An Insider's Vietnam

Our Insider’s Vietnam holiday will take you beneath the country’s surface, sharing a deeper insight into local life. Let us showcase our lesser known gems and introduce you to small communities, against contrasting backdrops of rolling countryside and cityscapes. This journey mixes new adventures with a good helping of relaxing reflection time.

At a glance
  • Immerse yourself in rural village culture
  • Cycle to beauty spots that cars can’t reach
  • Kick back and enjoy the rural rhythms of Mai Chau valley
  • Cruise by sampan to atmospheric caves
  • Watch the sunrise over Halong Bay from the deck of a junk
  • Sample streetfood in Hanoi
  • Soak up some tropical sunsets on the beaches of Phu Quoc
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Ky Son Village - 2 nights

Parts of the tiny sleepy Ky Son Village (70km to the west of Hanoi, and not to be confused with Ky Son District further south) are over 200 years old. Arriving here feels like stepping straight into Vietnam’s rural history. With its traditionally carved wooden houses dotted along dusty farm roads, between ponds of lotus blossom and peaceful rice fields, the village has been recognised as a National Cultural Historical Relic. Take the opportunity to chat with locals, who are always willing to share knowledge about their culture and traditional livelihoods, and enjoy a homestay in Moon Garden - one of the detached, traditional style houses in the grounds of a family home - to gain a hands-on insight into this timeless, rural way of life.

Day 1 - Arrive Hanoi, drive to Ky Son Village homestay

Includes:

On arrival in Vietnam, you'll be met by your private guide and driven out of the city to Ky Son.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

On arrival in Ky Son enjoy a stroll around the village, soaking up the traditional North Vietnamese culture and lifestyle, before joining your host to help prepare lunch. Take your pick of bike routes, ranging from 6-12 km along local trails, stopping to enjoy the impressive panoramas, pick herbs and vegetables, visit temples, chat with locals, and visit the village market. Return to the house in time for a relaxing herbal bath and a home cooked meal.

Day 2 - Yi Jin Jing exercise, village stroll, local bike ride

Includes:

As soon as you’ve downed your first cuppa of the day, join in with some traditional Yi Jin Jing exercises to wake up body and mind. Stroll around Ky Son Village to the bee house, the kindergarten and the local market. You can choose to help the farmers with a spot of ploughing, marking rice beds, or harvesting, or take part in a cookery class. Unwind with a traditional herbal hand massage after lunch, then take time to chat with your host family and pick up a few handy Vietnamese phrases. Embark upon an afternoon bike ride along local paths, stopping to chat with villagers you meet along the way.

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Mai Chau - 2 nights

A couple of hours drive south and tucked between two steep cliffs sits the beautiful Mai Chau valley. This corner of rural Vietnam is still untroubled by mass tourism, and is a place where - give or take the occasional smartphone - life continues much as it has for hundreds of years. Depending on the season, you’ll find the landscape awash with waves of vivid green rice paddies that turn to soft gold just before harvest. Work your legs with a cycle through the rolling hills, stay in a traditional lodge, and learn more about the region’s enduring traditions.

Day 3 - Drive to Mai Chau

Includes:

Keep your camera at the ready as you drive into the rural landscape around Mai Chau to enjoy some light trekking, find local villages, explore caves, or simply relax in one of the most picturesque regions in Vietnam. If there’s time, work up an appetite with a cycle between the rolling hills and traditional stilt-house settlements, before returning to the lodge for dinner and a traditional dance performance by members of the local Thái tribe.

Day 4 - Pu Luong Nature Reserve Trek

Includes:

Pu Luong nature reserve is a well kept secret, still off the traditional tourist trail. Explore its forested hillsides and rice paddies on foot, soaking up the atmosphere of enduring tradition, and the routines of daily life in local Thái and Muong tribal communities. Trek along the Cham Stream, passing traditional wooden water wheels still used for irrigation, before driving back to Mai Chau with plenty of time to freshen up before dinner.

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Ninh Binh - 2 nights

Ninh Binh city is a somewhat unremarkable place in itself - just a sleepy, provincial town along the banks of a quiet river - but it makes a convenient base from which to explore the dramatic landscape of lakes, rivers, caves and limestone karsts in the wider region (also called Ninh Binh) which is often referred to as ‘Halong on land’.

Day 5 - Drive to Ninh Binh, Sampan cruise

Includes:

After a morning’s journey east, you’ll get to Ninh Binh in perfect time to head to the Ben Dang River and board a sampan for an afternoon cruise. Disembark to explore the atmospheric grottos of Thien Ha Cave, both on foot and by boat along underground waterways, then cruise a little further by sampan to the But Cave for more subterranean exploration.

Day 6 - Cycle, hands-on farming, wetlands sampan cruise

Includes:

Cycle around the outskirts of Ninh Binh, between paddy fields, pagodas and small hamlets, and pause at a morning market. Once in Vuon Thi village, you’ll meet your hosts for the day. This local family will, along with your guide, help you participate in a ‘hands on’ morning, learning their daily routines. Prepare lunch together, and enjoy typical rural dishes as you chat (with your guide’s help and translation!). Head into the fields to learn traditional rice cultivation and fishing techniques, before making a short journey to the Van Long River to hop aboard another sampan for a reservoir cruise through the Van Long Nature Reserve - an expanse of wetlands is home to over 70 species of birdlife including egrets, storks and kingfishers. This hidden gem is just as beautiful as the better-known Tam Coc, but with a fraction of the crowds.

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Halong Bay - 2 nights

One of Asia’s most famous natural wonders, not to mention being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is shrouded in myth. Explore the bay aboard a traditional junk – the same style of boat that has sailed the bay for 100s of years – meandering between jagged limestone karsts, venturing into hidden caves and stopping at floating fishing villages, while enjoying the leisurely pace of life on the water. Early risers might start the day with a Tai Chi class, as the sun rises over the bay and the sound of sea birds fills the air.

Day 7 - Halong Bay Cruise

Includes:

After an early breakfast it's a four hour drive to Halong Bay, passing through a number of typical North Vietnamese towns and villages.Local legend tells how the gods sent dragons to Halong to defend the country from invasion, and the dragons spat out gemstones that turned into islands, creating a wall against the enemy. The truth is almost as evocative as the legend, with the bay displaying one of the most beguiling natural scenes you will ever witness. Cruise at a gentle pace, disembark onto smaller boats to venture into grottos and caves, stop to explore floating fishing villages and picturesque lookout points, and dine on beautifully prepared fresh seafood. Each junk operates with a slightly different itinerary and on board facilities, so chat with us to choose the one that’s right for you.

Day 8 - Continue your junk cruise

Includes:

Enjoy a second day on board your Halong junk. A two night cruise offers the opportunity to journey deeper into the Bay, exploring caves, islets and fishing villages that are away from the day-trippers, and consequently less busy.

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Hanoi - 2 nights

Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, ranks amongst the most visually stunning cities in the world. Streets full of greenery wind between grand buildings, spacious parks, museums, temples, markets and shops, unifying the town’s many elements. Elegant pagodas rise above the infamously chaotic traffic below, exemplifying the two extremes of Hanoi’s character. Head into the centre for a visceral night-time food tour, meeting vendors and tasting an array of northern Vietnamese specialities; cycle around the city’s peaceful lakeside, stopping in the shade of an ancient temple; and join the locals for a late night beer.

Day 9 - Cruise back to the mainland, drive to Hanoi

Includes:

Wake early to the calls of Halong's seabirds nesting around the limestone karsts, and begin the day with a Tai Chi or cooking class on deck as the sun rises. While you enjoy brunch, the junk will slowly turn back towards the mainland where you’ll be driven to Hanoi and spend the remainder of your day at leisure.

Day 10 - Street food & city tour

Includes:

Enjoy a full day tour with a difference, combining Hanoi’s main sights with a foodie tour of the city. Over the course of the day you’ll stop by Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature, and immerse yourself in the city’s Old Quarter. Hanoi's residents are famous for their love of local cuisine, and along the way you’ll taste delicious seafood, sample bánh cuon noodles and slurp some of the best pho in the world.

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Phu Quoc - 3 nights

This teardrop-shaped island in the Gulf of Thailand has a heavy history, going from 17th century strategic stronghold to French colonial plantation and then a POW detention centre during the Vietnam war. These days, however, the island is famous for its chilled out atmosphere, long stretches of unblemished sand, and its jungle-covered interior. Despite a new international airport and a number of new properties springing up (notably on Long Beach), Phu Quoc remains relatively undeveloped and is perfect for a few blissful days of relaxation away from the crowds. Your entire stay here will be at leisure.

Day 11 - Fly to Phu Quoc

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Phu Quoc, where, on arrival you will be driven to your beach resort. Time for some serious R&R!

Days 12 & 13 - Enjoy a few days on the beach.

Includes:

Your days will be at leisure to relax on the beach and make the most of the hotel's facilities.

Day 14 - Fly to Ho Chi Minh City & depart

Includes:

Transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Ho Chi Minh City and connecting onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
Standard £2,229US$2,920 £2,028US$2,657 £1,821US$2,386

Moon Garden Homestay

Set in the ancient village of Ky Son, the Moon Garden Guesthouse sits somewhere between a traditional homestay and upmarket guesthouse in truth... See more

Mai Chau Eco Lodge

Mai Chau is a beautifully rural, tranquil valley just under a hundred miles from Hanoi, and its backdrop of paddy fields and emerald mountains offers total respite from urban bustle... See more

Ninh Binh Legend Hotel

With its picturesque location on the outskirts of Ninh Binh (an otherwise unpicturesque city!), the Ninh Binh Legend is a very welcome addition to the city's previously limited range of hotel offerings... See more

Dragons Pearl Junk

Modelled on traditional Chinese junks and an iconic sight on the waters of Vietnam’s beautiful Halong Bay, the Dragon’s Pearl is a lovely option for travellers keen to explore the region in comfort...

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Essence Hotel

A firm favourite with the Selective Asia team (and past clients), The Essence Hotel enjoys a superb location in the centre of Hanoi's old quarter, just 10 minutes from serene Hoan Kiem Lake... See more

Cassia Cottage

Simple and stylish - what the Cassia Cottage does it does well. The beach side resort has 58 rooms and cottages all located close to the north end of Long Beach, Phu Quoc’s most popular stretch of sand... See more
First Class £2,361US$3,093 £2,160US$2,829 £1,953US$2,559

Moon Garden Homestay

Set in the ancient village of Ky Son, the Moon Garden Guesthouse sits somewhere between a traditional homestay and upmarket guesthouse in truth... See more

Mai Chau Eco Lodge

Mai Chau is a beautifully rural, tranquil valley just under a hundred miles from Hanoi, and its backdrop of paddy fields and emerald mountains offers total respite from urban bustle... See more

Emeralda Ninh Binh Resort & Spa

Located well away from the bustle of Ninh Binh's busy streets, the Emeralda Ninh Binh’s rural setting ensures a peaceful stay in one of Vietnam’s least explored regions - despite being only 90 minutes drive from Hanoi... See more

Dragons Pearl Junk

Modelled on traditional Chinese junks and an iconic sight on the waters of Vietnam’s beautiful Halong Bay, the Dragon’s Pearl is a lovely option for travellers keen to explore the region in comfort...

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La Siesta Classic Ma May

La Siesta Classic Ma May is a welcoming boutique property just a short stroll from Hoan Kiem Lake, within very easy reach of the many temptations of Old Quarter, and offers great facilities for a central Hanoi hotel...

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Green Bay Phu Quoc Resort

Surrounded by lush greenery and facing Phu Quoc’s famously azure waters, Green Bay is a simple, bonafide tropical idyll...

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Superior £2,496US$3,269 £2,295US$3,006 £2,088US$2,735

Moon Garden Homestay

Set in the ancient village of Ky Son, the Moon Garden Guesthouse sits somewhere between a traditional homestay and upmarket guesthouse in truth... See more

Mai Chau Eco Lodge

Mai Chau is a beautifully rural, tranquil valley just under a hundred miles from Hanoi, and its backdrop of paddy fields and emerald mountains offers total respite from urban bustle... See more

Emeralda Ninh Binh Resort & Spa

Located well away from the bustle of Ninh Binh's busy streets, the Emeralda Ninh Binh’s rural setting ensures a peaceful stay in one of Vietnam’s least explored regions - despite being only 90 minutes drive from Hanoi... See more

Peony Junk

The beautifully appointed Peony Junk cruises from Halong Bay into less-visited Lan Ha Bay, and with only 24 cabins and plenty of communal space, on-board life feels peaceful and relaxing… 

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Movenpick Hanoi

Previously known as the Gouman Hotel, the Movenpick Hanoi is not only the seriously new-and-improved version - it has undergone the most outstanding transformation... See more

La Veranda

Undoubtedly the pick of the luxury resorts on Phu Quoc, the Colonial-style La Veranda is set amidst lush tropical gardens that lead onto an 80-metre stretch of the island's most popular beach. The resort consists... See more
Deluxe £3,098US$4,059 £2,898US$3,796 £2,691US$3,525

Moon Garden Homestay

Set in the ancient village of Ky Son, the Moon Garden Guesthouse sits somewhere between a traditional homestay and upmarket guesthouse in truth... See more

Mai Chau Eco Lodge

Mai Chau is a beautifully rural, tranquil valley just under a hundred miles from Hanoi, and its backdrop of paddy fields and emerald mountains offers total respite from urban bustle... See more

Aravinda Resort

Surrounded by calm lotus ponds and rice fields between Hoa Lu’s misty mountains, the Aravinda Resort is a chic and peaceful retreat...

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Heritage Line Ylang

The latest addition to the luxury Heritage Line portfolio, the ten-suite Ylang cruises the unspoiled waters of Lan Ha Bay. Active excursions such as cycling and hiking are balanced with time at leisure to enjoy the junk's facilities...

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Opened in 1901 and once host to a roll-call of iconic 20th century guests, the Metropole Hanoi exudes historic charm like no other property in the city... See more

La Veranda

Undoubtedly the pick of the luxury resorts on Phu Quoc, the Colonial-style La Veranda is set amidst lush tropical gardens that lead onto an 80-metre stretch of the island's most popular beach. The resort consists... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • Vietnam boasts an impressive coastline and a variety of beaches to choose from. We have based this itinerary on R&R time on the island of Phu Quoc but this can be changed and your Selective Asia consultant will be able to talk you through the options depending on your preferences and the time of year you are travelling.
  • Instead of flying from Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc why not journey along the Mekong Delta on your own private traditional sampan - the type of boat that has been used on the delta waters for centuries. You'll start the cruise in Cai Be (2 hours from Ho Chi Minh City) and travel along the river and canals to Can Tho, spending the night onboard. It's then a short flight from Can Tho to Phu Quoc.
  • Halong Bay is certainly one of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam. To get there though entails a 3 1/2 hour drive from Hanoi and, as picturesque as the scenery is, you may, understandably, prefer not to include the drive in both directions. Instead you can enjoy a scenic seaplane flight, a journey of just 30 minutes. Be sure to keep your camera on-hand as the aerial views over the countryside and Halong Bay itself are unforgettable. For a small supplement, there’s the option of extending your flight by 15 minutes to circle over Halong Bay.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.

Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in its current form (and at the price quoted), there are those who wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination, or even starting from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region, they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You may require a visa to enter Vietnam. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.