Touring Vietnam by Train 18 Days

Touring Vietnam by Train
Highlights: There are various options to see Vietnam from north to south or vice versa. This touring Vietnam by train itinerary provides a different way of traveling around Vietnam from the Red River valley and mountain town of Sapa to the Mekong Delta by train. The tour is filled with history, culture, charms and real life experiences all the way.

Day 1: Welcome to Hanoi
Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (Full day) - Overnight Train to Lao Cai
Day 3: To Sapa – Hiking Along The Scenic Valley of Muong Hoa
Day 4: Sapa - Weekly Ethnic Market - Boat trip - Lao Cai - Overnight Train to Hanoi
Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Join with other travelers on the cruise)
Day 6: Halong Bay Cruising – Hanoi - Overnight train to Hue
Day 7: Hue City Tour
Day 8: Hue River cruise - drive to Danang, then to Hoi An
Day 9: Hoi An – Guided Walking Tour
Day 10: Hoi An free day (optional: My Son Ruins or Cooking Class)
Day 11: Hoi An – Danang – Day Train to Nha Trang
Day 12: Nha Trang – Islands and Snorkeling
Day 13: Nha Trang Free & Night train to Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Day 15: Cu Chi Tunnels Exploration & Tay Ninh Holy See Temple
Day 16: Introduction to the Mekong Delta
Day 17: Cai Rang Colorful Floating Market – Return to Ho Chi Minh City
Day 18: Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Hanoi
When you arrive at Noi Bai International airport in Hanoi, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel in the downtown. The remainder of the day will be your own.

Meals: None
Overnight in Hanoi 


Day 2: Hanoi City Tour (Full day) - Overnight Train to Lao Cai
This city tour of Hanoi takes in essential sites which will commence from your hotel lobby at 08.30 am. In the morning, you'll visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex including the Mausoleum, his former stilt-house residence, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh Museum; the Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070.

After lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant, you'll continue visiting the Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups; Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake - the Ngoc Son Temple is set on a tiny island on Hoan Kiem Lake, its history dating back to the 13th century; a cyclo ride for 1 hour touring through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! The day finishes with a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets.

In the evening, you'll be picked up by your guide to the train station for the overnight train leaving at 21.15 to Lao Cai. Stay overnight on the train. Accommodation aboard the train in four berth shared cabins, which are simple but comfortable. You might consider to pay extra for private cabin occupancy if you wish to.

Note: the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed all day on Monday and Fridays, as well as from 1st October to 30th November (approx.) for annual conservation.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight on the train   


Day 3: To Sapa – Hiking Along The Scenic Valley of Muong Hoa
You'll arrive at Lao Cai train station in the early morning where Hainam Travel's private tour guide will take you to your hotel in Sapa town for check-in and refreshing.
You first sneak through the market and leave the busy town behind. After a couple of minutes, you will follow a road going downhill to Cat Cat village. You will stop by a waterfall and a hydroelectric station for a while before you trek on a dirt trail through rice paddy terraces. You will also enjoy spectacular scenery while walking along a narrow river. You eventually arrive in Y Linh Ho village of Black Hmong minority, where you can take a rest while you are served lunch nearby the river.

After lunch, you head Muong Hoa valley. You will pass through Lao Chai village of Black Hmong minority and then Ta Van village of Giay minority by following a very popular trekking route. From there, you'll be transferred by private vehicle back to Sapa for overnight stay.

Note: As you arrive in Sapa very early, we will arrange an early check-in for you to take a nap, refresh and have breakfast, which is one special feature of our private tours.

Tour summary: Road transfer approx. 20 minutes/Hiking and village visiting 5 to 6 hours/Grade 2 of 5.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Sapa


Day 4: Sapa - Ethnic Market - Lao Cai - Overnight Train
07.00 a.m. Drive on winding road for ~102km to Bac Ha Town via Lao Cai city. The road is good but having many sharp bends which takes about 2,5 hours including one or two breaks en-route.

Arrive at the market at about 09.30 a.m. at the most crowded time where you will spend two hours joining the hill tribal peoples including Flower H’mong, Black Zao, Phu La and Tay for the market activities and festive atmosphere. All peoples in their best traditional costume gather every Sunday for shopping, but socializing is of great importance. The cattle and clothing sections are the most interesting until 11.00 and then come the food section where peoples meet, talk, enjoy food and especially drink locally made corn-whisky.

After lunch break in a local restaurant, drive for half an hour downhill to Trung Do village which is beautifully setting in a valley on the eastern bank of the Chay River. Stroll around to explore this prosperous village of the Tay ethnic people who live in large stilt houses and have maintained well their traditional way of life. Walk to the boat pier in mid afternoon to embark on a motor-boat for an hour downstream cruise along the Chay River to Bao Nhai. Pick up and transfer 45km to Lao Cai city where spend half an hour to see trading activities at the border gate and coffee break before transfer to Lao Cai station for dinner before overnight train to Hanoi.

Tour summary: Road transfer 4 to 5 hours/ Market, village visit & Walk about 4 hours/ Boat trip 1 hour/
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight on the train

Day 5: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Join with other travelers on the cruise)
Arrive in Hanoi in the early morning, you'll be picked up to a restaurant for a break from the long journey [included in the total cost].

After breakfast, you'll leave for Halong Bay with a refreshment break en route. Meet the crew upon boarding the traditional wooden junk, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads towards the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming if the weather permits. Return to the junk refreshed and invigorated and relax on deck with a drink to watch the sunset. Enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner under the stars.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Overnight on a wooden junk in Halong Bay 


Day 6: Halong Bay Cruising – Hanoi - Overnight train to Hue

Enjoy an early morning swim (if weather permits) followed by breakfast. The tour then visit one of the famous caves in the middle of the bay before cruising back to the main harbor for a 3,5 hour drive back to Hanoi for dinner before boarding the 19.00 overnight train to Hue. Overnight on the train.

Meals: Breakfast, Brunch
Overnight on the train

Day 7: Hue Arrival – Imperial Citadel & Royal Tomb
Upon arrival at Hue station in the early morning pick up and transfer to your hotel to leave luggage and have a breakfast. After breakfast, you'll spend the full day for a city tour of Imperial City of Hue, firstly with the ancient walled Citadel including the former Imperial Palace. You'll then visit the Dong Ba market to learn about local produce and specialties of Hue. You might get some great deals done at the local Dong Ba Market.

In the afternoon, you will cruise the Perfume River by a dragon boat to serene Thien Mu Pagoda and drive to visit the majestic Royal Tomb of King Ming Mang or King Khai Dinh. Return to your hotel by road just before sunset.

Note: You might consider a candle-lit dinner set in a garden house which is a traditional feature of Hue's culture. Both the garden house and the cuisine are great introduction into Hue's culture.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Hue

Day 8: Hue – Drive to Hoi An
This morning you'll drive south to Hoi An through Hai Van pass, enjoying the view of the coast line and Danang from the top of the Hai Van Pass (Pass of the Clouds) makes your journey interesting and have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities.

When you arrive in Danang, visit either the Cham Museum in the city centre of Danang OR the famous Marble Mountain, which stands for the five essential elements that establish nature. Then continue the scenic route to Hoi An for lunch. Free afternoon at leisure.
 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Hoi An


Day 9: Hoi An – Guided Walking Tour 1/2 Day
8:30 a.m., your guide will meet you at your hotel lobby and show you around the old town. You'll start a walking tour with numerous places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls, a museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you walk along tiny streets with houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures.

After your walking tour, your time will be at leisure to wander around or go shopping. Your lunch will be at a local restaurant. The remainder of the day will be your own.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Hoi An


Day 10: Hoi An - Free Day of Leisure
A free day at leisure in Hoi An.

Note: There are various optional activities for your free time in Hoi An such as joining a cooking class, visiting rural villages around Hoi An by bicycle, take a day trip to My Son Ruins..These option can be added at additional cost.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Hoi An


Day 11: Hoi An – Danang – Day Train to Nha Trang
This morning, drive to Danang railway station for the day train trip to Nha Trang. Enjoy stunning views of mountains, rice fields and ocean along the way. You will arrive in Nha Trang station in the evening where your local guide will be waiting for you and take you to your hotel in the city centre.

Meals: Breakfast
Overnight in Nha Trang

Day 12: Nha Trang - Islands & Snorkelling
Today a short drive will take you to Cau Da Port where you will hop on a boat and being transferred to Hon Mun and Hon Mot Island. These islands offer perfect conditions for relaxing, swimming, fishing, scuba diving and sunbathing. After lunch on boat and beach relaxation, you return to Cau Da Port. From there, you will enjoy a short guided city tour including the Oceanographical Institute to learn about the world under water; and later Thap Ba Ponagar Tower which show specific Champa's cultural and architectural values.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Nha Trang


Day 13: Nha Trang free & Night Train to Ho Chi Minh City
A free day at leisure in Nha Trang to spend as your wish. In the evening, pick up to Nha Trang station for an overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight on the train


Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City Tour
Upon arrival, you’ll be met and picked up to the hotel by your driver and guide. After leaving luggage at your hotel, you will start a guided city tour starting with the War Remnants Museum - a real eye-opener to a part of Vietnam's proud history, followed by the Reunification Palace, the former Presidential Palace for the president of the South of Vietnam, the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post office to get good shots for our memory of the big, modern city of Vietnam.

After lunch, you will continue by heading to Chinatown with walking tour through back streets of China town near Cho Lon to view the local daily life. Stop off for a visit of Thien Hau temple, which was built in the early 19th Century dedicated to Thien Hau, the goddess of seafarers. We delve deeper into Chinatown visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Market (or Ben Thanh market) for an insight into where locals shop. Then you'll return back to hotel at around 17:00.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 


Day 15: Cu Chi Tunnels Exploration & Tay Ninh Holy See Temple
An 1,5 hour drive will take you to the Cu Chi Tunnels where you will visit the amazing network of underground tunnels was used during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong. This huge construction was a habitation for villagers in the war time. With 3 levels of depth, it was never discovered by the US during the Vietnam War despite its proximity to Saigon. Visit the fighting tunnel system with your local guide.

Drive to Tay Ninh which was once the historical center of the Cao-Dai religion. Founded in 1926, Cao-Dai is a combination of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism. At the Holy See Temple, you will have the chance to watch the worshipers in their long white tunics during noon mass. From Tay Ninh, you will return to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving in the late afternoon.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 


Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Can Tho
Start from hotel at 07.00 and drive straight to visit of Cai Be colorful floating market cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. Then, an optional stop can be made at local workshops where you can see how to make rice paper, coconut candy and pop-rice, pop-corn... It is so interesting to visit the handicraft village where you can see how they make some special products: making rice-net for spring-rolls, fish sauce & Soya sauce, cooking salt, sewing coconut-leaves for cottage roof...The rowing boat will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals and to enjoy the peaceful time. It is so interesting to see traditional houses made of wood and palm tree leaves and see some activities of the local farmers with an opportunity to make contacts with them and see how they catch fish or pick up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta. Lunch can be served at Ut Trinh home. After lunch, we can walk around and then we will enjoy some kinds of fruits when listening to the traditional music. One more thing to do in this trip is biking! It will be so amazing to bike on village paths to see the local farms, houses, real life and the ancestral ways to pick up fruits in Mekong Delta. The cruise will end at Vinh Long city where you will drive to Can Tho in the centre of the Mekong Delta.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Can Tho


Day 17: Cai Rang Colorful Floating Market - Ho Chi Minh City
Today half an hour boat cruise will take you to visit the vibrant Cai Rang floating market to experience a special type of market in which all purchasing activities take place on boats and ships. Then continue to small a canal to visit a fruit garden where your guide will show you around before having a plate of delicious fruits. Return to Can Tho and observing the rural life and the lush vegetation along the riverbanks. Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City with lunch en-route, arriving in the late afternoon.

Note: Cai Rang market is one of the three biggest markets (Cai Be, Phung Hiep, Cai Rang) in the Mekong Delta. You can visit the market at any time of the day but it is most crowded and busy from sunrise to 9:00 am.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City


Day 18: Depart Ho Chi Minh City
Your time will be free at leisure until being picked up for your departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast

Prices & Inclusions

Price is from~US$ 1261 per person
All above prices are valid till October 31, 2016.
Prices Include:
- All pick-ups and transfers by private vehicles with experienced drivers.
- All breakfast and accommodation in Twin/Double shared basis.
- Return train tickets: Hanoi – Lao Cai in Fanxipan Carriage (shared air-con. soft 4 berth cabin – supplement for upgrade to private cabin)
- Reunification Express Train tickets: Hanoi – Hue; Danang – Nha Trang and Nha Trang – Ho Chi Minh City (shared air-con. soft 4 berth cabin – supplement for upgrade to private cabin)
- Experienced local English speaking guides and guide on board in Halong Bay
- Private boat cruises in Hue, Nha Trang and in the Mekong Delta
- Meals as indicated in the programme
- All entrance fee as mentioned in the programme
- VAT and all other taxes

Prices Exclude:
- Entry visa to Vietnam
- International flights and airport taxes
- Travel Insurances
- Drinks, tips and other personal expenses or services not mentioned on the program
- Bank transfer fees

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