Northern Vietnam & Yunnan Adventure

29 Days from $4,475

START: Hanoi

FINISH: Kunming

AGES: 15 - 99

THEME: Explorer

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Description

Discover the remote mountains of northwest Vietnam and southwest China on a trip from Hanoi to Kunming, taking in all the attractions in between. Leaving the graceful boulevards of Hanoi behind, travel to Sapa before traversing the bumpy mountain roads to Ha Giang, Dong Van and cruising the waters of Ba Be Lake. Experience breathtaking mountain views and meet friendly locals along the way. Venture into the spectacular southern reaches of China. Stay in a Hani village in the colors of the draw dropping Yuanyang rice terrace , step back in time among the pristine Qing and Ming dynasty masterpieces in Jianshui, and wander the busy streets in Kunming. Hike one of Asia's finest geological wonders, Tiger Leaping Gorge, best beheld from the winding hiking trails high above the Yangzi River. Break bread with a Bai family and learn about the province's second-largest ethnic group. Travel to lofty, legendary Shangrila. Mingle with Tibetan pilgrims in Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. This is the ultimate adventure you can dream of traveling through mountains, rice terraces, idyllic farms and meeting the most beautiful locals in this corner of the world

Start: Hanoi

Finish: Kunming

Ages: 15 - 99

Theme: Explorer

Accommodation: Hotel (15 nts), Homestay (2 nts), Guest House (10 nts), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train ( 1 nt)

Destination: Kunming

Highlights

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This combination trip includes one of our most popular trips in Vietnam and two of our most exciting new itineraries in China. 
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Stay in a local homestay and get to know our H'mong hosts invite you to learn about their rich culture, to share stories and to try some of their local home cooked cuisine.
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As the dramatic mountains of Heaven’s Gate soar above the green forests and rice paddies of Ha Giang, a deep appreciation of this region's landscape will be understood as you journey through it.
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Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project in Dong Van is an eye-opening insight into the world of human trafficking. Learn about the amazing efforts made by an inspirational project to free their country of this crime
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Float along the lake, viewing magnificent waterfalls and wildlife in the Ba Be National Park. A traditional homestay is the perfect way to access remote parts of this region and to get a real glimpse of Vietnamese life
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Follow the Yunnan-Vietnam railway and visit the one of the oldest train stations on this line at Bisezhai village for a fascinating glimpse into history
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Explore idyllic Yuangyang on a guided half-day walk, snapping photos of the spectacular rice terrace landscapes and learning a thing or two about their makers, the Hani people
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Discover the Ming and Qing marvels of Jianshui Ancient Town on a guided walk. Visit Zhu's Family Garden, the Confucius temple and the amazingly preserved Tuanshan village
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Kunming is yours for the taking. Enjoy plenty of free time in the liveable, laid-back 'Spring City' to make your own discoveries
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Visit our local Bai friend in Dali and learn about Bai people and their way of life.
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In Shaxi, you'll see one of the best-preserved traditional towns in Yunnan. Stay in a friendly, family-run guesthouse and sample some authentic local cuisine
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Experience the legendary Tiger Leaping Gorge, with two days of hiking one of China's most breathtaking trails.
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Journey to Shangrila and walk among Tibetan pilgrims in Sumtseling Monastery.
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Travel like a local, on public buses and sleeper trains. It's the perfect opportunity to interact with people and take in the charming provincial scenery.
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You've never tried anything like Yunannese food! Get a different perspective on Chinese cuisine with the unique flavours of the local soup, noodles, mushrooms and cheese.

Itineraryicon readmoreicon minus

icon check Day 1 : Hanoi

Xin chao. Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. The meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Hanoi's fantastic eating spots. If you have time before the meeting, head out and discover Hanoi. It's a good idea to take a hotel business card so you can find your way back.

icon check Day 2 : Sapa Homestay

In the morning, take a bus transfer from Hanoi towards Lao Chai in the Sapa region. The drive may take a little while (approx. 5 hours), which makes for the perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers a bit better. Press on along the winding road before taking your first glimpse of Lao Chai village, sitting comfortably in a valley with cleared hillsides and rustic farmland. Stretch your legs as you walk off the bus, then begin a trek to your homestay in Ta Van (approximately 10 km; 6 mi), enjoying a picnic lunch stop on the way. Your homestay is comfy, quaint and surrounded by pristine farmland.

icon check Day 3 : Sapa

After breakfast at your homestay trek to Giang Ta Chai – home to the Red Dzao hill people. Push on through 5 kilometres of terraced farmland and bamboo scrub for excellent views of emerald valleys and rushing waterfalls as you stroll on by. Rest your legs on the bus ride back to Sapa. Once you arrive in Sapa, enjoy some free time to rest your legs. If you still have some energy perhaps visit the local market. This is where you can indulge in some local goods, such as dyed fabrics, hemp plants and handmade textiles. In the evening, settle into your hotel in Sapa for the night.

icon check Day 4 : Ha Giang

In the morning, embark on a long bus journey (approximately 7 hours) to the province of Ha Giang. This is a highland region of forests and terraced rice paddies, with the mountains of Heaven’s Gate (Quan Ba pass) soaring in the background. The Ha Giang province also shares a border with southern China, and is known as Vietnam's final frontier. After relaxing and getting to know your surrounds, visit the local markets and shop fronts, which are relics of a bygone era. Afterwards venture to the the local museum and explore Cuom Village, witnessing the colourful traditional dress of the local people. The evening is then free to do as you please.

icon check Day 5 : Dong Van

Today, leave for the first of many scenic mountain drives throughout Ha Giang province. Stop to browse Minh Tao Market before wandering through the village of Nam Luong. A visit to Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project will be a highlight of the day. Learn about the stories of human trafficking and how the victims/witnesses of this crime found the opportunity of a life free from exploitation here. Afterwards pass through Lung Tam textile village and the Vuong Family Palace in Sa Phin commune, before continuing to Dong Van where you'll spend the night.

icon check Day 6 : Dong Van

After breakfast visit the local market, before setting off on a trekking loop that starts and finishes in Dong Van. The trek (approximately 4 hours in total) is surprisingly moderate and suitable for those with an average fitness level. Wind your way through the spectacular landscape, where you can expect to witness glorious views and capture some amazing pictures of lush valleys and rice paddies. The evening is then free to relax or explore more of Dong Van.

icon check Day 7 : Bao Lac

Drive past terraced rice farms on the road to Bao Lac (approximately 4 hours), a small town in the mountainous region of northern Vietnam. The area is home to the Black Lo Lo ethnic group, who are well known for their colourful attire and finesse in making bronze drums. The bronze drums hold a special place in Lo Lo customs, being used at funerals and important family events. In Lo Lo culture, only the sound of the drums can help the souls of the dead find their way to the birthplace of their ancestors. Stay overnight in Bao Lac and perhaps explore the local marketplace and learn more about this fascinating culture. 

icon check Day 8 : Ba Be Lake

Travel on to Ba Be Lake early in the morning (approximately 4 hours). Once there, head down the river by boat on an exploration of Ba Be National Park, visiting the largest natural lake in Vietnam. Disembark for some light walks along the way, visiting the impressive waterfalls that feed the lake and observing the natural flora and fauna. Return to land in the afternoon and head to a family-owned guesthouse where you will be spending the night. The family you’re staying with will prepare lunch and the rest of the day is then free to explore. In the evening sit down for a delicious dinner with your hosts. This is a great opportunity to gain an insight into their lives and culture.

icon check Day 9 : Hanoi

Head back to Hanoi after breakfast, which should take between four and five hours. Use your free time exploring the boulevards and colonial buildings of the city. If you have time, visit the Hanoi Military Museum or take a look inside the city's spectacular Opera House. For your final evening in Hanoi, perhaps share a final dinner with the group at KOTO cafe, a project aimed at providing vocational training to underprivileged young people.

icon check Day 10 : Hanoi

Enjoy a free day in Hanoi until the 6pm group meeting. Please note that your tour leader and group composition may change because this is a combination trip.

icon check Day 11 : Mengzi

Prepare for a long day of travelling today. After breakfast, set off for Lao Cai, near the border with China, on a private bus. Say goodbye to your Vietnamese leader and meet your Chinese leader at Hekou after border crossing. From there, take a taxi to the bus station and board your bus to Mengzi. Transfer to your hotel and settle in. Spend your free evening kicking back and relaxing – or perhaps head out for a taste of the famous Yunnan rice noodles which originated here.

icon check Day 12 : Mengzi

As well as noodles, this town is known for its remnants French architecture - a rarity in today's China. Spot the simple, stately aesthetic of the European style buildings, with their soft yellow facades and tiled roofs which set them apart from the modern structures around them. Visit Bisezhai Station, the finest surviving station on the French-built Vietnam-Kunming railway. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. This is a town rarely visited by foreigners. The Nanhu Park area is great for a wander and meeting locals.

icon check Day 13 : Yuanyang

Travel by private bus to Yuanyang (approximately 3 hours). If you're a keen photographer, you're in luck, as this is one picturesque destination. This place is famous for its beautiful rice terraces, idyllic rural scenery and unique ethnic minority culture. Some 88% of Yuanyang County belongs to ethnic minorities; the Hani and Yi people created the ornate rice terraces that impress so many visitors. We are staying right inside the Duoyishu Scenic Area. The terraces here are considered a superior spot to photograph the sunrise. 

icon check Day 14 : Yuanyang

Be sure to wear comfortable shoes today for your hike around the rice terraces with a local guide (approximately 4 hours). You'll be able to take it at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery. Most of the paths go through villages, which makes it easy to stop for a break. Check out the local farmer's market where locals wear their traditional clothes, go about their daily business like time has never changed.

icon check Day 15 : Jianshui

Travel by private bus to Jianshui (approximately 3.5 hours). With a 1,200-year history and a distinct cultural heritage, the ancient town is a veritable outdoor museum of magnificent buildings. Many of these date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. You will set out on a walking tour of the city and visit the Zhu Family Garden, as well as the incredible Confucius Temple.

icon check Day 16 : Jianshui

Visit Tuanshan Village, a cultural echo of the Qing Dynasty that's still intact. You'll learn a little more about the Yi minority as you explore. It's a fascinating window to the China of the past. Visiting the village is like travelling to the China of the past. Small, cobbled lanes leave you with impressions of timelessness, art and architecture. In the afternoon and evening, enjoy some free time.

icon check Day 17 : Kunming

Today we travel to Kunming (approximately 3 to4 hours). Stop at the geological wonder of the Stone Forest on the way. The Forest covers an area of 400 square kilometres (96,000 acres) and includes both large and small clusters of towering limestone pillars, as well as many other scenic spots. An old local saying says that 'If you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time'. Truly, the site is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore the large, yet laidback city. The 1000-year-old Yuantong temple is most definitely worth a visit, or find the traces of old Kunming at Lingguang street. Perhaps head to Green Lake Park where you can see locals spending their leisure time on all kinds of activities and games. Check out The Loft, a disused factory area west of the city centre, home to many small galleries and cafes. In the evening, perhaps get together with your mates for a final dinner in this 'Spring City'.

icon check Day 18 : Kunming

Enjoy a free day in Kunming until the 6pm group meeting. Please note that your tour leader and group composition may change because this is a combination trip.

icon check Day 19 : Dali

Travel by public bus to your next destination, Dali (approximately 3–4 hours). For many years this spot has been a favourite destination for foreign travellers and backpackers, thanks to its laidback atmosphere and spectacular surroundings. There are snow-capped mountains on one side and the vast Erhai Lake on the other, making for an impressive sight. This afternoon you will take a guided walk around Dali's ancient town with your leader. Present-day Dali is a city that combines history with modern convenience. It is divided into two areas: the Ancient City and the New District (widely known as Xiaguan). After your tour, enjoy a free evening in this picturesque town. Perhaps circle back to Foreigner Street in the Ancient City, where handicrafts and local culinary delights rightly attract many visitors.

icon check Day 20 : Dali

Take a private bus to Xizhou, around 23 kilometres north of Dali on a day trip today. Xizhou is famous for its Butterfly Spring and Bai architecture. Enjoy a guided tour of the town and the local markets – a great chance to learn more about Bai architecture. Interact with some local families living in the traditional courtyards to get a feel for local life. Be sure to try some tasty local snacks such as baba (fried rice cake) or the local cheese. Enjoy some more free time upon your return to Dali - perhaps take the cable car up Cangshan Mountain or stop in at the Three Pagodas.

icon check Day 21 : Shaxi

Travel by public bus to Jianchuan, then by private van to Shaxi (approximately 3–4 hours). Much of Shaxi's charm lies in the fact it has been restored rather than rebuilt, and being off the main highways it hasn't seen the rapid development of the tourist industry that other places like Lijiang and Dali have. Here you can still find the Yi and Bai ethnic minorities maintaining their traditions, farmhouses lining the country roads, and the original walled town gates and market square that prove Shaxi was once an important stop on the old Tea Horse Trail. You will stay in a local family-run guesthouse in twin, triple or multi-share rooms. The accommodation is very simple and bathroom facilities are basic and shared, but the warm hospitality makes for a memorable experience. Most travellers choose to eat their meals at the family guesthouse, which is a great chance to further interact with your hosts, and there are also other options nearby.

icon check Day 22 : Shaxi

Today you will hike the mountain trails with a local guide. Your destination is Shizong Temple (approximately 4–5 hours return) on Shibaoshan. It's a good idea to pack a lunch to enjoy along the way, as the beautiful 'danxia' landscape will make a nice backdrop for a picnic. Be sure to bring your camera too so you can snap a few pictures of these gorgeous surrounds. In the evening, take the opportunity to mix with the locals out on the town square. Here you'll likely encounter dancing, singing and various traditional games. Perhaps try your hand at some of them yourself.

icon check Day 23 : Shangrila

Today you’ll travel to a place so beautiful it was officially renamed Shangri-la, a reference to the mythic utopia from James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. Make the 5-hour drive to Shangrila and feel the modern world fade away as you head higher into the mountains. This charming Tibetan town lies on an altitude around 3200 metres, so take it easy upon arrival and give yourself some time to acclimatise. Later take a stroll on winding streets past prayer halls and pagodas in Dukezong Ancient Town. A fire tore through the area in 2014, destroying most of the town, but painstaking restoration work continues and the town remains charming. It’s also home to a towering, gilded prayer wheel – the largest in the world.

icon check Day 24 : Shangrila

Learn more about Tibetan Buddhism with a visit the Sumtseling Monastery. Located just outside the city and modelled after the Potala Palace, Sumtseling is the predominant monastery in the region and a popular destination for pilgrims. Constructed in 1681 and subsequently destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the complex was rebuilt in 1981 and the red and gold buildings now house hundreds of monks. Enjoy a free afternoon in Shangrila. You might want to hire a van and drive to Xiaozhongdian, where the beautiful landscape is dotted with Tibetan villages. If you're lucky you may even get invited to a local's home to enjoy some Yak butter tea!

icon check Day 25 : Tiger Leaping Gorge

Travel by public bus to Qiaotou (approximately 3 hours), the starting point for your trek through the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the deepest and most spectacular gorges in the world. The entire canyon is 16 km long and rises up to 3,900 metres above the waters of the famous Yangzi River. Though the gorge has become very popular in recent years, and the area has developed rapidly, it's still an incredibly rewarding travel experience which many cite as a highlight of their time in China. Prepare a day pack (your larger luggage will be stored for two nights) and embark on your hike. There will be regular stops to rest as needed. The first part of the trek is quite arduous – this is not flat terrain by any means. After a slow and steady climb you will reach the 24 bends (the most challenging part of the trek), a steep and twisting path where you'll really gain some altitude. After stopping for a break, continue along the flatter section of the gorge to your accommodation. This is a simple but comfortable guesthouse with shared facilities (upgrades to private facilities at your own cost may be possible, depending on availability). The area is subject to dramatic changes in weather. We schedule departures for the more stable seasons, but it's still possible that conditions may make travelling through the gorge dangerous. In this case an extra night each will be spent in Shaxi and Lijiang. Should the weather be deemed by your leader and guide as too rainy or foggy to safely complete the trek once in the gorge area, an alternative walking route will be taken or a minivan will be used for transport between destinations, using the recently built highway.

icon check Day 26 : Tiger Leaping Gorge

Your second day of trekking starts with a nice, easy section that has spectacular views. There are only a few uphill battles (and one slippery downhill stretch) before you reach your destination for the night – Walnut Grove. Those with the energy can enjoy further hikes to some excellent lookout points from here. Otherwise, this a tranquil place to simply sit back, relax, enjoy the scenery and rest your weary legs. It's important to note that Tiger Leaping Gorge is subject to dramatic and unpredictable weather conditions. We have scheduled departures in the more stable seasons, but the possibility still exists that conditions may make travelling through the gorge dangerous.

icon check Day 27 : Lijiang - Overnight Train

Travel by public transport to Lijiang (approximately 3 hours). This World Heritage-listed town is home to the Naxi people, a matrilineal society descended from Tibetan nomads. After arrival, enjoy some free time. Maybe visit the Wangu Pagoda, situated at Lion Hill in a small park and has amazing views over Lijiang. Or visit he picturesque Heilongtan Park and wander the cobbled streets in the old town and take the chance to do some shopping. In recent years, Lijiang has become very popular with domestic tourists, so don't be surprised if you see the streets full of tourists from home and abroad. In the evening, hop on the overnight train back to Kunming. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan and clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available for making coffee, tea or instant meals. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (these are not provided in cabins). Bathrooms are basic, and as toilet paper isn't always available it's best to carry some of your own. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals are available before the journey to supplement food available on the train.

icon check Day 28 : Kunming

Your train arrives in Kunming bright and early. Transfer from the station to your hotel, then enjoy a free day to explore as your wish. Filled with bridges and waterways, Kunming is a lovely place to explore on foot. If the thought of walking anymore doesn't appeal, perhaps reward yourself for all those hikes with a foot massage! Meet up in the evening for an optional final dinner out on the town with the group, your last chance to enjoy Yunnanese cuisine.

icon check Day 29 : Kunming

Your adventure comes to an end today after check-out.

What's Included?icon readmoreicon minus

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Meals

8 Breakfasts, 3 Dinners
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Transport

Private vehicle, Metro, Taxi, Public bus, Boat
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Accommodation

Hotel (15 nts), Homestay (2 nts), Guest House (10 nts), Overnight Hard Sleeper Train ( 1 nt)
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Included Activities

  • Lijiang - Walking tour

Availabilityicon readmoreicon minus

Starts
Ends
Price
Availability
May 04, 2020
Jun 01, 2020
$4,475
Available

Important Detailsicon readmoreicon minus

icon readmoreicon minusJoining Point

Hotel Thang Long Espana

63 Nguyen Truong To Street

Ba Dinh District

Hanoi

VIETNAM

Phone: +84 2437163233

icon readmoreicon minusFinishing Point

Yunliang Golden Spring Hotel 云粮金泉大酒店

#623, Beijing Road, Panlong District 云南省昆明市盘龙区北京路623号

Kunming

CHINA

Phone: +86 87166177188

icon readmoreicon minusImportant information

1. Please provide a clear copy of your passport info page no later than 30 days before departure in order for us to booking train ticket.

2. A single supplement to have your own room is bookable on this trip with the exception of nights 2 & 8 (Homestay) and overnight train on Day 27, subject to availability.

3. As this is a combination trip made up of some of our most popular itineraries, the composition of your group as well as your group leader may change.

4. Please note that your tour leader will change at the Vietnam - China border and the border crossing from Vietnam to China will be unaccompanied. Your Vietnam leader will say goodbye to you before you go through immigration and your China leader will see you after you clear custom on the China side.

5. Please note while traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.

icon readmoreicon minusGroup leader

All Intrepid 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. Intrepid endeavours 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. At Intrepid 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.

icon readmoreicon minusSafety

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service 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 areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. 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 valuable 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. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

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

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 & PERSONAL SAFETY: Petty theft, including bag-slashing, is not uncommon in tourist areas, at markets, on crowded trains and buses, and at supermarkets, particularly in the lead up to Vietnamese and Western holidays. Snatch-and-grab crimes by thieves on motorbikes are frequent and have sometimes resulted in injury to victims. Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowded areas. Carry only what you need and leave other valuables in a secure location. Beware of motorcycles approaching from behind as you walk on the footpath and hold bags and backpacks in front of you. SCAMS: There are a number of common credit and debit card, taxi and gambling scams in Vietnam that travellers should be aware of. See also this blog post on some other common tourist scams to avoid: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/common-scams-in-vietnam/

CHINA China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint. Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so. Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

icon readmoreicon minusVisas

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

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.

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.

CHINA:

Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong if you have time there before joining your trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for this trip valid for 30 days.

Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa.

INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION:

You will be provided with a Hotel List and Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. These are the primary documents you should use to apply for your visa as they are issued by our local office in China.

Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:

Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd.

606 InterChina Commercial Building

33 Dengshikou Street

Dongcheng District

Beijing 100006

+86 10 6406 8022

* Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details.

* Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application.

* Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours)

* Photocopy of your passport

* Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required)

* Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements

* Please note that if you are not applying for Chinese visa from your passport country, you may be required to submit further documents, ie. employment letter, immigration card, etc. Please check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements.

TIBET:

You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.

HONG KONG:

Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS:

Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel:

*Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is also requested.

icon readmoreicon minusWhy we love it

This combination trip includes one of our most popular trips in Vietnam and two of our most exciting new itineraries in China. 

Stay in a local homestay and get to know our H'mong hosts invite you to learn about their rich culture, to share stories and to try some of their local home cooked cuisine.

As the dramatic mountains of Heaven’s Gate soar above the green forests and rice paddies of Ha Giang, a deep appreciation of this region's landscape will be understood as you journey through it.

Mrs Mai’s Responsible Tourism project in Dong Van is an eye-opening insight into the world of human trafficking. Learn about the amazing efforts made by an inspirational project to free their country of this crime

Float along the lake, viewing magnificent waterfalls and wildlife in the Ba Be National Park. A traditional homestay is the perfect way to access remote parts of this region and to get a real glimpse of Vietnamese life

Follow the Yunnan-Vietnam railway and visit the one of the oldest train stations on this line at Bisezhai village for a fascinating glimpse into history

Explore idyllic Yuangyang on a guided half-day walk, snapping photos of the spectacular rice terrace landscapes and learning a thing or two about their makers, the Hani people

Discover the Ming and Qing marvels of Jianshui Ancient Town on a guided walk. Visit Zhu's Family Garden, the Confucius temple and the amazingly preserved Tuanshan village

Kunming is yours for the taking. Enjoy plenty of free time in the liveable, laid-back 'Spring City' to make your own discoveries

Visit our local Bai friend in Dali and learn about Bai people and their way of life.

In Shaxi, you'll see one of the best-preserved traditional towns in Yunnan. Stay in a friendly, family-run guesthouse and sample some authentic local cuisine

Experience the legendary Tiger Leaping Gorge, with two days of hiking one of China's most breathtaking trails.

Journey to Shangrila and walk among Tibetan pilgrims in Sumtseling Monastery.

Travel like a local, on public buses and sleeper trains. It's the perfect opportunity to interact with people and take in the charming provincial scenery.

You've never tried anything like Yunannese food! Get a different perspective on Chinese cuisine with the unique flavours of the local soup, noodles, mushrooms and cheese.

icon readmoreicon minusIs this trip right for you

This trip visits destinations well off the usual tourist trail. It's a fantastic opportunity to see real life in parts of Vietnam and China many people wouldn't be able to find on a map, let alone consider visiting! You'll be without some of the comforts of home, including trying many new foods and experiences.

This trip includes a number of long journeys on windy and sometimes bumpy roads in a private mini-bus. This is the only way to access some of these locations, but we promise you that the views for most of the journey are impressive enough to make it all worthwhile.

This trip includes 2 nights in simple homestay accommodation, and there a few ways to better understand a country and its people. You will sleep on mattresses on the floor in a mixed-gender dormitory style, and bathrooms will be shared.

This trip includes a moderate level of hiking in the hills on day 7 for approximately 4 hours and 2 days of hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge (approx. 5-6 hrs on the first day and 3-4 hrs on the second day). Terrain can be uneven, muddy or loose underfoot. Although this hiking is possible for most travellers, a good level of fitness and comfortable pair of shoes will help increase your enjoyment of this experience.

The border crossing from Vietnam to China will not be accompanied. Your Vietnam leader will say goodbye to you at the Vietnam border and your China leader will meet you once you go through immigration and customs.

icon readmoreicon minusHealth

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 cope with 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, Intrepid Travel reserves 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 at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

DENGUE FEVER:

Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.

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.

BIRD FLU:

The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in China.

There is a very low risk to travellers. For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/

icon readmoreicon minusFood 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. There's no obligation to do this though.

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/

FOOD IN CHINA:

What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste:

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/

VEGETARIANS & VEGANS:

Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/

DIETARY NEEDS:

Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel.

ALLERGIES:

For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling.

icon readmoreicon minusMoney 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 a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

CONTINGENCY FUNDS:

We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please 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 amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

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. 

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 a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

CHINA

The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao). ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day.

Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

TIPPING IN CHINA:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

- Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.

- Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.

- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.

- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, 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 of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

Tipping:

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants in Vietnam - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill. It's not customary to tip in restaurants in China though.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.

Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$3-US$5 per person, 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 of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

In total, we recommend you budget approx US$6-US$12 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

Optional Tipping Kitty:

At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the 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 at your own discretion.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult

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.

icon readmoreicon minusWhat 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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. 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.

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 backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles. 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. A lockable bag or small padlock 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 are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. Essential: - Clothing: a mixture of lightweight and dry fast clothing and warm layers are recommended essential for travelling in this region. Long shirts, pants, scarves are useful for covering shoulders & knees when visiting religious sites. - Shoes: sturdy and comfortable shoes for walking long distances are essential. - Personal travel documents inc. your passport (visa), travel insurance, fight tickets and trip notes. Photo copies of your passport and visa, passport size photos and travel insurance will be handy. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. - small first aid kit including items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent, and essential medicine depending on your doctors advice. - Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card and money belt - Sun protection like hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Recommended: - Refillable water bottle (1.5 litre capacity suggested): The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Cell phone, camera with spare batteries, charger, and adapter plug - Hand wash, travel wipes, toiletries and small towel - Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries) - Torch or flash light esp. for stay at local guesthouses or home stays Optional: - Sleeping bag. Useful for camping, overnight trains and poorly heated hotels, particularly during the winter months of Dec - Feb when temperatures are low. - Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather. - Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers. - A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives. Other things to consider: - Check weather in destinations you are travelling to online a few days before you go to make sure you pack appropriate clothing - Laundry facilities may not be available in all destinations, so make sure you have a few cycles of clothes to tide you over until your next chance to wash

icon readmoreicon minusClimate and seasonal

TET (20-24 January 2020, 11-16 February 2021):

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.

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.

CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:

Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.

Here are the major holiday periods in China:

Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020

Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020

May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020

Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020

Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020

National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

icon readmoreicon minusA 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. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.

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.

icon readmoreicon minusFeedback

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/

icon readmoreicon minusEmergency contact

GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP

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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.

Intrepid's Vietnam Office: +84 903 117 770

Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328

icon readmoreicon minusResponsible 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

ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:

While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/elephants-welfare

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation 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.

HALONG BAY BOAT:

Your boat has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. The boats have 8-12 passenger cabins. There's also a dining room and bar on board. The boat is not likely to be a traditional sailing junk, as many older or imported vessels do not comply with waterway traffic safety laws.

CHINA

HOTEL ROOMS:

Some travellers have reported that hotels/accommodation in this region tend to have harder bed mattresses than those they are used to at home. You may like to request an extra quilt or bedding from the hotels if you find this an issue.

SMOKING ROOMS:

Smoking is prevalent in China and hotels generally do not offer specific non smoking rooms. Larger hotels with central air conditioning will sometimes transport the smell of smoke between rooms. While we ask our hotels to ensure our rooms are well cleaned and ventilated well before occupation in some cases this is not possible, and the smell of smoke may linger. Please speak to your leader about the possibility of changing rooms if you encounter this.

WIFI:

WiFi is often available in hotel reception areas and sometimes in rooms. Your leader will be able to advise on the best places to get connected.

HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA:

We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. Those travellers opting for a Soft Sleeper Upgrade (where available) may need to board the train from a separate waiting area and be in another carriage from the rest of the group. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard.

icon readmoreicon minusTravel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen 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 credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

icon readmoreicon minusYour 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.

SINGLE TRAVELLERS:

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

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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 print and review a final copy 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 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 may be 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 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.

icon readmoreicon minusAccommodation

Hotel (15 nts),Homestay (2 nts),Guest House (10 nts),Overnight Hard Sleeper Train ( 1 nt)

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