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Vietnam Family Tour in Depth

Join us on an in-depth journey through magical Vietnam, traversing the country from north to south. Bike alongside the rice paddy fields of Mai Chau and explore the intricate network of waterways in the Mekong Delta. Witness the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, the old-world charm of Hanoi, ancient neighborhoods of Hoi An and dramatic limestone pinnacles of Halong Bay.

HIGHLIGHTS

Various activities on sites

  • Exploring the city of Hanoi, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh city
  • Cruising the tranquil UNESCO Heritage Center of Ha Long Bay
  • Cycling in the peaceful valley of Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, and Mekong Delta
  • Enjoy the boat ride along the Mekong Delta and admire the local life

Unforgettable moments

  • Watching the special performance of traditional water puppet show.
  • Strolling through the small streets of the century-old town of Hoi An, Hue, and Hanoi admiring the life of local people.
  • Watching the serene sunset & sunrise whilst cruising along Halong Bay
  • Admiring the local peasant life of local people in Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, and Mekong Delta
  • Crawling through the small tunnel of Cu Chi

Nature exploration

  • The amazing atmosphere of Ha Long bay and the surrounding
  • The nature of northern Vietnam in Mai Chau and Ninh Binh, and Mekong Delta
  • The countryside of Ho Chi Minh city while exploring Cu Chi Tunnel

Culture experience

  • Learn about the never-fading culture of Hanoi, the behind the scene experience of a traditional water puppet show.
  • Admiring the charming town of Hoi An which still keeps its way of life since the century ago.
  • Learning the peasant life of the people living in the countryside of Mai Chau, Ninh Binh, and Mekong Delta

Map

Detailed schedule

Day 1 - Welcome to Hanoi

Upon arrival at Noi Bai International Airport, Sonasia’s guide & driver will pick you up and transfer directly to the hotel in the old quarter of Hanoi.

Vietnam's capital races to make up for time lost to the ravages of war and a government that as recently as the 1990s kept the outside world at bay. Its streets surge with scooters vying for right of way amid the din of constantly blaring horns, and all-around layers of history reveal periods of French and Chinese occupation – offering a glimpse into the resilience of ambitious, proud Hanoians.

Notes

Check out the Hanoi travel guide

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Day 2 - Hanoi Exploration

This morning, starting the city tour exploring the city of Hanoi, visiting the One-Pillar Pagoda, the tranquil Temple of Literatures and the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh lying in state. 

In the afternoon, we will join a cyclo tour exploring the Hanoi's elegant French Quarter.

In the evening there is the chance to witness a remarkable performance of traditional water puppetry (optional activity). 

Set on a flooded stage, the stories tell tales of legendary heroes and everyday life, with dragons and unicorns often sharing the stage with fireworks and naval battles, alternatively head out to sample the delights of Vietnamese cuisine at a local restaurant.

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Day 3 - Hanoi - Mai Chau - Biking Experience

Hemmed in by hills and set in a tranquil valley, Mai Chau is a world away from the hectic pace of life of Hanoi. The 4-hour journey provides a glimpse of rural life in the north of the country passing through villages surrounded by paddy fields. 

On arrival, check-in to our hotel with fine views of local villages distantly related to the tribes in Thailand, Laos and China, lunch is included at the hotel. 

This afternoon head out on a biking tour along rice terraces of the Mai Chau Valley dotted with stilt houses. The ride provides opportunities for panoramic views of paddy fields, spectacular karst cliffs and verdant valleys around you, a truly spectacular setting. 

On the way home, pass by Van Village, home to the White Thai people. Enjoy dinner and an overnight stay at our comfortable eco lodge featuring a swimming pool to cool off in after an afternoon of cycling.

Notes

Check out the Mai Chau travel guide

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Day 4 - Mai Chau - Xam Khoe - Cooking Experience

After breakfast, drive to Xam Khoe Village and set off on a walking tour to Buoc Village populated by the Thai ethnic minority people, the terrain is mainly flat, sticking to the valley floor traversing the network of banks separating rice paddy fields. 

Enjoy local hospitality in a simple stilt-house as a home-cooked lunch of regional specialties such as Goi cuon (spring rolls) or Pho (Vietnam's national dish, a light beef or chicken broth flavored with ginger and coriander, to which are added broad, flat rice noodles, spring onions and slivers of chicken, pork or beef) prepared by a local Thai family. 

Short drive back to Mai Chau with a stop en route to explore the magnificent Van Mai Valley.

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Day 5 - Mai Chau - Ninh Binh

This morning is left free to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Drive to Ninh Binh in the afternoon. Whilst the town itself is fairly unremarkable, the area around Ninh Binh is beautiful, known for its impressive cave formations and network of waterways, lakes, temples and towering limestone peaks.

Arrive around noon, enjoy delicious lunch served at the bungalow’s restaurant with Vietnamese cuisine.

In the afternoon, we will board a sampan boat rowed by a local for about 1.5 hours.  Known as “Halong Bay on land”, the boat trip is a nice journey along the river with the peaceful scenery of limestone mountains, rice paddy if traveling during harvest season.

After that, visit a local family in Tam Coc. They are a traditional Vietnamese family with three generations living together. Here you will get the chance to see the house architecture and their daily life and their handicraft job of making traditional embroidery.

You have ample time to relax or stroll around the village before having dinner with Vietnamese cuisine while sharing the experience you have during the day with the host family, then stay overnight at the bungalow.

 

Notes
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Day 6 - Ninh Binh Exploration

After breakfast at the Bungalow, take a bike to Mua Cave, which is one of the most alluring places to view in Ninh Binh.

Hiking up to the peak of Ngoa Long Mountain to take your amazing views of the Tam Coc, Ninh Binh area.

In the afternoon, you will continue the ride to explore the rice fields and limestone mountains with a unique route.

Continue the tour and board a small sampan to visit Thung Nham bird park, discover the most features of this area with more than 50.000 birds of 40 species flying to inhabit every day.

Departure to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital of Vietnam in the 10th century, visit the temple of King Dinh. Under the introduction of our local guide, you will get to know more about the Vietnamese history.

Before the dust falls, cycling back to the host family for free time relax with afternoon tea break.

Overnight at the bungalow.

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Day 7 - Ninh Binh - Ha Long Bay

Leaving Ninh Binh after breakfast, we drive to the Gulf of Tonkin and the breath-taking scenery of Ha Long Bay. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visually impressive landscapes in South East Asia, Halong Bay is the setting for an overnight cruise. 

Boarding just after midday, set sail towards Bai Tu Long Bay. Lunch is served shortly after embarking, there is ample time after lunch to sit back and admire the towering limestone islands topped by rainforest that Halong Bay is so famous for. 

We make a stop to visit a Vung Vieng fishing village by rowing boat or kayak, the choice is yours. The rest of the afternoon is spent further exploring the bay scattered with hundreds of islands and dotted with caves and grottoes. 

Dinner is served on board, a chance to sample fresh sea food and regional dishes, we anchor overnight in Bai Tu Long Bay. There are between 10-18 en-suite cabins on board with a restaurant, bar and sundeck area. All bedding is provided.

Please be aware, the boat may not be exclusive to our group and consequently we may be sharing with other tourists.

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Day 8 - Ha Long Bay - Hanoi // Hue

Wake up early to admire the sun rising over the bay around 0630, if the weather is clear it is well worth making the effort.

A light breakfast of pastries, tea and coffee we disembark to visit the hidden Thien Canh Son caves with numerous stalactite and stalagmite limestone formations in an impressive cavern. Returning to our boat, continue to cruise in the bay. 

Brunch is served on board. Returning to Hon Gai harbor, rejoin our vehicle and drive back to Noi Bai International Airport 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 9 - Hue Exploration (Kite Making & Flying)

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 10 - 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 11 - Hoi An - Leisure Day

The morning is free to wander through the historic heart of this World Heritage Site, taking in the wonderfully preserved buildings of what was once one of the busiest trading outposts in South East Asia. 

Discovering this delightful town, we recommend an early morning visit to Hoi An's fish market which presents the perfect setting for some great photographs. Wander through Hoi An's historic collection of traditional wooden houses and Chinese temples. 

This afternoon you could hire bicycles and explore the surrounding countryside, experience a gentle river cruise, or grab the chance to visit some of Hoi An's famous tailor shops. Alternatively take a 20-minute taxi ride to the nearby coast to spend the day on the beach.

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Day 12 - Hoi An - Da Nang // Ho Chi Minh city

In the morning, drive to Danang to take the flight to Ho Chi Minh City, where we will explore old Saigon, and discover 'Secret Weapons Bunker'.

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 13 - Ho Chi Minh - Cu Chi Tunnel

After breakfast, this 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). 

The afternoon allows for more time in the city including an optional visit to the waterpark, a great way to cool off from the mid-day sun.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city

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Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh - Ben Tre

This tour begins at 08:30. Arrive at Ben Tre city to get on a boat in Phong Nam bright and early to start exploring coconut’s homeland. Follow the flow of water down Chet Say River. Observe life on the river like how locals transfer goods and agriculture products by boat along the Mekong Delta.

Visit a coconut workshop where guests enjoy how sweet coconut candy is. Stop at the other places to learn how many handicraft products can be made from coconut. Interact with locals to see how bricks are handmade from clay and mats are woven from sedge.

Conclude the tour with a cycle (or moto cart ride upon availability) to a local restaurant for a local style lunch. After lunch, hop on a sampan and row along a coconut palm canal to cruise back to Hung Vuong Jetty.

Be transferred via an air-con vehicle to Mekong Home, located about 30-minute drive from Ben Tre Town.

Take a rest for a while then depart with a member of the family for an introduction to the local fishing villages.

Try to cook pancakes with rice milk, coconut milk and some other local ingredients for dinner. Indulge in a lemongrass and ginger foot bath, a local therapeutic method to relieve the pain and fatigue of the legs.

Overnight at the Mekong Riverside resort & Spa.

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Day 15 - Ben Tre - Ho Chi Minh

Enjoy breakfast while breathing in the fresh air of rural surroundings.

Then, transfer by ferry to take a short cycle around the small village to experience a tailor-made countryside loop to Oc Islet.

Travel along quiet roads and rural laneways, passing fields and farms with lush green coconut forest in the backdrop. Stop often for photos or to observe scenes of daily life.

During the ride, visit small local handicraft village where guests learn all about coconut specialty. Watch as skilled workers make coconut stemmed baskets and coconut coated buttons.

Have the chance to interact with a workshop owner on different braiding techniques. Stop at a fish farm, to learn more about two species of catfish raised in freshwater ponds. These catfish are the two main species of fish production in Vietnam.

Return to Ho Chi Minh City and arrive around the late afternoon.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City

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Day 16 - Ho Chi Minh - Departure

You are free to stroll around the town for your own exploration before taking the departure flight

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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

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

Cycling
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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

Hue Festival is a biennial celebration that takes place in Hue City. Here you can enjoy an array of cultural events, games, and performances held over the course of a week. Founded in 2000, the festival is held to preserve the traditional customs that have been practiced since the Nguyen Dynasty.

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On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

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The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture and may also serve to educate those who have an interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

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Backpacking Vietnam… If you are seeking epic adventures, unique experiences, mouth watering foods and ancient historical sights; Vietnam is the place for you. Once upon a time, the very mention of Vietnam conjured up images of war-torn destination but now Vietnam is a backpacker haven and travelling in Vietnam is a popular part of many Southeast Asian adventures.

Backpacking Vietnam offers an incredible opportunity to get off the beaten track… Explore dramatic mountains in the North, stop in for some corn wine and a friendly chat with the locals before heading south to party the night away…

Many travelers opt to explore Vietnam by motorcycle. Vietnam is a big country and there are lots of Vietnam backpacking itineraries on offer… The most popular backpacking route is heading from Hanoi to Saigon.

Backpacking in Vietnam is a great choice for backpackers on account of the super cheap cost of living and the plentiful adventures.

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The phrase ‘banana pancakes trail’ is the stuff of legend in Southeast Asia’s backpacker route. Along the banks of the Mekong, across many a dorm room and questionable dive bar, backpackers come to learn the story of the first tourists to travel ‘on the ground’, making a conscious effort to immerse themselves in local life. Decades later, their influence is having transformed the region: tourism here is now the fastest growing on Earth, receiving a quarter of total travelers worldwide. 

When you travel through Southeast Asia these days, it is hard to imagine that tourism was almost non-existent just a half century ago. Here is the story of how hippies, guidebooks and banana pancakes helped to create one of the most famous backpacker routes in the world.
 

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Lantern Festival is celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar (usually falls around mid-February of Gregorian calendar). The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. 

Originally, the holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. In some other Asian countries such as Thailand or Laos, the festival is celebrated around late October or early November to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent & the beginning of the festive season.

During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. 

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