Chopsticks & Coconuts Family Holiday Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Family Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Destinations:
Vietnam, Asia
Programmes:
Family
Trip Code:
FIV
Moderate
Moderate

Moderate trips are more challenging for a number of different reasons, which can be found in trip notes for specific itineraries. Things to consider are the amount of physical activity that can be expected and the length of time children will be expected to engage for. If there’s more travel and less downtime on a trip, it’ll fall into this category. As will multi-centre trips and those in extreme climates.

16 Days Flight Inclusive
14 Days Land only
Designed for: Ages 13-16
Also for: Ages 9-12

Trip Overview

From the spectacular limestone seascape of Halong Bay to the frenetic streets of Saigon, Vietnam is a country full of interest and surprises. The cities are an assault on all the senses: noisy, colourful, aromatic and totally absorbing. We tour Hanoi by cyclo and have the option to see a water puppet show. We have quieter time also, snorkelling at Whale Island, exploring the fascinating Mekong Delta by boat and cycling past vibrant green paddy fields near Hoi An. We also have the chance to enjoy the superb Vietnamese cuisine and practise our chopstick skills (try the fried scorpion if you dare!).

At a Glance

  • 10 nights hotels, all en suite, 1 night boat, 1 night homestay, night sleeper train
  • 13 days sightseeing, boat trips, kayaking and exploration
  • Travel by private minibus, boat, bike, train and 2 internal flights

Trip Highlights

  • Two nights on a tropical island, snorkelling in turquoise seas 
  • Learning and sampling the secrets of delicious Vietnamese cuisine
  • Sightseeing by cyclo (bicycle taxi) and also by bike
  • A night in a village homestay
  • Magical boat rides and kayaking around scenic Halong Bay, the Eastern Sea and Mekong Delta
  • Crawl through the Cu Chi war tunnels
  • Waterpark, beaches and swimming pools
  • Two internal flights to maximise your time at destinations

Is This Trip for You?

Activity Level: 3 (Moderate)

Designed for 13-16 year olds, also suitable for 9-12 year olds. 

Our family activity levels are aimed at children in the primary or ‘Designed for’ age group. We are confident it is also suitable for those in the ‘Also for’ age range, however please note if your child is in this secondary category they may find it a little easier. Please see the family activity levels on our website for further information. When grading our trips we consider multiple factors, such as the pace, the level of activity involved, the amount of time a family will spend travelling and the weather is an important factor too.

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of Vietnam using a mixture of private buses, boats and flights. There is a lot to see in the time you are there, but it is paced so that it doesn't feel too rushed.

Travel time is kept to a minimum in general but there are a few longer drives. There is plenty of time for sightseeing and the trip has numerous stops where we spend two or more nights.

Whilst choosing this trip please note that some of the accommodation will be basic but is clean and tidy. The swimming pools may not be up to western standards.

Locals and other Asian tourists may want to take photos of themselves with your children particularly if they are young, blonde and have blue eyes. You should be prepared for them to do this without asking permission first. You should also be prepared for lots of traffic in the bigger cities like Hanoi and Saigon, where you will have to relearn crossing the street, as things like zebra crossings are not used as they are in the west.

Group

Locally qualified Vietnamese English-speaking leaders will lead all groups. Local guides may be used at various sights.

Adult min age:
17
Child min age:
9

Child max age:

16
Min group size:
8
Max group size:
24

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Hanoi
End City:
Saigon

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Hanoi

    The day is free to recover from the flight or stroll amongst broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period. There is a faded colonial charm where baguettes and good coffee are sold from doorways of grand buildings of a past era. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with your leader followed by an optional dinner at a local restaurant, where your children will have their first opportunity to practice their chopsticks skills.
    May De Ville City Centre Hotel or similar

  • Day 2

    Morning tour of Hanoi including a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter; afternoon free. Evening at Hanoi's famous water puppet show

    This morning we take a city tour, which will include a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum area to see his 'House on Stilts' and visit the One Pillar Pagoda. We'll also visit the Temple of Literature and the Hoa Lo Prison (also known as the 'Hanoi Hilton'). Afterwards we enjoy a cyclo (bicycle taxi) ride through the Old Quarter, with its '36 Streets' where each street is home to shops sell particular products - e.g. 'silk street', 'gold street', 'paper street' and 'souvenir street'. The remainder of the day is at leisure to stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake, stopping for a coffee or ice cream at one of the many cafes surrounding it. In the evening there is the option to enjoy a performance of Hanoi's famous water puppets.
    May De Ville City Centre Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    To Halong Bay; cruise/kayak among spectacular limestone formations; dinner and sleep on boat

    We make an early start for the approximate 4 hour journey to Halong Bay. This is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with roughly 3,000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery, stopping to have a go at kayaking, allowing us to get to places inaccessible by boat (weather permitting), and enjoy a seafood lunch on board. In the late afternoon we watch the sun go down and enjoy another lovely meal before overnighting on the boat in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.
    Overnight Boat

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 4

    Cruise then return to Hanoi; overnight train to Da Nang

    We continue to cruise around Halong Bay this morning before returning to port. We then drive back to Hanoi, and transfer to the train station and board the Reunification Express for the overnight train ride to Da Nang, over 600km to the south.
    Overnight Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Explore caves at Marble Mountain; drive to Hoi An for walking tour

    This morning on arrival in Da Nang we drive the short distance to Marble Mountain where we explore the large caves which were used by the Viet Cong as a hospital base during the war. From the mountain peak, there are fantastic views over My Khe Beach and the surrounding countryside leading on to Hoi An. We then drive on to the World Heritage site of Hoi An, the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-16th century. It is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant's houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences. It is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market. We take a walking tour of the old town and visit the Japanese Bridge and Chinese Assembly Hall.

    Hoian River Green Boutique or similar

  • Day 6

    Cycle through countryside; free afternoon followed by an evening cooking class

    This morning we jump on bikes for a ride on quiet roads through the countryside past local markets, schools and villages before continuing on to Cua Dai beach (5 km). Please note that we are able to provide child sized bikes for those children who are 120cm and taller. Children riding their own bikes must be aged 7 upwards, for smaller children there will be the option of riding on the back of their parents bike in a child seat or saddle. The afternoon is dedicated to free time at the beach for swimming, or you can take an optional boat trip on the river or relax back in town. In the evening we join an informal cooking class where adults and children alike will learn how to make some of Hoi An's speciality dishes and even participate in rolling your own spring rolls!
    Hoian River Green Boutique or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 7

    Fly to Nha Trang; transfer to Whale Island, free time to swim in the turquoise sea

    This morning we transfer to Da Nang airport and fly to the Cam Ranh airport in Nha Trang. We then transfer (approx. 3 hours) to the tropical island retreat of Whale Island. With just one guesthouse on the island and accommodation in beach bungalows, this really is a chance to unwind and relax or while away the rest of the day swimming in the sea. 

    Whale Island Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Cruise around islands with seafood lunch and snorkelling

    We will join a boat trip in the morning for a spot of snorkelling and swimming before a seafood lunch is served. In the afternoon there is the option to visit a local fishing village, see the Whale temple or walk around the island to the viewpoint for a 360 degree view of the stunning mountainous coastline and the surrounding coves and white sand beaches.

    Whale Island Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 9

    Fly to Saigon

    Depending on flight schedules, there may be time for one last dip in the sea before transferring to the airport for our flight to Saigon, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City. This is an exciting and absorbing city where scooters pack the streets and temples stand defiantly alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a bustling free market city where anything goes.
    Huong Sen Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels; afternoon tour of Saigon with visits to Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh markets

    In the morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war the network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. The tunnels were used by the guerrillas as living quarters and escape routes during the Vietnam War. Although originally very narrow, some parts have been widened for the tourists and we have the opportunity to explore parts of the system. Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine before we return to Saigon. In the afternoon we wander around the city visiting the Saigon River, Ben Thanh market, Reunification Hall and Notre Dame Cathedral.
    Huong Sen Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Explore the Mekong Delta by boat, visiting a floating market and villages; overnight in homestay guesthouse

    This morning we drive to Cai Be in the Mekong Delta (approx. 2.5 hours). The Mekong, known as 'the rice bowl of Vietnam', produces much of Vietnam's fruit, sugar cane and coconuts. We spend some time at Cai Be from where we begin a Mekong River boat trip passing a floating market and visiting typical riverside villages where we learn about some of the local products for which the Mekong Delta is famous - e.g. popped rice, rice paper & coconut candy. Cai Be floating market is becoming less crowded and smaller as fruit trading is mostly now done by trucks due to the bridge being built. However, this is still a great opportunity to see a local market and the trade being conducted traditionally on a smaller scale. 

    After lunch we continue our journey passing some magnificent countryside and stopping at some small cottage industries. The evening is tranquil as we have dinner on an Island and enjoy some 'Delta' hospitality. We spend the night sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
    Homestay

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 12

    Morning walk through the island's fruit orchards and navigate small canals in a traditional sampan; return to Saigon

    This morning we take a walk through the fruit orchards and navigate our way through the small canals in a traditional wooden sampan. Later we rejoin our boat to rendezvous with our vehicle for the journey back to Saigon via a little visited Cao Dai temple used by devotees of this strange indigenous religion, which fuses all the great religions of east and west.
    Huong Sen Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Visit to Dam Sen water park to cool off for the day

    Today we visit the excellent Dam Sen Water Park with its slides and rides to allow the kids to let their hair down!
    Huong Sen Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    End Saigon

    For land only clients, the tour ends this morning in Saigon after breakfast.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat, Guesthouse & Sleeper Train

During the tour you will spend 10 nights in comfortable hotels (all rooms en suite), 1 night on a boat in twin share cabins (en suite), 1 night standard guesthouse to experience some 'Mekong Delta' hospitality, sleeping 1-3 a room (depending on group size), next to a local house and 1 night sleeper train, soft-bed berths. All the hotels are centrally located. 

Our 2 night stay on Whale Island is regarded as an absolute highlight for many however it is basic. You will stay in bamboo thatched bungalows each with mosquito nets, fans and en-suite bathrooms. The simplicity of island life really makes it idyllic but you should be prepared for it to be a bit different to the hotels used for the rest of the trip. 

During this trip we spend one night on the sleeper train, the best way to travel long distances with the locals! The journey between Hanoi and Da Nang is quite comfortable although despite being first class, it is still primitive. You will be in a 4 man cabin, (ocassionally 6 depending on season) and bedding is provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage but people generally stock up on snacks before the journey.

We have endeavoured to select hotels for their location as well as character, and use the best available accommodation in each area visited. There will have en-suite facilities, reliable electricity and water supply, good service and some added amenities.

Most hotels have swimming pools but the homestay in the Mekong Delta does not. There are opportunities to swim at beaches in Hoi An and on Whale Island. 

Single Accommodation

There may be instances when you specifically want a single room. Perhaps a grandparent needs one, or parents of a family of three or five want to ensure they get a bit of space! Single supplements are available upon request (see price details below). Please advise as time of booking. A single room is available on hotel nights only.

Additional Accommodation

Is available in Hanoi and Saigon before and after your trip. Please ask for prices. Due to high demand for rooms there is a chance it may be in a different hotel to the start/end hotel of your trip. Please ask your sales consultant if you wish to book extra nights.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can't guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.

Single supplement from $594.00 NZD

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

12 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 3 dinners are included. 

Thanks to the tropical climate, the long coast and the gigantic range of mountains, Vietnam is blessed with numerous varieties of culinary offerings and consequently maintains its reputation as one of the healthiest cuisines in the world that still packs a punch with delicious, fresh and fiery flavours.

Vietnamese food relies on fresh fish, vegetables, rice and a whole myriad of verdant herbs and spices; lemongrass, ginger, basil and lime all play an important role in the cuisine. The Chinese and French influence is felt throughout the country where you are just as likely to be offered a Banh Mi (stuffed baguette) as you are a hot steaming bowl of Pho (noodle soup).

Each dish is prepared with the Asian principle of Wu Xing in mind (the five elements); meaning that the perfect combination of spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet is the ultimate aim. Be sure to also seek out the national beverages; Vietnamese coffee is served iced and sweet with condensed milk, a real sugar and caffeine hit, and beer hoi (local beer, brewed daily) is served on most street corners in the North out of large plastic jugs that are perfect for sharing.

Food is cheap in Vietnam and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere, with the exception of the night in the Mekong Delta.

Vegetarian food is widely available, however the offering will be fairly similar in most places. Please advise at time of booking if you have any dietary requirements.

Transportation

We use a private minibus or coach, which will be comfortable, usually with air-conditioning. Most of the driving days are not long, usually no more than three to four hours. Road conditions are generally good and improving all the time in Vietnam. However progress can be slow in the main cities due to traffic. There are two domestic flights, all bookings on flights are made in economy class.

Tet Holiday Period (Vietnamese New Year)

During the Tet holiday period, 21-30 January 2020 and 10-17 February 2021, and two weeks either side of Tet, our itinerary is subject to minor change as despite booking hotels and trains in advance, rooms and seats are difficult to obtain during this busy festive period when people are travelling home to celebrate with their families. It is unlikely that changes will occur and if they do it is likely we will just need to use alternative accommodation.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

The weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually between 28ºC and 34ºC. It is only a little cooler at nights.

There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and even gets chilly between November and February (with a drizzly rain).

There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Halong Bay can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip. These could occur all year round, but especially in monsoon season (from October to April). Boat trips on Halong Bay are governed by the local authorities who are authorised to make such appropriate safety decisions. If your Halong Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Halong Bay for your group, or less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible at all to go out on Halong Bay. Whilst this is not a frequent occurrence, our local team and leaders are well equipped to handle such situations and have long offered appropriate options to groups in the instances where this may occur.

Weather Charts

Hanoi

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 16 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Malaysian Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure. Internal flights during the trip are with a local airline.

Travelling land only: 14 days starting in Hanoi, ending in Saigon

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Hanoi during the late afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Free transfers are only applicable if booked in advance directly through Exodus before a trip commences.

Location start:
Hanoi
Location end:
Saigon

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothes. As it is generally hot and humid, light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the trip, though it will be cold in Hanoi between November and early March and you should bring a warm jacket, woolly hat, and trousers if you are travelling at that time. Please remember that you will be expected to cover your legs and arms (to the elbow) during visits to some temples and palaces. Sandals are useful as they are cooler and are easier to take off when visiting temples. 
  • Torch/flashlight
  • Sun cream, sun hat, sunglasses & swimming costume will be well used
  • Bike helmet: these will be available locally however we can't guarantee the quality and fit so please pack your own if you'd rather be confident in the standard and comfort of the helmets. 
  • A first aid kit is carried on each trip, but you should bring your own first aid kit with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters and a blister treatment kit.
  • Insect repellent is also highly recommended. Repellent containing DEET is thought to be highly effective.
  • You may wish to pack a bag that can be used as an overnight bag. For the night in Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta you will be required to leave your main bag behind at the previous hotel for the night.
  • Warm clothes/layers for the overnight train journey, especially in the cooler months.
  • Refillable water bottle (1-2 litre capacity)

There are laundry facilities at the bigger hotels we stay at or cheaper laundry facilities close to some hotels.

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 20kg.

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Optional Equipment

  • A money belt
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or an umbrella, or a poncho can be bought cheaply locally
  • Rash vests or swim suits that are like shortie wetsuits as they can protect children from the sun
Incense giving, Vietnam

Practical Information

Passport

Vietnam

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Vietnam

**UPDATE 11.03.2020** The below visa advice is not valid at the current moment in time. If you are booked to travel to Vietnam within the next month, Exodus will contact you with further information when it becomes available.

A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2021. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure.

For further information please check the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'. If you have any questions about whether you need a visa for your trip please contact the Customer Operations department.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Vietnam

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Vietnam's Timezone:
Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh +07 (GMT +07:00)

Electricity

Vietnam's Electricity:

220 volts AC, 50 Hz. In Vietnam the US 2‐pin plug is used in the south of the country, while the Euro 2‐pin type is used in the North. It is worth having both adapters with you.

Money

Vietnam's Currency

The national currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 30000 to the UK£ and 22000 to the US$.


Although local currency is preferred, US dollars are widely accepted in Vietnam in tourist shops and restaurants. You can obtain Vietnamese Dong before travel or by using an ATM or changing money upon arrival.

ATM Availability

ATM's are now widespread in Vietnam and are the easiest way of obtaining money, it is possible to draw a maximum 2,000,000 VND or approx. 60GBP/80-100USD in major cities in one go.

Credit card acceptance is now widespread in cities in Vietnam at restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

If you would like to bring cash there will be ample opportunity for you to change this. Sterling and US Dollars are both easily exchanged.

As you will probably be carrying much of your money in cash, we strongly recommend using a money belt.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need about GBP 225-275/USD 300-360 for all other meals, which will allow you to eat well. Apart from the food, you should allow money to cover soft drinks (more for the adults who like a beer/alcohol) and souvenirs.

Optional Excursions

There are a number of optional activities, which if you wish, your leader can help arrange for you and advise of during the trip.

Hoi An Tu Bon River boat trip GBP 5/USD 8

Tipping

This is entirely at your own discretion, but we suggest that you some funds for tips for the local guides and staff. In Vietnam, with the increase in tourism, tipping has become customary. The local staff will probably expect some gratuity and we suggest you allow for this. The leader will suggest to the group that they donate a sum of GBP 33/USD 43 per person towards a kitty on arrival. This money is then used for tipping of local guides, hotel porters, drivers etc. It is basically to ensure that the hassle is taken out of various activities for you. If you do not wish to contribute to a central pool for tips you are of course free to do so.

If you feel that your leader has performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide, 2-4GBP/3-6USD per person per day would be a reasonable starting point. The 'tipping kitty' explained above is entirely separate from any contribution to the tour leader. Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus.

Responsible Tourism

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned and staffed to ensure that our visit is directly contributing to the community. Most nights will be spend in comfortable hotels while some are in more unique accommodation such as a boat, sleeper train and a homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta. The homestay guesthouse is hosted by local families, providing clients with a real insight into the Vietnamese way of life. We will also have the opportunity to eat a delicious home cooked meal during the homestay guesthouse and foster friendship over food.

During the free afternoons in Hoi An, clients can plan a visit to ‘Reaching out’, a social enterprise that provides opportunities for people with disability to learn skills as artisans and gain employment so that they will be able to fully integrate fully with their communities and lead independent lives. Purchasing handmade gifts from them is a form of support to local production and its worthy cause.

When in Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of the graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training making it a great initiative to support.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

Family trips

On all trips the staff are there to help ensure the holiday runs as smoothly as possible and, in the unlikely event that it does not, to sort out the best possible alternatives. What they cannot do is act as child minders or babysitters; they will treat your children as 'young adults', but it is your responsibility to look after your young ones. During free time or if you decide to opt out of part of the itinerary, you are responsible for your family and any arrangements that need to be made. Under no circumstances should this responsibility fall on our staff or any of your fellow travellers outside of your immediate family.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.