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Uncover the World Travel Ltd
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Tour Type
Small Group


Ancient Hanoi, overnight junk boat on Halong Bay, the perfume river in Hue, walking tour of Hoi An and bicycle tour of the surrounding rural villages, day trip and overnight homestay on the Mekong Delta

This comprehensive Vietnam tour is a perfect introduction to Vietnam, with tours to visit many of the countries tourist highlights combined with some less visited rural areas. This exciting adventure begins in the capital Hanoi where you'll have guided tours to all of the cities important monuments and buildings along with plenty of free time to soak up the culture in the Ancient Quarter. Leaving Hanoi behind you head to famous Halong Bay which many regard as one the Natural Wonder of the World. Whilst here you'll spend 2 days onboard a traditional Junk boat meandering around the thousands of tiny islands. Halong Bay is an awe-inspiring site which will leave you dumbstruck by its natural beauty.

After spending a night onboard the Reunification Express you'll arrive in Hue where you'll have a guided tour of this imperial city before heading on to beautiful Hoi An with its traditional architecture and laid-back life-style. Whilst in Hoi An you'll join a bicycle tour out of the city to visit some of the nearby rural villages and maybe even partake in some 'manual labour!'.

The last stop on this tour is the former capital of the French Colony of Chochin China - Ho Chi Minh City, though many still refer to it as Saigon. Ho Chi Minh is the vibrant business hub of the country where you'll see newly building sky scrapers standing in contrast beside traditional Vietnamese buildings. You'll have guided tour of the city and also take an interesting side-trip to the Mekong Delta where you'll spend the night in the home of a local family.

Private tour option

If our scheduled departure dates don't work for you, or you would prefer not to travel with a group, then we can also run this tour privately for you. Please contact us for more information and prices.

Upon arrival our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in Hanoi for the start of your trip.

    Hanoi hotel
    Single room supplement (VESGVE), Extra day in Hanoi - pre-tour

We start our tour of Hanoi this morning with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum where we'll learn about the man who led Vietnam's campaign for independence from French colonial rule. Ho Chi Minh died in 1969 after dedicating his life to the liberation of his country from foreign rule, and his body was preserved for posterity. Its quite an experience lining up with hundreds of Vietnamese and other tourists to pass by his open coffin.

Note: Every October the mausoleum is closed for 'Uncle Ho' to be given a bit of a spruce up.

Next we'll explore the grounds to see the one pillar pagoda and the presidential palace. before visiting an 11th century relic, the Temple of Literature, which was built in homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. Our exploration of Hanoi continues with a fun cyclo ride through the Old Quarter's 36 streets, named for the products that were sold from their shops. Today, vendors on Tin and Bamboo Streets still sell the same wares.

This evening your guide will take you to enjoy a culinary adventure, sampling street food in the Old Quarter. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about and taste all the strange and wonderful foods you'll see during your time in Vietnam, but just aren't sure what they are. This should give you more confidence in trying local foods throughout the rest of your time in Vietnam. We start at Bia Hoi corner to try the local brew, a draft beer with roots in Eastern Europe. Then continue exploring while your guide points out a a range of snacks, breads and tasty noodle dishes on sale. The pavements and streets are packed at night with locals perched on stools, surrounded by bubbling pots and sizzling woks. These small pop up restaurants are a nightly feature that all but disappear during the day. We'll sit down to enjoy a flame grilled Vietnamese barbecue of beef, chicken, tofu and vegetables on skewers before ending the night with a tasty desert from Hanoi's best-known ice-cream parlour.

    Hanoi hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Dinner

At around 8 am start your journey to Halong Bay and arrive at around midday to board a traditional junk for an overnight cruise. Halong Bay is widely considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. Thousands of towering pillars of sea and wind wind-carved limestone karst make the bay an unforgettable and iconic sight.

Our cruise starts by heading south through Cat Ba National Park, away from other tourist Junks. After lunch we reach the village of Cua Van where we'll get an insight into local life, trying a sampan boat and exploring around a typical Halong bay fishing village. Cua Van is a stand out example of community-based and sustainable tourism in Halong bay. The excursion includes a visit to the school, to a fish farm and to the local fishing museum. You have the option of a 1-hour kayaking trip around the village instead of the sampan stroll.

Back on board you have time to relax, enjoy spa & massage services if you wish, or Happy Hour at the bar. Once moored up near Coconut Beach Island we'll enjoy a delicious multi-course Vietnamese dinner. Later you can try some night time squid fishing with the crew if you wish.

Note: The itinerary in Halong Bay is subject to change or cancellations depending on current weather conditions.

    Halong Bay junk boat
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Enjoy an early morning swim (during the summer) or Tai Chi session, followed by breakfast as you cruise through more spectacular scenery back to the dock on the mainland. In the afternoon drive back to Hanoi to catch the overnight Reunification Express sleeper train to Hue (shared 4-berth cabins). You may have a few hours in Hanoi before the train departs. We recommend that you take time to get a good meal before transferring to the train station.

    On board sleeper train
  • MEALS:

Upon arrival in Hue you are met and transferred to your hotel. Early check in is subject to availability but breakfast is included.

Today we'll enjoy a private tour of this beautiful city which is rich in history, culture and ancient temples. We'll spend the day exploring the Citadel, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, before relaxing on a sunset cruise on the Perfume River.

    Hue hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch

Drive south along a beautiful stretch of coastline and over the scenic Hai Van Pass, to the picturesque riverside community of Hoi An. On arrival, enjoy a walking tour of this charming traditional town now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants. Today, it remains a quaint riverside town, renowned for its silk and popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailors shops and numerous cafes. Some of the buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century and much of the town is now heritage-listed.

    Hoi An hotel
  • MEALS:

Tra Que is a charming little village on the edge of Hoi An town. The village is particularly famous for its sweet scented green vegetables that spice up the famous Cao Lau and Quang noodle dishes that Hoi An locals favour. Upon visiting the village you will have the chance to discover the art of cultivating the plants and have the opportunity to take part in a fun cooking class, where you can learn how to prepare some local dishes.

Next, ride a bicycle to a local farm in Tra Que village, where you will be introduced to the history of the village and the cultivation of the vegetables. You will also discover how some of the crops are used in traditional Vietnamese medicine. As you visit the surrounding vegetable gardens you will join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilizing it with seaweed. You will have the chance to participate in activities such as raking the ground, sowing, watering and picking the greens. Spend the rest of the morning working the land in the time honoured way (optional), before breaking for lunch with a local family. Your lunch will consist of many local delicacies including 'tam huu' spring rolls and banh xeo, which is a local pancake dish that is popular in central Vietnam. After your lunch and the exertions of the morning, take a traditional Vietnamese post-prandial nap.

At around 3:00pm, bid farewell to your host family before heading back to Hoi An, stopping en-route at Nhat tomb and Ba Le Well before arriving back in Hoi An town at around 4:00pm.

    Hoi An hotel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch

This morning you fly to Ho Chi Minh City and spend the afternoon on a guided tour of the highlights of this bustling, cosmopolitan city. In the evening, you may like to enjoy a fun cooking class or take a cruise down the Saigon River, complete with local entertainment and a fantastic traditional and international buffet dinner (available to arrange through our representative in Ho Chi Minh).

    Ho Chi Minh City hotel
  • MEALS:

We depart Saigon today with a drive through the Mekong Delta to the town of Cai Be, famous for its floating markets. After touring the markets, board a private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways and canals to Vinh Long. Here, feast at the home of a Bonsai gardener for a sumptuous Delta lunch, including the popular 'Elephant ear fish', before continuing to explore the tributaries and canals of the Delta. Towards the end of the day, arrive at the home of a local family. The evening is spent with the family, learning about life in the Delta.

    Mekong delta homestay
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rising to the sounds of life on the Delta, have an early breakfast before boarding a riverboat to cruise to Vinh Long town, stopping along the way to visit local cottage industries. Then, transfer by vehicle to the town of My Tho to visit the Vinh Trang pagoda, before returning to Ho Chi Minh City.

    Ho Chi Minh City hotel
  • MEALS:

Your time is free today until we transfer you to the airport for your departure flight. An optional extension to the tour to visit Cambodia is available - see Extras section or tour dossier for details.

  • MEALS:
    Cambodia Extension, Extra day in Ho Chi Minh - post-tour
  • All accommodation as stated in the itinerary
  • All transport and transfers
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service
  • Services of a local tour guide during sightseeing and activities
  • Admission fees, with instruction where necessary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Internal Flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh

  • International flights (available on request)
  • Visas fees (Currently waived for GB nationals. We can arrange a pre-registration VISA letter for other nationalities - you will still need to pay for visa stamp fee upon arrival into the country, at customs check in counter, at a cost of $45 per person together with 2 passport photos. Please contact us for more information about the cost of this letter as prices vary depending on nationality.)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Drinks, snacks, tips and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for tour guides and drivers
  • Any other items not mentioned above
Vietnam Encounters accommodation
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Local rating
Our rating
Authentic Hotel
Hanoi, Vietnam

Authentic Hanoi Hotel is located in Old Quarter, 200 yards from Hoan Kiem Lake. All rooms are soundproofed and come with free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a restaurant.

Authentic Hanoi Hotel is located in Old Quarter, 200 yards from Hoan Kiem Lake. All rooms are soundproofed and come with free Wi-Fi. The hotel has a restaurant.

Authentic Hanoi Hotel is a 12-minute walk from Dong Xuan Market and Temple of Literature. Hanoi Railway Station is 1.9 miles from the hotel. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and One Pillar Pagoda are 2.2 miles away. Noi Bai International Airport is 23 miles away.

Modern rooms come with tea/coffee-making facilities, a satellite TV and personal safe. Select rooms overlook Red River, Hoan Kiem Lake or the city. Free toiletries and a hairdryer are provided.

Guests can work out in the fitness centre or rent a car to explore the city. Currency exchange and ticketing services are available at the tour desk. The hotel has a cash machine for convenience.

Authentic Hanoi Restaurant serves breakfast while a selection of Vietnamese cuisines can be enjoyed at Authentic Panorama Restaurant.

Hoan Kiem is a great choice for travellers interested in street food, friendly people andmuseums.

Local rating
Our rating
Aphrodite Cruise
Halong Bay, Vietnam

Aphrodite Cruise cruises around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay. Offering rooms with sea views, it also features free Tai Chi lessons, free movies and use of board games, and chargeable activities such as kayaking and snorkelling.

Aphrodite Cruise cruises around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay. Offering rooms with sea views, it also features free Tai Chi lessons, free movies and use of board games, and chargeable activities such as kayaking and snorkelling.

From Ha Long Bay, the city of Hanoi and the Noi Bai International Airport are a 4-hour drive away.

Located either on the upper or lower deck, rooms and suites offer an en suite bathroom with hot shower facilities and toiletries. Select room types come with a spa bath and a terrace.

Open from 06:30 to 20:30, the restaurant serves Vietnamese and Western delights, while the bar offers up snacks and drinks.

The 24-hour reception staff can assist with luggage storage, laundry and ironing requests. Massage services are also available at a surcharge.

Local rating
Our rating
Sleeper Train
Various, Vietnam

Vietnam's air-conditioned trains are safe, comfortable and a genuine Vietnamese experience in themselves, an integral part of your visit to Vietnam. You might even meet some Vietnamese people.

Vietnam's air-conditioned trains are safe, comfortable and a genuine Vietnamese experience in themselves, an integral part of your visit to Vietnam. You might even meet some Vietnamese people.

Local rating
Our rating
Orchid Hotel
Hue, Vietnam

Located near Huong River, Orchid Hotel offers rooms with personal computers and free internet. Hue Station is within walking distance of the hotel, which features a restaurant and free parking.

Located near Huong River, Orchid Hotel offers rooms with personal computers and free internet. Hue Station is within walking distance of the hotel, which features a restaurant and free parking.

All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with a DVD player, hairdryer and fridge. Guests can also enjoy a daily fruit basket or cake and free bottled water.

Luggage storage, laundry, dry cleaning and rental of cars and bikes are available. The hotel’s lobby has free Wi-Fi.

Orchid Hotel is within walking distance of the Perfume River.

Local rating
Our rating
Ancient House Resort
Hoi An, Vietnam

Hoi An Ancient House Resort offers traditional-style rooms with private balconies overlooking the gardens or outdoor swimming pool. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

Hoi An Ancient House Resort offers traditional-style rooms with private balconies overlooking the gardens or outdoor swimming pool. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. There is a 24-hour reception.

All rooms at Ancient House Resort have fresh and light decor. Their private bathrooms come with bathrobes and toiletries.

Guests can cool off in the outdoor swimming pool, or relax with a professional massage. Ancient House Hoi An features a well-equipped gym.

The Ancient House restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Barbecue facilities and room service are available. Guests can also try and cooking class offered by the resort.

Cam Chau is a great choice for travellers interested in cycling, friendly people andbeach.

Local rating
Our rating
Silverland Boutique Hotel
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Centrally located in central Saigon, Silverland Boutique Hotel is just opposite the tall Bitexco Financial Tower. A 5-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market, it has free Wi-Fi, a spa and a sauna.

Centrally located in central Saigon, Silverland Boutique Hotel is just opposite the tall Bitexco Financial Tower. A 5-minute walk from Ben Thanh Market, it has free Wi-Fi, a spa and a sauna.

Silverland Boutique Hotel is 750 yards from Independence Palace, Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Tan Son Nhat Airport is a 20-minute drive away.

Air-conditioned rooms come with a cable TV, minibar and tea/coffee making facilities. Some rooms feature a spa bathtub. Free bottled water is provided.

The hotel has a business centre that provides free fax and photocopying services. Friendly staff can assist with sightseeing arrangements and ticketing services. Laundry and dry cleaning can be done by the hotel.

The hotel's restaurant serves both Asian and Western dishes all throughout the day. Room service is available 24-hour daily.

District 1 is a great choice for travellers interested in nightlife, markets and shopping.

Vietnam Encounters options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single room supplement (VESGVE)
Price from
per person

Single room supplement (VESGVE)
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares may be available but the supplement is payable if a room share cannot be arranged.

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. If you are a single traveller and would be happy to share a room, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up with another single traveller of the same sex. If a room share is not available when you book then we will add the single room supplement to your booking and it will be payable with your balance payment unless we have arranged a room share for you by then. If a room share is arranged after you have paid the supplement then we will refund it to you. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Hanoi - pre-tour
Price from
per person

Extra day in Hanoi - pre-tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Extra day in Ho Chi Minh - post-tour
Price from
per person

Extra day in Ho Chi Minh - post-tour
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Cambodia Extension
Price from
per person

Cambodia Extension
Min numbers: 2 Adults

This option extends your tour to 16-days, adding in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. Sites visited include the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum in Phnom Penh and several of the Angkor temples at Siem Reap.

Cambodia Extension

This option extends your tour to 16-days and starts with a flight from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh (not included). Whilst here you'll visit all the tourist highlights which the city has to offer including the fascinating Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. You'll also visit the sobering Killings Fields and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum which documents the atrocities of the Khymer Rouge. An internal flight then takes you to Siem Reap, home to the awe inspiring Angkor Wat temple complex. Whilst here you'll have a day and half filled with tours along with another free day so that you can choose to revisit the temples or join our optional tour to the floating villages of Tonle Sap.

Day 11: Tue
Option Cu Chi Tunnel tour. Fly to Phnom Penh
This morning we offer an optional tour to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Later in the day you'll take a short flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This flight is not included in the price of this extension as it can often be built into your main international flight ticket for little additional cost. Please contact us if you would like us to book the ticket for you and we will provide prices subject to availability at the time (normally around US$110-160 p/p). After arrival in Phnom Penh we transfer you to your hotel and the remainder of the day is free to begin exploring Cambodia's exotic capital city.
Overnight: Phnom Penh hotel
Extras: Cu Chi Tunnels tour
Meals: Breakfast
Day 12: Wed
Phnom Penh Tour
Our guide will show you all the highlights of this bustling, vibrant city, including the fascinating Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. You can climb the hill to Wat Phnom, the city's main temple, where you'll find throngs of worshippers and troops of monkeys. In the afternoon, you can visit the sobering and poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which documents the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge against the Cambodian people. Tour ends with a visit to  Choeung Ek or the "Killing Fields", where over 17,000 people were murdered and buried in mass graves by the Khmer Rouge.
Overnight: Phnom Penh hotel
Extras: N/A Meals: Breakfast & lunch
Day 13: Thu
Fly to Siem Reap. Half day temple tour
Free time at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you are met and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, head to the famous Angkor Wat-best preserved of all the Angkor temples. Explore this huge architectural wonder at your leisure before visiting either Phnom Bakheng or Pre Rup temple to watch the sunset. 
Overnight: Siem Reap hotel
Extras: N/A
Meals: Breakfast.
Day 14: Fri
Siem Reap. Full day temple tour
The day begins at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, where you will begin your exploration of the centrepiece of this ancient city, the Bayon. The Bayon holds 54 towers decorated with more than 200 enigmatically smiling stone faces. The morning tour also visits the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings. In the afternoon you will visit Ta Prohm Temple which was famously featured in the movie, Tomb Raider.
Overnight: Siem Reap hotel
Extras: N/A
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 15: Sat
Free day in Siem Reap. Optional Tonle Sap tour
You have a free day in Siem Reap today. You can choose to revisit the temples, enjoy the city or choose to take our interesting trip to the floating village at Tonle Sap (described below): (Today, you will discover Tonle Sap Lake at Kompong Kleng, which is a unique village with few tourists visiting this area.  It is a large remote village located on the northern edge of the lake approximately 45km from Siem Reap. The main industry for the community is fishing. You will take a boat trip passing markets and villages to the edge of the great Tonle Sap Lake where you will enjoy a relaxing, fascinating journey to the flooded forrest. Return by boat and vehicle to Siem Reap with the balance of the day at leisure)
Overnight: Siem Reap hotel
Extras: Tonle Sap tour
Meals: Breakfast.
Day 16: Sun
Siem Reap. Free time. Transfer to airport for departure
Free time at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
Overnight: N/A
Extras: Extra nights in Siem Reap
Meals: Breakfast.
Vietnam Encounters tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

We use good quality hotels rated at the local 3 and 4-star level on this tour, together with a more basic homestay in the Mekong Delta and a comfortable stay onboard a deluxe Junk boat in Halong Bay. Hotel rooms all have air-conditioning and en-suite bathrooms.

All couples will be given a private double room. If you are a single traveller who would like to share, let us know and we will see if we can pair you up. If we don't have anyone to pair you up with when you book, we'll add this option on, but remove it or refund you when we can pair you up later. Check with us for guaranteed no single supplement offers on some tours and departures.

Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. With this in mind we use public transport where we think it offers a good local experience, this may include 2nd class overnight sleeper trains, local buses and local ferries. We also use private transportation including jeeps, rickshaws or pickup trucks, and mini buses for sightseeing tours where required.

Sleeper trains:
The sleeper trains in Vietnam are of a good standard and are popular with tourists. Each carriage has its own steward who ensures the train is kept clean and tidy. You will stay in a 4-berth cabin with 3 other passengers. Supplements can be paid to book a private cabin. Bedding is provided onboard the train. The berths are on two tiers and we cannot pre-book lower tier berths. A ladder is provided but you therefore need a reasonable degree of mobility to climb up to the top tier berths.

The tour includes a 24-hour arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers service in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Siem Reap if extension is booked) airport and all other transfers.

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to book your flights for you and our ATOL (UK flight sales license) covers all holidays booked together with a flight from the UK.

Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from. Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour whether you book your flights independently or through us. Our VIetnam tours start and finish in either Hanoi airport (HAN) or Ho Chi Minh airport (SGN).

If you are booking a tour that combines Vietnam and Cambodia we may not include the connecting flight between the two countries in the tour price (see the inclusions/exclusions or extension option sections for details). This flight can often be built into your main international flight ticket, or we are happy to book this flight for you separately if you prefer – please contact us and we will advise you on available airlines, times and prices.

We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There’s no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won’t ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our Vietnam group departures to have a maximum of 18 travellers.

At Encounters Travel we aim to only use local guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.

On this tour we may use separate guides in Hanoi, Hue-Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh. The Halong Bay cruise and Hanoi street food tour are on a sharing basis and you may join other travellers for this part of the tour.

The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.

Tipping is not part of Vietnamese culture but has become customary but not compulsory in the tourist and service industry. Tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service. You may therefore wish to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour.  You should not feel obliged to tip any particular amount, and should consider your personal budget. We are often asked to provide a guide however, and can suggest that approx. USD 5-10 per person per day would be appropriate for your guide(s).

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.

British citizens (plus Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Russian, Sweden, Norway, Finland, , France, Germany, Italy, Spain) are currently subject to a visa exemption scheme, so no visa is required for stays in Vietnam of up to 15 days. Other nationalities and those staying longer in Vietnam will need to obtain a visa in advance. As this isn’t always convenient we offer the option of obtaining a visa on arrival approval letter which means that you can then purchase you visa on arrival in Hanoi, however if you try to board the flight without this letter or a visa you’ll be refused board. Please contact us regarding the cost of this as it does vary depending on your nationality.

We run regular small-group departures on this tour starting on Saturdays throughout the year. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 people. Departure dates and prices are listed on our website and on a separate dates & prices sheet available on request.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers not otherwise covered by ATOL.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

Thailand: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Vietnam: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Cambodia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Laos: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.

The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.

Sockets are two round or flat pronged and 220 volts (Type A, B, C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don’t have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
The time in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is GMT plus 7 hours. Daylight saving adjustments are not observed.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign

The Vietnamese currency is the ‘Dong’ (VND). Most people prefer to be paid in Dong rather than US dollars. It can sometimes be difficult to change large notes at smaller villages so try to keep a stash of smaller notes with you.

You can also change all major currencies with any private moneychangers, at the local markets, shops or hotels, or at a bank. Banks usually open from 8.00am to 3.00pm, except Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Although all major currencies are usually accepted, the US$ is by far the most widely accepted and preferred currency, with large notes ($50 and $100 bills) getting a better exchange rate. Travellers’ cheques in major currencies are accepted at all banks, though a commission will be charged.

At banks throughout Vietnam you can draw cash, in both dong and dollars on all major credit cards. Approx. 3% commission will be charged for this service. Many souvenir shops, restaurants and hotels will accept payment with credit cards. There is, however, a 3-4% surcharge.

There are ATMs in Major cities like Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Hué, which accept major credit cards. We recommend that you consider bringing both credit cards, some cash in a hard currency (e.g. GB Pounds, Euros, US Dollars), and some travellers’ cheques.

Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Vietnam, though if your itinerary has many stops and different travel included within it, we recommend packing light and not bring any large cases. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips – you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.

Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.

Climate and Clothing: There are three reasonably well-defined seasons in Vietnam, but unlike in Europe, where seasons are temperature based, Vietnam is tropical and generally speaking warm all year round. Take light clothes with something warmer for the winter nights. Some light raingear would be useful in the wet season.

Other items: We recommend you also bring:

  • Cool footwear (sandals are ideal). If you are interested in exploring the reefs, a pair of reef shoes is recommended to avoid injuries. If you are trekking, then bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or light walking boots.
  • Swimming costumes – rash-guards/t-shirts are recommended for snorkelling to avoid sunburn.
  • Sunscreens, after sun lotions and personal hygiene products – Please adhere to 100ml restrictions for anything you wish to carry on hand-luggage on flights.
  • Prescription medications (if required) – please bring supporting documents.
  • Power adapter for phones, laptops etc
  • Sunglasses and hats
  • Basic first aid kit and toiletries
  • Money belt
  • Small torch
  • Dive certification card and log book if you intend to participate in SCUBA diving.
  • Sleeping bag if your tour includes any hill-tribe or village trekking
Vietnam Encounters dates & prices
This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
01 Jul, 2017 11 Jul, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
29 Jul, 2017 08 Aug, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
26 Aug, 2017 05 Sep, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
23 Sep, 2017 03 Oct, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
21 Oct, 2017 31 Oct, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
18 Nov, 2017 28 Nov, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
16 Dec, 2017 26 Dec, 2017 US$2079 - - Book now
tripadvisor winner 2014 and 2015

Posted Jun 09, 2016
I haven't traveled yet, so it is a bit premature to be giving a rating. That being said, I have been exceedingly impressed with the service I have received to date. No pushy salesmanship just quick and complete answers to all my questions. It shouldn't be hard to give this sort of service, but I have found it lacking elsewhere. And the itinerary looks to be the best for the time we have, really allowing us to see the places we are visiting instead of seeing how many places we can cram in - but I will be able to comment better on that after the trip.

Posted Apr 14, 2016
Ant was extremely patient with us and worked really hard to come up with an itinerary which gave the whole family what we were looking for. We can't wait!