|Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam||Hanoi|
The Ho (Chi Minh) to the Hanoi. See how the locals live on an overnight homestay in the Mekong Delta, then get your beach on in Nha Trang. Pagodas, history and yum yums galore in Hoi An and Hue. Drift through the emerald waters of Halong Bay by boat and go for a snoop through any of Hanoi's many markets.
This is your full-on trip up the coast of Vietnam and into Halong Bay. From hectic Ho Chi Minh City to historic Hanoi. Ready, set, pagoda.
You know how when you're camping, you can sit and watch the fire crackle for hours? That's what it's like watching the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. Grab an outside seat, a bowl of pho and prepare to be mesmerised.
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Cruise the mighty Mekong River before spending the night with local friends on a homestay by the water.
Take a boat down the Mekong River. It's an experience that will fill you with joy, as will staying with a local family in the evening.
Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit Ben Tre
On arrival, board a private boat and cruise along the waterways to visit local cottage industries.
Head to our overnight homestay along the water.
Sleep on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
Rise early and enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding the boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Board an overnight train to Nha Trang - conditions are basic, but this is the best way to travel long distances in Vietnam. The berths sleep 4- 6 and you may be sharing with locals and different genders
When you’re lying on the beach and feeling peckish, it might be time to order fresh lobster. Pick a vendor, find the biggest lobster of the bunch and Bob’s your uncle (or is he?)
Perhaps an optional bike ride in the countryside, then fill up on banh – Hue’s very own steamed rice cakes with a little fish sauce or a dollop of chilli sauce.
Travel across Hai Van Pass to the fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops).
Enjoy some free time, perhaps visit the Dong Ba market
Check out the Forbidden Purple Palace and some royal tombs
Meals included: 1 lunch
Sure, the water looks a bit murky when you board your junk. But that's just because of all the other dirty, smelly boats stinking up the joint. Wait until you get out into the open - the water is so clear you'll be gagging for a swim. Which is exactly what we're gonna let you do.
Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stop on the way for refreshments at a handicraft workshop run by disabled people
Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2000 limestone islands rising from the water
Board a boat and cruise the bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters
Enjoy a seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer months
Stay on Cat Ba Island. The foreshore is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset
Travel by ferry to Tuan Chau, then take the bus back to Hanoi.
Feast your eyes and belly on the wondrous world of Hanoi once again. Do some final exploring or just grab a beer, Vietnamese coffee or freshly squeezed juice and get terminally chill.
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour.
• Day cruise on Halong Bay and overnight on Cat Ba Island.
• Free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Lang Co Beach, Hue and Hanoi.
• Overnight ‘Reunification Express’ sleeper trains from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Nha Trang to Danang and Hue to Hanoi.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
When you are taking a tour that travels through South East Asia, you will be tempted at times to draw comparisons between the countries. However, you will get the most of your travel experience if you try to understand and respect each culture and the people living there, regardless of whether you preferred the destination you were in previously.
There are some cultural elements that do cross over between countries in South East Asia:
· Patting someone on their head is considered extremely rude and insulting.
· Public displays of affection are not acceptable, especially kissing.
· Losing your temper or showing anger and shouting or yelling will lose respect immediately,
to remain cool, calm and collected at all times is an admired quality
· When visiting temples ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. They are places of
worship please treat them as such.
· The monarchy is held in high esteem in Thailand & Cambodia, please treat them with respect
At some of the tourist sites and in the cities it is possible you will come across beggars. This can prove an uncomfortable encounter especially for inexperienced travellers. There are many genuine beggars, however there are also those who find the lifestyle easier than working and these people often see tourists as easy prey. As a general rule, if you feel the impulse to give, you should be discreet in the giving. Never make a show of it, as you will attract a crowd, which brings with it its own set of problems. There are often charities that take care of the needy and it may be wise to give to them rather than to individuals begging.
In places you should dress conservatively to avoid attracting unwanted attention and so as not to offend the local population. This is especially applicable to women travellers. Dress rules also apply at many of the religious sites.
Local Tour Guides
By employing and training local site guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour guide’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success.
Tet Holiday Period
Please note that Vietnam is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year).
Tet (Vietnamese New Year) Is a time where most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required. Please check with your booking agent when Tet is this year.
Itinerary Variations Over Tet 2014
On our 23 January departure (trip code: GTVB140123), we will be travelling by overnight bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang (25 Jan) and Nha Trang to Danang (27 Jan) instead of overnight train. Due to the late-hour departure of the buses, you will have use of your hotel room until the time you depart.
On our 26 January departure (trip code: GTVB140126), we will be travelling by day bus from Nha Trang to Danang (30 Jan) instead of overnight train. An additional night in Hoi An is now included.
Due to the style of accommodation on our trips it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights on the overnight trains and homestays. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local cultures. Please be open-minded.
Please note that, on your tour, you may link up with passengers booked on other tours in our Gecko’s Asia program.
For some departures the overnight train will either depart late in the afternoon or arrive into cities very early in the morning. On these occasions we will have the opportunity to store our luggage and freshen up in multi share day rooms before either we depart for the early evening overnight train journey or checking into our evening accommodation later in the day respectively. Please note if you have booked a single supplement whilst on tour, it will not apply to these day rooms.
Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Geckos Vietnam office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
1 May 2014