Women working in the rice paddies of northern Vietnam (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 07 May

9 extraordinary journeys that take you to Vietnam's hidden corners

With incredible landscapes, delicious food and a timeless culture, Vietnam is one of South-East Asia’s most exciting destinations. From cycling to cruises, here’s how to experience the country at its best

1: Cycle through Vietnam’s rural heart

Vietnamese woman cycling through Hue (Dreamstime)

Vietnamese woman cycling through Hue (Dreamstime)

Ride through the heart of rural Vietnam as you follow the Ho Chi Minh Highway from Hanoi to Hue on this 10-day cycle tour with KE Adventure Travel.

It’s a journey in tune with the slower pace of life in this part of Vietnam, and one that will bring you into contact with local ethnic groups like the Hmong and Dao. The landscape is varied and spectacular, from the incredible ‘karst’ landscapes of the Truong Son Mountains to the riverside city of Hue, Vietnam’s UNESCO-listed Imperial City. Passing through jungle, farmland and numerous traditional villages, this is a journey guaranteed to put you in contact with authentic Vietnam.

Trip: Hanoi to Hue on the Ho Chi Minh Highway

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Departures Jan-Mar & Sep-Dec

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,795 (exc. flights)

2: The ultimate Mekong luxury cruise

Life on the Mekong River (Dreamstime)

Life on the Mekong River (Dreamstime)

Explore one of the world’s great rivers in style on this 7-night luxury Mekong cruise with Cox & Kings Travel.

Sailing aboard the Jayavarman, Indochina’s first boutique-style river cruiser, you’ll enjoy impeccable service and facilities of the highest order as you soak up Vietnamese river life from your private balcony. Calling at small riverside villages and quiet temples, the Jayavarman is the ideal way to visit areas that are inaccessible by road and well off the tourist trail. This is an unforgettable Mekong experience and a treat for all your senses.

Trip: A River Journey on the Mekong (Jayavarman)

Who: Cox & Kings Travel

When: Flexible departure dates

How long: 14 days

How much: From £3,375 (inc. flights)

3: Discover Vietnam’s Tonkinese Alps

Child riding a buffalo in the Tonkinese Alps (Dreamstime)

Child riding a buffalo in the Tonkinese Alps (Dreamstime)

Explore a corner of northern Vietnam that very few people get to visit on this 14-day adventure through the Tonkinese Alps with TravelLocal.

Wedged between the Gulf of Tonkin and the Chinese province of Yunnan, this remote corner of Vietnam is one of the few areas in Asia where modernity is yet to encroach, and the local Tai Dón people still follow their traditional ways. It’s a trip bound to appeal to adventurous travellers, with trekking in the rugged Muong Hoa valley and a glimpse of rural Vietnamese life.

Trip: Vietnam Off The Beaten Track

Who: TravelLocal

When: Flexible departure dates throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: From £1,090 (exc. flights)

4: Your own private Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi (Dreamstime)

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi (Dreamstime)

Experience the best of Vietnam on this excellent-value private tour with Bamboo Travel.

Designed for those who want to get under the skin of this fascinating country, you’ll enjoy an overnight cruise around Halong Bay on a junk boat, wander the historic towns of Hue and Hoi An, and stay overnight in the Mekong Delta. You’ll get time in the two main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well, staying in centrally-located local-style hotels close to the sights, shops and restaurants.

Trip: The Highlights of Vietnam

Who: Bamboo Travel

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 13 days

How much: From £1,895 (inc. flights)

5: Vietnam top to bottom

Junk boats in Halong Bay (Dreamstime)

Junk boats in Halong Bay (Dreamstime)

Visit Vietnam’s main attractions, as well as its hidden corners, on this in-depth tour of the entire country with Wild Frontiers.

Vietnam remains one of South-East Asia’s most diverse destinations. This trip balances visits to some of the country’s better-known hotspots, like Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City, with more off-beat places like Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, with its stunning cave systems, and Bach Ma hill station, with its faded French colonial mansions.

Trip: Vietnam Explorer

Who: Wild Frontiers

When: Departures Mar, Aug & Sep

How long: 14 days

How much: From £2,995 (exc. flights)

6: Take a break in the Mai Chau Valley

Morning breaks in the Mai Chau Valley (Dreamstime)

Morning breaks in the Mai Chau Valley (Dreamstime)

Get back to nature and recharge your batteries on this three-day nature break in the Mai Chau Valley with Buffalo Tours.

Based at Mai Chau Lodge, you’ll discover a world of waterfalls, towering limestone mountains, rice paddies, corn fields, bamboo groves and terraced tea plantations. You can cycle and trek through the area and visit local tribes, or simply kick back by the pool, enjoying the tastiest Vietnamese food and a view unlike anywhere else in the world.

Trip: Mai Chau Valley break

Who: Buffalo Tours

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 3 days

How much: From £278 (exc. flights)

7: Taste all the flavours of Vietnam

Fresh fruit for sale at the floating market (Dreamstime)

Fresh fruit for sale at the floating market (Dreamstime)

Let your stomach be your guide on this tasty tour through Vietnam’s vibrant food culture with Travel The Unknown.

You’ll discover the beauty, charm and elegance of Vietnam through its food – learning culinary secrets from passionate local chefs, trying your hand at making coconut candy, and meeting local honey wine producers. You’ll also be taught how to make rice noodles, and go shopping for fresh ingredients at the Mekong Delta's floating markets. It's guaranteed to be delicious.

Trip: Flavours of Vietnam

Who: Travel The Unknown

When: Departures Apr & Oct

How long: 14 days

How much: From £1,945 (exc. flights)

8: Go underground in the countryside

Entering Phong Nha cave complex by boat (Dreamstime)

Entering Phong Nha cave complex by boat (Dreamstime)

Go beyond Vietnam’s bustling cities and coast, and discover the rural charms and caves of the countryside on this 15-day adventure with Selective Asia.

Bookmarked by stays in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and an overnight junk cruise in Halong Bay, this trip will take you deep into the rural regions of Phong Nha and Ninh Binh, a land of paddy fields and small villages where traditional lifestyles prevail. It is here you will find the impressive Phong Nha cave complex, hidden amongst spectacular limestone karst formations – an undoubted highlight of your trip.

Trip: Vietnam: Caves and Countryside

Who: Selective Asia

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,709 (exc. flights)

9: Explore Vietnam’s Central Highlands

Sunrise over Dalat (Dreamstime)

Sunrise over Dalat (Dreamstime)

Immerse yourself in the highlights of central Vietnam, on this adventurous tour of Vietnam’s Central Highlands with Audley.

Beginning on the delightful cobbled streets of Hoi An, you’ll follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail through the villages of Kon Tum and Buon Ma Thuot. Here, you’ll visit traditional rong houses, before continuing south to the faded colonial grandeur of the former French hill retreat of Dalat. Finally, you will reach Ho Chi Minh City where your journey ends with an exhilarating night tour of the city on the back of a Vespa.  

Trip: Central Highlands of Vietnam

Who: Audley

When: Flexible departure dates throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: From £3,165 (inc. flights)