Along the Ho Chi Minh Trail

Used during the Vietnam War by the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong as a means of evading their enemies, the Ho Chi Minh Trail provides an exciting alternative route to the usual coastal path.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Hanoi (3N) - Halong Bay (1N) - Train to Sapa (1N) - Sapa (2N) - Dien Bien (2N) - Nong Khiew (1N) - Xam Neua (2N) - Phonsavan (2N) - Vinh (1N) - Dong Hoi (2N) - Phong Nha (1N) - Hue (2N) - Hoi An (3N) - New Zealand

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi
Fly with Singapore Airlines to Hanoi for your overnight stay. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. (D) Due to seasonal changes in airlines schedules, passengers may depart one day earlier on an overnight flight.
Days 2-3: Cruise Halong Bay
Drive to Halong Bay and cruise around the spectacular limestone karst formations, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon, take a rowboat to discover some of the bay's many caves and partake in a traditional Vietnamese cooking demonstration back on board. (B,L,D) The next day rise early and practice Tai Chi as the sun rises. Transfer back to Hanoi. (B,D)
Day 4: Discover Hanoi
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Temple of Literature before weaving through a labyrinth of back alleys well off the tourist trail. Later enjoy a traditional Water Puppet show before taking a culinary adventure to sample street food in the Old Quarter. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Hanoi to Sapa
Today tour the Army Museum, Hoa Lo Prison and B52 Victory Museum. Enjoy a talk by a local historian before dinner. Transfer to the railway station for your overnight train to Sapa. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Sapa Minority Villages
Arrive this morning in Sapa. Walk to the busy villages of Cat Cat and Lao Chai, where you can learn the art of batik painting. The beautiful textiles of the Black H'mong are famous around the world. This afternoon head to a local home-stay, where you will spend the night. Watch as the sun sets over the rice terraces and tuck into a delicious H'mong-style dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 7: Sapa
This morning set out along the Muong Hoa Valley towards Ta Van Village. Trek along the high road and take in the superb views. Arrive in the village of the Giay ethnic people. Transfer back to Sapa. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Dien Bien
Drive to Dien Bien and enjoy the photo opportunities of this remote area. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Dien Bien war sites
Visit the war sites of A1 Hill, the French Tunnel and Dien Bien Museum. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Dien Bien to Nong Khiaw
Farewell Vietnam and journey into Laos to Nong Khiaw via Tay Trang for an overnight stay. This town is beautifully rustic and positioned on the banks of the Nam Ou River, surrounded by limestone mountains. (B,L,D)
Days 11-12 Xam Neua
This morning drive to Xam Neua for a two-night stay. Visit the Standing Stones which are presumed to be related to burial rituals. The next day, transfer to Viengxay and explore the headquarters of Communist Pathet Lao, who were forced into the caves during their struggle with the Lao Royal Family in the time of the Vietnam-American War. (B,L,D)
Days 13-14 Phonsavan
Today will involve a full day of driving to Phonsavan, visiting Tam Cave en route (B,L,D) In the morning take a trip to contemplate the mysteries of the Plain of Jars before visiting MAG, an organisation that was created to reduce the number of casualties caused by the unexploded ordinance (UXO) that still lie in much of Laos' land. (B)
Day 15: Phonsavan to Vinh
Today pass through Nong Het border reaching Nam Can border in Vinh, Vietnam. (B,L,D)
Day 16: Vinh to Dong Hoi
Visit the home of Uncle Ho then drive along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Visit Dong Loc site and Truong Son Cemetery and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 17: Phong Nha trekking
In the morning transfer to a trekking point in Phong Nha. Trek the 'Secret Route', a track used by soldiers that was hidden from the Americans. Enjoy a BBQ lunch before trekking back to the start via a different route. (B,L,D)
Day 18: Dong Hoi to Hue
Journey to Hue. Stop en route to visit Vinh Moc Tunnels and Khe Sanh Combat Base. Arrive in Hue in the late afternoon where the remainder of the day is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day 19: Hue
In the morning visit the Imperial Citadel and the Imperial Tombs on the banks of the Perfume River, before taking a boat trip along the river. In the afternoon visit Thien Mu Pagoda. (B,L,D)
Days 20-22: Hoi An
Drive south to Hoi An over the scenic Hai Van Pass. (B,L,D) The next two days are at leisure to explore Hoi An. (B)
Day 23: Depart Hoi An
Transfer to Danang airport for your overnight flight home. (B)
Day 24: Arrive New Zealand
Arrive home today.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:

Single Hotel Room Option from $1,350
Land Only (Hanoi to Hoi An) 23 days from $6,028 pp twin share
Additional charges: Tipping - US$161 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is not required for visitors to Vietnam if your stay is less than 16 days. If your stay is for longer than 16 days then a visa is required by all nationalities and a single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular and you will find high quality coverage, with active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and Vietnam is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day. We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure.  In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is a combination of local and western food, usually served buffet style at the hotel you are staying in. Lunches and dinners consist of traditional cuisine and are served at reputable local restaurants. As is traditional in this region, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on the table for everyone to share so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
Drinks will be at each tour members’ own expense and paid for at the end of each meal. Beer is widely available and cheap. Western style wine is very expensive to import and is not widely available except at upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice or fruit juices from a trusted restaurant, where they will use boiled or bottled water.
Due to the French colonial influence in some Southeast Asian countries, black tea (commonly referred to as ‘lip-ton’ by the locals), coffee, and baguettes are available in most places. However, the local style is to have sweet condensed milk with their tea and coffee. Fresh dairy milk is not usually served but many restaurants will provide this if requested. ‘Cafe Sua-da’ (or iced coffee with milk) is a favourite choice amongst the locals.