Current as of: April 25, 2024 - 05:18

Halong Bay

Pho, Fun & Sun in Vietnam Trip Notes

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

    2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate

  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: EOV
  • Carbon Footprint: 82kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Embark on an enriching ten-day journey through Vietnam.

Your mind will expand as you learn about Vietnam’s history and crafts. Your body will be invigorated by feasting on nourishing food, kayaking through a karst landscape and cycling through rural Vietnam. Your soul will be soothed by tai chi and yoga. You’ll see the best of Vietnam’s cities and countryside and return home realigned, with a head bursting with unforgettable memories of this multifaceted land.

At a Glance

  • Eight nights in comfortable resorts and boutique hotels
  • One night afloat in twin-share cabins

Highlights

  • A blend of urban and rural explorations, both on and off the beaten tourist paths of Vietnam
  • Hands-on experiences, learning crafts and getting under the skin of local life
  • Time as a group, and time to explore independently

Is This Trip for You?

  • A busy but physically easy-going itinerary that visits some of the main highlights of Vietnam
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus and two internal flights
  • Single room accommodation available on request (not available for 1 night on overnight boat in Ha Long Bay)

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 5

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Pho, Fun & Sun in Vietnam

Land Only

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

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Good Morning Vietnam

The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, is ready to welcome you when you arrive. Get acclimatised and familiarise yourself with the city by wandering the tree-lined avenues.

There’s a group welcome meeting then you’ll dine at KOTO (Know One, Teach One), a well-established training restaurant for disadvantaged youths. You’ll be served a blend of Vietnamese, South-East Asian and Western foods.

The Q Hotel or similar

Meals included: Dinner

Day 2
Start the day right with yoga and tai chi

You’ll set an early alarm today, but (blissfully) there’s no commuter slog ahead. Instead, you’re off to Hoan Kiem Lake for a Tai Chi and Laughing Yoga session. Mind and body aligned, you’ll feast on pho, a Vietnamese soup, for breakfast before setting off on a walk around Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you’ll sample egg coffee.

You’ll try bun cha for lunch, a local speciality dish of noodles, broth and meat served alongside some greens.

Later, there’s wine tasting in store, led by local expert Thang. You’ll hear his far-flung traveller tales where he discovered global alcohol-making processes. Then learn how he has introduced teas to enrich the taste of his wines.

The Q Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3
Discover the majesty of Ha Long Bay

After breakfast, you’ll make the four-hour journey by road to Ha Long Bay. A spellbinding sight, this is where thousands of limestone pillars rise from an emerald-hued sea. You’ll set sail through the karst scenery with lunch served on board and later enjoy sunset cocktails and dinner. You’ll sleep onboard tonight, sharing twin-share cabins with en-suite facilities.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Ha Long Bay can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip.

Syrena Cruise or similar

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Hello Hue

Rise with the sun for tai chi onboard before breakfast. Afterwards, you’ll kayak past ethereal grottoes before jumping back on board to cruise back to the mainland and head to the airport for a short flight to Hue (pronounced ‘hway’) on the banks of the Perfume River. As the ancient home of the Nguyen emperors, Hue claims to be the true cultural and historic centre of Vietnam.

Thanh Lich Royal Boutique Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Explore ancient Hue. Visit the Peaceful Bamboo Family

There’s a historic immersion lined up today. First, you’ll visit the Imperial City of Hue, a complex of the emperor’s residence, palaces, shrines and state buildings. Although it’s a fraction of what was once here (it was badly bombed in the wars that afflicted Vietnam), it’s a fascinating glimpse into Vietnamese history.

In the afternoon, you’ll visit the Peaceful Bamboo Family, an uplifting community for children with learning disabilities. You’ll have lunch in their biodynamic garden, see their lacquer painting workshop, and have the chance to buy handmade incense and jams.

Thanh Lich Royal Boutique Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6
Get to know Hoi An and try your hand at lantern making (optional)

After breakfast, you’ll take a private bus to Hoi An, once a major trading port that has retained its old-world charm. You’ll have a walking tour of the Old Town, drinking in the history of the 800 centuries-old buildings. Later, there’s an optional lantern making class. (additional cost) if you wish to participate or free time to relax or explore.

Belle Maison Hadana Hoi An or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Cycle to Tra Que Vegetable Village for dinner

After a morning that’s all yours, in the afternoon you’ll take a leisurely bike ride to Tra Que Vegetable Village. Observe how the locals live and grow their produce, then visit a chef’s home to feast on a spread of the regional dishes.

Belle Maison Hadana Hoi An or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8
Get swept up in Saigon

Tear yourself away from Hoi An – today you’re bound for Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, as it’s now known. You’ll take a short flight to this vibrant, chaotic city. Prepare for an assault on your senses: the relentless racket of scooters and a riot of colourful markets. You’ll take a guided visit to the moving and powerful War Remnants Museum. It’s a horrifying but enlightening insight into the atrocities that afflicted this nation.

Tonight, you’ll join the throngs of scooters on a street tour by Vespa. You’ll be guided to the less-explored pockets of the city to try the best of Saigon’s street food.

Sila Urban Living or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9
Visit the Cu Chi tunnels

You’ll visit the Cu Chi tunnels today, an intricate system of underground tunnels that wind for 120 miles. Used by the Viet Cong, the network has living areas, weapon factories, field hospitals and kitchens. On the tour, you’ll hear about the impact the wars had on the local communities.

Above ground,  you’ll return to HCMC for the rest of the day is free for you to take in the sights or relax.

Tonight, there’s an optional dinner and drinks for a fitting farewell to your group before preparing to return home tomorrow.

Sila Urban Living or similar

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
So long, Saigon

After a final breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City, a transfer will take you to the airport for your flight home.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels and Boat

Pho, Fun & Sun in Vietnam

Please be advised that the accommodation listed in each location are the standard hotels used.

However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

The Q Hotel, Hanoi

A boutique hotel with cosy French architecture located in the heart of Hanoi, featuring a fitness centre and bar.

Syrena Cruise, Ha Long Bay

A 34 cabin ship styled in Vietnamese hardwood. Each cabin has a with large, picture window. There’s a restaurant on board and a sundeck that’s a prime spot for sunset. Solo room accommodation is not available on the boat, rooms are twin-share.

Thanh Lich Royal Boutique, Hue

A smart hotel with lovely rooms, ideally positioned for adventures through Hue. See the city skyline from the hotel’s pool.

Belle Maison Hadana Hoi An Hotel, Hoi An

A charming hotel centrally located near the ancient town, with a range of facilities including a pool, restaurant, day spa and gym.

Sila Urban Living, Ho Chi Minh City

A sleek and modern apartment-style hotel, where each spacious room has a kitchenette.

Food & Drink

  • All breakfast, three lunches and four dinners are included
  • Vegetarian food is widely available, however the offering will be fairly similar in most places
  • There are plenty of opportunities to try Vietnam’s excellent and distinctive food, with menus that balance salty, sweet, sour and hot flavours

Joining Instructions

Travelling land only: 10 days starting in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Hanoi in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

 

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

Free Transfers

Exodus offers free airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer 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 may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance.

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Refillable water bottle
  • Swimsuit
  • A couple layers for cooler nights
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses & hat

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.

Practical Information

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

Pho, Fun & Sun in Vietnam

Money

Vietnam's currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

To cover any additional costs, including meals not included in the itinerary, we recommend a spending budget of GBP 300/ USD 400/ AUD 560

Tipping

  • Tipping is customary in Vietnam. Although entirely at your discretion, it is usually expected. To recognise the help of drivers, local guides, hotel staff and others, a tipping kitty shared with your group can work well. We suggest a contribution of GBP 29/ USD 39/ AUD 55 per person
  • Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus. If you wish to tip your group leader in appreciation of their help and friendliness, we recommend GBP 20- 30/ USD 25- 40/ AUD 37- 55 per person

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips which 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 and 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.
  • In Hanoi, the group will have a dinner at KOTO (Know One, Teach One), which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.
  • Whilst in Hue, groups will visit the Peaceful Bamboo Family, an uplifting community for children with learning disabilities. Groups will have lunch in their biodynamic garden, see their lacquer painting workshop, and have the chance to buy handmade incense and jams.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 re-usable bottles.
  • We provide clients with a re-usable tote bag at the start of the tour (locally 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.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally-sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation 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 re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.
  • Cultural respect:
    • Please remember that 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.

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.