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Best time to go: January to April
11 Nights | from £2,988pp
Holiday type: Tailor-made
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- Take a tasty street food tour in colonial Hanoi
- Cruise amid the dramatic karst of Halong Bay (with a complimentary bottle of wine)!
- Shop at Hoi An's colourful markets before learning to make delicious local dishes
- Ride around Ho Chi Minh City at night on the back of a vintage Vespa
- Meet a Vietnam War veteran, to hear about life down the Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 1 UK/Hanoi
Maximise your time by flying overnight to Hanoi –direct flights mean there's no need to stop en route.
Day 2 Hanoi
To fully appreciate the vim and vigour of Hanoi, you want to be in amid the action. Staying at the French-colonial style Sofitel Metropole, in the heart of the city, will put you there. Recoup from your flight by the hotel pool, or take a stroll into the city.
Sofitel Metropole Hanoi
Day 3 Hanoi
Begin today with a city tour to explore the atmospheric Old Quarter and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. After, hit the alleyways with one of the city's famous food bloggers for a street food tour –visit sizzling stalls, graze on local ingredients, and watch the buying and selling rituals of a Vietnamese market.
Sofitel Metropole Hanoi | Meals: Breakfast
Day 4 Hanoi/Halong
Next stop, Halong Bay. It's a short drive from Hanoi to the emerald waters, limestone outcrops, echoing caves and hidden inlets of this serene spot. Board the beautiful Paradise Luxury Sails to cruise past strange rock formations with names such as Dog and Incense Pot. Then, as the sun sets, tuck into a sumptuous seafood dinner, served on board.
Paradise Luxury Cruise | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 Halong/Hue
Haul anchor for a final morning sail on Halong Bay, passing yet more uninhabited islands and UNESCO-listed loveliness. Then, after disembarking and a short flight south, you'll land in another locale lauded by UNESCO: Hue. This ancient city on the Perfume River is the cultural capital of Vietnam;staying at La Residence, the former governor's house, you'll get a real feel for its heavyweight history.
La Residence | Meals: Breakfast
Day 6 Hue
Uncover the glories of Hue's past. Under the Nguyen Dynasty, which ruled between 1802 and 1945, Hue was the Imperial capital;head to the Imperial Citadel, and marvel at the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. Also, pay a visit to the seven-storied Thien Mu Pagoda, the tallest religious building in Vietnam.
La Residence | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 Hue/Hoi An
South of Hue, see a little of rural Vietnam. Stop at the scenic fishing village of Lang Co to watch the little boats bring in cockles and blue mussels (and cook them right on the beach), and cross the breathtaking Pass of Ocean Clouds, a 21km-long spur in the Annamite Range that juts into the South China Sea. By the time you arrive in Hoi An, you'll be ready to relax into the verdant Anantara Resort, perhaps toasting the day with a cocktail overlooking the Thu Bon River.
Anantara Resort| Meals: Breakfast
Day 8 - 9 Hoi An
No town in Vietnam is as well-preserved as Hoi An: its jumble of tea shops, Japanese merchant houses and Chinese temples feels like a step back in time. Equally intoxicating are its colourful markets, abuzz with traders touting their wares –pay a visit with a local guide, who'll enable you to interact with the sellers (a unique skill in itself) before you learn to cook delicious Vietnamese dishes at Mango Mango, one of Hoi An's top restaurants. With a second day to explore, our advice is to simply get lost amid the heady, historic maze.
Anantara Resort| Meals: Breakfast
Day 10 Hoi An/Ho Chi Minh City
It's only a short flight from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest and perhaps most moving metropolis. With a guide, visit the History Museum, with its excellent collection of artefacts illustrating the evolution of Vietnamese culture, as well as the Reunification Hall and the War Remnants Museum. Stop at the Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the city before finishing at the Central Post Office, designed and constructed by Gustav Eiffel. The rooftop restaurant of the towering Pullman Saigon is a great place to end the day.
Pullman Saigon | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City
Swap the maelstrom of the city for the market town of Cai Be, in the heart of the Mekong Delta. A short drive from Ho Chi Minh City, Cai Be is the place to board a sampan (local riverboat) and cruise the delta region's fingery network of waterways, bartering from the floating trade boats as you go. Back in Ho Chi Minh City, experience the nightlife of former Saigon the ways the locals do –from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. Ride pillion amid the bright lights and busy streets, parking up in a quad –where families congregate for evening meals –before hitting a Vietnamese coffee house and a live music club.
Pullman Saigon | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City/UK
With a complimentary late checkout, there's still time for a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This vast subterranean network, which once stretched for nearly 340km, was originally constructed by the Viet Minh in the 1940s, but used to great effect by the Viet Cong –whole communities lived in these unbelievably narrow passages. Meet a veteran who lived in the tunnels to hear a fascinating personal account of the war. Then, with a head full of memories, head to the airport for your flight back home.
At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. As a guide, this 12 day suggested holiday will cost from £2,988 per person, based on two sharing, including international flights.
If you have birthday or anniversary coming up, or just fancy throwing one heck of a party, why not celebrate in style. Whatever the occasion, we are brimming with ideas. Find out more...
Our office in Ho Chi Minh City is managed by a local team of experienced and passionate travel professionals with an intimate knowledge of Vietnam, enabling them to provide clients with great insight into this fascinating destination, and ensuring a seamless experience every step of the A&K journey. With their long standing personal connections and networks they're also there to help you uncover local secrets and experiences, and to open doors to people and places normally beyond the reach of the ordinary traveller.
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Meet the Orient & Indian Subcontinent Team
Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Smith, Lynne and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget.
Best time to be there
Regional climate differences mean that there is no best time; try September to December to avoid the humidity in the north, December to April to miss the rains in the south and December to March is perfect for trips to the Central highlands. Catch the Trung Thu Moon festival in September or October for traditional lion and dragon dances.
Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi (via Bangkok, Hong Kong or Singapore)
Approximately 13 hours
GMT + 7 hours
Required for UK passport holders
Yellow fever certificates if arriving from an endemic area