Vietnam: A Cultural Exploration
Perfect for families with older kids, discover Vietnam’s cultural heart, paired with buzzy cities, the rural north and the pleasures of Ha Long Bay.
- Take a three-wheeled cyclo trip through Hanoi’s atmospheric Old Quarter
- Visit the hill tribes of Sapa and hike around gloriously green terraced paddy fields
- Drift around Ha Long Bay on a heritage vessel and explore caves by kayak
- Discover the historical city of Hue including the Perfume River, imperial citadel and markets
- Stroll the cobbled streets of historic Hoi An and appreciate its varied architectural styles
- Finish at a luxurious beach resort where you’ll receive excellent service in a beautiful location
For young and old, Vietnam offers a breath-taking and colourful array of sights and adventure and together as a family you’ll get to explore its historic towns, trek the beauty of Sapa and meet hill tribes, plus sail the misty crags of Ha Long Bay. Don’t worry we’ve added in some beach time at the end too!
A two-week trip that includes cultural towns Hue and Hoi An, plus Hanoi, trekking in Sapa, sailing Ha Long Bay and finishing on the beach
When to go:
For two weeks with the kids, we assume you’ll need to use Christmas, Easter or Summer holidays. Travelling from March – April/May offers pretty good weather throughout the entire country. June to August is good but can be very hot and sticky in the north
We’ve created this itinerary for a family with older children who are ready to explore this fascinating country
Days 1-2 Elegant Hanoi
Welcome to Hanoi and the start of your adventure in Vietnam. Be whisked away to your hotel, Capella Hanoi – a resplendent art nouveau hotel located along Hoàn Kiếm Lake. Enjoy roomy suites designed by hotel guru Bill Bensley and ease away any residual jet lag at the spa and indoor pool.
The following day, you will explore the charming city of Hanoi by three-wheeled bike taxi, whizzing past everyday street life, colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes. Visit the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument built to house the preserved body of beloved Vietminh leader Ho Chi Minh and you’ll also see his simple wooden house. Admire the Old Quarter, a maze of streets known for its 13th century artisan guild houses.
Days 3-6 Spectacular Sapa
From Hanoi you will head to the far north of Vietnam to a region called Sapa known for its rural beauty, hill tribes, bright green paddy fields, waterfalls and traditional way of life. This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of this area while learning about the ethnic groups that inhabit the fertile landscapes. Topas Ecolodge, a pocket of sustainable luxury located on a hilltop with views that cascade down Hoang Lien National Park is a perfect base. With an infinity pool and rustic luxe lodges it is pure respite from a day spent exploring.
Over the next few days, you will take part in a variety of hikes. You may visit the ethnic village of Ban Ho, surrounded by terraced rice fields. Explore stilt houses while your guide explains the customs and traditions of the Tay ethnic group which inhabit this picturesque village. Or you might trek to meet the the Red Zao and H’mong people in the Thành Kim valley, whose incredible embroidery techniques are only matched by the scenic views of stepped green rice fields and winding rivers.
Days 7-9 Hanoi & Ha Long Bay
Returning to Hanoi for one night affords the opportunity to enjoy an evening Vespa food tour. Pairing the best of Hanoi’s foodie offerings with an exhilarating bike tour, you’ll fly past Hanoi by night riding pillion, stopping for delicious, in-the-know street food eats such as fresh spring rolls, noodles and dumplings, ending up in a Jazz Club.
The following day will see you boarding your vessel to enjoy two nights sailing around Ha Long Bay. A heritage boat, made from glossy teak wood with billowing sails will drift around the mystical karst rock formations that dot the emerald green sea. As well as swimming, you might like to explore on your own speed by kayak to find caves, grottos and beaches and at night – try your hand at squid fishing.
Days 10-11 Historical Hue
Back on land you will head to Hanoi airport and fly to Hue, where you will be ensconced into your hotel, Ancient Hue Houses, an atmospheric cluster of Imperial houses grouped around a turquoise swimming pool. Make time for the spa or simply relax in the shady garden or by the pool.
You will also have a full day by guided three-wheeled motorbike to explore Hue, an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. With splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel, the city retains its royal charm. In the afternoon, explore in more detail the Imperial Citadel of Hue, with its fortresses, lakes with lily ponds, moats, palaces and temples. Finish the day with a cruise on the Perfume River, so-called because of the aromatic flowers that drop into it in autumn and admire the iconic seven-storied Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument.
Days 12-15 Charismatic Hoi An & Beach Time
Travel by car for three hours to the Four Seasons Nam Hai, known for its brilliant service and villas which are perfect for families. Pick a two- or three-bedroom villa with pool – either on the beach or up in the breezy hills. The hotel also has three, tiered, infinity pools that cascade down to the shore. Beachside, you can take a kayak at to explore the tranquil East Sea or propel yourself into the air with the exciting X-Jet Blades.
You will also have time to get to know picturesque Hoi An, a World Heritage ancient town recognised for its well-preserved architecture, hub of traditional culture, 18th century merchant houses, 400-year-old bridge and the swirling Thu Bon River. It’s easy to wander around – we’d also recommend a cookery class which starts in the market and ends up in a private herb garden overlooking the river. You might like to get into the scenic countryside too on a bike ride that takes you to rural villages where you can learn the art of rice noodles, explore a water coconut forest and try rowing the Vietnamese round bamboo basket boats. Sadly, with your adventure coming to a close, you must now say farewell to Vietnam and head to Danang airport for your return flight home.
As far as family holidays go, this trip to Vietnam has it all – culture, activity, beach and luxury – set against the backdrop of mountains, paddy fields, ethnic villages, buzzing streets, karst rock formations, temples, pagodas and citadels. Give your family a shared experience that you will all remember forever on this exciting getaway to the jewel of Southeast Asia: Vietnam.
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