Vietnam by Private Train & Boat
From Ho Chi Minh City To Nha Trang, Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa - 17 Nights
- Departing from:
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Nha Trang, Hoi An, Danang, Hue, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa
- 17 Nights
- Travel Dates:
- 15/03/24 to 01/04/24
- Offer Expires:
- Tour Operator:
- Railway Adventures
- Reference Code:
Price per person
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.
ARRIVE IN HO CHI MINH CITY
You’ll be met at the airport for your private transfer to your centrally-located hotel. Later this evening, enjoy a sumptuous welcome dinner with your fellow travellers and tour leader.
Overnight: Grand Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City. (D)
HO CHI MINH CITY
Begin your exploration of Ho Chi Minh City with a visit to 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. There is some free time before returning to your hotel to enjoy dinner at a popular local restaurant.
In your free time in the mid-afternoon, you can explore a local market in the working-class area of District 4, the best area in the city to sample authentic street food. Here the ambience is far more Saigonese, with very few tourists and narrow lanes and street markets. Order a coffee here and expect a drip-fed Vietnamese coffee that resembles black engine oil rather than a frothy cappuccino! Saigon is a city in love with snails, and District 4 is a magnet for snail eaters. Be sure to head to Vĩnh Khánh street in District 4 for a rowdy afternoon of Ăn Ốc, which translates to “eat snails”. Sit on tiny, wobbly plastic chairs around a low table, and gorge yourself on snails, clams, oysters and just about anything else that lives and crawls along the ocean floor.
Or you could just relax and avail yourself of one of the great massage salons located around your hotel. Past travellers vouch for them!
Overnight: Grand Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, (B, L, D)
HO CHI MINH CITY – MY THO – MEKONG RIVER
After breakfast, you’ll 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’ll be introduced to the railway history of southern Vietnam and see some of the surviving vestiges of the abandoned line. The Saigon–My Tho line was the first railway line in French Indochina and was originally conceived as part of an abortive grand Mekong Delta railway network.
Travel on to the picturesque little province of Ben Tre, the capital of coconuts in Vietnam, and one of the most beautiful, unspoilt and authentic provinces in the country. This area is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam due to its fertile rice and fruit crops. On your boat tour you’ll cruise the canals of the Mekong Delta visiting local villages, fruit orchards, islands and cottage industries such as a coconut candy and workshop. The milk coffee colored waters wind their way along narrow channels lined with palm trees, thatch and bamboo houses which are nestled in the lush orchards, and getting up close and getting up close and personal with the locals is a delight.
Afterwards, we row along the waterways in a sampan where you’ll have lunch, sampling the delicious local specialty — ‘elephant ear fish’, before returning to the charming town of Ben Tre to wander along the sleepy waterfront, lined with ageing French villas.
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)
HO CHI MINH CITY – NHA TRANG
After breakfast, you’ll head to Saigon Railway Station where your private railway carriages have been 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, with morning tea and lunch served in your private dining car. We arrive at the popular resort city of Nha Trang, the ‘seafood capital of Vietnam’ in the early afternoon and head to our luxury beach-front hotel to check-in.
After checking in, relax or hit the beach which is located directly opposite the hotel, and maybe have a beer at one of the fun beach bars before heading out to a spectacular seafood dinner with your fellow travellers.
Overnight: Intercontinental Hotel Nha Trang Beach (B, L, D)
NHA TRANG – DANANG – HOI AN
This morning, make sure you leave enough time for one of the most amazing breakfast buffets you can imagine! After that, we enjoy an exploration of Nha Trang by coach, taking in the cityscape, the giant sitting Buddha, 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’ll discover more about these ancient people who left their architectural mark on the entire south-central coastal region of Vietnam. After checking out of our hotel around noon, it’s off to lunch at the beach-side pavilion of the famous Nha Trang Sailing Club.
After lunch, we’re back on our private carriages on the SE8 afternoon train for the spectacular journey along the route of the Trans-Indochinois 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 late in the evening, where our coach will be waiting to transfer you to your luxurious riverside resort hotel in the heart of old Hoi An.
Overnight: Anantara Hoi An Resort, Hoi An, (B, L, D)
Enjoy a free morning to catch up on some sleep, take your time over breakfast, relax in the hotel or take a leisurely walk along the river before joining the group for a guided walking tour of the town, exploring the Thien Hau Temple, the Japanese Covered Bridge, and several of the wonderful old ancient trading houses. Lunch is at leisure and you’ll be spoilt for choice! Then, the afternoon is yours to wander the alleys and of the old city or take a walk across the bridge to the other side of the river.
Hoi An is renowned for its skilled tailors who can create any type of garment within 24 hours, so with some free time today, you’ll have time for a fitting session. We’ll also put you in contact with a shoemaker if you’d like to add to your shoe collection while you are here.
We meet again in the hotel at 6pm for a short walk to dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Anantara Resort, Hoi An, (B, D)
This is a free day for you to enjoy and explore the wonders of Hoi An at your leisure (or have another fitting at the tailor). One highly recommended option is a traditional Vietnamese cooking class. You’ll 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 – a lot of fun.
Another option 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.
A third option is to visit Ba Na Hills where you can walk along the Golden Bridge, a 150-metre-long pedestrian bridge which is supported by two massive stone hands, travel on the Ba Na Cable Car, which holds the world record for longest non-stop single track cable car at 5,801 metres in length or wander the French village with it’s newly built French style squares, churches and hotels.
Overnight: Anantara Resort, Hoi An, (B)
HOI AN – DANANG – HUE
Today we find ourselves back on the road and the rails. Departing Hoi An after breakfast, it’s off to the busy Danang Railway Workshops to meet the depot manager who is passionate about the work they do and the future of the national railway system. A private tour of the workshops is a huge bonus for those interested in how things work. You’ll then visit the world-renowned Cham Sculpture Museum, established in 1915/1916 by academics of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient, and containing 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, we’ll treat you to lunch at a famous local restaurant.
After lunch, it’s back on your private carriages at Danang Station, coupled onto Train SE4. Snacks will be served in the dining 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 3pm, where you’ll be transferred direct to the luxury Melia Vinpearl Hotel in Hue.
The evening is yours to enjoy the multitude of dining options in-house or in the vibrant district around the hotel.
Overnight: Melia Vinpearl Hotel, Hue (B, L)
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 after breakfast with a visit to the vast Hue Citadel, followed by visits to the Tomb of Tu Duc, the Khan Dinh Mausoleum, 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. This evening, we’ll enjoy a royal banquet featuring dishes once only served in the Forbidden City.
Overnight: Melia Vinpearl Hotel, Hue (B, L, D)
HUE – HANOI
Today we add a plane into our mode of travel, with a mid-morning flight for the short trip to Vietnam’s historic and dynamic capital, Hanoi. Upon arrival, we introduce you to the wonderful work of KOTO, an initiative of 20 years that provides hospitality training and work opportunities for some of Vietnams’ most vulnerable young people. They’ll have prepared a sumptuous lunch for you, after which it’s on to our deluxe centrally located hotel for the next few nights.
Dinner this evening is at a restaurant featuring the special cuisine of the North. On our way there in the coach, you’ll get a short orientation of the city’s nightlife. After dinner, you have the choice of staying with the coach, or riding back through the bustling Old Quarter by traditional rickshaw.
Overnight: Apricot Hotel, Hanoi, (B, L, D)
Enjoy a full-day tour of Hanoi with the morning spent exploring some of the capital city’s more famous sights, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Presidential Palace Vestiges Area, the One-Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Lunch will be hosted at a local restaurant, after which our tour of this fascinating ancient city continues with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and an Instagram favourite for many, the famous Train Street, a residential area built precariously close to the train line in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
Just a few hundred metres from Hanoi’s main train station, it is a narrow residential street, which would be like any other in Hanoi if not for the fact it has a train running through the middle of it!
Late in the afternoon, you’ll visit the famous Water Puppet Theatre for a most entertaining performance before enjoying dinner and the rest of your evening at leisure.
Overnight: Apricot Hotel, Hanoi, (B, L)
Today is yours – you can take it easy, do some shopping, or experience any number of other optional activities which your tour host and local guide can facilitate.Some recommended options are the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Hoa Lo ‘Hanoi Hilton’ Prison, and the Army Museum.
Foodies can try as much bánh mì as they want, sample Hanoi’s famous bún chả (quintessential bowl of grilled pork, herbs and noodles) at the Bún Chả Huong Lien hole-in-the-wall restaurant where Barack Obama and chef Anthony Bourdain famously dined in 2016, or sit with locals and sink as many bia hơi as possible! Hanoi is touted as having “the world’s cheapest beer” – just 6,000 – 8,000 VND (AUD 40-50 cents) per glass!
Overnight: Apricot Hotel, Hanoi, (B)
HANOI – SAPA
Today is Sapa day. After an early breakfast, we transfer to Hanoi Railway station, board our special private train and begin the spectacular journey to the glorious Hill Station town of Sapa. As we settle in for a second breakfast on board in 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 in the privacy of your own compartment, with a visit to the dining car for morning tea of course. Lunch today is served on board by our private catering team, before rolling into a station near the Chinese border for the one-hour coach transfer to your luxury, art-inspired hotel.
Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
Overnight: Hôtel de la Coupole, Sapa (B, L, D)
LAO CAI – SAPA
This morning, dressed in warm clothes, the group will take a cable car to Mt Fansipan, where a breathtaking experience awaits. At 3,147 metres, Fansipan is the highest mountain in Vietnam. It used to take travellers two days of hard trekking to reach the summit. Now, you can reach the ‘Roof of Indochina’ in just 15 minutes by way of a state-of-the-art cable car that offers jaw-dropping views of swirling clouds and forested slopes on the way to the mountaintop gardens, ancient Azalea trees, 18 beautifully sculpted bronze statues, and the famous 20-metre celestial Buddha statue, the largest in Vietnam. Included in your ticket is a magnificent buffet lunch, offering specialties such as braised horse, along with more traditional fare.
After lunch, we visit the Orchid Garden before travelling on to Ta Van village, where you can view picturesque terraced rice fields and learn about the lifestyle of the Giay people, and then Lao Chai village which is home to the Giay and Black H’mong ethnic groups.
Upon our return to the hotel, your evening is free to either further enjoy the hotel’s gorgeous restaurants or explore something more local in town.
Overnight: Hôtel de la Coupole, Sapa (B, L)
SAPA – LAO CAI
This morning we’ll explore Sapa town a bit more, including the historic Sapa Post Office and Sapa Hospital and also be taken to the hilltop best walking tracks for a view of the valley.
The rest of the morning is free for those wishing to relax but there is the option to trek up to Ham Rong Mountainif you’re wanting to get your legs moving. This short but steep hike past colourful flower orchards to the top of the mountain at an altitude of 1,800 metres is a wonderful experience for those with a decent level of fitness. Stone steps lead up to the peak where there are fine, panoramic views on a clear day. Hike back down to Sapa passing through a few minority villages.
Lunch will be at our hotel, after which we will check out.
It’s then onto Lao Cai City to visit the Upper Temple and the Lao Cai Vietnamese/Chinese International border. Dinner is at a local restaurant before boarding our third private train and settling into our sleeping cars, all set up with bedding and snacks for the overnight journey back to Hanoi.
Overnight: on the train, (B, L, D)
HANOI – HA LONG BAY
Arriving early in Hanoi, we walk the few minutes to a conveniently located hotel for a shower and some breakfast before departing around 9am by coach to Ha Long Bay, where we will board a specially chartered deluxe boat for a two-night cruise on the stunning UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay.
After checking in, enjoy a welcome drink and soak up the atmosphere of your private cabin with expansive views across the bay as we float among the natural rock formations and picturesque beauty of this seascape, before having lunch on board and heading out on the first of many of the included off-boat activities offered. Or have a massage, manicure or pedicure on board – the choice is yours!
Activities include a visit to the Ba Hang floating village or an exploration of the Luon Cave area by kayak, where you can tip over for a swim in the pristine waters.
Enjoy late afternoon drinks on the sundeck with local wine and beer as the sun sets over the islands, or join an on-baord cooking class, learning about the craft of fruit and vegetable carving. After a 5-course dinner on board, 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 boat as it rocks you to sleep.
Overnight: Calypso Cruises on Ha Long Bay, (B, L, D)
HA LONG BAY
Bounce out of bed and join the 7am Tai Chi class or enjoy the views from your bed before joining 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 our private boat moves through the bay.
Like yesterday, the afternoon is yours to relax or enjoy one of the many accompanied excursions on offer. Perhaps you like the idea of a bike ride through the hills to a local village, or a less active tour by electric car. In the evening, it’s time for our sumptuous farewell banquet to celebrate the joys and discoveries of the last couple of weeks with like-minded travellers.
Overnight: Calypso Cruises on Ha Long Bay, (B, L, D)
HA LONG BAY – NOI BAI AIRPORT – DEPART
Enjoy breakfast and lunch on board as our boat slowly makes its way back to port. Again today there will be Tai Chi and a morning excursion option if you’d like to join in but after last night’s farewell dinner you might prefer to stand in the shower and stare out of the picture window for a while!
Upon arrival back in Ha Long, we bid farewell to our wonderful crew and board our coach for the trip back to Hanoi, via the airport for those flying out this evening.
- 1 night on board the Hara coach special train
- 14 nights’ accommodation in centrally located 4-5 star hotels with daily breakfast
- 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
- Breakfast daily, 12 lunches and 10 dinners
- Comprehensive sightseeing with expert local guides and your experienced and knowledgeable host
- Drinks included with welcome and farewell dinners
- Luxury chartered coach, with luggage transport throughout the tour
- Vietnam Visa
- All other personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, laundry services, camera fees where applicable
- Excursions/entrances listed as optional in the itinerary
- International flights
- Meals and services not mentioned in itinerar