Ready, Set, Pho - Family Adventure
||Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
This two week family adventure takes you to experience the sheer excitement of Vietnam. You visit busy cities, scenic bays and river deltas for a fantastic mix of things to see and do which will keep the whole family entertained. Mixing with the friendly Vietnamese, you discover a fascinating country and of course some great food. Highlights include exploring by cyclo (rickshaw), a water puppet show in Hanoi, boat trips to fantastic islands with great beaches, ancient pagodas and temples, wonderful markets, a trip on an overnight train and much more!
Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Our Family Adventures are designed specifically for the spirited family and operated by our sister company The Family Adventure Company. We understand that travelling with kids sometimes requires a slightly different perspective. Keeping this in mind, we travel at a slower speed - recognising that showing your family around our exotic destinations can take time. By travelling at a relaxed pace, while still offering plenty of optional activities along the way, we're providing your family with the ultimate travel experience together.
Accommodation is chosen carefully to ensure your family gets the best of both worlds, with some of the creature comforts of home as well as experiencing accommodation unique to the region you are travelling through. Wherever possible you will stay in hotels with small comforts to make your stay more enjoyable - such as restaurants nearby, or accommodation with a pool. On some trips you may even find your family being rocked to sleep on an overnight sleeper train or drifting off while camped out under a canopy of stars - and we reckon it'll be these experiences the kids will love and remember the most.
Best of all, we find trips with children are so successful because kids have such a special ability to break down barriers with their natural curiosity, and because delighted locals always greet them with much affection. For all these reasons and more, you'll discover that Family Adventures are an amazing experience for all.
Why we love it:
- See the Water puppet show in Hanoi.
- Sleepover on a Junk.
- Visit Ancient temples and pagodas.
- Take a ride in a Rickshaw.
- Shop in the amazing markets.
- Spend the night on a train.
- Eat Pho like the locals.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1-2: Hanoi
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Hoang Ngoc hotel or similar
- Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.
- Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
- The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.
- If you arrive early, why not get your first taste of Vietnam exploring the lovely, laidback capital. You can stroll the tree-lined boulevards to get a sense of the old days, wander the Old Quarter to uncover ancient temples and a rich, religious culture or head to the Temple of Literature, an oasis of calm right at the heart of Hanoi.
- Enjoy a tasty breakfast with our long time friends at KOTO restaurant - a organisation that is supporting street kids with a career in the hospitality industry.
- Take a cyclo tour through the ancient '39 streets' to discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths and CDs. Then take in a performance of the famous water puppet theatre.
Day 3: Halong Bay
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
- Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs).
- Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf. One of Vietnam's most scenic regions, this area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind.
- Board our private boat and cruise among the dramatic limestone peaks. There's an opportunity to swim in the famed South China Sea, as well as to explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a night sky alive with stars. Our sailing junk has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where we enjoy a sumptuous lunch and dinner.
- NB Twin or Double cabins only available on the junk boats.
- BOAT SHORTAGE:
- Due to recent unforeseen late changes by local authorities in Halong Bay a large proportion of boats are now no longer permitted to stay overnight, thus resulting in a shortage of boats. To ensure we can accommodate all of our groups overnight on a boat we are occasionally using a larger boat (approx. 12 cabins) and splitting our groups across different boats. An one of our group leaders will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same. NB Families will not be split up at any point.
Day 4: Hue
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- We return to Hanoi by bus (approx 3.5 hrs). From there we board an overnight train bound for Hue. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
- As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
- Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City which was almost totally destroyed during the American War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.
Day 5-6: Hue
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River. The trip includes a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. We also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and we may visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.
- There's ample time to explore the city's many Buddhist pagodas, outlying handicraft villages and the busy Dong Ba Market. Enjoying an ice-cream with the kids or a coffee at one of the riverside coffee shops at sunset is also an experience not to be missed.
Day 7-9: Hoi An
Meals included: 3 breakfasts
- Travelling by bus, we head south through coastal rice paddies, before traversing the spectacularly mountainous Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to the beautiful China Beach, arrive at Hoi An (approx 4 hours).
- Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.
- It's also a shopping mecca - with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring - with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.
- We will be taken on an orientation walk of the Ancient Town with our group leader. We then visit the Children's Hope in Action Centre (CHIA) for information about the project and perhaps some interaction with local kids. CHIA is a community-based project supported by The Intrepid Foundation.
- Enjoy some free time to relax in this beautiful area. You could take a taxi or make the easy five-kilometre bicycle ride through the rice paddies and shrimp ponds to Cua Dai beach. Alternatively Hoi An is one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, especially if you’re looking for t-shirts, paintings or ceramics. For those interested in getting clothes tailored, this is definitely the place to shop. Speak to your leader about arranging a cooking lesson and learn about the many layers of fresh herbs and flavours that can be found in this fresh cuisine.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Today you will drive an hour to Danang and take a flight south, flying using Vietnam Airlines, to the bustling Ho Chi Minh City (Flight time 1Hr ) .
- Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds; a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of the city's life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors with their wares spread out on the footpath, selling everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. We head off to Ben Thanh Market to experience a local lunch, market-style! Afterwards you're free to explore the city on your own. Your leader will have plenty of interesting and fun ideas for you and the kids. Perhaps you might consider scooting off on cyclos to Cholon, the Chinatown area of Ho Chi Minh City, for a spot of temple-hopping. Or you might like to visit the Vietnamese version of a department store for some serious shopping.
Day 11: Mekong Delta
Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch
- The following day we head out to explore the Mekong Delta. We travel south to Cai Be by private bus which takes about 3 hours. Here we board our boats to cruise the Mekong Delta and explore its intricate waterways. Often referred to as the "rice bowl" of Vietnam, the fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals.
- We also visit an orchard where you can sample tropical fruits, before continuing on to visit some local cottage industries. Around sunset we make our way up one of the many canals to our homestay where we enjoy great local hospitality and a wonderful meal of local specialities. Tonight we sleep on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. The toilet and bathroom facilities are shared and with cold water only !
Day 12-13: Ho Chi Minh City
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
- Life in the Delta starts with the sun so we are up early and after breakfast we visit the Cai Be floating market before heading to Ho Chi Minh city for one more night. The following and final day and you are able to depart our accommodation at any time.
- The services of an English-speaking dedicated Family local tour leader.
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees as per itinerary)
- Local flight: Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
- Mekong River boat trip with visits to a floating market and riverside villages.
- Breakfast at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training to underprivileged young people.
- Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay with lunch and dinner. Accommodation is twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
- Overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, with accommodation in a 4-berth 'soft sleeper' class compartment (a pillow and sheets provided).
- Free time to explore Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hoi An.
- Bicycle rickshaw
- Sleeper train
- International airfares, visa costs, departure taxes, arrival and departure transfers, insurance (obligatory on all trips), departure transfer, other meals, drinks, snacks, any optional additional tours or activities during free time, spending of a personal nature such as gratuities, laundry, drinks, souvenirs
- Visa costs
- Departure taxes
- Arrival and departure transfers
- Insurance (obligatory on all trips)
- Other meals, drinks and snacks
- Any optional additional tours or activities during free time
- Spending of a personal nature such as gratuities, laundry and souvenirs
- Daily budget
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and 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 it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
- Army Museum, Hanoi
- Bike hike (1 day), Hue
- Bike hire (1 day), Hoi An
- Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City
- Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi
- Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclo and market tour
- Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum, Hanoi
- Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison, Hanoi
- Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
- My Son Cham Ruins including car transport & guide, Hoi An
- Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City
- Temple of Literature, Hanoi
- Thu Bon River boat trip, Hoi An
- War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh City
- Women's Museum, Hanoi
What to know
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.
Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. Some nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa if their stay is less than 15 days, but if you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance.
Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.
If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam 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.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
There are a number of books which make interesting reading and provide insight in the history, politics and culture of the country. Suggestions are: The Quiet American- Graham Greene The Sacred Willow-Duong Van Mai Elliot Paradise of the Blind-Duong Thu Huong Vietnam: Yesterday & Today -Ellen Hammer One Crowded Hour- Tim Bowden Catfish and Mandala-Andrew X Pham Hitchhiking Vietnam-Karin Muller Vietnam- Lonely Planet A Bright Shining Lie-Neil Sheehan (on the Vietnam-American War)
Flight tickets: Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City
Flight tickets will be given to you by your tour leader before you board these flights.
Local Tour Leaders
By employing and training local guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour leader’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success.
Age limits and responsibility for minors
Our family trips are not recommended for children under the age of five. Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Infrastructure and Tet Holiday Period
Please note that Vietnam is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year).
During Tet (Vietnamese New Year), most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required.
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
13 February 2015
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Peregrine