Reunification Express train from South to North Vietnam

The Reunification Railway links Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City and offers an excellent and fun way to see Vietnam.

Touring style: Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis. Rail journeys are self-guided.

Best time to visit: November to April when days are dry with plenty of sunshine. Rain falls between May to September.

Reunification Express train from South to North Vietnam at a glance
  • Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing
  • Day 3: A full day tour to the Mekong Delta
  • Day 4: A full day tour of Cu Chi Tunnels and train to Danang
  • Day 5: Danang to Hoi An
  • Day 6: Hoi An
  • Day 7: Hoi An to Hue
  • Day 8: Hue sightseeing
  • Day 9: Hue - Hanoi
  • Day 10: Hanoi
  • Day 11: Hanoi to Halong Bay
  • Day 12: Halong Bay to Hanoi
  • Day 13: Hanoi
Reunification Express train from South to North Vietnam Image 1

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City

Arrive into Ho Chi Minh City. Your driver and guide will transfer you to your hotel. 

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Distance and journey time: 15 km, 20 mins

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Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing

Begin with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.

Afterwards, dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.

Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam - American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions.

Your day continues with a visit to the historic centre where the Emperor of Jade Pagoda will be visited. In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown) and visit the Binh Tay market which is a vast wholesale market where every kind of goods can be found. Then head off to the Thien Hau Pagoda which was built by the Cantonese congregation. At the end of the day enjoy a visit to the central Ben Thanh Market.

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Day 3: A full day tour to the Mekong Delta

Journey to the Mekong Delta to Ben Luc and Tan An. Take a boat trip on the Mekong River to Ben Tre where local handicrafts and sweets from coconuts are produced. Enjoy fresh seasonal fruits, a performance of traditional songs, and observe the local life. Take a short ride on a horse carriage to a typical local house to taste some homemade honey-tea. Proceed by small sampan boats through the small canals and observe daily life along the riverbanks, stopping for a leisurely stroll. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for overnight.

Distance and journey time: 110 km, 2 hrs each way

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Day 4: A full day tour of Cu Chi Tunnels and train to Danang

From Saigon, drive to Tay Ninh, the birthplace of the unique Cao Dai religion, a fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam and Vietnamese spiritual beliefs. Every day at noon, worshippers garbed in colourful robes flock to the Great temple to participate in the daily prayer sessions which visitors may respectfully observe from the upper balconies.

Afterwards, continue to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Never discovered by American forces, these tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.

Transfer to the train station for an overnight train journey to Danang. (17 hours)

 

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Day 5: Danang to Hoi An

Meet up with your guide on arrival at the train station. Transfer from Danang to Hoi An. 

Overnight in Hoi An.

Distance and journey time: 30 km, 45 mins

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Day 6: Hoi An walking tour

The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's colourful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving centre of traditional crafts and a shopper’s paradise, best explored on foot.

Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the small harbour where colourfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a private house, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the family chapels built by a prominent merchant or official families as centres for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese style pagoda or Assembly Hall.

Visit the famous Japanese covered bridge, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. In the afternoon, board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River before returning to Hoi An harbour. Overnight in Hoi An.

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Day 7: Hoi An to Hue

From Hoi An, the journey northwards begins with a stop just outside Danang to visit the Marble Mountains. Continue to Danang and briefly pass China Beach, a famous spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam-American War and visit the Cham Museum. From Danang continue north and pass Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach and drive along the Hai Van Pass with spectacular views of the coastline. Overnight in Hue.

Distance and journey time: 140 km, 3.50 hrs

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Day 8: Hue sightseeing

Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognisable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Ming Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. Overnight in Hue.

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Day 9: Hue - Hanoi by train

Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years and was established in the 17th century.

Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower to the imposing Nho Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Palace where the Queen mother lived, Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins and the original Nine Dynastic urns.

Visit the Imperial Tombs of Tu Du and Khai Dinh. Venture into the countryside around Hue to the Imperial tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh.

Tu Duc, the longest reigning Vietnamese emperor, designed and built this elegant tomb during his lifetime, using it as a retreat for meditation, reading and theatre performances. Take some time to soak in the tranquil atmosphere, wandering among the gracefully proportioned pavilions, courtyards and lotus ponds.

Afterwards, visit the Imperial tomb of Khai Dinh dramatically located on a hillside. The last of the monumental tombs of the Nguyen dynasty, completed in 1931, this tomb incorporates distinct European elements into the traditional Vietnamese architecture.

Transfer to the train station for an overnight journey to Hanoi. (12 hours)

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Day 10: Hanoi sightseeing

Meet up at the train station for a transfer to your hotel. Begin your day visiting the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best surviving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university.

Continue to the miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Stroll past the Ho Chih Minh Mausoleum where visitors can pay respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. Continue through the park to Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House.

Finally, discover the Old Quarter of Hanoi. This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop-houses is also known as 'The 36 Streets,' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics, crafts, medicines and tombstones. A handicraft lover's paradise and an endlessly interesting place to explore local life. Overnight in Hanoi.

Overnight in Hanoi.

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Day 11: Hanoi to Halong Bay

You will be transferred from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay to embark on an overnight Halong Bay Cruise.

Cruise through the most beautiful and quiet area in Bai Tu Long Bay and Halong Bay to visit Sung Sot Cave. Back on board join in the Vietnamese cookery class held by the Chef. Dinner is a sumptuous buffet featuring an array of salads, seafood, meat dishes, seasonal fresh fruits, and deserts. Overnight on the junk.

Distance and journey time: 160 km, 3 hrs each way

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Day 12: Halong Bay to Hanoi

Join in the early morning Tai Chi lessons before leaving the boat for a walking tour of Titov Beach Island. You will have time for a climb up the steps to the peak for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Bay and relaxation on the beach.

Back on board it’s time for final packing and freshening up before enjoying a full breakfast buffet, including traditional Vietnamese Noodles (Pho). After breakfast guests may relax in the dining room and lounge or on the deck enjoying the last Bay views before disembarkation at 11:00 am. Return to Hanoi for overnight.

Return to Hanoi for overnight.

Distance and journey time:160 km, 3 hrs

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Day 13: Hanoi departure

Transfer to the airport for your onward journey. We suggest extending your stay for a visit to the Sapa Highlands.

Highlights

Ha Long Bay

According to legend, the 3,000 limestone formations dotting Ha Long Bay are pearls, placed by a celestial dragon at the command of the Jade Emperor to halt an invasion

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Hanoi: colonial charming Capital

At the heart of the Red River delta, the Vietnamese capital Hanoi combines French colonial charm with the excitement and dynamism of modern Asia

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Ho Chi Minh City

Formerly Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam’s largest city by population, and the country’s commercial centre

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Hoi An and Danang

Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Hoi An, formerly Faifo, is a miraculously well preserved port on the South China Sea

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Hue: Ancient Imperial Capital

In the shadow of Ngu Binh Mountain, and straddling the Song Huong (Perfume) River, Hue is a UNESCO World Heritage site

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Mekong Delta

The mighty Mekong River flows down through South East Asia, dividing into the countless tributaries and waterways of ‘The Rice Bowl of Vietnam’, the rice fields of the Mekong Delta

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Sa Pa: Highlands and tribes

Set in Vietnam’s mountainous North West bordering Laos and China, Sapa has the edgy feel of a frontier town

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Accommodation

Ha Long Bay, Superior Class
Indochina Sails

Backed by over 20 years’ experience hosting international guests on the tranquil waters of Halong Bay, Indochina Sails has set a new standard for luxury cruising.

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Danang, Deluxe Class
Fusion Maia Resort

Fusion Maia situated on the white sands of My Khe Beach near Danang

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Hanoi, Deluxe Class
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

This heritage property has stood as a legendary symbol of Hanoi since the turn of the last century

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Hanoi, Deluxe Class
Hilton Hanoi Opera Hotel

An acclaimed hotel in the heart of Hanoi’s elegant French Quarter

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Hanoi, Superior Class
Silk Path Hotel Hanoi

Silk Path Hotel Hanoi is situated in the heart of Hanoi’s culturally rich old quarter

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Hanoi, Superior Class
Essence Hanoi Hotel & Spa

Surrounded by the buzz of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, this eco-friendly hotel commands a great location and offers elegantly simple rooms with a Vietnamese touch.

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Hoi An, Deluxe Class
Anantara Hoi An Resort

Scenically positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon River, Anantara Hoi An Resort

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Hoi An, Deluxe Class
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa

The four star Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort & Spa is situated on a superb stretch of beach

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Hoi An, Superior Class
Boutique Hoi An Resort

The Boutique Hoi An Resort is superbly located on the renowned Cua Dai Beach

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Hoi An, Standard Class
Ancient House Resort & Spa

A unique fusion of traditional Vietnamese style and modern luxuries

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Ho Chi Minh City, Deluxe Class
Caravelle Hotel

The Caravelle Hotel offers luxurious modern living in sophisticated and understated elegant surroundings

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Ho Chi Minh City, Deluxe Class
Park Hyatt Saigon

Park Hyatt Saigon is superbly located at Lam Son Square in Ho Chi Minh City

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Ho Chih Min City, Superior Hotel
Hotel Majestic Saigon

Hotel Majestic Saigon occupies one of the finest locations in Saigon with stunning views of the Saigon River

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Hue, Deluxe Class
La Residence Hue Hotel

Superbly located opposite the Imperial Palace along the quiet banks of the Perfume River

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Hue, Superior Class
Pilgrimage Village

Pilgrimage Village is ideally located in the quiet countryside about 4 kms out of Hue city

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Hue, Superior Class
Ana Mandara Hue

Set amidst almost three hectares of tropical parkland, Ana Mandara Hue fronts a 400-metre white sand beach

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Sa Pa, Superior Class
Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa

The Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa was built as a traditional chalet with accented wooden décor

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Sa Pa, Standard Class
Topas Ecolodge

Topas Ecolodge is a small hotel situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park

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