Hanoi to Saigon tailor made holiday, Vietnam
Description of Hanoi to Saigon tailor made holiday, Vietnam
Starting this two week tailor made holiday in Hanoi makes sense as you'll get to experience the cultural contrasts of past and present where French style collides with Southeast Asian charm to conjure an exciting three day introduction to all things Vietnam.
Walking tours of Hanoi's oldest district always make a lasting impression whilst sitting back on a cyclo gives your legs a break as you head deeper into the streets and around the lakes and parks on an exciting orientation of Vietnam's historic northern powerhouse.
The centrally located city of Hue provides your second port of call en-route to Saigon with an efficient domestic flight making short shrift of distances. Hue is awash with relics of Vietnam's imperial past with mausoleums, pagodas and palatial properties placing historic heritage tours at the top of most travellers' things to do list.
A train ride from Hue to Danang allows for a relaxing means of watching the world pass by as paddy fields and riversides morph into a series of seamless settings prior to swapping rail for road as you disembark in the beautiful UNESCO protected city of Hoi An.
Hoi An has a wonderfully laid back ambience that invites ample opportunities to browse and relax as the mood dictates with visits to local fishing villages and basket boat rides on the river conjuring up a series of insightful cultural experiences before embarking on the last leg of the tour to Saigon.
No visit to Vietnam is complete without spending time on the Mekong Delta and after flying from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City you'll be invited to stay with a local family in Vinh Long and visit the floating markets at Cai Rang before returning to the Vietnamese capital for three final nights.
PlanetMany of the tours and excursions in this itinerary avoid using cars to reduce carbon emissions: the tours of Hanoi by cyclo and on foot, the boat trip on the Perfume River in Hue, the walking tour of Hoi An, exploring the Mekong Delta by boat and bike. Between Hue and Hoi An we recommend taking the train instead of driving to reduce your carbon footprint.
It is worth also mentioning the things we have chosen NOT to include – such as Halong Bay. Many people would consider this to be a highlight of Vietnam, but we do not feel that the current overcrowding on the bay makes this a responsible option. Despite being UNESCO protected the bay is becoming polluted and rubbish-strewn in part, so for a truly responsible itinerary we would not include this.
Plastic water bottles – used by locals and visitors alike – are a massive problem to dispose of, especially in these rural areas, so we recommend that our clients purchase a water bottle with in-built water filter, and are working with a company called Pure Hydration to offer a 10% discount on their products as an incentive for our clients to support the reduction of plastic water bottle usage.
PeopleThere are many opportunities to support the local community in this itinerary.
Many of the excursions included in the itinerary provide an authentic social and cultural insight into the local Vietnamese way of life. Using traditional methods to generate a source of income through tourism is of massive benefit to maintain the local culture. Some examples of this include the following :
- The early bird tour and the educational talk in Hanoi
- Wet rice growing and fisherman and waterways tours in Hoi An
- Kite making and morning home visit in Hue
During your time in the Mekong delta you will spend one night in a homestay with a local host family. The homestay is built in the traditional Mekong architecture and is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the culture and lives of your host family. Not only will this give you more of an insight into Vietnamese life but you will also be contributing to the local economy by staying in a local family owned homestay.
It is not always possible to use environmentally friendly or ethically minded accommodation in Vietnam as it is still a relatively new concept here. However, of particular note is the Villa Hue where you will stay during your time in Hue. This charming hotel is a practical training centre operated by the Hue Tourism School and many of the staff are second year students from the tourism school.
Locally run NGO’s and charities will be thrilled with your visit and we will give you some suggestions for projects to visit and support closer to your time of travel. You will have the opportunity to support a variety of these in the vital work they do with Vietnam's vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. They often receive little or no help from the government so your visit/donation is much appreciated and needed to sustain their ongoing good work. One example of this is Streets restaurant in Hoi An which we recommend for lunch or dinner during your time in the area. STREETS International is an innovative social enterprise initiative with the purpose to develop and operate sustainable programs for street kids and disadvantaged youth in Southeast Asia and throughout the world. STREETS prepares vulnerable, orphaned and other disadvantaged young people for careers in hospitality.
There are so many wonderful textiles, crafts and home wares to buy in this region and by buying from carefully selected organizations that we can recommend you can help support local communities and their skills. For example, Craftlink, a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to assist small Vietnamese producers develop their businesses and find market opportunities. Many of the poorer and more marginalized people of Vietnam, such as the hill tribe minorities and street children, are being left behind by the economic miracle that is sweeping Vietnam. This shop provides a retail outlet for the many people to sell their textiles and crafts and are paid fairly for their work and encourages the conveyance of the traditional skill to the next generation therefore preserving textile skills for the future.
The most important responsibility of tourism is to experience the real attributes of a country and contribute to the local economy.
A contribution of 1USD per passenger that travels to Vietnam with us will be made to the Understanding Heart Foundation. Officially established in July 2010, Understanding the Heart Foundation and partners have supported the cost of heart surgery for nearly 600 poor children all over the country.