Cycle Vietnam Trip Notes

    • 15
    • TVXB
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $1,780
      CAD $1,823
      AUD $1,891
      EUR €1,317
      GBP £1,130
      NZD $2,244
      ZAR R17,225
      CHF FR1,610
      *
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    • Cycling, Explorer
    • Original
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Print Version
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2014
Cycle Vietnam
Trip code: TVXB
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
More than 30 million Vietnamese can't be wrong: handle-bar height provides the best view of Vietnam. Cycling through this beautiful country provides opportunities to meet local people and experience their culture in a way that wouldn't be possible otherwise. So jump on that saddle and get active as we travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, down country lanes and over spectacular mountain passes. As an extra bonus, all that exercise grants you the perfect excuse to indulge in Vietnam's deliciously morish cuisine.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesFinish point instructions
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency contact
MapYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
ItinerarySingle travellersVisas
Also available to purchaseAccommodationIssues on your trip
We also recommendMeals introductionWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerMealsHealth
Culture shock rating TransportSafety
Physical ratingGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Cycling, Explorer
Map
Cycle Vietnam
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, 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). 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.
Before the meeting you need to assemble your bicycle to check for any damage in transit. If you have arranged the hire of a bicycle, your leader will assist you in preparing the bike.
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
For those that wish to, there's a chance to warm up muscles (as well as street sense!) by riding around Hanoi. There's also time to explore the vibrant Old Quarter - 36 streets where all manner of goods can be found from silks to wood carvings and lacquerware - it's a bargain hunter's paradise.
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Mai Chau
Leave Hanoi behind and travel by bus to Hoa Binh.
Riding from Hoa Binh to Cao Phong, then stopping for lunch at Man Duc before continuing along the Da River, passing spectacular karst cliffs and admiring the lush panorama of the Mai Chau valley on the way. Today travel by bus and cycle approximately 90 km on sturdy paths and tracks through small ethnic Thai villages, enjoying the tranquillity of the paddy fields and interacting with the local people.
The peaceful town of Mai Chau is situated in a stunningly beautiful valley surrounded by verdant green mountains and is famed for its breathtaking scenery and friendly hilltribe peoples.
Enjoy the local hospitality in our simple stilt-house homestay in the village of Poom Coong. Our amicable hosts will cook you a fabulous home-cooked meal and there may even be a chance to sample some of the local rice wine produced in the region.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Day 4 Ninh Binh
Cycle 30 km from Mai Chau to Mai Ha and on to Co Luong. A bus trip then takes us along the Ho Chi Minh Road with a lunch stop before Ninh Binh. If we arrive early in Ninh Binh we can partake in a 30 km cycle in the surrounding areas. This is a wonderful chance to see everyday rural life in action as well as to take in the beautiful countryside.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Ninh Binh/overnight train
Morning cycle from Ninh Binh to Tam Coc where we visit the Bai Dinh Pagoda in Trang An. We also visit Hoa Lu, the capital of Vietnam under the 10th-century Dinh Dynasty., where we take a lunch break at the Dinh or the Le Temple (cycling: 70 km). A bus takes us back to our hotel where we can use the day room take shower. After an early dinner we transfer to Nam Dinh for night train to Hue.
Board an overnight train bound for Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
Included Activities
  • Hoa Lu - Dinh and Le King Temple
Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 6 Hue
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
Today we ride (approx 30 km) through the fields to visit many of Hue's remarkable sites, including temples, bunkers, tombs, ruins and spectacular scenery.
Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.
The itinerary is flexible and we have ample time for stops along the way to admire the sites. Later kick back in a cafe or restaurant - Hue is famous for its excellent food, so make sure to try local specialities such as 'banh khoai', Hue's answer to the pancake.
Included Activities
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Royal tomb
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Hoi An
It's a day of mountainous riding (80 km) and spectacular views as we conquer the Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass on the way to the laidback town of Hoi An.
Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.
It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.
On arrival, your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town, so you can get your bearings.
You have a free day to ride or to rest - whatever takes your fancy. For those who don't need the rest, there's also the option of biking down to nearby Cua Dai Beach (also known as China Beach) or taking a stroll through fields of rice, sesame, banana and peanuts.
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Ancient town
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - VND800000
  • Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip - VND100000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 9 Quy Nhon
Travel down Highway One for a long day on the road to Quy Nhon, enjoying the scenery of being on a road less travelled by tourists. Cycle from Hoi An to Ha Lam, then drive to Phu My before getting back on the bikes and cycling to Quy Nhon (total cycling: approx. 70 km).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Nha Trang
Travel one of the most breathtakingly scenic sections of Highway One to Nha Trang (70 km). The road hugs granite cliffs, which fall away into the blue of the South China Sea.
Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a cosmopolitan feel prevails in the town itself.
A highlight for many travellers is our boat trip amongst the islands. From the main boat, we take basket boats to shore and visit a fishing village, snorkel in the turquoise waters, enjoy a seafood buffet, and pass the afternoon lazing in deck chairs or swimming.
Included Activities
  • Cham Tower
  • Nha Trang - Boat trip
Optional Activities
  • Nha Trang - Bao Dai Villa - VND120000
  • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 12 Dalat
Head up through the Bidoup-Nui Ba Pass into the South Central Highlands (60 km) where some of the country's best fruits, flowers and coffee beans are grown. The road is winding and steep but if you're very fit, you may want to conquer the whole mountain on your bike. If you're not so physically inclined, take it easy and flag a lift from the bus. Whichever way you choose to get to the top, you'll still be treated to magnificent views once you reach the summit. After a short photo stop here, we descend to Dalat.
One of Vietnam's most delightful cities, Dalat is a perfect base to explore this pleasant region. There's plenty to see around town, including lakes, palaces, flower gardens, pagodas, and churches.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Ke Ga
Make the journey to Bao Dai's regal summer palace before discovering the wacky and weird architecture of Hang Nga Crazy House. Echoing Gauldi's unconventional designs, and described as a 'fairytale house', explore the twisted tree roots, cave shaped hallways and animal themed rooms of this surreal guesthouse.
After our morning city tour, we visit the train station and the market before continuing to Di Linh. After lunch we continue riding down the Gia Bac Pass, then cycle along from Malam to Phan Thiet and on to Tien Thanh and Bau Mai Resort (approx. 60 km) near Ke Ga, a delightful seaside village.
Included Activities
  • Bao Dai's Summer Palace
  • Hang Nga Crazy House
Accommodation
Resort (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Ho Chi Minh City
Time for one last riding splurge as we cycle along the beach from our resort in Bau Mai to Lang Lon. After a picnic lunch we keep cycling to Cu Bi (approx. 126 km). The support bus takes us on our final leg into Ho Chi Minh City.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Optional Activities
  • HCMC - Reunification Palace - VND30000
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • TVXB Single supplement (TVXB)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Active Thailand (TTXF)
  • Thailand - Hike, Bike & Kayak (TTXF)
Itinerary disclaimer
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. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
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.
Culture shock rating

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Physical rating

Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
This is an active trip, requiring a good level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip will be demanding at times, with the heat of Vietnam adding to the physical effort. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of physical trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people of Vietnam. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential!!
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
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.
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.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).
The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.
It's not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country, so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
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 tour 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
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
TET:
Tet is Vietnam's New Year festival, held annually in late January or early February based on the lunar calendar. While this can be a fascinating time to travel and experience this event, expect some shop closures and busier than usual local transport. Opening hours at some tourist sites may also be affected or closed. Although we make all reasonable efforts to avoid disruption, a flexible approach from the traveller is appreciated.
WET SEASON:
During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.
CYCLING:
On average you will cycle around 70km/day. Please see day by day itinerary for more information.
SUPPORT VEHICLE:
Although we encourage all travellers to complete all of the journey by bicycle, we do have the support of a mini-bus if at times you choose not to cycle or need a rest. Your luggage will be carried in the support vehicle so panniers are not essential.
HIRING YOUR BIKE IN HANOI:
Bike Hire is available from our local operator in Hanoi. Please advise your agent at the time of booking your height so that an appropriate sized bike can be organised for you. The cost will be USD150 for the whole trip and this includes the relocation of the bike back to Hanoi at the end of the trip. This is to be paid to your Group Leader.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
If you choose, you can bring your own bike as you may be more comfortable with the bike you normally use. Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on is generally good and road bikes would be suitable for these roads, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. Please contact us through your agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike. Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike to Vietnam. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes. A well padded bike box obtainable from a bike shop is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities.
MAINTENANCE ON YOUR OWN BIKE:
If you've brought your own bike, then you are responsible for its maintenance whilst on this trip, and you must bring any spares that may be required, such as tires, spokes, tool kit etc
SPECIFIC CYCLING GEAR TO BRING:
- Cycling shorts, appropriate footwear & waterproof jacket
- Water bottles that can be attached to your bike & re-hydration salts
- Comfortable bike seat - appreciated after some long days in the saddle
- Lock for your bike - we do not provide them.
- Day pack or waist-belt
DECLARING YOUR BIKE:
On arrival in Vietnam you shouldn't need to declare your bicycle. If asked you will need to explain to the authorities that your bike is used, and that you will be taking it with you when you leave.
OVERNIGHT TRAIN FROM NINH BINH:
Our bikes will travel in the freight compartment for the overnight train journey.
BIKE HELMET:
Whilst bicycle helmets are not compulsory in Vietnam, we insist that all travellers wear a good quality helmet at all times while riding in Vietnam. Good quality helmets are not available in Vietnam so make sure you bring yours from home.
SNACK KITTY:
During the group meeting, your trip leader will ask you if you would like to contribute to the snack kitty. This is $30USD per person, and would be used to purchase extra supplies of snacks, including nuts and other energy packed goodies. It is not a compulsory kitty, although will make the purchasing of snacks easier and more convenient for you. You can find out more information from your leader upon arrival.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
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
Hotel (11 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt), Resort (1 nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
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.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels 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.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
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.
WINDOWLESS ROOMS:
Some hotels in Vietnam have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also don't require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.
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, 11 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Budget for meals not included:
USD 250.00
Breakfasts are often simple: eggs, bread, jam and coffee/tea would be most common.
Transport
Overnight sleeper train, Boat, Private minibus
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.
Joining point
Hong Ngoc Cochinchine Hotel (Formerly know as Hong Ngoc 5 Hotel)
97 Nguyen Truong To St
Hanoi
VIET NAM
Phone: +84 4 3716 4143
Fax: +84 38285054
Joining point description
Located within walking distance to Hanoi's Old Quarter, the newly renovated Hong Ngoc 5 features 35 well appointed rooms, a restaurant serving buffet breakfast, bar and café, and lift. Room facilities include IDD phone, air conditioner, cable TV, mini bar, bathroom with bathtub, and natural daylight.
www.hongngochotel.com/Overview204.html
Joining point instructions
An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
Metered taxi ranks are available outside the airport entrance. Go out of the customs hall and walk through the airport exit gates A4 and A5 on level 1, you will find Noi Bai Airport taxis (+84 4 3886 8888) readily available outside. Noi Bai Airport taxi drivers wear yellow uniform shirt. Taxi fare to your hotel in town will cost approx. US$14 (VND230000) in total which. Please note these taxis are not on meter - but generally charge per trip. Please AVOID taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival, and your driver will be waiting for you as you get out of the customs hall and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.
Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.
If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, or you have any concerns about your transfer, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770.
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Blessings 1 Saigon (formerly know as Hoang Gia Huy)
48-50 Nguyen An Ninh St
District 1, Ben Thanh Ward
Ho Chi Minh City
VIET NAM
Phone: 08 38225898
Finish point description
The Blessings 1 Saigon hotel is a small tourist class hotel with friendly, helpful staff. It's located in the middle of District 1 and is only a few minutes walk from the excellent shopping at Ben Thanh Market. All rooms have air-conditioning and private facilities.
www.blessingsaigonhotel.com
Finish point instructions
A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged during the trip. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trips start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
A metered taxi from the hotel to the airport should cost about US$7 (VND 120,000) and should take around 30 minutes (depending on traffic).
If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems please call our hotline at +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.
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week (excluding Sunday). For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
VIETNAM:
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - 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. Some nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa if their stay is less than 15 days, but if you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance.
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.
Issues on your trip
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.
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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
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
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 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.
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
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.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides 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 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, such as Ho Chi Minh City.
SWIMMING POOLS:
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
WATER SAFETY:
Take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It is expected that anyone taking part in water activities are able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
LIFE JACKETS:
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
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 group 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.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
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:
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. 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.
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
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, the rural poor and victims of trafficking. Their main aim is to help kids go to school or receive vocational training in an effort to help them find their way out of poverty.
* 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.
* Cuc Phuong National Park's conservation programs - we're currently supporting the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), which has specialised breeding and holding facilities for more than 600 turtles representing around 15 of Vietnam’s 23 native species. In addition to providing educational activities and raising public awareness, a major focus of the TCC’s work involves training of wildlife protection officers.
* 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.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
* The Nguyen Nga Centre (in Quy Nhon City) offers education, training and work placement assistance for disadvantaged people and people with disabilities. Intrepid Vietnam purchases embroidered 'say no to plastic' cloth shopping bags for our travellers and the income to the centre helps to pay their rent.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 167.00 kgs per pax.
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.
Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.