Vietnam small group tour, 12 days
Description of Vietnam small group tour, 12 days
This small-group holiday gives a great overview of Vietnam. Cities top and tail the trip – the fascinating, frenetic streets of Hanoi in the north-east and high-speed Ho Chi Minh City in the south.
In-between, you’ll get the chance to sail around the cathedral-tall limestone islands of Halong Bay and the caves and underwater rivers that thread below Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The lesser-visited Vinh Moc war tunnels offer a more human story, showing how village life changed during the Vietnam War.
Along the way, you’ll discover that life is lived outside in Vietnam. So don’t be shy – pick up a banh mi from a food stall, pull up a chair at the rail track cafés, and catch the sun rising above the rice paddies.
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Water is a really important issue with trips such as this and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Wherever possible we provide safe alternative sources of water to buying single use plastic bottles. This may be through large water containers, or encourage our passengers to filter, sterilise or purify water. We encourage all our passengers to come prepared with a reusable water bottle for this purpose.
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.
In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.
A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.
Local Craft & Culture:
We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travellers. For example, in the Mekong Delta, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories which sell handmade coconut sweets, rice paper, soya bean sauce, popped rice and popcorn amongst other things. There is also the option to see a traditional folk dancing or water puppet show at Ho Chi Minh. This encourages local customs to continue and creates employment opportunities. In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called ‘Reaching Out’, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence.
Accommodation & Meals:
We will spend most nights in comfortable hotels and also in some more unique accommodation such as a houseboat and a local guesthouse at a farmstay. This combination of locally run hotels and accommodation providers contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. Many of these places also have environmental policies which reduce waste, water usage and energy expenditure. Where meals are not provided, your guide will be able to point out several smaller restaurants, cafes and markets, like in Hanoi old quarter, Hoi An market or Ben Thanh. There are some weird and wonderful regional specialties to try with plenty of fresh produce available in most areas. We even have the opportunity to eat in a delicious home cooked local Vietnamese house – an experience which is always enjoyed thoroughly by our clients.