VIETNAM - NORTH TO SOUTH ADVENTURE
21 days, from £1,700 per person, based on a family of 4 sharing.
Plus international flights, from £600 per adult.
Recommended for travel between March - June and September - October.
Travel Style: Self-Guided.
This three-week escapade takes you from Vietnam's ethereal North, through the charming cultural centre, to the sprawling tropical Southern shores. If you have the time, this really is the best way to experience all that Vietnam has to offer. From rural homestays, city rickshaws and underground rivers; to artisan workshops, cooking classes and island beaches, every member of your Tribe is guaranteed an action-packed family adventure.
Watch a water puppet show in Hanoi or Ha Long's old town.
Stay overnight on a Chinese junk boat in Bai Tu Long Bay.
Experience traditional village life at a rural homestay.
Explore caves and hidden temples on a river boat adventure around Tam Coc.
Enjoy a lantern making workshop run by talented locals.
Fish, bee-keep and bird watch in the heart of the Mekong delta
Unwind on the tropical paradise of Phu Quoc island
THE BORING (BUT NECESSARY) BITS
Average flight time from UK: 15 hours
Total drive time: 24 hours
Longest drive: 4 hours
Visa required (UK passport) for stays of 15+ days
Low to no risk of malaria
Day 1 – 3 Hanoi
Your adventure begins in Vietnam’s chaotic capital, Hanoi. Whilst the streets are abuzz with scooters and the constant din of blaring horns, the city exudes a rich and fascinating history following years of French and Chinese occupation. Children will be mesmerised by the colour and chaos of daily life. Stroll through charming colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and traditional Chinese shop houses in the Old Quarter, where streets are named after their original enterprises (cotton, jewellery, herbs, silk etc). Hop on a guided cyclo/rickshaw tour and take in some of Hanoi’s most child-friendly attractions including Lenin Park’s play grounds, the interactive Museum of Ethnology and the excellent Botanical Gardens, all of which will keep adventurers of all ages engaged. Throw in some unique and delicious foods and excellent shopping opportunities and you have the perfect starting point for your Vietnamese adventure.
Day 3 – 5 Ha Long Bay
A 4-hour drive east takes you to World Heritage listed Ha Long Bay. Towering limestone columns, adorned with bright green forests, rise from the emerald waters of the South China Sea. This gathering of islands is breathtakingly beautiful and unsurprisingly one of Northern Vietnams busiest tourist stops.
You’ll therefore head slightly north, to the lesser seen but equally ethereal Bai Tu Long Bay. A traditional Chinese Junk Boat is home for the next two nights, as you sail around the towering karsts, sandy beaches and hidden bays of the Cong Dam area. Kids can jump straight off your floating house to go swimming, kayaking and snorkelling in the clear waters, while parents can enjoy an early Tai Chi class on deck, as the morning sunlight reveals your spectacular surroundings. You’ll also stop at floating villages to mingle with the ever-welcoming locals and watch a traditional water-puppet show on the outskirts of Ha Long-a truly unique experience.
Day 5 – 7 Hanoi Homestay
Head back to the rural outskirts of Hanoi next, where your Tribe can enjoy an authentic Vietnamese homestay in the tiny village of Son Tay. A choice of three traditional ancient houses awaits, some built on stilts, with dragon-scale roof tiles and circular windows symbolising the conception of Yin and Yang. Outside there’s a large garden with fruit trees and traditional wooden carvings with plenty of space for kids to play.
You’ll experience traditional village life from fishing to helping farm the fields; picking fruit and vegetables to taking part in Yinjinjing – an exercise routine carried out every morning to increase physical health and prosperity. Adventurers will love visiting the local village market and taking part in a family cooking class to turn the wonderful fresh produce into delicious local delicacies.
Day 7 – 9 Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Continue west toward the Laos border until you reach the Pu Luong Nature Reserve, home for the next few days. You’ll stay in a mountain-side bungalow, set amongst lush rice paddies and surrounded by remote villages, mountain passes, meandering rivers and waterfalls.
Your accommodation is naturally crafted from local material and designed to both reflect and protect the natural environment. Trek stunning mountain trails, experience bamboo rafting and kayaking, mountain bike through steep rice paddies and swim in natural pools at the foot of waterfalls. Then retreat to your accommodation’s infinity pool, spa and rock garden for a bit of rest and relaxation.
Day 9 – 11: Tam Coc and Trang An (Ninh Binh)
Continue southbound to Vietnam’s Ninh Binh province, home to a spectacular river delta that your Tribe will spend the next few days exploring. Hop in a small wooden boat and row down one of hundreds of interconnecting tributaries that slice through rice paddies and around towering emerald green karsts. An underground labyrinth of narrow caves and channels have been carved in the limestone crags at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Trang An. The kids will love squeezing through rocky outcrops and ducking under stalactites as you explore the weaving waterways. Giant riverside Pagodas and ancient temples suddenly appear carved out of the rock face, while brightly coloured kingfishers swoop down for a drink and mountain goats watch-on from the cliff-tops.
Spend the following day at the nearby Cuc Phuong National Park. Vietnams first national park is home to an excellent primate rescue centre, one of the few animal activities available in the country, and kids will love the opportunity to see an array of unusual primates including gibbons, langurs and slow lorris. There are also walking trails of varying difficulties that delve into the ancient forest where your Tribe can look out for colourful wild flowers, butterflies and orchids (when in-season).
Day 11 – 15 Hoi An
Bursting with old-world charm and exuding an almost spiritual atmosphere, Hoi An, on Vietnam’s central coast, is one of the country’s most atmospheric and picturesque towns. Kids will love roaming the historic Old Town, ducking under Chinese lanterns strung across wooden-fronted shophouses and picking out delicious snacks from the bamboo baskets of conical-hatted hawkers. Your Tribe can throw pots, float home-made lanterns and design a bespoke outfit, ready to collect from a local tailor the very next day. We also recommend a trip into the charming surrounding countryside, where adventurers can enjoy a child-friendly cooking class and make their very own rice paper, before visiting a river-side market and catching some of fresh fish on a traditional coracle (coconut boat). Hoi An also boats some of Vietnams best mainland beaches close by. These include family friendly Cua Dai and An Bang beaches, the perfect playground for kids to relax and unwind after busy but rewarding days in this wonderful location.
Day 15 – 16 Ho Chi Minh City
Perched on the banks of the Saigon river, Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as it’s still known to its near eight million inhabitants) is a dizzying and chaotic mix of commerce and culture; from the finest restaurants to street-side hawkers and glitzy shopping malls to market scrums. What it lacks in colonial charm it more than makes up for with an energy and excitement that your Tribe can enjoy. We suggest heading to one of the quieter spots, the botanical gardens or Tao Dan park to get away from the crowds and the mopeds and watch as the world whizzes by.
Outside the city, a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels, where Vietnamese troops literally dug themselves away from American soldiers, is both a poignant and exciting experience for adults and kids alike. A small stretch of tunnel has been widened to allow westerners room to squeeze in, but it still provides a very real and claustrophobic account of the life of a Vietnamese resistance fighter.
Day 16 – 18 Mekong Delta
Leave the chaos of the city behind and head south to the Mekong Delta. A vast flatland of criss-crossing rivers and swamps, the delta is home to coconut palms, fruit orchards and groves of sugar cane. The main crop however is rice and it's often referred to as Vietnam’s rice bowl, where iconic conical-hatted farmers tend their land, producing nearly half of the country’s rice crop. Your Tribe will stay on the wonderfully named Unicorn Island, in the main tributary of the Mekong River. Kids can get stuck in with local farmers; helping to keep bees, pick fruit in the orchards and go river-fishing, a real taste of rural Mekong life.
Day 18 – 21: Phu Quoc Island
After an action-packed Vietnamese adventure, it’s time to relax with a little rustic island luxury. Tropical Phu Quoc lies on the south-western tip of Vietnam. Your Tribe will stay in a tiny hamlet of thatched huts spread across wild gardens, gently sloping towards the beach. Rocky outcrops shelter powder white sands and crystal-clear waters backed by tropical jungle. It’s the perfect spot for kids to swim and play and parents to relax and unwind.
Whilst the primary activity is lazing on the beach, cocktail in hand, there is plenty on offer to keep your Tribe entertained. Snorkelling in the warm shallow waters, kayaking around sandy coves and trekking in-land along jungle-clad trails will keep older children active. Younger adventurers will enjoy the delights of the butterfly farm and flower garden, if sand castle building and ankle paddling becomes a bit too much.
On the final day of your itinerary you’ll be transferred to Phu Quoc airport for your flight home.