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Chasing the Past in Vietnam’s Cultural Heartland

15 days from £7,700 for 2024 per person

This itinerary is one of Ampersand's Top 10 Cultural Holidays.

Probably best known for her beaches and 20th Century history, Vietnam’s centuries of rich imperial history and many diverse inland hill tribes, who have largely managed to avoid the sprint towards modernity, are often overlooked. With the recent openings of a handful of hotels in the northern cultural heartland, it has now become possible to get off the beaten track without having to slum it.

Start your trip with a blast of the organised chaos that comprises Hanoi. A walk through the night market will give you a taste of Vietnamese cuisine with its countless street food stalls. Take in the city’s highlights on a whistle stop day tour, including the Confucian Temple of Literature and the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh.

From Hanoi, set off on a road-trip loop of the inland north; an area of outstanding natural beauty with the cultural artery of the Red River running through it’s centre. The scenery during the drives are as much a part of the experience as any of the specific destinations. First stop is the hamlet of Ky Son, where traditional rural architecture is beautifully displayed in a clutch of 200-year-old houses. Known as Vietnam’s ‘Home Counties’ it is considered the homeland of the nation’s culture and has been continuously inhabited for over 2,000 years. Next stop is Mai Chau, where hiking and biking is on offer to explore the lush surrounding area. Drive on to Ninh Binh, which is often described as Halong Bay on land owing to the towering limestone karst mountains, and visit the first royal Vietnamese capital at Hoa Lu before taking a leisurely boat journey through the UNESCO listed Trang An Grottoes.

Board the ‘Reunification Express’ train from Ninh Binh which whisks you down to the coastal city of Dong Hoi.  In nearby Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to the world’s largest cave system, explore the network of towering stalactites and stalagmites.  On the drive to Hue - the last and most elaborate imperial capital of Vietnam – stop at the old DMZ and the Vinh Moc Tunnels, an untouched underground network of tunnels built to escape bombardment during the American War. The tour ends with a drive up and over the Hai Van Pass and a descent down to Hoi An for a couple of days unwinding on the beach.

This tour is purely a suggested itinerary; it can be booked as it is, or used as a starting point for creating your own luxury tailor-made holiday to VietnamIf you'd like to see similar tours, take a look at our favourite Epic Journeys, as well as our Beach HolidaysActive Holidays and Spa & Wellness collections.

Itinerary details

15 days from £7,700 for 2024 per person

Ninh Binh Vietnam 2 Ninh Binh Vietnam 2
VIETNAM Local Man Cycling VIETNAM Local Man Cycling
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Vietnam 1  (1) Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Vietnam 1  (1)
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Vietnam 3 Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Vietnam 3
Moon Garden House Ky Son Vietnam Moon Garden House Ky Son Vietnam
Moon Garden House Ky Son Vietnam 1 Moon Garden House Ky Son Vietnam 1
Emerelda Resort Ninh Binh Vietnam Emerelda Resort Ninh Binh Vietnam
Emerelda Resort Ninh Binh Vietnam 1 Emerelda Resort Ninh Binh Vietnam 1
Sun Spa Resort Dong Hoi Vietnam Sun Spa Resort Dong Hoi Vietnam
Sun Spa Resort Dong Hoi Vietnam 3 Sun Spa Resort Dong Hoi Vietnam 3
VIETNAM FAM Trip Ampersand Travel 62 1 VIETNAM FAM Trip Ampersand Travel 62 1
I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson

Client Testimonials

Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India

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