Day 1 UK - In flight
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City
While not the capital city of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City is the pulsing economic heart and bustling hub of the southern region - and it acts like it. Vibrating with energy (and traffic) this city is chaotically charming. Nothing will wake you up after a long overnight flight like this freewheeling city.
We touch down early this morning and transfer straight to our hotel, where an early check in means we can drop our bags and freshen up before heading out to explore this city formerly known as Saigon.
This afternoon we head to the former Presidential Palace. This landmark is now a museum of meeting rooms and reception rooms, the president’s living quarters, and a fascinating war room and telecommunications centre. We then take a stroll to the major colonial sights of the city, including the Opera House and the Old Saigon Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel.
- City tour of Ho Chi Minh City (afternoon)
Day 3 Ho Chi Minh City
We leave the old capital behind, and drive through scenes of rice paddies and villagers drying noodles by the roadside as we head to the Cu Chi district. The famous Cu Chi Tunnels are an incredible underground network, constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars to house troops, transport and supplies.
Our visit highlights what life was like as a communist guerrilla, seeing living quarters and typical meals, and rifles, booby traps and command centres.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we return to our hotel for some time at leisure. This evening we take in views of the city as we enjoy a dinner cruise on a traditional junk boat on the Saigon River.
- Visit Cu Chi Tunnels (morning)
- Saigon River dinner cruise (evening)
Day 4 Cai Be
We depart for Cai Be, on the Mekong Delta. This town relies on the network of rivers and canals to produce rice, as well as using it as a highway for vessels distributing agricultural products. On our cruise, we’ll stop at Tan Phong Island, where we take a smaller rowing boat through the canals. Our main boat trip continues, to visit a preserved ‘Mandarin’ house, built centuries ago and to see the local trading boats and home factories that produce rice paste, rice popcorn and coconut candy.
We continue along meandering tributaries to a colonial-style villa.
- Mekong River cruise and Cai Be floating market (morning)
Day 5 Ho Chi Minh City - Nha Trang
We return to the city this morning to board the North-South Railway (known as the Reuinification Exxpress’) for a 7.5-hour journey to Nha Trang. Ho Chi Minh’s suburbs will pass by in a swirl of concrete and colour as the train chugs into motion and before you know it, we’ll be whizzing through scenes of peaceful paddy fields bordered by tiny villages and towering forested peaks studded by grey boulders.
We’ll pull into Nha Trang this evening and transfer to our hotel.
- Journey aboard the Reunification Express (all day)
Day 6 Nha Trang
We visit the Oceanographic Museum, which displays the local marine environment, including reef sharks, turtles and sea horses. We’ll then head to the seaside, including Hon Chong, a quiet fishing village with a bay of karsts like a mini Halong Bay; and the Po Nagar Cham Towers. The four surviving towers are still actively used for worship by Cham, Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhists.
- City tour of Nha Trang (morning)
Day 7 Danang - Hoi An
We depart Nha Trang on a flight to Danang. Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel in Hoi An. The rest of the day is free.
Day 8 Hoi An
Little Hoi An leaves a big impression on the hearts of its visitors. The ancient old town centre is dominated by a colourful market with pretty lanterns, traditional Chinese shop fronts and a 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.
This morning we’ll learn about rural life in the local village of Tra Que. We visit a farm and help the farmers prepare the land, fertilising it with seaweed, raking, sowing and picking crops. Afterwards we see how to prepare tam huu - paperless spring rolls, and try this irresistible delicacy.
Back in Hoi An this afternoon, we enjoy a walking tour of the ancient town centre. We visit former merchants’ houses, a Chinese communal hall, the market and the beautiful bridge.
- Hoi An countryside tour (morning)
- Walking tour of Hoi An (afternoon)
Day 9 Hoi An
The former capital and religious centre of the Champa Kingdom is our destination this morning. My Son’s skyline is shaped by dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries. We tour the temples, get an insight into Cham culture, and learn how even this remote site was not immune to bombing during the Vietnam War.
On our way back to Hoi An, we stop to visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum originated from here.
- Tour of My Son Temple complex (morning)
Day 10 Hoi An - Danang - Hue
We have a long day ahead of us today as we leave Hoi An behind and make our way to Hue, by way of Danang. In Danang we visit the Cham Museum, which contains the world’s finest collection of Cham sculptures. We continue to the dramatic Pass of Ocean Clouds, where forts, pillboxes and defensive walls mark the former national frontier.
The road drops down to the coast, and the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co. We have some time here for lunch before we visit the Mausoleum of Tu Duc. The tomb was used as a palace retreat before becoming the Emperors’ resting place. We also visit Tu Hieu Pagoda, a serene Buddhist haven which still shelters 70 monks, and Khai Dinh’s Tomb which is grandiose, yet traditional Vietnamese in design, with a unique European touch. We head to our hotel in Hue for a two-night stay.
- City tour of Hue (afternoon)
Day 11 Hue
We start our tour of Hue at the Imperial Citadel, modelled on Beijing’s sprawling Forbidden City, from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945. The French and American wars destroyed a large portion, but UNESCO is assisting with its restoration.
We then take a boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. The 21m-tall tower at the centre of the pagoda was constructed to fulfil an old woman’s prophecy of prosperity.
This afternoon, enjoy a stroll through the Dong Ba market, the biggest commercial centre of Thua Thien Hue Province. The rest of the day is at leisure.
- Imperial Citadel in Hue and boat trip on Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda (morning)
Day 12 Hue - Hanoi
Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city. After checking in to our hotel, we visit Hoa Lo. This huge prison held anti-colonial revolutionaries and prisoners of war in often cramped, inhumane conditions.
Our next stop is the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, constructed in 1070. Later, we drive to Hoan Kiem Lake and take a walking tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers.
- City tour of Hanoi (afternoon)
Day 13 Halong Bay
The next couple of days will put a big tick on your travel wishlist - holidays to Vietnam wouldn't be complete without a trip to Halong Bay. We make our way to Halong Bay, where we board a modern yet traditional vessel for an overnight cruise.
Once you’re settled on board, take a seat on the sundeck and take in the amazing views as we sail among the thousands of forest-clad limestone karsts towering from the water.
We’ll stop to explore ‘Surprise Cave’ on Bo Hon island; a rock chamber with extremely high ceilings and interesting and impressive natural formations.
Back on board, enjoy a host of activities. Perhaps watch a fruit-carving show in the kitchen, opt for a spot of squid fishing or rustle up some friendly competition in a game of cards. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, there’s a massage service on board.
As dusk falls, we’ll anchor up for a special night in this ionic bay.
- Overnight Halong Bay cruise (afternoon/evening)
Day 14 Halong Bay - Hanoi
Wake early for an unforgettable sunrise, followed by the option to take part in a peaceful Tai Chi class on the sundeck.
After breakfast, our cruise continues to Titop Island. Here, you can paddle in the glistening blue waters, or hike up the 450 steps to the viewpoint to capture a long-awaited photo over Halong Bay.
Soak up the views as we speed back to shore and then onto Hanoi. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please.
- Halong Bay cruise (morning)
Day 15 Hanoi
Today’s excursion starts at the monumental marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the historic figure and father of modern Vietnam. We then visit his home from 1954-1969, a simple wooden house; and the One Pillar Pagoda, an important symbol of Hanoi founded by King Ly Thai To in 1049.
We continue to West Lake and Tran Quoc, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in Hanoi; and the nearby Toaist temple of Quan Thanh, which dates from the Ly Dynasty. If time permits, we also visit the ancient Hanoi Citadel, an intriguing relic with many artefacts dating as far back as the 6th century.
Spend the afternoon at leisure, before we finish our day with a Water Puppet Show. This uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicts scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.
- Ho Chi Minh’s house and mausoleum (morning)
- Water Puppet Show (evening)
Day 16 Hanoi - In flight
The majority of the day is free before our late evening transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.
Day 17 UK
Upon arrival, your Titan vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.