School Adventure - Vietnam North to South

4-day trek, sightseeing, boat trips, sailing, and more





From $2,260 Land only

Book this holiday

Holiday Overview


  • Learn how to cook a traditional Vietnamese dish
  • Floating market at Cai Be in the Mekong Delta
  • City tours in Hanoi, Hue and Saigon
  • Halong Bay Cruise

This School Adventure is a comprehensive and colourful taste of Vietnam and starts out in the 1000-year-old city of Hanoi, former capital of French Indochina. Travelling inland to spend 4 days in a beautiful reserve area close to the border with Laos, we trek between hilltribe villages, meet the local people and experience first hand the rural life of these remote communities. For this section of the trip we have arranged overnight stays as guests of three different villages. We also explore the forest of impressive limestone spires at Tam Coc, both on foot and by way of a sampan cruise on the network of canals. Then it's out to Halong Bay, for a night on a traditional junk, before taking a sleeper train south to Hue, the cultural centre of the country. Here, after a boat ride on the Perfume River we have the chance to take part in a cookery class, whilst preparing dinner. After a short flight to Saigon now known as Ho Chi Min City, this unforgettable tour signs off with a visit to the atmospheric Mekong Delta, where we hike through lush orchards and take a boat trip to the floating produce market of Cai Be.

Is this holiday for you?

This School Adventure in Vietnam is primarily a touring and sightseeing trip at low elevation, that includes a continuous 4-day trek through the forest, farmland and hill-tribe villages in a nature reserve close to Quan Hoa. On the 4-day trek, each day's walk will be between 4 and 6 hours and overnight stops will be in simple homestay accommodation. Several means of transport are used during this holiday, including road, train, plane and boat. The combination of different means of travel and the variety of accommodation used will mean a degree of flexibility will be required, although this diversity is part of the charm of this trip. The humidity, particularly between April and September, will also be a factor. This tried and tested KE Schools itinerary can be adjusted to better fit the needs of your group - please call and speak to a KE School Groups Coordinator or email

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Arrive Hanoi.
  • Free morning, afternoon sightseeing and evening water puppet show.
  • Drive to Pu Luong Nature Reserve and trek to Ban Hang.
  • Trek to Kho Muong Village.
  • Trek to Huou Village.
  • Trek to Pho Doan and transfer to Tam Coc.
  • Sampan cruise on the rivers and canals of Tam Coc.
  • Drive to Halong Bay and begin 2-day cruise.
  • Morning cruise, return to Hanoi and overnight sleeper train to Hue.
  • Arrive Hue and city tour.
  • Cruise on the Perfume River and cooking class.
  • Fly to Saigon and travel by road and by boat to the Mekong Delta.
  • Sampan cruise to floating Market, short trek and return to Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Depart Ho Chi Minh City.

Land Only

The price of our trips does not include international air travel to the start location in the destination city and country. The start location for joining the trip is identified for each trip. It's usually a centrally located hotel. KE can easily arrange all airport transfers for you.

International Air Travel

Please contact us at KE for air travel advice. We will be happy to discuss the flight arrangement which best suits your group.

2 teachers FREE

The Guide Price assumes that 2 teachers will accompany the group. Their Land Only costs are covered by the group's payment.

Guide Price $2,260*
Park Fees/permits N/A
Other Charges N/A

* We give a price estimate for all of our school trips. This is based on 12-16 pupils and includes two free teacher places. If you are interested in a specific trip, we will send you a quote letter. You may wish to take extra teachers or add on additional days and this can all be included into your quote, on request.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • transfer
  • trek
  • internalflight

Holiday Itinerary

  • Arrive Hanoi.

    We arrive at Hanoi airport and are met and transferred to our hotel. Depending on flight times we have an afternoon with a tour of the city. After a short transfer from our hotel to the Old quarter of Hanoi, we will explore this fascinating area on foot with our guide. The Old Quarter, consisting of around 35 streets is essentially the original pre-20th century Hanoi. Prior to the modern age each street was known for a particular trade and the street names still reflect this. Although only a few of these streets now carry on this tradition, the architecture still conjures up this former era. The centre of the Old Quarter is Hoan Kiem lake and we will take a relaxing stroll around the lake before enjoying a ‘Welcome’ dinner at a local restaurant – our first chance to sample real Vietnamese cuisine. We stay overnight at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Free morning, afternoon sightseeing and evening water puppet show.

    The morning is free for further independent sightseeing or to enjoy the ambience of the "Old Quarter" and the Hoan Kiem lake. Early risers will be rewarded with quiet streets and the sight of groups of prople in the local parks going through their Tai Chi excersises. After lunch we have a guided tour to the Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Temple of Literature which is one of the world's oldest universities founded in the 10th century. In the evening we will go to see the fascinating Water Puppet Theatre show either before or after our dinner. We spend a second night at the group hotel in Hanoi.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Pu Luong Nature Reserve and trek to Ban Hang.

    After breakfast at the hotel we will visit the Ho Chi Min complex which includes his house on stilts, the presidential palace and the mausoleum. We then board our tour bus for the highly scenic 100 mile drive through North Vietnam’s spectacular karst outcrop scenery and lush vegetation, to the mountains separating Vietnam from neighbouring Laos. It will take around 4 or 5 hours to our lunch at Mai Chu to and a further half hour from there to reach Quan Hoa near the Laotian border. On arrival our bags are distributed among the porters and we set off on a 3 hour trek through the Pu Luong Nature Reserve to Ban Hang Village where life proceeds very much as it has done for centuries. Here we spend the night as guests of the village.

    • Accommodation Homestay

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Kho Muong Village.

    We have a full day of trekking as we explore the area's lush jungle vegetation and limestone peaks. We pass through the hill-tribe the villages of Eo Ken and Dong Dieng with their surrounding terraced hillsides and we stay overnight in Kho Muong Village.

    • Accommodation Homestay

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Huou Village.

    Staying as guest of the local village will give us a real insight into the lives of these simple and engaging people. Close to this village is a large cave inhabited by bats which the local people believe brings good luck. The cave is approximately 30 minutes walk from the village and after breakfast we will visit the place for ourselves. Following this walk to the lucky bat cave we will continue with our main trek, once again following a trail through a landscape of dramatic limestone towers and verdant foliage interspersed with rice terracing as we pass through villages. Today we will see several examples of the irrigation systems and water wheels used to lift water to the rice paddies. After 5 – 6 hours trekking we arrive at our final homestay village at Huou which is mostly inhabited by people of Thai origin.

    • Accommodation Homestay

    • Meals bld

  • Trek to Pho Doan and transfer to Tam Coc.

    This morning we have an easy walk of around 2 – 3 hours from Huou Village to Pho Doan following a well-marked trail. Here we meet o. ur tour bus and after taking lunch in a local restaurant, we drive for approximately 6 hours to Ninh Binh on the Red River delta. Here we are treated to a complimentary foot massage which is given by blind people as part of a project which works with the disabled to assist them to earn a living. From Ninh Binh we continue a further 15 minutes to Tam Coc where we check into our hotel

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Sampan cruise on the rivers and canals of Tam Coc.

    The landscape of Tam Coc is simply breathtaking and is known as 'Halong Bay on Land' for the similarity of its massive limestone towers rising abruptly from the fields and network of rivers and irrigation canals. The best way to get around here is to take a sampan cruise. After a short transfer from our hotel to Kenh Ga we board our sampan and begin our exploration, paddling quietly along the river below the stupendous rock formations which tower above us. Later in the day we have the option of taking a short cycling tour and we end the day once more on the river, returning to Tam Coc by rowing boat. We spend a second night in the hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Drive to Halong Bay and begin 2-day cruise.

    Driving through the heart of the Red River Delta we journey to Halong Bay the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site. At mid-day we check into comfortable cabins aboard our private boat and set sail to explore the fantastic scenery of the bay and some of it's 3000 islands. Almost all these islands are individual limestone towers between 50m and 100m tall rising in spectacular fashion from the ocean and topped with thick jungle vegetation. Many of the islands contain caves and grottos and some have lakes inside, while others have beautiful beaches. This evening we enjoy a special Halong Bay seafood dinner before settling in for a night aboard the boat.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Morning cruise, return to Hanoi and overnight sleeper train to Hue.

    This morning after breakfast aboard our floating hotel, we continue our cruise through the bay. We visit a floating village that is home to local fishermen and sail around more of the islands as we make our way back to the piers at Halong City. In the afternoon we return by vehicle to Hanoi and the rest of the afternoon and early evening is free. Later in the evening we will transfer to the railway station and board the "Reunification Express", the overnight train to Hue. Once on board we find our berth in ‘soft sleeper’ class and make up our beds ready to be rocked to sleep as the train heads south. through the Vietnamese countryside.

    • Accommodation Sleeper Train

    • Meals bld

  • Arrive Hue and city tour.

    We arrive in Hue, one of Vietnam's most beautiful cities in the early morning. After taking breakfast in a local restaurant we explore Hue’s Imperial Citadel, and impressive 19th century fortress built by self proclaimed Emperor Nguyen. The citadel which was surrounded by 8 kilometres of wall and a moat housed several important buildings including the ‘Forbidden City’ containing palaces and courtyards reserved exclusively for the Nguyen Imperial Family. Unfortunately American bombing in 1968 in response to the Tet offensive has destroyed much of the former glories of the Imperial Citadel but several buildings have been restored including Thai Hoa Temple, Can Thanh Temple, The Mieu, and Hieu Lam Cac. We will have some free time for further sightseeing or souvenir buying in Hue before taking dinner in a local restaurant. We stay overnight in a hotel in Hue.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Cruise on the Perfume River and cooking class.

    After breakfast we head down to the Perfume River where we board our boat and set off on a river cruise. We make a stop at Dong Ba market to buy the ingredients for this afternoon's cooking class and then continue down river observing life on the riverbanks as we pass several villages. We take lunch on board and make further stops at Sinh junction, Thanh Thien village, the ancient wharf at Bao Vinh, Thien Mu Pagoda, and Van Mieu Temple. Arriving at Thuy Bieu, we moor the boat and go ashore and have a cycle ride around this quiet village, visiting gardens and ancestral temples. While here we will also visit a cottage industry incense ‘factory’ and afterwards we will be invited to start our cooking class in a local home. Dinner this evening will be prepared by the group from the ingredients purchased at Dong Ba, cooked under the tutelage and supervision of local experts. After the dinner we return to the boat and stay overnight in cabins on board.

    • Accommodation Boat

    • Meals bld

  • Fly to Saigon and travel by road and by boat to the Mekong Delta.

    Taking breakfast on board we enjoy a magical sunrise on the Perfume River. After breakfast we disembark and transfer to Hue Airport for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. From here we drive south for approximately 3.5 hours heading into the Mekong Delta, an extremely fertile region often referred to as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam. The Delta here is formed by a network of nine major arms and hundreds of smaller branches of the Mekong River. The area is prone to flooding and many of the villages in the Delta are built on stilts. Arriving at one of these river branches known as Tien Giang River, we board a sampan and sail for around an hour to reach our overnight accommodation at the Mekong Lodge where we'll spend the night next to the river in charming bungalows. In the afternoon, there is time for a walk or cycle tour of the surrounding area. Overnight at the lodge.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Meals bld

  • Sampan cruise to floating Market, short trek and return to Ho Chi Minh City.

    We board our sampan for a visit to the floating market of Cai Be, where local people exchange their produce of fruit, maize, sugar cane and rice boat to boat. This is an amazing and colourful sight with literally hundreds of boats gathered together at the confluence of seven river branches to ply their trade. Continuing along the river, we stop to visit a river island where we can make a short trek (2 hours) and visit a Khmer Temple. After lunch we drive approximately 3.5 hours back to Ho Chi Minh City. Arriving in this vibrant and modern city we check into our hotel and have some time to look around before taking dinner in one of the city’s restaurants. Overnight at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Depart Ho Chi Minh City.

    In the morning we have a city tour, visiting the temple of the Jade Emperor, the Reunification Palace and the lively Binh Tay Market. The rest of the day is free for independent sightseeing or shopping. Ho Chi Minh City which is situated on the Saigon River and still known by that name to the majority of its inhabitants, is the economic powerhouse of Vietnam. It is an upwardly mobile city - quite literally as every year more sky-scrapers grow - with modern glass-intensive shopping malls and stylish restaurants and bars and a typical modern city traffic problem. Despite all this energy and a future-facing population, parts of the city remain timeless and you can still find ancient pagodas and traditional markets bustling with trade as it has been practised for an age. The amazing thing about Saigon is that the blend of ancient and modern really works. In the middle of the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A qualified UK KE Schools leader
  • Experienced English speaking local guide
  • Internal flights
  • Single timed group airport transfers
  • All accommodation as described in the trip dossier
  • All meals
  • Ferries and cruise boats and all land transport

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Tips for local staff
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

Airport transfers are included on arrival and departure (arrival into Hanoi, depart Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City. The KE School Group Leader or KE representative will meet you on arrival and assist with the transfers to the group hotel. Full joining instructions along with hotel contact details and an emergency number will be provided with the booking confirmation.

The hotel accommodation used throughout the trip is all at 3 star standard except at Tam Coc where only 2 star hotels are available. During the train journey to Hue we use 'soft sleeper' class with four berths per compartment (bedding is provided). The overnight on the Junk on Halong bay is in twin cabins with air conditioning, electricity, private bathroom, and ensuite facilities, and on the boat at Hue is in twin berth cabin with ensuite facilities. During the 3 homestay nights, accommodation will be dormitary style in a village guesthouse. Hot water for washing is available and beds have mosquito nets and bedding provided. All accommodation is based on twin sharing and you will be paired up with another group member.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

This will be a gourmet experience. Start practising your chopstick technique now, as there are no knives and forks for parts of this trip! Vietnamese cuisine is fresh and flavoursome. Typically a selection of many dishes of varying flavours are served together, and everyone takes a little of each. A typical meal will include Pho (noodle soup), spring rolls, spiced beef and pork dishes, fish in chilli, tomato served with tofu, stir-fried vegetables and rice, with fresh fruit for dessert. On board the junk we will certainly be treated to fresh seafood.

All meals included from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 14.

Approximately $150-200 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses. This amount will be enough to cover tips and miscellaneous expenses o local staff. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). It is not necessary to obtain local currency (Vietnamese Dong) prior to travelling. Money can be changed easily at the airport or at banks in Hanoi. The group hotel will be able to make small exchanges only. Sterling, Euros and US dollars are acceptable for exchange in Hanoi Hue and Ho Chi Minh City but US dollars are the most convenient currency as they can often be exchanged at smaller places. We recommend that you carry your travel money in cash rather than travellers cheques since you will exchange most of it on the day of arrival and travellers cheques can be difficult and time consuming to change.

All KE school adventures are led by a specialist UK KE Schools leader. During the trip the leader will be assisted by an English-speaking local guide and on trek will be supported by a trek crew and porters.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying thank you for good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your local guides, porters and trek crew but they are very much appreciated. Most groups will want to show their appreciation to the local staff who work so hard to make the trip a success. Normally, tips are given at the end of the trek and this is best done as a group. Most groups will give the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the trip. As a guide, we recommend that each pupil contributes £30 to these tips. Your KE School Adventure leader will help you make arrangements for a fair distribution of tips among the trek crew.

During the trekking part of this adventure your baggage will be carried by local porters. Your baggage should not weigh more than 15kg. For some sections of the trip you may be asked to ‘decant’ items not required on the trek which will travel by alternative means to your next hotel. We recommend that you therefore bring a second fold away bag to store these items in.

KE Trek Bag / Free Gift

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

Nationals of some EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Switzerland require visas. Visas must be obtained from the embassy of Vietnam in your home country prior to travel.

UK Passport Holders

As of 1 July 2015, British passport holders travelling for tourism or business will be able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa.

You’ll still need a visa to enter Vietnam for periods of 15 days and longer and if you wish to re-enter Vietnam within 30 days of your departure. Make sure you get the correct visa for the purpose and destination of your trip.

If you do require a visa the safest option is to get a visa from the Vietnamese Embassy before you travel. If you plan to leave Vietnam and re-enter from another country make sure you get a multiple visit visa.

Applying for your Vietnamese Visa by post

You will need the following:
Your passport (which must have longer validity than the visa by at least one month)
The completed application form, together with one passport photograph taken no more than one year ago.
The visa fee in the form of a POSTAL ORDER or CERTIFIED CHEQUE payable to "THE EMBASSY OF VIETNAM".
Unless you are collecting your passport in person you must add £6 to the visa fee and supply a self-addressed envelope.

Send (BY SPECIAL DELIVERY) to: Embassy of Vietnam, 12/14 Victoria Road, London W8 5RD

Visa Fees

Tourist Visa: single entry = £54, multiple entry = £85
An express service is available for a higher charge.
Please check the visa fee when you make your application, as this can change without warning.

Processing Schedule

Five working days are required to process normal visa applications or two working days for express service after the Embassy receives the applications. You should not make telephone inquiries prior to these time limits.

Alternatively you can apply for your visa in person at the above address. The opening hours of the visa section are 9am to 12.30pm Monday-Friday. Phone: 020 7937 1912, Fax: 020 7937 6108,

Important note: The Vietnamese government advises that a ‘Visa On Arrival’ service is offered at 4 Vietnamese international airports, including Hanoi and Saigon. We suggest that you DO NOTchoose to obtain your visa in this way. Many international airlines don’t recognise the Visa On Arrival system for Vietnam, and we have experienced situations where clients have been denied boarding because they do not have a visa stamped in their passport.

US Passport Holders

The cost for a one month single entry visa is $100 per person. This fee covers the visa stamping fee, visa approval arrangement free and processing fee.

What to submit:


Application form (to be filled online at

Fee in the form of a Money Order (one order per package), payable to the “Embassy of Vietnam”. Applicants applying together may submit the fee in one money order.

2x2 inch Passport photo (to be attached to printed form) (2 photos if applying for a loose leaf visa).

A pre paid return envelope if you want to have your visa mailed back to you. For the safety of your passport, please use a mailing services which provide tracking numbers (USPS Express Mail or FedEx). Please do not use any other mailing service. Applicants applying together may provide one envelope for visas to be returned to the same address.

Send your application to:

Consular Section

Embassy of Vietnam

1233 20th Street, NW

Suite 400

DC 20036

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements are subject to change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in the case of recent alterations.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.

You must bring the following items:

  • Sheet sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag – 2 season (Nov to Feb departures only)**
  • Hiking boots or comfortable/sturdy walking shoes
  • Daypack 30 litres / 1800 cu in.
  • Training shoes /Sneakers or similar
  • Spare laces
  • Trekking trousers / pants
  • Lightweight waterproof overtrousers / rainpants
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Swimwear
  • Thermal baselayer shirts
  • Casual shirt and/or T-shirts
  • Fleece jacket or warm jumper/sweater
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Travel clothes
  • Sunhat
  • Warm hat (Nov to Feb departures only)**
  • Thermal gloves (Nov to Feb departures only)**
  • Scarf or neck buff
  • Eyewear – Sunglasses
  • Ear Plugs (for use on overnight train journeys)
  • Headtorch/Headlamp with spare bulb and batteries
  • Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
  • Water bottles 1 Litre (1 Quart) x2
  • Washbag and toiletries
  • Antibacterial handwash
  • Small towel
  • Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Immodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, antihistamine cream and tablets, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are a good idea.

The following items are optional:

  • Trekking poles
  • Camera, media, batteries
  • Shorts (should not be worn in temples etc)
  • Penknife (remember to pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
  • Cycling helmet***
  • *Mosquito nets are provided throughout the tour, including at the homestay accommodation.
  • **Please bring these items with you for departures from November through to February when temperatures are slightly cooler.
  • *** It may not be possible to provide cycling helmets for all of the short cycling sections of the itinerary. We recommend that you bring your own cycling helmet with you.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

Know before you go

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

Vietnam has a tropical climate with two distinct monsoon seasons. From May to September the country is dominated by the south monsoon winds and from October to April, the north monsoon is dominant with northerly to northeasterly winds affecting the country. There is a transition period between each monsoon season when winds are light and variable. Vietnam's single rainy season occurs during the south monsoon with June, July and August the wettest months. At this time daytime temperatures are typically in the range of 25 - 30 degrees Celsius. During the north monsoon, northern Vietnam has cloudy days with occasional light rain, while southern Vietnam tends to be dry and sunny. Temperatures during this period are in the range of 25 - 30 degrees Celsius in the south and 15 - 20 degrees Celsius in the north with the occasional chilly night. Frost and some snow may occur on the highest mountains in the north for a few days a year. During September to January coastal areas can be affected by typhoons in the South China Sea bringing short-lived tropical stoms.

Lonely Planet.: Vietnam. Rough Guide: Vietnam. Vietnam Pocket Guide: Insight Guides Vietnam Handbook: Footprint Handbooks Vietnamese Phrasebook: Rough Guides Hill Tribes Phrasebook: Lonely Planet

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