Real Food Adventure - Vietnam Trip Notes

Real Food Adventure - Vietnam

Last Modified: 17 May 2016
Real Food Adventure - Vietnam
Trip code: TVZY
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Chop, slice and eat your way through Vietnam, experiencing one of the freshest and most fragrant cuisines on the planet. From pho and ancient buildings in Hanoi, banh khoai and imperial citadels in Hue, banh xeo and lantern-lit streets in Hoi An and banh canh and pulsating markets in Ho Chi Minh City, experience Vietnam’s cuisine and its tightly woven place within its culture. Drink in cafes and beer halls that sprawl out over city streets, buy fruit from wicker baskets draped over a vendor’s shoulders and sit at market stalls as aromatic noodle soups are whipped up in front of you. Experience all of Vietnam’s iconic sights, spend time cooking with some of the country’s top food experts and get a true taste of Vietnam on this delectable Real Food Adventure.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderHealth
Physical ratingSafetyTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining pointA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original
Themes
Food
Is this trip right for you?
- The overnight train from Hanoi to Hue takes around 12 hours. While conditions may not be to the standard you are used to, this is a great chance to see the country from another angle and wake up in a new, exciting destination.
- Facilities at the Mekong Delta homestay are quite basic. But an authentic, heart-warming experience of local Mekong life should more than make up for the lack of creature comforts.
- Confidence on a bicycle is great, but not absolutely essential. If you would rather not participate in the cycling tour of Hoi An's Tra Que Village, you can explore the local market on foot instead.
Why we love it
- Get the lowdown on north, central and southern Vietnamese cooking with some of the country's leading experts
- A street food tour of Hanoi takes you to the best spots in town to sample northern specialties like pho, bun cha and the golden-yellow xoi xeo (sticky rice with mung bean and fried onion)
- Get around the romantic riverside town of Hue in true local style – on the back of a motorcycle
- With two nights in Hoi An, there's plenty of time to take in magic of this standout destination. Take a cooking class, cycle through herb gardens and be dazzled by the Ancient Town
- The Vietnamese people are some of the most welcoming in the world. A homestay on the Mekong Delta allows you to experience their hospitality, learn their kitchen secrets and get an insight into rural life
- No trip to Vietnam is complete without some history lessons. Visit the Imperial Citadel in Hue and the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 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. Tonight, your first introduction to Vietnam’s lively culinary scene comes in the form of be bia hoi. This is a foamy, light beer made fresh each day and served in basic, open-walled ‘brew halls’. Take up a brightly coloured plastic chair and sip your tasty brew. Banana flower salad (nom hoa chuoi), barbecued chicken (ga nuong) and fried rice (com rang) are common dishes on the menu.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Meals
1 dinner
Day 2 Hanoi
Start the day with a traditional breakfast of pho, a dish that originates in Hanoi and is designed to awaken the senses and prepare you for the day. Then it's time for a guided tour of Chau Long Market, where you will learn all about the ingredients and flavours of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Get involved in a betel nut demonstration. The more daring can try a fertilized egg or silk worm. You'll also sample the local coffee, typically served with yogurt or black sticky rice with yogurt. Hanoi is renowned for its legendary street food dishes and Dong Xuan Market is one of the best places to go for it. Enjoy lunch here alongside the locals. Today you'll visit the Hanoi Cooking Centre to learn the secrets of northern Vietnamese cuisine. Discover some old Hanoian favorites like caramel pork as well as some lesser known dishes from the highlands. Enjoy the fruits of your labour for dinner. You will also stop in at one of the city's hidden teahouses, where you might sample some varieties – perhaps green or white tea infused with flowers.

Notes: The trip departing on 7 February 2016 will be affected by Tet. The street food crawl on the morning of Day 2 will be replaced by a visit to a pagoda (you'll be alongside members of the local community), followed by a feast of traditional Tet dishes prepared by Vietnamese food expert and cookbook author, Tracey Lister. Markets, most street food vendors and the tea house will be closed due to Tet. The market tour will take place in Hanoi for this departure.
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Cooking class
  • Hanoi - Teahouse visit
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Meals
    1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
    Day 3 Halong Bay
    Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage-listed site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). Halong Bay is a secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the turquoise waters of Bac Bo Gulf. This is one of Vietnam's most scenic regions. It spans an area of about 1,500 square kilometres and is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos that were created over thousands of years by waves and wind. You will spend the night on one of the traditional boats on the bay. There is a chef on board who will teach you how to make vegetable flowers and show you how the fishing nets are used by the locals.
    Included Activities
    • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
      Accommodation
      Overnight boat (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 4 Overnight train
      Take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours), then board an overnight train bound for Hue (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a rewarding experience. It's an efficient way to travel long distances and a great way to get a sense of the country.

      Notes: Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth, depending on seasonal variations and group configuration) 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. 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.
      Accommodation
      Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast
      Day 5 Hue
      Hue is Vietnam’s former royal capital and its cuisine is considered by many Vietnamese as the best in the country. The food is influenced by its imperial heritage (small dishes and a focus on aesthetic presentation) and its strong Buddhist heritage (reflected in the high proportion of vegetarian restaurants in the area). Enjoy a classic Hue breakfast of bun bo Hue, a popular Vietnamese soup containing rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo), Then embark on our tour of the city’s imperial monuments. On the back of a motorbike (or in a car if you would rather), start your tour of Hue by visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, an active Buddhist monastery since 1601. Here you'll see a car that belonged to one of the self-immolating monks of the 1963 protests. Then take a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River (approximately 40 minutes) before getting back on your motorbike and heading to today's special lunch stop (in a nunnery). After lunch, visit the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to Hue. This evening, perhaps ask your leader for the best place to try imperial street specialties like banh hue (rice flour cakes stuffed with shrimp, pork and spices).

      Notes: The Perfume River trip may not be available during festival periods. In this case you will travel by land to reach the activities. Most groups will visit either a Buddhist nunnery or monastery and have lunch while in Hue. The lunch not only provides economic benefits to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, but also gives an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddhism. Due to the high number of passengers visiting Hue, six different monasteries and nunneries are visited so as to share the wealth and minimise impact.
      Included Activities
      • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 6 Hoi An
        Embark on a bus tour of Hue in the morning. This will take you to the Imperial Citadel, which includes the Forbidden Purple City. Gaping holes left by bombs will give you an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war. Then head south by bus through coastal rice paddies and traverse the mountainous Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to the beautiful China Beach (My Khe Beach), arrive at Hoi An (approximately 4 hours). The beautifully restored Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it. Take the chance to do some shopping and perhaps get some clothes tailored. There's a great array of original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and fabrics on display. On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town. In the evening, pull up a plastic chair at a communal table alongside locals and learn how to make one of central Vietnam’s most celebrated dishes, banh xeo, at a classic street-side, no-menu restaurant where locals go.
        Included Activities
        • Hue - Imperial citadel
          Optional Activities
          • Hoi An Fish Market - Free
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 7 Hoi An
            Today you will learn about central Vietnamese cuisine and how to prepare it using its signature vegetables, herbs and spices. Start with a guided bicycle tour of the herb gardens of Tra Que Village. At the local market you'll be introduced to a wealth of produce. After purchasing some ingredients, head back to Hoi An for a hands-on lesson in some classic central Vietnamese dishes. You’ll also pick up some cooking and cutting techniques that will put you in good stead to recreate these dishes at home. Then of course it's time to feast on your creations. The rest of today is free for you to pick up any made-to-measure items, or perhaps try more delicious food in one of Hoi An’s many acclaimed restaurants.

            Notes: If you would rather not ride a bike today, you can choose to take a walk around Hoi An market instead.
            Included Activities
            • Hoi An - Herb Garden Bicycle Tour and Cooking Class
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast, 1 lunch
              Day 8 Hoi An
              Enjoy a free day to relax, shop or simply stroll around to take in the delightful ambience. The Japanese and Chinese heritage of the town is apparent in many cute old buildings; and the canals, bridges and pagodas make for a tranquil atmosphere. Many travellers call this town their favourite spot in Vietnam. If the weather's fine, perhaps hit the local beach for a swim (a great way to get there is by bicycle, which you can hire in town). For those who like to start the day nice and early, there is an optional visit to a local fish market. In the evening, perhaps enjoy some seafood by the water, or jump on a boat to enjoy a barbecue feast on a nearby island.
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast
              Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City
              Take the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1 hour). Take a guided tour to get a feel for the city's frenetic, fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. You'll go to the War Museum, GPO and Notre Dame Cathedral, finishing up at one of Vietnam’s most pulsing markets, Ben Thanh. This is the perfect place to pick up any last-minute snacks, cooking utensils, ingredients, or presents for friends and family before you return home. Perhaps enjoy some of the market fare for dinner as you shop. You will notice a strong French influence in Ho Chi Minh City, which means excellent coffee and baguettes. Perhaps sample some of the delights on offer at KOTO cafe. This is an inspiring initiative that helps support the area’s street kids by offering them training in hospitality. If you've got energy left in the evening, head out to explore Vietnam's party capital.
              Included Activities
              • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
              • HCMC - City tour
              • HCMC - Ben Thanh market
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 10 Mekong Delta Homestay
                Take a private bus out to the Mekong Delta (approximately 2–3 hours). Touring the floating markets by boat, you'll come across local barges full of fruits and vegetables and other local products, including fish sauce and soya sauce. Purchase some ingredients for dinner, then head to some workshops to observe local food industries (the production of rice paper, coconut candy, pop-rice and popcorn). The boat will then take you deeper into the countryside along smaller canals, past local farms and producers. You'll have the opportunity to see traditional methods of catching fish or collecting fruits (depending on the season). Check in at the homestay and cook some local southern Vietnamese dishes with your hosts. Enjoy dinner with tea or rice wine and take the chance to chat with your hosts and learn more about the Mekong way of life.

                Notes: At this homestay you'll sleep on a simple camp bed in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic, with cold water only.
                Accommodation
                Homestay (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City
                Return to Ho Chi Minh City by bus. For the final evening of your adventure, enjoy a unique cooking class on southern Vietnamese cuisine with one of Vietnam’s most celebrated food personalities. Sit down and enjoy the delicious feast when it's all over.
                Included Activities
                • HCMC - Cooking class and dinner
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                  Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City
                  Your trip comes to an end this morning. You're free to depart the accommodation at any time.
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Itinerary disclaimer
                  ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

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

                  Included activities
                  Hanoi - Cooking class
                  Hanoi - Teahouse visit
                  Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                  Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
                  Hue - Imperial citadel
                  Hoi An - Herb Garden Bicycle Tour and Cooking Class
                  Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
                  HCMC - City tour
                  HCMC - Ben Thanh market
                  HCMC - Cooking class and dinner
                  Important notes
                  PASSPORT DETAILS:
                  Please provide your full name as per passport (including middle names on your passport), and passport number at time of booking. These details are required for the internal flight and train tickets. Please check your booking information exactly matches your passport. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.





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

                  SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                  Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

                  A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. Please note that on the following nights the supplement is not available:
                  - Day 3 Halong Bay
                  - Day 4 Overnight train to Hue
                  - Day 10 Homestay
                  Accommodation
                  Homestay (1nt), Hotel (8nt), Overnight boat (1nt), Overnight sleeper train (1nt)
                  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 we will endeavour to cater to dietary requirements where possible, please note that many meals and food activities on Real Food Adventures are set in advance in order to deliver a well-rounded experience of a country’s cuisine. In many countries, dietary restrictions are uncommon and not well understood. If you have dietary requirements and are concerned about whether this may impact on your ability to participate fully in all food-related activities on this trip, please contact your agent at time of booking for further information. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, you must notify your booking agent prior to departure so it can be determined whether your dietary requirements can be met.
                  Meals
                  11 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 5 dinners
                  Transport
                  Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private vehicle, Taxi

                  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
                  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.

                  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).

                  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 is optional 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

                  All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                  Budget for meals not included: 180.00

                  EMERGENCY FUNDS
                  Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
                  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. You can expect your Intrepid Food Adventures group leader to be passionate about the local food scene and keen to share their insider knowledge on the best authentic local food and drink experiences throughout your trip.

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

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

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

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

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/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.

                  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.

                  BALCONIES:
                  Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

                  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.

                  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.

                  MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
                  Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City.

                  WATER SAFETY:
                  Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
                  Joining point
                  May de ville City Centre 2 Hotel
                  57 Pham Hong Thai Street
                  Hanoi
                  VIET NAM
                  Phone: +84 439279999
                  Fax: +84 4393279899
                  Joining point description
                  Located adjacent to Hanoi's old quarter, close to the shops, bars, restaurants, museums and theatres. There are 57 well appointed rooms with LCD TVs, tea and coffee facilities, mini-bar, IDD telephone, hairdryer, air-conditioning and safety boxes. There is Wifi available in the lobby and business centre and ADSL in all rooms.
                  Joining point instructions
                  Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. 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 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.
                  If you cannot find your pre-booked, 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.

                  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$18 (VND350000) in total. 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.

                  Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.
                  Finish point
                  Asian Ruby Park View Hotel (formerly Asian Ruby 3)
                  100 Le Lai Street
                  District 1
                  Ho Chi Minh City
                  VIET NAM
                  Finish point description
                  Located close to major sightseeing and shopping areas, the Asian Ruby 3 hotel has a restaurant and a lift. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, cable TV and Wi-Fi.
                  Finishing point instructions
                  A metered taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. US$10 (VND200,000) and take approx 45 minutes (depending on traffic).
                  A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. 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. 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
                  For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

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

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

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

                  You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
                  Visas
                  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 2016 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

                  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 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

                  IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that for this particular trip, your travel insurance cover must also include riding pillion on a motorbike. The motorbikes used are all less than 150cc.
                  A couple of rules
                  Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

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

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

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

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

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

                  http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

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

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

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

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

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

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

                  http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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