Vietnam at a Glance
Thompson Travel Holidays
Relish Vietnam’s distinct and energetic character on this whistle stop journey from cosmopolitan Saigon to the spectacular panoramas of Halong Bay, experiencing local life in Hoi An on the way.
18 April 2023 - Travelling
Depart Dublin to travel via Istanbul to Saigon. Arrive in Saigon next day at approximately 8pm.
19 April 2023 - Saigon
On arrival into Saigon, you will be met at the airport in the arrival hall by your Local Guide and/or National Escort. Transfer 45 minutes to your hotel and check into your room or Overnight at hotel.
20 April 2023 - Saigon
Confront the reality of guerrilla warfare at the Cu Chi Tunnels. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they did not escape damage. American B52 bombers dropped hundreds of missiles leaving huge tell-tale craters behind. The Cu Chi experience can be emotional for some visitors, but it offers a fascinating window into the hardship and traumas of war. This afternoon explore modern day Saigon with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum
21 April 2023 - Mekong Delta
Drive approximately 2 hours to the picturesque Mekong Delta to witness the daily life of people living in this area. You will travel around by motorised, wooden boats between the islands and then change to smaller, paddle boats in the canals. Sightseeing involves hopping on and off these boats, often on unsteady and slippery surfaces, sometimes without handrails or assistance. Have lunch at a local restaurant where we can sample the culinary specialties of the Mekong Delta. Return to Saigon, en route visit Vinh Trang Pagoda to experience the Cao Dai religion.
22 April 2023 - Hoi An
Fly 1 hour and 15 minutes to Danang and transfer to the charming town of Hoi An. This afternoon enjoy a walking tour of the narrow and ancient streets of this charming town. We will visit one of Hoi An’s oldest homes, built over 200 years ago and still occupied by the descendants of the merchant family that originally built it. We will also visit the traditional Hoi An Market, the Reaching Out arts and crafts workshop, the Quan Cong Chinese Temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
23 April 2023 - Hoi An
This morning visit a local community farming project just outside of Hoi An - Tra Que village where the community has come together to create a large vegetable farm. Learn the traditional methods the farmers use to plant, fertilise and harvest the crop, then try your hand at raking the ground and sowing seeds. The remainder of the afternoon is free at your leisure to explore the ancient town, or go to the beach.
24 April 2023 - Hoi An/Hue
This drive approximately 4 hours to Hue, this journey will take you over the scenic Hai Van Pass. Hue is the epitome of Vietnam’s dynamic past, and considered a scholarly city. Upon arrival, visit the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City which is still being restored many years after the destruction caused by street fighting and bombing during the American War in Vietnam. Explore the Royal Tomb of Minh Mang; the complex comprises of almost 40 monuments and is surrounded by gardens and pools, making it one of the more beautiful tombs. Continue by road to Thien Mu Pagoda and take a cruise on the Perfume River.
25 April 2023 - Hue/Hanoi
This morning fly 1 hour and 20 minutes to the Charming city of Hanoi where you will check into your hotel and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.
26 April 2023 - Hanoi
Discover the sights of Hanoi today. First stop will be the Ho Chi Minh Quarter and visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, followed by the Humble House on Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda. Next drive to the serene Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Later experience an exhilarating cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Each cyclo takes one passenger and is operated by a cycle driver behind the carriage. This afternoon you will also have the opportunity to taste some traditional egg coffee. This evening enjoy a traditional Water Puppet show.
Please note: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is closed for entry on Mondays and Fridays every week and from September to December each year. During these times we are unable to enter the Mausoleum; however, we can view it from the outside.
27/28 April 2023 - Halong Bay
Drive 4 hours today from Hanoi to Halong, where you will take an overnight cruise to the far-most corners of the bay.
There is usually a crowd of boats at the docks; however, the cruise itself will be scenic and relaxing. Boarding your boat could involve navigating your way over and through other boats, moored between it and the dock, sometimes without handrails, ladders or assistance from staff.
Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise out into the bay, stopping to anchor for an afternoon of activities. Activities are subject to change due to cruise selection and weather conditions. Sightseeing usually includes visiting underground caves on the islands which involves climbing up and down lots of steps. End the day on deck with a drink in hand to watch the sunset over the bay followed by a freshly prepared dinner, before retiring to your cabin for the night.
You will need to pack a smaller overnight bag for your trip to Halong Bay.?Main luggage will be left in safe storage at the hotel in Hanoi and picked up your return.
Please note: Weather conditions such as mist, fog, wind, rain and storms may delay the departure time of your cruise, or in some cases your cruise may be cancelled. Notifications of any delays or cancellations may not be known until your group’s arrival in Halong Bay. If your cruise is cancelled after your arrival in Halong Bay, you will have lunch in Halong City and return to Hanoi. ?If notification of the cruise cancellation is given prior to your departure for Halong Bay an alternative day trip will be arranged to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc or ‘Halong Bay on Land’, an area located approximately 2 hours from Hanoi. Our guides will make every effort to inform the group at the earliest possible moment should there be any itinerary changes.
Spend the morning sailing through Halong Bay. After an early lunch (or brunch meal) disembark your cruise and return to Hanoi. The remainder of the evening is at your leisure.
29 April 2023 - Departure
Any time before your flight is free is at your leisure today. You will be transferred 1 hour from the hotel to the airport, according to the departure time of your international flight.
· All accommodation
· All meals
· All sightseeing and entrance fees
· All transportation and transfers
· Services of Thompson Travel Guide and local Escort/Guide
· Comprehensive travel guides
· Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
The only thing you may have to pay for are personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, tipping, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Please note: Only breakfast and lunch are provided on the groups day of departure; no refund will be given for meals missed.
For UK citizens entry visas for Vietnam are required for stays longer than 15 days or for multiple entries into Vietnam within a 30 day period; therefore UK citizens will not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a single entry stay of up to 15 days. Currently this visa exemption rule applies until 30th June 2018. Should the visa requirements for UK citizens travelling to Vietnam change we will contact you regarding your visa requirements. To allow for unforeseen circumstances if your tour includes a stay of 15 days or more in Vietnam the standard visa processing service is included in your tour cost.
If you do require a visa we can assist you with the process of obtaining one. We will supply you with all paperwork and submit the visa application on your behalf. Visas for Vietnam are issued with specific start and expiry dates which are based on the dates stated on the visa application form. Travel must be completed within those dates. Please be advised that your passport must have at least 6-months validity left on it when you arrive back into UK. Visa application forms and all relevant documentation are due in our office 60 days prior to departure; if received after this, urgent visa processing fees will apply. Please note we do not accept passports and visa applications within 30 days prior to departure. Passports will be returned with your Final Documentation 2-3 weeks prior to your group tour’s scheduled departure.
It is a condition of booking with us that you take out suitable travel insurance. You must provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24 hour emergency contact number when you book with us or as soon as possible thereafter. These details will be available to your national escort should they be required. We will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking. Please call our office if you require a quote for insurance. 028 38 394489
EATING IN SOUTH EAST ASIA
Southeast Asia is home to an incredibly rich food history. The local cuisine is known for its intense flavours, spices and some of the freshest ingredients you can find. In general, meals include either rice or noodles and are packed full of flavour.? Lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves, coriander, fish sauce and so y sauce are used in most local dishes.? Whilst Southeast Asian food has a reputation for being hot and spicy, each region actually has its own distinct characteristics. Vietnam, for example, is perhaps best known for its fresh and aromatic dishes – relying heavily on flavours from fresh herbs such as mint, basil and dill.
Your itinerary has been carefully crafted to introduce you to a range of local dishes and we hope that you enjoy the culinary adventure ahead.? All meals (excluding drinks) are included in our fully inclusive group tours from dinner on the day of your groups’ arrival until breakfast on your day of departure. When dining in Southeast Asia, although some restaurants have adopted a western approach to dining, expect some restaurants to follow the traditional communal style of eating.? Typically, this will mean each diner has their own small bowl and may serve themselves from a variety of shared dishes. At some local restaurants, appetizers and main courses might be served when they are ready instead of following a particular order.
Determining when it’s appropriate to use chopsticks, forks or spoons can be challenging for some travellers, even other Asians, as each country has different customs. In Vietnam, dishes are normally placed in the centre and people serve food for themselves with their own chopsticks and bowl. In Thailand and some other countries in Southeast Asia, fork and spoon are used for most dishes and chopsticks are typically provided to eat noodles. Usually chopsticks or other utensils are provided to scoop the food into your bowl to prevent your own chopsticks from touching the food that remains on the table. Dining in Southeast Asia is fairly casual with not too many rules. Leaving food on the plate is not considered rude.
Please refer to your travel guide for more information on Southeast Asian cuisine, including information for travellers with restricted diets.
Your accommodation is selected for convenience of location, comfort or character, and can range from a business hotel in one city to a family run guesthouse in a smaller town. In more remote areas, accommodation may be of a lower standard and may not have all western amenities. Hotels are generally rated as local three to four-star standard, but please note that there is no international classification system for hotels and differences in facilities and quality do exist between the UK and South East Asia. All group tour hotels have private western bathroom facilities, air conditioning, TV and telephone. Plumbing and electricity supplies can be erratic and quite often the power in hotel rooms is turned off while guests are out of the room. If you experience any difficulty, please speak to your National Escort/Local Guide. Rest assure that all hotels used by us are regularly inspected by our staff and our partners to ensure that standards meet your needs.
Solo travellers: If you are a solo traveller and willing to share a room, you will not have to pay a single supplement for any hotel rooms. Willing to share single travellers booking within 75 days of the first day of a group tour will be subject to availability. If no suitable match is available at time of booking you will be required to pay all single supplements.
Coaches: Coaches with air conditioning are used on our group tours for city sightseeing, short excursions to the countryside and longer transfers where necessary. Roads in South East Asia have generally improved over recent years, but traffic and/or weather conditions may extend driving times. Road construction work usually covers an enormous section of road - not just one or two kilometres as you may be used to. For this reason, the timings listed in the itinerary are approximations only. Planes: Internal flights are based on economy class, with reputable airlines.
Tipping while on holiday is common in most parts of the world and South East Asia is no exception. However, it is not always clear who it is appropriate to tip and how much. Furthermore, travellers may not have the right amounts of cash available at the right time. In order to avoid any inconvenience we operate a tipping policy where a stated amount is given to your leader to be dispersed to the guides, hotels etc during the tours. This equates to £50pp for this tour, payable alongside balance.
Please refer to the weather websites for up to date weather information. November to April is slightly cooler and drier than other months.
AFTER YOU BOOK
Once you have booked with us, you will receive a confirmation invoice followed by deposit receipt, which includes a visa application form (if applicable), and a help sheet. Your final documentation pack will be available 2 weeks prior to departure along with any other information.
It is our intention is to adhere to the day-to-day itinerary as printed; however, the order of events or sightseeing may change as we look to improve our tours or as local conditions dictate; in these circumstances we will make the best possible arrangements whilst maintaining the integrity of your trip.