Vietnam Central & Southern Explorer
Type: Exploration Tour
Duration: 15 Days
Best Time to Travel: October – April
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Vietnam Central & Southern Explorer - Itinerary
Get off the beaten track and explore some of Vietnam’s most stunning scenery in the rainforests of the Central Highlands. We take you deep in to the wilderness to see how some of the region’s ethnic tribes people live and host us. Along the way our trek passes through evergreen forests, jungle villages and dramatic waterfalls and lakes.
From the highlands we pass in to the lush, flat terrain of the fertile Mekong Delta, home to floating markets, fishing villages and a myriad of canals and waterways. Witness a colourful Cao Dai service and cycle on canal paths passing by orchards and delta villages. This is a great opportunity to see how an authentic Vietnam, steeped in traditions and culture.
Danang – Hoi An
Arrive at Danang Airport and private transfer to your hotel in Hoi An. Remainder of the day is free at leisure.
We have an early morning pick-up for the boat trip to village of Duy Hai. Here we can watch fishermen bring in their overnight catch and see how the fish are smoked and dried. We are offered coffee and snacks with a local family before cycling back to Hoi An. Upon arrival we have another boat ride, this time on the Thu Bon River as we cruise upstream to the villages of Thanh Ha and Kim Bong, renowned for pottery and carpentry. We visit the local workshops where the handicrafts are made before returning to our hotel around midday.
Enjoy a cycling trip to Hoi An's most popular attractions: the Quan Cong Temple, the Japanese Bridge, Old Merchant House, Chinese Assembly Halls and the local markets. We also visit a lantern maker to see how these delicate things are made. We will have the chance to create our own lantern as a souvenir.
Hoi An - Pleiku
Transfer to Danang Airport for the short flight to Pleiku. Upon arrival in Pleiku we drive to Kontum where we have a tour of the town including the museum, wooden church, an orphanage and the Kon K'Lor suspension bridge. Later we start hiking to the villages of Kon Ko Lor Lor I and Kon Ko Lor II. We have a picnic lunch on the way.
Board a wooden boat on the Dakbla River to the village of Kon Ko Tu, home to the Bahnar minority people, where we are guests for the night. We take dinner at a local home.
Kontum – Pleiku – Buon Ma Thuot
Depart Kontum for Buon Ma Thuoat via Pleiku where we visit Phun village, a village of the Jarai ethnic group, best known for their cemeteries adorned with wooden statues.
Leave Pleiku for Buon Ma Thuot, stopping at coffee, rubber and pepper plantations along the way.
Buon Ma Thuot – Nam Ka
We visit the Ethnology Museum, containing lots of information and artifacts from the region’s ethnic minorities. After this we proceed to two of the most impressive waterfalls in the Central Highlands: Dray Sap and Dray Nu.
Drive roughly 90km to the village of Nam Ka before walking the final 3km to our local home for the night. The homestay is in Rai, an Ede minority village. Our accommodation will be a traditional long house on stilts. It’s very simple but clean and comfortable.
Nam Ka – Buon Triet Lake
Today we have a full day’s trek through evergreen forest to Buon Triet Lake and will involve a climb as well as descending through forest as well as crossing a stream. Along the way we will see tropical birds, forest wildlife and some ethnic tribes- people. Towards the late afternoon we take to paddle boats and ride across beautiful Buon Triet Lake with the opportunity for a swim. This evening is spent in Jatu village where our hosts are the M’Nong minority. We overnight at a local home stay.
Buon Triet – Lake Lake - Dalat
After breakfast, head to Lak Lake. The journey takes us past ethnic villages, rice fields and rivers. We cross Lak Lake by dug-out canoe to M’Lieng village where we have time to walk around to find out more about daily life in the Central Highlands. Later we can take an elephant ride.
Depart Lak Lake for Dalat, arriving in the evening and checking in to our hotel.
Dalat – Pinhatt Mountain
This morning we drive Robin Hill for a trek through the pine forest to Paradise Lake. We stop at a coffee farm en route to the base of Pinhatt Mountain (1696m). Our climb to the top should take roughly 45 minutes.
After lunch we descend in to the tropical forest to our campsite where we can do some fishing and swimming. We spent the night at camp in tents.
Pinhatt Mountain – Dalat – Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast we embark on another jungle trek. Today will be harder than yesterday and last for at least 4 hours before we stop at a local village.
Return to Dalat.
Transfer to the Airport for the evening flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival you will be met and driven to the hotel to check in.
Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast we leave the city behind and drive through the countryside to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Before entering the tunnels we have a short introductory video showing how the tunnels were constructed. We then spend the next hour exploring the maze of tunnels. On display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500 pound bombs dropped by B52 bombers.
Continue to Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border which is home to the unique Cao Dai sect, whose patron saints include Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo and Winston Churchill to name a few. The religion is a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and Christianity. Here we will witness the colourful mid-day service. We return to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) late afternoon.
Ho Chi Minh City – Can Tho
Drive out of Saigon and through the lush Mekong Delta to the town of My Tho. Upon arrival, we board our boat to visit the islands, passing fishing villages and orchard gardens before disembarking at Thoi Son Island to find out about bee farms, coconut candy making amongst other locally made products.
After lunch at a local restaurant we drive to Can Tho, in the heart of the Mekong Delta. The remainder of the day is free to relax or explore the city.
An early start, as we take a boat trip along the myriad waterway of the mighty Mekong River to Cai Rang Floating Market where hundreds of boats laden with fruits, vegetables and fish jostle for trade. After visiting a second floating market we head to Soc Trang to see the famous Khmer, Clay and Bat Pagodas.
After lunch at a local restaurant in Soc Trang we return to Can Tho.
Can Tho – Vung Liem
Today we take small country roads to Vung Liem and the lodge where we will spend tonight.
After a traditional lunch we are taken by rowboat through the canals to a 'pop rice factory'. We also visit a colorful Cao Dai temple nearby. Returning to the lodge we pick our bicycles and take to the quiet village roads passing by a duck farm, dragon fruit gardens, and a coconut fabric factory. This is a real chance to discover a rural Vietnam that most visitors never get to see. Later back at the lodge we are shown how the locals prepare a traditional meal.
The last activity of the day is a walk with locals using traditional torches made of dried coconut leaves to a neighbour’s house where we are treated to a traditional musical performance.
Vung Liem – Ho Chi Minh City
After enjoying a quiet breakfast at the lodge we can either cycle or be rowed to a local school and the 200 year old Chua Xu temple where locals and visitors from other provinces come to pray. Why not try and learn some Vietnamese from th children or teachers at the school. Later we will try our hand at weaving with water coconut leaves. The leaves are a key building material in the Mekong Delta and used to build the walls and roofs of homes.
Return by road to Ho Chi Minh city.
Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to the airport for the flight back to Ho Chi Minh City and your onward flight to the UK.
- Hotel accommodation and daily breakfast
- Homestay accommodation in Pleiku, Nam Ka, Buon Triet Lake
- Camp / Tented accommodation at Pinhatt Mountain
- Airport transfers and land transportation on tour
- Domestic flights: Danang – Pleiku / Dalat – Ho Chi Minh City
- Sightseeing with English speaking regional guides throughout
- Entrance fees and boat trips as per itinerary
- 2 Days / 1 Night in Vung Liem Lodge
- Meals as included in itinerary
What's Not Included?
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Drinks and meals not mentioned in itinerary
- Tips, laundry and other expenses of a personal nature
- Hoi An – Vinh Hung Emerald Resort (Deluxe Pool Room) – www.vinhhungemeraldresort.com
- Buon Ma Thuot – Damsan Hotel (Superior Room)
- Dalat – Hotel du Parc (Standard Room) – www.dalathotelduparc.com/en
- Ho Chi Minh City – Muong Thanh Saigon Centre Hotel (Deluxe Room) – www.saigoncentre.muongthanh.com/en/home.html
- Can Tho – TTC Hotel – (Deluxe Room) – www.canthohotels.com/en
- Vung Liem - Coco Riverside Lodge (Bungalow) – www.cocoriversidelodge.com