INSIDER JOURNEYS OF VIETNAM
9 -19 August 2019 - 11 Days / 10 Nights $2998* - Price includes Return International Airfares fromSYD/MEL; Single supplement- $550
Adventure…self-discovery…and the joy of travelling with an intimate group of likeminded people.
Hosted by Luke and Susie’s life-coach Sally Thibaut, and with the help of program sponsors Vietnam Airlines and Insider Journeys, you will have an incredible adventure and return refreshed, reclaimed, and ready to relaunch the year.
Winner has been drawn! Listen to the winner's call on Luke and Susie Show HERE>>
From the vibrant energy of Saigon to the tranquil islands of Halong Bay, discover the contrasting regions of this diverse country with Insider Journey’s and Vietnam Airlines. Be thoroughly charmed by Hoi An's antiquated streets and get a real feel of traditional Vietnamese life as you wind your way through the canals of the Mekong Delta. Enjoy long stretches of spectacular coastline, majestic mountains in the north, bustling cities with vibrant street markets. Appreciate the comfort and convenience of flights between major centres, leaving you more time to experience this incredible destination. Insider Journeys expert guides and tour leaders will help you uncover unique local insider experiences that will leave you with stories worth telling for a lifetime.
Insider Journeys of Vietnam - Small Group
"Vietnam is a nation of captivating diversity. From the fertile plains of the Mekong Delta affectionately called ‘the rice bowl of Vietnam’, long stretches of spectacular coastline, majestic mountains in the north, bustling cities with vibrant street markets, and faded elegance from the French colonial era. You will encounter a nation of resilient people rich in culture, tradition and history, with a refreshing warmth and friendliness so common in South East Asia; an optimistic country whose people have buried the recent war-torn past with a determined focus on a brighter future.
The following information is designed to help you maximise your travel experience in Vietnam and includes a day-by-day itinerary outlining the activities and accommodation included on your journey. We encourage you to read the information in this document in conjunction with our pre-departure information guide, which contains plenty of destination information as well useful tips to help you prepare for your upcoming trip to Vietnam.
We constantly strive to improve the quality of our small group journeys so there is a possibility that some elements of the itinerary may change between now and your departure. If there are any significant changes to the itinerary, we will advise you well in advance of departure."
DAY 1 FRIDAY AUSTRALIA – SAIGON
On arrival into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore this vibrant city.
DAY 2 SATURDAY SAIGON
Day at leisure. Tonight meet your fellow travellers over welcome drinks while your Tour Leader explains some important details and logistics of the journey ahead. Please open your welcome pack as it contains details of tonight’s activities. After the tour briefing, join your Tour Leader and savour some tasty Vietnamese dishes at a local restaurant.
DAY 3 SUNDAY CU CHI TUNNELS AND CITY TOUR
Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as many locals still call it is a city of extraordinary energy; it is Vietnam’s largest city and the country’s commercial capital. Nowhere is Vietnam’s rush to modernise more visible than in Saigon, yet despite this, the city is a friendly and welcoming place whilst still containing many reminders of its recent turbulent past.
This morning drive out to the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels. Established as a means of waging guerrilla war the tunnel network stretched over 250 kilometres (155 miles) and extended to three levels below ground and provides an insight into the method and determination of Communist forces during the war years. On returning to Saigon, enjoy the ubiquitous Pho at a traditional Vietnamese Pho noodle soup restaurant. After lunch, visit a few of central Saigon’s main landmarks and attractions including the moving War Remnants Museum, the impressive architecture of French-built Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral, Post Office, and Municipal Theatre. Stroll down Dong Khoi Street, walk past Ho Chi Minh Square and the famous Rex Hotel. As the sun sets, enjoy a cocktail, or drink at Saigon Saigon bar located on the rooftop of one of Saigon’s historic landmarks. The rest of the evening is free for you to explore. Breakfast, lunch included.
DAY 4 MONDAY MEKONG DELTA
This morning you will travel south from Saigon, to the Mekong Delta. Known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the Delta is the most fertile region in the country and the area is the main producer of rice and tropical fruits. On arrival board your boat to begin your exploration of the area and cruise along tributaries of the mighty Mekong River. Explore some of the regions narrow canals, and gain a real insight into the lives of the local people. Visit a brick factory where old-fashioned kiln techniques are used, stop at a riverside coconut processing factory and visit a local home where the family weave mats using local materials. Enjoy a delicious lunch featuring some local specialties, including Elephant Ear Fish. Return to Saigon stopping en route at an unusual & colourful Cao Dai pagoda, a uniquely Vietnamese sect that combines a mix of all the world’s great religions. Arrive back to your hotel late afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.
DAY 5 TUESDAY SAIGON TO HUE
Today, transfer to the airport for your flight to Hue. Located on the banks of the perfume River, Hue was Vietnam’s capital throughout the Nguyen Dynasty and is a centre of Vietnamese Buddhism and scholarship. Hue was the setting for some of the Vietnam War’s most bloody fighting, and provides a unique window into Vietnam and its complex past. Begin your exploration of this city by visiting the elaborate tomb of the former emperor Tu Duc. Explore the grounds of this large complex, and learn something of the history of this colourful period. Next visit the imposing Citadel and Imperial Palace, the impressive home of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty who lived here, with their families, between 1802 and 1945. Much of the Citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968 but is gradually being restored. From here visit the much revered and tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s oldest and most beautiful religious monument situated near the banks of the Perfume River. Meet the inspiring young adults with disabilities at the Spiral Foundation in Hue and spend time with them as they help you create a souvenir from recycled materials. Since 1999, the Foundation has financed humanitarian aid projects with the proceeds generated by income producing handicraft workshops. Breakfast included.
DAY 6 WEDNESDAY HUE TO HOI AN
This morning, drive south to the beautiful town of Hoi An via the spectacular Hai Van Pass. This drive is considered one of the most beautiful in Vietnam and takes you through a combination of both rural and coastal settings. The World Heritage listed old part of Hoi An town was Vietnam’s most active trading centre over many centuries and has been largely preserved. The architecture of the city reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Hoi An is also the town where French Missionary Alexandre De Rhodes introduced Catholicism to Vietnam as well as the Romanised script that has become the standard Vietnamese script. Arrive in Hoi An in time for lunch before exploring the historic centre on a walking tour in the afternoon. Visit an old merchant house, a Chinese assembly hall and the famous Japanese Covered Bridge. Breakfast included.
DAY 7 THURSDAY HOI AN
Hoi An is famous for its clothing tailors and distinct local cuisine. You have an entire day free to explore the town’s many clothing shops, colourful fish market and river life. Alternatively spend the day enjoying the nearby beach or simply relax by the pool at your resort. Breakfast included.
DAY 8 FRIDAY HOI AN TO HALONG BAY
This morning rise early for your transfer to the airport for the flight north to Haiphong or Hanoi (arrival airport is subject to flight schedules). Upon arrival, your journey will take you north-east to Halong City, the gateway to Halong Bay. En route watch as the first karst mountains appear in the distance as Halong Bay draws nearer. Halong Bay achieved international fame as a key location in the French film ‘Indochine’ starring Catherine Deneuve. The bay has assumed an important position in Vietnamese legend and continues to capture the imagination of visitors. On arrival board your deluxe Indochina sails junk boat and take in some of the beautiful islets as you feast on fresh local seafood. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
DAY 9 SATURDAY HALONG BAY TO HANOI
Today, rise early to make the most of Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After a light breakfast, continue your exploration and discover what makes this area so unique. On the cruise back to Halong City, enjoy a tasty brunch. This afternoon travel to Hanoi. Take a walking tour of the Hanoi backstreets to visit some local markets and specialty food stores. You will have the opportunity to try some local dishes and in the process learn more about daily life and culinary customs and habits of the Vietnamese people. Sample “Che” a local dessert served with crushed ice, and made with sugar cane, green bean, black bean, glutinous rice, and lotus seed. Perhaps try Banh Tom or “shrimp cake”, a local Hanoi specialty. We make a fun stop at a local ‘Bia Hoi’ bar. These local establishments offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with the friendly and sometimes boisterous patrons! Afterward, sample a Hanoi specialty called “Banh Cuon”, Vietnamese-style cannelloni, made with steamed rice pancake filled with mince pork and served with fresh baby herbs and fish sauce. Brunch included.
DAY 10 SUNDAY HANOI
Today’s exploration begins with a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter - 36 ancient streets where you can observe the daily bustle of life around the markets where peddlers continue to trade as they have done for centuries. Continuing, we visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison Museum, aka ‘Hanoi Hilton’ - Hanoi’s former central prison made famous first for the incarceration of the leaders of Vietnam’s National Liberation movement and later US Air force pilots shot down over North Vietnam. Drive nearby to Hanoi’s first university - the Temple of Literature - dating back to 1070. This historical centre of learning is now dedicated to Confucian worship. Later visit the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, starting at Ba Dinh Square, site of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and where Ho Chi Minh first declared the goal of attaining independence from French rule in 1945. Ho Chi Minh is arguably one of the great figures of 20th century history and the ‘father of modern Vietnam’. You’ll visit the humble House on Stilts where ‘Uncle Ho’, as he is affectionately known, led North Vietnam until his death in 1969. You’ll also visit the nearby Presidential Palace, and One Pillar Pagoda. Spend your last night enjoying a group dinner at one of our favourite local restaurants, a chance to farewell new friends. Breakfast and dinner included.
DAY 11 MONDAY DEPART HANOI
It’s time to say goodbye, but just think of all the wonderful stories you will take home. A transfer will take you to the airport for your onward travels. Breakfast included.
9 nights hotel accommodation (including 1 night pre-tour), 1 overnight cruise, breakfast daily, 1 brunch, 3 lunches, 2 dinners, 2 domestic flights within Asia, 2 cruises, transport in air-conditioned vehicles, small group touring, entrance fees, tipping, tour leader, arrival and departure transfers.
Meals other than those specified, visa fees, insurance and personal expenses such as laundry, mini-bar, telephone & drinks.
To enter Vietnam you will require a passport (with at least six months remaining validity) and a tourist visa. This visa must be obtained prior to arrival, unless you have gone through the official channels to obtain visa on arrival service (Insider Journeys can assist with this upon request). Some nationalities, including British passport holders, are able to enter Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa; however proof of onward flight travel out of Vietnam is required. There is no entry or exit paper work which now needs to be filled out for travel in Vietnam. It is your responsibility to ensure all visa and entry requirements are met prior to your arrival in Vietnam.
- If you experience any problems on tour, please contact the emergency numbers in the ‘Emergency Contact Numbers’ section of this document.
- Please remember it is essential to reconfirm your flights. This is your responsibility and failure to do this may result in the cancellation of your reservations.
- Halong Bay is not one of the world’s natural wonders because of the weather, rather the thousands of fascinating limestone formations. Cloudy overcast days are common place in Halong Bay and outnumber clear sunny days. March to November give the best chances of clear days. December to March is cooler with higher chances of mist and rain. If storms or high winds are forecast it is not uncommon for the local authorities to close the bay for safety reason with little notice in which case Insider Journeys will assist in facilitating alternative arrangements.
POINTS TO NOTE
Local medical facilities across developing Asia are often unable to provide the full range of medical services that are available in developed countries, making evacuation a requirement in many non-life threatening medical emergencies. The costs of evacuation as well as international standard care are extremely high. In the most serious emergencies, travellers may not be positioned to authorise payment for an appropriate medical response that is urgently required. This may delay or prevent the provision of critical and possibly life-saving medical attention.
It is a condition of travel on our Small Group Journeys that all travellers are adequately covered by travel insurance prior to arrival. Insurance should cover personal accident and medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, baggage loss, and cancellation or curtailment of holiday. Insurance details must be supplied to us at the time of booking, and where they are not provided we reserve the right to cancel bookings and apply charges as per our cancellation policy (in the ‘booking conditions’ section of our brochure and on our website). Travellers will be asked to present their insurance details upon arrival in Asia as part of a registration process, and in the event that possession of insurance is unable to be confirmed, in the interests of the traveller and fellow travellers, Insider Journeys reserves the right to prevent participation in the journey. In such instances, we will assist with onward travel arrangements, however full cancellation penalties will apply.
Note that travel insurance ‘attached’ to credit cards is often limited in scope (e.g. not covering serious medical, repatriation or evacuation expenses) and in any case is usually effective only if travel arrangements have been purchased with the card. Please note also that government regulations in Asia do not always require or enforce the possession of liability insurance by hotels, transport and other suppliers. Even when insurance is in place, it can be for very limited coverage only. Insider Journeys does its best to work with suppliers who possess liability insurance, however it is not always possible to find and contract with such suppliers.
Travellers who book private touring arrangements with Insider Journeys will also be asked to provide insurance details at the commencement of touring, as part of a tour registration process.
Standard-sized bags (preferably soft bags), backpacks or soft cases only are permitted on our journeys. Your baggage should be clearly labelled and kept to a reasonable minimum. Luggage limits on airlines are strictly enforced and space on vehicles and trains is limited. Some flights (domestic and international) have a luggage limit of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) per person. You may be required to carry your own luggage at times where porters are not available – you should be capable of carrying your own bags on and off trains, and up and down stairs. If you are doing lots of shopping during your travels, it may be necessary for you to forward any excess to the city where your journey concludes, or ship purchases directly home. Keeping the amount of luggage you carry in check will ensure your safety and comfort, and the safety and comfort of your fellow travellers. Hotel porterage is included in your tour price.
Health and fitness
Insider Journeys specifies health and fitness criteria for all of our Small Group Journeys. These criteria have been established to ensure that you are well aware of the physical requirements your chosen journey will entail. All our journeys assume normal levels of fitness and mobility and involve considerable amounts of walking, climbing of stairs, negotiation of uneven surfaces and boarding of boats from basic wharf structures. This journey is graded ‘easy’, which means that it is suitable for travellers with an average level of fitness and independent mobility. There are a few road journeys of up to three hours in duration and walking tours through city backstreets. While accommodation is generally of three-star standard, this is not ‘sanitised’ travel; by day you may walk through markets, crowds, and villages, meet local people, and sample local food. English is not widely spoken and a degree of patience and appreciation is required for travel through developing cities and stays in Vietnamese operated hotels.
If your tour leader has concerns about your capacity to undertake any part of your journey for health and fitness reasons, he or she is obliged to deter you from doing so. If, in an extreme circumstance, an Insider Journeys tour leader takes the view that a traveller does not meet our pre-agreed minimum health and fitness criteria and is, as such, incapable of completing agreed touring, Insider Journeys reserves the right to terminate arrangements and to put suitable alternate arrangements in place for the traveller involved.
Getting along – pack your sense of humour!
Small group travel is a communal activity. The success of any journey will be as much a function of the efforts and attitudes of you and your fellow travellers as the things we do. Be positive with your fellow travellers and be positive with those you meet along the way. We are all visitors in the countries in which we travel and as visitors, we should be ready to exercise extra understanding, patience and respect for local conditions and customs. One of the highlights of your travels will be the broad range of views, experiences, personalities and diverse backgrounds of your fellow travellers and your local hosts. The experiences you will have with these people are the very essence of travel and are at the heart of the experience we seek to provide. Please express your views on political, religious or other contentious issues with restraint. Friendly discussions make for great travelling; heated confrontation is destructive. In your dealings with local people, there is no possibility that a hot temper will achieve any worthwhile outcome. Moreover, Insider Journeys aspires to a form of travel that embraces different cultures and ideas. It is important to ensure you start each day with a good supply of tolerance, patience, goodwill, flexibility and a sense of humour. These may well be the most important things you can carry in your baggage! Behaviour offensive to local customs, your fellow travellers, or representatives of Insider Journeys may forfeit your eligibility to continue travelling with us.
Insider Journeys will do everything possible to operate your journey in accordance with your itinerary and our brochure. Inevitably, situations arise from time to time that make changes necessary. Sometimes these will be small changes – flight delays etc. Sometimes they will be more significant and will require reorganisation of elements of your journey. We will use every effort to ensure changes do not result in omissions from your tour. On rare occasions however, omissions will also be necessary. Insider Journeys will advise of any possible changes as soon as we become aware of these.
Our responsible travel policy
Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travellers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognise that we largely work in a developing part of the world. Political and social factors sometimes impede the short term implementation of our responsible travel initiatives, so we do not make blanket, unrealistic statements about the achievability of our goals – doing so would make us ‘irresponsible’. We aspire to short or medium term implementation of our policies where this is realistic and to incremental change where there are constraints of a governmental or cultural nature.
Price of $2998 includes return economy airfares with Vietnam Airlines ex.Sydney/ Melbourne