2nd/3rd August: Depart Malta, Explore Hanoi (D=dinner)
The day has finally arrived! We will meet at Malta International Airport to catch our afternoon flight to Hanoi with a transit of 2hr30mins at Dubai Airport. According to the current flight schedule we are expected to arrive in Hanoi the next day at 13.15hrs.
Hanoi is the country’s charming capital, a fascinating blend of East and West which buzzes with culture and history. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel, check-in and meet again to start our adventure!
At Hanoi’s heart is the enchanting Old Quarter, which offers the perfect introduction to Vietnam’s vibrant life. Leaving our hotel on foot, we will wander around this colourful city. Here, every winding alley leads to a new discovery. Skilled merchants sell their wares, friends gather for games of checkers, and chefs trade steaming phở and bún chả, as the live orchestra of beeping horns chants in the background.
As we discover ancient streets, we will also encounter multiple civilisations, and Hanoi will quickly start to feel like home. Dinner will be served in a local restaurant and we will spend the rest of the evening exploring the city’s charm and authenticity, because once in Vietnam, we do as the Vietnamese do 😉
We will overnight in Hanoi for the next 1 night. Accommodation: Chaceldony 4* Hotel or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom
4th August: Hill Tribe Village Experience (B, L, D)
We will leave the hustle and bustle of the city and start our journey to Sapa, a small town perched on the mountainside opposite Mt. Fan Si Pan, Vietnam’s highest peak.
For the next 2 days we will delve into the rural way of life. With just our backpack and a change of clothes, we will start our trek in Muang Hoa Valley. Walking past emerald rice paddies, and terraced fields and streams, the trail will lead us to a local village home to the H’mong people. The locals are really friendly and hospitable, and they will be eagerly waiting to welcome us into their homes. You will quickly realise that you are in an oasis of tranquility. As we enjoy the scenic beauty, we will at first hand learn about the daily life of these ethnic minorities, and for 2 days experience their way of life.
Later in the day we will arrive at our homestay*. We will meet our host family, settle in our rooms and then we will join the family helping with the cooking. As the sun sets, we will continue to explore the village on foot, before we enjoy a tasteful dinner. This evening, we will come together and spend our evening as the villagers do. Later we will retire to bed and settle in for a good night sleep.
*Tonight we will be residing in a typical Vietnamese house with a local family. We will split in 2 different homes, and we will reside with 2 families. We will sleep in communal rooms with curtains separating the beds. Bathrooms are also shared.
We will overnight in Lao village for 1 night . Accommodation type : Homestay in communal rooms and shared bathrooms
5th August: Hill Tribe Village Experience (B, L)
A delicious breakfast will be served at our homestay. Today, we will head out for a trek along the beautiful Giang Ta Chai Waterfall, exploring the Bamboo Forest route. This is an absolutely spectacular trek through stunning scenery which will give us the experience of a Vietnamese tropical jungle.
On our way we will walk across villages of different hill tribes to really enjoy the local life and special culture of this ethic minority. As we hear their stories, it will be easy to notice that this part of the world is inhabited by some of the friendliest people you can meet.
Early in the afternoon we will stop for lunch in a local restaurant to taste the local cuisine. And after a delicious meal, we will say good bye to our hosts and head to our next destination, Bac Ha.
We will overnight in Bac Ha for 1 night. Accommodation: Sao Mai Hotel or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
6th August: A glimpse of the Vietnamese life (B, L)
The highlight of this trip is that it goes beyond the sights, but it is all about people, locals and authentic experiences.
Once a week, the Hmong are joined by families and traders from other ethic minority communities for what is known as one of the biggest and busiest markets in Vietnam, the Bac Ha Market, a colourful display of local culture, and commerce.
Sunday happens to be market day and we will travel specifically to Bac Ha to experience this. What makes this even more special is that this market is not only frequented by locals to buy and sell, but it is a meeting place for ethnic minority people as they dress up in their most elaborate clothes, socialise and exchange news. There will be plenty of colour and authentic costumes, but very little items to buy as souvenirs, unless you want to barter for a water buffalo or a sack of fertiliser.
After a morning at the market we will go for a walk in Ban Pho, a highland village with houses built on stilts. Mingling into the vast blue of the endlessly stretching mountains are houses of Mong people which look like a bird’s nest sticking to the mountainside. Get ready to admire the stunning beauty, immerse in nature and why not enjoy their speciality, the Ban Pho corn wine?
Lunch will be served and then we will start our journey back to Hanoi. The ride will take approximately 5 hours. However, will make stops along the way to stretch our legs. You may also want to strengthen your vocal chords before the trip, as bus rides are usually great opportunities to take part in a karaoke competition 🙂
We will overnight in Hanoi for the next 2 nights. Accommodation: Chaceldony 4* Hotel or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
7th August: Hanoi (B, L)
We will have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. Today is a day of history, grandeur and mythical tales. We will spend the first part of our day discovering 3 very famous attractions;
- Ho Chi Minh Complex; an important place of pilgrimage for many Vietnamese. It includes botanical gardens, pagodas and Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house. This is where many Vietnamese came from afar to pay their respects to their most respected leader.
- B52 Lake; a war memorial which features a bomber shot down during the Vietnam war,
- Temple of Literature; Vietnam’s 1st national university and a stunning celebration of architecture.
After lunch, we will call in at the Hoa Lo Prison, a thought provoking site which will inspire many different emotions. We will then head to the centre of Hanoi to Hoan Kiem Lake. Locals gather to practice Tai Chi and funfairs are organised here. A number of elegant pagoda- like stone gateways can be found around the lake which can make for some sublime photographs. It is very likely that we will bump onto small groups of university students, who will be ready to interview us to practise their English. They are very interesting to talk to and provide a great opportunity for us to interact with the young generation.
We will finish off our day in the bustling Old Quarter, exploring another part of this buzzing area. It’s noisy and hectic, but but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture – traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices.
Many say that Hanoi is a favourite street food city. Vietnamese street food is in fact one of the healthiest cuisines in the world, and one of the most delicious. This evening we will hop from one vendor to another. The smaller portions will make it possible to try out different dishes. Whether it’s Banh can (noodles), Gỏi cuốn (spring rolls), Bánh cuốn (steamed rice rolls), Bánh xeo (savoury pancakes) or Kem xôi (sticky rice ice cream), your taste buds will surely come alive. What makes this is also very exciting is that you will get to interact directly with locals, which are always very curious to know more about Malta and where our little island is!
8th August: A Wonder of the World (B, L, D)
Today, we will leave Hanoi and travel to Ha Long Bay, a truly natural wonder! For 2 days/1 night we will cruise in emerald green waters among thousands of rugged islands, exploring spectacular caves which will leave us in awe admiring the mystical beauty of this part of the world, which no wonder makes it a bucket list attraction.
Upon arriving at the Ha Long International Port, we will embark on the cruise, check-in our cabin, enjoy welcome drinks and start cruising the magnificent Ha Long Bay admiring fascinating formations on the way.
But as we love adventure, we have prepared some exciting activities to go on whilst exploring this natural wonder. We will jump on bamboo rowing boats and head out to explore a haven gate in Ha Long Bay, Luon Cave. Ti Top beach comes next and here we will enjoy some time swimming. As the sun starts to set, we will row back to our cruise ship for our sunset cocktail party. You can begin to imagine yourself in this idyllic setting, cruising along huge rocks, dancing to light music whilst capturing the beauty our world offers.
For those who wish, we will also organise a cooking class before dinner, to help the chefs on board prepare some of the finest Vietnamese dishes. A delicious BBQ dinner will be served in the dining room and this will be followed by happy hours on the dock!
Soon you will notice light reflecting in the water. It’s time for night time squid fishing!! And as you start stretching and yawning, you’ll know you’ve just experienced a very beautiful day, and that’s when we will wish you a good night and sweet dreams!
We will overnight in Ha Long Bay on a cruise ship for 1 night. Accommodation type: twin rooms with private bathrooms.
9th August: Ha Long Bay (B, L, D)
Probably this will be one of the most relaxing nights you will ever experience! But you can’t miss the beauty of this gem of a place! We will wake up early to watch sunrise on the Bay, as the views are out of this world. We will start with a morning Tai Chi session on the sundeck followed by light breakfast.
This morning we will explore one of the biggest, most beautiful caves in Halong Bay, a place so amazing that it is referred to as the Surprise Cave. It covers around 10,000 square metres, it’s 30m high and 500m long. The intern is separated into 2 caverns. As we reach the ‘Serene Castle,’ we will notice many interesting rock formations, and it is a much loved tradition to appoint shapes, animals and patterns. Is it an elephant, a mammoth, a seal, or maybe a flower?
Back on the cruise, we will gather our belongings and start cruising towards the port whilst buffet brunch is served. We will disembark the cruise and travel back to Hanoi to board our late afternoon flight to our next destination…Phong Nha, an adventurer’s paradise.
Upon arrival, we will transfer to our resort at the heart of the village. With mountain views, a swimming pool and a garden, we will relax & unwind, and enjoy our evening the Vietnamese way!!
We will overnight in Phong Nha for the next 2 nights. Accommodation: Don Gia Resort or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
10th August: An Adventure Paradise (B, L)
An early wake up as another amazing day awaits!!!!!
We will be spending our day at Phong Na National Park. The world’s largest caves, meandering rivers and jungle-clad mountains lend an otherworldly atmosphere and are all found here. As it’s still in the early stages of development, it will feel like we have the wilderness all to ourselves, so now is the best time to visit before it gets even more popular!!
Our first attraction is the Paradise Cave, a huge impressive cave recently discovered in 2005. Surrounded by forested karst peaks, the trail is breathtaking as wooden staircases plunge into a cathedral-like space with illuminated stalactites and stalagmites.
The route takes us to the Chay River, where we will have lunch. This afternoon is very exciting as we will engage in adrenaline rush activities including zip-lining, kayaking and swimming in pristine surroundings. We will enjoy mineral mud baths and the activities will give us plenty of time to admire and enjoy the emerald water of the river.
We will return at the hotel early in the evening. We will gather in the terrace to enjoy our night together, or if you wish, you can also take a bicycle from the hotel and explore the town.
11th August: An Adventure Paradise (B, L)
Today we will continue to explore the National Park. This time, we will take a spectacular boat trip through Phong Nha. Cruising past buffaloes, limestone peaks and church steeples, we will reach the cave’s gaping mouth. This area also boasts underground rivers, large caverns, passageways and broad pristine sandbanks. We will spend our morning discovering this fascinating place.
Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and then we will start our journey to Hue. The drive will be broken down as we will make some very interesting stops along the way including, visiting Hien Luong Bridge and walking around Ben Hai River, which once divided North and South Vietnam, but today it signifies the country’s reunification.
We are expected to arrive in Hue later in the evening. We will check-in our hotel and then you are very welcome to join for a stroll in this most charming town located on the banks of the beautifully named Perfume River.
12th August: Hue and the Hoi Van Pass (B, L)
We will set off in the morning to discover Hue’s ancient citadel, once the seat of the Emperors of the powerful Nguyen Dynasty. We will begin with a stroll around the area between the citadel’s massive walls and the defensive moat, now filled with lotus flowers. We will then enter via the Noon Gate to wander around the Thai Hoa Palace, the Pavilion housing the Nine Urns of the Nguyen rulers, and the remains of the Royal Palaces.
Leaving Hue, we will journey across the Hai Van Pass, a beautiful scenic journey between Hue and Danang. Crossing the mountains allows for magnificent views across the South China Sea, down to the many beautiful and untouched beaches and coves. Upon arrival in Danang, we will visit the Linh Ung Pagoda before leaving for Hoi An.
Hoi An is one of the prettiest ancient towns located on the central Vietnamese coast. Designated on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, walking along its streets and canals will feel like stepping back in time. Flanked by bars, cafes and markets, this will make a perfect evening together.
We will overnight in Hoi An for 2 night. Accommodation: Golden Holiday Hotel & Spa or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
13th August: Hoi An (B, L)
After breakfast we will take a tour of the delightful town of Hoi An which is an architectural living museum with its eclectic mix of restored homes, winding streets and ancient bridges. In the 16th-18th centuries it was an international trading port connecting Asia and the West. The influence of the traders and seamen from Portugal, China, Japan, and France are evident throughout this lovely town.
In the afternoon, we will go on a different and very sweet experience! We will ride bicycles* to Cam Thanh water coconut village to learn about the daily life of Vietnamese fishermen, their families and their community. There, we will join in local fishermen on the river and experience the round net or cast net.
We will learn how to paddle the Vietnamese unique bamboo basket boat, and explore the now tranquil coconut-palm flanked waterways of a past war, whilst hearing of the extreme conditions endured by soldiers of both sides.
Returning to the old town, the rest of the evening will be free for us to explore. If you ever wanted to get your dress done, or suit made, this is the place to do so. Being famous for its textile industry, you can get your clothes tailored made for you overnight.
*The bicycle ride is a very easy 10km ride on flat terrain, and it will give us the opportunity to explore different parts of the village.
14th August: Ba Na Hills (B)
Ba Na Hills is a weekend getaway for Vietnamese families. With so much to see and do, we will start early to make the most of this recreational park. We will get to Ba Na Hills via cable cars. The cable car system is one of the most impressive ten cable car lines on earth. With three lines of cable cars of total 25kms in length, the longest ride takes us about 20 minutes to get to the mountaintop, and the jungle surrounding views are absolutely magnificent!
Connecting the Marseille station with the Le Jardin Station, is the striking Golden Bridge, which has become the most eye catching man-made structure in Vietnam, and named one of the World’s Greatest Places, due to its striking architectural beauty.
At this time, they will be celebrating the Flower Festival so expect to see landscaping artistry all around the 9 flower gardens. A walk in the Mystery Garden will surely pique our curiosity through the never ending rows of trees.
Apart from amusement parks and iconic landmarks, we will also find several spiritual spots including monasteries, pagodas and shrines. An interesting area is the Rain Sheltering Teahouse where we can enjoy a tea ceremony surrounded by scenic nature views.
Lunch is not included today so we won’t be time bound missing out activities. That said, there are plenty of dining options so you will definitely not go hungry!
Later in the afternoon, we will be driven to Danang airport for our internal flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon our arrival, we will check in our hotel and then we will go for an orientation tour around the city.
We will overnight in Ho Chi Minh City for 1 night. Accommodation: Elios Hotel or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
15th August: Local Immersion (B, L, D)
A highlight of this adventure is that it includes authentic experiences with locals. Once again, we will carry just our backpack, leave the city, and head to the village of Vinh Long.
Upon arrival, we will board the boats to visit Vinh Long. Later, we will take rowing boats on smaller canals and enjoy our peaceful time here. We will visit a nursery garden and local workshops where we will see how to make rice paper, coconut candy and pop-rice. Locals will be excited to share with us their talents and what they do for a living, which is not only their job, but their passion.
Reaching our home stay, we will meet our hosts, settle in our rooms and gather to experience the village life. We will take a walk to meet the community that reside here, cook some dishes with our host family and then enjoy dinner the Vietnamese way.
This evening, get your dancing shoes on as the local people will perform their Mekong Delta music and
they will teach us their traditional dance.
We will overnight for 1 night in a traditional homestay. Accommodation type: Homestay, twin rooms with private bathroom.
16th August: Local Immersion and Saigon (B, L, D)
A traditional Vietnamese breakfast will be served by our host family. This will be followed by a walk on village paths to see the local farms, houses and rural life. The locals will also teach us the ancestral ways on how to pick up fruits in Mekong Delta. It will be too tempting not to try the fresh fruits you yourselves will be picking up!
A different kind of boat trip awaits! First we will visit the brick kilns, where we can see how the local people create beautiful potteries from clay. Our boat will then go along the floating village, which is an exceptional and very unique experience. We will in fact see how to farm catfish on the Mekong river.
The last stop will be the Vinh Long market in the town centre. This is the best choice for you to take pictures of fish, shrimps, prawns, crabs, snakes, rice-field rats, tropical fruits, and vegetables.
Lunch will be served en-route and then we will head back to Ho Chi Minh City, or what is also referred to as Saigon. This evening we will go on a traditional street food and culture tour, seasoned with stories that will help us understand more the country’s rich culture and cuisine, as well as the unique lifestyle in Saigon. It will also give us the opportunity to try out different foods which will surely tantalise our taste buds!
We will overnight in Ho Chi Minh City for 1 night. Accommodation: Elios Hotel or similar, twin rooms with private bathroom.
17th August: The Vietnam War (B, D)
On our last day, we will check-out from our hotel and start our journey to the airport. However, the adventure is not over yet as there is still more to explore!
A morning drive will take us to Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Holy See, a giant, bright, surreal temple regarded as the most important shrine for its 4 million followers. It is also considered as one of the largest religious holy sites in the world. The temple has an eclectic design with a striking interior and coloured dragons wrapping themselves around the symbol of the giant eye. But what is the Cao Dai religion? It unites the world’s major religions and worships Buddha, Jesus, Confucius and Lao Tzu. To understand this better we will visit in time to watch the mid-day ceremony and daily prayers.
Next, we will visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Now part of the Vietnam War Memorial Park, the gigantic network of connecting tunnels is a byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and traps. Our guide will share with us stories of relatives who experienced the Vietnam war, and being right where it happened, it will give us a chance to witness and understand why it plays an important role in Vietnam’s history. The entrances to these tunnels were covered with a secret wooden door and camouflage leaves above. Its size is so small that only the Vietnamese could fit in. And believe it or not, there were hospitals, schools, theatres, kitchens, all built into this extraordinary tunnel network.
We then invite you to join us for a farewell dinner together, where we will
cherish the beautiful memories made and the friendships built!
After more than 2 weeks of heartwarming experiences, unique adventures and so much more, we will head to the airport for our flight back home.
According to our flight schedule we are expected to depart at 23.55hrs, arriving in Malta the ext day at 14.05hrs.