The Best of Vietnam: Rich Culture & Spectacular Landscapes

Fully immerse yourself in the rolling rice paddies, fascinating colonial history and the diverse cultures of Vietnam on an exciting journey from North to South with local experts.
Rating (4.83)
Program No. 23379RJ
18 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

Through a tumultuous history of war and strife, Vietnam has developed a colorfully diverse culture of proud locals. In the North, you’ll find Chinese influences in the bustling city of Hanoi and members of the Blue Hmong group in the mountains of Sapa. But travel further south and discover imperial Vietnam in Hue’s 19th century citadel walls and a Hindu influence in the pulsating energy of Saigon. On this two week learning adventure, experience the best of Vietnam as you explore each of its unique regions to learn about the beautifully blended culture that thrives there. Along with local experts, let exotic Vietnam captivate you in its colorful markets and skyscraper-lined cities, and soon discover that variety truly is the spice of life.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles at a time sometimes along busy streets or through villages.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Get a taste of the local culture in a multi-course, hands-on Vietnamese cooking class that starts at the market and ends at the table with new friends.
  • Sail through Ha Long Bay to explore the incredible karst limestone formations with a local expert.
  • Explore the mountain villages of Ban Khoan, Lu Khau and Ya Giang Phink Valley to learn about the indigenous Blue Hmong and Red Zao groups.

General Notes

Note that Single rooms are not available on the overnight train ride from Sapa to Hanoi. Single supplement only applies to the hotels and the double room rates applies to the overnight train.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Long Kim Nguyen
Mr. Nguyen Kim Long has worked in the tourism industry since 1998, working as a group leader in Vietnam and trained by Saga Holiday in England. He had a brief stint in the office as an office manager but returned to the field to show people his country. He has led groups for many different companies such as Saga Holidays and Road Scholar.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image
Long Kim Nguyen
View biography
<%= Bio %>
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Quiet American
by Graham Greene
A classic, this is the most famous Western work of fiction on Vietnam. Greene writes of a love triangle between a war correspondent, his Vietnamese consort and an optimistic young American during the last days of French rule.
Cambodia's Curse, The Modern History of a Troubled Land
by Joel Brinkley
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joel Brinkley returns to Cambodia a generation after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime to report on the country's continuing struggle to recover from its past.
The Road of Lost Innocence
by Somaly Mam
Sold into servitude by her grandfather, Mam recounts the experiences of her early life, her awakening as an activist -- and work to rescue thousands of women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
Eyewitness Guide Vietnam and Angkor Wat
by Eyewitness Guides
Featuring innovative site diagrams, local maps and hundreds of color photographs, this handy companion introduces the culture, history and attractions of Vietnam.
A Traveller's History of Southeast Asia
by J.M. Barwise, Nicholas J. White
A compact history of the region, including the Khmer and the various ancient kingdoms that produced Borobudur, Angkor and other architectural marvels.
Birds of Southeast Asia
by Craig Robson
This authoritative, masterfully illustrated guide, featuring 140 color plates covering 1,270 species throughout the region, also includes Malaysia, Burma, Borneo and Indonesia.
The River's Tale, A Year on the Mekong
by Edward Gargan
A personal, probing chronicle of a 3,000 mile journey on the river from its source in China through Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Vietnam, Rising Dragon
by Bill Hayton
The veteran BBC newsman covers the tangled politics, rapidly changing economy, culture, history and people of Vietnam with great insight in this timely portrait of a nation in transition.
Temples of Cambodia, The Heart of Angkor
by Helen Ibbitson Jessup, Barry Brukoff (Photographer)
Jessup (Art and Architecture of Cambodia) provides the accompanying essays to this oversized portfolio of dazzling color images by Barry Brukoff, who has been photographing the monuments of Cambodia since 1963.
The Mekong, Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future
by Milton Osborne
A cultural history of the great river from prehistory to European exploration, colonial tensions and modern challenges. It's an engaging introduction to the history of Southeast Asia.
Vietnam Journeys
by Charles Fields
Photographer and traveler Charles Fields portrays the cultures and landscapes of Vietnam from the World Heritage Site of Hue and the Phung Hiep floating market to its forests and coastline in stunning color photographs.
Arts of Southeast Asia
by Fiona Kerlogue
A handsome guide to the art, architecture, textiles and crafts of Southeast Asia.
Fire in the Lake
by Frances FitzGerald
A classic historical, political and cultural portrait of the Vietnam War, seen through the eyes of the Vietnamese. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, FitzGerald, a staff writer at the New Yorker and a reporter in Vietnam, presents a vivid image of a revolution and a clear-sighted case for why the U.S offensive was doomed from the start.
Vietnam, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by John Balaban, Nguyen Qui Duc
From rain forest and rural countryside to the cities, these 17 stories from Vietnam's finest writers explore its landscapes, myths and changing traditions.
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Map
by Nelles
A convenient, double-sided map of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam at a scale of 1:1,500,000, with city maps of Hanoi, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang, and Phnom Penh. Includes the eastern portion of Thailand and Bangkok.
The Eaves of Heaven, A Life in Three Wars
by Andrew X. Pham
Pham recounts the story of his father's life during the French occupation, Japanese invasion and the American War, weaving such momentous events with anecdotes from his childhood and details of family, friends, food and daily life.
The Gods Drink Whiskey
by Stephen T. Asma
Asma writes with verve and wit in this eye-opening account of his yearlong stint teaching at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh. His account is both an overview of Theravada Buddhism and a down-to-earth portrait of contemporary Cambodia.
Communion, A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam
by Kim Fay
Fay recounts in savory detail a five-week journey with two friends from Hanoi to Saigon in search of the traditions, rituals and pleasures of food from local markets and street foods to haute cuisine.
Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong
by Nick Ray
This compact practical guide covers the entire Mekong from the heights of Yunnan to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
by Norman Lewis
A classic account of travels and adventure during the last years of French Indochina, strong on atmosphere and including wonderfully detailed descriptions of local cultures and archaeological treasures. First published in 1951.

Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback