Best of Vietnam holiday, tailor made
Description of Best of Vietnam holiday, tailor made
Discover the Best of Vietnam on this comprehensive 16-day Vietnam holiday. Start in the north with an exploration of the historic city of Hanoi with its wide French boulevards and winding Old Quarter - enjoy the bustling activity of an evening out in Hanoi on a guided street food tour to sample the best dishes on offer. Travel out of the city and learn about a grass-roots microloans scheme aimed to help rural villagers earn a living. Cruise through the limestone karst formations of UNESCO Heritage Halong Bay and paddle yourself through the Bay to explore the caves and coastline.
Take the overnight train to Hue, the old imperial capital and home to a host of interesting sites including the Imperial Citadel and the Royal Tombs. Travel up and over the Hai Van Pass, with its impressive views of the surrounding bays, and end in the historic merchant town of Hoi An. Once known as Champa City, the town boasts a fascinating history and a variety of architectural influences from Japanese to European due to its once important location on the spice route. Jump onto a bicycle and head to the organic gardens to learn about this community project and stroll the streets of the historic centre with its pretty houses and laidback coffee houses.
Continue south to the sprawling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, the country's economic heart. Discover the city that is always on the move (usually by motorbike!) before leaving the hustle behind and delving into the wonders of the remote Mekong Delta. Watch the exchange of goods for dong at the busy floating market and take a traditional xe loi through country lanes to experience the life of the rural Mekong. Board a sampan boat and cruise the remote bywaters and discover the birdlife of the Tra Sa Melaleuca Forest Reserve before returning to the city for a spot of last minute sightseeing or shopping.
|Day 1||Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Hanoi.|
|Day 2||Land Hanoi and transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is at leisure. Early evening head out with your guide on a street food tour through the winding streets of the Old Quarter. The pavements come alive at night with pop-up restaurants so enjoy the chance to sample the local dishes.|
|Day 3||Depart the city and head to the remote Hoa Binh province for a stroll through the pretty landscape. Meet a local villager and learn about how the cost of this day trip goes towards the development of their livelihood. Enjoy a spot of basket making and enjoy a traditional lunch. This afternoon visit the People's Committee to learn about the difficulties facing rural Vietnamese women. (B,L) **Note, this day trip only operates on Sunday.|
|Day 4||Drive from Hanoi to Halong Bay and board a traditional junk boat. Cruise out on the waters of the bay and enjoy a buffet lunch while the limestone karst formations glide by. Late afternoon board a local boat and explore a local village or take the kayaks for a self-paddle adventure. Return in time for a sundowner onboard. Enjoy dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)|
|Day 5||Rise early for a tai chi lesson if you wish. After breakfast head out to explore Me Cung Cave which has some impressive stalactites. After brunch onboard, return to the city and transfer to the railway station for the overnight sleeper service to Hue. (B,L)|
|Day 6||Arrive Hue and transfer to the Villa Hue Hotel for breakfast. This afternoon enjoy a tour of the citadel and the Royal Tombs. End the day with a cruise on the Perfume River. (B)|
|Day 7||Drive to Hoi An via the Hai Van Pass which offers fabulous views (when not shrouded in cloud!). Arrive in Hoi An and enjoy a tour of the sights including the Japanese Bridge and the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall. (B)|
|Day 8||Take a bicycle and head to the community farming project at Tra Que to learn how the community is working together to maintain the organic gardens. Help out in a plot before enjoying a local lunch followed by a herbal foot bath and massage. (B,L)|
|Day 9||Today is at leisure in Hoi An. (B)|
|Day 10||Fly to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a full day city tour. Visit the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace and stroll down Dong Khoi Street which was featured in the novel 'The Quiet American'. The day ends with a trip through the city's canals where life remains unchanged. (B)|
|Day 11||Depart the city and head into the Mekong countryside this morning. Visit a local project which aims to help the poorest members of society through things like micro-loans and agriculture training. Head out on a bicycle to discover some of these community projects. Enjoy dinner and overnight in Long My town. B,L,D)|
|Day 12||Enjoy time to visit more projects if you wish before enjoying lunch. Depart for Can Tho and check into the hotel. Evening at leisure. (B,L)|
|Day 13||Discover the bustling morning market today. Watch the sellers hawking their wares and the locals haggling for the best produce and prices. Continue to Chau Doc and cruise through the Vinh Te canal which marks the border between Vietnam and Cambodia. Overnight Victoria Nui Sam Lodge. (B,L)|
|Day 14||Take a xe loi (the Mekong's version of a city cyclo) through the lanes to discover rural life. Visit a small community of Cambodians who have made the delta their home and explore the Tra Su Melaleuca Forest reserve which is home to a variety of birdlife. Take a sampan through the mangroves before returning to the lodge. (B,L)|
|Day 15||Return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. (B)|
|Day 16||Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)|
PlanetOur local agents in Vietnam try their utmost to try and reduce their impact on the environment. They ensure all vehicles are maintained for utmost fuel efficiency and guides are required to turn off vehicles when idling to minimise unnecessary emissions. They create travel itineraries that allow the most energy efficient routes. Where possible, eco-friendly modes of transport (walking tours, cycling, trains, etc) are opted for. They work with their preferred restaurants to offer locally grown and sustainable food items and choose restaurants that support the ban on serving endangered species, for example, shark fin soup.
Our local agents administration offices aim to minimise energy use by setting air-conditioning times and minimum temperatures, turning off lights, computer screens, UPS and printers when not in use. They also aim to reduce the amount of paper used in their offices by doing double sided printing, recycling and streamlining of operation procedures.
Our agents work with their preferred hotel partners to encourage guests to be mindful of the environment by choosing to re-use towels and linen, turn off air-conditioning/lights when not in the room. Also to eliminate unnecessary plastic waste by providing re-fillable purified water containers instead of individual plastic bottles.
PeopleOur local agents are Vietnam owned, managed and run, have been operating in Vietnam for 20 years and have an excellent reputation. Fair salaries are paid to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals.
Our local agents aim to minimise the social impacts of travel. They work closely with local NGO and intentional NGO partners to integrate itineraries with alternatives and solutions to negative social issues. They also instil awareness and understanding of the negative impacts the illicit drug, wildlife and child exploration trades can have on communities and cultures and why their tours will never participate.
On this holiday you will stay in the Villa Hue Hotel, a 12 room boutique hotel and practical training centre for Hue Tourism College students. Villa Hue is located inside the Hue Tourism College (HTC) which offers full and part-time programmes in tourism and hospitality disciplines across the whole spectrum of higher education. Hue Tourism College aims to offer education in a responsive, caring and flexible learning environment. The centre is located just a few hundred metres from the main tourist area of Hue City. Guests will experience firsthand service from the eager students of the school, some of who are experiencing working in a hotel environment for the first time.
This holiday pays a visit to Mekong Quilts which was founded in 2001 as an income generation project. Mekong Quilts employs women in communities northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (Duc Linh, Tanh Linh and Ham Thuan Nam in Binh Thuan Province) and Long My in the Mekong Delta. Mekong Quilts also offers employment opportunities to Cambodian women through a similar project located in the village of Rumdoul, near the Vietnam/Cambodia border.
All profits generated from the sale of the quilts are reinvested into the community through Mekong Plus: scholarships for children, agricultural training and micro-finance programmes, etc. As a result, not only does your support through the purchase of products help to provide sustainable employment to women but the profits from the sale of the quilts also benefit the poor communities in which they live.
Victoria Nui Sam Lodge is the training centre for Victoria Hotels’ staff. Created to grow and nurture the future employees of Victoria Hotels, the academy is dedicated to offering opportunities to local youth and contributing to the local economy.
This tour also visits a rural province outside Hanoi to learn about their innovative microloans project. Visit the borrower whom your tour fees fund a loan for, a rare chance to meet the person whose livelihood you are making an active and sustainable contribution towards. You will have an opportunity to hear her personal story, learn about her plans for the microloan and find out about her hopes for the future. Also enjoy lunch with the head of the Women’s Union in the village who has been doing operating the scheme for over 10 years and will share some of the challenges and opportunities faced by rural women in Vietnam. Also visit the Head of the Commune People’s Committee to learn about the community, walk to the nearby schools, kindergarten and clinic and learn about the health and education system in the commune.