Vietnam Rail & Waterways

Max Group 12

Private Room

Lifetime Deposit

16-Day Food & Culture Adventure From North To South

Treat yourself to an early Christmas present – the full ‘package’ of Vietnam in all of its colour, culture and commotion! You’ll have plenty of time to get home for the ‘big’ day and ‘must-attend’ festivities but first – make your way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnam’s perfected modes of transport, from train, boat, rickshaw and bicycle – and its magical waterways – at a time when the weather is at its kindest for anyone who overheats easily.  This is one gift that you’ll never forget!

You’ll experience both Vietnam’s best, and its secret-best! Have heartfelt moments with locals, eat your way through incredible food, browse the produce at colourful markets, explore a melting pot of architectural styles and stay in boutique accommodation.

Vietnam’s trains are a slow traveller’s piece-de-resistance, so sit back and enjoy the ride – you’ll travel on four different ones – in the company of no more than 12 in your group. All those people flying across the country have no clue what they’re missing!

Highlights

Sail the secluded Gulf of Tonkin on an overnight luxury cruise.

Explore Hue the authentic way.

Ride the inland waters of Trang An and The Mekong.

Catch the Reunification Express for spectacular Hai Van Pass views.

Enjoy taste bud-pleasing, yummy food experiences.

Rest up in a resort with ocean views and a private beach.

Trip Details

Trip Breakdown

Price

$9,416 AUD (per person – private supplement only)

  • $1,900 AUD deposit per person
  • 2 weeks cooling off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Private Room for every guest every night.

Please refer to our payment terms in the FAQs.


Dates

Starts: TBC

Ends: TBC


Length

16 days / 15 nights


Arrival

GM Premium Hotel, Hanoi


Departure

Liberty Central Riverside Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City


Group Size

12


Included

  • Meals: 15 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 8 dinners
  • Transportation: 4 x trains, 1 x domestic flight, 1 x overnight cruise, 4 x full day private air-conditioned transportation, 10 x private transportation transfers
  • 13 nights boutique and premium accommodation, 1 night cruise, 1 night overnight train
  • 1 top-rated tour leader throughout and specialist guides along the way.
  • All listed activities and more!

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Any visas required
  • Late check-out at hotels
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Drinks with included lunches and dinners
  • Tip kitty (See FAQs for more information)

Accommodation

Your Fencox accommodation means having a private room, all to yourself – every single time. However, the overnight train is not a private supplement.


Day 1 – Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam! One of our friendly team will meet you in the arrivals hall and whisk you directly to your hotel – and your cosy, private room. This slice of peace and quiet will become a welcome reprieve from the bustling streets of Hanoi!

Tonight, get to know the rest of the Fencox Family over dinner for the first catch-up – at one of our favourite local restaurants of course. Afterwards, you’ll wander along the lake’s edge in downtown Hanoi. Wait… are those Christmas trees you spy for sale in the shops? They sure are… Hanoians love embracing the festivities! 

Accommodation: GM Premium Hotel – Junior Room
Included: Dinner

Day 2 – The Old Quarter

Early mornings in Hanoi are all about makeshift market stalls and boisterous coffee houses. So, let’s skip the hotel breakfast and fill up on crusty baguettes stuffed with fresh ingredients, as you explore Hanoi like a local with your guide. Here’s a tip! Try the local (Vietnamese recipe) iced coffee, known as ca phe sua da, or egg coffee if you dare – these are unique to Vietnam.

Hanoi’s Old Quarter has been around for more than 1,000 years, and while you wander along its cobblestone lanes today, you’ll catch the heady scent of incense wafting from ancestral temples, and come to understand how the city’s many cultural incarnations contribute to its eclectic charm. Continue your street food feast with a pit stop for crispy bun cha before heading to Train Street to watch a local locomotive squeeze its way between homes and cafes, missing them by mere metres! Wrap up the day over a relaxing drink in a neighbourhood Bia Hoi or Beerhall. 

Accommodation: GM Premium Hotel – Junior Room
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 3 – Lan Ha Bay

Cruising on Halong Bay is on plenty of travellers’ bucket lists. But have you heard of Lan Ha Bay? It’s remote compared to its celebrity neighbour, has scenery that is just as jaw-dropping, and best of all, none of the tourist hordes! 

You’ll hit the road after breakfast and set sail by lunchtime on The Heritage Cruise. Join in with the deserted-beach and water-cave excursions, try your hand at squid fishing like a local, have a go of the onboard kayaks, or just relax on your cabin’s private balcony, Pho cocktail in hand (if you dare!), watching the sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. 

Accommodation: Heritage Cruise – Delta or Ocean Cabin
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 – Lan Ha Bay and Ninh Binh

If you’re an early riser, you’re welcome to join the sundeck Vovinam (Vietnam’s martial arts) to stretch off last night’s delicious feast. Then it’s time to jump aboard a traditional bamboo boat to go into the Light and Dark Cave. You’ll glide through the cavern’s opening which is framed by fig trees and orchids, and into its silent darkness, only to be bathed in light once more when you pop out the other side and into the hidden lagoon.

After brunch, say your goodbyes to the Heritage crew and reunite with your guide and driver for the last road transfer of the trip. Destination: Ninh Binh. Usually only on the radar of intrepid travellers, this place is not just off-the-beaten-path, the scenery is off-the-charts, and we didn’t want you to miss out. Following check-in and a nice chunk of chill time, you’ll still be able to fit in a tranquil rowboat trip through the Van Long Nature Reserve this afternoon

Tonight is a low-key one, with dinner at the hotel. 

Accommodation: Hoang Son Peace Hotel – Superior Room
Included: Light Breakfast, Brunch and Dinner

Day 5 – Ninh Binh 

We don’t usually bandy around overdone tour brochure words like ‘spectacular’, but when it comes to the UNESCO Heritage-listed Trang An Complex, it’s hard to avoid it! You’ll be awed into silence this morning as you travel by boat along the submerged valleys surrounded by towering limestone peaks. Then, from boat to bicycle, you’ll tour Hoa Lu, Vietnam’s capital back in the 10th century. Don’t worry – the cycling is flat, easy and slow-paced – but if you’re still not convinced it’s for you, we’ve arranged a vehicle backup too.

After a local restaurant lunch, Mua Cave is on the agenda. However, if you’re not fussed about taking the 500 stairs to the top of the mountain for ooh-and-ahh-making views, you can choose to pop back to the resort and enjoy its tranquillity or catch a few zzz’s. You’ll all meet up again when the group heads out to a local restaurant for dinner.

Day 5.5 – Overnight Train to Dong Hoi

We’ve arranged an evening checkout at the hotel, then it’s All Aboard for your first ride on Vietnam’s Reunification Express. The train is scheduled to depart Ninh Binh Railway Station at 9:44pm. Yep – your first long-haul train ride is a sleeper! Cosy up with two or three of your fellow Fencox Family in one of the 4-berthed shared compartments with toilets at the end of the carriage. Sure you can choose to have one of these all to yourself, but where’s the fun in that? Channel your inner adventurer and spend the evening reflecting on the trip so far and chatting away the evening with your bunkmates. Now, can you see why we kept you so busy today? You’ll sleep well tonight!

Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6 – Phong Nha

The train should pull into Dong Hoi Station around 6 am and your room will already be prepared for you at the Lake House. Talk about comfort! Take a snooze, and enjoy breakfast at your leisure, before regrouping later to visit Phong Nha Cave. As the riverboat chugs along the Son River, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped back in time. This prehistoric landscape is backdrop-perfection to riverside villages barely changed in centuries. And the sound of children playing on the riverbank will joyfully echo in your memory long after you’re back at home. 

The entrance to the cave is literally a hole at the base of a towering limestone cliff and your boat will glide right on through. That’s right. You won’t even have to leave the comfort of your boat to explore this underground river system that stretches for kilometres. Although, you’ll eventually moor so you can walk along the boardwalk for a closer peek at the ancient stalactites and rock formations.

Accommodation: Phong Nha Lake House – Villa Room
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 7 – Hue 

Today’s trip is just three hours by train on what’s called a soft seat to Hue. Only the comfiest ride for our Fencox-Fam! These trains aren’t known for their punctuality so lucky there’s nothing further planned today except check-in and, of course, dinner – so why not say hi to some local fellow travellers and sit back and enjoy the ride.

Did somebody mention dinner?

Vietnamese food is to Hue like pizza is to Naples – it’s the traditional home of imperial cuisine and much of Vietnam’s deliciousness. So tonight, we’ve planned our favourite food tour of all! What an enjoyable rush as your cyclo-driver skilfully manoeuvres his rickshaw along tiny alleyways to the best street food venues in town. What fun! And your tastebuds will do a merry dance trying treats like Hue’s crispy savoury pancakes. 

Accommodation: Eldora Hotel, Deluxe City View Room
Included: Breakfast Box and Dinner (Food Tour)

Day 8 – Hue

Come out today to see Hue through the eyes of a local. Your neighbourhood guide will share childhood stories about life during the war and intimate family history as you’re led down side streets abuzz with local life. Then travel by boat to a riverside village whose families have created bronze pieces since the 1500s.

Enjoy a relaxing lunch with secluded views that overlook the Imperial City. If you find yourself daydreaming about what life was like living among Vietnamese royalty, you’ll soon get a sneak peek into the past – from a real-life princess from the House of Nguyen, Vietnam’s last ruling family. Wander the dusk-quiet streets of Hue this evening in search of another yummy dinner. If you’re not sure where to go, ask your guide. They always know the best places!

Accommodation: Eldora Hotel, Deluxe City View Room
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 9 – Train to Hoi An

The train leaves for Da Nang at 9am. The soft-seat trip should only take around 2.5 hours, but gazing out the window as the train crawls along Hai Van Pass – coastline drama to your left, mountains to your right – you’ll be hoping that time slows. Not surprisingly, this part of the journey features regularly in those ‘10 best’ travel lists we all read. Train trip finished, Hoi An is a 45-minute road transfer from Da Nang Station.

Hoi An. Yes, it’s a tourist hotspot. It’s also a must-see, so we’ve made sure your experience is not a generic one. But first, you need to see what everyone else comes for, and on this afternoon’s walking tour of the old town, you’ll discover why its UNESCO Heritage status is well deserved.

Accommodation: Vin Hung Riverside Resort – Superior Garden View
Included: Breakfast

Day 10 – Hoi An

By now your love for Vietnamese food will be an obsession and today you can nurture that along even more! The group will head out by minivan to the Tra Que vegetable village, witnessing farmers bent over their preciously cultivated crops along the way – you’ll get the chance to meet these friendly locals soon. Pick your own sprigs of coriander and Vietnamese mint at the farm before scouring the local market for more fresh ingredients. At the end, you’ll connect with your chef, learn about cooking, and get to share the spoils over lunch. No previous cooking experience required!

With full bellies and happy taste buds, hop aboard a colourful, traditional boat for your cruise back to Hoi An via the river. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. Spend it in your splendid accommodation or wander through the old town. It’s user-friendly – there’s even an Irish Pub if you’re feeling like a change of pace! 

Accommodation: Vin Hung Riverside Resort – Superior Garden View 
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 11 – Quy Nhon Beach

Today you’ll trade the train for a private road transfer. It’s around a 5-hour drive to Quy Nhon, and it will be broken up by a surprise stop or two along the way!

Today’s journey ends at the up-and-coming resort town of Quy Nhon. If you’re not already feeling the most relaxed you’ve ever felt, then the views of the private beach from your studio’s balcony is surely going to take you to that zen-zone!

Accommodation: Avani Quy Nhon Resort, Avani Deluxe Studio Room
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

 

Day 12 – Quy Nhon

Fancy a lie-in today? Your deluxe studio is just divine and you’re welcome to savour it for a while. In the afternoon the group will meet up for a tour around the district. Scurry off to Stone Egg Beach to see its other-worldly boulders and seek out the ancient Cham Towers, scattered throughout the countryside. Built at least 1,000 years ago, some are still visited for worshipping today. 

Wrap up the day with poetry-inspiring views of dramatic cliffside landscapes before dinner at a local restaurant. The seafood is so fresh here!

Accommodation: Avani Quy Nhon Resort, Avani Deluxe Studio Room
Included: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

You’re out the door after breakfast to catch your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. After the laidback countryside, you’ll instantly feel the big-city energy of Ho Chi Minh this afternoon. It’s the business heart that drives the nation, but it has its traditional neighbourhoods too… if you know where to look. Check into your hotel and head out to explore with your guide – with a quick coffee stop to boost the spirit! 

This afternoon you’ll head to the Ho Chi Minh Opera House for a striking performance that can only be described as the Vietnamese version of Cirque du Soleil!  Debrief from the wow-worthy display of acrobatics and traditional music over a yummy local dinner.

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel – Deluxe Room
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 14 – Cu Chi Tunnels

We’ve all heard about the tunnels built by Vietnamese guerrillas during Vietnam’s wars for Independence and Reunification, but to see them first-hand will take your appreciation for their ingenuity to a different level – especially when you see the smokeless kitchen, designed by an army chef back in 1951. Spending a little time underground in the tunnels will give you more insight into wartime survival in Vietnam.

Back in Ho Chi Minh City, pop on your walking shoes and comfy clothes this evening, because your guide is going to reveal to you the foodie world of South Vietnamese street food in a hidden part of this mega-metropolis.

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel – Deluxe Room
Included: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 15 – The Mekong Delta

The saddest part of today is waking up only to realise that you have just one full day remaining. But that one day will be lived to the fullest!

The tentacles of the Mekong’s River Delta reach all the way to the city and you’ll travel along one into the heart of the Delta today. Your boat chugs along while daily life in the South unfolds before you – like a movie with an artistically perfected film set. As your boat draws into the bank along the way, and later when you travel by bicycle or rickshaw, you too will find yourself in that movie scene – meeting with workers and farmers who openly share with you about their lives. The adventure then finishes by rowboat along a palm-lined canal – a most quintessential jungle experience to reach your lunch spot! 

There’s enough time this afternoon for packing your case and preparing for dinner before a final farewell. And what a farewell it will be – dine on your last tastes of broths and spring rolls and clink glasses to your trip with your new friends. You probably really feel like a Fencox Family now! Can you believe it’s been 15 days travelling Vietnam from top to bottom? 

Accommodation: Liberty Central Riverside Hotel – Deluxe Room
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 16 – Farewell Friends

Swap numbers and emails at breakfast, for it’s time to farewell friends and head home just in time for your local Christmas cheer! Your airport transfer is included, and your driver will pick you up three hours before your flight departure. Hotel checkout is at noon.

Included: Breakfast

Trip Map

Frequently Asked Questions


Prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is a significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate. Our trip pricing is determined by what the exchange rates are at the time of publishing the trip.

The pricing on this trip is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.66 USD.

A deposit of $1,900 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling-off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

Level 1 or Easy

So long as you have a general level of health and fitness, you’ll be fine. There are short times where specific exercise is planned for this trip (eg.: cycling on Day 5), but alternatives are provided. However, to enjoy this trip, you’ll need to be able to spend time on your feet and regularly walk for 2-3 hours. Daily activities might include walking on uneven and hilly ground, getting on and off various forms of transportation and occasionally climbing some stairs. You may also encounter over-the-bath showers in some of the accommodations. To prepare for this trip, we recommend that you walk 10,000 steps a day, several times a week.

All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it, but it will be impossible to enjoy your trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour for a full afternoon. Unfortunately, this tour cannot accommodate people requiring walking aids.

Fencox was created because we had so many enquiries from men and women who had heard about our amazing Patch Adventures trips for women-only and wanted the opportunity to travel solo in the same way, only in a mixed group.

Fencox caters to both men and women who are solo travellers, have a genuine sense of adventure, are aged 55+, and are physically active and young at heart. Your fellow travel mates on a Fencox trip are inquisitive about the world and love exploring new travel destinations. Fencox travel mates love meeting new people, enjoy a good chat, and are happy to share a table with fellow travel mates for dinner.

If you’re travelling solo but don’t want to feel alone, this is your opportunity to share your travel experiences with other like-minded people. And best of all …. you’ll never pay a single supplement because everyone is guaranteed their own room!

Will we be picked up at the airport?
Yes! One of our friendly team will be waiting for you in the public arrivals area of the airport. You’ll transfer directly to the hotel. The transfer is free and in a private and air-conditioned vehicle, which you will only share if there is anyone else on your flight joining the tour.

When should we arrive?
Try to arrive before midday on the start day, although earlier would be recommendable. If possible, come one day early to settle in. We can organise additional hotel nights for you at cost.

Being tour operators (not travel agents), we are not licensed to sell flights. We recommend contacting your trusted local travel agent to book flights if you’re in need of assistance.

10kg hand luggage and 23kg checked luggage.

Australians and New Zealanders require a tourist e-Visa to enter Vietnam, which will cost $25 to $50 USD. When the time comes to apply, we’ll assist with all the info you need.

Most of our trips have a tip kitty because many cultures have interesting and diverse rules when it comes to tips. We’ve found it to be the easiest way to combat over-tipping, under-tipping or having the tip fall into the wrong hands. Our goal is for guests to relax and know that the complexities of tipping are taken care of, on their behalf.

For your Vietnam adventure, we ask your contribution be: 3,250,000 VND (equivalent to $210 AUD) to your guide on Day 1. The kitty will be managed by your guide and distributed along the way at restaurants for included meals, hotel staff, drivers, train station porterage and services.

What is not covered is a customary tip at the end of the trip for your guide. If they’ve ensured that your trip is memorable, we recommend the following guidelines:

1,800,000 VND to 2,500,000 VND per person at the end of the trip ($120 – $160 AUD equivalent).

(Exchange Rate used – $1AUD : 15,562 Vietnamese Dong)

Have more questions? Check out our FAQ page!