If you’re after an all-encompassing, authentic tour that allows you to dive headfirst into Vietnamese culture, that offers that touch of luxury whilst avoiding the crowds of tourists, then this is the tailor-made itinerary for you. With immersive Vietnam experiences all the way, you’ll travel from the top of the country to the bottom, following this route:
Our itinerary ensures you hit all the main cities, they’re popular for a reason, after all, but it also means you’re going to experience exclusive, off-the-beaten-track tours and expeditions that support local communities and really dig beneath the surface of Vietnam that so many travellers barely scratch.
Bustling markets, authentic homestays, breathtaking scenery and postcard-perfect beaches where you can hand-pick the exact resort with a style that suits you, this is your one-stop-shop for planning your unique Vietnam adventure.
Our trip starts in Hanoi, the fascinating capital with a rich history. It boasts a manic but addictive Old Town, and the city probably feels more western than any other in Vietnam, or maybe that’s just because they actually obey traffic lights here.
The real draw of Hanoi however, is the fact that it acts as a gateway to Northern Vietnam, a ruggedly mountainous landscape, dripping with thick green jungle clinging to steep cliffs and dark valleys.
Remote, sparsely populated and home to truly authentic towns and villages, it’s a land where sweeping rivers cut majestically through the leaning mountains, emerging into vast, clear blue lakes.
To really get the most out of this part of the world, you want to get as rural and remote as possible. On our Remote Northern Vietnam Tour, we take you to the back of beyond.
Isolated indigenous communities and traditional, working village markets represent a step back in time. You’ll feel the pace of life slow down as you become a guest of the famous Tay hospitality and relax in stunning homestays.
You’ll explore the breathtaking scenery of the Hà Giang province, as rice paddies cut steps to the peaks of mountains that seem to stretch endlessly to the horizon. The magical, rejuvenating Ba Be Lake acts as another highlight on this tour, as you float in its crystal clear waters or sweep gently across the deep blue lake and into dark, twisting mountain caves.
If you want to brush the Chinese border, explore old fortresses and gaze in awe at the stunning, tropical Ban Gioc waterfall, there’s always our Ban Gioc and Ba Be Lake Tour.
This tour will take you from the vast lakes and chalky karsts of Ba Be National Park to the wild and rugged landscapes of Cao Bang. You’ll visit the truly spectacular Ban Gioc waterfall, a torrent of white water bursting from the lush green jungle and cascading amongst the shimmering rice paddies.
Travel through the far-flung, remote areas in the north of Vietnam, staying with local families in homestays glowing with warm hospitality. Try authentic Northern Vietnamese cuisine, steaming bowls of home-cooked, traditional dishes being the order of the day wherever you’re staying, and learn about the unique cultures and customs of Vietnam.
When you arrive back in Hanoi, head south to Hạ Long Bay – you can take a 4-hour drive or hop on a short 40-minute flight to Hạ Long. Once there, take the opportunity to jump on a traditional junk, a classic immersive Vietnam experience, to cruise through one of the most otherworldly landscapes in Vietnam.
Hạ Long Bay is a labyrinth of soaring limestone islands emerging dramatically from the turquoise bay, with dark green foliage clinging precariously to the sheer cliffs.
Enticing caves and traditional floating villages lie around every corner, as fishermen recline over the iridescent blue water and the sun dips through the gaps in the islands, a brilliant orange lighting up the shining white limestone walls.
From there, head south to Hội An, the stunningly beautiful riverside town that, at night, glows with a technicolour display of lanterns and candles hanging from the traditional shop fronts and floating serenely down the dark, silent river.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Ancient Town is a weave of Chinese shophouses and temples, peeling French colonial buildings, and Japanese pagodas and a stunning covered bridge. Stay at a picturesque boutique hotel, or the luxurious Four Seasons, and spend your evenings wandering amongst the glittering lights and watching the traditional fishing boats glide through a river of candles.
Spend your days relaxing on An Bang Beach, a stretch of pristine white sand lined with bars, and beautifully quiet during the middle of the day before school ends. Arrive early for the best of the weather and relax in the blazing sun, dipping in and out of the deliciously warm South China Sea.
Or alternatively, for a really immersive Vietnam experience, head out of the town and explore the countryside on an offbeat exploration through the surrounding rural communities.
From there, continue your journey south to Ho Chi Minh City, previously known as Saigon. The easiest way to do this is to catch a quick flight – the drive is very long, but it is an experience in itself should you wish to take it on.
Ho Chi Minh City is an assault on the senses, as speeding mopeds flood the streets and sizzling food stands line the pavements, and crossing the road becomes an act of faith and courage – it’s a place where immersive Vietnam experiences lie around every corner.
Visit the poignant War Remnants Museum, a stark reminder of a war still fairly fresh in the memory of many residents, and the horrific effects of Agent Orange fresher still, then scurry through the Chu Chi Tunnels for a unique experience underneath the city.
When evening comes, search for succulent street food and wash it all down with Saigon beer, or stop at one of the many fantastic restaurants for some of the most flavoursome and fragrant food on earth.
Next up on your pilgrimage south is the sleepy Mekong Delta, an endless, vast maze of lazily winding rivers and drenched rice paddies, where boats slip dreamily through thick walls of whispering grasses and huge horned cows lumber from floating markets to villages cut off by swampland.
Silently floating through this tranquil scene as dragonflies flit above the perfumed water is a beautifully relaxed experience, and allows you to witness genuinely authentic rural Vietnam.
Immerse yourself in the Southern Vietnamese culture by stopping at traditional homestays and enjoying authentic cuisine, or go and learn about the local customs at peaceful markets to make this a truly unique Vietnamese experience.
Finish your itinerary of travels relaxing on a flawlessly perfect beach on the islands of Con Dao or Phú Quốc, secure in the knowledge you’ve seen the very best of Vietnam, seen places the tourists don’t visit and have been genuinely immersed in local culture.
From secluded mountain villages in Northern Vietnam to the heaving Ho Chi Minh, it’s a journey you won’t forget.
For more wonderful travel ideas, unique local experiences or incredible off the beaten track tours in Vietnam, visit our Vietnam Destination Page.