16 DAY VIETNAM LUXURY & RAIL

Women Only

Max group 12

Lifetime Deposit

Come and explore the colour, culture and commotion of Vietnam! Make your way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnam’s perfected modes of transport, from train, boat, scooter, bicycle… and also under your own steam. This is one adventure you’ll never forget!

You’ll experience both Vietnam’s best, and its secret-best!  Have heartfelt moments with locals, eat your way through incredible food, browse the produce at colourful markets, explore a melting pot of architectural styles and stay in gorgeous and boutique accommodation. 

Vietnam’s trains are a slow traveller’s piece-de-resistance, so sit back and enjoy the ride – you’ll travel on four different ones – in the company of no more than 12 in your group. All those people flying across the country have no clue what they’re missing!

Highlights

Watch Hanoi wake of a morning like a local

Enjoy a luxurious overnight cruise in secluded La Han Bay

Fun Foodie Tours in Hue and Ho Chi Minh City by scooter

Visit Hoi An's ancient UNESCO wonders

Rest up in a secluded resort with a private beach

Explore the Mekong Delta by boat

Trip Details

Price

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2024 TRIP: $7,986 AUD (per person twin share)

  • November/December 2024 trip – $1,900 AUD deposit.
  • 2-week cooling-off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private supplement available: $1,915 AUD (max 2 spots)
  • Tip Kitty: $210 AUD

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Trip length

16 days, 15 nights


Dates

November 2024

Starts: Hanoi, 14 November 2024

Finishes: Ho Chi Minh City, 29 November 2024

NEW DATE

December 2024

Starts: Hanoi, 23 December 2024

Finishes: Ho Chi Minh City, 7 January 2025

NEW DATE


Meeting point

GM Premium Hotel, Hanoi


Ending point

Liberty Central Riverside Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section under the Participation Tab.


Included

  • Meals: 15 breakfasts, 1 brunch, 10 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Transportation: 5 x trains, 1 x domestic flight, 1 x overnight cruise, 4 x full day private air-conditioned transportation, 10 x private transportation transfers
  • 13 nights boutique and premium accommodation, 1 night cruise, 1 night overnight train
  • 1 top-rated tour leader throughout and specialist guides along the way.
  • All listed activities and more!

Not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any visas required
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Tip kitty. Note: as Aussies and Kiwis we are not used to tipping! However, guide and driver tipping is customary for tours in Vietnam.
  • Personal expenditure

Click the tabs to find out more
Day 1 – Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam! One of our friendly team will meet you in the arrivals hall and whisk you directly to your hotel. 

Tonight, get to know your fellow Patchies over dinner for the first catch-up – at one of our favourite local restaurants, of course. And afterwards, you’ll wander along the lake’s edge in downtown Hanoi.

Accommodation: GM Premium Hotel – Deluxe room (or similar)
Included: Dinner

Day 2 – The Old Quarter

Early mornings in Hanoi are all about makeshift market stalls and boisterous coffee houses. So, let’s skip the hotel breakfast and fill up on crusty baguettes stuffed with fresh ingredients, as you explore Hanoi like a local with your guide. Here’s a tip! Try the local (Vietnamese recipe) iced coffee, or the egg coffee if you dare – these are unique to Vietnam.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter has been around for more than 1000 years, and while you wander along its cobblestone lanes today, you’ll catch the heady scent of incense wafting from ancestral temples, and come to understand how the city’s many cultural incarnations contribute to its eclectic charm. Wrap up the day over a relaxing drink in a neighbourhood Bia Hoi or Beerhall. 

Seasonal notes for our December Patchies:

Do you love Christmas lights? The locals sure do! Families come out in droves to be part of the fairytale scene. Today being Christmas Eve, you’ll catch sight – and sound – of the Christmas spirit as the Vietnamese of all religious (and non-religious) denominations love to celebrate a multi-coloured Western-style Christmas.

Accommodation: GM Premium Hotel – Deluxe room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3 – Lan Ha Bay

Cruising on Halong Bay is on plenty of travellers’ bucket lists. But have you heard of Lan Ha Bay? It’s remote compared to its celebrity neighbour, has scenery that is just as jaw-dropping, and best of all, none of the tourist hordes! Did you ever dare to imagine you’d be part of an experience so exotic and lavish?

You’ll hit the road after breakfast and set sail by lunchtime on The Heritage Cruise. Join in with the deserted-beach and water-cave excursions, have a go of the onboard kayaks, or just relax on your cabin’s private balcony, Pho cocktail in hand (if you dare!), watching the sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin.

Accommodation: Heritage Cruise – Ocean Cabin (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 – Lan Ha Bay and Ninh Binh

If you’re an early riser, you’re welcome to join the sundeck Vovinam (Vietnam’s martial arts) to stretch off last night’s dinner. Then it’s time to jump aboard a traditional rowboat to go into the Light and Dark Cave. You’ll glide through the cave’s opening which is framed by fig trees and orchids, and into its silent darkness, only to be bathed in light once more when you pop out the other side and into the hidden lagoon.

After brunch, say your goodbyes to the Heritage crew and reunite with your guide and driver for the last road transfer of the trip. Destination: Ninh Binh. Usually only on the radar of intrepid travellers, this place is not just off-the-beaten-path, the scenery is off-the-charts, and we didn’t want you to miss out. Following check-in and a relax, there’ll be time enough for a tranquil rowboat tour through the Van Long Nature Reserve. 

Tonight is a low-key one, with dinner at the hotel. 

Accommodation: Hoang Son Peace Hotel (or similar)
Included: Light Breakfast, Brunch and Dinner

Day 5 – Ninh Binh

We don’t usually bandy around overdone tour brochure words like ‘spectacular’, but when it comes to the UNESCO Heritage-listed Trang An Complex, it’s hard to avoid it! You’ll be awed into silence this morning as you travel by boat along the submerged valleys surrounded by towering limestone peaks. Then, from boat to bicycle, you’ll tour Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s capital back in the 10th century. Don’t worry – the cycling is flat, easy, and slow paced – but if you’re still not convinced it’s for you, we’ve arranged a vehicle backup too.

After a local restaurant lunch, Mua Cave is on the agenda. However, if you’re not fussed about taking the 500 stairs to the top of the mountain for ooh-and-ahh making views, you can choose to pop back to the resort and enjoy its tranquillity. You’ll all catch up again when the group heads out to a local restaurant for dinner.

Day 5.5 – Overnight Train to Dong Hoi

We’ve arranged an evening checkout, then it’s All Aboard your first ride on Vietnam’s Reunification Express. The train is scheduled to depart Ninh Binh Railway Station at 9:44pm. Yep – your first long-haul train ride is a sleeper! They’re 4-berthed shared compartments with toilets at the end of the carriage. Now, can you see why we kept you so busy today? You’ll sleep well tonight!

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6 – Phong Nha

The train should pull into Dong Hoi Station around 6am and your room will already be prepared for you at the Lake House. Take a rest, and breakfast at your leisure, before regrouping later to visit Phong Nha Cave. As the riverboat chugs along the Son River, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped back in time. This prehistoric-like landscape is backdrop-perfection to riverside villages barely changed in centuries. And the sound of children playing on the riverbank will joyfully echo in your memory long after you’re back at home. 

The entrance to the cave is literally a hole at the base of a towering limestone cliff and your boat will glide right on through. The underground river system stretches for kilometres, but your boat will moor, so you can tread the boardwalk to be closer to the ancient stalactite and rock formations.

Accommodation: Phong Nha Lake House, Villa Room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 7 – Hue

Today’s trip is just three-hours by train on what’s called a soft-seat to Hue. These trains aren’t known for their punctuality, and there’s nothing further planned today except check-in and, of course, dinner – so why not say hi to some local fellow travellers and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Did somebody mention dinner?

Vietnamese food is to Hue, like Pizza is to Naples – it’s the traditional home of much of Vietnam’s deliciousness. So tonight, we’ve planned our favourite food tour of all! Strap on your helmets ladies and hang onto your female scooter. She’ll expertly manoeuvre you both along Hue’s tiny alleyways to the best street-food venues in town. What fun! And your tastebuds will do a merry dance trying treats like Hue’s crispy savoury pancakes. 

Accommodation: Hue Riverside Boutique Resort, Deluxe Room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast box 

Day 8 – Hue

Come out today to see Hue through the eyes of a local. Your neighbourhood guide will share childhood stories about life during the war and intimate family history as you’re led down side-streets abuzz with local life. Then travel by boat to a riverside village whose families have created bronze pieces since the 1500s.

Why stay overnight in the city when there’s a beautiful hotel within clear sight of the Perfume River in a nearby village? Thuy Bieu is a local delight and while some tourists visit it for a glimpse of village life during the day, it’s home for you and just a few others in the evenings. So, be sure to wander the tree-lined paths to the sounds of chattering children as families settle in for the evening. Dinner is at your leisure.

Accommodation: Hue Riverside Boutique Resort, Deluxe Room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 9 – Hoi An

The train leaves for Da Nang at 9am. The soft-seat trip should only take around 2 ½ hours, but gazing out the window as the train crawls along Hai Van Pass – coastline drama to your left, mountains to your right – you’ll be hoping that time slows. Not surprisingly, this part of the journey features regularly in those ‘10 best’ travel lists we all read. Train trip finished, Hoi An is a 45-minute road transfer from Da Nang Station.

Hoi An. Yes, it’s a tourist hotspot. It’s also a must-see, so we’ve made sure your experience is not a generic one. But first, you need to see what everyone else comes for, and on this afternoon’s walking tour of the old town, you’ll discover why its UNESCO Heritage status is well deserved.

Tonight, pop on some lippy and enjoy a special buffet dinner, right at your resort.

Seasonal notes for our December Patchies:

See in the New Year! Today is officially known as International (or Western) New Year, as the Vietnamese follow the lunar calendar and will celebrate (again!) on 9 February 2024– the Year of the Dragon. And if staying awake for the stroke of midnight isn’t your cup of tea, how comforting to know your room’s just around the corner! 

Accommodation: Vin Hung Riverside Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast

Day 10 – Hoi An

By now your love for Vietnamese food will be an obsession and today you can nurture that along even more! The group will head out on bicycles to follow a food trail – from farm to plate. (Again, it’s an easy ride, but you’re welcome to travel by car.) You’ll meet friendly market stallholders selling local ingredients and farmers who grow them just nearby. At the end, you’ll connect with your chef, learn about cooking, and get to share the spoils over lunch. No previous cooking experience required!

The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Spend it in your splendid accommodation or wander through the old town. It’s user-friendly – there’s even an Irish Pub if you’re feeling like a change of pace!

Accommodation: Vin Hung Riverside Resort (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 11 – Quy Nhon Beach

Today you’ll trade the train for a private road transfer. It’s around a 5-hour drive to Quy Nhon, and it will be broken up by a surprise stop or two along the way! 

Today’s journey ends at the up-and-coming resort town of Quy Nhon. If you’re not already feeling the most relaxed you’ve ever felt, then the views of the private beach from your studio’s balcony is surely going to take you to that zen-zone!

Accommodation: Avani Quy Nhon resort, Avani Deluxe Studio Room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 – Quy Nhon

Fancy a lie-in today? Your deluxe studio is just divine and you’re welcome to savour it for a while. In the afternoon the group will meet up for a tour around the district. Ancient buildings are scattered around the landscape and they’re known as Cham Towers. Built at least 1,000 years ago, some are still visited for worshipping today.

Wrap up the day with dinner at a local restaurant. The seafood is so fresh here!

Accommodation: Avani Quy Nhon resort, Avani Deluxe Studio Room (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

You’re out the door after breakfast to catch your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. After the laidback countryside, you’ll instantly feel the big-city energy of Ho Chi Minh this afternoon. It’s the business heart that drives the nation, but it has its traditional neighbourhoods too, if you know where to look. Check into your hotel and head out to explore with your guide. 

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 – Cu Chi Tunnels

We’ve all heard about the tunnels built by Vietnamese guerrillas during Vietnam’s wars for Independence and Reunification, but to see them first-hand will take your appreciation for their ingenuity to a different level – especially when you see the smokeless kitchen, designed by an army chef back in 1951. Spending a little time underground in the tunnels will give you more insight into wartime survival in Vietnam.

After lunch, the group will head back to Ho Chi Minh and the rest of the afternoon is for your choosing. If you’re up for it,  why not watch the sunset over the city, cocktail in hand? Your hotel’s rooftop bar is the perfect place for that!  

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 15 – The Mekong Delta

The saddest part of today is when you wake up and realise that you have just one full day remaining. But that one day will be lived to the fullest!

The tentacles of the Mekong’s River Delta reach all the way to the city and you’ll travel along one into the heart of the Delta today. Your boat chugs along while daily life in the south unfolds before you – like a movie with an artistically-perfected film set. As your boat draws into the bank along the way, and later when you travel by bicycle or rickshaw, you too will find yourself in that movie scene – meeting with workers and farmers who openly share with you about their lives. The adventure then finishes by row boat along a palm-lined canal – a most quintessential jungle experience to reach your lunch spot! 

There’s enough time this afternoon for packing your case and preparing for dinner. And what a farewell it will be – as dear friends, you’re on the back of motorbikes once more, and exploring Ho Chi Minh’s food scene and nightlife just like the locals. The city’s street BBQs are some of the best!

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 16 – Farewell Friends

Swap numbers and emails at breakfast, for it’s time to farewell friends. Your airport transfer is included, and your driver will pick you up 3 hours before your flight departure. Hotel checkout is at noon.

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map
The Essential Info

FITNESS LEVELS

Level 1 or Easy

So long as you have a general level of health and fitness, you’ll be fine. There are short times where specific exercise is planned for this trip, but alternatives are provided. There will be days where you’ll be walking and spending a lot of time on your feet. Daily activities may include city walks and getting on and off various forms of transport.

All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it but it will be impossible to enjoy your trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour for a full afternoon. Unfortunately this tour cannot accommodate people requiring walking aids.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on these trips is based on the following exchange rates:

23 December 2023 departure: 1 AUD:0.69 USD

1 March 2024 departure: 1 AUD:0.64 USD

A deposit of $1,750 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:

Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

Overnight train

On the overnight train, you’ll be allocated a soft sleeper bunk. Each compartment has 4 berths: 2 lower and 2 upper bunks. The compartments are airconditioned and open off a side corridor. They can be securely locked from the inside. You’ll be supplied with a pillow, sheet and duvet. You may keep all your bags with you, and the luggage space is beneath the bottom bunks. Shared toilets (including a sit-down style toilet) are located at the end of each carriage.

Day train

Stations have ‘train hosts’ who take responsibility for the luggage on your arrival at the station and stow the luggage onboard a luggage carriage when the train arrives. There is space for carry-on luggage above and below the seats in the carriage. It’s not a dissimilar situation to luggage when you’re travelling by plane.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf.

For your Vietnam adventure, we ask your contribution be: 3,250,000 VND (equivalent to $210 AUD) to your guide on Day 1. The kitty will be managed by your guide and distributed along the way at restaurants for included meals, hotel staff, drivers, train station porterage and services.

What is not covered is a customary tip at the end of the trip for your guide. If they’ve ensured that your trip is memorable, we recommend the following guidelines:

1,800,000 VND to 2,500,000 VND per person at the end of the trip ($120 – $160 AUD equivalent).

(Exchange Rate used – $1AUD : 15,562 Vietnamese Dong)

YES! We can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets no problems, or any variation of the above. Just let us know in advance. Note: this food is often very simple and may get repetitive.

Australians and New Zealanders require a tourist e-Visa to enter Vietnam, which will cost $25 to $50 USD. When the time comes apply, we’ll assist with all the info you need.

Airfares are not included. Being tour operators (not travel agents), we are not licensed to sell flights. We recommend contacting your trusted local travel agent to book flights, if you’re in need of assistance.

10kg hand luggage and 23kg checked luggage.

Solo travellers will be matched with a room-mate. Of course, if you prefer to have your own space, you can reserve the private room supplement.
Please contact us for more information on single supplements.

Airport transfers are included. You can plan to arrive at any time, but we recommend arriving in the morning to give yourself time to settle in.

Level 1 or Easy

So long as you have a general level of health and fitness, you’ll be fine. There are short times where specific exercise is planned for this trip, but alternatives are provided. There will be days where you’ll be walking and spending a lot of time on your feet. Daily activities may include city walks and getting on and off various forms of transport.

All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it but it will be impossible to enjoy your trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour for a full afternoon. Unfortunately this tour cannot accommodate people requiring walking aids.

In the unlikely event of a health or security related incident during a trip, we’ve engaged a local partner to assist. From our experience, there is not one framework that fits all, and every incident is unique and requires a different approach. With all trips, your guides are your day-to-day support. While behind the scenes, there is an active line of communication – between your guide, the on-ground support team, and Australian Ops.

Have more burning questions?

Check Out Our Other Trips!