Vietnam Express Southbound Trip Notes

Vietnam Express Southbound

Last Modified: 18 Jul 2016
Vietnam Express Southbound
Trip code: TVSF
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Capture the spirit of magical Vietnam on this compact tour from the colonial charm of Hanoi to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Sip coffee with locals in Hanoi and shop up a storm in the Old Quarter, cruise along emerald waters on a Halong Bay boat trip, travel through old-world Hue and Hoi An, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. This is an adventure full of beauty and contrast that introduces Vietnam as a country of incredible food, lively locals, stunning scenery and cosmopolitan cities.
Table of Contents
StyleMeals introductionAlternate finish point
ThemesMealsAlternate finish point description
Is this trip right for you?Money mattersAlternate finish point instructions
Why we love itGroup leaderEmergency contact
MapSafetyVisas
ItineraryJoining pointWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerJoining point descriptionClimate and seasonal information
Physical ratingJoining point instructionsHealth
Included activitiesAlternate joining pointTravel insurance
Important notesAlternate joining point descriptionA couple of rules
Group sizeAlternate joining point instructionsResponsible Travel
Your fellow travellersFinish pointThe Intrepid Foundation
AccommodationFinish point descriptionFeedback
Accommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Is this trip right for you?
- This trip involves some long stints of travel, including a 12-hour overnight train to Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances, meet locals and maximise time at your destinations. Occasionally passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and/or you'll be sharing with locals or travellers from other groups.
- 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 upon request for those who don’t wish to ride on a motorbike.
- The weather in Vietnam can be hot and sticky, particularly during the monsoon seasons, so ensure that you pack accordingly. Please also wear sunscreen and a hat, especially when out on a boat in Halong Bay and in the Mekong Delta.
- This popular trip provides a great overview of some of the highlights of Vietnam with plenty of included activities. If you would like more time to explore each destination, perhaps consider one of our longer trips.
Why we love it
- The bustling markets, tree-lined boulevards and peaceful lakes of Hanoi are a great introduction to modern Vietnam
- Sail among the floating villages, grottos and limestone pillars of magical Halong Bay
- Explore the old imperial capital of Hue in typical Vietnamese fashion - on the back of a motorbike
- Ho Chi Minh City, once known as Saigon, is a dynamic blend of old and new, east and west, commerce and culture
- Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, cruise the waterways of the Mekong Delta in sampan boats and sample exotic fruits and fish
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Hanoi
Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.

If you arrive early into the capital of Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure with an expert local guide to introduce you to the city. Start by visiting the Temple of Literature, drop into a traditional tea house, and learn the stories of the Hoa Lo Prison museum. This tour concludes at Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by modern office buildings and ancient Buddhist temples. Or take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter and admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, relax in a park, or enjoy some street food.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the group meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend and have time to explore Hanoi. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception or your booking agent in advance.
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure - USD40
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Halong Bay
    Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin (approximately four hours). The bay is dotted with sandy coves, grottos and 1,600 limestone islands, which have been formed over millennia by wind and water erosion. Board a private boat and cruise the bay, exploring island caves and perhaps even enjoying a swim in the South China Sea. To end the day, spend a peaceful night aboard the boat beneath the night sky.

    The sailing junk has twin share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast.

    Notes: 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.


    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.
    Your leader will discuss the option for swimming from Ti Top Island beach during the warmer months. Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.
    Included Activities
    • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
      Optional Activities
      • Halong Bay - Kayaking - VND220000
        Accommodation
        Overnight boat (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 3 Hanoi / Overnight Train
        Return by boat to Ha Long, and at approximately midday travel by bus back to Hanoi. Arrive late this afternoon, and use free time to shop, explore the sights or just relax. Later tonight board an overnight train to Hue.

        Notes: There are shared hotel rooms available this afternoon if you would like to freshen up or organise your luggage.

        Sleeper trains typically have four-berth compartments (occasionally six berths depending on the season), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided (although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but you may like to stock up on some food supplies before departure.
        Accommodation
        Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast
        Day 4 Hue
        Arrive into Hue at approximately 11 am and transfer to the hotel.

        Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of the country’s royal past. You’ll have free time in the morning to rest or explore. The bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the foods that once graced the Nguyen emperors' tables, such as banh khoai (royal rice cake). Reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Hue Imperial Citadel complex, which once contained temples, state houses and the emperor’s palace.
        Included Activities
        • Hue - Imperial citadel
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 5 Hue
          Today, tour the sights of Hue on the back of a motorbike driven by a local guide. Explore the ruins of the Forbidden Purple City, once reserved for the personal use of the Emperor and his concubines, but almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam/American War. Visit the 17th-century active Buddhist monastery of Thien Mu Pagoda. During the visit you’ll see the car of a former monk who drove to Saigon in 1963 to set himself alight to protest the poor treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime.

          Enjoy a short boat cruise down the Perfume River before eating lunch inside a nunnery. Finally, visit the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to Hue.

          Notes: For those who do not wish to ride on the back of a motorbike, please let you leader know and they will arrange a car.
          Also, boats for the Perfume River trip may not be available if you’re travelling during festival periods. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities instead.
          Included Activities
          • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
          • Hue - Royal tomb
          • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
            Day 6 Hoi An
            This morning travel by bus through coastal rice paddies and the spectacular Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to My Khe Beach (China Beach), arrive into Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major international trading port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of the beautifully preserved town retain the feel of centuries past. It's also a shopping mecca, famous for its plethora of tailors. On arrival your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town and visit a handful of the city's major attractions. You’ll will also be given a sightseeing pass so you can further explore select attractions at your leisure.
            Included Activities
            • Hoi An - Ancient town guided walk and entrance ticket
              Optional Activities
              • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike Urban Adventure - USD51
                Accommodation
                Hotel (1 nt)
                Meals
                1 breakfast
                Day 7 Hoi An
                Today is a free day to explore Hoi An. Browse the town’s cobbled streets and art galleries, or hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies out to Cua Dai Beach. Shop for paintings, ceramics and colourful cloth lanterns in the town’s markets and preserved Chinese shop houses. Perhaps visit one of the hundreds of tailors in the city to get something special made. Hoi An is also known for its delicious regional food, so be sure to enjoy a meal at a riverside restaurant or perhaps partake in a cooking class.
                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
                  Accommodation
                  Hotel (1 nt)
                  Meals
                  1 breakfast
                  Day 8 Ho Chi Minh City
                  Today take a short early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a fascinating history and is arguably Vietnam’s capital of commerce and culture. After landing, check in to your hotel and then take a sightseeing bus tour around the city. Pass the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House, stopping in at the War Remnants Museum to discover some of the sobering stories of the Vietnam/American War.
                  Included Activities
                  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
                  • HCMC - City tour
                    Optional Activities
                    • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND30000
                    • HCMC - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35
                      Accommodation
                      Hotel (1 nt)
                      Meals
                      1 breakfast
                      Day 9 Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
                      This morning head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board a boat to Ben Tre to visit a coconut candy factory and sample their sweet products. On a tuk-tuk tour around the remote village, learn about local rural life and stop to sample tropical fruits. Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous Elephant Ear fish. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past water coconut trees along the Mekong, and then board a private boat to cruise the delta’s major waterways to My Tho. After the cruise return via bus to Ho Chi Minh City.

                      Enjoy a final group dinner at KOTO restaurant, an organisation dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of street kids.
                      Included Activities
                      • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
                      • HCMC - KOTO dinner
                        Accommodation
                        Hotel (1 nt)
                        Meals
                        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
                        Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City
                        Your trip ends after breakfast today. There are no activities included and you’re free to depart your accommodation at any time. For those who are staying on and want to explore Ho Chi Minh City further, check out our Urban Adventure day trips.
                        Optional Activities
                        • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnel Experience Urban Adventure - USD43
                          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

                          Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
                          Included activities
                          Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
                          Hue - Imperial citadel
                          Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
                          Hue - Royal tomb
                          Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
                          Hoi An - Ancient town guided walk and entrance ticket
                          Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
                          HCMC - City tour
                          HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
                          HCMC - KOTO dinner
                          Important notes
                          1. Passport Details: 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 is available on this trip, please refer to 'Your Fellow Travellers' section of the Trip Notes for excluded nights.

                          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.

                          A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information. Please note that on the following nights the supplement is not available:
                          - Day 2 Halong Bay
                          - Day 3 Overnight train to Hue
                          Accommodation
                          Hotel (7nt), 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 Hanoi on Day 3. 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
                          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).

                          MEALS NOT INCLUDED
                          We recommend USD180.00 for meals not included.


                          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
                          Hong Ngoc Cochinchine Hotel
                          97 Nguyen Truong To St
                          Hanoi
                          VIET NAM
                          Phone: +84 437164143
                          Fax: +84 38285054
                          Joining point description
                          Located within walking distance to Hanoi's Old Quarter, the newly renovated Hong Ngoc 5 features 35 well appointed rooms, a restaurant serving buffet breakfast, bar and café, and lift. Room facilities include IDD phone, air conditioner, cable TV, mini bar, bathroom with bathtub, and natural daylight.
                          www.hongngochotel.com/Overview204.html
                          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 please proceed to the Information Counter, your driver will wait here if you do not meet upon arrival.
                          Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.

                          Metered taxi ranks are available outside the airport entrance. Go out of the customs hall and walk through the airport exit gates A4 and A5 on level 1, you will find Noi Bai Airport taxis (+84 4 3886 8888) readily available outside. Noi Bai Airport taxi drivers wear yellow uniform shirt. Taxi fare to your hotel in town will cost approx. US$18 (VND350000) in total. Please note these taxis are not on meter - but generally charge per trip. Please AVOID taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

                          Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.
                          Alternate joining point
                          For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.
                          19 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612192), 26 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612262), 02 Jan 2017 (TVSF1701022)
                          Hong Ngoc Dynastie Hotel (formerly Hong Ngoc 1)
                          34 Hang Manh, Hoan Kiem, Ha noi, Viet Nam
                          Hanoi
                          VIET NAM
                          Phone: +84 438285053
                          Fax: +84 38285054
                          Alternate joining point description
                          Located in the old quarter a few minutes walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Rooms have private en-suite and AC. Check-in time is 12 midday.
                          www.hongngochotel.com
                          Alternate joining point instructions
                          Metered taxi ranks are readily available and cost approx $12 USD (260,000 VND).

                          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 arrival, and your driver will be waiting for you as you get out of the customs hall and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.

                          If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline on:
                          +84 903 117 770.

                          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.
                          23 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612232), 29 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612292), 30 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612302)
                          May de ville City Centre 2 Hotel
                          57 Pham Hong Thai Street
                          Hanoi
                          VIET NAM
                          Phone: +84 439279999
                          Fax: +84 4393279899
                          Alternate joining point description
                          Located adjacent to Hanoi's old quarter, close to the shops, bars, restaurants, museums and theatres. There are 57 well appointed rooms with LCD TVs, tea and coffee facilities, mini-bar, IDD telephone, hairdryer, air-conditioning and safety boxes. There is Wifi available in the lobby and business centre and ADSL in all rooms.
                          Alternate joining point instructions
                          Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

                          If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival, and your driver will be waiting for you as you get out of the customs hall and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.
                          If you cannot find your pre-booked, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770. Additionally please proceed the Information Counter, your driver will wait here if you do not meet upon arrival.

                          Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.

                          Metered taxi ranks are available outside the airport entrance. Go out of the customs hall and walk through the airport exit gates A4 and A5 on level 1, you will find Noi Bai Airport taxis (+84 4 3886 8888) readily available outside. Noi Bai Airport taxi drivers wear yellow uniform shirt. Taxi fare to your hotel in town will cost approx. US$18 (VND350000) in total. Please note these taxis are not on meter - but generally charge per trip. Please AVOID taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

                          Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.
                          Finish point
                          Queen Ann Hotel
                          86-88 Bui Thi Xuan Ben Thanh
                          District 1
                          Ho Chi Minh City
                          VIET NAM
                          Phone: +84 8 3925 4444
                          Fax: +84 8 3925 9007
                          Finish point description
                          Located in Ho Chi Minh City Centre and District 1, Queen Ann Hotel is a 10-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market. Tan Son Nhat International Airport is a 20-minute drive away.
                          Queen Ann Hotel features rooms with flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.
                          http://www.queenannhotelvn.com/en/
                          Finishing point instructions
                          A metered taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. US$10 (VND200,000) and take approx 45 minutes (depending on traffic).
                          A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid. If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770.
                          Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
                          Alternate finish point
                          For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                          05 Aug 2016 (TVSF160805), 03 Sep 2016 (TVSF160903), 23 Sep 2016 (TVSF160923), 26 Sep 2016 (TVSF160926), 27 Sep 2016 (TVSF160927), 02 Oct 2016 (TVSF161002), 03 Oct 2016 (TVSF161003), 07 Oct 2016 (TVSF161007), 08 Oct 2016 (TVSF161008), 14 Oct 2016 (TVSF161014), 17 Oct 2016 (TVSF161017), 18 Oct 2016 (TVSF161018), 20 Oct 2016 (TVSF161020), 21 Oct 2016 (TVSF161021), 23 Oct 2016 (TVSF161023), 02 Nov 2016 (TVSF161102), 08 Nov 2016 (TVSF161108), 11 Nov 2016 (TVSF161111), 13 Nov 2016 (TVSF161113), 14 Nov 2016 (TVSF161114), 15 Nov 2016 (TVSF161115), 18 Nov 2016 (TVSF161118), 19 Nov 2016 (TVSF161119), 20 Nov 2016 (TVSF161120), 21 Nov 2016 (TVSF161121), 24 Nov 2016 (TVSF161124), 26 Nov 2016 (TVSF161126), 27 Nov 2016 (TVSF161127), 09 Dec 2016 (TVSF161209), 16 Dec 2016 (TVSF161216), 22 Dec 2016 (TVSF161222), 23 Dec 2016 (TVSF161223)
                          Asian Ruby Park View Hotel (formerly Asian Ruby 3)
                          100 Le Lai Street
                          District 1
                          Ho Chi Minh City
                          VIET NAM
                          Alternate finish point description
                          Located close to major sightseeing and shopping areas, the Asian Ruby 3 hotel has a restaurant and a lift. Rooms have en suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, cable TV and Wi-Fi.
                          Alternate finish point instructions
                          A metered taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. US$10 (VND200,000) and take approx 45 minutes (depending on traffic).
                          A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid. If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770.
                          Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
                          Alternate finish point
                          For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.
                          30 Jul 2016 (TVSF1607302), 10 Aug 2016 (TVSF160810), 31 Aug 2016 (TVSF160831), 07 Sep 2016 (TVSF160907), 01 Oct 2016 (TVSF1610012), 04 Oct 2016 (TVSF1610042), 09 Nov 2016 (TVSF161109), 16 Nov 2016 (TVSF161116), 23 Nov 2016 (TVSF161123), 30 Nov 2016 (TVSF161130), 07 Dec 2016 (TVSF161207), 14 Dec 2016 (TVSF161214), 19 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612192), 21 Dec 2016 (TVSF161221), 23 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612232), 26 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612262), 29 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612292), 30 Dec 2016 (TVSF1612302), 02 Jan 2017 (TVSF170102), 02 Jan 2017 (TVSF1701022)
                          Victory Hotel Saigon
                          14 Vo Van Tan St, Dist 3, HCMC
                          Ho Chi Minh City
                          VIET NAM
                          Phone: +848 39304989
                          Alternate finish point description
                          The Victory Hotel is located in the very near city centre with many shops and restaurants around. The hotel features a restaurant and rooms are equipped with air conditioning, hair dryer, TV and telephone.
                          http://www.victoryhotel.com.vn/vi-VN/HCMCDefault.aspx
                          Alternate finish point instructions
                          A metered taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. US$10 (VND200,000) and take approx 45 minutes (depending on traffic).
                          A departure transfer from our hotel to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip start date. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Intrepid. If you have booked a post trip airport transfer, please ask your leader to confirm with our local operator the time of departure and meeting place. If you have any problems please call our hotline at +84 903 117 770.
                          Emergency contact
                          While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

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

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

                          For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

                          In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.


                          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.

                          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.

                          WATER BOTTLE
                          Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
                          Climate and seasonal information
                          TET:
                          Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure.

                          WET SEASON:
                          During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.
                          Health
                          All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

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

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

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

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

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

                          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