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Footsteps of Wartime

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1919

Iconic Sites and Sights

Visiting many of the key locations of the 1960's / 70's war in Vietnam

This completely unique tour visits many of the key wartime locations and reconciles then and now. It is completely customizable to suit Vets, students of history and all who would like to have a better understanding of Vietnam – then and now.

At a glance...
  • 4 nights in HCMC
  • 3 nights in Hoi An
  • 2 Nights in Hue
  • 1 night DMZ
  • 1 night sleeper train
  • Overnight cruise on Halong Bay
  • 3 nights in Hanoi

Sights you'll see

DMZ Khe SanhVinh Moc TunnelsDMZ MapVinh Moc TunnelsDMZ Hiem Kuong Bridge - Ben Hai RiverDMZ Hamburger HillWar Museum SaigonRed Beach Da NangQuang Tri CitadelSaigon Tour by JeepDMZ Vinh Moc Tunnels

Itinerary

Enjoy this tour as-is, or we'll tailor it to suit you.

Day 1Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City

Your guide will meet you at the airport and private transfer to your hotel.

Later, enjoy an introduction to some of the city’s most iconic streets and buildings, on a walking tour with your private guide

Day 2Saigon - Now and Then

What’s in a name? Following the fall of Saigon on 30th April 1975, Saigon was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However the old Saigon name is still often used by both Vietnamese and visitors, especially when referring to the most central part of the city, District 1.

This energetic city of some 11 million people (seemingly all on motor scooters together) is the backdrop for exploring the more modern history and stories it’s enduring people.

There are amazing markets, stunning architecture, wartime sites and so much more that you’ll discover, with your private guide and driver.

Day 3Cu Chi Tunnels and an evening Scooter tour of a lifetime!

This morning, Join your speedboat for around 1.5 hours fast cruise up river. Within 15 minutes, the banks of the river change from city sprawl to lush jungle. This unique mode of travel to Cu Chi is an experience in itself.

After a short documentary, your guide will lead you through the historic Cu Chi Tunnels and the numerous sites, which show how the Viet Cong waged war.

The tunnels were dug with simple tools and bare hands during the French occupation in the 1940s, and further expanded during the Vietnam War in the 1960s to provide refuge and a defensive advantage over the American soldiers.

Enjoy a delicious traditional Vietnamese lunch by the river, consisting of authentic fried spring rolls, chicken and beef dishes and soup, before returning to the city mid-afternoon.

This evening – experience Saigon the local way! You will ride on the back of typical Saigon transportation – the xe-om (motorbike).

With an experienced driver to get away from the main tourist spots and see the ‘real Saigon’. We will be visiting local Vietnamese Street food vendors on the pavement or in small local Vietnamese style restaurants.

The atmosphere is light and fun with a focus on enjoying great Vietnamese food. It is truly like going to a dinner party with local Vietnamese, except this one moves!

Day 4Mekong Delta Experience

Experience the beauty and culture of Vietnam with our Mekong Delta tour by speedboat. This one-day tour offers an immersive and unique way to explore the stunning landscapes and rich traditions of this region, giving you an up-close look at the way of life along the Mekong River.

As you travel along the river on a modern speedboat, you’ll have countless photo opportunities to capture the idyllic scenery of the region, from lush fruit orchards to vibrant rice paddies. Our expert English-speaking guide will introduce you to the most fascinating destinations, including a Cao Dai temple, a Buddhist pagoda, and a river market, among others.

Day 5My Lai and Hoi An

Morning flight from Saigon to the former US Marine base at Chu Lai in central Vietnam, which is now a civilian airport.

Drive southwards to go to the My Lai Massacre memorial in Quang Ngai province. Before reaching My Lai village, make a stop at a local market that offers intimate views into daily local life on the Central Coast.

Upon arriving in My Lai, you will visit the city museum. See displays recounting what occurred, and walk to the site where the violence happened. In this village, you will also learn many stories about life during the war and in 19th century Vietnam.

Later, drive north to the charming UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An, your base for the next threenights.

Day 6Hoi An Walking Tour

Located on the banks of the poetic Thu Bon River, Hoi An ancient town is an Eastern oriental classic captivation.

Today, this UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient town is home to well-preserved buildings, pedestrianized streets, a quaint riverside and unique cuisines.

The narrow lanes are ideal for aa approximate 2 hours walking tour to give you a glimpse of an ancient town with its illustrious past.

In the afternoon, you’re free and easy to relax by your hotel pool or at the nearby beaches.

Day 7In and around Hoi An

Start after breakfast for a 30 minutes gentle bicycle ride through the flat country lanes to Tra Que, which is a charming little village located just a few kilometers northeast of Hoi An.

The village is famous for growing many kinds of vegetables. You can see the local farmers doing there daily work when raking the ground, sowing, watering, picking vegetables and many other activities which are rarely found in modern daily life.

You’ll learn about organic farming and if you wish try yourself, so that you can understand more about organic farming techniques.

In the afternoon, you’re free and easy to relax by your hotel pool or at the nearby beaches.

Day 8Da Nang, Red Beach and Hue

Today, we leave Hoi An and drive north on National Highway No.1.

On the way, we’ll pass by the former Marble Mountain Air Facility – aka Da Nang East Airfield. This original helicopter base for the Marine Aircraft Group has now been split into two sections – juxtaposing Vietnam as it is today.

On the right side of the road are modern condos, a golf course and international hotels. On the left remains a section of the original airfield, hardened bomb shelters and control tower.

Passing through Da Nang City, we should have time to stop for a coffee at My Khe Beach. Many remember this as a key R&R location. A bit further along, we’ll stop at Nam O Beach (Red Beach), landing site of the Marine Expeditionary Force on the morning of 8th March 1965 and the beginning of the war as known today.

Forgoing the modern road tunnel, we’ll drive along the winding and quite spectacular Hai Van Mountain Pass. As we reach the summit, we stop for a break and a look at the battle-scarred wartime bunkers, the originals built by the French. This was a strategic site for protecting one of the few routes the could be used by the NVA for moving supplies from the north to the south.

Heading down the mountain, there are stunning views of Lan Co Bay, before arriving in the former capital city of Hue.

Day 9Discovering Hue

Begin early to miss the crowds and see Hue Citadel in the best light. The citadel palace complex is located on the North bank of Huong River (Perfume River), inside Hue city.

Even though suffering extensive damage from the war, it is still a very impressive site.

For most of the war, Hue was held by the South. But it was also one of the few strongholds in South Vietnam held for any length of time by the North. In 1968, as a major part of the Tet Offensive, the impressive stone walls were breached as a force of about 10,000 North Vietnamese soldiers descended on Hue to capture much of the city.

Their occupation didn’t last long–they were pushed out by U.S. Marines and South Vietnamese forces in about a month. But they didn’t go quietly. The intense house-to-house fighting and escalating shelling and bombing destroyed much of the city.

We’ll take time for a Hue coffee and also walk around the largest market in the region at Dong Ba. Continue to discover the history of the former emperors’ tombs, before a cruise back to Hue on the Perfume River and catch a sunset.

Day 10South of the DMZ

Leaving Hue, we drive north on HWY 1 the ‘Street without Joy, to arrive in the old border town of Dong Ha, just south of the DMZ and base for 3rd Marine Division. This will also be our base for exploring the sites of this incredibly important theater of war.

Today we’ll explore the area along Highway 9 and sections of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (QL14), as it is today. Starting at Khe Sanh Combat Base, this was the site of the 1968 Battle of Khe Sanh, which saw the US respond to an NVA siege by dropping over 100,000 tons of bombs onto the surrounding area.

Khe Sanh and the siege became pivoital in the American War. The battle of Khe Sanh was important because it attracted worldwide media attention and, along with the simultaneous Tet Offensive and began to alter homeland perceptions of the whole war.

Although the base was subsequently destroyed by retreating US troops, it was later pressed back into operation for secret bombing runs into Laos. Abandoned again in 1971, it spent the next few decades as little more than a ruin, but now has a small, but interesting museum on site.

Returning along Hwy 9, we’ll stop at Dakrong Bridge. The current structure was constructed in the mid 1970’s. It was an important site for access along the HCM Trail and was destroyed (and rebuilt) a number of times during the conflict.

We’ll also break the trip to see Elliot Combat Base – aka The Rockpile. This small Karst outcrop of around 240m elevation, provided a strategic lookout on the HWY 9 supply route for Khe Sanh, Ca Lu and Camp Carrol.

Our final stop today will be by the site of Camp Carrol, which was primarily a heavy artillery base, later becoming a south Vietnamese Army base and finally surrendered to the NVA in the spring of 1972.

This is a flexible day of discovering locations and may be modified to incorporate northern sections of the A Shau Valley if required.

Day 11North of the DMZ

This morning we drive north over the DMZ itself. First stopping at Con Thien which was America’s largest firebase, first established by the Special Forces (Green Berets), and then handed over to the Marines in 1966.

In the lead up to the 1968 Tet Offensive, as part of the diversionary attacks, the base became the target of prolonged shelling, followed by an infantry assault, during which it was briefly surrounded by the NVA. More than 40,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped around Con Thien, transforming the hills into a smoking moonscape.

Pause for respect at Truong Son National Cemetery, where there are some 10,000 graves dedicated to the estimated 25,000 men, women and children who died on the Truong Son Trail, better known in the west as the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Onward to the Ben Hai River, which lies on the 17th Parallel (170 north of the equator).

You may be able to cross the old wooden footbridge the over Ben Hai River and also visit the small war museum situated on the north side.

We’ll continue for around 15 minutes drive to Vinh Moc. A highly impressive complex of tunnels, Vinh Moc is the remains of a coastal North Vietnamese village that literally went underground in response to unremitting American bombing.

The tunnels were a success and no villagers lost their lives. The only direct hit was from a bomb that failed to explode; the resulting hole was utilized as a ventilation shaft.

From here, continue on Hwy 1 to Dong Hoi, in good time for the night sleeper train (The Reunification Express). Board your private sleeping cabin for the overnight journey north to arrive in Hanoi early next morning.

Day 12Luxury Cruise on Halong Bay

Met at Hanoi Raiway Station by your local guide and have breakfast in the city, before the approximately 3 hours drive through the Red River delta to Ha Long. Board your traditional junk and set sail through the extraordinary and scenic Karst rock formations.

Enjoy lunch and dinner on-board as you cruise to your anchor location in the bay. Overnight is in your spacious air-conditioned cabin.

Day 13Halong Bay and Hanoi

Wake to sunrise over the bay.

If you feel energetic try Tai Chi on the deck. Breakfast or brunch is served as you cruise back to the mainland by late morning.

Arrive back in Hanoi around mid-afternoon and into your hotel, for your final couple of nights evening here.

Day 14Contemporary Hanoi

Today, discover the highlight sites and sights iof this vibrant capital city including: Streets of the Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, One-pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and museums of interest.

Day 15Wartime Hanoi

Our final day of this tour discovers some of the lesser-known, but important historical sites of the war. These include:

Hun Tiep Lake: Also known as the ‘B52 Lake’, this small and relatively hidden lake is where a Boeing B52 USAF Bomber was shot down during the Christmas air raids over Hanoi on 19 December 1972, during Operation Linebacker II. This operation was considered to be the heaviest US aerial strikes since the Second World War. Part of the B52 can still be seen partially submerged.

Military History Museum : This museum is primarily for guests who wish to gain an understanding of all wars in Vietnam, from early Chinese, through French and American wars. The outside exhibits are reconstructed from captured military hardware and kids can generally climb on them.

Long Bien Bridge: Built in 1903 by the architects of Daydé & Pillé, a French company. It was, at that time, one of the longest bridges in Asia with a length of approx 8200 feet.

It was heavily bombarded during Vietnam War due to its critical position and has the dubious distinction of being victim to one of the first coordinated attacks in May 1972, using laser-guided “smart bombs. Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections have clearly been built later to repair the holes. In this way the bridge is a strong visual expression of history over the Red River.

It is quite possible to walk along the bridge, which only carries pedestrians, motorcycles and trains which run along a single-track through the centre of the bridge.

Day 16Hanoi and departure

At a time to suit you, we’ll transfer you to Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport for your outbound flight.

Alternatively, you may wish to extend your visit, to discover other areas- just ask us for suggestions.

Details

Where
  • Saigon to Hanoi
Duration
  • 16 days / 15 nights Private Tour
Tour Includes
  • 13 nights hotel with breakfast
  • 2 Lunches
  • 2 Evening Meals
  • 1 internal flight
  • Overnight sleeper train
  • Overnight cruise on Halong Bay
  • Experienced Tour Guides
  • All Entrance Fees
  • All transportation and transfers
Main Exclusions
  • International flights
  • Visa / Immigration Fees
  • Any Private Expenses
  • Tips / Gratuities
Always Included
  • Expert planning
  • In-country support 24/7
  • Bottled drinking water on tour

Main places visited

More details on the towns and cities you visit