Voyage Into Vietnam | EF Ultimate Break

Voyage into Vietnam

13 Days  •  4 Cities //@ts-ignore//@ts-ignore 1

Why Go?

Bustling cities, beautiful landscapes, and one motorbike for every two people. This is Vietnam, and you’ve got to see it. With historic influences from China, Japan, France and America, Vietnam is a melting pot of cultures. Add in a population of people passionate about food, family, and smiling at you, and Vietnam is hard to resist. Join local fishermen as you float down the rivers of the Mekong Delta, eat pho on top of pho, and explore some of the 2,000 tiny islands in Ha Long Bay. This is no ordinary vacation—it’s a cultural immersion to a place unknown to many, begging to be experienced. It’s safe to say, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to Southeast Asia.

What are the top highlights?

  • Cruise around Ha Long Bay, and try (and fail) to imagine a place more beautiful
  • Taste the diverse range of cuisines, from the hundreds of varieties of noodles and street food, to coffee with a raw egg in it
  • Shop for fruits, vegetables, and spices as you glide through the water at floating markets (like regular markets, but instead of stalls there are boats)
  • Go fishing with local fishermen aboard traditional wooden boats
  • Explore (formerly) secret tunnels that were used by soldiers during the Vietnam War
  • Forget your worries at a beach resort on the south coast

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
  • Private deluxe motorcoach
  • 12 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Daily breakfast, 7 lunches, and 9 dinners.
  • Entrances to select attractions

Accommodations

You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.

Click here for examples of where you'll stay.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:

  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

Day 1: Overnight Flight

Get ready—you’re bound for Vietnam—a country that will undoubtedly exceed your expectations, surprise you at every turn, and provide you with endless amounts of delicious noodles (look out, Italy).

Vietnam requires a visa for U.S. citizens. Learn more

Day 2: Arrive in Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! Vietnam’s capital city has seen a lot over the years (the 20-year Vietnam War, for starters), and is now a bustling city, full of historic monuments, friendly locals, and crosswalks where you’ve got to look both ways. Twice.

Today's Highlights:

  • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
  • Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
  • Receive the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
  • Meet the other travelers as they arrive. You're traveling a long way, so it's going to be late. The real fun starts tomorrow.

Day 3: Tour Hanoi

Walking around Hanoi, you’ll pass by traditional Chinese/Japanese architecture, find locals practicing the ancient martial art of tai chi, and hear merchants yelling out the goods they’d like to sell to you. Part old-fashioned, part growing metropolis, Hanoi is the second largest city in Vietnam with over 7 million residents. And you’ll feel it as soon as you hear the nearly 4 million motorbikes around 4 a.m. (when the workday begins).

Today's Highlights:

  • Sleep in, enjoy your first Vietnamese breakfast, and get ready for a guided tour in Hanoi.
  • Join your local guide on a walking tour of the city, passing by sites like Hoan Kiem Lake and the 36 narrow, winding streets of the Old Quarter.
  • Introduce your taste buds to pho, a noodle soup that is essentially the hamburger of Vietnam (no, not in taste—just in popularity).
  • Try egg coffee, a staple around these parts, consisting of coffee with egg yolks, sugar and condensed milk.
  • Enjoy a traditional dinner at a local's house, and learn about daily life in Hanoi from the woman who owns the place.

Day 4: Travel to Ha Long + Bai Tho Cruise

Set your sights on the coast, to Ha Long, a city whose bay is considered by some to be the 8th wonder of the world. Here, you’ll hop on a one-night cruise for a spectacular taste of Vietnam’s natural beauty. Ha Long Bay has 2,000 tiny islands, dozens of caves, and the best photo ops of the trip (and maybe your life).

Today's Highlights:

  • Board the cruise ship in Ha Long Bay. (No need to rub your eyes—what you're seeing is real.)
  • Enjoy a welcome drink and a buffet lunch as you begin cruising through the breathtaking emerald waters.
  • Have fun off the boat during a swimming, snorkeling, or kayaking session with your fellow travelers.
  • Relax and watch the sun set from the top of the boat, drink in hand.

Day 5: Travel to Hoi An

All good things must come to an end, including the Ha Long Bay cruise. Take those mental snapshots while you can, and maybe a few actual Instagram pictures, because now it’s time to get ready for the next part of your Vietnamese adventure. You’re heading south to Hoi An. The Old Town in Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means that a special agency attached to the United Nations has labeled it as having “outstanding universal value.” So basically, you know it’s legit.

Today's Highlights:

  • Wake up surrounded by the same towering rock formations and blue water you fell in love with the day before.
  • Disembark, kiss the land (that's what they do in the movies, right?), and head back to Hanoi, where you'll board a flight to Da Nang.
  • Take a quick bus ride to Hoi An, where you'll be staying for the next two nights.
  • Check in to your hotel, and explore the surrounding area before an included dinner.

Day 6: Tour Hoi An + Optional Cooking Class

Vietnam is old and new. Big and small. Vibrant and—just vibrant. If there’s one place where old takes center stage, it’s Hoi An. Once a major port city, Hoi An lies at the meeting point of the sea and the Thu Bon River. The day is yours. Tour the city by bike, explore on your own by foot, or partake in an optional cooking class.

Today's Highlights:

  • Feel the wind in your hair as you follow a guide through the back streets on a bike tour of this enchanting city.
  • Go inside a local house to try Banh It la Gai, a traditional Vietnamese cake. Repeat, Vietnamese cake.
  • Walk through the ancient town of Hoi An, admiring the architecture, canals, and locals going about their daily routine. (Feeling brave? Challenge one of them to a game of chess!)
  • Look out for the wooden Chinese shops and temples, the Japanese-covered bridges, and Vietnamese hand-made lanterns that adorn the streets.
  • Ready your nose as you walk through the Hoi An market, where you'll see and smell a variety of Vietnamese herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, and cinnamon.

Free Time Suggestions
Water Under the Bridge: Japanese influence abound in Hoi An. A prime example of this is the Japanese Covered Bridge, built by the local Japanese community in the 1590s. Look out for the pair of monkey and dog statues near the entrance. (Don’t worry—they won’t bite.)
Take to the Streets: On the surface, STREETS is a delicious café offering plenty of local food options like cao lau and rose dumplings. But look a little closer, and you’ll learn that the restaurant is staffed by underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. Good food. Good cause. Good times. This place is very popular; be prepared for lines.

Market Visit & Cooking Class(extra cost)

There is no better way to learn the culture of a country than by living amongst the locals for 3-5 years. But if this isn’t an option, cooking is a close second. Start your excursion with a tour of Hoi An’s market, where you’ll have a chance to interact with the vendors, and buy some of the items you’ll use in the class. After the market, travel by boat to a local cooking school, where the magic begins. You’ll learn the ins and outs of Vietnamese cuisine, get an introduction to plate decoration, and prepare a variety of dishes with the help of a local chef. And, of course, you get to stuff your face when you’re done.

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 7: Tour Fishing Village + Travel to Ho Chi Minh City

Today, you’ll spend some time on the water with local fishermen. They’ll teach you how they fish and paddle boats along the river. After today, consider yourself the next [insert famous fisherman here].

Today's Highlights:

  • Meet local fishermen, their families, and other members of the community.
  • Try round net and cast net fishing with the help of the fishermen. If these terms mean nothing to you, don't worry, they will.
  • Grab a paddle, and do your best to move a Vietnamese-style coracle boat (harder than it looks).
  • Head back to Hoi An, and get ready for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 8: Tour Cu Chi Region & Ho Chi Minh City

Next up: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC for short), Vietnam’s largest and most energetic city, and a place where yellow lights mean speed up and rice is used in desserts. When the North and South unified into one, they changed the name from Saigon to Ho Chi Minh City after the communist government’s first leader. Today you’ll visit this urban mecca as well as Cu Chi, a suburb that served as a Communist military base during the Vietnam War.

Today's Highlights:

  • Prepare for tunnel vision as you explore/squeeze through the vast network of Củ Chi tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war.
  • Walk through secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, and meeting rooms.
  • Head back to HCMC, and visit Independence Palace, the former presidential palace of South Vietnam.
  • Continue touring the city, stopping at the Notre Dame cathedral, the War Remnants Museum, and a hotel shaped like a wedding cake (without the frosting).
  • Embrace the crowd at the bustling Ben Thanh Market, a colorful dreamland of fruits, vegetables, meats, and spices.
  • Open your mouth (and your mind) as you taste-test the best street food of your entire life.

Day 9: Visit Cai Be & Tan Phong

Cai Be, a river town a few hours outside of HCMC, is an agricultural hotspot of Vietnam, full of some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. Let’s recap. You’ve been on a river, and you’ve been to a market. But you haven’t been to a river market. Until today, that is.

Today's Highlights:

  • Say “I’m on a boat…at a floating market” while you hop from vendor to vendor admiring the different goods they’re selling from their boats.
  • Learn how to make rice paper, coconut candy, and rice popcorn.
  • Visit Tan Phong island and go deep into the Vietnam countryside, catching glimpses of traditional homes and engaging with local farmers.
  • Hike or bike through Tan Phong for a different perspective.
  • Finish off your visit with a cup of tea and a local music performance before heading to Can Tho for the night.

Day 10: Cai Rang Floating Market + Return to Ho Chi Minh City

What’s better than one floating market? Two floating markets. And this one is even bigger than the first. These markets originated because so much life happened on or near the water. People lived near the water and traveled via the water. So why not do all your shopping on the water?

Today's Highlights:

  • Wake up early, and hit the river. Figuratively, not literally.
  • Make your way via sampan (cool wooden boat) to Cai Rang floating market.
  • Look to the long poles attached to the boats in order to determine what goods each merchant is selling.
  • Study the gold and red ornamentation on the Munireangsey Pagoda, a Buddhist structure in Can Tho.
  • Return to Ho Chi Minh City, and spend the rest of the evening as you please.

Day 11: Travel to Mui Ne

It’s been a busy trip. Time to slow things down for the last few days. Grab your swimsuit, lather on the sunscreen, and put on your arm floaties. Because…cue “Price is Right” announcer voice…You’re headed to Mui Ne for a two-day stay at a 4-star beach resort!

Today's Highlights:

  • Leave your hotel in HCMC, and travel by bus to the beautiful beach town of Mui Ne.
  • Check in to your accommodations, and relax in your superior garden view room.
  • Hit the beach for swimming and sun bathing.
  • Get your adventure on by renting kayaks from the hotel, or take a figurative chill pill at the hotel spa.
  • Embarrass yourself in front of your fellow travelers at the hotel’s karaoke bar.

Day 12: Free Day in Mui Ne + Jeep Safari

In case you forgot, you’re at a beachside resort. Have you been to the pool? Have you hit your fruity drink quota yet? What about the live music? Bottom line: you’ve got your work cut out for you. Make sure you cross off all your bucket list items. Like a sand dune Jeep safari, for example.

Today's Highlights:

  • Make it your day’s goal to try as much Vietnamese food as possible during your last 24 hours in Mui Ne.
  • Explore the beach and surrounding area on your own.
  • Partake in an optional, exhilarating sand dune Jeep safari.
  • Snap as many poolside pics as you can, to make those followers jealous.

Sand Dunes Jeep Safari(extra cost)

Need a little adventure? How about a lot of adventure? This sand dune safari will not only get the blood pumping, but it will also expose you to more of the diverse beauty of Vietnam. From the red and white sand dunes, beautifully sculpted by the ocean winds, to the picturesque lakes, you’re in for a treat. Oh, and you’ll experience the whole thing from a Jeep. (Note: your clothes could get dirty and/or wet. Plan accordingly.)

Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 13: One Last Day in Ho Chi Minh City + Farewell Dinner

You’re going back to HQ one last time: Ho Chi Minh City. Might as well call it Home Chi Minh City at this point, seeing as you’re now an expert pho-orderer/district-navigator/motorbike-avoider here. It’s your last full day in Vietnam, so be sure to make the most of it then cap it all off with a final included group dinner.

Today's Highlights:

  • Treat yourself to a tasty breakfast—it’s called a banh mi, not a banh everyone else.
  • Spend the day revisiting all the spots you forgot to Instagram last time you were here.
  • Cool down at Dam Sen Water Park or one of several public pools if you want to escape that Saigon sun.
  • Prepare for a late night and satisfy your sweet tooth in one fell swoop with a Vietnamese iced coffee.

Farewell Dinner
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group.

Day 14: Fly Home

Tạm biệt các bạn
Translation: Goodbye, friends. Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?

–OR–

EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS

1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.

2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.

Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.

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