$4737 AUD per person twin share
$1053 AUD Single supplement
February and July departures:
$5417 AUD per person twin share
$1053 AUD Single supplement
**These two departures are 1 day longer in duration and include an overnight in Hang En Cave
- Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City tour
- Day 3 - Ho Chi Minh – Hoi An
- Day 4 - Hoi An
- Day 5 - Bach Ma National Park
- Day 6 - Hue
- Day 7 - Phong Nha – Ke Bang NP
- Day 8 - Phong Nha – Ke Bang NP
- Day 9 - Hanoi
- Day 10 - Ba Be
- Day 11 - Trekking in Ba Be National Park
- Day 12 - Hanoi
- Day 13 - Halong Bay
- Day 14 - Halong Bay to Hanoi
- Day 15 - Departure
- Return airport transfers
- 14 nights accommodation
- 14 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
- Air conditioned transportation with English speaking local guides
- Sightseeing as per the itinerary
- Entrance fee to all attractions as per itinerary
- Domestic airfares Ho Chi Minh to Danang, Dong Hoi to Hanoi
February and July departures include an overnight in Hang En Cave, we also provide:
- Camping gear: tent, camp light, sleeping bag
- Caving & safety gear: caving helmet, caving headlight, gloves
- Dry bag (for clothing and personal belongings excl. electronics)
- Basic canvas trekking boots (only if you do not have your own pair) sizes 36 –46
- Meals: picnic lunches, breakfast (day 9), dinner (day 8)
- Professional English – speaking tour guide and guide safety assistant
- Porter team to carry all camping gear and prepare all meals
- Shared dry box for phones and small cameras (limited availability for larger cameras)
- Water purifier and water bottle
- Basic camping facilities with eco – friendly compost toilet using western toilet seat
- First Aid Kit and Medical Rescue Equipment
- Secure Storage Facility at our headquarters to store all luggage you will not be taking on the trek.
- International flights
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
Blessed with a ravishing coastline, emerald-green mountains, breathtaking national parks, dynamic cities, outstanding cultural interest and one of the world's best cuisines, Vietnam has it all. This is an outrageously fun country to explore, the locals love a laugh (and a drink) and you'll have plenty of opportunities to socialise with them and hear their tales. The American War is over, and yet its impact endures - you'll find reminders of that cataclysmic conflict everywhere you travel. That said, the country was never broken and emerged with its pride intact. Poor in parts but never squalid, Vietnam is developing at an astonishing pace. On this journey you will hike through lush jungles and stay in local homes. Support numerous local projects from a blind massage school to restaurants run by converted street kids. Chat with monks and venture into the planets largest cave. Your Vietnamese adventure with Crooked Compass is sure to be wonderfully rewarding as you explore an incredibly varied country.
Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam’s largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at Cuc Gach restaurant. Overnight at Ma Maison Hotel or similar. (D)
Responsible travel notes: We commence this trip with a briefing on Responsible Travel, saying no to plastic, minimise water bottles, etc. We want our travellers to ‘leave nothing behind but their footprints’ and to take with them incredible memories.
Day 2 - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City tour
This morning, you will visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate close to the Southern Vietnamese capital. The location proved of significant strategic importance, at the end of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail and within striking distance of the southern Vietnam capital.
The initial construction began in 1948 when the Viet Minh required somewhere to hide from French air attacks. By 1965, the tunnel complex was estimated to consist of 200km’s of tunnels, including hospitals, schools, meeting rooms, kitchens and sleeping quarters. Life was difficult for the inhabitants and to protect against outside intruders, traps were laid throughout the complex. Today the Vietnamese government have preserved approximately 75km of the tunnels as a memorial park. Your local guide will take you on a fascinating trip around the Cu Chi Tunnels where you will learn more about the conditions the people lived in, the hardships they faced and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels. Walk past huge bomb craters, evidence of the heavy bombing campaigns in the region during the Indochina conflict, discover hidden entrances right beneath your feet, wander past tiny little chimneys in the ground that dispersed smoke from the underground kitchens, sample some of the simple cuisine that local fighters would have survived on and have an opportunity to venture into the tunnels and explore the complex.
This afternoon, return to Ho Chi Minh and enjoy exploring the city. Experience the hustle and bustle of former Saigon and explore some of the city’s more interesting sights such as the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace. Overnight at Ma Maison Hotel or similar. (B,L)
Day 3 - Ho Chi Minh – Hoi An
Say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City as you fly to Danang. From here you’ll make your way to My Khe Beach, a beautiful spot which lies against a backdrop of Marble Mountains. This location was significant for both the Americans and the Vietnamese during the war. After a sightseeing tour of the Marble Mountains, continue to Hoi An.
Upon arrival in Hoi An, your guide will take you on a walk around Hoi An’s Old Town. Hoi An is full of yesteryear charm and there are no vehicles in the old town. The city was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and has various architectural influences from Europe, China and Vietnam. Today the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago. You will have the opportunity to visit a historic house, the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. Overnight Boutique Hoi An Resort or similar. (B)
Day 4 - Hoi An
Today is yours at leisure. Wander through the streets and explore the markets. Sample some great food at the many cafes and restaurants. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors, who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours, so why not take the opportunity to have an outfit made especially for you! If you are interested in learning about, and how to prepare Vietnamese cuisine, we can also organise a cooking class. Overnight Boutique Hoi An Resort or similar. (B)
Day 5 - Bach Ma National Park
Leaving quaint Hoi An, transfer to Bach Ma National Park. Bach Ma National Park is an old French Hill station stretching out over some 40,000 unspoilt hectares and offering great hiking trails, waterfalls and plenty of wildlife. It’s home to some of the most stunning stretches of jungle walks and mountain ranges in central Vietnam. On arrival at Bach Ma National Park Centre, enjoy a 12km walk through beautiful flower gardens and out into the forest. As you reach the Five Lakes, enjoy a refreshing dip and relax over a picnic lunch.
After lunch, continue trekking to Do Quyen waterfall. At approx. 300m in height, take in the spectacular view over the forest as you watch the water fall to the rocks below. Making your way back along the trail, the rest of the day is free for you to further explore Bach Ma National Park. Overnight at Do Quyen villa or similar. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - Hue
This morning after breakfast transfer to the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue. There will be a chance to stretch your legs along the way as you visit the island-like, palm-shaded white sand of Lang Co beach, which has a turquoise lagoon on one side and 10km of beautiful beachfront on the other. Continue on to Hue, which holds the treasures of Vietnam’s royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
Start your Hue city tour with a visit to the Imperial Citadel, including entry into the Forbidden Purple City, which was almost totally destroyed during the American War’s Tet Offensive. The foliage-covered ruins and holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. You will also visit the museum of Royal Relics, where royal robes, furniture, ceramics and weaponry offer an interesting insight into the life of Vietnam’s former rulers.
Lunch today is a traditional vegetarian style meal in a local pagoda, where you will have a chance to chat with monks and learn about Buddhism, gaining an insight into their daily lives.
After lunch, continue with a boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. Considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue, this active Buddhist monastery has origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Overnight at Saigon Morin Hotel or similar. (B,L)
Day 7 - Phong Nha – Ke Bang NP
An early morning departure today as you head to Dong Ha City. Here you can take a walk on Hien Luong Bridge across the Ben Hai River, the river that was the only true physical demarcation line between the two Vietnam’s. Continue on to visit to the Vinh Moc Tunnels. These were used during the Vietnam War as shelter for the villagers who were escaping intense bombing. The locals lived in the underground system that spanned over three levels. You’ll be able to enter the tunnels which remain in their original form.
This afternoon continue on to your base for the night, a picturesque village outside the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Overnight Chay Lap Farmstay or similar. (B,D)
Day 8 - Phong Nha – Ke Bang NP
Today visit the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage site, with its karst mountains, underground rivers, historic sites, extensive caves and unspoilt jungle, it is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular and interesting regions. Containing the oldest known karst mountains in Asia, you will visit the Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave), then take a cruise up the Son River towards the Phong Nha Cave. The scale of the place is truly astounding.
In the late afternoon, take a leisurely cycle through the nearby farming fields and along the Son River. Overnight Chay Lap Farmstayor similar. (B)
February & July departures:
Start your ultimate adventure today as you are picked up and transferred before learning all about safety and collect your gear for the adventure that awaits you before driving 45mins through the National Park to reach the trailhead.
A steep jungle hill starts off the journey, with a refreshing river at the bottom. Hike through rich jungle to reach the Ban Doong minority village, where a hot cup of tea welcomes you.
Lunch takes place shortly after near the river, and then it’s back into the jungle, through river streams, and across the river valley until Hang En emerges on the horizon. You will enter the cave around 3 pm, and enjoy your afternoon swimming, before a sizzling grilled dinner is served, complete with rice wine and beautiful flocks of swifts overhead. (B,D)
Overnight camping in Hang En Cave
Day 9 – Hang En – Ban Doong Village – Phong Nha (July & Feb Departures only)
Awake for breakfast early and explore the breathtaking exit of the vast cave before trekking through the dry passage to a viewpoint high above camp. Here you will see 300 million year old fossils.
Later this morning, continue your trek back through the mountainous river valley, through jungle and across streams, until you reach Doong Village again.
Enjoy a picnic lunch by the stream and then prepare for the biggest challenge ahead – climbing the treacherous hill up to the Ho Chi Minh Road. Overnight Chay Lap Farmstay or similar. (B,L)
Day 9 - Hanoi
This morning, take a short morning flight from Dong Hoi to Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930’s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets on its still surface.
Enjoy lunch today at the KOTO restaurant, an establishment which lives by the philosophy of ‘Know One, Teach One’. It supports the underprivileged local youth by giving them a chance at making a career in hospitality.
Responsible travel notes: KOTO is a social enterprise created to provide hospitality training to street children. The trainees have gone on to become successful chefs and hotel managers at 5 star hotels around the world.
This afternoon, take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laid-back, tree-lined capital. You’ll visit major sights including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh stilt house.
This evening, your guide will take you on a street food tasting adventure! Start your evening at the city’s largest covered market, Dong Xuan. Along the perimeter of the market, dozens of street hawkers sell a staggering variety of produce from live seafood to exotic fruits and spices.
Your expert guide will give you an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes. You eat as you go, trying seasonal fruits and sampling a tasty French-inspired snack from a street cart.
Walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, tempt your tastebuds with the famed Hanoi dish Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago.
Your next two snack stops are at outdoor barbeque stalls. Sit down with the locals and sample various meat, vegetable, and bread specialties that are flame grilled over hot coals for extra flavour.
Now, it’s time for dessert as you venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced and condensed milk – this speciality is one not to be missed!
Finish your evening at one of Hanoi’s best kept secrets, a hidden café with stunning views over the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. This café is one of the few left in the city that still serves egg coffee, a unique local delicacy that you can sample whilst admiring the hustle and bustle of the city centre below. Or, if coffee is not your style, a cold beer awaits!
Overnight Hanoi Pearl Hotel or similar. (B,L)
Day 10 - Ba Be
After an early breakfast, transfer to Ba Be Lake. The drive to Ba Be takes around 4-5 hours, stopping for lunch along the way. Pass through the beautiful mountainous province of Thai Nguyen and view superb landscapes of terraced rice fields and rivers.
Upon arrival at Ba Be Lake, board a boat that will take you around the largest natural lake in Vietnam, surrounded by limestone bluffs and mountains. Disembark and visit waterfalls whilst observing the natural flora and fauna. This evening head to a local home and meet your hosts. Enjoy a traditional dinner and spend the night. Overnight at Mr Linh’s Homestay or similar. (B,L,D)
Day 11 - Trekking in Ba Be National Park
After breakfast at the homestay, set off for a full day of trekking into the Ba Be forest. Trek alongside a slow flowing river, gaze in awe at the dramatic mountains and valleys and natural caves. The national park is also home to countless numbers of flora and fauna so you can enjoy bird and butterfly spotting along the way. Overnight at Mr Linh’s Homestay or similar. (B,L,D)
Day 12 - Hanoi
This morning bid farewell to your hosts after breakfast and transfer back to Hanoi (approx 4-5hrs). This afternoon, visit the home of the most famous and experienced water puppet artisan. Transforming his house into a mini theatre, he has devoted more than 20 years of his life to this unique traditional art form.
You will have the opportunity to watch fascinating water puppet plays telling both ancient and modern stories of traditions and normal daily life. When the show ends, it’s your turn to roll up your sleeves and try!
From here, transfer to Omamori Spa for a one hour massage.
Responsible travel notes: Omamori Spa (blind massage) is a social enterprise that provides a safe and dignified work environment.
Overnight at Hanoi Pearl Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 13 - Halong Bay
Enjoy breakfast this morning hosted by the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, and learn about the work of this organisation, which supports over 1,500 of the most vulnerable children throughout Vietnam every year. Following breakfast, depart for Halong Bay (approx. 4-5hrs), one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonders. Once you arrive at the bay, you’ll take a long and luxurious cruise through the area, exploring the beautiful green waters and amazing limestone caves. You will also get a glimpse into the quieter Bai Tu Long Bay. Weather permitting, you can also go for a swim. Enjoy delicious seafood and spend the night onboad.
Responsible travel notes: Blue Dragon’s primary aim is to rescue children in distress, trafficked children and street kids from danger, reunite them with their families when possible, and provide all the services needed for recovery and growth.
Overnight on Oriental Sails or similar. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - Halong Bay to Hanoi
This morning your boat continues to cruise along the majestic peaks before it is time to transfer back to Hanoi. You have some free time this afternoon and you may like to visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.
This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner of more elegant versions of traditional Hanoi street food at Madam Hien. Housed in a restored 19th-century villa, Madame Hien is a tribute to French chef Didier Corlu’s Vietnamese grandmother. Overnight at Hanoi Pearl Hotel or similar. (B,D)
Day 15 - Departure
Today is yours at leisure to enjoy a relaxed breakfast and then some free time until your transfer to the airport for your onward departure. (B)