, we will experience a different side of Ho Chi Minh City, away from the major sights where we take a walk through Old Saigon's back alleys. 
We make our way to District 3 by cyclo and turn off the main thoroughfare and into the maze of narrow streets of this bustling district. 

Our walk takes us past ramshackle shopfronts, through local markets selling anything from colorful fruit to bootleg DVDs, and past houses, churches and schools, all squeezed into the small buildings that line the narrow alleys. 

It is a fascinating inter-connected community here that is a stones-throw from the city center yet feels a far cry from the modern buildings and throngs of tourists. 
We stop at a local stall for a traditional Vietnamese coffee (brewed coffee served sweet with condensed milk) where we can also sample 'Banh Mi' - a Vietnamese take on the humble French baguette - freshly baked and packed with a combo of traditional and more exotic, aromatic ingredients. 

The walk ends the so-called 'secret weapons' bunker'. A small unassuming 'tube house' nestled in a quiet neighborhood hides a trap door in the floor, concealing a basement stocked full of rifles, grenades and ammunition. The bunker played a key role in the TET Offensive of 1968, it was the base from which the Viet Cong's "Team 5" launched their assault, and its location was only revealed after the end of the war. 

We have some time to explore the house and bunker, filled with decommissioned weapons and photographs, news clippings and memorabilia from the wartime.
Transfer to your hotel late afternoon.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city

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Day 3 - Saigon - Cai Be with Bassac Cruise

This morning, leave bustling Ho Chi Minh for the 2.5-hour drive to the delta town of Cai Be.

The brilliant colors and bustling markets of the Mekong Delta will delight kids as well as adults.

Arrive in Cai Be at noon, then board the Bassac. A welcome drink will be given on arrival followed by an introduction to the ship and crew. 

Depart towards Cho Lach on the Tien Giang River and enjoy lunch on the upper deck while en route. Rest on the deck while the ship branches into the Cho Lach Canal for 30 minutes through the traffic of sand and rice barges, past fruit drying facilities and around wooden ship building yards.

Visit a village on the banks of river Mang Thít and appreciate the way of life here in the Delta. Visit the orchard or rice fields nearby.

Back on board the Bassac a complimentary drink will be served, so why not sit back and enjoy the sunset overlooking the Mekong’s magical waterways.

Dinner will be served whilst the Bassac cruises the Mang Thit River towards the Bassac’s anchorage for the night, downstream from the little market of Tra On. 

Overnight aboard the Bassac Boat. 

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Day 4 - Cai Be - Cai Rang - Can Tho

A delicious breakfast will be served from 0630 whilst the boat cruises past Tra On towards Can Tho. Upon arrival in Can Tho area check out of the cabin and transfer onto a smaller local boat to visit the Cai Rang floating market.

Cruise through the floating market with wholesalers on big boats. Here, during the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of.

The main items sold here are fruit and vegetables and every boat has a long upright pole at its bow from which samples of the goods for sale are hung. The waterway becomes a maze of boats packed with produce depending on the season - mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even floating pho vendors.

Return to land and have lunch in Can Tho.

This afternoon, spend time cycling around the quiet lanes and dirt paths of Can Tho. Biking is the perfect way to discover the countryside with the family. The roads are flat and the sites are amazing: cottage industries, small farms harvesting or planting rice, hidden temples and lots of friendly locals

Then, transfer to a small hotel in Can Tho. This cozy modern hotel is a comfortable place to stay after a long day.

Overnight in Can Tho.

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Day 5 - Can Tho - Cooking Class - Cai Be (Mekong Lodge)

The class will be held in a Vietnamese house. From which, we plan to take you to a real Vietnamese open market as a market trip nearby the cooking class house where you can experience how to do bargain, how to choose the best veggie and other stuffs for cooking. 

You will then be guided by a charming, professional “chef” on how to make a preparation from the ingredients you bought at the market, followed by making delicious healthy food using these ingredients. 

Each lesson covers three dishes, one starter and two main courses. The dessert is of course included. 

After cooking, it is time for enjoying and having fun. You will seat and enjoy the food you made together. We are sure that the food does not get any delicious than this.

You have ample time to relax and chitchat with the chef before transferring back to Cai Be, where we will spend the night at an eco-lodge in the evergreen countryside.

Overnight in Cai Be

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Day 6 - Cai Be - Ho Chi Minh - Hue

You have free time today to explore the lodge and the nearby village by yourselves. The lodge has the cycling tour or massage on request if you wish.

We then transfer back to Ho Chi Minh on time to take the flight to Hue, the ancient capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam.

Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel in town.

Overnight in Hue.

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Day 7 - Hue - Exploration - Kite Making

After breakfast, seek out many of the highlights of this former imperial capital of Vietnam including a visit to the Royal Palace with its Terracotta Warriors guarding the entrance and the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city. 

We also visit Mr Cu's house who was a national champion kite flier for Vietnam who shows us how to make traditional Vietnamese kites which you make and decorate with symbols such as dragons, birds and peacocks. Once assembled, we fly them at the nearby Citadel.

Free for the rest of the day to fly your kite.

Overnight in Hue

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Day 8 - Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An

Journey to Trieu Son village, located by the Perfume River on Hue's outskirts for a guided walk and boat ride. 

First stop is Sinh village where we meet a local family that specializes in making wood paintings. 

Later in the morning, take to the open road on a leisurely cycle ride around the village and along countryside lanes to Thanh Tien village, famous for paper flowers. 
Criss crossing an intricate network of paddy fields, we arrive at Tien Non village where we board our cruise boat, taking us back to Hue (total cycling distance is approximately 6km). 

An included martial arts lesson is our next stop with a visit to a dedicated martial arts school that practices the Vietnamese art of Kinh Van, Vietnam's equivalent to Kung Fu, based upon defense techniques from the actions of a tiger, cobra, and bird. 

The owner's ancestors were chosen to guard the Vietnamese king; knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation to our host, who has been entrusted with teaching this ancient art. 

At mid-afternoon, travel over the Truong Son Mountains and through the Hai Van Pass as featured on the TV programme, Top Gear, to the historic merchant seaside town of Hoi An.

Upon arrival, check in your hotel. Overnight in Hoi An

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Day 9 - Hoi An Experience with Paper Mask & Lantern Making

Hoi An Ancient town city tour

Pick up at 08:30 from the hotel in Hoi An and receive a short transfer to the historic town center. From here, take a walking tour to explore the beauty of the Ancient Town. Hoi An was a major Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years making it traditionally a favorite destination for international visitors.

The ‘Hoi An Ancient Town’ was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Despite the passing of 200 years and the ravages of weather and war, the center of Hoi An remains much the same today as it was in its heyday, when it was one of Asia’s busiest trading ports. Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of trading port from the 15th century to the 19th century in South East Asia.

This walking tour is the best way to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town, the wooden-fronted houses that once belonged to the town’s prosperous merchants, the Japanese-covered Bridge and the wonderful market as well as the silk, handicrafts, antique shops and galleries that take you back in time.

Paper mask & lantern making with artist

Begin with a walk through Hoi An Ancient Town to  meet a paper mask artist at his workshop. His craft is steadily disappearing as newer forms of entertainment have gradually taken over. Learn how this artist contributes to the effort of preserving his craft for future generations.

Next, enjoy the process of making lantern in the cozy atmosphere.  This hands-on experiences offers a fun time together as you don’t just gain head knowledge, but get to use your hands and get a traditional Vietnamese lantern as a souvenir to bring home

Overnight in Hoi An.

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Day 10 - Hoi An - Da Nang // Nha Trang

After breakfast, transfer back to Da Nang to join the flight to Nha Trang, where you will spend some leisure day on one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
After an-hour flight, we land in Nha Trang and transfer directly to your hotel near the beach of Nha Trang.

Free for the rest of the day for your own exploration or enjoy the beach.

Overnight in Nha Trang

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Day 11 - Nha Trang - Beach & Leisure

Free to enjoy the sun, the sand, and the sea of Nha Trang.

There are plenty of water activities on the 

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Day 12 - Nha Trang - Beach & Leisure

Free to enjoy the sun, the sand, and the sea of Nha Trang.

There are plenty of water activities on the 

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Day 13 - Nha Trang - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the flight to Saigon and take the onward flight to the next destination.

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We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Vietnam, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Vietnam
Hanoi
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Ha Long Bay
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Sapa
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Hoi An
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Hue
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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
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Vietnam PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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The combination of fun and educational activities

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Cycling & Biking
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Vietnam PLANS BY TIME FRAME
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Vietnam BLOG ARTICLES

"Should I visit Thailand or Vietnam?" is some of the most frequently asked questions that we have from our travelers

Well, Vietnam and Thailand are the most popular holiday destinations in Southeast Asia. They are similar in climate and food, though obviously different in culture, lifestyle and travel experience.

Below we list 13 major differences between the two countries, to give you a quick overview and help you decide which to visit first. These are based on our own travel experiences, investigations, and partnerships with local operators.

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How long to spend in Vietnam may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out.

You can find here and there that you should spend 10 days, 2 weeks, 20 days, or 1 month to best explore Vietnam. So what is the best Vietnam tour duration for you?

Well, as long as you like! From 10 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Vietnam and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Vietnam is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Vietnam with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Vietnam.

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Vietnam would scrap the Covid-19 testing requirement for all arrivals starting Sunday, May 15th 2022, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has directed.

In a document issued Friday, the Prime Minister requested the Ministry of Health to closely follow the coronavirus situation and provide proper guidance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should direct Vietnamese authorities outside the country to inform people who wish to enter Vietnam to follow appropriate disease prevention measures, he said.

The latest decision has been made as the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths drops both in Vietnam and around the world. Several countries have been taking steps to relax coronavirus restrictions, including scrapping testing before entry.

Current policies issued by the health ministry require entrants to have negative results from PCR tests done within the previous 72 hours, or a negative result from a rapid test done within the last 24 hours.

Those who don’t have a negative test result must refrain from making contact with others during the first 24 hours after entry. They will be able to move freely once they test negative after arrival.

Children under two don’t need to be tested.

Vietnam stopped requiring medical declarations from those arriving from abroad starting April 27, and for domestic travel starting April 30.

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The “Colorful Hanoi” hot air balloon festival is one of the attractive activities within the framework of the program “Hanoi tourism welcomes 2022” taking place from March 25-27, 2022.

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The Ministry of Health said on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022, foreigners entering Vietnam only need to furnish a negative Covid-19 test certificate and are not required to quarantine.

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Vietnam is determined to fully reopen its tourism industry and will adopt measures to treat foreign and domestic tourists alike, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

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Friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious, Thailand tempts visitors with a smile as golden as the country's glittering temples and tropical beaches.
Cambodia
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There's a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure.
Myanmar
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
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