Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 10:33

Trails of Vietnam

Trails of Vietnam Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Vietnam
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 16 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 14 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: AOF
  • Carbon Footprint: 35kg CO2e

Trip Overview

On foot, in the saddle, with paddle – actively discover the best of Vietnam

Whether it’s kayaking beneath sea cliffs, cycling past paddy fields in the Mekong Delta or trekking through hill villages, this dynamic trip allows us to interact with the people and environment of Vietnam in a way we couldn’t by vehicle alone. We get a great insight into everyday life as well as seeing all the major sights. Of course, all this activity needs fuelling, which gives us the perfect excuse for sampling the superb cuisine.

At a Glance

  • Eight nights in hotels
  • One night on a boat with twin-share cabins
  • One night in a standard homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta
  • Two nights in basic house/longhouse with dormitory/shared bathroom
  • One night on a sleeper train with soft-bed berths
  • Travel by bus, boat, sleeper train and internal flight
  • Reasonable fitness required
  • Remote and city locations visited
  • Group normally 5 to 16, plus local leader
  • Angkor Wat Extension (Trip code: XOF) from Ho Chi Minh City available to book post tour

Highlights

  • Cruise and kayak along the emerald waters and limestone peaks of Ha Long Bay
  • Discover traditional Vietnamese culture by trekking through hill villages
  • Walk and cycle on a tour through the historic towns of Hue, Hoi An and Hanoi
  • Uncover Vietnamese history by crawling through the Cu Chi war tunnels
  • Sample local produce and float through the Mekong Delta by boat

Is This Trip for You?

This trip has been rated Activity Level 3 (Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

This is an action-packed trip with activities including cycling, kayaking and trekking, so a good level of fitness is required. The weather can be hot and humid, particularly in the south when cycling, yet cold in the winter in the north around Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. Some days can be fairly long with early starts.  Travel time is kept to a minimum, although there are a few longer drives with time for sightseeing. Please note, some accommodation will be basic but clean.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 5

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Trails of Vietnam

Land Only

  • Start City: Hanoi
  • End City: Ho Chi Minh City

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Hanoi

Begin your adventure in Hanoi, a city where an unstoppable energy meets traditional Vietnamese culture and colonial influences permeate the broad tree-lined boulevards, most noticeably in faded French architecture.

Whether you’re buying baguettes and inexpensive coffee from the grand doorways of a past era, drifting alongside Hoan Kiem Lake or roaming the animated streets, Hanoi offers a delicious first taste of Vietnamese culture. Even crossing one of many manic roads is a memorable experience.

This evening, there will be a welcome briefing with your leader followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Lenid Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
To Da Bac; trek through Dzao Tien country; overnight in hill community longhouse

This morning, we transfer (approximately four hours) to Hoa Binh Province. Travelling up and over the Truong Son mountain range affords lush views, a perfect precursor of the scenery for the following days. We journey to the peaceful Sung Village, home to approximately 70 families from the Dzao Tien community.

Upon arrival, we enjoy lunch cooked by a local family before an afternoon trek (1.5mi), on which we learn about traditional agriculture and visit a limestone cave and an ancient tea plantation. We spend the night with a family with the chance to learn more about rural life in this beautiful part of the country.

Please be advised, groups will be required to leave their main luggage back in Hanoi at the hotel whilst visiting Da Bac and take an overnight bag instead. Groups will be reunited with their main luggage on day four after arriving back to Hanoi.

Accommodation: Sung Village homestay

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3
Trek among hill villages

Beeping, bustling Hanoi will be a faint memory, and the day is spent exploring this rural paradise. After an early breakfast, we start our trek. Walking for approximately five hours, we pass through a picturesque valley of quilt-like rice terraces, palms and small villages. We’re also rewarded with fantastic views of the Da Reservoir. We arrive in the village of Da Bia for a lunch served by a Muong family, who we stay with. There will be free time near the end of the day to swim in the reservoir or you can hire a kayak (optional extra) and explore a little further.

Accommodation: Da Bia village homestay

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Boat to Thung Nai; Hanoi city tour

A short walk this morning takes us to the reservoir where we board a private boat for our journey (approximately 60 minutes) to Thung Nai harbour. We stop for lunch and, time permitting, have the option of visiting the Muong ethnic minority museum to learn more about one the main ethnic groups here.

On return, a city tour in Hanoi introduces the many layers of Vietnamese culture and history. Sites include Hoa Lo, the Temple of Literature, and the Old Quarter, the centuries-old soul of Hanoi. Stepping into this commercial labyrinth is not as confusing as it first may seem, but only once you realise the 36 streets indicate the products sold. So why not turn down Silk Street, Souvenir Street or even Gold Street? The remainder of the afternoon/early evening is free, perhaps to enjoy the view from a lakeside cafe. If you wish to join an optional activity, your tour leader can arrange a viewing of the water puppets, which originates from the 11th century, where folktale and legends are playfully recounted and soundtracked by wooden bells, bamboo flutes and cymbals.

Accommodation: Lenid Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
To Ha Long Bay; cruise/kayak; dinner and overnight on boat

After an early start, we transfer (approximately four hours) to Ha Long Bay where our private boat awaits, ready to cruise along Ha Long Bay. The name means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ –legend has it, the islands were formed when a dragon plunged into the waters. Carving crevasses on its way, it left roughly 3,000 limestone peaks rising from emerald waters. Soak up the enigmatic atmosphere this karst scenery creates, before kayaking to places inaccessible on the larger boat (weather permitting). A seafood lunch is served on board, and the evening is yours to unwind upon tranquil waters. The night is spent in twin-share cabins.

Accommodation: Overnight boat

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Cruise then return to Hanoi; overnight train to Hue

As the boat cruises past the majestic peaks, there will be new opportunities to immerse ourselves in the mystical quality of Ha Long Bay. After returning to port, we transfer to Hanoi train station and board the Reunification Express for the overnight train to Hue (approximately 13 hours). The journey is a great way to travel like the local people and really experience Vietnam.

Accommodation: Overnight train

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Sightseeing by private bus in Hue

In the morning, we arrive in Hue, the cultural and historical centre of Vietnam. Brimming with charisma, the city has impacted several poets in its time and serves as a reminder of Vietnam’s imperial glories. Today we take a bus transfer to the Imperial Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda to peep into the life of Nguyen emperors. With 6mi (9.5km) long walls, the Imperial Citadel is the most outstanding sight in town. We explore the palaces, halls of the Mandarins, and remains of the Forbidden Purple City, once only open to the emperor, his eunuchs and concubines.

The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax and enjoy at leisure.

Accommodation: Park View Hotel (or similar)

Day 8
Visit Tu Duc Mausoleum; drive to Hoi An

After breakfast, we transfer by bus to Emperor Tu Duc’s Mausoleum. Amid a lake and boundless pine forest, this tomb is deemed the most extravagant mausoleum of the great Nguyen emperors and one of the most beautiful pieces of royal architecture in Vietnam.

Next, an 80mi (130km) drive to Da Nang passes through the Lang Co peninsula, between crystal lagoon waters and the Eastern Sea, as well as the Hai Van pass, known as the Pass of the Ocean Clouds. In Da Nang, climb the Marble Mountains and explore the large caves used by the Viet Cong as a hospital base during the war. At the peak, enjoy stretching views over My Khe beach and the countryside. We spend the next two nights in Hoi An, an ancient trading port town often described as a living museum.

Accommodation: Hoi An Sincerity Hotel & Spa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
Walking tour of Hoi An; free afternoon

Embrace the sleepy ambience of Hoi An on a orientation walking tour. Wooden merchant houses and pagoda-style temples line the streets, architecturally reflecting the Japanese, Chinese and European influences on the town.

The afternoon is free to enjoy what many call their favourite town in Vietnam. Take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, meander around the thriving riverside markets, or explore the silk shops. Alternatively, hire a bike and cut through countryside towards Cua Dai beach, past markets, schools and villages (3mi/5km).

Accommodation: Hoi An Sincerity Hotel & Spa (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City; afternoon visit Cu Chi tunnels

Transfer to Da Nang airport and fly to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 70 minutes), a city of chaotic thrills. Please note, HCMC is in the south, and therefore likely to be much warmer and humid than the north.

Upon arrival, a 60-minute drive takes us to the Ben Dinh section of the Cu Chi tunnels. Crawl through the infamous and intricate system and experience the spirit of guerrilla warfare. Used by the Viet Cong during the war as escape routes and living quarters, the network covers three levels and approximately 150mi (240km) of tunnels. Although they were traditionally very narrow, they have now been widened to allow an extensive exploration of the system. Even so, people with claustrophobia may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine.

Accommodation: Huong Sen Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11
Cycle ride to Cai Be; visit handicraft workshops; drive to Can Tho

Arrive in the small market town of My Tho after a three hour drive. After hopping onto our bikes, we follow the Mekong River through quiet backroads towards Cai Be (approximately 16mi/25km). Known as the Rice Bowl of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta produces most of the country’s tropical fruits, some of which you can sample, plus sugar cane and coconuts. Transfer back to Can Tho (approximately two hours) to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this quiet riverside town or explore the maze of backstreets and wide boulevards.

Accommodation: Ninh Kieu Riverside Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Boat trip to floating markets; cycle ride; boat trip to island homestay guesthouse

We have an early start for a boat trip along the Bassac River towards Cai Rang, the largest and liveliest floating market in the Delta. Float through a maze of boats filled with fruits, vegetables and plants, and watch the techniques the sellers use to make a living. One includes attaching their produce to long poles and hanging them above the boat, enabling them to showcase their items from all angles and distances. Since you’ll be witnessing authentic trade in full swing, there will be countless opportunities to capture traditional scenes on camera.

Afterwards, we cycle to Vinh Long through rural villages and scenic landscapes (approximately 20mi/32km). Reaching the end of the day, we transfer by motorboat to an island in the middle of the Mekong River to overnight at a simple homestay guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.

Accommodation: Homestay guesthouse

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 13
Cruise to Cai Be; to Ho Chi Minh City for afternoon city tour

Cruise by boat along the Cai Be floating market and visit cottage industries manufacturing local products such as popped rice, sweets, pancakes and wine. Recently, the market is becoming less crowded and smaller as fruit trading is mostly now done by trucks. However, this is still a great opportunity to see a local market and traditional trade on a smaller scale.

We return to Ho Chi Minh City, which was devastated by the Vietnam War but is now a bustling free-market city. A combination of old and new diversifies the city with temples standing among zooming scooters and modern developments. The Reunification Palace is one stop on our tour, known for its 1960s architecture and slightly garish appeal as much as its association with the fall of Saigon (now HCMC) in 1975. Another stop is the War Remnants Museum, housing a collection outlining the horrors of modern history and warfare and impact on innocent civilians. Be aware, these records are often very graphic and distressing.

Heading to the romantic Catholic Notre Dame Cathedral throws yet another light on the city.

Accommodation: Huong Sen Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
End Ho Chi Minh City

Our Vietnam tour ends this morning after breakfast. However, if you’re not ready for the adventure to end, speak to your sales representative about joining our four-day post-trip excursion to Angkor, the standout archaeological site in Southeast Asia.

Meals included: Breakfast

Post-trip Extensions

Angkor Wat Extension (from Ho Chi Minh City)

Rediscovered enmeshed in the Cambodian jungle in 1860, Angkor, the ancient capital of the powerful Khmer empire, is one of the finest archaeological sites in the world. Built between the ninth and 13th centuries, the wonderfully preserved sprawling complex of temples and palaces is on a par with any world monument, with magnificent towers, sculptures and bas‐reliefs. During this four-night extension, you will also see all the key sites of Phnom Penh, a fascinating city undergoing a huge amount of change. You travel between the sites in a private car or minibus, depending on how many people take part in the extension, accompanied by an English‐speaking local guide. In the evenings, you are free to enjoy the town. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 1,379


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 490

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat, Guesthouse, Longhouse & Sleeper Train

Trails of Vietnam

Spend seven nights in comfortable hotels, one night in a standard hotel, one night aboard a boat with twin-share cabins, one night in a homestay guesthouse, two nights in a local longhouse and one night on a sleeper train.

The accommodation is generally of good quality, but you should also be prepared for a couple of basic nights. Two nights are spent in traditional longhouses. We trek through native Dzao and Muong country to our overnight destinations of Sung Village and Da Bia Village where we dine on local food and sleep in wooden longhouses; with mattresses placed out across the floor with individual mosquito nets. This is communal living in the most authentic way. Hosted by hospitable local families, we gain a real insight into rural Vietnam.

En suite facilities are not available at the homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta, the two nights at the traditional longhouses or on the sleeper train.

On the sleeper train, you stay in soft-bed berths (usually four passengers to a berth). Vietnamese trains are safe but we recommend you always keep valuables with you. Snacks are often offered on board (additional cost). While most trains have Western-style facilities, some services are also equipped with squat toilets.

Please note, the accommodations listed on the itinerary are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Single supplements are available (on request) and only available for eight nights of the trip (hotel nights). Please advise your sales representative upon booking if you would like to request a single supplement.

Single supplement from £ 210

Food & Drink

There are 12 breakfasts, three lunches and four dinners included.

Thanks to the tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountains, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains a reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch.

Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country, where you are just as likely to be offered a banh mi (stuffed baguette) as you are pho (noodle soup).

Be sure to also seek out the national beverages. Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the north out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.

Food is cheap in Vietnam, and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere, except in the Mekong Delta.

Vegetarian food is widely available; however, the offering will be fairly similar in most places. Please advise at time of booking if you have any dietary requirements.

Transport

Throughout the tour, we use a private coach/minibus, usually with air conditioning. Road conditions are generally good and improving all the time in Vietnam. However, progress can be slow in the main cities due to traffic.

The trains are normally on time, but you may experience delays and departure times can change without notice. Boats are used at various points in the itinerary; these are nearly always private and vary from converted trawlers to small riverboats.

Tet Holiday Period (Vietnamese New Year)

During the Tet holiday period,  9-15 February 2024 and 28 January to 3 February 2025, and two weeks either side of Tet, our itinerary is subject to minor change as despite booking hotels and trains in advance, rooms and seats are difficult to obtain during this busy festive period when people are travelling home to celebrate with their families. It is unlikely that changes will occur and if they do it is likely we will just need to use alternative accommodation.

Weather & Seasonality

The weather will be hot and humid throughout with daytime temperatures usually 28C-34C (82F-93F). It is only a little cooler at night.

There is quite a range of seasons between the north and south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December and April, then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and even gets chilly between November and February (with a drizzly rain).

There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant any time of year. However, it is unlikely the weather will be perfect for the entire duration of the trip due to the shape of the country.

Please note, the Ha Long Bay boat trip can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop. These could occur year-round, but especially in monsoon season (October-April). Ha Long Bay boat trips are governed by local authorities who are authorised to make such appropriate safety decisions. If your Ha Long Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Ha Long Bay for your group or, less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible to go out on Ha Long Bay. While this is not a frequent occurrence, our local team and leaders are well equipped to handle such situations and have long offered appropriate options to groups in the instances where this may occur.

If you go to Cambodia for the Angkor Wat extension, the weather is hot and humid year-round. The dry season is late October to May and the monsoon is normally between May and October; though there is an obvious transitional time between those settled periods.

The dry season has hot days and generally clear skies, though you can expect the odd shower. The monsoon is characterised by short, sharp bursts of rain and is generally overcast all day though this does not detract from the enjoyment of the place; you just need to take an umbrella or buy a cheap local poncho.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Hanoi Airport (HAN)

Getting to the start hotel

Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers. If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Ho Chi Minh City Airport (SGN) from the end hotel.
Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Hanoi
Location end: Ho Chi Minh City

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothes. Light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the trip, though it will be cold in Hanoi between November and early March. Bring a warm jacket, woolly hat and trousers (pants) if you are travelling at that time
  • Bike helmet: These are available locally; however, we can’t guarantee the quality and fit so please pack your own if you’d rather be confident in the standard and comfort of the helmets
  • A first-aid kit is carried on each trip, but you should bring your own with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters and a blister-treatment kit
  • Insect repellent: Repellent containing DEET is thought to be highly effective
  • Overnight bag: In Ha Long Bay and the Mekong Delta, you need to leave your main bag at the previous hotel for the night.
  • Warm clothes/layers for the overnight train, especially in the cooler months
  • Large refillable water bottle
  • Torch for the Mekong Delta and Marble Mountains cave/grottos
  • Earplugs
  • For the trek:
    • Lightweight walking boots or comfortable strong trainers with proper ankle support
    • Insect repellent
    • Torch
    • Rucksack big enough (20-40 litres) to carry a spare set of clothes and necessities. You will be carrying your own gear as we leave our main luggage at the hotel in Hanoi (day two) and collect it once we return to Hanoi (day four).
    • Towel

There will be plenty of opportunities to get laundry done locally at a very affordable price so it’s fine to pack light.

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 44lb (20kg). As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Please remember you are expected to carry your own luggage at times, so don’t overload yourself.

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

  • Thin mattresses and blankets are provided on the trek, but you may wish to bring a sleeping mat and sleeping bag liner (for more comfort) and a lightweight sleeping bag for winter (November to early March)
  • Padded cycling shorts (with loose over-shorts), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum bag (fanny pack) or small close-fitting daysack.
  • Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, and eye protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (eg CamelBak) are also useful

Practical Information

Passport

To enter Vietnam, your passport must have:

  • An expiry date at least six months after the day you arrive
  • A minimum of two blank pages
  • No water damage

Visa

Vietnam

UK passport holders normally do not need a visa to enter Vietnam for visits up to 45 days, while those with a US or Irish passport normally do need a visa to enter. Visa requirements for EU citizens vary by country.

Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through. Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

• Australia: www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/vietnam
• Canada: www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/vietnam
• United Kingdom: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/vietnam
• USA:  www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Vietnam.html

Vaccinations and Health

Vietnam

There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to speak to your doctor or travel clinic about vaccinations for hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies and tuberculosis. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may want to consult your doctor or travel clinic for further advice.

Similarly, dengue and zika, both viral diseases spread by mosquitoes, are known risks in Vietnam. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, so we strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Local Time

Vietnam's time zone: Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh (UTC +07:00)

Electricity

Vietnam's electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins, US standard), C (two round pins, European standard) and F (two round pins) – 220V, 50Hz

Trails of Vietnam

Money

Vietnam's currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

ATM Availability

ATMs are widespread in Vietnam and are the easiest way of obtaining money. It is possible to draw a maximum of 2m Vietnamese dong (US$85) in major cities in one go. Credit card acceptance is now widespread in Vietnamese cities in restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

If you would like to bring cash, there will be ample opportunity to change this. British pounds and US dollars are both easily exchanged. As you will probably be carrying much of your money in cash, we strongly recommend using a money belt.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need about 7m-8.5m Vietnamese dong (US$300‐US$360) for all other meals, which will allow you to eat well. Apart from the food, you should allow money to cover drinks (more if you like a beer/alcohol) and souvenirs.

Optional excursions

There are several optional activities, which your leader can arrange for you and advise of costs locally. The following acts as a price guide for some of the optional activities.

Hanoi

  • Water puppets: 140,700 dong (US$6)

Hoi An

  • Tu Bon River boat trip: 170,000 (US$7) depending upon numbers

Tipping

Tipping is at your discretion but is customary in Vietnam. To remove the hassle, the leader will suggest you contribute approximately US$59 per person to a tipping kitty. This is used by the leader to tip drivers, staff at hotels and boats etc but it is not used at restaurants. If you do not wish to contribute, you are, of course, free to decline.

In addition (entirely at your discretion), a tip for the leader at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated if you are happy with the service you have received. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of US$3-US$6 per day for your leader.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit, and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food and support of other local enterprise.
  • We stay for two nights in traditional hill community longhouses in Da Bac village, hosted by local families. This provides support and helps to improve the livelihood of the Dzao Tien ethnic minority families.
  • Guests can stay overnight and eat a delicious home-cooked meal in a homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta.
  • In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called Reaching Out, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence.
  • We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this benefits local businesspeople and is fascinating and enjoyable for travellers. For example, in the Mekong Delta, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories, which sell handmade coconut sweets, rice paper, soya bean sauce and popped rice among other things.
  • There is also the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show in Ho Chi Minh City. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment. On this trip, part of the itinerary is spent in the Da Bac region staying with hill communities. In the Mekong Delta, we stay one night in a guesthouse homestay.
  • Our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regard to working animals and wildlife viewing. Our animal welfare policy can be found here.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • We provide clients with a reusable tote bag at the start of the tour (made in Hanoi), offering an alternative to single-use plastic bags and a souvenir to take home.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Read about Exodus Travels’ Planet Promise here, including our rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • We choose to travel on the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue as opposed to taking an internal flight.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at the majority of accommodations and restaurants.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
  • Cultural respect:
    • You will be expected to cover your legs and arms (to the elbow) during visits to temples and sacred sites so packing a sarong or other suitable clothing is recommended. Also remember to remove hats when visiting a sacred site.
    • Do not rest your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice as this symbolises the burning of incense (which is usually reserved for times of mourning).
    • One should not show the soles of their feet or touch someone’s head, both are considered disrespectful.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.