Explore the incredible cities of Huế and Hội An, travel the stunning countryside in an open-top, war-era jeep, and immerse yourself in true Vietnamese culture and history in Ho Chi Minh City.
Your epic tour of central Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City begins in the ancient city of Hue, where you’ll be picked up and taken to your accommodation. From there, you’ll set out on a journey that will show you some of Vietnam’s highlights, twisting mountain passes, heart-stoppingly beautiful cities, vibrant markets and magnificent pagodas, as well as some of the spots most tourists miss altogether.
Spend the first part of your adventure exploring the Forbidden City and the incredible Royal Palace in the fortified Citadel, which once acted as the capital of Vietnam. You’ll explore the city from a unique perspective with the ‘Lady Bikers’, who will help you get under the skin of the city in a whirlwind rush of energy.
Traverse the world-renowned Hai Van Pass on an open-top army jeep, living the Vietnamese dream as you soak in incredible views of the mountains and coast, before exploring the beautiful, atmospheric Hội An.
Once a major trading port with the western world, Hội An is a beautiful collision of peeling colonial grandeur, ancient Chinese shophouses and beautiful Japanese covered bridges. Away from the crowds, there are countless nooks and crannies to wander through, and mazes of winding alleys and narrow streets that lead to steaming food markets and curious little buildings.
Get to know the locals and visit local families, learning about the culture and cuisine of Vietnam from the Vietnamese people themselves (it goes without saying that you’ll eat some of the best food you’ve ever tasted over the next eight days).
Explore ancient lost cities beyond the boundaries of the towns where the tourists gather, then dive down to Ho Chi Minh City to soak up the history and the relentless energy of a city in perpetual motion.
Discover the history of the Vietnam War, stumble across the best street food spots and the most atmospheric markets thanks to your local guides, and come away from the entire experience satisfied that you really have seen the best of this incredible stretch of land that runs from the imposing Hue to the dynamic Ho Chi Minh City.
Explore Vietnam's most characterful, atmospheric cities like a local
Stay in boutique hotels, perfectly situated in each city for getting out and exploring
Meet the local people of Vietnam and truly get to know Vietnamese culture
Your Local Host:
Lam started off working for an NGO, organizing events that support the implementation of sponsorship and promotional activities. Having a college education in Languages & International Studies and Tourism & Travel Management, Lam supports Quynh Anh as Operation Assistant based in Hanoi. Lam loves to travel through Vietnam and beyond.
Upon arrival in Hue, you’ll be greeted by your guide and taken directly to your accommodation.
The day is yours to either relax and recover from what may have been a long journey, or you can head out and explore the ancient city for yourself.
Alba Hotel & Spa or similar
The 58 fully-furnished rooms at Alba Spa Hotel are equipped with modern facilities and amenities to provide guests with the most comfortable stay. Each floor is decorated with a different theme and each room bears its own name, creating a unique and personalised experience.
Explore Hue by Foot and Motorbike
Start your day by exploring the wide avenues and stunning architecture of the Forbidden City, a fortified Citadel that was once home to Vietnam’s royalty: the emperor, his family, court women, and few others lived within the structure protected by a moat and tall brick walls.
Expect opulent palaces and beautiful pagodas in the citadel, as your guide tells of stories of intrigue, plots and old tales that all took place, centrally, in this corner of Vietnam.
In the evening, jump on the back of a motorbike to explore the city by night. The experience is organised and run by the ‘lady bikers’, and is an evening where you’ll get to see the best of Hue’s buzzing atmosphere.
Fly along the Perfume River with the locals, explore Hue’s magical night market, taste incredible cuisine and take in live performances on the streets.
As well as being memorable, this evening presents a great chance to really get under the skin of the city and see what life in Hue is all about, as you experience it with the locals and really get to know it as they do.
Alba Hotel & Spa or similar
Traverse the Hai Van Pass
After breakfast, you’ll jump into a war era, open-top jeep to start your journey to Hội An. A vintage vehicle that has been in use since the Vietnam War, this is a unique way of travelling to your next destination.
You’ll be driving over the Hai Van pass, an incredible stretch of road that leads climbs in tight bends up emerald green mountains that hug the coast. Head up the pass, admiring the incredible views en route, then you’ll stop at the top to take in the sweeping panoramas where the sea meets the mountains.
There’s an old ruin of a fort from the Vietnamese War to explore, before you descend down the other side of the pass, to find a spot to go for a refreshing swim.
Once we arrive in Hội An, check into your hotel and enjoy some time to chill. Then, you can choose to go and explore the World Heritage site that is Hội An’s ancient centre.
The Watermark An Bang Resort or similar
Explore Hoi An and Meet the Locals
After breakfast in your accommodation, get your bearings in this town of fascinating nooks and crannies, grand old French colonial buildings peeling into graceful disrepair, old Chinese shophouses with beautifully ornate facades and the winding, silent Thu Bon River reflecting all the magic on its banks.
The city is famous for its incredibly talented tailors who craft beautiful fabrics for a seriously reasonable price, so why not head to one of the hundreds of talented craftsmen and get something fitted? Or, seek out some incredible street food and take a boat ride across the lantern-lit river.
In the evening, get to know the lively atmosphere that descends on the town as it gets dark, as you sample the real local life and cuisine of Hội An. Get to know your friendly local host for the evening as they welcome you into their home and prepare exquisite, traditional dishes for you.
Your host will give you a guide of the countryside, of the shimmering rice fields and delicate bridges that cross the streams that weave through the lush green fields.
In an iconic Hội An home, where you’ll see three generations living under the same roof, feel free to relax with a few cold beers, listen to the stories about the house, and socialise with the kids as you soak up the warm, open atmosphere.
The Watermark An Bang Hotel or similar
Lost Temples at Chien Dan
The most famous temples near Hội An belong to the Son Sanctuary, but these have recently become a little overcrowded and touristy, so you’re going to be taken off the beaten track to another complex of temples that tourists simply don’t know about.
Overgrown and swallowed up by nature, Chien Dan feels almost like an ancient, forgotten city. This is for good reason, as that’s exactly what it is. Once part of the great Champa, a region ruled by the Cham ethnic group throughout what is now Central and Southern Vietnam, the towers on the North and South sides have lost their roofs over the last 900 years of exposure to the elements.
The Cham people used no mortar in their building, employing an interlocking dovetail method instead to create the beautiful, ancient structures you can explore today.
The Watermark An Bang Hotel or something similar
A Free Day to Travel
Enjoy a final morning in Hội An relaxing or exploring, then check out of your hotel and and hop on a private van to Da Nang airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
The cost of your flight to Ho Chi Minh City is not included in the price of the tour.
Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel in Saigon for check-in. Have the rest of the evening to relax or explore the surrounding area of this bustling city.
Liberty Hotel Saigon or similar
Conveniently situated in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City, Liberty Hotel Saigon Parkview is an urban accommodation of choice for travelers who are seeking for a safe, clean and comfortable place to stay. Widely known for our warm customer services, guests can be assured that any question or concern you may have will be taken care of by our professional Front Desk staff.
Welcome to Saigon
Today, you’ll be diving into the hectic city of Ho Chi Minh, discovering the fascinating history, timeless traditions and richly diverse culture that pervades the ancient winding alleyways, the vibrant markets, the beautiful pagodas and the slick city streets.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to the beautiful Jade Emporer Pagoda, which hides some interesting tales, then you will head to the War Remnants Museum.
Here, appreciate the wide collection of images dedicated to deceased American and Vietnamese photographers and journalists from the French and American conflicts. You can’t visit Vietnam without acknowledging and respecting the fact that there was a war here that is still fresh in the minds of some locals, so this is a good chance to educate yourself and pay respect to the victims of the war.
Then, take a step back in time, heading to the war period on a trip to the Reunification Palace, before visiting some outstanding examples of French colonial architecture at Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Finally, you’ll be taken back to your accommodation where you’ll be free to relax and head out for the evening.
Liberty Hotel Saigon or similar
Farewell From Not In The Guidebooks
Today, we will transfer you to the airport for your homeward journey, or if you are planning on extending your stay in Vietnam, we are happy to help with organising any onward travel or booking extra accommodation.
Hen gap lai!
The tour begins in Hue, where we will pick you up from any bus stations, accommodation or from the airport, and take you directly to your hotel. The tour then heads south to Hội An, and then there’s a flight down to Ho Chi Minh City to finish the tour.
We are more than happy to assist you with your onward journey by helping to book your next accommodation, by suggesting itineraries or by helping you reach any airports or bus stations.
To give you an idea of the route. The tour begins in Hue in the north, then heads down to Hoi An. After Hoi An you will drive to Da Nang Airport and fly to Ho Chi Minh City.