Vietnam: Hike, Bike & Kayak
from $2105
Duration: 11 Days
The spectacular valleys and mountains of Vietnam were simply made for exploration. Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for this immersive journey that gets away from the bright lights of Hanoi and under the skin of Vietnam's bucolic countryside. In between trekking and cycling past lush landscapes, stop in at local villages and learn about traditional life with memorable homestay experiences. It’s not all mountains and trails either, with an opportunity to kayak across the majestic waters of Lan Ha Bay and spend a night in a waterside resort. Prepare to be led off the beaten track.
  • Gain a greater insight into life in northern Vietnam with an itinerary that explores not just Hanoi but also heads out into the countryside
  • Hike through the picturesque valleys surrounding Sapa and visit local communities
  • Cycle out to Mai Chau and on through the stunning karst landscapes to Ninh Binh
  • Kayak around karsts and explore the secluded lagoons and caves of Lan Ha Bay - the lesser visited but just as beautiful sister of Halong Bay
  • Sapa - Cat Cat Village trek
  • Sapa - Lao Chai to Ta Van trek
  • Sapa - Ta Van to Su Pan trek
  • Hanoi - Old Quarter Walking Tour
  • Hanoi - West Lake bike ride
  • Mai Chau - Pom Coong Village visit & traditional lunch
  • Mai Chau - Cycling
  • Mai Chau to Ninh Binh cycling
  • Day 1 Location: Hanoi
    Xin chao. Welcome to Vietnam! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. If you have time before the meeting, head out and discover Hanoi. Visit Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple, start sampling the delicious street food, or visit the Museum of Ethnology and find out more about the homes and lives of Vietnam’s ethnic communities. After the welcome meeting, you may like to join your group for an optional meal at one of Hanoi's fantastic eating spots.
    Day 2 Location: Hiking in Sapa
    After breakfast climb board a private minibus to Sapa, a town in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains of northwest Vietnam. This journey will take approximately 5 hours. From the market in the centre of Sapa, venture out on a short trek (approximately 2.5 hours) through the surrounding valleys to visit a village called Cat Cat. This is home to the H’mong people, who emigrated from China 300 years ago. In the evening, settle into your hotel in Sapa for the night.
    Day 3 Location: Hiking in Lao Chai
    Savour the dramatic landscapes and panoramic views of rural Vietnam on a trek from Lao Chai to Ta Van. You'll pass by terraced farms ripe with corn and rice, over bubbling brooks and through bucolic villages. Stop for a picnic lunch before heading on to our homestay with a local family in the evening. The total trek today is around 10 kilometres (6.2 miles).
    Day 4 Location: Hiking in Su Pan
    This morning trek to Su Pan before taking some time to rest your feet on a bus ride back to Sapa. In the afternoon the group returns to Hanoi (approximately 5 hours). Maybe get a bird's eye view of the city from a rooftop bar and unwind with an iced coffee.
    Day 5 Location: Cycling in Hanoi
    Vietnam's capital is best explored on foot, which is why the group will head out on a city walking tour. See the final resting place of Vietnam's revered revolutionary at Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum before stopping by the Temple of Literature. Although the shrine was originally built in the 11th century, and is therefore considered to be the city's oldest temple, the current structure and shrine to Confucius actually dates from the 18th century. In the afternoon, have a practice on your bike with a warm up cycling trip around Hanoi's West Lake.
    Day 6 Location: Cycling in Mai Chau
    Leave behind the Hanoi hustle first by vehicle, then jump on your bike and and cycle to the Mai Chau valley (approximately 60km / 37mi). There are great photo opportunities along the way – stop at a vantage point to take in the view of Mai Chau, home to a variety of minority groups with their own unique culture and languages. Along the way, there's also the opportunity to help local farmers plant rice seeds into the fields. Arrive in Mai Chau and head to the village of Pom Coong, where your local guide will introduce you to your hosts for lunch, and provide information on the region's people, their lifestyles, customs and culture. Lunch is a traditional affair with examples of local cuisine on offer. This is a great opportunity to experience the local area, chat with your hosts, and gain a real insight into life in this fascinating and picturesque region. After lunch, take some time to relax before saddling up for a cycle trip to nearby villages. Back at the homestay, relax with a cold drink while watching the sun set over the peaceful mountains. Alternatively, for the food lovers, why not help your host cook dinner!
    Day 7 Location: Cycling in Ninh Binh
    After breakfast set out again on your bike on a cycle from Mai Chau to Ninh Binh, a region well known for its green valleys, karst mountains and conservation areas. Today's ride will cover approximately 70 kilometres in total.
    Day 8 Location: Cat Ba Island
    Catch a bus this morning from Ninh Binh to Hai Phong then jump on a ferry to Cat Ba Island, which sits at the southeastern edge of Halong Bay. Lan Ha Bay, where Cat Ba can be found, is part of Halong Bay with the additional attraction of numerous white-sand beaches. The total travelling time today is approximately five hours. Check in to your peaceful, hilltop accommodation and enjoy a free afternoon taking it easy in a hammock, or opt to keep the pace up with a hike or trip to the beach.
    Day 9 Location: Kayaking around Cat Ba Island
    Explore the waters and limestone karsts of Lan Ha Bay on a full-day boat trip. Get up close and personal kayaking beside the tree-clad outcrops, with lunch onboard also included. Halong Bay's World Heritage designation was extended to the Cat Ba Archipelago thanks to its similar aesthetic value, and the scenes of turquoise water and junk boats are quintessential Vietnam. No-one will judge you for taking a selfie here. Spend a second night on Cat Ba, with the evening free to visit the local restaurants and bars.
    Day 10 Location: Hanoi
    Say goodbye to Cat Ba Island and head back to Hanoi (approximately five hours). Arrive in the late afternoon, and perhaps head down to the markets for some last-minute souvenir shopping or to pay a visit to one of the city's many museums or historical sites. Both the Fine Arts Museum and Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison are great choices. In the evening, perhaps head out for a farewell dinner with your group and toast the end of this active adventure.
    Day 11 Location: Hanoi
    Your active adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned, but there's plenty to see if you'd like to continue exploring Hanoi or further afield, including an Urban Adventure discovering Hanoi's street food by night.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    21NOV2021
    Return Date:
    01DEC2021
    2105NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02JAN2022
    Return Date:
    12JAN2022
    2295NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    13MAR2022
    Return Date:
    23MAR2022
    2295NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27MAR2022
    Return Date:
    06APR2022
    2210NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    10APR2022
    Return Date:
    20APR2022
    2210NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    08MAY2022
    Return Date:
    18MAY2022
    2210NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    22MAY2022
    Return Date:
    01JUN2022
    2125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05JUN2022
    Return Date:
    15JUN2022
    2125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    21AUG2022
    Return Date:
    31AUG2022
    2125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    11SEP2022
    Return Date:
    21SEP2022
    2125NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Vietnam: Hike, Bike & Kayak

    Trip code

    TVXA

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    The spectacular valleys and mountains of Vietnam were simply made for exploration. Put on your hiking shoes and get ready for this immersive journey that gets away from the bright lights of Hanoi and under the skin of Vietnam's bucolic countryside. In between trekking and cycling past lush landscapes, stop in at local villages and learn about traditional life with memorable homestay experiences. It’s not all mountains and trails either, with an opportunity to kayak across the majestic waters of Lan Ha Bay and spend a night in a waterside resort. Prepare to be led off the beaten track.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Active Adventures

    Transport

    Private minibus,Bike,Boat

    Physical Rating

    3

    Joining point

    La Sante Hotel & Spa

    42 Chau Long Street

    Ba Dinh

    Hanoi

    VIETNAM

    Phone: +84 2435132222

    Joining point instructions

    Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer you will be met as you exit the Terminal Hall by a transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign. If you cannot find your transfer representative, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline on +84 903 117 770. Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment. Metered taxi ranks are available outside the airport entrance. Exit the Customs Hall and walk through the airport exit gates A4 and A5 on level 1. You will find Noi Bai Airport Taxis (+84 4 3886 8888) readily available. Noi Bai Airport Taxi drivers wear a yellow uniform shirt. Taxi fare to your hotel in town will cost approx. VND350,000.00 in total. Please note these taxis won't use a meter, but generally charge a fixed fare. Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

    Finish point

    La Sante Hotel & Spa

    42 Chau Long Street

    Ba Dinh

    Hanoi

    VIETNAM

    Phone: +84 2435132222

    Finish point instructions

    Intrepid can assist with pre-booking a departure transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to the start of your trip. If you have pre-booked a departure transfer your leader will advise your pick up time the day before your trip ends. Taxi fare from your hotel to the airport will cost approx. VND260,000.00. Please ask your leader or hotel staff for assistance in arranging a taxi.

    Important information

    1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for local transport tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket. 2. A single supplement is available on this trip, subject to availability. Please contact your sales agent if you would like to book this. Please note the single supplement excludes day 2 (Sapa homestay) and day 6 (Mai Chau homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation. 3. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so we can organise a suitable sized bike. 4. Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one. You can bring your own to ensure fit and quality, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.

    HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own to ensure fit and quality, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons it is strongly recommended to wear shoes that cover your toes while riding. SUPPORT VEHICLES There is a support vehicle following you for the biking portion of this trip if first-aid is ever necessary or you feel too tired to ride. BIKES: The bikes used are serviced regularly, and checked by experts before each and every trip. TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware! There are times when traffic conditions make sections of our planned riding route unsafe – in this instance we will use the support vehicle.

    Visas

    As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. COVID-19 Entry and Exit Requirements Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for the most up to date information.You may also refer to our travel alert page for more info https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts Make sure you are familiar with the current border measures and entry requirements as these are quite complex and changing frequently without notice. Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers your travels as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country. RETURN TRAVEL Please ensure you stay up to date with any current testing or quarantine requirements for returning to your home country or transiting through other destinations after the completion of your tour. We are able to help facilitate taking a COVID-19 test while on trip. Please ensure you have funds available to cover the cost of this test which will be payable directly to the testing site. Your Intrepid Tour Leader will provide more details at the group meeting as well as assist with booking appointments for all travellers who need to be tested. VIETNAM VISA: Most nationalities are required to obtain a tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ Evisas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure. Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant Consulate or Embassy). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam. If you are obtaining a tourist visa in your passport from an embassy or consulate, you should allow 3 weeks for processing. The cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements. If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Ph +84 4 3715 0996. Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.

    Why we love it

    Gain a greater insight into life in northern Vietnam with an itinerary that explores not just Hanoi but also heads out into the countryside

    Hike through the picturesque valleys surrounding Sapa and visit local communities

    Cycle out to Mai Chau and on through the stunning karst landscapes to Ninh Binh

    Kayak around karsts and explore the secluded lagoons and caves of Lan Ha Bay - the lesser visited but just as beautiful sister of Halong Bay

    Is this trip right for you

    This trip has a number of activities to get your pulse going. Whilst prior training for each activity is not necessary, a moderate level of fitness will help you to get the most out of the included activities The hike in the hills of Sapa is approximately 10 kilometres (6.2miles) in total, on sometimes steep and uneven terrain You will spend 2 days on your bike, riding to Mai Chau and Ninh Binh, with approximately 60-70 kilometres of cycling each day. The cycling in these areas is relatively flat and you will have time to get used to your bike in Hanoi before departing There are 2 nights of homestay on this trip in Sapa and Mai Chau. Accommodation will be multishare rooms, with simple bedding and shared bathroom facilities. While accommodation is simple, the warm welcome and home-cooked meals will be comforting after a day of exercise Kayak around secluded islands in Lan Ha Bay to explore this world renowned scenery. While this bay is generally sheltered, this is sea kayaking so you will need to be confident on and in water for this activity

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels HEALTH SCREENING If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. TESTING & VACCINATION POLICY From 1st May 2021 we introduced new safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia and New Zealand. On trips departing before 1st September 2021, you will need to show one of the below to your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or - Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip, or - Proof of recovery documentation In addition, if you’re aged 70+ or have an existing health condition that puts you at a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, you are also required to provide proof of vaccination before you can join a trip. MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICY From 1st of September 2021 we have introduced enhanced safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. You will need to show your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination This policy is in addition to any specific testing or vaccination requirements for entry or exit to a destination or required by your airline. For more information, including a detailed FAQ about this policy, please visit https://www.intrepidtravel.com/covid19 MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES: Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are widespread in South East Asia. Malaria is also prevalent in some regions, particularly along the borders in mountainous regions. Take preventative measures such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Seek medical advice prior to travel for medication or vaccination advice. ZIKA VIRUS: There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure. INCLUDED BREAKFASTS: At hotels you’ll often have a buffet with choices of Vietnamese and Western food. At homestays you will have more basic breakfasts of local foods, eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee. Take away breakfasts for early starts may be very simple such as a piece of fruit and a bread roll. DIETARY REQUIREMENTS: Check out this guide to eating in Vietnam for vegan, vegetarian, gluten & peanut free travellers: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegan-vegetarian-gluten-free-vietnam/ FOOD ALLERGIES: Travelling in South East Asia with a food allergy? We have some advice for you here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/travelling-food-allergies-south-east-asia/

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. MEALS NOT INCLUDED We recommend USD170 for meals not included. VIETNAM: You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Vietnam. These machines dispense cash in VND (Vietnamese dong). Credit/debit cards aren’t accepted for small payments in Vietnam so please ensure you have VND cash to cover daily expenses. Clean banknotes in small denominations are most useful. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. You can obtain VND cash prior to arriving in Vietnam, through normal outlets such as banks and currency exchange offices.  TIPPING Tipping can be an appropriate way to recognise great service when travelling. While it may not be customary in your home country, it is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations and is greatly appreciated by the people who take care of you during your travels. It is always best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult rather than the goodwill gesture it is intended to be. OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY On Day 1 of your trip, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of operating a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and your tour leader distributes tips for drivers, local guides, hotel staff and other services included on your trip. This excludes restaurant tips for meals not included in your itinerary. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any funds remaining at the end of the tour will be returned to group members. We have found that this is easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader. The suggested tipping amount for this trip is $25 USD (can also be paid in VND) YOUR LEADER You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-6 per person (in a currency relevant for your destination), per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length and involvement of your leader on your trip. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs. COMMISSIONS Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences. If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback.

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a compact smaller suitcase or backpack with wheels. We recommend your bag has carry straps or handles so it is easy to lift and carry for the times you are unable to wheel it (ie. on rough surfaces or up steps). If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. Large suitcases may not be able to be taken on board. A lockable bag or small padlock for your bag will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    LOCAL DRESS: When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

    WATER BOTTLE: This trip includes one or more sections in a private vehicle with a water dispenser. We encourage all our travellers to bring a refillable water bottle on your trip to help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles.

    Climate and seasonal

    TET 11-16 February 2021, 31 January - 4 February 2022 Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure. CLIMATE & CLOTHING: For the majority of the year, the temperature in Vietnam is normally warm and humid, particularly from Hoi An southward. North of here, it can be cool between late November and March. If travelling at this time it is advisable to bring some some warmer clothing, particular if you plan to visit the Central Highlights or Sapa. WET SEASON: Flooding is common across Vietnam during rainy season (June-December) and could also lead to landslides. Typhoons are also common during this period. During these months there may be disruptions to transport and some activities or destinations may need to be changed as a result at short notice.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. For additional Conditions of Carriage regarding COVID-19, see here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/conditions-carriage

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below: Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include: * Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/blue-dragon-childrens-foundation * KOTO is a restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/koto For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. WINDOWLESS ROOMS: Some hotels in South East Asia have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also do not require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.

    Transport notes

    LONG TRAVEL DAYS There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning. OUR BIKES - VIETNAM We use Giant Rincon Disc bikes on this trip. These bikes are mountain bike-style with flat bars, front suspension and 24 gears. For more specific information please see https://www.giant-bicycles.com/int/rincon-disc-2016 SUPPORT VEHICLE On the cycling section of this trip there will be a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of course an option for those that would prefer not to cycle for an hour or a day. These vehicles range from a minivan in most regions up to a full sized coach or overland vehicle in others. Your main luggage is transported in the support vehicle.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport or the information we have in our booking system, so if you identify differently from the gender marker on your passport, please let us know in advance. We also have a Single Supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Homestay (2 nights),Hotel (6 nights),Lodge (2 nights)

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