Best of Vietnam

Trip Code: TVST

Why we love it

Experience local life during homestays in the Mekong Delta and Da Bac. Get to know local families, participate in their activities and enjoy a homestyle meal., Travel to both popular and lesser-known destinations in Vietnam, including tourist hotspots like Halong Bay and hidden gems such as Da Bac, See Vietnam through an exciting mix of transport, including motorbike, sampan, junk-style boat, bus and train, Visit the mind-boggling Phong Nha and Thien Duong Caves. These labyrinthine systems were used to shelter civilians during the Vietnam/American War, Spend a day in Hue, touring the city's sights on a motorbike and eating lunch at a serene nunnery, Wander the fossilised coral formations of Hang Rai, which sometimes appear to float on the water

Is this trip right for me?

During this trip, there will be several long days of travelling and you'll be sitting on a bus for many hours at a time. However, road trips often have the best views, and most private buses feature wi-fi

We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including on overnight trains. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight.

This trip involves a lot of walking - on city walking tours, the hike in Da Bac and during included activities. While being on your feet can be a bit tiring, this is the best way to truly get under the skin of a place

You'll be spending two nights with local families on this trip. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to connect with the local people (and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals!). Read more about the experiences here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/community-based-tourism-vietnam/

Vietnam has an incredibly diverse climate influenced by both tropical monsoons and its range of altitudes and latitudes. Temperatures can vary from a brisk 4°C (39°F) in the northern mountains during winter to a sweltering and humid 36°C (97°F) in Ho Chi Minh City during the middle of the dry season. Please check the weather for the time of year you're travelling in order to pack appropriate clothing - this page may be useful: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam

Important information

1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases, you will be required to cover the cost of issuing new tickets.
2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes days 3, 16 (homestays), days 8, 14 (overnight trains), and Days 18 (overnight boat) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

What to bring/pack

What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg.

Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps).

If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well.

You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:, https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, LOCAL DRESS:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong., WATER BOTTLE:
This trip includes one or more sections in a private vehicle with a water dispenser. We encourage all our travellers to bring a refillable water bottle on your trip to help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles.

Physical rating

3

Joining your group

Hoang Ngan Hotel, 29-31 Bui Thi Xuan Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM, Phone: +84 2839251880, Fax: +84 2839251881

Joining instructions

Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure.

If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer you will be met as you exit the Terminal Hall by a transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign. If you cannot find your transfer representative, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline on +84 903 117 770. Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment.

Metered taxi ranks are available outside the airport entrance. You will find VINA Sun Taxis (+84 28 3827 7178) readily available. Taxi fare to your hotel in town will cost approx. VND220,000.00. Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

Finishing your trip

Thang Long Espana Hotel, 63 Nguyen Truong To Str., Ba Dinh Dist., Hanoi, VIETNAM, Phone: +84 2437163233, Fax: +84 2437163232

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 17

Lunches included: 5

Dinners included: 3

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure.

INCLUDED BREAKFASTS:
At hotels you’ll often have a buffet with choices of Vietnamese and Western food. At homestays you will have more basic breakfasts of local foods, eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee. Take away breakfasts for early starts may be very simple such as a piece of fruit and a bread roll.

DIETARY REQUIREMENTS:
Check out this guide to eating in Vietnam for vegan, vegetarian, gluten & peanut free travellers: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegan-vegetarian-gluten-free-vietnam/

FOOD ALLERGIES:
Travelling in South East Asia with a food allergy? We have some advice for you here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/travelling-food-allergies-south-east-asia/

Climate & seasonal information

TET
11-16 February 2021, 31 January - 4 February 2022
Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure.

WEATHER IN VIETNAM
The most popular times to visit Vietnam are spring (February-April) and autumn (September-December) but because of the huge variations in latitude and altitude, there is no one best time to go to Vietnam. Temperatures vary from 4°C (39°F) in Sapa in winter to humid 36°C (97°F) days in Saigon in the middle of the dry season. The monsoons bring heavy rain to the south, and a cooler winter to the north. It’s a good destination all year.

WET SEASON
Flooding is common across Vietnam during rainy season (June-December) and could also lead to landslides. Typhoons are also common during this period. During these months there may be disruptions to transport and some activities or destinations may need to be changed as a result at short notice.

In case of emergency

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below:

Intrepid's local Operator: +84 903 117 770

Accommodations

HOTELS:
Most of the accommodation on this trip is in hotels (mostly 2 to 3-star). Facilities are often basic, with some properties not having a continuous supply of hot water on occasion. All rooms are either fan cooled or with air conditioning and twin share with private facilities unless stated otherwise in the daily itinerary. Double beds are not widely available in South East Asia.

WINDOWLESS ROOMS:
Some hotels in South East Asia have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also do not require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.

DAY ROOMS & EARLY CHECK IN:
Please note in some destinations we will provide use of day rooms. These rooms are provided for shared group use before or after overnight train journeys. We have some days where we arrive at our destination before check in time and a day room is not included. If you have booked a Single Supplement for your trip, it will not apply to these day rooms. Your leader may be able to assist you in booking a room for your sole use (depending on availability) until our regular trip rooms become available for an additional charge. Please talk to your leader at the Welcome Meeting if this is a service you would like to request.

HALONG BAY BOAT:
Your boat has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. The boats have 8-12 passenger cabins. There's also a dining room and bar on board. The boat is not likely to be a traditional sailing junk, as many older or imported vessels do not comply with waterway traffic safety laws.

Transportation

OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAINS IN VIETNAM:
Compartments will be 4 berth to 6 berth depending on seasonal variations and the group configuration. We aim to secure 4 berth compartments where possible. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Passengers of different genders may be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. On occasion the group may be split between several carriages, however your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip.


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