Thank you for choosing our services. We want you to benefit from our experience and have as carefree a holiday as possible so please take a few moments before you go to read through our “Holiday Essentials”. If you know what to expect in advance it will allow you to pack and plan accordingly thus ensuring you have an enjoyable trip
Your trip has been planned to maximize your enjoyment and you will have the support of your local guides at each destination.
Hotline 24 hours: +84 (0) 982 159 777 (Cellphone/Viber/WhatsApp)
All travelers must have a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival and containing at least 2 blank pages for affixing visas and arrival stamps. Anyone intending to visit more than one country should allow at least 2 blank pages for each country on the itinerary
Your representative will hold a welcome signboard with the booking lead name at each airports
Itinerary & Guides
At each destination, you will be met on arrival by one of our local representative who will escort you to your hotel and brief you on your itinerary. Where your arrangements include a private vehicle and guide for your sightseeing, you will be escorted by an English speaking guide. If you are flying between destinations as part of your tour, you will generally have a difference guide in each area
The guide will be aware of the itinerary planned for that day but there is flexibility so you can start earlier or late or skip sites, cut visit short or linger longer depending on your mood and you can discuss with your tour guide the impact this will have on subsequent visits. You cannot add or substitute places since the sightseeing tour will have been planned as costed according to the original itinerary. In the very unlikely event that your guide is not understanding or adhering to your wishes, please call us as listed in the beginning of this document
Road travel is a great way to see the countryside and will give you a real flavor of how the locals live. Driving distances can be long and some roads are poorly maintained, but please be assured your driver will be familiar with local conditions and is trained to drive with due care and attention. Journey times are listed within your itinerary, these are approximate and based on the average travel time for a particular route. There may be occasions when you want to take a taxi during your free time. Ask your guide or hotel concierge for assistance. Cyclos or tuk tuks can be hailed in the street but negotiate a price before getting in. Avoid these late at night and choose a reliable metered taxi company instead. Air Travel When transiting via an airport in Indochina it is likely that the flights will be unconnected therefore at the transit airport you will need to collect your luggage, pass through immigration if necessary, and then check in for your next flight. Please check the situation with your guide or airline check-in staff. Internal flights are sometimes subject to short notice delays and cancellations which are beyond our control, however we will do all possible to minimise the inconvenience should delays occur.
Indochina offers many opportunities to travel by boat and these experiences are often a real highlight. The size, standard and type of boat will vary depending on your specific itinerary. For all cruises where you stay on board overnight, the boats will offer very stable cruising and cabins will vary from simply clean and comfortable to luxurious depending on your choice of cabin and boat. Please note that access may be by a narrow or steep ramp or ladder and there will be stairs between decks, so check with your consultant if you have any mobility concerns. Always take care while onboard and in particular when embarking and disembarking, and do ask for assistance from the crew if necessary.
Travelling by train in Vietnam offers the chance to experience a more local means of transport. We offer the overnight train journeys between Hanoi and Lao Cai for Sapa in the north and we book only private rail carriages which are linked to a Vietnam Railways locomotive. These carriages offer a higher level of comfort and cleanliness than the public train, however cannot be compared to European rail services. Due to old tracks, journeys can be bumpy and noisy and subject to frequent stops. On arrival at the station your guide will assist you to find your berth. All passengers have an assigned sleeping berth in an air-conditioned 4 berth compartment and each compartment is separated from the carriageway by a door. Bedding is provided but you may wish to take your own sleeping bag liner. Western style toilets are available in each carriage but you should take your own toilet paper. Most trains do not offer a meal service so we suggest you eat before boarding the train and travel with your own snacks and plenty of bottled water. Trains are generally safe to travel on and you are unlikely to have any problems. However, theft of luggage is not unheard of so for peace of mind you might like to travel with a bicycle lock that you can use to secure your entire luggage to the overheard racks or side of the bed. For all overnight train journeys, you should take anything you will need during the journey in a separate bag for easy access (toiletries, eye mask, ear plugs, sleep wear). Depending on your itinerary and the size of your luggage you may also wish to pack a smaller bag for your trip to Sapa and leave your main luggage at your Hanoi hotel.
Travelling with Children
If you are travelling with young children, please speak to your consultant about infant seats. It is generally accepted that children aged 5 years and under do not have a good concept of danger. Children must be supervised at all times, especially when near any type of pool, when on a boat or near water in general.
What to take with you
While most items are available to buy locally, not everything is, so anything essential you should take with you. We suggest you consider taking the following: a money belt for keeping valuables safe, adaptor plug, torch, mosquito repellent, small personal medical kit, sun-cream, ear plugs and eyes mask
We suggest you take important items in your hand luggage in case of delay/loss of bags on international flights. We recommend your main luggage is packed in one bag but that you also take a light shoulder bag for day trips and sightseeing
Casual dress is acceptable everywhere, however when visiting religious buildings both men and women must wear clothing that covers the shoulders and knees and should remove shoes, socks and hats when entering the main temple building (your local guide will advise). Warmer clothing may be necessary at certain time of year and in some destinations (please see climate sections below). You should also take sunglasses and a hat to protect from strong sun
Bargaining is a way of life in Indochina and whenever a fixed price is not shown the shopkeeper will start with a high price which you are expected to haggle down to a fair price. The process is normally very good natured and can be a lot of fun, and a smile goes a long way. Your guide will be able to give you an indication of a fair price for goods. Unfortunately, much as we discourage guides from taking you to local shops/workshops during your tour unless specifically asked by you, this is all part of tourism in Indochina. However please do not feel under any pressure to visit these shops and politely but firmly tell your guide if you don’t want to stop or just spend a few minutes having a very quick look around. If you have any issues with a guide, please contact our local representative at the time so the situation can be rectified. Please see individual shopping sections below for popular handicrafts and souvenirs.
Indochina is a reasonably safe travel destination and crime against tourists is very rare, however it’s sensible to take basic precautions against petty theft as you would anywhere. Keep your money and documents close to you, keep photocopies of your passport and travel documents elsewhere in your luggage, use the hotel safes and don’t put all your money in one place.
The hotels we offer are fully modernized with facilities of an international standard. For travel off the beaten track in rural areas, accommodation choices are limited so hotels may be more modest and basic than elsewhere. Most hotel offer free wi-fi
There is good weather somewhere in Vietnam all year round! The north has a distinct summer and winter while the south benefits from sunshine and warm weather year round with wet and dry seasons. The central region is more variable and the hilly areas of the far north and Central Highlands will always be cooler than the coast. December to March brings a cool, mainly dry winter to the north. Hanoi sees average temperatures of 18-20°C but it can drop to the low 10s at times, while the mountainous far north can be bitterly cold with snow possible. The further south you go, the milder the weather. Hue's rains continue until January and it sees chilly winds and overcast skies through to March. Over the mountain ridge, Hoi An and Danang are cool with rough seas December to February making the area less appealing to those attracted by beach relaxation. The south experiences its dry season December to April with hot, sunny days. April is generally a great time to travel throughout the country. From May to August the north and the central coast have a good chance of clear skies and will be hot and humid with temperatures around 30° in the north and to 35° and up in the centre. The north will see some rain while the central region is mainly dry. Down in the south the rainy season begins, bringing showers once or twice a day and slightly cooler temperatures. After September the rains ease in the north bringing clearer skies and getting chillier towards December. This period can bring heavy rainfall to Hue and Hoi An with November being the wettest month, but between the rains there can be sunny days. From August to December the north and central coast can encounter tropical storms and typhoons. In the south the rainy season continues until November.
NOTE: As a reminder, the peak season lasts from October to April. To avoid disappointment because hotel rooms or domestic flights are fully booked, reserve your travel arrangements early. Contact us to discuss your travel plans.
Food & Drink
Vietnam’s cuisine is a delight; characterized by an abundance of fresh local vegetables and herbs, usually prepared with minimum oil and often server with ubiquitous fish sauce, “nuoc mam”. Typical Vietnamese dishes include “pho”, a type of rice noodle soup eaten for breakfast, “cha gio” (“nem” in the north dialect), deep-fried spring rolls and “goi ngo sen”, a delicious salad made with lotus stems, shrimps and peanuts. Due to strong Buddhist influence in Vietnam, vegetarian food is widely available especially in the south
We recommend that you avoid drinking the tap water. Sealed bottle water, carbonated soft drink and fruit juices are widely available
Water will be served on your vehicle during the tour
There may be occasions when you want to take taxi during your free time. Choose Mai Linh Taxi, Vinasun Taxi, Hanoi Taxi or ask your guide for assistance. Cyclos can be hailed in the street but negotiate a price before getting in. Avoid cycles late at night and choose a reliable metered taxi company instead
The national language of Vietnam is Vietnamese. In large cities and in places with many tourists, people will speak basic English. If you take the time to learn a few simple words or phrases in Vietnamese, the effort will be much appreciated.
Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency in Vietnam. Please check with your bank or ask your travel consultant for an up to date exchange rate. There are ATMs in all but the smaller towns and many hotels will provide a money changing facility. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, larger shops and top end restaurants, however smaller shops and restaurants may only accept cash. We recommend you obtain some small change for tips when exchanging money.
Tipping is customary, but not obligatory. You may feel you wish to tip your driver and guide at the end of your tour if you have been satisfied with the service. We recommend:
+ an amount per couple of US$ 15 (350,000 VND) per day for the guide and US$ 8 (180,000 VND) per day for the driver
+ For cruises we suggest US$ 10 (225,000 VND) per cabin for 1 night cruises, US$ 14- 20 (320,000-450,000 VND) per cabin per night for longer cruises and US$5 (110,000 VND) per boat for private cruises of 1-2 hours.
+ Most hotels pool tips amongst all staff so consider tipping upon departure porters should be tipped around US$ 1 (20,000 VND).
Tips can be paid in US Dollars or in Vietnamese Dong.
Vietnamese New Year “Tet”
The Lunar New Year festival known as Tet is the most important period of the year in Vietnam when people take time off to visit their families in the countryside. Being in Vietnam during Tet offers an opportunity to observe the preparations and enjoy the public festivities taking place, however be aware that travel will be affected. There is almost no activity in markets and shops, some museums are closed and hotels and restaurants may be under-staffed, so in some cases the quality of service may suffer. Flights and train will be extremely busy and there will be long queues to check in. This period of reduced activity may last from a week before and a week after the Tet period. It is also impossible to get a “visa authorization letter” processed during this period
The period affected generally lasts up to a fornight including the key dates of Tet up to a week beforehand covering 29 Jan – 14 Feb 2019
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi have the best choice when it comes to shopping but Hoi An in the centre of Vietnam is also a very good place to hunt for bargains and a great place for tailor shops who produce bespoke clothing.
Vietnam is 7 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight saving
Vietnam mainly uses 220V but in some areas, 110V us also used. A mixture of flat and round 2 pin sockets (European style plugs) are used through the country. We recommend you take a universal plug adaptor
Cambodia has two distinct seasons: wet June – October and dry November – May. Travelling during the rainy season has its benefits as Angkor’s temples are quieter, floating villages at their best and rice fields lush and green. The rains are usually in the afternoon and last 2-3 hours. The dry season can be very dusty, but easier for walking through jungle terrain around the temples. The temperature is fairly steady 30-35°C during the day, although November – January often has cooler temperatures.
Food & Drink
The staple food of the Cambodian diet is rice, usually served with dried salted fish, chicken, beef or pork. Fish is often fresh from Tonle Sap Lake and is eaten with a spicy peanut sauce called tuk trey. Popular dishes include sam chruk, a roll of sticky rice stuffed with soya bean and chopped pork, and amok, a soup of boneless fish with coconut and spices. We recommend that you avoid drinking the tap water. Sealed bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available.
The national language of Cambodia is Khmer. Outside the major centres of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap most people speak only Khmer but it is no problem to find somebody who is trained in basic English. If you take the time to learn a few simple words or phrases in Khmer, the effort will be much appreciated.
Riel (KHR) is the national currency in Cambodia however US dollars are the preferred currency and accepted everywhere. Please note that ripped, torn or old US dollar bills will not be accepted. There are ATMs in all but the smaller towns that distribute US dollars and many hotels will provide a money changing facility. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, larger shops and top end restaurants, however smaller shops and restaurants may only accept cash. We recommend you obtain some small change for tips and remork rides when exchanging money.
Tipping is customary, but not obligatory. You may feel you wish to tip your driver and guide at the end of your tour if you have been satisfied with the service. We recommend
+ an amount of US$ 10-12 per day for the guide and US$ 8-12 for the driver (per couple).
+ Most hotels pool tips amongst all staff so consider tipping upon departure; porters should be tipped around US$ 1 per item of luggage.
+ Boat crew for any overnight cruises should be tipped around US$ 2 per person or US$ 1 per person for cruises of 1 or 2 hours.
Tips can be paid in US Dollars or the equivalent amount in local currency.
Cambodia celebrates many festivals throughout the year, many of which are tied to the lunar calendar so dates are tricky to predict. The most important festivals are Khmer New Year (14-16 Apr 18), King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday (13-15 May 18), the Royal Ploughing Ceremony (3 May 18), Pchum Ben Festival (8-10 Oct 18), the Commemoration Day of King Norodom Sihanouk (15 Oct 18) and the Water Festival (21-23 Nov 18). 2019 dates for festivals are yet to be confirmed by the government. During festival periods many restaurants, museums and shops are closed and temples may be more crowded than usual. Your guide will advise you on restaurants and shops that are open and if your itinerary includes a restaurant that is closed at late notice then an alternative of a similar standard will be arranged. Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda may be closed at short notice during the festivals above and also at other times by royal order. If this should happen your guide will be flexible and try to reschedule your tour to fit in a visit if possible. The temples of Angkor are very busy over festivals however your guide will do their best to avoid the crowds.
Cambodia is 7 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight saving.
Cambodia uses 220V and a mixture of flat 2 pin, round 2 pin or British/Irish style sockets can be found. We recommend that you take a universal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator