Vietnam Express Northbound Trip Notes

Vietnam Express Northbound

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


Last Modified: 16 Aug 2016
Vietnam Express Northbound
Trip code: TVSQ
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Discover the spirit of Vietnam on a trip from south to north, taking in all the attractions in between. Explore Vietnam's fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City, wander the ancient Vietnamese streets of Hoi An, experience the history-soaked monuments of Hue and bask in the undeniable charm of Hanoi. Experience Vietnam's beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine and the renowned friendliness of the Vietnamese people. Top it all off with an overnight cruise on mystical Halong Bay and you won't ever want to leave.
Table of Contents
StyleMeals introductionFinishing point instructions
ThemesMealsEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?TransportVisas
Why we love itMoney mattersWhat to take
MapGroup leaderClimate and seasonal information
ItinerarySafetyCommunications
Itinerary disclaimerJoining pointHealth
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point instructionsA couple of rules
Important notesAlternate joining pointResponsible Travel
Group sizeAlternate joining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersAlternate joining point instructionsFeedback
AccommodationFinish point
Accommodation NotesFinish point description
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- Although you will visit a few significant sites in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s limited time in this city. We recommend booking a few extra days before you trip in order to fully experience this city.
- This itinerary is faster paced, covering a large area of Vietnam in a short amount of time. There is some driving involved (up to 4 hours at a time), however we mostly fly to maximise your time in each destination. It’s great for those who only have a limited amount of time to see the country, but consider also doing another of our Vietnam trips to spend more time at each destination.
- This trip involves some long stints of travel, including a 12-hour overnight train to Hue. Although conditions are basic, beds, food vendors and conversations with the locals make the overnight train journey a truly Intrepid experience. For your own security, take a lock for your hand luggage on the sleeper train journey.
- In Hue, one day is spent touring the sights on the back of a motorbike. The bikes are great fun and are driven safely by professionals, but alternative transportation can be arranged for those who don’t wish to ride.
Why we love it
- In just over a week experience the best of Vietnam, from the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, to the stunning countryside of Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta, and the imperial streets of Hue and ancient trading port of Hoi An
- This trip involves a day on the winding waterways of the Mekong Delta, the lifeblood and “rice bowl” of South-East Asia.
- There’s no view of Vietnam quite like from the back of a motorbike; take a Hue motorbike tour and boat trip down the Perfume River
- Spend the night on one of the iconic junk-style boats that cruise between the limestone peaks of Halong Bay
- End the trip with a memorable farewell dinner at KOTO restaurant, which serves up delicious meals and supports underprivileged kids at the same time
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Ho Chi Minh City
Xin chao! Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with hotel reception or look on the reception noticeboard for where and when the meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance and next of kin details on hand as we'll be collecting them at this meeting. Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Ho Chi Minh City, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Ho Chi Minh City has a dynamic atmosphere and a French influence. Perhaps head to Pham Ngu Lao Street to see the local open-aired market, visit Vinh Nghiem Pagoda or take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclos & Markets Urban Adventure - USD25
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
    Today you'll travel south by private bus (approximately 3 hours) for a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. When you arrive, you’ll board a boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit and flowers are grown for the whole country. The views along the canal will take your breath away. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit a local cottage industry - coconut candy - and sample the candy which the region is famous for. You’ll have the opportunity to take a tuk-tuk around this remote village and make a stop to sample tropical fruit and learn more about rural life. For lunch, go to a restaurant in the heart of the delta and try regional specialities such as the famous elephant-ear fish. After lunch, board sampans (small rowing boats) and paddle along the canals under the shade of lush water coconut trees. Get back on the main boat and cruise though more major waterways on your way to the town of My Tho. After a scenic cruise, take the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
    Included Activities
    • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 3 Hoi An
      This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and fly north to Danang (approximately 1 hour). From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An with the five spectacular peaks of the Marble Mountains as a backdrop. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking of this unique town, influenced over the years by Europe, China and Vietnam. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and the outside influences can be seen all over its architecture, with pagodas and assembly halls found across the town. For a small place it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look much like they did over a century ago. Past low tiled buildings, you'll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
      Included Activities
      • Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 4 Hoi An
        Enjoy a free day in the world heritage listed Hoi An. You may like to wander the Central Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours. For those still feeling adventurous, why not hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside? This is one of the best ways to get an insight into rural Vietnam. Other optional activities include a day trip to My Son Cham (elaborate World Heritage-listed temples that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), a cruise along the Thu Bon River and a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.
        Optional Activities
        • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - USD35
        • Hoi An - Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD28
        • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49
        • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 5 Hue
          Leave Hoi An today and head towards My Khe Beach. This area is famous for its role in the Vietnam War and its spectacular backdrop of the Marble Mountains. Continuing on your journey you’ll cross the dramatic Hai Van Pass, a sometimes bumpy but incredibly scenic stretch of highway with views of Lang Co Beach. Make a quick stop at the fishing village of Lang Co, then continue to your final destination of Hue (approximately 5 hours including stops). Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue contains the treasures of Vietnam’s royal history, and has a interesting blend of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Your excursion here will be to the Imperial Citadel. This fortress houses the Imperial City and the citadel-within-a-citadel, the Forbidden Purple City. This icon was almost completely destroyed during the Vietnam War, and the ruins and holes left by bombs are a reminder of the destruction caused by the war. In your free time you might like to visit to Dong Ba Market which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and tantalising street food. This is a good place to try the specialties enjoyed by Emperor Nguyen such as the banh khoai royal rice cake.
          Included Activities
          • Hue - Imperial citadel
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast
            Day 6 Hue / Overnight Train
            Today’s adventure will be taken on the back of a motorbike. You’ll have your own driver who will take you first on a drive around the Imperial Citadel, then to the Thien My Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. This site dates back to 1601 and is still an active Buddhist monastery. Here you’ll also see the car left by a monk who set himself alight to protest the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. Hop off the motorbike for a bit and go on a dragon boat cruise along the Perfume River. After the 40-minute cruise get back on your motorbike and ride to a special lunch spot at a convent or Buddhist monastery. After lunch, drive to the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, set amid a lake, frangipani bushes and pine trees. In the evening, board an overnight train to Hanoi (approximately 12 hours). Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals.

            Notes: For those who prefer not to ride motorbikes, a car can be arranged upon request for transport between destinations.
            Boats along Perfume River may not be available during festival season. During these times, you’ll be transported by land to reach the activities.
            Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group.
            Included Activities
            • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
            • Hue - Royal tomb
            • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
              Accommodation
              Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
              Meals
              1 breakfast, 1 lunch
              Day 7 Hanoi
              Arrive in Hanoi early in the morning and transfer to your hotel. Vietnam’s capital is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, public parks and Frenchy Old Quarter. As an emerging city in Southeast Asian, Hanoi has an attractive contrast of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and a labyrinth of ancient streets. Later in the day you'll take a walking tour through the city. You’ll see Ho Chi Minh’s former stilt house and other icons such as the Temple of Literature. In your free time, perhaps stop by the ’36 Streets’ of the historic Old Quarter, head to the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, or visit the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. This Museum plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the cultural heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic communities.

              Notes: There are shared day rooms available prior to hotel check in.
              Included Activities
              • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
              • Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
              • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Day 8 Halong Bay
                Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approximately 4 hours). This is one of Vietnam’s most beautiful places, a secluded bay of emerald waters flecked with sandstone islands and caves. Here you’ll go on a cruise to explore the rock formations and caves and in the warmer months perhaps go for a swim from Ti Top Island Beach.

                There’ll be a dining room and bar on board where you’ll enjoy your meals, including fresh seafood for lunch and dinner. Spend the night on board the boat beneath a sky alive with starlight. The boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities.

                Notes: It is recommended to pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

                Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.

                There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, we’re occasionally using a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) or splitting groups across different vessels. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
                Included Activities
                • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                  Accommodation
                  Overnight boat (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                  Day 9 Hanoi
                  Leaving the memorable scenery of Halong Bay behind, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Return to Hanoi late this afternoon, and enjoy a couple of free hours to explore Hanoi's sights or do some last minute shopping. Otherwise, why not just relax at a cafe or stop for a bia hoi (freshly brewed draught beer) at one of the microbars in the Old Quarter? Tonight there will be a farewell dinner to enjoy with the group at KOTO restaurant, an organisation that supports street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.
                  Included Activities
                  • Hanoi - KOTO dinner
                    Accommodation
                    Hotel (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 breakfast, 1 dinner
                    Day 10 Hanoi
                    Today your exploration of Vietnam comes to an end. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Maybe consider continuing your adventure with a short tour such as ‘Hanoi Street Food by Night’ or ‘Village Discovery by Bike’ with our partners Urban Adventures (see urbanadventures.com for more information). Or perhaps visit the Hoa Lo Prison aka the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ which was used for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. There’s also the Museum of Ethnology with its fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits. Consider booking some extra nights in Hanoi to further explore this delightful city.
                    Optional Activities
                    • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Village Discovery by Bike - USD33
                    • Hanoi - Hanoi Street Food By Night Urban Adventure - USD31
                    • Hanoi Urban Adventure - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle - USD88
                    • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND30000
                    • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
                      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
                      HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
                      Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
                      Hue - Imperial citadel
                      Hue - Perfume River boat ride
                      Hue - Royal tomb
                      Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
                      Hanoi - Temple of Literature
                      Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda & HCM stilt house
                      Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
                      Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                      Hanoi - KOTO dinner
                      Important notes
                      1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport), for internal flights and train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket.
                      2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes nights 6 (Overnight Train) and 8 (Overnight Boat) where you will be in shared accommodation.


                      Group size
                      Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
                      Your fellow travellers
                      GROUP TRAVEL
                      As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

                      SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
                      Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (5nt), 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.

                      JUNK BOAT:
                      Our wooden boat has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. The boats have 8-12 passenger cabins. There's also a dining room and bar on board.

                      The boat is not likely to be a traditional sailing junk, as many older or imported vessels do not comply with waterway traffic safety laws.

                      DAY ROOMS & EARLY CHECK IN:
                      Day rooms are provided for shared group use before the overnight train journey in Hue on Day 6 and after arrival in Hanoi on Day 7. There is one room provided between up to 6 members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day rooms. During your trip you may arrive at your destination before check in time, luggage storage will be available. Please ask your leader if you would like to request your own room for early check in for an additional cost, subject to availability.
                      Meals introduction
                      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

                      Breakfasts are often simple: eggs, bread, jam and coffee/tea would be most common.
                      Meals
                      8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
                      Transport
                      Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Private vehicle, Taxi

                      CHARTER VEHICLES:
                      Most of our charter buses in Vietnam have WiFi on board.
                      Money matters
                      SPENDING MONEY
                      When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

                      Budget for meals not included: USD180.00

                      VIETNAM:
                      The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).
                      US dollars are also accepted for some payments. It is almost impossible to change VND into US dollars without a flight ticket showing your onward destination.

                      Only change money at official money exchange counters with a clear sign showing this status. Illegal exchange places like gold shops may offer a higher rate you may risk losing your money.

                      Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but outside main centres you may find cash the only acceptable currency. It may be difficult to cash travellers’ cheques.

                      ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas.

                      You can have funds transferred to Vietnam via international money transfer companies like Western Union or Moneygram.

                      EMERGENCY FUNDS:
                      We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

                      TIPPING
                      If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

                      The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

                      Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

                      Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.

                      Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.

                      Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

                      In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

                      Optional Tipping Kitty:
                      At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion.

                      Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult

                      Commissions:
                      Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye though, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences.

                      If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback.



                      DEPARTURE TAX
                      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
                      Group leader
                      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

                      Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
                      Safety
                      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/contact-us/safety

                      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
                      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

                      SEAT BELTS:
                      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

                      PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
                      While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

                      MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
                      Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.
                      Joining point
                      Asian Ruby (4) Central hotel
                      277 Le Thanh Ton St Ben Thanh Ward
                      District 1
                      Ho Chi Minh City
                      VIET NAM
                      Phone: +84 838277948
                      Joining point description
                      Centrally located the hotel features a travel desk, currency exchange, restaurant & bar, gym. All 50 rooms are equipped with TV, AC, safe, Wi-Fi Internet, TV & minibar
                      www.asianruby4hotel.com
                      Joining point instructions
                      Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

                      If you have pre-booked an arrival 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.

                      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.

                      Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.
                      Alternate joining point
                      For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
                      18 Oct 2016 (TVSQ161018)
                      Asian Ruby Park View Hotel (formerly Asian Ruby 3)
                      100 Le Lai Street
                      District 1
                      Ho Chi Minh City
                      VIET NAM
                      Alternate joining 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.
                      Alternate joining point instructions
                      Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

                      If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on as you exit the Customs Hall by a transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign with your name on it.
                      If you cannot find your transfer representative, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770. Additionally 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.

                      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.
                      Finish point
                      May de ville City Centre 2 Hotel
                      57 Pham Hong Thai Street
                      Hanoi
                      VIET NAM
                      Phone: +84 439279999
                      Fax: +84 4393279899
                      Finish 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.
                      Finishing point instructions
                      A metered taxi to the airport costs approx. US$10 (VND213,000) and takes approx. 30 minutes depending on traffic

                      A departure transfer is available - enquire with your agent.
                      If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, ask your leader to confirm 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.

                      Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770
                      Visas
                      As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
                      Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

                      Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

                      VIETNAM VISA:
                      Most nationalities require a visa to travel to Vietnam.

                      Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of under 15 days. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy). Effective from 1st July 2015 - 30 June 2017 exempt visa nationalities include British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws.

                      Vietnam visas need to be arranged in advance. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details.

                      Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.

                      If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam Ph +84 4 3715 0996.

                      Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.
                      What to take
                      What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

                      Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

                      Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

                      Internal Flight Luggage Allowance:
                      Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20kg, with up to 7kg carry on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in.

                      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.

                      SWIMWEAR:
                      As there may be swimming and kayaking opportunities on this tour you may wish to pack swimwear.

                      LOCAL DRESS:
                      When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
                      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.
                      Communications
                      2016 BROCHURE MISPRINT:
                      Please note the map featured in the brochure incorrectly displays the text 'Overnight Train' between Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. This journey is by plane on Day 3. On Day 6 we take an Overnight Train from Hue to Hanoi.
                      Health
                      All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

                      You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

                      DENGUE FEVER:
                      Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.
                      Travel insurance
                      Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

                      When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

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

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

                      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

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

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

                      http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

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

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


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

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


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

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

                      http://www.intrepidtravel.com/inspirations/feedback/feedback_leave.php