Last Modified: 26 Oct 2016
Trip code: TVAG-O
Validity: 01 Jan 2013 to 31 Dec 2017
Northwest Vietnam is a captivating mix of dramatic mountainscapes, crisp fresh air and colourfully-clothed hilltribes. Set on the slopes of a beautiful emerald green valley, Sapa is the heart of this unique piece of Vietnam. Travel to this peaceful land and meet resplendently dressed ethnic minorities at the local market, visit neighbouring villages and hike through iridescent rice terraces, witnessing how the current of life has bubbled along here for centuries. This five-day trekking adventure is full of opportunities to be immersed in traditional hilltribe culture and cuisine, while relishing the striking landscapes of Sapa and its surrounds.
Table of Contents
Short Breaks, Walking & Trekking
Is this trip right for you?
- This Short Break Adventure is a ‘join in’ group departure, which means for some portions of this trip, such as at the homestay, you may join-in with other travellers who have booked on a different style of trip, or through other companies.
- With the flexibility of frequent departures there is a chance you may end up travelling solo on this trip. You will always have a local guide and all included activities will remain the same.
- The overnight sleeper train journey to and from Lao Cai is unescorted, in 4-6 berth sleeper carriages. In your train compartment you might be sharing with locals and with other and with other genders. However there will be local guides to help you at the start in Hanoi, and when you wake up in the hills of Sapa.
- This trip includes one night in simple homestay accommodation, and there a few ways to better understand a country and its people. You will sleep on mattresses on the floor in a mixed-gender dormitory style.
- This trip includes a moderate level of hiking in the hills for 3 days of this trip, ranging from 3 to 6 hours. Although this hiking is possible for most travellers, a good level of fitness will help increase your enjoyment of this experience.
- Included activities for the Original and Comfort style short break are the same, but on the Original trip you will stay in a slightly higher standard of hotel for one night in Sapa.
Why we love it
- A traditional homestay is the perfect way to access remote parts of this region and get a real glimpse of Vietnamese life, not to mention the beauty of a home cooked local meal after a day of hiking
- Hike through the rolling rice terraces, waterfalls, mountains and lush green hills of Sapa and you’ll quickly realise why this has become an iconic image of Vietnam
- Meet a community of hill-tribe people who have been in Vietnam for over three centuries. Having emigrated from China, the H'mong settled in Cat Cat Village and invite you to learn about their rich culture
- An included overnight sleeper train through northern Vietnam is a unique experience. This is a great way to rub shoulders with the locals and to squeeze a bit of local knowledge out of them. Local guides will take you to the train in Hanoi, and Sapa local guides will meet you at the other end
Day 1 Hanoi
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. A welcome pack containing a welcome letter, your trip itinerary, a Sapa information sheet and feedback card will be waiting for you at your hotel. Please ask your hotel's reception for the Intrepid welcome pack upon arrival.
In any free time, dive into the barrage of bikes, boulevards and bustling life that characterise Hanoi. Take time to explore the French colonial architecture that decorates the tangled laneways, indulge in a decadent Vietnamese coffee while people-watching from street-side cafes, or step back in time on an exploration of the Old Quarter.
This evening you will be picked up by your local guide from your Joining Point Hotel (see below), or from an alternate hotel located in Hanoi's Old Quarter (advised prior to departure), between 6.00pm-6.30pm. You guide will first take you for an included dinner and to explain more about the Sapa region. After dinner, you'll be transferred to the train station, where your guide you will give you your tickets for return train journey. Say farewell to your local guide before you board the overnight sleeper train bound for Lao Cai (departing approximately 9.30pm, approximately 8 hours journey time). The train journey is unaccompanied, and you may be sharing with locals or other travellers.
- Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum - VND80000
- Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
- Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND30000
- Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
- Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
- Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Notes: Please allow plenty of time to board the train. Your local guide will be able to give you information about what time boarding will commence.
Conditions aboard the train are basic, and while cleanliness might not be what you're used to, overnight trains are a truly Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations) of which two are bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. You will be sharing with local travellers.
Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up snacks if you would like any for the overnight journey, or early breakfast.
Day 2 Sapa Trek
You’ll be met on arrival into Lao Cai in the early morning (approximately 6.00 am), and meet your local driver. Your driver will be picking up several other passengers travelling on to Sapa. Transfer to Sapa by minibus (approximately 1 hour), passing through dramatic scenery along the way.
You have a free morning to relax and explore this fascinating hillside town. If the weather is feeling generous, enjoy unhindered views out towards the giant staircase of rice terraces that cascade down the side of the mountains. Otherwise, delight in the enigmatic mists that often shroud the Sapa hillsides.
In the afternoon, begin a guided 2-3 hour moderate trek down to the hilltribe villages of Cat Cat, often taking a paved path and passing a waterfall. The villages are home to the H'mong people who originated from China about 300 years ago. The H'mong people are easily recognisable by their dark-blue or black clothing. The dye is made from the indigo plant, which is native to the area. H'mong women wear long aprons with embroidered waist-coats and have their hair rolled up into a turban-like hat, while the men wear a black skullcap. You are likely to encounter local H’mong traders, who are often described as persistent and aggressive in their sales techniques. Please respect that this approach is usually the result of the competitive nature of business, and only purchase items if you wish too. In the late afternoon, return to Sapa to spend the night in a hotel.
Chau Long Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Those booked on the Original style Short Break will stay in Chao Long Hotel, while those booked on Basix style will stay in Cat Cat Hotel. Accommodation is subject to availability and if these properties are unavailable you will stay in an alternative hotel of an equivalent standard.
We recommend packing an small backpack tonight ready to go for the next two days of trekking and overnight homestay. You will need to carry your own bag, so packing light is best, and remember to bring a raincoat or waterproof jacket, and wear good walking shoes. You can store your main luggage at your hotel in Sapa.
Day 3 Sapa Trek
This morning after storing you main luggage at your Sapa hotel, set off on a six hour guided trek (approximately 6 kilometres). Pass along buffalo paths and trails, as well as through several hilltribe villages and resident minority groups such as Red Zao and Tay people. This is a spectacular walk, winding through stunning scenery and elegant rice paddy terraces. Be sure to watch your footing here as there can be uneven slopes, muddy patches, and rocky inclines. The idyllic countryside scenes are like something out of a storybook, and you will encounter some of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet. Stop for a picnic lunch along the way, and finally spend the night in the home of a Zay family in Ta Van Village. Perhaps take some time to explore the village after you arrive, wandering down to see the locals paddling in the Mua Huon River and the Hmong guys cruising around on their motorbikes. You’ll enjoy an included meal of delicious Vietnamese dishes for dinner tonight, prepared by your hosts.
Homestay (1 nt)
1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Tonight’s accommodation is in a simple family homestay in mixed-gender dormitory style accommodation, with basic facilities. Both Original and Basix style Short Break travellers will stay at the same homestay.
Day 4 Sapa/Overnight Train
After a hearty, energy-giving early breakfast, set off on a 2-3 hour walk to Su Pan Village. Today’s trek is shorter, but the scenery is still beautiful. Take the road to Giang Ta Chai village of the Red Dzao minority via the paths between terraces and through bamboo forests. Walk past waterfalls where buffalo might cool themselves from the heat and cross a suspension bridge. Be sure to take it all in and make the most of the last of your time in these incredible surroundings. Cross Muong Hoa River, then head up to the mountain to visit the last village of the trek – Su Pan. Maybe grab a quick bowl of pho before meeting up with your vehicle for the 30 minute drive back to Sapa. Arriving in Sapa, you have a free afternoon to explore the town. Maybe get a massage to sooth trek-tired muscles, check out the local market selling produce, herbal remedies, and (very fresh) meats, pick up any Hilltribe crafts you might have had your eye on, or sit back with a drink while you look over the misty mountains.
You will be picked up from your Sapa hotel between 5-5.30 pm today by a local driver. You’ll then be transferred back to the to the Lao Cai train station this afternoon (approximately 1 hour). You will have some free time for an optional dinner before you board the overnight train to Hanoi. Boarding commences approximately 7.30pm for an 8.30 pm departure (journey time approximately 8 hours).
Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 5 Hanoi
Your adventure ends upon arrival at Hanoi train station in the early morning (around 5am). The rest of the day is free for you to soak up the grace of this dynamic city that's the epitome of modern Vietnam.
If you would like to stay a little longer in Vietnam, Intrepid can book additional nights for you. (If you wish to have the room available on your arrival, you may need to book the night before as check in time is usually midday). Please note that it's not possible to organise a transfer from the train station, so please make your own way to your hotel or the airport.
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.
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.
1. This Short Break Adventure starts at 6.00pm-6.30pm on Day 1, and finishes at approximately 5.00am on Day 5. Please ensure onward flights are not booked until after midday to cater for any delays.
2. You will be picked up on Day 1 from the Joining Point Hotel listed in the Essential Trip Information for this itinerary. Pick-up will take place between 6.00pm-6.30pm in the hotel foyer.
3. If you require pick up from another hotel located in Hanoi's Old Quarter, please inform your booking agent at least 14 days prior to departure.
4. Please note that this trip is available in Basix and Original styles.
5. This trip is operated by one of our local partners in Vietnam and therefore you may be joined by a mixture of Intrepid-booked passengers and other travellers during activities.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
On this Short Break Adventure the fellow travellers that may join you during activities can come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of their various needs and preferences - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep others waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best adventures we operate are those where the dynamics between travellers works 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 Short Break Adventure prior to departure.
As a single traveller on a Short Break Adventure you will always get your own accommodation where available. However on this trip some accommodation is only available on a shared basis with other travellers, who might not necessarily be Intrepid travellers. This shared accommodation can vary from twin to multishare, so refer to the daily itinerary for more details on your accommodation. Note that solo travellers will still need to pay the single room price for this Short Break.
Homestay (1nt), Hotel (1nt), Overnight sleeper train (2nt)
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 your selected accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for your arrival, especially if you're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible, which means you won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, you can store your luggage and explore the new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your leader or local guide will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where and what to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility.
2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
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.
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).
MEALS NOT INCLUDED
We recommend USD70 for meals not included.
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: We suggest US$2-3 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$1-2 per day for drivers.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
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.
The aim of our local guides is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. On this Short Break Adventure you will get to enjoy the variety of having someone different for each day and/or activity. They will be able to provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and, where possible, introduce you to our local friends. You can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
In addition to any included activities on your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. Our local representative may be able to assist you with 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 our local representative 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:
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, such as Ho Chi Minh City.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
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.
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.
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
Some hotel balconies don't meet western standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Hong Ngoc Cochinchine Hotel (ORIGINAL)
97 Nguyen Truong To St
Phone: +84 437164143
Fax: +84 38285054
Joining point description
Your short break adventure will start from the above hotel for Original Style (Trip code ending with an 'O').
Alternatively if you have booked a Basix style (Trip code ending with 'B'), trip your Short break will pick up from the below hotel.
Hanoi Legacy Hotel - Hoan Kiem
1 Ngo Gach Street
If you require pick up from another hotel located in Hanoi's Old Quarter, please inform your booking agent at least 14 days prior to departure.
Your Intrepid booking agent can also assist with booking accommodation before or following your short break at the above hotels.
Joining point instructions
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.
Alternatively a arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid.
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 transfer, or you have any concerns about your transfer, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770.
Your Short Break Adventure starts at 18:00 – 18:30 on Day 1, or from your alternate hotel (advised prior to departure), between 17:30 - 18:30.
Hanoi Railway Station
Le Duan st
Finishing point instructions
Your trip finishes on arrival at Hanoi Railway Station. No accommodation is provided but additional accommodation is available - please enquire at time of booking.
Metered taxis are available at Hanoi Railway Station. If you want to take a taxi to airport then you need to go to Vietnam airlines main office, No. 1 Quang Trung Street. Fixed price for a taxi to airport is about US$12 (VND180,000) to the airport.
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.
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:
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.
Sapa can experience cooler temperatures than other areas of Vietnam due to it's elevation. Please take local climatic conditions into consideration when packing. Temperatures from November to February are cooler, so warmer clothing is recommended. From April to October there are higher levels of rainfall with warmer temperatures, and a waterproof jacket or coat and and waterproof shoes are suggested.
FOOTWEAR FOR HIKING/TREKKING
This tour includes hiking on unsealed paths, with sometimes slippery, muddy and uneven terrain. Please ensure you pack walking shoes that are fully enclosed, have good grip and are comfortable for you to walk in for an entire day (preferably not brand new, as this can lead to blisters).
Climate and seasonal information
During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.
Tet is Vietnam's New Year festival, held annually in late January or early February based on the lunar calendar. Departures are unavailable during this time.
Sapa experiences a seasonal climate, with a subtropical summer and temperate winter. The warmest months are July and August while December and January are the coolest. The dry season is generally from December to February, while typically Sapa experiences higher rainfall from April to October.
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.
Vietnam has reported transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to Vietnam or talk to their doctor about possible implications.
Please see further information about the Zika virus (and our current cancellation/change policy) on our safety page of the Intrepid website at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety
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 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.
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 or local representative 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.
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.
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:
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.
* 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.
* 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.
For more information, or to make a donation please visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=vietnam
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