South Vietnam Getaway Trip Notes

South Vietnam Getaway

Last Modified: 06 Apr 2016
South Vietnam Getaway
Trip code: TVAS-B
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2016
Observe the contrast between Vietnam’s urban and rural regions while taking in cultural highlights of the south. Negotiate the labyrinthine streets of Ho Chi Minh City on a morning walk, make a sobering visit to the War Remnants Museum and make your tastebuds swoon over lunch at a traditional Vietnamese restaurant. Head to the city’s outskirts to scramble through the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels before diving back into the fray at one of Ho Chi Minh City’s lively markets. Then for a welcome change of pace, jump on a boat and explore the meandering waterways, islands and fruit orchards of the mighty Mekong Delta.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
ThemesMeals introductionVisas
Is this trip right for you?MealsWhat to take
Why we love itMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
MapGroup leaderHealth
ItinerarySafetyTravel insurance
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointA couple of rules
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point description
AccommodationFinishing point instructions
Style
Basix, Original, Comfort
Themes
Short Breaks
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip includes one night in simple homestay accommodation, and there a few better ways to better understand a country and its people. You will sleep on camp beds in a communal room, so it's mixed gender and multi-share. Homestay facilities can vary as we stay with several different families, but expect simple but always welcoming.
- Activities on this short break include cycling in the Mekong Delta and a walking tour in Ho Chi Minh City. Please make sure you pack walking shoes and clothes appropriate for these activities and local weather conditions.
- This trip operates on a join-in basis. For the homestay and different day tours you will join in with other traveller, who have potentially booked on a different trip, or through other companies.
- Local guide are likely to different for each day tour and the Mekong Delta, but they will always be Intrepid knowledgeable local experts.
- Included activities for the Basix, Original, and Comfort style short break are the same. However, in Ho Chi Minh City your accommodation will vary depending on the trip style.
Why we love it
- Discover local life on the delta, which can only really be appreciated through a homestay experience
- Cycle along local paths on a bike ride to the colourful market, and chat with locals while gathering supplies for lunch
- Explore Ho Chi Minh City on a full day tour – from major sites like the War Remnants Museum and ancient pagodas, to areas full of authentic city life, like Chinatown, the markets, and a traditional lunch like the locals
- Experience Vietnam’s past first-hand with a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels – descend into the (now widened) tunnels and learn about the vast underground network that the Viet Cong once inhabited
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Mekong Delta
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Escape the city for a tour of the Mekong Delta, where you'll see what life is like beyond the urban centre of the south. This morning, please make your way to the Opera House (Intersection of Dong Khoi street and Le Loi street, District 1) to meet your Intrepid representative at 8.00am before setting off for the Mekong Delta. Please bring with you an overnight bag ready for the one night homestay. Your main luggage can be stored at your hotel.

About 2.5 hours away is the city of My Tho, a former naval base that is now a bustling port city in the Mekong Delta. The area is the final destination of the mighty Mekong River, which winds its way from Tibet, through China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and finally into Vietnam. An incredibly fertile region, the Mekong Delta's prime industry is food production, producing approximately half of Vietnam's total agricultural output. Local life for villages in the area revolves around the rivers and canals that make up the delta, so much so that people are more likely to transport by river than road. Upon arrival into My Tho, board a private boat for a cruise on the Mekong River. The first stop is at a fish farm to gain an insight into one of the cottage industries in the region. On this Mekong tour, you’ll also visit an island with lush tropical gardens, where you’ll have a chance to sample tropical fruit. Continuing to another island in the Mekong Delta, learn more about another cottage industry, coconut candy. Your local guide will take you to a factory and explain the process of making the sweet. Meander down the Mekong and have a chance to visit local villages in the area and learn more about the traditional lifestyles, culture, and customs of people who call the Delta their home.

Next, travel by Xe Loi (motorised cart), and visit a bee farm, then jump in a smaller rowing boat to help get deeper into the smaller canals of the Delta. For lunch, hit up Diem Phuong restaurant, where your local guide will provide you with some advice on the finer points of local cuisine and assist with ordering some of these delicacies. After lunch continue by boat on narrow water creeks, passing one of the Mekong River's most beautiful islands, Phoenix Islet, where fish farming takes place. Sometimes you may transfer to the homestay by tuk-tuk. Towards the end of the day, arrive at the home of a local family, where you’ll stay in dormitory-style accommodation. The pleasant surroundings consist of a 2 hectare garden with seasonal tropical fruits such as longan, durian, mangosteen, banana and grapefruit. The local owners will be your welcoming hosts for the evening and can tell you more about life in the Delta.

Notes: Facilities at the homestay are basic. We sleep on camp beds in a communal room for all members of the group. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Homestay facilities can vary as we stay with several different families.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Meals
1 lunch, 1 dinner
Day 2 Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
Rising early to the sounds on the Delta, jump on a bicycle to visit the local market, then back to the homestay to help your host prepare lunch or to do some gardening. After lunch, say goodbye to your friendly host and return to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. There is plenty to do here in free time before your tour of Ho Chi Minh tomorrow. Maybe explore the frenetic heart of the city, or get bargaining at the historic Ben Thanh Market.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Meals
1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 3 Explore Ho Chi Minh City
This mesmerising full day Ho Chi Minh City walking tour gives you a fun and fascinating insight into the history, culture, and the daily life of the locals in this busy, buzzing city. An Intrepid representative will meet your at your hotel at 8.00am, then start the HCMC tour by heading to Chinatown and wandering through the fascinating back streets near Cho Lon. This area is one of the busiest commercial districts of Ho Chi Minh City and its atmospheric streets are home to some of the city’s most interesting sites. From there, pay a visit to Thien Hau Temple, which was built in the early 19th century and dedicated to the goddess of seafarers. Delve deeper into Chinatown, visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Markets, which are full of energy and dazzling array of goods. You can stop at a local café for a coffee (not included) to watch the hectic pace of life pass by in Ho Chi Minh City. Following your market visit, have a traditional local Vietnamese lunch, ‘pho’ or noodle soup. Then after all that soupy goodness, visit the War Remnants Museum and check out all the major Ho Chi Minh City sights like Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, General Post Office, and the Opera House. You'll also get to see downtown Saigon, and get a real feel for local life in the past and present. At the end of your HCMC tour, your guide will assist you in getting a taxi back to your hotel, or will provide you with tips and suggestions if you'd like to continue exploring the area.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Meals
1 breakfast, 1 lunch
Day 4 Cu Chi Tunnels
This morning, please make your way to the Saigon Central Post Office - 2 Cong Xa Paris St, District 1 (next to Notre Dame Cathedral) to meet your Intrepid representative at 7.15am before departing at 7.30am. Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels served as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate from close to the Southern Vietnamese capital. For this HCMC tour, leave the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City to explore one of the relics from one of the most significant local historical events in recent memory. Journey 2.5 hours west towards the Cambodian border. Before arriving at the Cu Chi tunnels, visit with some local friends and gain an insight into local life in the area, both past and present. Learn about their lives, culture, and customs and get an insight into the recent past through local eyes.

Continue on to the Cu Chi tunnels. The location of the tunnels was of significant strategic importance: they're at the end of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, and within striking distance of the southern Vietnam capital. Initial construction started in 1948 when the Viet Minh required somewhere to hide from French air attacks, and by 1965, the tunnel complex was estimated to consist of 200 km of tunnels. It included, hospitals, schools, meeting rooms, kitchens, and sleeping quarters. Life was difficult for the inhabitants, and to protect against outside intruders, booby traps were laid throughout the complex. Today, the Vietnamese government have preserved approximately 75 km of the Cu Chi tunnels as a memorial park, and in some areas the tunnels have been widened and low powered lights installed so that visitors can now fit through the complex.

Your local guide will take you on a fascinating tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, where you'll learn more about the conditions the people lived in, the hardships they faced, and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels. Walk past huge bomb craters, evidence of the heavy bombing campaigns in the region during the Indochina conflict, discover hidden entrances right beneath your feet, wander past tiny little chimneys in the ground that dispersed smoke from the underground kitchens, sample some of the simple cuisine that local fighters would have survived on, and have an opportunity to venture into the tunnels and explore the complex. You'll end this historical Ho Chi Minh City tour with a greater understanding of the local impacts of the conflicts of the 20th century. Following this step back into modern history, return to the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City. Your South Vietnam Getaway adventure ends upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh at around 1pm.
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

Important notes
1.This trip will begin on Day 1 at 8am at the Opera House. Please make your own way to the meeting point - refer to the trip notes for further information.
2. Please note that this trip is available in Basix, Original and Comfort styles.

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.

Please note many of our Short Break Adventures operate with a minimum of 1 person, so there may be instances where you are the only person on the trip.

On some trips accommodation is available only on a shared basis with other travellers, who might not necessarily be Intrepid travellers. Arrangements vary depending on the trip from twin to multishare, so refer to the daily itinerary for more details on your accommodation. In some situations you may have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure you have your own room.
Accommodation
Homestay (1nt), Hotel (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.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll have the opportunity to experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. 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.
Meals
3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 1 dinner
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).

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.

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
This Short Break Adventure is a 'join in' group departure, which means you are not accompanied by an Intrepid group leader - our local representative fills this role - and the configuration of any fellow travellers in the group might change during the trip.

The aim of our local representative is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. On this style of trip you might have one person stay with you for the entire journey, or you might 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. While some may not be 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.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

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

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:

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.

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

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in 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.

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.

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.

MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City.
Joining point
OPERA HOUSE
Front entrance of the Opera House (Municipal Theatre). Dong Khoi Street (intersection of Le Loi Street)
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
VIET NAM
Joining point description
Please note that the starting point for this tour is the Saigon Opera House (Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City).

However, if you are arriving early or wish to book additional accommodation, Intrepid offer pre/post trip accommodation at the following hotels:

BASIX STYLE:
Saigon Royal Hotel
12 D Cach Mang Thang Tam Street
Ben Thanh, District 1
+ 84 8 38294846
http://www.saigonroyal.com.vn/

ORIGINAL STYLE:
Asian Ruby 4 Hotel
277 Le Thanh Ton street,
Ben Thanh ward, District 1
+84 8 38277948
http://www.asianrubycentralhotel.com

COMFORT STYLE:
Asian Ruby 1
26 Thi Sach Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
+84 8 3827 2837
www.asianrubyhotel.com
Joining point instructions
FROM HO CHI MINH CITY AIRPORT TO HO CHI MINH CITY:
Metered taxis are readily available and cost approx $10 USD (220,000 VND). Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you 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 as you exit the Customs Hall by a transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign with your name on it.

If you cannot find your transfer representative, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770. Additionally proceed to Column 12 outside the International Arrival terminal. Your driver will wait here if you do not meet upon arrival.
Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.

Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.

TO GET TO THE OPERA HOUSE:
The Opera House is located right in the centre of town and is a famous landmark easily reached by taxi. Look out for your representative wearing a red Intrepid t-shirt waiting out the front. Please arrive to the Opera House by 8.00AM sharp.

f you have any difficulties finding your Intrepid representative please call: +84 909 904 100
Finish point
OPERA HOUSE
Front entrance of the Opera House (Municipal Theatre). Dong Khoi Street (intersection of Le Loi Street)
District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
VIET NAM
Finish point description
Please note that the starting point for this tour is the Saigon Opera House (Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City).

However, if you are arriving early or wish to book additional accommodation, Intrepid offer pre/post trip accommodation at the following hotels:

BASIX STYLE:
Saigon Royal Hotel
12 D Cach Mang Thang Tam Street
Ben Thanh, District 1
+ 84 8 38294846
http://www.saigonroyal.com.vn/

ORIGINAL STYLE:
Asian Ruby 4 Hotel
277 Le Thanh Ton street,
Ben Thanh ward, District 1
+84 8 38277948
http://www.asianrubycentralhotel.com

COMFORT STYLE:
Asian Ruby 1
26 Thi Sach Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
+84 8 3827 2837
www.asianrubyhotel.com
Finishing point instructions
You will be dropped off at your centrally located Ho Chi Minh City 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.

Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770
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.

ITINERARY NOTE:
On Day 1, please note you will need to make your own way to the Opera House: (Intersection of Dong Khoi street and Le Loi street, District 1) to meet your Intrepid representative at 8.00am before setting off for the Mekong Delta.

WET SEASON:
During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.

GROUP SIZE
Please note from 01 Jan 2014, maximum group size is 16 pax.
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 trip until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by our local representative.

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

Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:

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 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.
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

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.

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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