Wherever we travel, it’s the flavours we remember best. A crusty bánh mì or streetside pho, seafood cù lao hotpots and (scarily addictive) coffee with condensed milk. Vietnam tours are tasty, plain and simple. We won’t just drop you in Halong Bay and call it a day. Our local leaders will introduce you to rice farmers in Sapa and fishermen on the Mekong Delta. They’ll guide you through the Cu Chi Tunnels, take you to the best beaches and on a street food crawl through Ho Chi Minh City. Our stomach’s rumbling already...
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Vietnam, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling aboard an overnight sleeper train is a fun way to journey through Vietnam. Interact with other passengers or sit by a window and watch the world go by.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Vietnam you may find yourself staying in a:
Sleeping aboard a boat on Halong Bay is a quintessential Vietnamese experience to be savoured. Slip into relaxation mode as you take in stunning views of the surrounding limestone karst scenery.
Most nationalities are required to obtain tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements.
Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. 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). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam.
An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/
Evisas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website.
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 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, 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.
Tipping isn't mandatory or customary in Vietnam, but a tip of spare change or another small amount would be appreciated by restaurants, drivers and other service workers, especially if the service has been particularly good.
Internet access is widely available in tourist areas and big cities, which have many internet cafes. Internet access is less frequent in rural and remote areas.
You'll be able to use your mobile phone in most urban areas of Vietnam, although remote and mountainous areas may not have network coverage. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile while in Vietnam.
You'll have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation while in Vietnam. The standard toilet is of the squat variety and this may take some getting used to, although western-style toilets can be found in large hotels and some tourist areas.
Quick city bus ride = 4,000 VND
Local-style coffee at a cafe = 15,000 VND
Bowl of pho from street stall = 20,000-30,000 VND
Dinner at a simple restaurant = 70,000-100,000 VND
Dinner at a up-market restaurant = 200,000+ VND
Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Vietnam. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found; some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by large shops, hotels and restaurants in Vietnam. However, they may not be accepted by smaller vendors such as small family restaurants, market stalls or in remote towns and rural areas. Make sure you carry enough cash for purchases, since credit cards aren't always an option everywhere in Vietnam.
ATMs are found widely throughout Vietnam, so withdrawing cash shouldn't be problematic in most areas. Some smaller villages and rural areas may not have ATM access, so prepare for this before venturing too far from a city or major town.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
For a current list of public holidays in Vietnam go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/vietnam/public-holidays
The major festivals celebrated in Vietnam are Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year, February), Reunification Day (30 April), National Day (2 September) and Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival, late September).
The most popular times to visit Vietnam are spring (February-April) and autumn (September-December) but because of the huge variations in latitude and altitude, there is no one best time to go to Vietnam. It’s a good destination all year.
Vietnam has an incredibly diverse tropical climate, and temperatures vary from 4°C (39°F) in Sapa in winter to humid 36°C (97°F) days in Saigon in the middle of the dry season. The monsoons bring heavy rain to the south, and a cooler winter to the north depending on when you plan to tour in Vietnam.
Traditional Vietnamese food is typified by its use of fresh herbs and vegetables and it's wide regional variance. Vietnamese food is influenced by its Chinese and Khmer neighbours and echoes of French colonisation. Some of the best things to eat in Vietnam are noodle soups (pho, bun mam, bun bo hue), bread rolls (banh mi), savoury pancakes (banh xeo) and fresh tropical fruits.
Our list of best things to drink in Vietnam includes ice coffee, fruit smoothies, fresh coconut juice straight from a freshly cracked green coconut, sugar cane juice, local beers and artisan rice wine.
While the tropical climate lends itself to layered, breathable clothing all year round, if you are taking a tour in the North, cold winters mean you might need to bring a fleece or jacket.
The LGBQTI community is gradually gaining recognition in Vietnam, with gay pride parades becoming a regular occurrence and a lift on same-sex marriage bans in 2015. With that said, Vietnam is stil a conservative culture and many still hide their sexuality from their families. Ho CHi Minh City and Hanoi have some gay-friendly bars and events. It is generally recommended that both gay and straight couples resist showing public displays of affection.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Despite having a high population of people with disabilities, accessible infrastructure and facilities are still limited in Vietnam. Chaotic traffic and pavements blocked by parked motorbikes and street stalls, uneven footpaths and high curbs add to the challenges of getting around for travellers with mobility or vision disabilities. Most entrances to hotels, shops, restaurants and tourist sites will have steps and many doorways will not be able to accommodate wheelchairs wider than 60cm. Some sights and destinations will not be fully accessible (ie. Ha Long Bay boats, Cu Chi Tunnels) but other places such as Hoi An are flat and much more wheelchair-friendly. There are likely to be situations where travellers with disabilities may need to rely on local people to help. Taxis are readily available and an affordable way to get around for travellers who are not confident in exploring independently on foot.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. Working with local governments, Blue Dragon works to fight the causes of human trafficking and rescue victims.
KOTO is a restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam, equipping them with the skills necessary for a sustainable career.