Vietnam in a Banana Leaf Trip Notes
Trip code: GTVE
Trip valid from: 01/01/2013
Trip valid until: 30/06/2014
Trip length: 22
Trip starts in: Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Trip ends in: Hanoi
Maximum group size: maximum 16
- Learn New Road Rules In Vietnam
This is your full-on trip up the coast of Vietnam and into the hills of Sapa. From hectic Ho Chi Minh City to historic Hanoi. Ready, set, pagoda.(Was Vietnam Encompassed)
Ho Chi Minh City
Mekong DeltaCruise the mighty Mekong, stop by the Cai Be floating market and try elephant ear fish for dinner. (2B, D)
Cu Chi TunnelsGet down and dirty on a tour of the tunnel network. We’re lucky some parts have been made wider for us fatties. (B)
DalatSuck in a lungful of fresh mountain air and head to Coffee Street, which is packed with little coffee stalls (obviously). Combined with the clean, crisp air you’ll definitely be wide awake by now. (2B)
Nha Trang - island cruise - overnight trainPack your swimmers and towel for our cruise around the islands. You’re on your own for the day before we catch our overnight train to Danang then the bus to Hoi An. (B, L)
Hoi AnHire a bike and check out the countryside, take a riverboat cruise, relax on a nearby beach, eat in the cheap cafes or update your wardrobe at one of the same-day tailors. (B)
HuePacked with temples, tombs, palaces and pagodas, Hue is great for history buffs (and Instagram fans). Don’t miss the Purple Forbidden Palace and the Citadel walls. (2B)
Halong BayThey say the limestone karsts in Halong Bay were formed when dragons were sent to spit big lumps of jade into the water, creating a wall that would protect Vietnam from invaders. No dragons were harmed in the making of this legend. (B, L, D)
Sapa - village trek - overnight trainTrek from Sapa into the surrounding hills and stay with a family in a remote hill tribe village. (2B, D)
HanoiBack in Hanoi there’s free time to check out some art galleries or just stroll around after our epic trip. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Maybe you’re after a ramble through Morocco’s Dades Gorge, or a stroll in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands. Or perhaps something more energetic, a hike in South Africa’s spectacular Drakensberg Mountains or along a stretch of China’s Great Wall. Whatever you want, the same principles apply: keep it simple, and slow it down. Stretching the legs is a great way to discover somewhere, whether a city’s downtown or remote countryside. You quickly get into the feel for how life’s lived, the local rhythm of where you’re travelling. And there’s no better way of meeting locals – take a walk through African plains or South American valleys and you’ll soon be trying to hurdle language barriers with friendly villagers and farmers.
A reasonably good level of fitness is required for this holiday and you should be in good health especialy as you will be trekking (Approximately 12kms through mountainous terrain). Any physical preparation will always be to your advantage. Anyone with respiratory or cardiac problems, or over the age of 60, should fully consult their medical adviser prior to booking and we may require full medical clearance.
- Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and professional local site guides at some sites.- Mekong Delta cruise including Cai Be’s floating market and visits to family-run industries.- Homestay on an island on the Mekong River with a Mekong cuisine dinner, an island trail walk and a sampan ride.- Day cruise on the South China Sea in Nha Trang, with a freshly-caught seafood lunch included (non-seafood options available).- Local ‘shopping’ bike ride around Hue and Dragon Boat cruise up the Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda and Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (with option to cycle back through the countryside).- Overnight boat cruise in Halong Bay. Accommodation in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities. A seafood lunch and dinner on board, swimming and a limestone cave excursion. Option of sleeping on the top deck under the stars (weather permitting).- Two-day trek up the Muong Hoa River Valley to visit minority hill tribe villages.- A night in Ban Ho in a longhouse belonging to a local family, including a hill tribe breakfast.- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Cu Chi Tunnels; Hoi An’s ‘Old Town’; Hai Van Pass; Lang Co Beach; Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton); and minority hill tribe town of Sapa.- Free time to explore Saigon, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi.- Overnight ‘Reunification Express’ sleeper trains from Nha Trang to Danang, and Hue to Hanoi.- Return overnight sleeper train from Hanoi to Lao Cai.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
15 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners
Sleeper train,Village hut,Hotel,Homestay,Boat
Single room supplementMost of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.
Bicycle,Boat,Jeep,Local bus,Private vehicle,Sleeper trainThe itinerary and supplementary information has been compiled with care and provided in good faith. However it may be subject to change, and does not form part of a contract between the client and The Imaginative Traveller.
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 05/02/2013