Trails of Vietnam Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Vietnam
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AOF
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Whether it's kayaking beneath towering cliffs in the sea, cycling by vibrant green paddy fields in the Mekong Delta or trekking amongst colourful hilltribes, this dynamic trip allows us to interact with the local people and environment 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 Vietnamese cuisine.

At a Glance

  • 8 nights hotels, all with ensuite facilities
  • 1 night boat with twin share cabins
  • 1 night standard homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta
  • 2 nights basic house/longhouse with dormitory/shared bath
  • 1 night sleeper train, 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

Trip Highlights

  • Cruise and kayak along the emerald waters and limestone peaks of Halong Bay
  • Dip into traditional Vietnamese culture by trekking through lush hill tribe villages
  • Walk and cycle on a tour through historic towns of Hue, Hoi An and Hanoi
  • Dig a little deeper into Vietnam’s 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 is rated Activity Level 3 - Moderate

This is an action packed holiday with activities that include cycling, kayaking and trekking so a good level of fitness is required. The weather can be hot and humid and cold in the winter months in the north around Hanoi and Halong Bay. Some of the days can be fairly long with early starts as there is a lot to see in the time you are there. Travel time is kept to a minimum although there are a few longer drives but there is time for sightseeing. Whilst choosing this trip please note that some of the accommodation will be basic but is clean and tidy.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

 

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
5
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Hanoi
End City:
Saigon

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Hanoi

    Begin your adventure in Hanoi, a city where an unstoppable energy thrives alongside traditional Vietnamese culture and a colonial charm permeates the broad tree-lined boulevards, most noticeably from the 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 serves as a memorable experience!

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

    May de Ville City Centre Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    To Da Bac; trek through Dzao Tien country; overnight in hill-tribe longhouse

    This morning we transfer (approx. 4 hours) to Hoa Binh Province. Travelling up and over the Truong Son Mountain Range affords lush green views, serving as the perfect precursor of the scenery for the following days. We journey to the peaceful Sung Village, the home of approximately 70 Dzao Tien ethnic minority/hill-tribe families.

    Upon arrival, we will be served lunch cooked by a local family before heading off on an afternoon trek where we will learn about traditional agriculture and also visit a limestone cave and an ancient tea plantation. We will spend the night staying with a family and have the chance learn more about rural life in this beautiful part of the country. 

    Sung Village Homestay

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 3

    Trek amongst hill-tribe villages

    By now the beeping and bustling of Hanoi will be a faint memory, and the day is spent delving deeper into this slice of rural paradise. After an early breakfast, we start our trek. Walking for approximately 5 hours we will pass through a picturesque valley made of quilt-like rice terraces, palms and small villages. We’re also rewarded with fantastic views of the Da Reservoir and its turquoise waters. We will arrive in the village of Da Bia in time for lunch served by a Muong family that we will be staying with. There will be some time near the end of the day free for those who might like to swim in the reservoir or choose to hire a kayak and explore a little further. 

    Da Bia village Homestay

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Boat to Thung Nai; Hanoi city tour

    A short walk this morning will take us to the reservoir where we will board a private boat for our journey (approx. 1-1.5hrs) to Thung Nai harbour. We’ll stop for lunch and if time permitting, have the option of visiting the Muong ethnic minority museum to learn a little more about one the main ethnic groups of the area.

    On return, our city tour of 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 that it’s ‘36 streets’ indicate the type of products sold. So why not take a 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 café. If you wish to opt for an optional activity, your tour leader can arrange a viewing of the famous water puppets, an art form dating back to the 11th century where folktale and legends are playfully recounted among the sounds of wooden bells, bamboo flutes and cymbals.

    May De Ville City Centre Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    To Halong Bay; cruise/kayak; dinner and overnight on boat

    After an early start, we transfer (approx. 4 hours) to Halong Bay where a boat awaits us, ready to cruise along the legendary Halong Bay, otherwise known as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’. Legend has it that Halong Bay’s islands were formed by a dragon’s plunge into the waters. Carving crevasses on its way, the dragon left what is now roughly 3000 exquisitely eroded limestone peaks rising from emerald waters. Soak up the enigmatic atmosphere this karst scenery creates, before kayaking to places inaccessible by boat (weather permitting). A sea food lunch is served on board, and the evening is yours to unwind upon tranquil waters. The night is spent in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.
    Overnight Boat

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 6

    Cruise then return to Hanoi; overnight train to Hue

    As the boat continues to cruise along the majestic peaks, there will be new opportunities to immerse ourselves in Halong Bay’s mystical quality. After returning to port, we will transfer to the train station in Hanoi and board the Reunification Express for the overnight train ride to Hue (approx. 13 hours). The overnight train journey is a great way to travel like the locals and really experience Vietnam.
    Overnight Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Sightseeing by private bus in Hue

    Arrive in the morning in the cultural and historical centre of Vietnam, Hue. Brimming with charisma, Hue 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 walls six miles in length, the Imperial Citadel is the most outstanding sight in town. We will explore the palaces, halls of the Mandarins and the remains of the Forbidden Purple City, once only open to the emperor, his eunuchs, and of course his concubines.

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

    Park View Hotel or similar

  • Day 8

    Visit Tu Duc Mausoleum; drive to Hoi An

    This morning after breakfast, we take a transfer by bus to visit Emperor Tu Duc's Mausoleum. Standing amidst a lake and a 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. 

    Following this, a 130km drive to Da Nang will pass through the beautiful peninsula of Lang Co, situated between the crystal waters of a lagoon and the Eastern Sea, as well as the awe-inspiring Hai Van pass, known as the ‘Pass of the Ocean Clouds’. Once in Da Nang, climb the Marble Mountains and uncover the large caves used by the Viet Cong as a hospital base during the war. Rewarding views stretching over My Khe beach and the surrounding countryside will be waiting for you once you reach the mountain peak, the latter of which makes up our next home for 2 nights, Hoi An.
    Le Pavillon Hoi An Boutique Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Walking tour of Hoi An; free afternoon

    Embrace the sleepy ambience seeping through Hoi An on our walking tour (approx. 3-4 hrs) of  Vietnam’s original European trading port town dating back to the mid-16th century. Often described as a living museum, Hoi An boasts more than just grace and atmosphere. 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, and it’s easy to see why. Take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River, relax by the riverside, meander around the thriving riverside markets, or indulge in shops famous for their silk. Alternatively, why not hire a bike and make your way through Hoi An’s pretty countryside towards Cua Dai beach, past markets, schools and villages (5km). There may also be the option to spend the afternoon kayaking through the coconut-palm lined canals in Cam Thanh village for those keen. 
    (Walking tour approx 3-4 hrs)

    Le Pavillon Hoi An Boutique Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Fly to Saigon; afternoon visit Cu Chi Tunnels

    Transfer to Da Nang airport and fly to Saigon (approx. 70 mins), a city full of chaotic thrills.  Please be aware that as Saigon is located in the south, it is likely to be much warmer and humid than the north of the country.

    Upon arrival into Saigon, a 1.5 hr drive will then take us to the Cu Chi tunnels. Crawl through the infamous and intricate system of tunnels and experience the spirit of guerrilla warfare! Used by the Viet Cong during the war for its escape routes as well as living quarters, the network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Although they were traditionally very narrow, they have now been widened to allow an extensive exploration of the system. Even so, claustrophobes should feel free to bask outside in the sunshine if they do not wish to take part! 
    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 1.5 hr drive. After hopping onto our bikes we will follow the Mekong River through quiet back roads towards Cai Be (approx. 30 km). Known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta produces the majority of Vietnam’s tropical fruits, some of which you will have a chance to sample, as well as sugar cane and coconuts. Transfer back to Can Tho to relax and soak up the atmosphere of this quiet riverside town, or explore the maze of backstreets and wide boulevards.
    TTC Can Tho Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

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

    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, rife with fruits, vegetables and plants and watch the techniques locals use to make a living. One includes attaching their produce on to long poles and hanging them above the boat, enabling them to showcase their items to buyers from all angles and distances. Since you’ll be witnessing authentic trading in full swing, there will be countless opportunities for you to capture traditional scenes on camera.

    Afterwards, we cycle to Vinh Long through rural villages and scenic landscapes (approx. 40 km). Reaching the end of the day, we will be transferred by motor boat to an island in the middle of the Mekong River for overnight at a simple homestay guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
    Homestay Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 13

    Cruise to Cai Be; to Saigon for afternoon city tour

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

    Return to Saigon, a city once devastated by the Vietnam War, and now a bustling free market city. A combination of old and new diversifies the city with temples standing defiantly among zooming scooters and modern developments. The Reunification Palace is one of the stops on our city tour, famous for its 1960s architecture and slightly garish appeal as much as its association with the fall of Saigon in 1975. Another stop is the War Remnants Museum, housing a vivid collection outlining the horrors of modern history and warfare and effects on innocent civilians. Be aware that these records of the Vietnam War are often very graphic and distressing.

    Heading to the romantic Catholic Notre Dame Cathedral throws yet another light on Saigon.
    Huong Sen Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Saigon

    For land only clients, the tour ends this morning after breakfast. 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

Angkor Wat Extension (from Saigon)

'Discovered' 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, and not one to be missed. Built between the 9th and 13th centuries, the wonderfully preserved sprawling complex of temples and palaces is on a par with any great monument of the world 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 will 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 will be free to enjoy the town. This trip extension is offered at the end of your AOF or AOV trip so you will fly direct from Saigon to Siem Reap to start the extension. The detailed itinerary can be found here

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Price per person

£879.00

Mandatory Single Supplement

£360.00

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat, Guesthouse, Longhouse & Sleeper Train

You will spend 7 nights in comfortable hotels, 1 night in a more standard hotel, 1 night aboard a boat with twin share cabins, 1 night in a homestay guesthouse, 2 nights in a local longhouse and 1 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 of this active adventure will be spent in traditional hill-tribe longhouses. We trek through native Dzao and Muong country to our overnight destinations of Sung Village and Da Bia Village where we will dine on local food and sleep as the locals do in wooden longhouses. This is communal living in the most authentic way. Hosted by hospitable local families we will gain a real insight into rural Vietnam.

En suite facilities are not available on the night at the homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta, the 2 nights at the traditional hill-tribe longhouses or the overnight sleeper train journey. 

During the overnight sleeper train journey, you will be accommodated in soft-bed berths (usually 4 passengers to a berth). Vietnamese trains are safe to travel on but we recommend that you keep valuables with you at all times. Snacks are often offered on board (at an additional cost). Whilst most trains have western-style facilities, some train services are also equipped with squat toilets.

Please be advised that the accommodation listed in each location on the day to day 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 8 nights of the trip (hotel nights). Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £180.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

12 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners are 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 its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious, fresh and fiery flavours.

Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole 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 a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup).

Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements); meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, 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, with the exception of the night 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.

Transportation

Throughout the tour we use a private coach/mini-bus, 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 train journeys 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, 21-30 January 2020 and 10-17 February 2021, 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

Weather Information

The weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually between 28ºC and 34ºC. It is only a little cooler at nights.

There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and 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 at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Halong Bay can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip. These could occur all year round, but especially in monsoon season (from October to April). Boat trips on Halong Bay are governed by the local authorities who are authorised to make such appropriate safety decisions. If your Halong Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Halong Bay for your group, or less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible at all to go out on Halong Bay. Whilst 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 will be hot and humid all 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 is as it sounds, with 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!

Weather Charts

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Malaysian Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.


Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Hanoi and ending in Saigon

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.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus 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. 

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.

Transfers Details

Free transfers are only applicable if booked in advance directly through Exodus before a trip commences.

Location start:
Hanoi
Location end:
Saigon

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothes. As it is generally hot and humid, light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the trip, though it will be cold in Hanoi between November and early March and you should bring a warm jacket, woolly hat, and trousers if you are travelling at that time.
  •  For the trek we recommend: 1) lightweight walking boots or at least comfortable strong trainers which give proper ankle support 2) insect repellent 3) torch 4) a rucksack big enough (20-40 litres) to carry a spare set of clothes and basic necessities. You will be carrying your own gear as we leave our main luggage at the hotel in Hanoi and collect it at the end of the trek 5) Towel 
  • Bike helmet: these will be 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 first aid kit with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters and a blister treatment kit.
  • Insect repellent is also highly recommended. Repellent containing DEET is thought to be highly effective.
  • Please pack a bag that can be used as an overnight bag. For the night in Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta you will be required to leave your main bag behind at the previous hotel for the night.
  • Warm clothes/layers for the overnight train journey, especially in the cooler months.
  • Refillable water bottle (1-2 litre capacity)
  • Torch for the Mekong Delta and Marble mountain cave/grottos.

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

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 20kg.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Please remember that 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 sites or get burnt, 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 in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill 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 if you feel the cold during the colder winter months from 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 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 (e.g. camelbak) are also useful.

 

Reading List

Romancing Vietnam
Justin Wintle (Penguin)

Turtle Beach
Blanche D'Alpuget (Penguin) About the boat people.

The Quiet American Graham Greene (Penguin) Considered to be his best book.

Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns
David Lamb (Perseus Books)

Catfish and Mandala
Andrew X. Pham (Penguin)

Vietnam: A History
Stanley Karnow

Two Cities: Hanoi & Saigon
Neil Sheehan

Practical Information

Passport

Vietnam

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Vietnam

**UPDATE 11.03.2020** The below visa advice is not valid at the current moment in time. If you are booked to travel to Vietnam within the next month, Exodus will contact you with further information when it becomes available.

A visa is no longer needed for 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. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2021. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure.

For further information please check the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'. If you have any questions about whether you need a visa for your trip please contact the Customer Operations department.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Vietnam

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Vietnam's Timezone:
Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh +07 (GMT +07:00)

Electricity

Vietnam's Electricity:

220 volts AC, 50 Hz. In Vietnam all sockets are generally dual US (2-pin plug) /Euro (2-pin type) compatible but it is worth having both adapters with you.

Money

Vietnam's Currency

The national currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (January 2020) of approximately 30,200 to the GBP, 23,000 to the USD, 17,600 to the CAD, 25,600 to the EUR, 15,780 to the AUD and 15,200 to the NZD.

In Vietnam, the local currency, the Vietnamese Dong is preferred. However, US dollars may be accepted in some tourist shops and restaurants. You can obtain Vietnamese Dong before travel or by using an ATM or changing money upon arrival.

ATM Availability

ATM's are now widespread in Vietnam and are the easiest way of obtaining money, it is possible to draw a maximum 2,000,000 VND or approx. 60GBP/80-100USD in major cities in one go.

Credit card acceptance is now widespread in cities in Vietnam at restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

If you would like to bring cash there will be ample opportunity for you to change this. Sterling 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 225‐275GBP/300‐360USD 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 a number of optional activities, which if you wish, your leader can help arrange for you and advise of costs locally.

Hanoi
Water puppets 4GBP/6USD

Hoi An
Tu Bon River boat trip 5GBP/7USD depending upon numbers

Tipping

Tipping is at your discretion, but is customary in Vietnam. In order to take the hassle out of tipping, the leader will suggest you contribute to a tipping kitty of approx 45GBP/59USD per person. This is used by the leader to tip drivers, staff at hotels, on boats etc. but it is not used at restaurants. If you do not wish to contribute then 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 2-4GBP/3-6USD per day for your leader.

Responsible Tourism

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff to ensure that our visit has a positive effect on employment levels and economy in the region. Throughout the trip, we will have the chance to stay in traditional hill-tribe longhouses and homestay guesthouses which are hosted by local families, providing clients a real insight into the Vietnamese way of life.

During the free afternoon in Hoi An, clients can plan a visit to ‘Reaching out’, a social enterprise that provides opportunities for people with disability to learn skills as artisans and gain employment so that they will be able to fully integrate with their communities and lead independent lives. Purchasing their handmade gifts is a form of support to local production and its worthy cause.

When in Hanoi, we strongly encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of the graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training making it a great initiative to support.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.