Explore Vietnam Trip Notes

Explore Vietnam

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016
Explore Vietnam
Trip code: TVRR
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Get a taste of adventure in Vietnam. Travel from French-influenced Hanoi to heaving Ho Chi Minh City on a journey that takes in a whole range of Vietnam's most intriguing sights. Explore the countryside around Hue by bicycle and bask on Nha Trang's perfect beaches. Jam-packed with memorable experiences, this is a grassroots adventure that will introduce you to the food, culture and people of this fascinating country.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinishing point instructions
ThemesAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionVisas
Why we love itMealsWhat to take
MapTransportClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
Style
Basix
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip includes an afternoon cruise on Halong Bay, with a night in Halong City. If you'd like to spend the night on a boat on the bay, then please consider opting for an original style trip.
- This trip involves three overnight train journeys. 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.
- You'll be travelling by public bus from Hue to Hoi An. This journey goes over the hilly and windy Hai Van Pass and isn't the most comfortable ride. On the plus side, you get to ride with the locals and enjoy incredible views.
- This trip gives you plenty of free time in each location, perfect for the traveller who appreciates a bit of independence
Why we love it
- Some of the greatest entertainment in Vietnam is watching the traffic in Hanoi. Sit back and enjoy the show. Your leader will give you a tutorial on crossing the road like a local
- Halong Bay is a paradisical enclave of green waters and strange rock formations. 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 on 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
- What better place to finish up the tour than Ho Chi Minh City, where you'll have free time to see the Reunification Palace, Cu Chi Tunnels or join the locals exercising in the park
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. 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.

If you arrive early consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city and it's sites, including the Temple of Literature, the Hoa Lo Prison museum and Hoan Kiem Lake. Or take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.

Notes: 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).
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle - USD88
  • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Village Discovery by Bike - USD33
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Special Information
    You may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the group meeting and have time to explore Hanoi. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    If you're expecting to be late for the welcome meeting, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
    Day 2 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. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and in the warmer months go for a swim. You’ll also enjoy a sumptuous lunch of fresh seafood.

    Later, return to the docks and stay overnight in a hotel in Halong City (Bai Chay).
    Included Activities
    • Halong Bay - Entrance and half day boat cruise
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 lunch
      Day 3 Hanoi/Overnight Train
      Take a three-and-a-half hour bus ride back to Vietnam’s charming capital, Hanoi. You’ll then go on a walking tour of the city’s Old Quarter. Explore the 36 streets that make up this district, including the Dong Xuan Market, Hoan Kiem Lake and the unique architecture nearby. Hanoi has a French provincial feel remaining from its colonial times, but it also has a Buddhist influence and striking modern buildings.

      Board an overnight train for a twelve-hour journey to Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are the best way to travel long distances and brush shoulders with the locals. Most trains have a dining carriage which serves 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
      • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
        Accommodation
        Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
        Day 4 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.
        Packed with historic monuments, Hue is also perfectly located to explore the surrounding countryside, which features stunning scenery, quaint villages and the peaceful Tam Giang Lagoon.
        Hue is Vietnam’s former royal capital and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. Hue’s cuisine is influenced both by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) as well as its strong Buddhist heritage, reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the region.
        The bustling Dong Ba Market offers a plethora of goods and foods to see and sample, and it's a good place to try some of the specialities that graced the Nguyen emperors' banquet tables, such as the banh khoai, a royal rice cake.
        You have a free day to explore. You could also easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within. Perhaps jump on board a ‘Dragon Boat’, and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda. Or cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, one of the best remaining examples of its kind.
        Alternatively, set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages.

        Please note: Our hotel rooms will be available from the standard check in time this afternoon. You can store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Hue.
        Optional Activities
        • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda - VND220000
        • Hue - Royal tomb - VND136000
        • Hue - Imperial citadel - VND150000
        • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch - VND526000
        • Hue - Hue Royal Street Eat by Cyclo Urban Adventure - USD40
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 5 Hoi An
          Continue on your journey to the World Heritage site of Hoi An by public bus (approximately 3.5 hours). 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 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.
          Included Activities
          • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 6 Hoi An
            Enjoy a free day to further explore Hoi An. Perhaps take a cruise up the Thu Bon River or learn the secrets of cooking delicious Vietnamese dishes. Visit some of the man art galleries or simply wonder around the beautifully restored Chinese shop houses. There’s also the option of cycling around the surrounding countryside, a truly unique way to get off the beaten track and see rural Vietnam up close. Your leader will be able to suggest activities to help you get the most out of your time.
            Optional Activities
            • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
            • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 7 Hoi An/Overnight Train
              Make the most out of your last free day in Hoi An. Perhaps do some of the activities you couldn’t fit into your schedule over the past couple of days. There’s
              Also Cua Dai Beach nearby, the perfect place to rest up before continuing on your way.

              This evening, board another overnight train to Nha Trang. The journey will take about eight hours.
              Optional Activities
              • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
                Accommodation
                Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
                Day 8 Nha Trang
                Arrive in Nha Trang at around 7 am and transfer to your hotel. Nha Trang is a charming town on Vietnam's southeast coast with pristine beaches, consistently good weather, a vibrant nightlife and excellent diving. You have two full days to catch some rays, swim, snorkel and indulge in fresh seafood.

                Please note: Our hotel rooms will be available from the standard check in time this afternoon. You can store your luggage at the hotel while you explore Nha Trang.
                Optional Activities
                • Nha Trang - Full day boat trip to Hon Mun Island - VND1045000
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Day 9 Nha Trang/Overnight Train
                  Enjoy your last free day in Nha Trang. In the evening, you’ll get on another overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City (seven hours).
                  Optional Activities
                  • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
                    Accommodation
                    Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
                    Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City
                    Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City very early this morning and transfer to your hotel. Today you’ll have plenty of free time to explore Vietnam’s largest city. Ho Chi Minh City has a busy atmosphere and a French influence. In your free time, we recommend visiting the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. There’s also the historic Dong Khoi Street, and the chaotic markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Ho Chi Minh City has a different style of cuisine to its northern counterpart Hanoi, so be sure get out for restaurant meals and street food.

                    Notes: There are shared hotel rooms available this morning if you would like to freshen up before check in time this afternoon.
                    Optional Activities
                    • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND30000
                    • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City
                      There are no activities planned for the final day and you can depart the accommodation at any time. As we don’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City on this tour, why not stay a few extra days to make the most of your time here? Perhaps take a day trip to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, where you can witness the strategic underground labyrinth that helped the Vietnamese win the war. Consider doing a tour such as ‘The Cu Chi Experience’ with our partners Urban Adventures. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
                      Optional Activities
                      • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
                      • Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Discovery Urban Adventure - VND59
                      • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD25
                        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
                        Halong Bay - Entrance and half day boat cruise
                        Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
                        Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
                        Important notes
                        1. Please provide your full name as per passport and passport number 45 days prior to departure in order to secure Vietnam train tickets.
                        2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes nights 2 (Overnight Boat), 3, 7 & 9 (Overnight Train) where you will be in shared accommodation.

                        Group size
                        Maximum of 16 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
                        Hotel (7nt), Overnight sleeper train (3nt)
                        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.

                        DAY ROOMS:
                        Please note we include shared day rooms on Day 10 in Ho Chi Minh City after the overnight train journey so you can freshen up before your day of sightseeing. There is one room between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day rooms. Please ask your leader if you would like to request your own room for early check in for an additional cost, subject to availability.
                        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
                        1 lunch
                        Transport
                        Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Private minibus, Private vehicle, Public bus, Train

                        LONG TRAVEL DAYS
                        There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.

                        OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAINS IN VIETNAM:
                        Compartments will be 4 berth to 6 berth depending on seasonal variations and the group configuration. We aim to secure 4 berth compartments where possible. 6 berth compartments 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. Passengers of different genders may 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. On occasion the group may be split between several carriages, however your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip.
                        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.
                        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 200.00

                        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.

                        Optional Tipping Kitty:
                        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. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion.

                        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.

                        DEPARTURE TAX
                        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
                        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
                        Hanoi Legacy Hotel - Hoan Kiem
                        01 Ngo Gach Street Hoan Kiem District
                        Hanoi
                        VIET NAM
                        Phone: +84 39290702
                        Fax: +84 39290704
                        Joining point instructions
                        An arrival transfer from the airport is available - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

                        If you have pre-booked an airport 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 please proceed the Information Counter, 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.

                        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.

                        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 (VND230,000) 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.
                        Finish point
                        Saigon Royal Hotel
                        12 D Cach Mang Thang Tam Street, Ben Thanh District .1
                        Ho Chi Minh City
                        VIET NAM
                        Phone: +84 0838294846
                        Fax: +84 0838225346
                        Finish point description
                        Located near Ben Thanh Market, Saigon Royal Hotel consists of 37 rooms and is close to Zen Plaza, Tao Dan Park, and Mariamman Temple. In addition to a restaurant, Saigon Royal Hotel features a 24 hour reception, laundry service, coffee shop/café with complimentary wireless Internet access. Rooms include private bathrooms, television with cable channels, WiFi, refrigerators, and air conditioning. Check in time is from 2pm
                        Finishing 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 trip 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 approximately US$7 (VND 120,000) and 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 in the day or evening, you can arrange for luggage storage at the hotel.
                        Emergency 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.

                        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/

                        In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:

                        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

                        LOCAL DRESS:
                        When packing be aware that 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 the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia 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.

                        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

                        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.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/blue-dragon-childrens-foundation/


                        * 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.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/childrens-hope-in-action/

                        * 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.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/koto/


                        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