15 days from £1,479
Bucket-list moments and hidden gems in one of Asia's most iconic destinations.
Embrace the extraordinary on this offbeat group adventure. We put a unique spin on Vietnam’s biggest attractions, arriving in historic Hoi An by kayak, hitting the Hai Van Pass in an open-top army jeep, and cruising Bai Tu Long Bay (Ha Long’s equally beautiful, but totally unspoilt sister) in a traditional wooden boat. We’ll take you off far off the beaten track as well, to parts of the country where few tourists tread. Explore remote, ethnic villages in the Sa Pa valley, spend the night in a homestay with the Black Hmong people, go bamboo rafting in the wilderness, and swim in secret waterfalls, deep in the Pu Luong Forest. Perfect for intrepid travellers, looking for authentic experiences, untouched landscapes, and something a bit different. This is the real Vietnam.
Day 1: Hello HCMC
Fly into Ho Chi Minh City. One of our team will meet you from the airport and whisk you through the lively streets to our starting hotel. Relax by the rooftop pool before meeting the rest of the group over a mouth-watering welcome dinner.
Day 2: Da Cao & City Tour
This morning, have a go at the national Vietnamese sport, da cao, or 'foot badminton', with the help of a local team. Then take a walking tour of the city's bustling markets, historical landmarks, and leafy green spaces before an overnight train to Da Nang.
Day 3: Kayak to Hoi An
Head to the banks of the Thu Bon River this morning, before kayaking through farmland and palm groves to the ancient town of Hoi An. Take a dip in the hotel pool or explore the incense-scented, ochre streets. This evening, take a tour of the charming, lantern-lit town with your guide.
Day 4: Bikes & Eco Bricks
Spend the morning cycling through the tranquil rural area around Hoi An. Stop at a riverbank to enjoy a cooling sugarcane juice and collect plastic pollution to take to a local environmental project. Make your own eco-bricks with the rubbish you've collected at the project before a free afternoon.
Day 5: Hai Van Pass
Travel one of the most iconic stretches of highway in the world, the Hai Van Pass, in an open top army jeep today. Feel the warm sea breeze in your hair take in misty mountain views and check out some beautiful French colonial buildings before arriving in the former imperial capital of Hue.
Day 6: Hue Imperial City
Explore Hue's Imperial City this morning. With a majestic moat, ornate gates, and atmospheric, crumbling temples it's a total Vietnam must do. Then visit a local garden house on the banks of the Perfume River for an authentic Vietnamese cooking class, before taking the night train to Ninh Binh.
Day 7: Pu Luong Homestay
Discover Ninh Binh's emerald rice paddies, and soaring karst mountains this morning before hopping on a bus to Pu Luong National Park. Spend the night in a homestay in the tiny ethnic village of Ban Hieu, where you'll share dinner with your host family, and learn all about their traditional way of life.
Day 8: Rafting & Waterfalls
Enjoy breakfast with gorgeous valley views, before a short trek to a bamboo lake house. Try bamboo rafting and swim in the sparkling water before a picnic lunch served by a local family. Then take the secret route to a waterfall, hidden deep in the forest before heading back to your homestay.
Day 9: Hanoi City Tour
Say goodbye to your host family and travel to Hanoi. Take a guided tour of the city highlights, from its colonial buildings to the Old Quarter's buzzing 36 Streets, before heading out for dinner. Our recommendation? Hanoi speciality bun cha (noodle-grilled pork) washed down with a cold bia hoi.
Day 10: Ha Long Bay Cruise
Board our traditional boat and cruise the tranquil waters of Ha Long Bay. We're veering off the tourist trail towards Bai Tu Long, which is just as beautiful as Ha Long, but totally untouched. Kayak round Cap La Island's floating villages, and Cong Do's secret beaches, before a starlit dinner on deck.
Day 11: Thien Cave & Hanoi
Start your day the zen way with some Tai Chi on the sundeck, before checking out Thien Canh Son, a fairyland network of limestone caves. Join a lesson in Vietnamese fruit and vegetable carving on the way back to the mainland. This evening, take a guided foodie tour of Hanoi's best eateries.
Day 12: Night Train to Sa Pa
Spend the day exploring Hanoi at your own pace. Stroll round Hoan Kiem Lake, pick up some artisan handicrafts in the Old Quarter, watch a water puppet show, or just sit in a café sipping Vietnamese coffee and watching the world go by. This evening, hop on another sleeper train to Lao Cai.
Day 13: Ta Van Homestay
Hike through spectacular scenery into a nearby valley, inhabited by ethnic hill tribes. Meet the Black Hmong people at Lao Chai village and learn about their handicrafts and traditional way of life. Then enjoy a riverside picnic before an unforgettable homestay in Ta Van village.
Day 14: Red Dao Trek
Say goodbye to your homestay hosts and trek to Giang Ta Chai village where we'll meet the Red Dao people. Known for their colourful clothing, shaved eyebrows, and traditional lifestyle, meeting the Red Dao is a fascinating cultural experience. Tonight, board the sleeper train to Hanoi, our last stop
Day 15: Hanoi & Home
Roll into Vietnam's historic capital around 6am, before saying your goodbyes and heading home, or staying on to explore the hubbub of the city on your own steam. See you next time!
Accommodation & Meals
You’ll get to stay in a real mix of places on this trip, from stylish hotels with rooftop infinity pools, to rustic family homestays in remote locations. You’ll also spend four nights on sleeper trains – an experience in itself. Our accommodation is chosen with location, authenticity, and comfort in mind, so you can get a real taste of local life, while experiencing the best of our amazing destinations. All accommodation is on a twin or double share basis, apart from overnight trains and homestays.
Lots of our travellers are solo travellers, so when you book with us, we’ll pair you up with a like-minded roommate of the same sex. Our trips are great for couples or friends as well - just let us know you’re together, so we can be sure to put you in the same room.
- Ho Chi Minh City (1 night): City centre hotel with rooftop infinity pool, fitness centre, spa, and one of the best hotel restaurants in the city.
- Overnight train (4 nights): Sleeper trains from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang, Hue to Ninh Binh, Hanoi to Lao Cai, and Lao Cai to Hanoi (multi-share cabins).
- Hoi An (2 nights): Leafy hotel in the heart of the Old Town with outdoor swimming pool, restaurant bar, garden cafe, tennis courts, badminton courts, gym, and spa.
- Hue (1 night): Airy, modern hotel just a just a few minutes’ walk from the Huong River, with restaurant, bar, and lounge.
- Pu Luong Park (2 nights): Homestay with a local family in Ban Hieu, with views of rice paddies and mountains (multi-share rooms).
- Hanoi (2 nights): Elegant hotel just a short stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake, with restaurant and sky bar.
- Ha Long Bay (1 night): Overnight cruise on a traditional wooden boat.
- Sa Pa (1 night): Cosy, family homestay with stunning mountain and lake views (multi-share rooms).
The above information is only intended to be used as a guide, giving you a flavour of some of our accommodation providers, and the style of accommodation you may be staying in. Please note that all nights are subject to change.
12 breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 6 dinners are included on this trip. You’ll have the freedom to eat wherever and whenever you like the rest of the time.
The food in Vietnam is among the most delicious in Asia, with everything from French influenced banh mi (baguette sandwiches filled with meat or tofu and lots of fresh herbs), to bun cha (barbecued pork on a bed of cold rice noodles with greens and broth) and the mighty pho (light beef or chicken broth with noodles and slivers of meat or tofu). It’s easy to eat cheaply and well in Vietnam, with street food being a particular highlight.
Real Travelling reviews & media
Sharlene G review
The Real Travelling team have been absolutely fantastic in helping me get my trip booked - from assuaging fears about being a solo traveller to finding the best deals for me, the team have been...Read more.
Easy to do
Agne S review
Good prices, easy to book, helpful advisors.
Alycia R review
The booking process was incredibly smooth. Everything was so clear on the screen. I knew what all of my booking options were without having to search for them. I knew exactly how much my trip will...Read more.
Millie F review
Katie L review
Excellent fast service
Jake H review
Easy to book but needs to be clear that passport details will be needed as I’ve booked but still waiting for passport to arrive so can’t enter details for a while
Dates & Prices
To get a flight quote use the buttons below or call our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037.
Most expensive: £1,150 December, 2023
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, where you’ll be met by a member of the team and transferred to our accommodation in the centre of the city. There are no activities planned today so arrive at a time that suits you.
The trip ends on day 15 in Hanoi. We’ll arrive back in the city around 6am. Return airport transfers aren’t included but your tour guide can help with this.
Maximum group size on this tour is 22, but group sizes can vary.
This trip is designed for travellers between the ages of 18 and 39. No special level of fitness is required to take part, but there are some physical activities included, such as mountain trekking, and da cao (Vietnamese foot badminton). We get off the beaten track and stay in rural, ethnic communities with this one, so an adventurous spirit is a must.