Trails of Vietnam

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16 days
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£1,959
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4.5 / 5 from 62 reviews >
Moderate
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Trip code: 
AOF
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

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

Whether it's kayaking beneath towering cliffs in the South China 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.

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 Hue, Hoi An and Hanoi
  • Dig a little deeper into Vietnam’s history by crawling through the Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Sample local produce and float through the Mekong Delta by boat

Key information

  • 7 nights comfortable hotels, 1 night standard hotel, 1 night boat with twin share cabins, 1 night standard homestay guesthouse, all en suite. 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

What's included

  • 12 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

    Arrive 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-lines boulevards, most noticeably from the faded French architecture. The leader will of course be on hand to point the group in all the right directions, so 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! In the evening, we offer a welcome briefing and an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 3

    To Da Bac; trek through Dzao Tien country; overnight in hilltribe longhouse.

    Transfer to Hoa Binh Province (4 hrs). 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. 

    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Trek amongst hilltribe 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. 

    Homestay

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    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 to Thung Nai harbour. We’ll stop for lunch and 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 afternoon 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.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

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

    Early start and 4 hour transfer to Halong Bay. 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). There may even be the chance to try a spot of fishing from the boat too. 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 7

    Cruise then return to Hanoi; overnight train to Hanoi.

    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 and board the Reunification Express for the overnight train ride to Hue.
    Overnight Train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Sightseeing by private bus and bicycle in Hue

    Arrive early 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. This morning, 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. Afterwards, in the afternoon, we will jump on local bikes and cycle around Emperor Tu Duc's tomb, which will be the last stop of the day - 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.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 9

    Cycle to Thanh Toan local market; drive to Hoi An.

    Take a picturesque cycle-ride past villages and rice paddies to the small village Thanh Toan and indulge in its legendary market. Travelling as the locals do, it's easy to discover the sights, sounds and smells of the villages surrounding Hue. Following this, a 130km drive to Danang 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 spot, Hoi An.

    Cycle approx. 15km on flat and mostly even terrain
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Walking tour of Hoi An; free afternoon.

    Embrace the sleepy ambience seeping through Hoi An on our walking tour of Hoi An, Vietnam’s original European trading port dating back to the mid-sixteenth 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 and tailoring of clothing - bring a picture if you'd like anything made! 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 is also 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)

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Fly to Saigon; afternoon visit Cu Chi Tunnels.

    Transfer to Danang airport and fly to Saigon (approx. 70 mins), a city full of chaotic thrills. 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!
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    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.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

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

    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. Following breakfast at the hotel, 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 guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
    Guesthouse

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 14

    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 and popcorn. 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. Heading to the romantic Catholic Notre Dame Cathedral throws yet another light on Saigon.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Free morning; evening depart.

    For those on the group flight, this departs in the evening and arrives in the UK the following day. You are free today to relax or go ahead with individual sightseeing. Either way, the city is yours to enjoy – sample the street food, bargain your way through local markets, indulge in modernized shopping malls, or simply engross yourself in the whizzing motion that is Saigon.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Extend Your Trip

Angkor Wat Extension (from Saigon)

Code: XOF
Price per person: £799.00
Mandatory Single Supplement: £315.00

'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.

Essential Info

Visas

Vietnam

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 2018. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure. For further information see http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Vietnam.pdf or the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'.

Vaccinations

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.

Eating and Drinking

12 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners are included.

Thanks to it's tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountain, 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 South East Asia and you can generally avoid spicy dishes if you wish. Western food is available almost anywhere. With dishes ranging from fresh seafood to exotic curries, Vietnam offers incredible cuisine, often sold in animated and colourful markets.

Weather

In much of Vietnam, the weather will be hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 28ºC to 34ºC in the day, and a little cooler at nights. Vietnam offers a range of seasons between the north and south. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and gets chilly between November and February, with drizzly rain (10º- 20ºC). The south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and a rainy season from May to November, where short heavy bursts of rain with bright sunshine in between is common. There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; weather can be described as pleasant all year round, but due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will be perfect for the entire duration of the trip. The dry season, between November and April, is characterised by hot days and mostly clear skies, but expect the odd shower. The monsoon season (from October to April) is generally overcast with short and sharp bursts of rain, but this can be a very atmospheric time to travel – just bring an umbrella or a cheap local poncho! April and October are transitional months.

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.

Is this trip for you?

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.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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 guesthouse, 2 nights in a local longhouse and 1 night on a sleeper train. The accommodation is generally 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.

Single rooms are available for hotel nights only for a supplement, please enquire for prices. Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you require a single room.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Reviewed April 2018
    Mary South

    Vietnam Adventure

    My experience if Vietnam was an adventure from start to finish. The highlites for me was the mountain trekking and staying with local tribes, experiencing their culture, food and kind hospitality. The homestay on the Mekong Delta was mind blowing, again the culture and food experience was unforgettable. Our guide Phi was excellent with his knowledge and aptitude for organising us, I felt privileged to have been able to learn so much about his wonderful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the home stays, being amongst tribal cultures and experiencing their lifestylez

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phi Gas an outstanding knowledge of his country with a great passion to share his wonderful country so that the traveller will experience the real Viestnam

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This was good introduction for me as a first time solo traveller and an excellent way to experience the culture and history.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Looking forward to planning my next adventure...
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Alice Bzowska

    Vietnam is outstanding

    Vietnam is a beautiful country full of friendly people, stunning landscapes, delicious food and hectic cities, and this trip encompasses it all along with some activity thrown in the mix!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved hanging out with the children at the homestay, even if we couldn't communicate properly with each other! They were all so sweet. I also loved weaving through the crazy Hanoi streets and cycling in the Mekong Delta. Hoi An was also excellent!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Small bags are needed for some of the stops, so maybe pack light! Learn hello (xin chao) and thank you (cam on) in Vietnamese as it is always nice to say to the locals. Take a tote bag with you for souvenirs and a reusable plastic bottle as you can fill it up on the bus. Go with an open mind as things can sometimes change due to weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Visit Vietnam before it becomes too touristy! It is an amazing country with so much to see and so much variation.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Oliver Mills

    Varied and exciting tour of a fascinating country

    An excellent 2 week trip exploring the culture, nature and history of a beautiful country which, despite its complicated history with war, was one of the most friendly and welcomes places I've visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational is not quite the right word, but I loved the first hike when we reached the top of a lookout point where all around you you could see mountains and lakes. I also loved cycling through rice fields.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phi was friendly, knowledgable and easy to talk to. He struggled to motivate the group when the overnight cruise was cancelled due to predicted poor weather, which never materialised, much to our frustration. I liked how he recommended local specialities at each restaurant, they were delicious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light and make the most of the washing facilities provided, as small bags are required for a number of stops. Expect wet weather in the north/centre and very humid sun in the south. Bring a poncho and be aware that the itinerary may be forced to change due to weather conditions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Growing up in England, you are not taught about the Vietnam War (or the American War as they call it), so learning about it in Vietnam was truly eye opening and horrifying. This trip combines culture, history and nature in equal measure and its multi-activity style meant each day was different and exciting.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    John Booth

    Trails of vietnam

    Trip didn’t get off to best start due to industrial action at Air France but Exodus went the extra mile to sort things, superb service as I’ve come to expect!!! Great trip too ... put it on your bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hoi An, cool city!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, attentive & great sense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it!!
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Larry Meyers

    Trails of Vietnam--Traveling During the TET Holiday

    We were a group of 7 representing 5 nationalities. The size of the group bonded us quickly and kept it that way through out the trip. Couple with an excellent guide it was and will be remembered as a memorable trip. Before booking a trip in January or February check to see when the TET holiday will occur and decide if potential deviations from the standard trip notes will have an impact on what you want to see and experience. TET is not a festival, rather a holiday period for the Vietnamese people to leave the cities and return to the country to spend time with their families. Millions of people are on the move which starts with the Vietnamese New Years Eve. All told we experienced the impact from Day 5 through Day 13 of our trip. Some guide books will advise you not to visit during TET as you will experience closed businesses and the businesses that remain open often hike their prices. While the hotels are operating restaurants options are limited and may only offer a set course meal to serve to tourists. Our guide was constantly adjusting our schedule to accommodate for TET--substituting a cycle day for a kayak trip, locating someone to do our laundry while in Hoi An and of course picking our restaurants. On the plus side there was less traffic to deal with.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reflecting back now it was clearly the two nights we stayed with the hill-tribes. Given our small group it was easy to interact with the adults and especially the children. The music and the dancing on the second night was as enjoyable for the village as it was for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tuyen Nguyen was everything you would want in a guide--professional, well organized, capable of dealing with multiple changes in itineraries (think TET) plus a good sense of humor. He worked his hardest to make sure we enjoyed our time in his country. Our bus rides were filled with his wisdom and wit.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Weather in the north can be really cold especially at the homestays--a sleeping sheet or a light sleeping bag if you chill easily--the bedding provided is a sheet and a blanket. Ear plugs are essential as the dogs and roosters are everywhere. Bring the slippers from the Day 1 hotel to use in the sleeping rooms. You will be backpacking on Day 3 to your new homestay. It rained on us and was very slippery and muddy. Your large bag will be stored at a hotel on Day 2, 5, 11 & 12. You can pack more stuff after the homestay but you still have to carry it between the bus and your night's stay. Day 7 is a long day and one needs to have cycle gear readily available--from the train right to cycling--gel saddle cover and gel cycle shorts really help. We didn't see the sun until Day 7 but the sunscreen came out from then on. Bugs were not a problem.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip covers a lot of ground. You will experience considerable time on the bus and periods of inactivity especially at the front end of the trip. This isn't a cultural trip nor is it an activity trip. As a group we only kayaked on Day 5. Cycling often seemed to have no purpose other than to keep us busy. What was billed as trekking was really just walking. A pleasant surprise was the overall quality of most of the hotels. The guesthouse on Day 12 was a very nice end to the trip. The trip is just an overview of Vietnam. I arrived a week before the group and booked my own trip to Siem Reap. In Hanoi I spent several days walking the city and going to the various museums. That week will always be my personal highlight.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Martin Goodman

    Trails of Vietnam 20th January 2018

    Just returned from this trip The Trails of Vietnam and we have had the time of our lives. It’s the first time as a couple we have attended a group holiday and we were a little nervous about how we would mix with the 12 other participants. We need not worry as our group were all of a similar age group (50 plus) and we all got on very well indeed. The group leader was called Thanh Vo although he preferred to be called ‘Ten’. Ten was a absolute legend and made the whole trip so enjoyable and he was professional and knowledgable throughout. The balance of activities is perfect and the organisation was impeccable. We stayed in homestays with families in the Vietnam countryside and in some rather nice hotels in the towns and cities. What struck me is we never had to spend time waiting for anything. When we’d arrive at a hotel we didn’t have to all queue to check in. Instead we would immediately be given our room keys and sometimes our bags would already be waiting for us in our rooms. There are times when you need to pack for just 2 nights and leave your big suitcases at the hotel so take a rucksack too. The whole transportation of our baggage was very well organised throughout. The overnight train is also great fun and its surprising how well we all slept on this journey. In some of the home-stays you are all in the same room (although you do have privacy) and the odd snorer in the group may keep you awake so take some earplugs! The cycling was a reasonable length of time but do take gel cycling shorts to prevent a sore bottom. There is absolutely NO need to take a saddle or helmet as the equipment provided is of a high quality. The walks/hikes were not too taxing and were very scenic and done at a leisurely pace. There are plentiful times to do shopping to buy ‘original copies’ shirts/bags/trainers etc. The bus journeys are done a very comfortable bus with plenty of room and WiFi onboard with suitably spaced out refreshment/toilets stops. We chose to relax and conserve our energy on the bus journeys and they were also some of the funniest parts of the trip too. This really is a wonderful holiday experience. Go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The boat trip to Halong Bay and the kayaking were great days/nights and the overnight train. Walking through the towns and taking in the history of this amazing country. Too many highlights!!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I think his name was Thanh Vo although we all called him ‘Ten’ We cannot put into words how brilliant this man is at his job and he made the whole experience for us so special. A true professional who really cared about the group and his enthusiasm for his country was infectious. His organisation was top class and we all felt lucky to have him as our guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t take a saddle ( a saddle over cover or gel shorts is adequate) No need to bring your own cycle helmets as the equipment provided including the cycles themselves are of a very high quality. Along with you big suitcase bring a decent size rucksack to hold 2 days clothes and toiletries. Don’t pack to many clothes as the laundry services (they’re everywhere) are of a good quality and are usually 1USD for 1KG washed dried and ironed within 24 hours absolute BARGAIN!!! The many markets sell t shirts, shorts, sandals, trainers etc for next to nothing so leave plenty of room in your cases. You can go your own way in an evening if you wish, or stay with the group for dinner. The guide Thanh always pointed us in the right direction as he knew all the best eateries and we found our group amazingly great company. Usually the group are all of the same mindset after all we’ve all booked the same holiday! We expected the group to be younger but were pleased to see we were all within 10 years of each other around the 50 year old mark.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You cannot fail if you book this. It’s a great balance of activities and you really feel you know what Vietnam is about. You dont have to be a fitness freak to take part either. An amazing country with amazing people.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Jennifer Carter

    A truly life enhancing experience

    This was an intensive two weeks of exploration, adventure, learning and physical challenge. As the holiday approached, I had begun to feel some apprehension as to whether I (aged 65 )was fit enough for all the activities, especially the longer cycle rides. From the first day, on arrival in Hanoi, we fell in love with Vietnam. The expertise, knowledge and support of our fantastic guide, Bac, helped us to meet all the challenges, including the 40+ km cycle ride on tracks along the Mekong Delta. All the members of our group 'gelled' very quickly. This was fortunate as the day after arrival we were off to our first home-stay with hill-tribe families where we all shared sleeping quarters and limited washing/toilet facilities in a traditional long house! This was supposed to be the dry season. We expected it to be a little cool in the North but it was really quite cold and damp with unseasonable amounts of rain. In the south it was warm but also wet. Nevertheless, we found the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Vietnam to be thoroughly alluring even if the more distant mountain views on our hill treks were shrouded in mist - still very atmospheric! Don't expect to have much time for relaxation - the schedule is pretty tight. This tour gives you a really good taste of the country, from North to South and also perhaps, a desire to return to spend more time exploring in greater depth and at greater leisure!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the opportunity to meet with the hill-tribe families and get to know a little about their lives was a great privilege and education. We also took an optional morning's cycle tour on the island Cam Kim near Hoi An where we met local villagers in their homes doing their work such as weaving sleeping mats from reeds, making rice wine and making rice noodles. We had the privilege of being able to try our hand at reed weaving and at making rice noodles. We spent time with Mr Do, the rice wine maker and learnt about his struggles to build a new life after he had lost his leg to a landmine during the war with Cambodia. He was truly inspirational! Everywhere we went, especially in the rural areas, we were greeted with great enthusiasm and the children, particularly, would run out shouting, 'Hallo!' and waving. The warmth and friendliness of the people was a joy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were so lucky to have had Bac as our group leader. he worked 24/7 to make our experience very special, including recommending and organising group meals in local restaurants and also in a family home. He managed to keep us all, more or less to schedule, organised to have our laundry done by local workers etc etc. He was an extremely knowledgeable and effective tour guide both during our visits to historic sites and our treks and other pursuits. He never seemed to get tired or lose his enthusiasm for what he was doing. No request was too much trouble for him. He is a true asset to the company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not already a moderately experienced cyclist, I would recommend some regular practice prior to the holiday. I was very pleased that I had spent time building up a bit of stamina before the holiday as I had not been on a bike for 12 years and would never have referred to myself as a cyclist! We found our silk sleeping bag liners extremely useful for the home-stays and overnight sleeper train. Padded cycling shorts are to be highly recommended! Even with them we couldn't avoid getting somewhat saddle-sore! Don't be put off though because the experience is really so worth-while and ample compensation for a temporally sore bottom! This is a full-on experience , not a relaxing holiday. At times you may feel you would like to spend longer in certain places, but that will have to be on another trip!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were 16 of us in our group - my husband and I were probably the oldest at 70 and 65, but not by far. Most were between 50 and 65 with a 22 year old and a 30 -40 year old. Regardless of age though, Exodus recommends you should be moderately fit and I would say that is definitely so and possibly a little bit under-estimated, especially for our age group.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Cat Conley

    Great trip

    Great trip but a lot of time traveling. Which if you can sleep on buses is great as gives you a chance to catch up. It really is a on the go all times trip. But the locations and different cities is worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the kayaking especially in the rain.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Lam was great. Good sense of humour, and the patience of a saint.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I think this trip is accessible to all. I would recommend taking an umbrella. Buying a waterproof case/pouch for phone for the kayaking. Pack of cards. Small hold-all for all the home stays. Most of us just had backpack which we needed to use for walking so ended up with stuff in platic bags.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Well worth doing. I got to see all of Vietnam in a short time.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Deb Norman-pawley

    Wow!

    This trip is non stop.. you see and do so much with a fun, knowledgeable guide. There is nothing we were not happy with...brilliant experience

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not sure I could chose one but probably the war tunnels ..

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Such fun from start to finish and worked tirelessly to ensure everything was good..so knowledgeable and passionate too...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do It! .. ideal for single travellers too

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    2nd exodus trip and both have been amazing ..
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Deb Norman-pawley

    Wow!

    This trip is non stop.. you see and do so much with a fun, knowledgeable guide. There is nothing we were not happy with...brilliant experience

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not sure I could chose one but probably the war tunnels ..

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Such fun from start to finish and worked tirelessly to ensure everything was good..so knowledgeable and passionate too...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do It! .. ideal for single travellers too

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    2nd exodus trip and both have been amazing ..

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

 

Private Adventures 

Not found the date you’re looking for? We can organise this itinerary as a Private Adventure – just click on the tab above the list of dates and prices, let us know your preferred dates of travel and how many people are travelling, and we’ll do the rest!

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