2023 International Vietnam by Private Train and Boat

Price
$9975 per person
Duration
18 Days
Destination
Vietnam

VIETNAM
by Private Train and Boat

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  • Itinerary
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Take advantage of this rare opportunity to explore Vietnam by private train on the legendary Reunification Express—one of the world’s greatest rail journeys. Welcomed onto your private rail carriages in Ho Chi Minh City, you will travel in several spectacular stages, enjoying Vietnam’s most iconic destinations on a 2,500km odyssey all the way north to Hanoi and on to Sapa and the astounding Halong Bay. Our exclusive private train runs during the daytime and evening hours to make the most of the scenery and consists of a dining car and a sleeping car (used as a daytime place to rest and recline) attached to the back of selected express trains. When our train arrives at a destination we transfer to our hotels for the overnight stays and our carriages are parked, awaiting the next part of our trip north.

Some Details

Departure Location
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Return Location
Noi Bai, Vietnam
Tour Leader(s)
Bernadette Eichner
Tour Date
13 Mar 2023 - 30 Mar 2023
Extras
Price: $9975 Single Supplement: $2795
Price includes
  • 1 night on board the Hara coach special train
  • 17 nights’ accommodation in comfortable, centrally located 3-5-star hotels
  • 2 nights on Bhaya luxury cruise boat on Halong Bay
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • All excursions and entrance fees to attractions, as listed in the itinerary
  • Comprehensive sightseeing with expert local guides
  • Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
  • Luxury chartered coach, with luggage transport throughout the tour
  • Vietnam Visa
Price does not include
  • All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, camera fees where applicable
  • Excursions listed as optional and extra in the brochure
  • International flights
  • Meals and services not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tour Plan
Tour Plan

Day 1 • Monday:

ARRIVE IN HO CHI MINH CITY

On arrival, you’ll be met at the airport for your private transfer to your centrally-located hotel. Later this evening, enjoy a welcome dinner with your tour leaders, a team of local guides, and fellow travellers. 

Overnight: Grand Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City (D)

Day 2 • Tuesday:

HO CHI MINH CITY

Begin your exploration of Ho Chi Minh City with a city tour stopping at the bustling Ben Thanh Market, the historic City Post Office, and Notre Dame Cathedral. After lunch at a local restaurant, explore the War Remnants Museum and the old Presidential Palace, now known as the Reunification Palace, including a seldom-visited secret VC hiding place that stored weapons for an attack on the Independence Palace in 1968. Later, return to your hotel and enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant. 

Overnight: Grand Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City (B, L, D)

Day 3 • Wednesday:

HO CHI MINH CITY – MY THO – MEKONG RIVER

After breakfast, you will follow the path of Vietnam’s very first railway line (opened in 1885, and abandoned in 1958) to My Tho, 70km southwest of Ho Chi Minh City in the Mekong Delta. On the way, you will be introduced to the railway history of southern Vietnam and will see some of the surviving vestiges of the abandoned line. From the site of the former railway station on the My Tho quayside, take a cruise on the Mekong River to a nearby island where you can walk through rice fields and orchards, sample local fruit and rice wine, and listen to a musical performance. 

Afterwards, we row along the island waterways and canals in a sampan to another island where you’ll have lunch, sampling the delicious local specialty — ‘elephant ear fish’. Then, it’s back to Ho Chi Minh City and an afternoon and evening of leisure.

Overnight: Grand Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City (B, L)

Day 4 • Thursday:

HO CHI MINH CITY – NHA TRANG

After breakfast, you will head to Saigon Railway Station where your private railway carriage is coupled onto Train SE6, departing at 9 am. The first of our scenic train journeys takes us along the southernmost section of the former Transindochinois railway, built between 1904 and 1913. It meanders across the rice paddies and busy towns of the fertile south while morning tea and lunch is served in your private buffet car. We arrive at the popular resort city of Nha Trang in the early afternoon and head to our beach-front hotel to check-in. Later in the afternoon, we enjoy a short exploration of the environs by coach, taking in the cityscape, the giant sitting Budda, and the preserved 13th-century temples of the ancient Cham civilization of Po Nagar which sit on a sacred hill overlooking the bustling city. Here you will discover more about these ancient people who left their architectural mark on the entire south-central coastal region of Vietnam.

Dinner this evening is at the beach-side pavilion of the famous Sailing Club.

Intercontinental Hotel Nha Trang Beach (B, L, D)

Day 5 • Friday:

NHA TRANG – DANANG – HOI AN

In the morning we take a boat trip out into the bay to explore the wonders of the coral-fringed islands and coast, returning to the city to check out and have lunch at the hotel. We then board our private carriages on the SE8 afternoon train for the spectacular journey along the route of the Transindochinois railway, which was the last section built by the French colonial government between 1935 and 1936. This is a stunning section of coastline-hugging railway, with mountains and lakes a part of the ever-changing scenery. Dinner will be served in our private dining car as the countryside rolls by in the deep glow of evening. Your journey is accompanied by a talk on the history of the line you are riding with a soundtrack provided by the onboard music and movie system. The train pulls into Danang station at 11 pm and our coach will then transfer you to your luxurious resort hotel in the heart of old Hoi An.

Overnight: Anantara Hoi An Resort, Hoi An (B, L, D)

Day 6 • Saturday:

HOI AN

Enjoy a free morning to take your time over breakfast, relax in the hotel and explore the district. Your guided walking tour of the town begins just before lunch, exploring the Thien Hau Temple, the Japanese Covered Bridge, and several of the wonderful old ancient trading houses. Hoi An is also renowned for its skilled tailors who can create any type of garment within 24 hours, so today will also provide an opportunity for a fitting session. 

A leisurely lunch is served at the Cargo Club in the heart of the old town and afterwards, you are free to stroll around the ancient town and return to the hotel in your own time.

Overnight: Anantara Resort, Hoi An (B, L)

Day 7 • Sunday:

HOI AN

This is a free day for you to enjoy and explore the wonders of Hoi An at your leisure. One highly recommended option is a traditional Vietnamese cooking class. You will be in the company of an experienced chef who will guide you through the procurement of ingredients at the local village market and then provide in-depth, hands-on cooking instructions followed by lunch. 

Alternatively, another option you can enjoy is an early morning trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed My Son temple complex, a cluster of stone towers and sanctuaries built by the Cham people from the 7th to the 14th centuries. The complex is often compared to South East Asia’s other major temple complexes such as Angkor Wat, Borobudur, Bagan, and Ayutthaya. 

Overnight: Anantara Resort, Hoi An (B)

Day 8 • Monday:

HOI AN – DANANG – HUE

Today we find ourselves back on the rails. Departing Hoi An after breakfast, you will visit the busy Danang Railway Workshops and meet the manager who is passionate about the work they do and the future of the national railway system. You will also visit the world-renowned Cham Sculpture Museum, established in 1915/1916 by academics of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient. It contains the world’s largest and most valuable collection of Cham sculptures from various temple sites, dating from the 4th to the 15th centuries. Following this, you can enjoy lunch at a famous local restaurant.

Later in the afternoon, re-board your private carriages at Danang Station coupled onto Train SE4. Snacks will be served in the buffet car as the train rolls over the stunningly beautiful Hai Van Pass. Stone-lined tunnels and viaducts are a feature of this dramatically engineered line completed by the French in 1906. Perched on a cliff and hugging the coastline, the railway has wide views across the sea and beyond to your next destination, the old imperial capital of Hue. The train will pull into the grand colonial station at 3 pm, where you will be transferred to the luxury Imperial Hotel. The evening is yours to enjoy the multitude of dining options in-house or in the vibrant district around the hotel.

Overnight: Imperial Hotel, Hue (B, L)

Day 9 • Tuesday:

HUE

Hue acted as Vietnam’s political and royal capital during the 19th century and remains one of the country’s most important cultural and religious centres. Your full-day tour begins with a visit to the vast Hue Citadel, followed by visits to the Tu Duc and Khai Dinh Mausolea, and the Royal Arena where tigers and elephants once fought for the king’s amusement. You can also visit a ‘garden house,’ a unique architectural feature of Nguyen-dynasty which is surrounded by flower gardens and orchards. 

After a picnic lunch, explore the tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda before taking a boat trip back to your hotel along the Perfume River. In the evening, enjoy a royal banquet featuring dishes once only served in the Forbidden City.

Overnight: Imperial Hotel, Hue (B, L, D)

Day 10 • Wednesday:

HUE – HANOI

Mid-morning sees you boarding a flight for the short trip to Vietnam’s historic and dynamic capital, Hanoi. Enjoy lunch at an atmospheric local favourite eatery on the way into town, before checking into your centrally located hotel for the next few nights.

On board your coach, you will receive a short orientation of the city’s nightlife en-route to the evening’s restaurant for a dinner featuring the special cuisine of the North. Later, return to the hotel through the bustling Old Quarter by traditional rickshaw. 

Overnight: Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel, Hanoi (B, L, D)

Day 11 • Thursday:

HANOI

Enjoy a full-day tour of Hanoi, with the morning, spent exploring some of the capital city’s more famous sights, including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace Vestiges Area, the One-Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature. Lunch will be hosted at a local restaurant and then the tour of this fascinating ancient city continues in the afternoon.

An optional visit to the famous Water Puppet Theatre is highly recommended and is easily arranged.

Overnight: Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel, Hanoi, (B, L)

Day 12 • Friday:

HANOI

Today you have the option to take it easy, do some shopping, or experience any number of other optional activities which your guides and host can facilitate.

Overnight: Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel, Hanoi (B)

Day 13 • Saturday:

HANOI – SAPA

In the early morning, we transfer to Hanoi Railway station, board our special private train and begin our journey to the glorious Hill Station town of Sapa. As we settle in for breakfast on board our dining car, the narrow alleyways of Hanoi roll by with the train hugging the inner suburban landscape before the country opens up along the valley of the vast Red River. Relax on board all morning in the dining car or your compartment. Lunch is also taken on board before rolling into a station near the Chinese border for the one-hour coach transfer to your iconic hotel perched high above the bustling town of Sapa.

You have some time to explore the charming garden surroundings before dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Victoria Hotel Sapa (B, L, D)

Day 14 • Sunday:

LAO CAI – SAPA – DRAGON JAW MOUNTAIN – SAPA

Today you will visit Sapa town, Sapa Post Office, and Sapa Hospital and be taken to the best walking tracks for a view of the valley. Lunch will be enjoyed at the hotel before you trek up to Ham Rong Mountain to view an amazing panorama of Sapa town. Following this, visit the Orchid Garden and a traditional ethnic village before making your way back to the hotel for an evening at leisure. 

Overnight: Victoria Sapa Resort, Sapa, (B, L)

Day 15 • Monday:

SAPA – CAT CAT – SILVER WATERFALL – LAO CAI

After breakfast, you will undertake a morning excursion by road and foot to Cat Cat Village where the Black H’mong ethnic minority live. Lunch will be at the hotel followed by checkout and a transfer to Silver Waterfall. You will then continue to Lao Cai City and visit Upper Temple and the Lao Cai International border. Dinner is at a local restaurant before boarding our private train and its sleeping car, all set up with bedding for the overnight journey back to Hanoi.

Overnight: on the train, (B, L, D)

Day 16 • Tuesday:

HANOI – HA LONG BAY

Arriving early in Hanoi , we transfer to a convenient hotel for breakfast and some free time before departing by coach to Halong Bay around 9 am. The morning’s coach trip will bring you to the coastal port of Ha Long City where you will board a special overnight luxury junk for a two-night cruise on the stunning Ha Long Bay. After checking in, enjoy a welcome drink and soak up the atmosphere of the spacious traditional teak cruising junk. It sets sail through the mysterious bay while you are served an exquisite lunch, the vessel floating among the natural rock formations and picturesque beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed seascape. 

We visit the Ba Hang floating village and drop anchor in the calm water surrounded by beautiful islets where you can swim, kayak, and experience an optional visit to Luon Cave. 

Enjoy the sunset party on the sundeck with local wine and fresh fruits and, as the sun sets over the islands, you will hear more from the guide about the customs and lifestyles of the locals. You can also join a cooking demonstration, learning about the craft of fruit and vegetable carving. After dinner, try squid fishing with the crew, watch a movie, have a drink at the bar, or just relax in your cabin listening to the gentle sound of the water lapping the sides of the ship as it rocks you to sleep.

Overnight: Bhaya luxury cruise boat on Ha Long Bay, (B, L, D)

Day 17 • Wednesday:

HA LONG BAY

Join your fellow travellers for a light breakfast while sailing to Sung Sot Cave, where you can explore one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Ha Long Bay. This cave has been called ‘the opera house’ because it can hold 1,000 people at once, and has three main chambers covering an area of over 10,000 sq m. Once back at the boat enjoy a buffet lunch served onboard while the junk moves through the bay. 

The afternoon is yours to relax or enjoy one of the many activities on offer such as a kayak tour, and swimming or hiking on one of the islands. In the evening, enjoy drinks on the deck and a sumptuous farewell banquet with your tour leader and your fellow travellers.

Overnight: Bhaya luxury cruise boat on Ha Long Bay, (B, L, D)

Day 18 • Thursday:

HA LONG BAY – NOI BAI AIRPORT – DEPART

Enjoy a lazy morning as the junk slowly makes its way back to port. Before disembarking, enjoy an early lunch on board and bid farewell to the crew. Your coach will take you back to Hanoi and directly to the airport in time for the afternoon flight home or beyond. 

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to explore Vietnam by private train on the legendary Reunification Express—one of the world’s greatest rail journeys. Welcomed onto your private rail carriages in Ho Chi Minh City, you will travel in several spectacular stages, enjoying Vietnam’s most iconic destinations on a 2,500km odyssey all the way north to Hanoi and on to Sapa and the astounding Halong Bay. Our exclusive private train runs during the daytime and evening hours to make the most of the scenery and consists of a dining car and a sleeping car (used as a daytime place to rest and recline) attached to the back of selected express trains. When our train arrives at a destination we transfer to our hotels for the overnight stays and our carriages are parked, awaiting the next part of our trip north.

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      Vietnam by Private Train and Boat

      Price
      $9975 per person
      Duration
      18 Days
      Destination
      Vietnam

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