1 Ho Chi Minh City / Mekong Delta Homestay
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Make your way to the Opera House (Intersection of Dong Khoi street and Le Loi street, District 1) to meet your Intrepid representative at 8.00am before setting off for the Mekong Delta. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is 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 city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. Begin your journey with a drive to the city of My Tho (approximately 2.5 hrs). A former naval base, My Tho is now a bustling port city in the Mekong Delta. The area is the final destination of the mighty Mekong River which winds its way from Tibet through China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and finally Vietnam. An incredibly fertile region, its primary industry is food production, producing approximately half of Vietnam's total agricultural output. Life for villagers in the area revolves around the rivers and canals that make up the delta; people are more likely to travel by river than road. Upon arrival in My Tho we board our private boat for a cruise on the Mekong River. Our first stop is at a fish farm to gain an insight into one of the cottage industries in the region. On our boat ride our local guide will take us to visit an island with lush tropical gardens where we have a chance to sample tropical fruit. Continuing to another island in the Mekong Delta we learn more about another cottage industry, coconut candy. Our local guide will take us to a factory and explain the process of making the sweet. We have a chance to visit local villages in the area and learn more about the traditional lifestyles, culture, and customs of people who call the Delta their home. We continue our visit by Xe Loi (motorized cart), visiting a bee farm where we transfer to smaller rowing boats allowing us to get deeper into the smaller canals of the Delta. At our lunch destination our local guide will provide us with some advice on the finer points of local cuisine and explain the local delicacies. After lunch we continue our journey by boat on narrow water creeks, passing one of the Mekong River's most beautiful islands, Phoenix Islet, where fish farming takes place. Towards the end of the day, we arrive at the home of a local family, where we stay in dormitory-style accommodation. The pleasant surroundings consist of a 2 hectare garden with seasonal tropical fruits such as longan, durian, mangosteen, banana and grapefruit. The local owners will be your welcoming hosts for the evening and can tell you more about life in the Delta. Facilities at the homestay are basic. We sleep on camp beds in a communal room for all members of the group. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Homestay facilities can vary as we stay with several different families.
2 Mekong Delta / Ho Chi Minh City
Rising early to the sounds on the Delta enjoy an authentic breakfast before jumping on a bicycle to visit the local market nearby, then back to homestay to help our host prepare lunch. After lunch, we say goodbye to our friendly hosts and return to Ho Chi Minh City. This tour ends upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City at your hotel around 5pm. No accommodation is included tonight.
1 Hanoi/Halong Bay
Xin Chao! Welcome to Vietnam. A welcome pack containing a welcome letter, your trip itinerary, relevant tickets, a feedback card and general information on the country will be waiting for you at your hotel. Please ask your hotel's receptionist for the Intrepid welcome pack upon arrival. You may be able to leave your main luggage in Hanoi (please check with your hotel), so we recommend you only take a small bag with a change of clothes and essential travel items. Your Short Break Adventure starts at 7.30 – 8.00 am, or from your alternate hotel located in Hanoi's Old Quarter (advised prior to departure), between 7.30am - 8.30 am. You will also be joined by other travellers taking the boat cruise. Travel by minibus for 3.5 hours to Halong Bay. Journey through the early morning streets of Hanoi on the way to Halong Bay, seeing steam rising from roadside eateries as breakfast is prepared and motorbikes weaving their way through the steadily increasing traffic. Leaving the city behind, drive through fascinating countryside to the dock where this Halong Bay adventure truly starts. Climb aboard a traditional junk boat – with its beautiful woodwork and beaming crew – and venture out into emerald waters of the bay. Open water soon disappears as the boat glides through often misty waters and past limestone peaks jutting dramatically out of the water. Sit down to a mouth-watering lunch and take in the scenery of what is often referred to as the Eight Wonder of the World. The area of about 1,500 square kilometres is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind. Even in the rain the bay takes on a mystic quality. After lunch, you will have the chance to explore some of the limestone caves dotted around the bay, and stretch your legs for an included cave walk. The captain will find a secluded spot, so soak up the sun on the top deck or try your hand at some kayaking. The kayaks are lightweight and easy to use, and everyone will be issued with water buoyancy vests. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. Another delicious meal awaits after the sun goes down. Then sit under the beautiful starry skies or perhaps do some night fishing, before drifting off to sleep to the sounds of gentle waves lapping at the hull. Notes: There is an option for swimming from Ti Tip Island beach during the warmer months. Swimming in the bay from the boats is not permitted.
2 Halong Bay/Hanoi
Rise this morning to the tranquil beauty of the bay. Spend the morning exploring secluded areas of the bay, perhaps swimming in the cool, green waters or seeing the sights by kayak. Around noon the junk returns to the dock and the journey towards Hanoi begins. You will be transferred by boat to the mainland where your vehicle will be waiting. The journey back to Hanoi takes around 3.5 hours. Your Halong Bay Junk Cruise adventures ends on arrival in Hanoi (approximately 5.30pm) where you will be dropped off at your Hanoi Old Quarter hotel listed below, or as nominated.
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 4pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Start this Bite-size Break with a ferry ride to Ratchawong Pier along the Chao Phraya river, then set off on a food crawl through one of the most dynamic dining destinations in the city, Yaowarat (aka Bangkok's Chinatown). With bright neon signs, a sea of red plastic chairs and precariously balanced street food stalls with smoking cauldrons of stock and sizzling barbeques, Bangkok's Chinatown comes into its own in the evening. Stop past the city's oldest Chinese coffee shop (more than 80 years old!). Then hop from stall to stall, tasting your way through classics such as pork satay, famous fried flat noodles - and, of course, pad thai, probably the most famous of all Thai/Chinese fusion dishes. Wash it all down with a refreshing glass of ginseng tea or an icy cold Singha beer. At the end of your feast, stay and explore or catch a tuk tuk back to the hotel.
Head to the 'wet' market for typical Bangkok breakfast fare, including khao mun ghai (rice with chicken), khao moo daeng (rice with roast pork) and khanom bueang (Thai crispy pancakes). After breakfast, your leader will guide you around the market, introducing the core ingredients of Thai cuisine. Take a taxi to an orchard on the outskirts of Bangkok (approx. 20-30 mins). The orchard is operated by seven farming families according to organic principals. Take a tour of the farm and learn about local suburban agriculture. Collect some vegetables and fruit from the orchards for a cooking demonstration, followed by lunch. Say goodbye to your hosts and take a taxi back to the city. This Bite-size Break finishes at approximately 3pm at the hotel. Please advise your booking agent if you wish to book additional accommodation.
Your Independent Experience starts today in Jaipur with an arrival transfer. Meet your guide at your accommodation and get some tips on how to spend your first day exploring and the best place for dinner. Depending on your arrival time, you might have an opportunity to see a Bollywood movie and the grand Raj Mandir Cinema tonight. Jaipur is the gateway to Rajasthan. This pink city is gorgeous at dusk.
Today enjoy a city tour, visit the Old Bazaar and Hawa Mahal, better known as The Palace of the Wind. This five-storey façade with its pink, honeycombed sandstone windows is one of Jaipur's best-known landmarks. Head out of town to the stunning medieval Amber Fort, built in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh and a superb example of Rajput architecture.
Your tour ends today in Jaipur after breakfast. There are no activities planned until your included departure transfer to the airport or train station. Additional accommodation is available to extend your stay or you may like to add on another of our Independent Experiences or Urban Adventures in India.
1 Hanoi / Mai Chau
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Your Short Break Adventure starts around 8am from the joining point hotel, or from your alternate hotel in Hanoi's Old Quarter (advised prior to departure), between 7.30am-8.30 am. Leave behind the hectic pace of life in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and journey to the clean air of the mountainous Mai Chau valley (approximately 3 hours). There are great photo opportunities along the way – stop at a vantage point to take in the view of Mai Chau, home to a variety of minority groups with their own unique culture and languages. Along the way, there's also the opportunity to help local farmers plant rice seeds into the fields. Arrive in Mai Chau and head to the village of Pom Coong, where your local guide will introduce you to your hosts for lunch, and provide information on the region's people, their lifestyles, customs and culture. Lunch is a traditional affair with examples of local cuisine on offer. This is a great opportunity to experience the local area, chat with your hosts, and gain a real insight into life in this fascinating and picturesque region. After lunch, take some time to relax before saddling up for a cycle trip to nearby villages. This breath-taking ride takes you on small footpaths through the rice paddies of the spectacular Mai Chau Valley, where rising mountains form a ring around you. Riding through this majestic scenery, there are great photos to be taken and lots of chances to interact with the locals. Back at the homestay, relax with a cold drink while watching the sun set over the peaceful mountains. Alternatively, for the food lovers, why not help the landlady cook dinner! Notes: At the homestay you’ll sleep on mattresses in a communal room. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
2 Mai Chau Trekking / Hanoi
After breakfast at the homestay, strap on the walking shoes and take to the hills on a trek along the traditional paths of the area. Visit villages of the White Thai people, exchanging smiles and learning about their everyday lives and customs from your local guide. The trek is approximately 3 hours in length and not overly strenuous, however a good solid pair of shoes is recommended as you will be walking on uneven trails and up and down hills. The scenery of this area is stunning so have cameras at the ready and, as there is no rush, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break, enjoy the pristine scenery, take some photos or just relax in a place where few outsiders venture. Return to the homestay for lunch, then it’s time to say farewell to your hosts and gorgeous Mau Chau and return to the vibrant streets of Hanoi around 5pm.