Read time – 5 minutes
From spectacular caves and staggering karst formations to mouthwatering street food and complex cultural traditions, each moment in Vietnam is a truly unforgettable experience.
That’s why Robin, Exodus’ North American PR & Marketing Manager and well-seasoned traveller, decided to take her friend and first-time traveller, Amanda, on a tailor made Vietnam tour through the country’s intoxicating sights and sounds.
Taking a boat trip on Halong Bay
What is a tailor made tour?
Not sure what a tailormade tour is? In simple terms, it’s a private departure for you and your friends, family, teammates, co-workers, book club members or anyone else you might want to travel with – anywhere from 2-20+ people.
You tell us what things interest you and we take care of all the planning, great local guides, incredible tours, carefully-curated hotels, culinary encounters, vehicles, drivers, transfers, internal flights, beach extensions, and everything in-between so you can sit back and enjoy your private adventure!
Pro tip: If you’re finding yourself falling into the “jaded traveller” category, try travelling with a friend who hasn’t done as much traveling as you – you’ll quickly find their excitement rubbing off on you and it’ll feel like your first visit all over again!
Lanterns in Hanoi
After an early arrival into Vietnam, we were greeted by Exodus’ welcome team and whisked away to our hotel in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi is one of the oldest cities in the world. The Old Quarter is located at its heart and boasts centuries-old architecture and a rich culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese and French influences.
For a look at how past and present come together, head to the bustling area of narrow streets, lanes, and alleys known as the ’36 streets’. Home to an endless amount of small businesses and shopkeepers, it’s a great place to explore with plenty of food and sightseeing opportunities.
After a much-needed night’s rest (the east coast to southeast Asia is no small journey!), we were off to Halong Bay for a 2-night cruise. It was about a 3-and-a-half-hour drive, which was a great intro to Vietnam driving through the countryside and past some of the smaller villages – plus Wi-Fi in the vehicle was a nice bonus.
Along the way, our guide answered countless questions we had about the history, agriculture, and local customs. We made a pit-stop to grab some food and do a little souvenir shopping then hopped aboard our cruise ship, inspired by the traditional and classic junk ships of Halong Bay.
Onboard, we enjoyed incredible fresh, local food during lunches and dinners and a delicious buffet for breakfast. The biggest highlight though was the view – sitting on the balcony attached to our room and just watching the karst islands pass by was truly breathtaking.
When we weren’t eating, there were quite a few activities to choose from, including kayaking, cooking lessons, squid fishing, a Thien Canh Son Cave visit and a visit to a floating village.
We started our morning with sunrise Tai Chi then said goodbye to our floating home-away-from-home. On the way out of Halong Bay, our guide suggested that we stop at the Legend Pearl Workshop & Showroom where we learned the history of pearls in Vietnam and watched how they’re cultivated.
Then it was time to head back to Hanoi to check out the bustling night market. From 7 pm until 11 pm Friday-Sunday the streets are closed down and vendors set up everywhere. With over 3,000 stalls selling food, clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and handicrafts and musicians and entertainers performing in the streets, it really is something you need to experience first hand.
Vietnamese spring rolls
Another early start today as we were making our way from Hanoi to Hoi An. Our guide checked us in at the airport and it was a quick hour and a half flight over to Danang where our new guide, Sam, was waiting to take us to Hoi An (about an hour drive).
We couldn’t believe how smooth all the transfers were, and Sam was a wealth of knowledge as we visited a silk workshop and explored the old town upon arrival in Hoi An.
Exploring Hoi An
After getting our bearings the day before, we were ready for a full day on the town. A UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the 15th century, Hoi An truly is a place where the old world meets new.
Despite the many tourists that visit each year, it is untouched by time. We borrowed some bikes from the hotel (Sam, had spent lots of time as a cycling guide before) and visited a tailor, modern and traditional art galleries and lantern workshops. We also had a private cruise of the Thu Bon River where we watched the Old Town light up from the water as the sun went down.
One of the best things about travelling with a private guide is that we were able to stop at the places that interested us most while learning about the history of each place, which we’d never be able to do on our own.
Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Today started with a quick 20-minute flight from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh, where chic boutiques, timeless temples, bustling markets, and towering skyscrapers collide.
Our guide brought us to Ben Thanh Market for some delicious food and souvenir shopping before making our way over to the War Remnants Museum, former Presidential Palace, Old Saigon Post Office, Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall.
From its pivotal role in the Vietnam war and an abundance of live music, traditional water puppet shows & endless amounts of culinary treats to simply people watching over a cup of coffee, this is a city where you can truly immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture.
A world away from the high-energy of Ho Chi Minh is the Mekong Delta where we found ourselves for the final day of our Tailormade Vietnam tour. Though it’s just a 2-hour drive outside the city, this lush tropical oasis couldn’t be more different.
From visiting a coconut candy factory or bee garden to watching mat making or cycling along the paths beside the canals, there were plenty of options to keep us busy this morning. After enjoying a final lunch at our homestay (and eating WAY too much food!), we said our goodbyes to this magical country and headed off to the airport for our flight back home.
Take a look at some of our Vietnam tours below or contact us to arrange your own tailor made tour.