Maximise your time in Vietnam by flying overnight tonight.
Touch down feeling (relatively) refreshed and ready to explore. A member of A&K Vietnam team will meet you and whisk you off to the La Siesta Trendy hotel – your home for the next two nights. Hanoi is the laid-back but vibrant capital of Vietnam. This 70-room boutique-feel hotel is a new addition to Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter – it’s been designed to reflect modern Hanoi with lots of steels, greys and blues. Today start your exploration of Hanoi or indulge in R’n’R at the hotel.
Delve deep into Hanoi’s wartime history. Drive to Truc Bach lake and take a contemplative walk along weeping willow-lined Youth Road. Your destination? The monument to POW John McCain. The now-US senator was held for five and a half years in the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, Hỏa Lò prison, your next destination. Look around in the company of a former US soldier. Chuck Searcy was deployed in 1967, but his blossoming love for Vietnam quickly conflicted with his military mission. This evening, celebrate Hanoi’s street food stalls. Whizz around exploring them on the back on a vintage Vespa.
Your four-hour transfer will go by in a flash, as you chill out in the back of your transfer car enjoying the scenery. Meet the locals In Mai Chau. The Dzao, Muong and Thai hill tribes all live in this region. Learn more about the tribes over lunch in the home of a resident. After lunch, ride a bike from Pom Coong to Chieng Sai. Peddling along from village to village, freewheeling past fields – this is a great way to explore this area.
Today, further cultural immersions in rural Vietnam. Drive to Xam Khoe. This village is the starting point for a two-hour walk to Buoc village. Buoc is populated by the Thai tribe (originally from southern China). Stoll along undulating paths, passing locals who’ll be out and about with their buffalo. Rural and remote, this region is a world away from Hanoi’s hustle and bustle.
This morning it’s back to Hanoi to catch your flight to Hoi An. You’ll be met and whizzed to Maison Vy, where you’ll rest your head for the next three nights.
Port town Hoi An is packed with culture and beauty – the buildings, the people, it’s everywhere you look. Start the day with an orientation tour, which will show you why Hoi An is one of our favourite spots in Vietnam. The food scene here is off the charts, thanks in part to chef Trinh Diem Vy. Vy is to Hoi An as Rick Stein is to Padstow. Stop at Vy’s Market, a collective of ten street food-stalls under one roof. Fresh, beautifully presented and flavourful, you’ll get to try dishes like banh mi, banh bao vac dumplings, cau lao and com ga amongst an array of weird and wonderful delights. Foodie heaven.
Explore Hoi An today – at your own pace, seeing what interests you. This colonial town is full of Japanese merchant houses and pagodas, Chinese temples and ancient warehouses. Or just lounge about in a laid-back riverside café on the banks of the Thu Bon, watching the world go by.
Bid a fond farewell to Hoi An and fly to fast, frenetic Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) today. Check in to your hotel. The Myst Dong Khoi is a modular boutique hotel in the city’s fashionable commercial centre.
Say ‘good morning, Vietnam’ today. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist). It’s an early start today with a cyclo ride through the city streets. Early in the morning the notoriously manic traffic is more civilised. Your tour will take you to ten-hectare Tao Dan Park. This park is the city’s most attractive outdoor space. Swap a cyclo for a scooter and it’s off on a market-tour. From food markets to the flower markets, these are the locals’ hangouts, not tourists’ haunts. This evening, explore Saigon’s latest craze for craft brewing at three microbreweries, producing Czech and German-style lagers.
Tam biêt (goodbye) Vietnam… for now.