Vietnam Central Highland & Southern Explorer

Handcrafted Travel
Daily Departure


  • Active Adventure
  • Culture & Heritage
  • Off The Beaten Path
Day 1 – 2: Hoi An
  • Arrive in Danang. Transfer to Hoi An. Sightsee the town’s attractions.
Day 3 – 10: Pleiku – Buon Me Thuot - Dalat
  • Fly to Pleiku. Hike to the villages of Kon Ko Lor Lor I and Kon Ko Lor II.
  • Tour Trung Nguyen coffee village and a local coffee garden. Full day with the elephants in Buon Me Thuot. Visit Dray Sap and Dray Nu Waterfalls. Explore life of the Jarai, Ede, M’Nong in their villages.
  • Drive to Dalat. Overnight camping on Pinhatt Mountain.
Day 11 – 16: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – Soc Trang – Can Tho
  • Fly to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
  • Tour HCMC. Visit Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple.
  • Embark a boat trip to explore the life in Soc Trang and Can Tho (Mekong Delta). Enjoy a nice getaway at Co Co Riverside Lodge.
  • Take the departure flight from HCMC to your next destination.

Customizable itinerary

Get off the beaten path and explore some of Vietnam’s most stunning scenery in the rainforests of the Central Highlands. Visit Pleiku, Kontum and Buon Ma Thuot to see how some of the region’s ethnic tribe people live and will also host you. Along the way, your trek passes through evergreen forests, jungle villages, dramatic waterfalls, and lakes. From the highland, you will pass into the lush, flat terrain of the fertile Mekong Delta, home to floating markets, fishing villages and a myriad of canals and waterways. Explore the legendary Cu Chi Tunnels and cycle on canal paths passing orchards and delta villages. This is a great opportunity to see an authentic Vietnam, steeped in traditions and culture.

Arrive at Da Nang Airport and private transfer to your hotel in Hoi An. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure.

Overnight in Hoi An

You will have an early morning pick-up for the boat trip to the village of Duy Hai. Here you can watch fishermen bring in their overnight catch and see how the fish are smoked and dried. You will be offered coffee and snacks with a local family before cycling back to Hoi An.

Upon arrival in Hoi An, you’ll have another boat ride, this time on the Thu Bon River as you’ll cruise upstream to the villages of Thanh Ha and Kim Bong, renowned for pottery and carpentry. Visit the local workshops where the handicrafts are made before returning to your hotel around midday.

Enjoy a cycling trip to visit Hoi An’s major top attractions: the Quan Cong Temple, the Japanese Covered Bridge, Tan Ky Old House, Fujian Assembly Halls, and Hoi An Central markets. You’ll also visit a lantern maker to see how these delicate things are made. You will have the chance to create your own lantern as a souvenir.

Overnight in Hoi An
Meals: (B/_/_)

After breakfast and check out, transfer back to Da Nang Airport for a short flight to Pleiku. Upon arrival, you will be met and driven to Kontum, where you’ll have a tour of the town including the museum, wooden church, an orphanage, and the Kon K’Lor suspension bridge. Later, you’ll start hiking to the villages of Kon Ko Lor Lor I and Kon Ko Lor II. You’ll have a picnic lunch on the way.

Board a wooden boat on the Dakbla River to reach the village of Kon Ko Tu, home to the Bahnar minority people, where you will be the guests for the night. You’ll take dinner at a local home.

Overnight at a local homestay
Meals: (B/L/D)

After breakfast and check out, bid a fond farewell to the family hosts and depart Kontum for four hours to Buon Ma Thuot via Pleiku. En route, you will pause to visit Phun village, a village of the Jarai ethnic group, best known for their cemeteries adorned with wooden statues. You also make stops at coffee, rubber and pepper plantations along the way.

Arrive Buon Ma Thuot and check into your hotel. After a short rest, you will set out to explore Buon Ma Thuot, the coffee capital of Vietnam which has played a key role in Vietnam’s success as the world’s top Robusta exporter, and second coffee exporter after Brazil.

Start with a visit to Trung Nguyen coffee village, a lovely garden filled with fountains, interesting architects and of course lovely coffee! Here you can learn about Vietnamese coffee culture, coffee trees, the coffee processing industry.

The next stop is the impressive Ethnographic Museum. The exhibits here will give you an insight into the lives and cultures of the ethnic minority people of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

Proceed to Kien Cuong Civet Coffee Garden. You will meet the owner Mr. Kien Cuong “the king of coffee” who will tell you how he farms and processes the famous Civet-coffee (the most expensive coffee in the world).

Return to Buon Ma Thuot in the late afternoon and spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.

Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot
Meals: (B/_/_)

After an early breakfast, your private guide and driver will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to Yok Don National park to join with the team from the Elephant Conservation Project.

Upon arrival, after a brief introduction, you will meet the elephant caretakers and enjoy a full day exploring the forest in search of the three elephants who now freely roam the national park. Your guide will tell you about each individual elephants’ personality, their background and why they are living in Yok Don National Park. The ethnic minorities in this area have a long history of training and working with elephants and your guide can share these stories too.

During the trek, your guides will share their knowledge of the national park, pointing out the many species of plants and wildlife inhabiting this forest, and showing you the plants used in traditional medicine by some of the local ethnic minority people.

You may even encounter signs of the rare wild elephant community within the park, such as their footprints, foraging signs or dung.

Enjoy a picnic lunch in the middle of the park.

After lunch, you will continue to trek until you reach the elephants’ home deep in the jungle. You will have a chance to meet the Elephants and take part in washing them (30 minutes) and feeding them bananas and sugar cane. As the centre focuses on the conservation and ethical treatment of the elephants, they no longer allow elephant rides, but this just makes for a better experience as the elephants are happier and healthier.

Finish your fabulous day and wind your way back to Buon Ma Thuot.

Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast and check out of the hotel, head out to visit two of the most impressive waterfalls in the Central Highlands: Dray Sap and Dray Nu. Fed by the Srepock River, a major tributary of the Mekong River that flows from the Central Highlands into northeastern Cambodia, Dray Nur and Dray Sap waterfalls are definitely the must-sees.

Drive roughly 90km to the Nam Ka where you will take a mini trek for 3km to the rural village of Raihome to the Ede minority people. This village has 15 households and about 75 residents in the village. People here also live mainly on rice cultivation, raising cattle, pigs and other kinds of poultry. Besides, they also earn more money by hunting and gathering. Ede people practice matriarchy and their language belongs to the system of the Malayo-Polynesian language system. They come to Vietnam from Malaysia South Island by boat so their house architecture also built in the boat shape to remember their ancestors crossing the sea to the land.

The family that you spend the night at Rai village is chief Ay Sel’s. This is a traditional long house-on-stilts of the Ede style with a staircase decorated with a young moon symbolizing faithful and a couple of breasts symbolizing prosperity and matriarchy.

Enjoy a delicious home-hosted dinner with the local family. Take a chance to learn about their lifestyle and customs.

Overnight in Nam Ka
Meals: (B/_/D)

After breakfast and check out, say goodbye to your family hosts and trek through evergreen forest to Buon Triet Lake, which will involve a climb as well as descending through the forest as well as crossing a stream. Along the way, you will see tropical birds, forest wildlife and some ethnic tribespeople.

After a picnic lunch, you will arrive at Buon Triet. You are taken to paddle boats and ride across the beautiful Lake with the opportunity for a swim.

Later you will arrive at Jatu Village, home to the M’nong minority people, one of the native ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. The M’nong has many small groups such as M’nong Gar, M’nong Nong, M’nong Bih … who also practice the matriarchy and their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language system. Ja Tu is a small village with 14 households and about 60 people living together. They live on rice cultivating, raising cattle and gathering from the forest.

The house where you stay overnight in Ja Tu village is the long house-on-stilts. The host is Ama Loan who is also the chief of the village.

Overnight in Jatu Village
Meals: (B/L/D)

After breakfast, head to Lak Lake. The journey will take you past ethnic villages, rice fields, and rivers. Arrive at Lak Lake you will cross the lake by dug-out canoe to M’Lieng village, where you will have time to walk around to find out more about daily life in the Central Highlands. Later, you can take an elephant ride.

Depart Lak Lake for Dalat, arrive in the evening and check in to your hotel.

Overnight in Dalat
Meals: (B/_/_)

Depart from Da Lat and drive to Robin Hill for a trek through the pine forest to Paradise Lake. You will stop at a coffee farm en route to the base of Pinhatt Mountain (1696m). Your climb to the top should take roughly 45 minutes.

After lunch, you will descend into the tropical forest to your campsite, where you can do some fishing and swimming. Spend the night at camp in tents.

Overnight in Pinhatt Mountain
Meals: (B/L/D)


After breakfast, you will embark on another jungle trek. Today will be harder than yesterday and last for at least 4 hours before you stop at a local village.

Return to Dalat and then transfer to the Airport for the evening flight to Ho Chi Minh City, in the south of Vietnam, still called Saigon by the locals. Upon arrival, you will be met and driven to the hotel for check-in. The rest of the day will be at your leisure.

Overnight in HCM City
Meals: (B/_/_)

After breakfast, you will leave the city behind and drive through the countryside to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Before entering the tunnels you have a short introductory video showing how the tunnels were constructed. You will then spend the next hour exploring the maze of tunnels. On display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs, dropped by B52 bombers.

Continue to Tay Ninh, near the Cambodian border, which is home to the unique Cao Dai sect, whose patron saints include Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Winston Churchill to name a few. This religion is a fusion of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Here we will witness the colourful mid-day service.

You return to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) late afternoon where the balance of the day will be at your leisure.

Overnight in HCM City
Meals: (B/_/_)

Leaving HCM City, you’ll drive through the lush Mekong Delta to the town of My Tho. Upon arrival, you’ll board your boat to visit the islands, passing fishing villages and orchard gardens before disembarking at Thoi Son Island to find out about bee farms, coconut candy making amongst other locally made products.

After having lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll continue with the drive to Can Tho city, in the heart of the Mekong Delta. Arrive and check into our hotel. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at your leisure. You may explore Can Tho night market and try some local food. The market streets come alive with dozens of bustling food stalls selling grilled meats and tofu on skewers, as well as grilled rice-paper banh trang nuong (‘Vietnamese pizza’)…etc.

Overnight in Can Tho
Meals: (B/L/_)

Get up early to take a boat trip along the endless waterway of the mighty Mekong River to Cai Rang Floating Market, the biggest wholesale market of the region. There will be hundreds of boats loaded with fruits, vegetables, and fish jostling for trade. Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters.

Get back to the shore where you are transferred to Phong Dien, an Intimate Floating market. Here this market place has more stand-up rowing boats than motorized craft, with local vendors shopping and exchanging gossip. Less crowded than Cai Rang, Phong Dien has far fewer tourists and less activity.

Leaving the Phong Dien Floating Market and soaking up the scenery that stretches out on all sides you drive along the creeks and canals to Soc Trang where you will visit the famous Khmer, Clay and Bat Pagodas.

After lunch at a local restaurant in Soc Trang, you will return to Can Tho. Spend the rest of your day at leisure.

Overnight in Can Tho
Meals: (B/L/_)

After breakfast, you will depart Can Tho for Vung Liem where you will enjoy the real Mekong Delta experience away from the tourist streams.

Upon arrival, you will check into the bungalows at Co Co Riverside Lodge. Nestled into the side of the Mekong River surrounded by coconuts forest and rice farms, the lodge makes you feel as though it’s far from the civilization.

After a traditional lunch, select bicycles for a leisurely ride on quiet village roads passing coconut farms, green rice paddies, and small villages. Along the way, you will pause to visit one of the many dragon fruit plantations and taste it directly in the garden. This is a real chance to discover a rural Vietnam that most visitors never get to see.

Ride back to the lodge while capturing the picturesque Asian sunset scenes.

After some shower and rest, you will walk with locals using traditional torches made of dried coconut leaves to a neighbour’s house where you are treated to a traditional musical performance.

Get back to the lodge again and join a fun cooking class with the chef. Then sit down and enjoy what you have together cooked.

Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight at Co Co Riverside Lodge in Vung Liem
Meals: (B/L/D)

Following breakfast, you will head out to visit a local school and a nearby market. After that take a leisurely boat ride through palm-fringed back canals visiting the local cottage industries. Situated alongside the river, these are small coconut-processing operations. Once the coconut has been shelled, the coconut fibers are removed from the husk to make rope, which in turn is used to weave rugs.

Back to the Lodge. If time permits, try our hand at weaving with water coconut leaves. The leaves are a key building material in the Mekong Delta and used to build the walls and roofs of homes. The local people will show you not only how they use these leaves but also how to make the ‘poon’ sticks that illuminated last night with the musical performance.

Check out. Bid a fond farewell to the staff at the lodge and wind your way back to Ho Chi Minh City. Enjoy your last night in this city before going home.

Overnight in HCM City
Meals: (B/_/_)

Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Ho Chi Minh International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.

Meals: (B/_/_)

Useful Information

This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!

Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Discovery the local fishing village and the fascinating Ancient town of Hoi An
  • Visit Buon Ma Thuot, the coffee capital of Vietnam which has played a key role in Vietnam’s success as the world’s top Robusta
  • Join a full day elephant experience in Yok Don National park with the stories of training and working with elephants
  • Explore two of the most impressive waterfalls in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: Dray Sap and Dray Nu
  • Discover the forests surrounded villages and deep in local life and cultural of the native ethnic groups
  • Short visit Dalat with camping activities in Pinhatt Mountain (1696m)
  • Explore the legendary network of Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai temple in Tay Ninh province
  • Discover the famous Cai Rang Floating Market and the Cottage Industries in the Mekong Delta

Dining Experience

  • 15 hotel buffet breakfasts.
  • 5 dinners and 7 lunches at well-selected restaurants

Travel Highlights

  • Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
  • Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
  • Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
  • A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
  • Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip

What’s Included?

Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, domestic flights, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax, and service charge.

What’s Not Included?

Your international flights from and to Vietnam, the entry visa to Vietnam, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.

Request this tour

Free service. No credit card required

Reviews on Our Service

We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.

5 97.66%
4 2.13%
3 0.21%
2 0%
1 0%

Vietnam Luxury Vacation Review: Sightseeing, Culture, 12-Day Travel

Asia Pioneer Travel was professional, provided prompt communication before and during our trip, and offered an itinerary custom to our wish list and timeline.

They helped us focus on highlights of areas which we would have spent considerable time researching and organizing without their help. Their attention to detail in information shared ahead of time, as well as step by step planning of transportation, meals, lodging, and sightseeing options offered a stress-free vacation- optimizing our time and energy on experiencing everything beautiful Vietnam has to offer!
The landscape, scenery, and customs of Vietnam are stunning and diverse. Each area we visited offered its own unique beauty. Absolutely amazing!!!
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Rachel Faust - USA
Mar 8, 2023
From: 5

Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Sightseeing, Rice Fields, Boat Rides, 18-Day Trip

We started searching for our tour for Vietnam / Cambodia back in October 2022 to start the tour in the first week of January 2023. We selected this travel agency, and contact name provided to us was Elly. She was extraordinary with her communication with us. Excellent English speaking language capability & excellent in communication on Whats app and email communication. We went back & forth few times to arrange the tour we wanted. She was very accommodating in arranging our schedule. We requested automobile tour for both countries, just for two of us.

We requested to get the high end hotel in each city and she gave us choices and not only that but send videos of each hotel for each City and then waited for us to decide which hotel we select. All the Hotels turned out to be one of the best we would expect to be. M/s Elly, personally came to visit with us on the evening of our first day tour. Very respectful and asked if she could do anything for us.I had requested before in our communication, if she would arrange for power converter for us, since my camera chargers are all in 110. So brought two power converters for us! Something, not everyone will do this kind of service. So all the kiddos to her!

as to the drivers in each city were very courteous, very professional and very careful in how and where they have to do driving.

our Guides in each city were so friendly, courteous and knowledgeable in where ever we visited. How ever wish two guides in Hue An and Ho Chi Minh City spoke English more clearly.

We only wish we had one extra day in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, , however, there is so much to see in the world! Perhaps next time will visit Vietnam.

As to Cambodia, same thing to express about site seeing and our Guide and drivers. Guides and drivers really made our travel thro’ the countries where we do not speak that language, made it so comfortable and enjoyable.

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Sudhir D - USA
Mar 3, 2023


Hi Lam…hope you don’t mind me contacting you directly. My wife Barb  & I (Paul) have just arrived home after completing a great tour of Vietnam which was organised through your company Asia Pioneer Travel.

We want to tell you personally how impressed were were with the level of service that we received…it was amazing and the best that we have experienced anywhere. After we made initial contact with you, you handed us over to Chloe to arrange the trip which she did in very quick time and the amount of detail that she went to was fantastic. From the moment that we walked out of Hanoi airport on arrival to see our guide waiting, we knew that we were in for a great trip. The drivers & guides were fantastic and Chloe was in contact by email constantly making sure that everything was going to plan & that we were happy. At one stage we need to vary the itinerary by extending accommodation & changing air tickets and Chloe did that without any fuss or bother.

We also met some wonderful Vietnamese people along the way and Ive got to say that they are our kind of people, very generous & friendly.

Enough of my ramblings, thanks for a great visit to Vietnam, and a special thank you to Chloe for looking after us in such a terrific manner…she is a very special caring lady.

Kind regards & I hope that we have the opportunity to use Asia Pioneer Travel again….Paul & Barb Little from Newcastle Australia

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Paul & Barb Little - Australia
Mar 2, 2023

Superbly organised and very flexible

We travelled to Vietnam for two weeks, booking the whole trip through Lizzie at Asia Pioneer, including hotels, excursions, trips, guides and internal flights. Lizzie was so helpful and flexible, accommodating changes to our schedule until the last minute, especially as we missed our connecting flight in Dubai and arrived a day later than planned (our fault). Nothing was too much trouble, including getting my wallet back to me after I left it in the car taking us to the airport.

We started in Hanoi in the North and worked our way south to Ho Chi Minh city (Saigon), taking in Ha Long with its amazing sea stacks and sleeping on a boat, then to Sa Pa on the overnight sleeper train from Hanoi, with its wonderful countryside and rice terraces. Afterwards, we went to Hoi An for three days of relaxation. Hoi An probably my favourite place and three days are enough to cover it. Then onto Hue, the original capital, my least favourite place and then finally on to HMC, which was a real contrast to the North.

The 3-star hotels that Lizzie picked were very good and comfortable, and the guides were very knowledgeable. I would definitely use Asia Pioneer again for future Asia trips.

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Alex Miller - United Kingdom
Mar 1, 2023