Vietnam Austin Exclusive | Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay
Leave the well-trodden tourist track and get an authentic insider’s look into Vietnam
12 Days / 11 Nights
Activity LevelActivity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Hosted by a passionate Austin Adventures staff member, this adventure will bring you to lowland tropical rainforest, white sand beaches and stunning ancient architecture dripping with detail. Colorful village streets bustling with locals eager to interact. You’ll find all these things and more in this astonishingly exotic and utterly compelling country of breathtaking natural beauty and rich culture. Enjoy a gracious welcome into the homes of the locals in Hoi An. Hike through the jungle in Bach Ma National Park to a thundering, 900-foot waterfall. Visit the Forbidden Purple City, constructed in the early 19th century by Emperor Gia Long. Sample a host of exotic regional specialties – pho bo, nom, banh goi, banh cuon – in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Dive deep into Vietnam’s scintillating display of diverse natural beauty and cultural delights on this two-week multisport adventure.
- Explore the Central Market in Hoi An is open all day, but arrive early to watch vendors prepare their spaces and get the freshest produce without midday crowds
- Absorb interesting Vietnam history as you wander through the War Museum, a popular Vietnam exhibit that focuses on America’s involvement in the war
- Create your own genuine local cuisine dishes as a group, learning about Hoi An-style preparations and mixing the ingredients to prepare three dishes you’ll enjoy
- Bike through alleyways of Hoi An and continuing to Quang Nam Province villages, pedalling past rice fields, vegetable farms, and a wooden boat-building site
- See the US B-5 bomber airplane wreckage near Huu Tiep Lake, where you will meet the legendary Mr. Nguyen Hong My, the first Vietnamese pilot who shot down an American fighter jet in 1972
- Swim or kayak near shore at Ba Trai Dao beaches in Lan Ha Bay where coasts lines along Halong Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago feature caves, coves, and nearly 400 limestone islands
- Board your Heritage Cruise and relax on your ship that will transport you to multiple adventures on your last two evenings
A few more reasons why you’ve gotta go:
The varied landscape: Vietnam is a land of stunning landscapes that range from the lush rice terraces and forested mountains of the north to the fertile delta and lovely beaches of the south
Discover the history that hides and thrives in the streets of Vietnam’s busy Ho Chi Minh City
Get inspired from the local Vietnamese people who are eager to share stories, talents, and ways of life with visitors
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam SGN
Hanoi, Vietnam HAN
Ho Chi Minh City
“Chào mừng bạn đến viet nam!” (Welcome to Vietnam!) • Once you arrive at Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport, your driver and guide will meet you and they will transfer you to your hotel • Check-in and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure • Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam, with nearly 9 million people within city limits • The city is also known by its historical name, Saigon, which was in place prior to renaming the city in 1976 after the communist leader following the Vietnam War
About Liberty Central City Point Hotel
Embracing a fresh, urban design with 171 modern rooms and suites, Liberty Central Saigon City Point is an exceptional city hotel that unites convenience and comfort for an unforgettable experience. From the moment of arrival, guests can start spoiling themselves by some pampering time at The Spa, innovative cocktails on Above Sky Bar or refreshing with a dip in the infinity rooftop swimming pool while indulging in the breathtaking panoramic Saigon skyline views.
Awaken your senses early this morning while exploring Tao Dan Park where you can sip on an iced coffee from the local Bird Café • Walk through the picturesque gardens and watch for locals who bring their prized birds to show • Take the chance to taste pho, the national dish, and later navigate the busy streets to Cho Lon which is the Chinatown area, bustling with street vendors and captivating corners • Explore the Revolutionary Headquarters, a historical secret bunker you’ll find tucked amidst plain view • Wind your way through the city to a popular rooftop restaurant that provides a delicious lunch and cityscape views • Venture further into Saigon as you experience the center of the city • Take some time to relax at the end of the day with a traditional Vietnamese tea tasting at Café Apartment, a nine-story apartment building remodeled into a modern coffee shop
War Museum / Danang / Hoi An
Absorb some more interesting Vietnam history after breakfast as you wander through the War Museum, a popular Vietnam exhibit that focuses on America’s involvement in the war • A short flight will land you in Danang, a city north of Ho Chi Minh City that lies on the coast • You’ll be transferred to Hoi An where you’ll check in to your next accommodation and head to a two-hour cooking class • There, you’ll have the chance to create your own genuine local cuisine dishes! • As a group, learn about Hoi An-style preparations and mix the ingredients to prepare three dishes you’ll enjoy • Your meal will also include two Hoi An specialties, White Rose and Fried Wanton, made ready by a Hoi An family.
About Boutique Hoi An Resort
Explore the rich heritage of Hoi An at Boutique Hoi An Resort. Discover authentic Vietnamese cuisine and hospitality, unwind in the swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens, or indulge in a massage at the hotel spa. Deluxe rooms are located in the main hotel building overlooking the garden area and include an outdoor balcony.
Hoi An Central Market
Today’s immersive experiences will have you ogling impressive local vendors’ goods, bumping into natives who are eager to interact, and hear stories from your guide about the area • The Central Market in Hoi An is open all day, but you’ll arrive early to watch vendors prepare their spaces and get the freshest produce without midday crowds • Stop at workshops, visit cultural sites, and observe locals bustling through their day • Rest for a bit while sipping a drink riverside • Hear about local life as you further explore the old town • Walk over the intricate covered Japanese bridge • Learn how to handmake a lantern from a local family • Chow down on some cao lau, a native noodle dish, to end the day
Hoi An countryside
Today will be spent in the fresh country air as you bike through alleyways of Hoi An and continuing to Quang Nam Province villages • Get a taste of Banh Beo, a traditional breakfast staple, and of family life and chapels • Your 90-year-old host will reminisce on his experience in what is known locally as the American War • Continue biking past rice fields, vegetable farms, and a wooden boat-building site • Stop at a traditional mat weaving shop and for a sip of rice wine distilled at a family operation • Take a ferry back to town and enjoy a complimentary drink at the Grasshopper shop
Bach Ma National Park / Hue
Take a scenic morning drive to Hue along National Highway 1, viewing the breathtaking Hai Van Pass, the highest and longest pass in Vietnam • Stop for pictures of Lang Co beach and later Bach Ma National Park • This park founded in the 1930s features jungles tucked into mountains, stunning beaches, and unique plant life • Take a hike to Do Quyen – Rhododendron waterfalls that thunder down from 300 meters above • Trek to Ngu Ho (Five Lakes) and swim along the jungle coast to cool off • Enjoy a picnic lunch before transferring to the summit view that looks over the landscape at 1,450 meters high.
About Pilgrimage Village
Pilgrimage Village boutique resort & spa is ideally located in the quiet countryside in a rustic village setting surrounded by lush tranquil gardens, yet near to famous historical landmarks and the city of Hue. Designed with premium natural material, the deluxe room combines modern comfort with traditional architecture features, with soothing views over the garden or the lily lake.
Thuy Bieu / Forbidden Purple City
Enter into history today as you explore both peaceful countryside and magnificent royal properties • Thuy Bieu, an ancient rural village, harmoniously combines the rustic forested countryside with touches of royal legacies featured in the architecture • Come face-to-face with history as you explore monuments related to the Nguyen dynasties, the Roman amphitheater, the temple-cemetery, and the bronze casting village • Journey down the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, a historic temple • Finally, tour the Purple Forbidden City that was Emperor Gia Long’s 19th century creation
Spend the day leisurely exploring Hanoi, the lively and colorful capital of Vietnam, after a short flight • Tucked along the Red River, Hanoi serves as a multicultural hub that holds historical significance still on display through impressive ancient architecture and museums which you can visit • The city is laden with Chinese, French, and Russian influences • After touring the city independently, meet in the late afternoon to watch a performance at either Hanoi Opera House or Vietnam Tuong Theater • This performance, AOshow, is a mixture of Vietnamese music, dance, and Cirque du Soleil • Be amazed by the acrobatic feats and talents of the actors.
About La Siesta Premium Hang Be Hotel
The imposing white façade of La Siesta Premium 27 Hang Be Street overlooks one of Hanoi Old Quarter’s vibrant streets. In ancient times, this was where ‘be’ – a very basic type of wooden boat – was traded. Now the Street is buzzing with a myriad of cafes, restaurants, tailoring shops and traditional souvenir stalls. La Siesta Premium Hang Be embodies classic charm with Asian touches, traditional features and elegant period furnishings creating harmony and balance.
Further explore the capital city as you watch tai chi and aerobics performed by locals near Hoan Kiem Lake this morning • Sip ca phe sua da, local iced coffee, or the ‘egg coffee’ before visiting a street food vendor to taste banh mi, a baguette sandwich • Witness French colonial architecture up-close as you walk through the Old Quarter, featuring St. Joseph’s Cathedral • Visit Hoa Lo Prison which once held Vietnamese, American, and French war prisoners • See the US B-5 bomber airplane wreckage near Huu Tiep Lake, where you will meet the legendary Mr. Nguyen Hong My, the first Vietnamese pilot who shot down an American fighter jet in 1972 • Transition to lunchtime where you will enjoy bun cha noodle dish of pork and rice noodles • Step into the Temple of Literature founded in 1076 which served as a university for elites • Walk along the railroad tracks to take photos of the city and end the day with a beer from a bia hoi spot
Lan Ha Bay
Cruise along the waters today after breakfast • Enjoy a drink onboard and have a bite to eat at L ‘Indochine Restaurant later for lunch as you cruise to Da Chong islet • Peer out at the heritage lighthouse before arriving at Gia Luan Lagoon • Here you can see limestone karst formations that emerge from the sea surface • Prepare to swim or kayak near shore at Ba Trai Dao beaches in Lan Ha Bay • These coasts lines Halong Bay and Cat Ba Archipelago and features caves, coves, and nearly 400 limestone islands • Return to your ship to drink a cocktail while watching the golden sunset over Gulf of Tonkin • Tonight relax with a tea ceremony, massage, or Vietnamese cooking class • Fine dining includes local delicacies • Before ending the day, try squid fishing or visit the top-deck bar.
About Heritage cruise, Delta Cabin
These superior accommodations will relax your mind, body, and spirit as you travel over pristine waters. Bask in the sun, swim in the pool, enjoy a drink at the bar, or simply watch the waves below and after divulging your senses on deck, snuggle in to your first-level rooms properly fitted with comfortable beds and calming decorations. Peer out your large windows at the sea view as the sun dips below the horizon and drifts you off to sleep. Your suites also feature a private balcony to indulge in the vistas outside.
Lan Ha Bay
Wake up onboard to an invitation to practice Vovinam, a martial art, on the sundeck and refuel with coffee, tea, and pastries • Lan on Viet Hai Village via speedboat to bike ride or drive in an electric car through a rainforest tunnel, arriving at a rice field • Observe villagers in a national park and enjoy lunch here • Go bamboo boating or kayaking at Ba Ham Lake back at Lan Ha Bay which are surrounded by steep cliffs • Return to your cruise ship to relax the rest of the evening with a drink and enjoy the warm sunset • A chef will prepare dinner through a Vietnamese cooking class and enjoy your food in the main restaurant
Arrival & Departure
An Austin Adventures representative will meet you upon arrival at the Ho Chi Minh City Tan Son Nhat Airport. Upon clearing customs, transportation to the Liberty Central City Point Hotel will be provided. On Day 12 you will be transferred from Ha Long Bay to the Hanoi Airport in accordance with your afternoon or evening flight schedule.
Walking – 1 to 4-hour guided walking excursions to view rainforests, wildlife, national parks, tombs, ruins and city splendors.
Biking – 12 miles cycling through Hoi An town with many stops along the way to check out local sights. Choose to bike through rainforest tunnels.
Kayaking – 2 to 3-hour paddle on calm waters in the Ba Ham Lake and Lan Ha Bay area.
Discovery – A long, narrow country squeezed in between the Laos and Cambodia borders and the South China Sea, Vietnam is a land of stunning landscapes that range from the lush rice terraces and forested mountains of the north to the fertile delta and lovely beaches of the south. Enter into Vietnam’s high- octane Ho Chi Minh, a city driven by commerce and culture and pulsating with energy. Keep a watchful eye out for the varied flora and fauna of Bach Ma National Park home to various wildlife. Trek, swim and relax in the jungles of Bach Ma National Park on the hunt for a special backcountry waterfall. Discover the sweeping boulevards, tree-fringed lakes and ancient pagodas of Hanoi while watching the ebb and flow of motorbikes and pedestrians in this animated city. Listen to the legend of the dragon that created the 2,000 islands of Ha Long Bay with sweeps of its flailing tail. Come experience Vietnam with the leaders in adventure travel.
Your guides will take the time to explain the details of each activity, answer any questions and demonstrate the use of all equipment. Each activity has been carefully planned to include options for all levels. Most importantly, your guides will help you select the distance that’s right for you.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. Meals are included as indicated in the daily itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in the Trip Price
- All transfers and transport as per program\All accommodation as per program (based on double/twin sharing room)
- Service of English-speaking station guides
- All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- All entrance fees on tour
- Evening cooking Class in Hoi An (join-in class: 2-4 pax, private class, from 5pax up)
- Cultural performance ticket
- Domestic airfare
Not Included in the Trip Price
- International air tickets
- Early check in/or late check-out is not mentioned above
- Personal expenses
- All drinks
- Visa fees and/or visa authorization
- Other expenses not mentioned on the itinerary
- Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
- Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Southeast Asia Expert
Curtis brings more than 10 years of professional travel experience to Austin Adventures. During this time he has explored some of the world’s most distinctive and culturally rich destinations. Highlights include riding the rails of India, teaching rural health education in the Peruvian Andes, learning to scuba dive in Australia, gorilla trekking in Uganda, mentoring students in Costa Rica, trekking through Asia’s Golden Triangle, exploring Cuba’s countryside by horseback, and learning to tango in Buenos Aires. Curtis’s professional resume includes years on the ground in Southeast Asia supervising a destination management company as well as roles in product development with several of North America’s largest young adult and adventure travel companies.