Vietnam small group explorer holiday
Description of Vietnam small group explorer holiday
This Vietnam small group tour is two weeks long, starting in Hanoi and finishing in Ho Chi Minh City, with plenty of diverse and fascinating places to visit in between. Vietnam is 1600km long and travelling from north to south gives us time to explore not only some of its classic sites but also get far off the beaten track.
Classic sites on this Vietnam holiday include its great cities of Hanoi, the thousand year old capital, Hue and Hoi An both of which feel like a leap back into the past, and Hoi Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon and which needs little introduction.
As well as its great cities, we get a chance to explore the country’s landscape wonders, travelling with a variety of transport so that we are able to take it all in properly. We spend a night on a private charter boat on Halong Bay, the UNESCO World Heritage Site which is also the world’s largest marine karst landscape and home to many waterside communities. We also take a sleeper train through some of the tropical rural areas of the country, and go cycling through the exquisite rice paddies and environs of the Mekong Delta.
It is good to step off the beaten path in Vietnam sometimes, not only to see some of its lesser known natural heritage spots but also its historic ones. Consequently we spend time at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to take in its massive karst limestone terrain and cave systems, as well as Bach Ma National Park with its mix of coast, misty mountains and tropical valleys. Here, as in many places that we visit, we will learn about the impacts of the Vietnam War, visiting memorial sites and also the DMZ zone and Vinh Moc Tunnels . All in all, Vietnam is not only a thought provoking country, it is an extremely welcoming and beautiful one.
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PlanetNorthern Vietnam and its rural areas are known for their pristine, undeveleped environment - stunningly beautiful, we aim to keep it that way! We are very aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures and fragile environments. We realise that taking clients through such a region can have a negative impact on the environment if not handled responsibly and as such, on all of our trips we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive… after all, there are also many good things that the traveller can bring.
Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip to Vietnam. We have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the fragile eco-structure of the land is not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our guides are trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas. On this trip you will go off the beaten track and see places seldom visited by tourists, places that haven't yet been affected by tourism so it will be virtually important not to leave any litter.
In each area we employ and develop close relationships with drivers and guides. We feel the interaction between our friends and our clients offers both parties a valuable understanding between cultures.
By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites we visit – particularly important as this trip visits some remote sites that aren’t policed by tourist regulators.
PeopleIn Vietnam we use local ground handlers - this means that all the operational costs go directly into the local economy and helps to improve employment opportunities in remote regions. By incorporating homestays (like in the Mekong Delta day 12), locally owned hotels, family run restaurants and the services of guides and drivers into our itineraries, we ensure that money you spend on your trip goes directly into the local economy and local communities benefit from tourism.
As a show of our support for local communities we consider it an important feature of our trips to provide opportunities to sample local culture and deepen our own understanding of local history. The water puppet show on day 2 in Hanoi is a great chance to learn about northern Vietnamese art with its depictions of rural life and famous local stories. Visiting landmarks of historic significance, like the DMZ Vinh Moc Tunnels on day 7 and the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh on day 14, is similarly essential in giving visitors an awareness of Vietnam's social and economical development.
We also make efforts to meet and interact with smaller, more isolated rural communities throughout our trip. Visiting local fishermen in nearby villages during our exploration of Halong Bay, watching locals at work in the rice paddies and peanut fields along the Son River and learning about the process of making rice-wine and Vietnamese-style popcorn from villages within Phong Nha National Park are all great insights into rural lifestyles within Vietnam.
In order to facilitate an enduring support structure for the communities we visit, and to show a commitment to these values, in January 2009 we set up a charitable foundation through which we can directly channel funds to both existing NGOs and our own development projects. In addition to organising ethically sensitive tours, having our own charitable foundation allows us to raise money – through the cost of our tours, charity trips and fund raising events – which can then be used to fund various projects in education, sanitation, reforestations and a number of other important issues facing developing communities. We also support several other Aid agencies and NGOs around the world which are all carefully selected to improve the standard of living for the communities we visit such as: Mines Advisory Group, which clears and destroys the landmines and weapons that make areas unsafe after war. Today, they have field activities in Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, northern Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Somaliland, southern Sudan and Vietnam.