Classic Vietnam Trip Notes

Classic Vietnam

Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016
Classic Vietnam
Trip code: TVKT
Validity: 01 May 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of wonderful people and picturesque landscapes. Imagine learning the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City or exploring the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi - and what better way to get to know the locals than to be their guests on a Mekong Delta homestay? Experience historical temples, visit Vietnam's spectacular coastline, enjoy delicious banquets and explore lively cities - all with a touch of comfort - on this 15-day Classic Vietnam tour.
Table of Contents
StyleMeals introductionAlternate finish point
ThemesMealsAlternate finish point description
Is this trip right for you?Money mattersAlternate finish point instructions
Why we love itGroup leaderEmergency contact
MapSafetyVisas
ItineraryJoining pointWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerJoining point descriptionClimate and seasonal information
Physical ratingJoining point instructionsHealth
Included activitiesAlternate joining pointTravel insurance
Important notesAlternate joining point descriptionA couple of rules
Group sizeAlternate joining point instructionsResponsible Travel
Your fellow travellersFinish pointThe Intrepid Foundation
AccommodationFinish point descriptionFeedback
Accommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Style
Comfort
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip includes an overnight train journey. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. Plus you make the most of your time by travelling while you sleep.
- On your homestay in the Mekong Delta region, you’ll have basic bedding in a dorm style arrangement. Amenities are shared with cold water only. It’s not exactly the Hilton, but most travellers find it the highlight of their trip
- In Vietnam, the temperature varies greatly between north and south. While there is no best time of year, it's best to check the seasonal patterns on our country information page to see what the weather will be like when you go. This way you can prepare well for your trip
Why we love it
- Take a comprehensive trip through this South East Asian hotspot. The trip takes you from south to north, to the most popular tourists sites and off the beaten track
- Halong Bay is a strange paradise of green waters and rocky islands. Enjoy a cruise through the beautiful landscape and indulge in the bay's fresh seafood
- Go back in time at the ancient trading port of Hoi An. Experience the blend of influences from Europe and Asia, the nearby beaches and markets
- Nha Trang has been called the 'Cannes of Vietnam' because of its sumptuous beaches and cosmopolitan feel. You'll have plenty of free time here to relax in the beaches and go snorkelling
- Meet the locals on the Mekong Delta and stay for the night. The cultural exchange is often the highlight of many travellers trips
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Notes: An arrival transfer is included. In order to book this service please provide your booking agent with your flight details at least 2 weeks prior to your departure.
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel in time for the meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Meals
1 dinner
Day 2 Mekong Delta
Start the day with a buffet breakfast at KOTO Restaurant, which is one of our supported programs that teaches street children hospitality skills.

Next, drive for about three hours to Cai Be. Here you’ll board a boat to explore the canals of the Mekong Delta. The delta is known as ‘Vietnam’s rice bowl’ for its abundance of rice paddies, fruit and flower orchards. During the boat trip, you’ll stop to sample some of the fresh tropical fruit and visit some cottage industries in the area.

Around sunset you’ll make your way to your homestay to spend a night with the locals and enjoy a wonderful meal of local specialties.

Notes: On the homestay, conditions will be basic. You’ll be sharing amenities and sleeping in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets will be provided but you’ll have cold water only.
Included Activities
  • Mekong Delta - Sightseeing tour including cottage industries
  • HCMC - KOTO breakfast
    Accommodation
    Homestay (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
    Day 3 Ho Chi Minh City
    Wake up early and see daily life begin on the delta at dawn. You’ll visit the enormous Cai Be floating market, where locals sell their produce on their boats.

    In the afternoon, return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a walking tour in town. Experience the hustle and bustle of former Saigon and explore some of the city's more interesting sights such as the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace.
    Included Activities
    • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace
    • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
    • Mekong Delta - Floating Market
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 4 Ho Chi Minh City
      Make a day trip to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, and offers a glimpse of what like was like during the war.

      This evening, board an overnight train to Nha Trang. Conditions are basic on these trains and they may be a little dirtier than what you’re used to, however overnight trains are the best way to brush shoulders with the locals and make the best use of your time. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers like to take some fresh bread, cheese and fruit for the journey.


      Notes: Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group.
      Included Activities
      • HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels
        Accommodation
        Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 5 Nha Trang
        Arrive in Nha Trang and transfer to your hotel. Nha Trang has been referred to as the ‘Cannes of the Orient’ because of its beautiful beaches and cosmopolitan vibe. Enjoy a free day in Nha Trang. Perhaps you’d like to soak up more sun on the beaches, or make an optional visit to the nearby Po Nagar Cham Towers. This archaeological site dates back to the middle ages and is dedicated to the indigenous goddess Yan Po Nagar.
        Optional Activities
        • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
        • Nha Trang - Po Nagar Cham Tower - VND22000
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 6 Nha Trang
          Today you’ll go on a boat trip to some of the nearby islands and visit a fishing village. You’ll also have plenty of free time to go swimming and snorkelling, and you’ll be treated to a seafood buffet on the cruise.
          Included Activities
          • Nha Trang - Hon Mun Island swimming and snorkelling
          • Nha Trang - Boat trip including lunch
          • Nha Trang - Row boat tour
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
            Day 7 Hoi An
            Take a short flight to Danang and then travel by minibus for one hour to Hoi An.

            The rest of the day is free for you to do some optional activities or soak up the ambience of the place. You may like to wander Hoi An Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. It’s also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours.
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 8 Hoi An
            Your leader will take you on a walk around the Old Town. The city was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards, and has a various architectural influences from Europe, China and Vietnam. Today the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago.

            The afternoon is free. You can rent a bicycle and take a trip out to the nearby beach. There’s also an optional Urban Adventure including a countryside bike ride and finishing up with a cruise along the Thu Bon River.
            Included Activities
            • Hoi An - Ancient town guided walk and entrance ticket
              Optional Activities
              • Hoi An - Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD28
              • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                Day 9 Hoi An
                Enjoy a free day in Hoi An.

                If you can muster an early rise this morning, head to the local produce market to watch animated shoppers haggling over fresh fish, spices and vegetables. Your leader can help you arrange an optional Vietnamese cooking course. Perhaps visit the ruins of My Son, Vietnam's most important Cham site. Set in a verdant valley, surrounded by hills and overlooked by the massive Cat's Tooth Mountain, the elaborate World Heritage-listed temples here reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation that flourished in this region between the 4th and 12th century.

                Make the most of your last day in Hoi An by doing any activities you couldn’t fit into your schedule yesterday.
                Optional Activities
                • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
                • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 10 Hue
                  Continue on your journey today and make your first stop at My Khe Beach (China Beach). Get back in the bus and drive over the spectacular Hai Van Pass, an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a stop at beautiful Lang Co for an optional lunch.

                  Arrive in Hue, Vietnam’s former Imperial capital. Here you’ll visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City which was almost entirely destroyed by bomb blasts during the war.
                  Included Activities
                  • Hue - Imperial citadel
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast
                    Day 11 Hue
                    Take a cruise on a dragon boat along the Perfume River. You’ll stop off at the
                    Thien Mu Pagoda, and see an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists. You’ll also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its lake, frangipani and pine trees.

                    Notes:
                    - Perfume River Cruises may not be available during festival season. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities.
                    - During your trip to Hue, you’re likely to visit a Buddhist nunnery or monastery for lunch. The lunch provide economic benefits to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, and gives you an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddhism.
                    Included Activities
                    • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
                    • Hue - Royal tomb
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                      Day 12 Hanoi
                      Fly from Hue to Vietnam’s charming capital of Hanoi. This afternoon, take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laid-back, tree-lined capital. You’ll visit major sights including the Temple of Literature and One Pillar Pagoda. You’ll also pass by the Hoan Kiem Lake and enter the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter.

                      If you have some free time this afternoon, you may like to visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.

                      In the evening, enjoy a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show.
                      Included Activities
                      • Hanoi - Water puppet show
                      • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
                      • Hanoi - Old Quarter Tour
                        Optional Activities
                        • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (1 nt)
                          Meals
                          1 breakfast
                          Day 13 Halong Bay
                          Travel by private minibus for about four hours to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay. This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and in the warmer months, go for a swim.

                          You’ll spend the night on the boat. The sailing junk has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where you’ll enjoy all of your meals, including a lavish seafood buffet for lunch.

                          Notes: It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

                          There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, we’re occasionally using a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) or splitting groups across different vessels. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.

                          Your leader will discuss the option for swimming from Ti Top Island beach during the warmer months. Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.
                          Included Activities
                          • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                            Accommodation
                            Overnight boat (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                            Day 14 Hanoi
                            Drive for about four hours back to Hanoi. Along the way, you’ll stop at Dong Trieu Factory to watch locals creating ceramic art pieces.

                            Arrive late this afternoon and enjoy a couple of hours free to visit Hanoi's sights or to do some last-minute shopping. Perhaps visit the Hoa Lo Prison aka the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ which was used for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. There’s also the Museum of Ethnology with its fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits.

                            Enjoy a final dinner with your fellow travellers.
                            Optional Activities
                            • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
                            • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND180000
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Meals
                              1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                              Day 15 Hanoi
                              There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
                              Optional Activities
                              • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
                              • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle - USD88
                              • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Village Discovery by Bike - USD33
                                Meals
                                1 breakfast
                                Itinerary disclaimer
                                ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

                                OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
                                Physical rating

                                Included activities
                                Mekong Delta - Sightseeing tour including cottage industries
                                HCMC - KOTO breakfast
                                Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace
                                Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
                                Mekong Delta - Floating Market
                                HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels
                                Nha Trang - Hon Mun Island swimming and snorkelling
                                Nha Trang - Boat trip including lunch
                                Nha Trang - Row boat tour
                                Hoi An - Ancient town guided walk and entrance ticket
                                Hue - Imperial citadel
                                Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
                                Hue - Royal tomb
                                Hanoi - Water puppet show
                                Hanoi - Temple of Literature
                                Hanoi - Old Quarter Tour
                                Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                                Important notes
                                1. A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. Please note that on the following nights the supplement is not available:
                                - Day 2 Mekong Delta Homestay
                                - Day 4 Overnight train to Nha Trang
                                - Days 4 & 5 Day use rooms before and after overnight train (shared)
                                - Day 13 Halong Bay
                                2. Passport Details: Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport), for internal flights and train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.
                                4. TRANSPORT CHANGES - affecting departures until 31st July 2016:
                                Due to damage to a major railway bridge just outside of Ho Chi Minh City the overnight overnight sleeper train scheduled for Day 4 is not operating. For your departure this journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang will be replaced with a flight on the morning of Day 5.

                                Group size
                                Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
                                Your fellow travellers
                                GROUP TRAVEL
                                As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                                SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                                Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                                Accommodation
                                Homestay (1nt), Hotel (11nt), Overnight boat (1nt), Overnight sleeper train (1nt)
                                The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

                                Throughout the trip we request that our lodgings prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

                                If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
                                Meals introduction
                                While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
                                Meals
                                13 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners
                                Money matters
                                SPENDING MONEY
                                When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                                Budget for meals not included:
                                USD 250.00

                                VIETNAM:
                                The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).
                                US dollars are also accepted for some payments. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination.

                                Only change money at official money exchange counters with a clear sign showing this status. Illegal exchange places like gold shops may offer a higher rate you may risk losing your money.

                                Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques.

                                ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas.

                                You can have funds transferred to Vietnam via international money transfer companies like Western Union or Moneygram.

                                EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                                We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

                                TIPPING
                                If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

                                The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                                Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

                                Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.

                                Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.

                                Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                                In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                                At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

                                Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

                                The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.

                                A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

                                All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
                                Group leader
                                All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                                Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                                Safety
                                Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

                                We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

                                Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

                                For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

                                FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                                Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                                SEAT BELTS:
                                Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                                PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                                While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                                MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
                                Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.
                                Joining point
                                Asian Ruby 1
                                26 Thi Sach Street Ben Nghe Ward
                                District 1
                                Ho Chi Minh City
                                VIET NAM
                                Phone: +84 838272839
                                Fax: +84 838272836
                                Joining point description
                                Asian Ruby 1 has 80 newly refurbished rooms, perfectly located in the downtown area of Ho Chi Minh City and close to attractions such as Ben Thanh Market and Notre Dame Cathedral.

                                The hotel has a restaurant/bar, fitness center, laundry service, bike rental, 24-hour front desk, currency exchange and luggage storage. The rooms have cable TV, minibar, private facilities, hairdryers, room service, safety deposit box, air-con and free WiFi in the rooms.
                                Joining point instructions
                                A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

                                If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer you will be met on as you exit the Customs Hall by a transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign with your name on it.
                                If you cannot find your transfer representative, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770. Additionally proceed to Column 12 outside the International Arrival terminal. Your driver will wait here if you do not meet upon arrival.
                                Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.

                                Metered taxis are readily available and cost approx $10USD (220,000 VND). Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

                                Normal check in time at the hotel is after 14:00.
                                Alternate joining point
                                For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
                                07 Jan 2017 (TVKT170107), 28 Jan 2017 (TVKT170128), 04 Feb 2017 (TVKT170204), 18 Feb 2017 (TVKT170218), 04 Mar 2017 (TVKT170304), 18 Mar 2017 (TVKT170318), 01 Apr 2017 (TVKT170401), 15 Apr 2017 (TVKT170415), 13 May 2017 (TVKT170513), 27 May 2017 (TVKT170527), 03 Jun 2017 (TVKT170603), 10 Jun 2017 (TVKT170610), 24 Jun 2017 (TVKT170624), 01 Jul 2017 (TVKT170701), 08 Jul 2017 (TVKT170708), 22 Jul 2017 (TVKT170722), 05 Aug 2017 (TVKT170805), 19 Aug 2017 (TVKT170819), 02 Sep 2017 (TVKT170902), 09 Sep 2017 (TVKT170909), 23 Sep 2017 (TVKT170923), 30 Sep 2017 (TVKT170930), 07 Oct 2017 (TVKT171007), 21 Oct 2017 (TVKT171021), 28 Oct 2017 (TVKT171028), 04 Nov 2017 (TVKT171104), 18 Nov 2017 (TVKT171118), 23 Dec 2017 (TVKT171223)
                                Alagon Hoang Hai Long Hotel
                                52B – 62 – 64 Pham Hong Thai Street
                                District 1
                                Ho Chi Minh City
                                VIET NAM
                                Phone: +84 838245888
                                Alternate joining point description
                                Centrally located in the heart of District 1 and within walking distance to Ben Thanh market, or only 20 minutes away from Tan Son Nhat International airport. Every room is equipped with air-conditioner, Satellite TV, IDD phone, Minibar, complimentary wifi, electricity in-room safety box.

                                http://hoanghailonghotel.com/
                                Alternate joining point instructions
                                An airport arrival transfer is included. Please advise your agent of your flight details at the time of booking or a minimum of 15 days prior to trip departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.

                                Your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall holding an Intrepid sign with your name. If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, please call our hotline:
                                +84 903 117 770
                                If your flight is delayed or cancelled please call this number to advise details.

                                Failing this taxis are readily available from outside the airport. Taxi fare to your hotel will cost approx. 10USD (200,000VND). If you miss your transfer please advise your group leader at your group meeting.
                                Finish point
                                Thien Thai Hotel
                                45 Nguyen Truong To St
                                Ba Dinh District
                                Hanoi
                                VIET NAM
                                Phone: +84 4 3716 4126
                                Finish point description
                                Located North West corner of the Old Quarter, Thien Thai is within walking distance of the nearby Dong Xuan market and the Ho Tay Lake (West Lake). All rooms have telephone, TV, WIFI, air conditioning, electronic safe, en-suite bathroom, hair dryer and mini fridge.
                                www.thienthaihotel.com
                                Finishing point instructions
                                A taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. 15USD (310,000VND) and take approx 45 minutes.

                                A departure transfer to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to trip departure. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.

                                If you have booked a departure transfer, please ask your leader to confirm the time of departure. If you have any problems please call our hotline:
                                +84 903 117 770.
                                Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
                                Alternate finish point
                                For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                                17 Aug 2016 (TVKT160817)
                                May de Ville Old Quarter Hotel
                                43/45/47 Gia Ngu Str, Hoan Kiem Dist
                                Hanoi
                                VIET NAM
                                Phone: 844 3933 5688
                                Fax: 844 39335699
                                Alternate finish point description
                                Alternate finish point instructions
                                Emergency contact
                                For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

                                For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

                                While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

                                We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

                                You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

                                Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770
                                Visas
                                As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
                                Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

                                Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                                VIETNAM VISA:
                                Most nationalities require a visa to travel to Vietnam.

                                Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of under 15 days. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy). Effective from 1st July 2015 - 30 June 2017 exempt visa nationalities include British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws.

                                Vietnam visas need to be arranged in advance. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details.

                                Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.

                                If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam Ph +84 4 3715 0996.

                                Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.
                                What to take
                                What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                                Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                                Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                                Internal Flight Luggage Allowance:
                                Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20kg, with up to 7kg carry on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in.

                                SWIMWEAR:
                                As there may be swimming and kayaking opportunities on this tour you may wish to pack swimwear.

                                WATER BOTTLE
                                Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                                Climate and seasonal information
                                TET:
                                Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure.

                                WET SEASON:
                                During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.
                                Health
                                All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                                You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                                DENGUE FEVER:
                                Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.
                                Travel insurance
                                Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                                When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

                                If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
                                A couple of rules
                                Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

                                Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
                                Responsible Travel
                                We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

                                LOCAL DRESS:
                                Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

                                The Intrepid Foundation
                                Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

                                The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

                                http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include:

                                * The Blue Dragon Children's Foundation works in northern and central Vietnam with the most vulnerable children: street kids, children with disabilities, children from rural families living in extreme poverty, and victims of human trafficking and slavery. Their primary aim is to rescue kids from danger, reunite them with their families when they can, and provide all the services needed for recovery and growth.
                                www.bluedragon.org

                                * Children's Hope in Action (CHIA) provides vital health and disability programs and educational services to vulnerable families in Hoi An and surrounding rural areas. CHIA’s holistic Special Education program facilitates the social, physical and intellectual development of children who have motor disabilities and little, or no intellectual impairment.
                                www.childrenshopeinaction.org

                                * The KOTO Saigon Training Centre provides training in life skills and hospitality to former street children. Trainees at the Saigon centre will go on to work at KOTO's restaurant in the city (to open in 2011). Travellers may also visit the KOTO restaurant in Hanoi, which also provides training opportunities for disadvantaged youth and great food.
                                www.koto.com.au

                                For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=vietnam

                                Feedback
                                After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback