Dramatically diverse from north to south, Vietnam’s long coastline takes in the lime karst islands of Halong Bay best seen by private junk, the imperial citadel of Hue and the UNESCO site of Hoi An.
Head inland to discover the evocative cites of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh by tuk tuk or vespa, cycle through emerald green paddy fields and float through undiscovered parts of the Mekong with one of our trusty guides.
Vietnam is a land of contrasts with sweeping coastlines, lush green interiors and bustling colonial cities. The shear length of the country means navigating it can involve a number of internal flights, overnight train rides or boat journeys which make it all the more interesting. We also have excellent relationships with local helicopter and seaplane companies.
The Vietnamese are proud people and hence they are keen to show off the highlights of their country, with plenty of French influences stemming from before 1954 and with a strong sense of communism – the country is officially known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
It is very easy to see the ‘real’ Vietnam by cycling through the countryside, exploring the backstreets by Vespa and we work with a number of special boats sailing the coastline, floating along the Mekong and up the perfume river.
Wix Squared has some exceptional guides to get you under the skin of the country including:
- The Chairman of the Hanoi Gastronomy Club & editor of the Culinary Art Magazine
- An historian, writer and conservationist living in Hue
- The owners of a royal household in Hue
- A professional Vietnamese chef in Hoi An
- A National Geographic photographer in Saigon
- A war veteran at the Cu Chi tunnels
- A Tai Chi instructor in Hanoi
- A visual art history and film expert in Saigon
Itinerary Starting Price
From £2,500 per person, for 10 days including accommodation, private guiding, entrance fees and private transfers (not including flights).
Speed dating was invented in Vietnam when ‘love markets’ were arranged in the hill countries for locals to meet their future spouses.
Tet (Vietnamese New Year) is celebrated in January or February depending on the lunar calendar. Many attractions and shops are closed during this time.
What to Eat
The national dish is pho which is a noodle soup in a beef/chicken broth to which you add your own coriander, beansprouts, spring onions, meat and chili to taste. Pho is particularly popular at breakfast.
What to Read
‘Inside Out & Back Again’ by Thanhha Lai. Based on the experiences of a young child escaping Saigon during the war.
What to buy
A Non la (conical hat) made from bamboo and palm leaves to shade you from the sunshine or act as an umbrella when it rains.
Our favourite place to stay in Hanoi is the colonial Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel. From here take the overnight Victoria express train to Sa Pa and stay at the Victoria hotel overlooking cascading rice terraces. In Halong Bay we work with a number of luxury junks on a shared or private charter basis.
The Four Seasons Nam Hai is just a stone’s throw from the cultural sites of Hanoi and also enjoys a stunning beach, whilst the Anantara hotel is more central. In Hue there are a number of boutique hotels to stay in, including the charming Pilgrimage Village and the colonial La Residence Hue.
The main attraction in the south is Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, home to a multitude of hotels, from the colonial historic charm of the Caravelle, to the more modernised Park Hyatt, the boutique Villa Song or the opulent Reverie. Further south you can fly onto the beaches of Con Dao to stay at a glorious Six Senses hotel.
Off the beaten track
Many hotels pepper the coastline, away from the busy Vietnamese cities, including the stunning Amanoi in the Ninh Thuan Province and Fusion Maia spa retreat close to Da Nang. We also work with private boats on the Mekong or larger cruises like the Aqua Mekong to travel into Cambodia.
The emerald rice terraces are at their most vibrant during the rainy season from July-September when there are also less tourists in town. To reach Sa Pa, hop on board the Victoria Express from Hanoi for an overnight adventure or have one of our trusty drivers take you by car to enjoy the scenic journey. Once in Sa Pa we have cultural and trekking guides to avoid the crowds, understand the ethnic culture and enjoy the colourful markets.
The cities of Hanoi and Saigon can be brought to life with our resident art history expert. She will integrate traditional and contemporary paintings, old and new photographs and noteworthy propaganda into a story to portray the history of the country through various artistic visions. The interaction will take place in museums, galleries and at private collections with a focus on colonialism, Indochina wars, a north-south comparison and contemporary art.
This was once, one of the most beautiful settings in Asia, which has now been spoilt with hordes of tourists, large boats and an industrial harbour. To really appreciate the scenery, we suggest flying from Hanoi by seaplane over the limestone karst islands before setting sail on a private traditional junk for a night or two. From the vessel we can arrange beachside picnics, morning Tai Chi and kayaking to remote caves.
It is possible to spend a day on the Mekong from Saigon. However, we recommend avoiding the main part of the Delta which can get quite crowded with tourists around the floating markets. Instead our guide will stick to the smaller canals which can be experienced by sampan, by foot and by cyclo. For a longer trip, we work with a select number of boats that cruise between Vietnam and Cambodia over 3, 4, or 7 days.
Vietnamese cuisine is both healthy and excellent value. Taste Saigon’s food scene on the back of a Vespa at night or head to Hanoi to spend a morning with the chairman of the Hanoi Gastronomy Club to sample the more unusual delicacies of Vietnam found in 36 Streets. We can also arrange private cooking classes and home hosted dinners in Hoi An and Hue respectively.
The central and southern beaches experience very different weather patterns and it is important to understand the logistics of reaching these often remote destinations. Once at your chosen retreat, we can arrange castaway island meals, fishing trips, snorkelling with dugongs, paddle boarding and a traditional Vietnamese cupping therapy in the local spa. And we will ensure you sample some of the excellent fresh Vietnamese cuisine as well as a variety of international dishes.
With direct flights between Hanoi and Laos, this is a logical combination. Delve into the highlights of Vientiane or experience the laid back culture of Luang Prabang with one of our experienced guides.
Combining Vietnam and Cambodia has never been easier, either by boat along the Mekong or with a short flight into Hanoi, Da Nang or Saigon, where we can arrange numerous special experiences.
Hong Kong is one of the main hubs for Asia with direct flights to Hanoi, Nha Trang, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. So recover from jet lag in this buzzing city by reclining on a private junk and indulge in the sumptuous Chinese cuisine.
Boats make great venues for a good celebration and in Halong Bay, there are numerous private junks to charter through the striking karst islands for a couple of nights. We have the inside information to know which boat will suit each group, based on size and personal taste. For another scenic experience we can also charter seaplanes to reach this beautiful part of the country.
Alternatively meander along the Mekong from Vietnam into Cambodia (or vice versa) on an exclusive 3-7 night cruise with personal chefs, masseuses and explore untouched villages along the way.
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