AIRPORT PICK UP & TRUFAM WELCOME
Today is the day you’ve been dreaming of. Ho Chi Minh’s international airport is where it all begins. Look out for the smiley driver with a great big TruTravels branded sign with your name on it, they’re with us. They’ll whisk you off to our hotel in the city, somewhere you’ll look back on years from now as the moment you first met your TruFam, that’s what we call our tour groups for reasons that become very obvious. It’s the start of a beautiful friendship with your group, your Travel Ninja and Vietnam as a whole so enjoy welcome drinks and a delicious dinner. Your Vietnam Explorer is finally here!
HO CHI MINH ORIENTATION & WAR MUSEUM
It’s your first full day in one of the world’s most beautiful and hospitable countries. We start in the iconic and historic city formerly known as Saigon. In spite of the universal welcoming vibes and chirpy nature of the locals, Vietnam’s troubled past is well documented and after taking a walking tour of some of Ho Chi Minh’s most notable spots (wait until you see the Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon) it’s time to be astonished at what happened here 50 years ago in the Ho Chi Minh War Museum, which sees half a million visitors a year. One day in HCMC is enough for us TruTravellers, it’s time to hit the road and explore the tropical South. First stop - sandboarding in Mui Ne (you read that right!).
City Orientation & visit war museum
MUI NE SANDBOARDING & FAIRY STREAM
Vietnam is a real all-rounder, but it’s the more rural and exotic parts of the country that will really stand out. Welcome to the southern coastal town of Mui Ne and something to get your pulses racing. Hop on a boogie board and career down the stunning sand dunes (try to scream with your mouth closed!). This is big on fun! Don’t believe us, watch some past TruTravellers tackle it here. After you’ve finished laughing hysterically down the dunes it’s time to take in Mui Ne’s beautiful surroundings via open-top jeep, visit Fairy Stream which is going to blow up on your Instagram, before unwinding that evening with dinner and drinks. You’ll have noticed how much of a laugh your TruFam and Travel Ninja are too.
MUI NE CHILL TIME & TRAVEL TO NHA TRANG
We’re making sure you squeeze in as much of Vietnam as possible but we aren’t army drill sergeants, so chill! Enjoy a cheeky lie-in or a lazy morning by the pool. This is also a great chance to remind yourself of who drank a bit too much rum the night before and fell into a hedge. Soak in the gorgeous beach surroundings of Mui Ne, maybe even start a game of beach volleyball (forfeits are highly encouraged) before we’re hopping back on the road, to our next destination - the coastal city of Nha Trang. Once we drop the bags off at our hotel in the city, take to the night markets for more heavenly food and maybe even a cocktail or two.
PARADISE FOUND IN NINHVANA
Nha Trang, we’ll be back to you in a day or two but we’ve got a date with paradise and we’re not wasting a second. The next couple of days are going to be a bit special, welcome to Ninhvana - an idyllic tropical haven, jutting out from Vietnam’s east coast and only an hour away from Nha Trang. This is what backpacker paradise looks like (you’ve watched the tour video, right?!). There are at least a billion different things to enjoy here (Disclaimer: This is an estimate) so let your Travel Ninja guide the way. You can go kayaking off the coast, brave a cliff jump or get super Zen with yoga, massages and paddleboarding. Don’t worry if you don’t squeeze it all in today, this is our little oasis and we’re not going anywhere just yet.
Kayaking, trekking, yoga & paddle boarding, massages
ninhvana beach hideaway
All of the above activities are still on the cards, not to mention bike rentals to explore the area, a gentle hike for some spectacular views and hanging out with a bunch of would-be strangers that have quickly become some of your closest mates. That’s the TruFam for ya! That evening we’re going to grab some dinner together, share each other’s best pictures and videos from a couple of days to cherish and a few guaranteed funny stories (what happens in Ninhvana…). Time for beers, we think!
Kayaking, trekking, yoga & paddle boarding, massages
ONWARD TOWARDS HOI AN
Relaxed, refreshed and with a delirious smile on your face, we say goodbye to wonderful Ninhvana today, but not before one more morning soaking up your surroundings (and ok, maybe one last game of beach volleyball seeing as the last game was so close!). That afternoon, we’re heading back to Nha Trang when you have one critical job of selecting your van DJ - one of the highest honours of any TruTravels tour. Nickelback will not be tolerated, especially as we’re catching a night bus! Our next stop is one of Asia’s most Instagrammed places - the lantern ladened town of Hoi An.
HOI AN, LET’S MAKE LANTERNS!
Time for a yawn and a stretch, the longest leg of our 17-day tour is now behind us and you’re halfway through Vietnam. Welcome to Hoi An, a town so iconic that UNESCO decided the entire town is worthy of a World Heritage Site. We’ll get you checked-in with minimal fuss and have a major breakfast feast ready on arrival. You’ll likely be most familiar with Hoi An for the famous and surreal tranquility as the entire town is lit up in the glow of thousands of silk lanterns. You want one don’t you? Let’s go one better and teach you how to make one! Choose your silk, and learn from the locals on how to turn one of these iconic lanterns into your own one. Don’t worry if you’re shit at arts and crafts, you can always leave the lantern in the dark to hide your shame. That evening is yours to explore Hoi An however you like, but we suggest a stroll along the canals, or along Bang Beach (make of the name what you will).
BASKET BOATs in coconut woods
Today is a seriously fun one! First off we’re taking a morning bike ride around Hoi An, race ya! That’ll get you nice and hungry for a culinary experience and a half because we’re cooking with a local family for lunch. In the afternoon we’re going to Coconut Woods, which despite the name is actually on 7 hectares (don’t ask us what a hectare is, it might be some sort of squirrel) of water. Ever heard of a basket boat? Well you’re about to have your first experience of one and you are going to laugh yourself senseless on one of these mad cap traditional Vietnamese vessels that have been used to crab fish for centuries. This evening will be our last in Hoi An (until you come visit again) so let’s make it a big one with dinner and drinks on the boardwalk.
Crab fishing, basket boat trip
HAI VAN PASS OPEN TOP JEEPS
Don’t let the name fool you, we're doing the legendary Hai Van Pass, made famous by Top Gear in open top jeeps not a van, yeah! Leaving Hoi An will be emotional but once we get out on the open road you’ll see some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in Vietnam on the way to the city of Hue. We’ll stop on the way for some snaps, some lunch and maybe even a cheeky dip in the tropical waters before reaching the Imperial City. Post hotel check-ins and chill out, we’re heading out, out to explore Hue’s nightlife where we’re all about the local beers, the rice wine and feeling like royalty.
Open top jeeps on Hai Van pass
IMPERIAL CITY & cooking class
Did you know Hue was once the home of Emperors? The remnants of their reign can be seen all over the city, none more so than within the walls of the Imperial City itself. Cameras out for this one! After exploring the walled gardens and the aptly named Perfume River which flows through it, it’s time for lunch but all eyes on you and your TruFam, cooking up a storm. How could you possibly eat as well as you have in Vietnam so far without learning the local secrets as to why it tastes so damn good? Don’t be shy with the portions because it’ll be your reward before we wave goodbye to Hue and onto the next destination - Phong Nha. Your check-in times will be at a world record pace by now so it’s a race to the bar for some cocktails on arrival that evening.
Imperial city visit & cooking class
PHONG NHA NATIONAL PARK
It’s been three days since we experienced a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so let’s fix that shall we? Welcome to Phong Nha, more specifically Phong Nha National Park which is home to one of the world’s largest cave systems - 31km long, with a 72ft high entrance and commonly known as Paradise Cave. We’re spending the day exploring the caves and even ziplining through them, wooooo! We will be almost guaranteed to get filthy, (if you haven’t already!) but it’ll be worth it. After cleaning ourselves up and grabbing a bite we are heading back on the road, next stop is the best of the lot - Hanoi and a certain bay you may have seen pictures of before.
Dark cave, ziplining & kayaking
WELCOME TO HANOI
It’s nearly been two weeks since this wonderful adventure through Vietnam began and by now you’ll have covered over 1,600km of great times, great laughs and great people. Just because the capital of Hanoi is the last stop of your Vietnam Explorer, these dreamy couple of weeks are anything but finished. Hanoi is chaotic, vibrant and absolutely deafening! You’re not in Kansas anymore. Time to explore, right? But not before sampling one of Vietnam’s favourite beveragino’s, a traditional egg coffee. Just trust us. The rest of the day is all yours to explore whatever side of Hanoi you like, whether that’s the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi’s gorgeous Opera House or countless other mega snappable spots in the city.
egg coffee making, walking tour of hanoi
HELLO Ha long Bay
Can you believe you only met your TruFam and Travel Ninja two weeks ago?! It’ll feel like a lifelong friendship by now. Today is going to be one of those special days you’ll still remember vividly in 20 years. We’re going to arguably the most iconic place in Asia - this is Halong Bay and it’s almost certainly been your screensaver at some point in time. A bright green sea, 1,600 limestone islands dotted throughout the bay, this is a labyrinth of genuine paradise and wonder. Lunch is served to the most breathtaking backdrop imaginable and it won’t be long before our boat arrives for an afternoon of swimming, snorkelling and all sorts of aquatic high jinx. We told you your first day in Halong Bay would stay with you forever.
castaway island, ha long bay
Ha long Bay Boat CASTAWAY
A full day aboard our private boat awaits you and your TruFam. We’ll drop anchor as and when needed but let’s go Dora The Explorer on this bay, cruising our way through the maze of islands, hidden lagoons, ancient caves and exotic locals including monkeys, lizards, sea eagles and if you’re lucky, sea turtles! Today is about soaking up every single moment so say yes to diving off the boat, say yes to vodka watermelons and say yes to a Tru Castaway experience as you realise your dream of befriending a volleyball and ‘inventing’ fire. Tonight is a BIG night, let’s make the very most of it.
Castaway Island, Halong Bay
SO LONG HALONG
Don’t be sorry that it’s nearly over, be grateful that it happened. Vietnam has been well and truly explored. You’ve careered down sand dunes, found heaven in Ninhvana, made lanterns in Hoi An, driven the Hai Van Pass and pitched up for 3 days in Halong Bay but today is the last full day that you’re TruFam will be together (until the next one, right?) so cherish every moment. Say goodbye to Halong this morning as we make our way back to the capital for our last night together. What an adventure it has been, when shall we do it again? On your way back to Hanoi you’ll realise that for the rest of your travels, you will automatically compare it to Vietnam. A special country, full of special people, places and now, memories.
chilled check out
It’s a day for sore heads and emotional goodbyes as we’re at the end of the tour. Fear not though, this may not be the end of your adventure and if not our Travel Ninjas know Southeast Asia like the back of their hand and can advise you on what and where to next. If it is time to depart this part of the world then allow yourself to be sad about it, but promise us you’ll come back for more? It’s a very easy promise to keep in truth. You’re now a lifelong member of the TruFam and by now, you’ll know how big a deal that is. See you soon!