This trip is designed to showcase the best that Vietnam has to offer in 12 days. There will be a good mix of culture, natural beauty, adventure and relaxation. From the sophisticated charm of the capital city of Hanoi, we’ll take a luxury 3-days cruise on the spectacular turquoise waters of Halong Bay. We then fly to central Vietnam to visit some of the most laid-back, beautiful towns in Asia and relax on stunningly picturesque beaches. Then, we explore southern Vietnam including the Cu Chi Tunnels, the Might Mekong River Delta, and Saigon – the city that never sleeps. Leave your stresses behind- everything has been expertly planned by your Backwoods Adventures trip leader. A trip like this is best enjoyed when all you have to worry about is having a great time!
- The capital city of Vietnam is Hanoi, home to over 7 million people.
- The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong.
- There are 7 UNESCO World Heritage sights in Vietnam
- Son Doong Cave, the largest known cave in the world, was discovered in 2009 in the Phong Nha Ke Bang Park.
- Vietnam is one of the top rice-producing countries in the world. They also rank 2nd in coffee production (behind Brazil).
- Vietnam’s economy is growing quickly, with GDP increasing by roughly 6% per year. Unemployment is below 2%, and less than 6% of Vietnamese citizens live below the poverty level.
- The U.S. lifted its economic embargo on Vietnam in 1994, and Vietnam became a member of the World Trade Organization in 1994.
- Most high-end packs and luggage are manufactured in Vietnam, since they currently have the best facilities and skilled workforce for this type of production.
Day 1 (May 9): Arrive in Hanoi. Catch a private group transfer from Noi Bai International airport to our hotel in Hanoi, the bustling capital of Vietnam. The afternoon is yours to relax and explore one of the most interesting and culturally diverse cities in the world. Meet the guides and your fellow travel companions for a welcome dinner at a nice restaurant in Hanoi. (Meals: D)
Day 2 (May 10): After breakfast, we get picked up at our hotel and drive through the Red River Delta to the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay. Here, we’ll board a luxury “junk ship” and begin our cruise through the turquoise waters. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 3 (May 11): Wake up to a Tai Chi class on the sundeck. After breakfast, visit a small fishing village and learn about the lives of the people who inhabit these waters. Board the cruise ship again and we’ll sail to the Bai Tu Long Bay. Here, you will have free time to swim and kayak in a beautiful protected bay surrounded on all 4 sides by vertical cliffs. Relax or attend the on-deck cooking class in the afternoon. Enjoy happy hour, a wonderful dinner, and watch the magnificent sunset over Halong Bay. You can try your luck at squid fishing after the sun goes down! (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 4 (May 12): After morning Tai Chi and breakfast, we’ll transfer to Sung Sot Cave, one of the largest caves in Halong Bay. Explore the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites, then head back to the ship. Enjoy brunch as we sail back to shore and disembark. We will then take a short flight from Hanoi to Hue, where our hotel awaits. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 5 (May 13): We’ll wake up in Hue and visit the incredible Citadel of Ancient Monuments, take a bike ride through the Old City to Tinh Tam Lake; go to the Mu Pagoda, and the Khai Dinh’s Tomb. Then, we’ll take our time to enjoy the Hue night market. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 6 (May 14): An easy day sees us driving to the prettiest of all Vietnamese towns, Hoi An. En route we will visit Lang Co Beach, a fishing village and drive through the famous Pass of Ocean Clouds. We will check in to the hotel, then take a walking tour of Hoi An’s ancient town centre. Visit old shophouses, the 400-year old Japanese bridge, and the colorful market in this lovely town (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 7 (May 15): Breakfast will be served at the hotel and afterwards you’ll have free time to do whatever you’d like. Explore the enchanting time-capsule town of Old Hoi An, head to Cua Dai Beach to relax for the day, or just soak up the sun poolside at the resort with a drink in hand. Your choice! (Meals: B)
Day 8 (May 16): After breakfast, we head to the airport for a quick flight to Ho Chi Minh City. After you arrive we’ll get you to your hotel and settled. In the afternoon/evening, we’ll take a street food tour of Saigon. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 9 (May 17): Today, we’ll visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a major part of the Vietnam-American War and a fascinating day trip – explore the mysterious tunnels, find hidden doors and once-deadly traps. After lunch we’ll go back to Ho Chi Mihn City (Saigon) and spend the afternoon visiting the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 10 (May 18): We’ll travel to the amazing Mekong Delta passing through the town of My Tho en route to the regional capital Can Tho. We’ll enjoy a river boat cruise, lunch in an orchard, a bicycle ride and at the end of the day, the night market. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 11 (May 19): We’ll take a leisurely boat trip in the morning to explore the photogenic tributaries of the Lower Mekong river, then visit the vibrant Cai Răng floating market. See how the popular Vietnamese dish, rice vermicelli soup, is made and enjoy a delicious meal. Then transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City. We’ll enjoy a farewell dinner in a nice restaurant in Saigon to wrap up our adventure. (Meals: B, L, D)
Day 12 (May 20): You have free time in the morning until your private car arrives to take you to the airport for your next destination. (Meals: B)
Pants (zip-off pants can be very useful)
Shorts (mid-thigh or longer, quick-dry)
Short-sleeved shirts (synthetic or merino)
Long-sleeved shirts (synthetic or merino)
Undergarments (avoid cotton)
Socks – We recommend merino wool
Sock liners (optional)
Synthetic/wool long underwear (top and bottom) – Sapa only
Fleece jacket or wool sweater
Down or synthetic insulated jacket—Sapa only
Waterproof pants (recommended for Sapa)
Sun hat with brim
Warm hat for trek (Sapa only)
Lightweight gloves for trek (Sapa only)
Sturdy, comfortable hiking shoes.
Watersport sandals (ex: Tevas, Chacos, or Keens)
Tennis shoes, sandals, and/or flip flops for around town
Luggage / Gear
Rolling luggage or duffel
Day pack with rain cover (20-30L) – this makes a great carry-on!
Luggage tags and luggage locks (for storing luggage at hotels)
Packing organizers for gear/dirty clothing/accessories (optional)
Money belt, security pouch, document organizer (optional)
Water bottles and/or water reservoir for pack (for Sapa)
Note: Store electronics in sealed water-proof bags.
Camera, lenses, memory cards
Headlamp or flashlight
Tripod (consider if needed)
Cell phone (activate international plan prior to departure)
Music player and headphones (optional)
Airline tickets, e-tickets
Medical insurance card
Travel Insurance Information
Shampoo, conditioner, gel
Hairbrush, comb, mirror, hair ties
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
Moist towelettes (handi-wipes)
Lip balm with SPF
Packable, Quick-Dry towel (microfiber)
Nail clippers, file, brush
Insect repellent (30-50% DEET)
Q-tips (as desired)
Sewing kit (as desired)
Feminine products (not readily available in Vietnam)
Cosmetics (as desired)
Pain reliever (in original packaging)
Band-aids / blister treatment (moleskin/equivalent)
Disinfectant, antiseptic cream, antibiotic ointment
Diarrhea medicine (talk to doctor)
Antibiotics (talk to doctor)
Prescription drugs (talk to doctor)
Sunglasses, floating strap (recommended)
Eyeglasses, contacts, solution (as needed)
Pocket knife/multi-tool (checked luggage, not carry-on)
Notebook, pencil and pen
Cash, credit cards
Banner/flag/sentimental item to hold up in important places
Packing for the flight (some reminders and suggestions!)
Books, magazines, e-reader
Music player and headphones
Cell phone + charger
Toiletries (3 ounces/container, 1 quart clear bag)
Water bottle (empty through security)
U-shaped neck pillow
Eye shades, ear plugs
Melatonin or other sleep aid
Compression socks (to help with circulation)
All hotels and accommodations (double occupancy)
3-day, 2-night cruise in Halong Bay
Flights from Hanoi-Hue and Danang-Ho Chi Mihn City
Tours and transfers by private, air-conditioned vehicles
Cold bottled water and towel during tours
Expert local English-speaking guides
U.S.-based Backwoods Adventures guide
All meals mentioned in itinerary
All excursions as mentioned in itinerary
Vietnam Visa Letter of Approval
International airfare from your home destination into Hanoi and out of Ho Chi Mihn City
Alcoholic beverages, extra snacks or drinks outside of provided meals
Personal extras such as laundry, massage or souvenirs
Tourist Visa fee
The focus of this trip is on culture, and food is one of the best ways to showcase the local culture. We strive to provide the best meals available in the area in which we are staying. We do not skimp on meals because we understand that well-fed travelers are happy travelers!
A current U.S. passport is required for entry into Vietnam. We recommend that your passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip. A tourist visa is also required to visit Vietnam. We will help facilitate this process for you when you put down your deposit for the Vietnam trip.
We will stay in 4-star hotels throughout the trip. We also spend two nights on a luxury small cruise ship in Halong Bay. We strive to choose the best hotels based on friendliness, location and quality for the area.
FROM OUR TRAVELERS
“I was very pleased with the BWA trip to Vietnam. Growing up in the Vietnam War era, my vision of the country and the people were skewed by what I remember from the news. By seeing first hand the cultural, historical, and economic aspects of the country, I was able to put the War into a proper perspective and allow the warmth of the people to come through.”
“Having taken our third BWA trip, we love the company, the guides and the places we’ve been. Every one of them has been an amazing experience. Thank you so much for the opportunity.“
“Over all, the Vietnam trip was very educational, covered a lot of ground, and allowed for some great experiences. The people, the food and another cultures way of life was very inspirational! “