Vietnam Coastal Explorer (Family) Trip Notes
Trip code: PTVC
Trip valid from: 01/10/2007
Trip valid until: 30/06/2013
Trip length: 14 days
Trip starts in: Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Trip ends in: Hanoi
Maximum group size: 15
- Vietnam's Northern Capital Hanoi
- Cu Chi Tunnels - The Underground Network Of The Viet Minh And Viet Cong
- 'Junk' Boat Cruise Among The Limestone Karsts Of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay
This family adventure combines the excitement of Saigon, the relaxing beaches of the coast and the French-colonial charm of Hanoi
Starting in busy, bright and bustling Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), we visit Reunification Palace and the fascinating Notre Dame Cathedral. We also crawl through the Cu Chi Tunnels and journey down the Mekong Delta, passing colourful floating markets. On a small island in the delta, we spend a night in a homestay with a local family – a real highlight. From the laid-back beach town of Nha Trang, we explore the offshore islands by boat and snorkel amongst the colourful coral in the warm waters of the South China Sea. We also explore ancient Hoi An and the charming northern capital, Hanoi, before heading to spectacular Halong Bay, where the rugged limestone pinnacles and grottoes combine to make up one of the world's most recognisable landscapes.
SaigonAn arrival transfer is provided from the airport if you are joining directly on to the tour or have booked pre-tour accommodation at the joining hotel and have advised us of your arrival details (please check your voucher). After you clear customs, a representative from our local agent will transfer you to your hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing at 6.30pm (exact time to be confirmed in a notice at the hotel foyer) Please note that your Tour Leader will collect your travel insurance details, so please bring them with you. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Saigon's many fantastic eating spots.
SaigonThis morning we enjoy a city tour that includes visits to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market. The afternoon is left free for independent sightseeing, shopping or a chance to cool off and splash around at the excellent Dam Sen Water Park. The Water Park is easily accessed by bus or by taxi and is highly recommended, especially for the kids! Overnight in Saigon. (B)
Mekong DeltaDepart Saigon by road to the agriculturally rich Mekong Delta and the town of Cai Be, where we begin a Mekong River boat trip that takes us past a floating market. The scenery here is lush and impressive, with many terrific 'photo ops' along the way. We stop to visit typical riverside villages, where we have a chance to meet the people and learn about the local commercial enterprises. After sampling various tropical fruits, we continue on to our overnight homestay, located on an island in the Mekong River. Our accommodation for the night is in a large communal room that is separate to the actual living quarters of the family. Bed linen and mosquito nets are provided and we also recommend you bring a small towel as there are basic bathroom facilities available. (B, D)
SaigonToday we take an early morning walk through the island’s orchards and navigate our way through the narrow canals in a traditional wooden sampan. We then take another boat from our homestay island to rendezvous with our vehicle, which takes us back to Saigon. (B)
Saigon - Nha TrangThis morning we visit the wartime guerrilla stronghold of Cu Chi Tunnels, before returning to Saigon around lunchtime. (Note: Don’t wear good clothes this morning, as at Cu Chi you will be crawling through the tunnels. However, it is not obligatory to crawl though the tunnels if you do not wish to do so!). We then collect our luggage from the hotel and head out to the airport for our flight to Nha Trang. (B)
Nha TrangSpend a relaxing day cruising around Nha Trang’s offshore islands. Seafood lunch is served on board. Snorkelling equipment is also provided, including kids’ sizes. Note: Subject to suitable weather conditions, please take along a hat, sun block, swimwear and a towel. (B)
Nha Trang - overnight trainToday is free, but it is an ideal place to relax, either by the hotel pool or at the nearby beach across the road. You might like to take an optional excursion to visit the Po Nagar Cham Towers or Thap Ba Hot Springs and Mud Bath Centre. Late this afternoon we transfer to the railway station in time to catch the overnight 4-berth, soft sleeper train to Da Nang. The beds on board come with a pillow and sheets, although some people may wish to bring their own sleeping sheet (purely optional and not a necessity). Also, breakfast tomorrow is not the best food you will find in Vietnam, so it is recommended that you purchase some snacks before boarding in Saigon. This journey is in keeping with the adventurous nature of our trips and allows you to experience a taste of the 'real’ Vietnam. (B, L)
Danang - Hoi AnOn arrival at Danang railway station, we board our waiting vehicle and head towards Hoi An, the World Heritage-listed ancient port town that dates back to Portuguese trading days. This afternoon is left free for you to enjoy the sights of Hoi An at your leisure, do some shopping or to relax by the hotel swimming pool. In the evening you can join an informal cooking class, where you can learn how to make some of Hoi An’s famous specialty dishes and even participate in rolling your own spring rolls. (B, D)
Hoi AnA walking tour of Hoi An’s old town includes a visit to the Japanese Bridge, an ancient house, and a Chinese assembly hall. We then have further free time to enjoy a town that has become many visitors’ favourite destination in Vietnam. There are many optional activities that you can enjoy - maybe hire a bike, take a boat trip on the river, relax on the nearby beach or by our hotel's swimming pool. Overnight in Hoi An. (B)
Hoi An - HanoiThis morning we transfer to Danang where we visit Marble Mountain and China Beach. Note: Appropriate footwear (runners rather than thongs) should be worn for the walk up Marble Mountain. The walk takes about an hour and involves climbing approximately 200 steps. After the morning activity, we transfer to Danang Airport in time to catch a flight to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi we make our way to our hotel in town. This evening we enjoy a performance of Hanoi’s famous Water Puppets - kids and parents will be equally delighted! (B)
HanoiThis morning we enjoy a city tour of Hanoi that includes visits to the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the ‘House on Stilts’, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison (nicknamed the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ by American POWs). Lunch is included at the KOTO restaurant, a unique set-up where disadvantaged youth and street children are given the chance to become professional chefs or bar and service staff. We have a chance to meet these young people who are being afforded opportunities in life because of this unique project. You are at leisure this afternoon to enjoy a stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake or a walk through the Old Quarter. Overnight in Hanoi. (B, L)
Hanoi - Halong BayDepart Hanoi for the three-and-a-half-hour drive to the bayside resort town of Bai Chay. Upon arrival, we board our boat, put our bags in our cabins and begin a memorable cruise amongst the remarkable limestone formations of Halong Bay. A lunch of local seafood is served on board and there are opportunities for swimming, visiting one of Halong Bay’s many limestone grottoes and even kayaking around the bay. Weather permitting we can watch the sunset over Halong Bay whilst our crew prepares tonight’s dinner. Overnight on boat. Note: Just prepare a daypack for your overnight Halong Bay tour. Main luggage can be stored at the hotel in Hanoi. Don’t forget a hat, sun block and swimwear. Northern Vietnam can be quite cold during the winter months and at this time you will also need to bring some warm clothing. It is also advisable to carry a sturdy pair of shoes for visiting the grottoes. All boats used by us have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning. We also have the chance to get active and do some kayaking on Halong Bay. (B, L, D)
Halong Bay - HanoiAfter breakfast and perhaps an early morning kayak we continue sightseeing and cruising around Halong Bay, before returning to port and driving back to Hanoi. Tonight is our chance to celebrate the end of a terrific family journey through a beautiful country. Overnight in Hanoi. (B)
HanoiYour tour finishes after breakfast. An airport transfer is not included Transferring to Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport Shared: Minibuses leave from the Vietnam Airlines Head Office regularly and the cost is approximately US$2 per person. It is best to check the exact times of departure and pre-book a seat. Private: The Hanoi Airport Taxi company provides a very good service for a set price of US$10 per vehicle. You can arrange to be picked up from your hotel. Your tour leader or the hotel receptionist can assist in booking this for you, if required. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
The greatest cities in the world and the richest historic sights; the finest regional food and the must-see spectacles. Museums and markets, medinas and mosques – from Hobart to Hong Kong, Cairo to Caracas, get under the skin of local life and explore what your destination means to its own people. Dive headlong into exotic metropolitan buzz – the souks of Marrakech, La Paz’s markets – or adventure to remote African hills to explore ancient and mysterious rock art. Take in cutting edge art at Bilbao’s dazzling Guggenheim, or soak up timeless rhythms sitting under a balanzan tree in Mali listening to Tuareg musicians. Whatever it is, wherever you are, there’s no greater adventure than learning how another culture ticks.
• The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Saigon's Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ben Thanh Market; Cu Chi Tunnels; Hoi An; China Beach; Marble Mountain; and Hanoi's Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison.
• Local flights: Saigon to Nha Trang and Danang to Hanoi.
• Mekong River boat trip with visits to a floating market and riverside villages.
• Overnight homestay with a local family on a Mekong River island including a traditional wooden sampan canal cruise.
• Full day boat cruise on the South China Sea off Nha Trang, with a seafood lunch.
• Lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training to underprivileged young people.
• Performance of Hanoi’s famous Water Puppets.
• Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay with a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available) and accommodation in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
• Overnight train from Nha Trang to Danang, with accommodation in a 4-berth 'soft sleeper' class compartment (a pillow and sheets provided).
• Free time to explore Saigon, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hanoi.
• Arrival transfer.
International airfares, visa costs, departure taxes, insurance (obligatory on all trips), departure transfer, other meals, drinks, snacks, any optional additional tours or activities during free time, spending of a personal nature such as gratuities, laundry, drinks, souvenirs.
13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
10 nights Comfortable hotel,1 night Overnight train,1 night Homestay,1 night Boat
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
Canoe,Plane,Private vehicle,Sleeper train
Well before travelling, please ensure that you have a current passport, with an accurate photo, that is valid for at least six months after your scheduled return home. Also check that your airline tickets are in exactly the same name as your passport. Some countries may require that you have a return air ticket, or have sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket.
On all our holidays you must have comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. Please take your insurance policy with you when you travel as your tour leader will need to see and record your policy details at the pre-tour briefing. If you arrive without travel insurance they will require you to purchase a policy before you continue your journey with us.
If you are covered by a policy arranged through your credit card company you will be asked to provide evidence of this cover as well as a 24-hour emergency contact number. Your leader will need to record your credit card type and number as this is required to activate your request for emergency assistance. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet the requirements set out by your credit card company in order to be effectively covered and that the cover offered is of a suitable standard.
Vietnam - Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, a visa for is required by most travellers visiting and/or transiting Vietnam including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians. All other nationalities should check with the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. Your visa must be obtained prior to the commencement of your tour, as visas are not normally issued to travellers on arrival in Vietnam. In fact you will are likely to be denied boarding your aircraft bound for Vietnam without a visa.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.The itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at email@example.comThe Imaginative Traveller & Peregrine Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Peregrine Adventures. Peregrine is an Australia based company with more than 30 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a codeshared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Peregrine travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 09/03/2012