Hanoi to Saigon small group tour
Description of Hanoi to Saigon small group tour
We’ll explore the narrow lanes and local cafes of Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter; stay overnight on a traditional-style wooden boat amid the dramatic scenery of Halong Bay and discover the spectacular karst landscapes of Trang An - ‘Halong in the Rice Fields’. Heading south - with an overnight ride on the famous ‘Unification Express’ - we’ll hike through some of the truly awe-inspiring caverns of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, home to what’s considered the World’s largest cave system and travel up the Perfume River to visit the royal pagodas and tombs of Hue, the former imperial capital.
Continuing south we reach picturesque, historic Hoi An, as well as the atmospheric ruined temples of the little-known Cham civilization at My Son. From Danang a short domestic flight takes us to vibrant, sometimes chaotic, but ever-fascinating Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many of its residents.
Our tours concludes with a 3-day boat and road tour through the lush landscapes and myriad waterways of the Mekong Delta where we’ll visit the famous floating markets as well as taking a dug-out canoe through the hidden Vietcong jungle base of Xe Quit.
No less than 7 of Vietnam’s 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites along with the opportunity to meet plenty of very friendly people and sample the justifiably renowned cuisine. A magnificent and varied introduction to the spectacular landscapes, rich culture, both recent and ancient history and famous and lesser-known sites of this fast developing, yet in many ways still very traditional, Southeast Asian nation.
1. The Old Quarter, colonial architecture, lakeside cafes and pagodas and of Vietnam's charming capital Hanoi
2. An overnight cruise through the World Heritage landscapes of awe-inspiring Halong Bay
3. Discover the dramatic limestone scenery of Trang An in Ninh Binh Province - 'Halong in the paddy-fields'
4. Go underground at the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, the vast subterranean former Vietcong base
5. Explore the picturesque Mekong Delta region: a labyrinth of waterways, islands and traditional villages
6. Sample Vietnam's superb and highly reputed cuisine with the emphasis, as usual, on the authentic and local food
1. Take a short flight from Saigon for a stay at a beachside resort on spectacular Phu Quoc Island
2. Head to the coast for some quality ‘R and R’ at Mui Ne.
3. Sapa and the far north. A 5-day exploration of the region’s high mountains and myriad hll-tribe peoples
4. Fly Saigon to Siem Reap for a 4-day tour of the World Heritage jungle-clad temples of Angkor
5. Add on a stopover in Bangkok for our fascinating off the beaten track mini-tour
Note groups sizes are 2 to maximum 12 persons with most meals (local-style) included and accommodation in 3 to 4* hotels.
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PlanetOur aim is to provide a genuinely small group, low impact tour including a mixture of popular and off the beaten track sites on our itinerary. By limiting groups to small sizes (maximum 12 persons) we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater interaction with said communities.
It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.
By combining the well-known tourist sites with rarely visited destinations this diverts tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited.
Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes is also a key element of this tour.
As with all our tours national park visits are included and activities such as bird-watching offered which we hope will encourage protection of the natural environment and provide financial incentives for doing so. A national park included in this particular itinerary is Phong Nha - Ke Bang as well as the karst landscapes of Trang An.
All accommodation on the tour is selected with sustainable practices - waste disposal, product recycling etc – in mind and we include a stay on the Pepper House home-stay, organic farm.
Shorter, sightseeing tours are now either walking or cycling tours and we use rowing boats for trips in Bai Tu Long Bay, Trang An limestone landscape, Xe Quit and Phong Nha National Park. (Electric buggies are compulsory at Phong Nha and My Son for travel between car-park and main site.)
Accommodation is specifically chosen with location in mind so that at any given destination on the tour most key sites are within easy walking or cycling distance thus keeping vehicle use to a minimum on the itinerary. This also negates the need for any form of taxis during free time as guests can walk or cycle to any points of interest.
To reduce transport all staff are locally employed. Lunches and dinners are all Vietnamese style and taken in local eateries which use 100% locally sourced products. Again, any inclusive meals consist of traditional Vietnamese fare so are heavy on vegetables and sustainably-sourced fish, light on meat and lack any dairy products.
PeopleOn a general level it is important for is that both local staff and guests are aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment and that the latter are instructed in how to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices.
By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.
On a more specific note, we encourage maintenance of traditional handicrafts and supporting people with disabilities (in a region where disabilities can utterly preclude gainful employment) by visiting, and encouraging purchases from, the Hong Ngoc Humanity Centre, near Hanoi. This is an entirely Vietnamese-run NGO, which allows disabled children and young adults to learn vocational skills relating to the manufacture and marketing of handicrafts.
Entrance fees at numerous sites go towards maintenance of such historic sites as well as contributing towards salaries and local employment opportunities.