Pagodas, palm trees and paddy fields Vietnam has it all. You’ll discover crazy Hanoi, visit ancient temples, experience the stunning Ha Long Bay, go sea kayaking, caving, crab fishing with traditional fisherman, soak up fascinating local culture, learn to cook delicious Vietnamese food, relax on beautiful beaches, party the night away and much more. And you’ll have an awesome Group Leader with you from the moment you step off the plane, an instant group of friends to share your adventure with and help with all your onward travel. Get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
All about the The Dong Freestyle Tour
A comprehensive trip from the South of Vietnam to the North. Complete the Dong flexi tour in 2 weeks or hop on and off and spend up to a year exploring Vietnam at your own pace.
The Dong Freestyle Tour
Tour itinerary - 14 Days
Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City
Welcome to Stray! Your adventure kicks off in bustling Ho Chi Minh City. If you arrive early in the day, feel free to spend time exploring the narrow streets on foot or find a restaurant teeming with locals for your first taste of the best Vietnamese cuisine. At 6pm you’ll meet your Tour Leader and new travel mates at the Khoi Hostel for a Welcome Night introduction. We’ll cover how Stray works and answer any questions you have about travelling in Vietnam. Afterwards, make the most of your first night by getting to know each other over a delicious Vietnamese dinner and a few cold beverages. Accommodation included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse Activity included: Welcome Night meeting with Stray Tour Leader and group
Ho Chi Minh City
Today is a free day to explore the hot and lively Ho Chi Minh City. Learn about the history of the American and Vietnam War at the War Remnant Museum, visit the French Colonial Saigon Opera House, browse the surrounding shopping plazas or see a cultural show. Ho Chi Minh even has its own Notre Dame Cathedral, which is said to be a connection between the physical and spiritual life for the Ho Chi Minh people. We recommend taking a trip out to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex of over 200kms of tunnels used by the Viet Khong in the war against the US. Discover how the people lived and survived in these tunnels, built schools and hospitals underground and eventually gained victory. This evening enjoy a traditional performance at the Water Puppet Theatre, or dine out on delicious street food at one of the city’s many restaurants or bars. Accommodation included: Centrally located hotel or guesthouse
Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat
Leaving behind the chaos and heat of Ho Chi Minh City, we head for the refreshingly cool climate of Da Lat, known as the ‘honeymoon capital of Vietnam’. Our journey today takes us through fertile farmlands that specialise in rubber, coffee and tea, locally produced wine, vegetables and flowers. Da Lat vaguely resembles a French town with sprawling old villas and towering pine trees. It is not on the main tourist trail, so locals are curious and very friendly to Western visitors. Spend the afternoon checking out the large market near the guesthouse or sample a glass of locally made Da Lat wine at one of the local restaurants. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town
Today is a free day so fuel up on an excellent locally sourced coffee at one of the friendly cafes that seem to occupy every corner, and then head out to discover the notable city sights on foot, by bicycle or the popular option of a guided motorbike tour. Must see sights include the Emperor’s Art Deco-style Summer Palace, the surrealist Hang Nga ‘Crazy House,’ the French Quarter and railway station, as well as the never ending local coffee or strawberry plantations and the aptly named Paradise Lake that lie outside the city. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse in the centre of town Meals included: Breakfast
Da Lat to Bai Xep
Leaving behind the cool climate of Da Lat we’ll head for the Vietnamese coast, stopping for refreshments at the coastal city of Nha Trang, a popular beach destination to hop off for those who have the time. Driving on your destination is the tiny fishing village of Bai Xep located along a stretch of sandy white beach. Kick back and relax in this peaceful village setting well off the beaten tourist track and as yet untouched by rampant tourism. Don’t be surprised when the locals wave and greet you with welcoming smiles. Accommodation included: Accommodation right on the beach Meals included: Breakfast
Today you are free to enjoy this remote coastal location and all it has to offer. Swim, snorkel and take long walks on the beach, learn to paddle a traditional round boat, go fishing and cook your catch for tea, wander the village and get to know the friendly locals or just relax at your comfortable seaside guesthouse. Accommodation included: Accommodation right on the beach Meals included: Breakfast
Bai Xep to Hoi An
A coastal drive takes us to the popular tourist spot and UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An. Before arriving in Hoi An, we’ll stop along the way to visit the My Lai Memorial, a site that commemorates an event that marked a turning point in the American War. Hoi An is a must-see destination, with beautifully restored and preserved French Colonial architecture, funky bars, outstanding restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops and countless tailor shops. With glorious beaches so close nearby, this is paradise! A great spot to hop off and enjoy the local nightlife, try local delicacies (and beers), then meander home through the motorbike free streets. Accommodation included: Centrally located, family run hotel Activity included: My Lai Memorial Meals included: Breakfast
Take time today to explore this charming town’s many offerings. When the sun goes down is when Hoi An really turns on its charm. Paper and fabric lanterns are lit throughout the streets, bathing the historical French Colonial architecture in a warm glow. Take a sunset stroll through the old town, and try a local delicacy called the ‘White Rose’ - a dumpling stuffed with shrimp or pork bunched into the shape of a rose. Apparently, the recipe is a family secret, held by only one family who supply all the restaurants around town. Accommodation included: Centrally located, family run hotel Meals included: Breakfast
Hoi An to Hue
Surrounded by rolling hills and located on the Perfume River, Hue is regarded as the cultural and spiritual centre of Vietnam and is the former home to the Vietnamese emperors. Here you’ll see many elaborately decorated temples and beautiful pagodas, including the seven-storied Thien Mu Pagoda (where the most famous Vietnamese monk is buried), the intricate Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. Jump on the back of a motorbike and discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam with a local guide. Motoring through quaint villages and lush rice paddies, you’ll see the historic and picturesque Japanese covered bridge, find out your future from a local fortune teller, have a go at making incense sticks and learn about the rice growing process at the Rice Museum. Visit the home of a conical hat maker and explore an Emperor's Tomb and the Citadel's Forbidden City. Accommodation included: Local guesthouse Activity included: Motorbike tour Meals included: Breakfast
Hue to Phong Nha
This morning we head for the fascinating Vinh Moc Tunnels, an impressive underground complex that was used by more than 90 families to live and work during some of the heaviest bombings in the American War. From there it’s on to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, passing through the provincial town of Dong Hoi on our way to the charming hotel in Phong Nha town that will be our base for exploring the park. Accommodation included: Comfortable private hotel room Activity included: Vinh Moc tunnels Meals included: Breakfast
Today we visit the spectacular rural area of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, 45km from Dong Hoi. This area has pristine rivers (perfect for a refreshing dip or kayak) and boasts a number of impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Duong Cave. Inside you’ll find glittering limestone walls, impressive stalagmites and stalactites and a limestone waterfall. This afternoon you have the option to go on a guided tour of the ‘Dark Cave’, suitably named as such because the rock is black. This is an exciting adventure where you’ll explore the cave’s darkness with the help of a head torch, discover ancient fossils and slide down muddy ridges, all while Asian bats fly overhead. Afterwards, back at the mouth of the cave you can wash off all the mud by spending the afternoon swimming and playing in the river. Accommodation included: Comfortable private hotel room Activity included: Entrance to Thien Duong Cave (Paradise Cave) and Phong Nha-Ke National Park Meals included: Breakfast
Phong Nha to Ninh Binh
Our journey today takes us through beautiful countryside and stunning limestone karst mountains. We’ll stop along the way for a chance to stretch your legs before continuing our express journey to Ninh Binh. We arrive late in the afternoon, but you have time to wander around and acquaint yourself with the tiny town before dinner. Nestled amongst rice paddies, rural plains and massive mountains, Ninh Binh is almost overwhelmed by the spectacular landscape surrounding it. The best way to take it all in is hire a bicycle and explore the countryside at your own pace. Accommodation included: Locally run hotel with excellent restaurants nearby Meals included: Breakfast
Ninh Binh to Hanoi
This morning we venture out in traditional canoes to discover the Trang An Grottoes. Sometimes called the ‘Halong Bay on land’, we’ll coast through caves in the mountains to view stony outcrops and dramatic karst formations towering above flat tranquil waters and rice paddies. After lunch in Ninh Binh, we jump back on the bus bound for the chaotic streets of Vietnam’s capital. Hanoi is an exotic city full of excitement and energy, and thousands of motorcycles that make the simple task of crossing the road seem like a real achievement! There’s an excellent culinary scene. We recommend dining at Restaurant 69, which is said to be over 300 years old, or trying some of the delicious street food available on every corner, where the saying goes “the lower the chair, the cheaper the beer.” Accommodation included: Local guesthouse or hotel Activity included: Trang An Grottoes Meals included: Breakfast
This is where your journey with Stray comes to an end, but there is plenty to see and do in and around Hanoi. If you have some extra days to spend here, we highly recommend booking a cruise around breath-taking Halong Bay or making a trip inland to visit the hill tribes of Sa Pa. Both of these excursions can be organised for you by your Tour Leader. We hope you’ve had a blast on your great Stray adventure! Meals included: Breakfast
Starts: Ho Chi Minh City
Days: Wednesday or Saturday
Important NotesThings you need to know about this tour
IMPORTANT INFORMATION – Please re-confirm your booking with our Bangkok team at least 7 day in advance. Their email address is Bangkok@straytravel.asia and their address is 162 Soi Rambutri, Tanao Road, Bangkok.
VISA ON ARRIVAL - Eligibility for every nationality is different, so we recommend you to check before you depart! You'll need between USD $30 and USD $45 in cash, plus a passport-sized photo for the immigration officials on entry.
WHAT TO BRING - Light clothes for wet season (May-Oct) with an extra layer and light jacket for dry season (Nov - Mar); clothes to cover your shoulders and knees for visiting Temples; a good travel medical kit; travel insurance details; sunscreen; mosquito repellent with DEET; girls - sarong for swimming as the local culture requires modesty; trainers for walking; a roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer is useful, and of course, a sense of adventure!
FOOD - Western food is sparse outside the main centers so be open-minded about eating local fare. Vegetarian meal options may be limited but there is always rice, noodles, and soups, and excellent fruit and vegetables are plentiful at the local markets.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - Adequate valid insurance is compulsory to travel on Stray, and it is not included in the price of your pass.
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