We've given each of our tours a comfort rating and a tour pace, walking or cycling grade to give you a general idea about the level of activity on each tour and the standard of accommodation you will be staying in at the end of your day's adventure.
Often you'll stay in different styles of accommodation during your tour; so we make an average rating across the entire tour. For more information on where you'll stay each night, please refer to the day by day tour itinerary.
The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these trip notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations.
Hanoi - Water Puppets from $6.00, Cyclo tour of old quarter $6, Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House $1.00, Museums $1.00, Half day city tour US$11.00 - $17.00.
Mai Chau - Traditional Dance/ Music $50 per group, Guided cycling excursion $8 - $10. Bicycle hire $4 per day
Sapa - Traditional herbal village bath $5, Ham Rong Gardens $5, Optional half day cycling $22 - $26. Bac Ha/ Lung Khau Nhim Market $15 - $20.
Optional excursions offered in Vietnam are generally run via our agent in the country. Other companies to be found locally may offer similar optionals at a cheaper price. Should you want to use these companies please be aware that a lower price may mean that not all costs are included (entrance fees etc) or services will not operate at the same safety and quality standards.
Local Crew: Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group’s tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
*Cheap local fare in a small cafe or restaurant. **Typical food in a simple, reasonably comfortable mid-range restaurant.
It is a condition of joining any of our tours that you must have valid travel insurance. It must indicate that you have cover for (at least) medical expenses and emergency repatriation in the event of illness or injury. We also strongly recommend your policy includes cancellation protection as all deposit paid are non-refundable.
If you require travel insurance for your tour, Explore Worldwide is an appointed representative of Campbell Irvine Limited, who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services authority. Our travel insurance policy is specially tailored to the needs of the adventure traveller and will cover you for any included activity on any Explore trip. You can either purchase this at the time of booking or call us 0844 499 0901 after you have booked.
The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.
Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria.
We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs, including advice re: the legality of and local attitudes towards same-sex relationships. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice follow the link athttp://www.explore.co.uk/Traveladvice/
Hanoi and the north December to February is normally dry with temperatures ranging from 10°C-20°C. March to April is a transitional period into the summer months of May to September (tropical monsoon climate): hot and humid (around 27°C-33°C with some heavy rain and possible storms). Autumn temperatures October-November are once again transitional (15°C-20°C).
Northern highlands Mean annual temperature for Sapa town is 15.4°C, with a maximum of 29.4°C and a minimum of 1°C. The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks.
This should consist of a main piece of baggage, a holdall or kitbag for the trek, and a daypack to carry your personal gear. We recommend you have a holdall or kitbag for the overnight trek in Sapa, purely for ease of access to your things and to save on space. Your overnight bag will be taken to the village nightstop by vehicle.
Day pack On each trekking day you will only be required to carry your day pack or light rucksack, large enough to carry essential items such as water, snacks and sun/weather protection.
Luggage storage in Sapa and Hanoi For a small charge you can use one of hotel bases in Hanoi or Sapa to leave the bulk of your gear while away on treks in Mai Chau or remote Sapa villages. Consult your tour leader for further information on storage. You will require a lockable additional bag for this purpose.
Explore Trek Kit Bag: For an exclusively designed Explore Trek Bag, follow the relevant link at www.nomadtravel.co.uk/explore
Pack essentially for ‘Hot Conditions’ although December through to February warmer clothing is needed for the North. Bear in mind that the region is tropical (humid) and can be hot. Lightweight rainwear is advisable at all times. The north is cold at night during the winter. Highland areas around Sapa are likely to be cooler especially at night and you should pack accordingly. Casual clothes are the most practical.
Bedding provided in village stays Mai Chau: You will be provided sleeping mat, mattress, pillow, mosquito net and blanket. No sleeping bag provided. In Sin Chai village nr Sapa: You will be provided sleeping bag, mattress, pillow, mosquito net, blanket & toilet kit (shampoo, tooth-brush, towel..). A sleeping sheet liner (silk) can be useful in both hot and cold conditions, it is possible to buy one in Hanoi.
Bedding on overnight trains You will be provided with clean sheets and a blanket for the overnight train journeys.
Water Bottle Water along the trail must never be considered as drinkable. Take a 1.5 litre personal water bottle (preferably insulated). Our support crew on the trek provide sterilized water each meal time to replenish your supplies. Also energy snacks (nuts, cereal bars etc.) are recommended whilst on trek.
Walking Poles These may be useful for the uphill / downhill sections of the Sapa trek. Adequate poles can also be bought in Sapa.
Sunglasses A good pair of sunglasses are essential for protection against UV rays.
Sun Hat, High Factor Sun Cream/Block & Lip Salve Bring suncream (Factor 15 or more) to protect your skin against the sun. A combination sunblock/ lipsalve is ideal for facial protection.
Torch/Batteries/Bulb A small torch is essential for finding things at night etc. Often a head torch is useful around the villages at night. Remember to bring some spare batteries.
Toiletries Try to keep heavy cosmetics etc to a minimum. Essentials are toothbrush/paste, soap, small towel, small nail brush. `Wet Wipes’ are great for a quick clean up, so bring a pack of those (non-perfumed to avoid rashes!).
Please bring along your own personal blister kit if you think you may need it. Alternatively you would be able to buy this in a local pharmacy. We recommend using zinc oxide tape to cover 'hot spots' on your feet to stop potential blisters in their tracks.
Then we suggest you contact Nomad Travel, our equipment partner, who specialise in kitting people out for adventurous travel. You receive a special 10% discount in-store or online. Visit one of their stores, phone 0845 260 0044, or visit their website www.nomadtravel.co.uk/explore for further information.