Day 1 - Mekong Delta
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. Escape the city for a tour of the Mekong Delta, where you'll see what life is like beyond the urban centre of the south. This morning, please 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. Please bring with you an overnight bag ready for the one night homestay. Your main luggage can be stored at your hotel.
About 2.5 hours away is the city of My Tho, a former naval base that 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, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and finally into Vietnam. An incredibly fertile region, the Mekong Delta's prime industry is food production, producing approximately half of Vietnam's total agricultural output. Local life for villages in the area revolves around the rivers and canals that make up the delta, so much so that people are more likely to transport by river than road. Upon arrival into My Tho, board a private boat for a cruise on the Mekong River. Your first stop is Unicorn island where we'll visit an island with lush tropical gardens where we have a chance to sample tropical fruit. Continuing to another island in the Mekong Delta, you'll learn more about another cottage industry, coconut candy. Your local guide will take you to a factory and explain the process of making the sweet. As you meander down the Mekong, you will 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.
Next, travel by Xe Loi (motorised cart), and visit a bee farm, from where you will transfer to a smaller rowing boat to delve into the smaller canals of the Delta. For lunch, hit up Vuon Dau restaurant, where your local guide will provide you with some advice on the finer points of local cuisine and assist with ordering some of these delicacies. Sometimes you may transfer to the homestay by tuk-tuk. Towards the end of the day you will arrive at the home of a local family, where you’ll 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
Day 2 - Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
Rising early to the sounds on the Delta, jump on a bicycle to visit the local market, then back to the homestay to help your host prepare lunch or to do some gardening. After lunch, say goodbye to your friendly host and return to Ho Chi Minh City. 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. There is plenty to do here in free time before your tour of Ho Chi Minh tomorrow. Maybe explore the frenetic heart of the city, or get bargaining at the historic Ben Thanh Market.
Day 3 - Explore Ho Chi Minh City
This mesmerising full day Ho Chi Minh City walking tour gives you a fun and fascinating insight into the history, culture, and the daily life of the locals in this busy, buzzing city. An Intrepid representative will meet your at your hotel at 8.00am, then start the HCMC tour by heading to Chinatown and wandering through the fascinating back streets near Cho Lon. This area is one of the busiest commercial districts of Ho Chi Minh City and its atmospheric streets are home to some of the city’s most interesting sites. From there, pay a visit to Thien Hau Temple, which was built in the early 19th century and dedicated to the goddess of seafarers. Delve deeper into Chinatown, visiting the amazing Cholon and Binh Tay Markets, which are full of energy and dazzling array of goods. You can stop at a local café for a coffee (not included) to watch the hectic pace of life pass by in Ho Chi Minh City. Following your market visit, have a traditional local Vietnamese lunch, ‘pho’ or noodle soup. Then after all that soupy goodness, visit the War Remnants Museum and check out all the major Ho Chi Minh City sights like Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, General Post Office, and the Opera House. You'll also get to see downtown Saigon, and get a real feel for local life in the past and present. At the end of your HCMC tour, your guide will assist you in getting a taxi back to your hotel, or will provide you with tips and suggestions if you'd like to continue exploring the area.
Day 4 - Cu Chi Tunnels
This morning, please make your way to the Saigon Central Post Office - 2 Cong Xa Paris St, District 1 (next to Notre Dame Cathedral) to meet your Intrepid representative at 7.15am before departing at 7.30am. Built by local fighters during the Indochina conflict, the Cu Chi tunnels served as a base from which the Viet Cong could operate from close to the Southern Vietnamese capital. For this HCMC tour, leave the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City to explore one of the relics from one of the most significant local historical events in recent memory. Journey 2.5 hours west towards the Cambodian border. Before arriving at the Cu Chi tunnels, visit with some local friends and gain an insight into local life in the area, both past and present. Learn about their lives, culture, and customs and get an insight into the recent past through local eyes.
Continue on to the Cu Chi tunnels. The location of the tunnels was of significant strategic importance: they're at the end of the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, and within striking distance of the southern Vietnam capital. Initial construction started in 1948 when the Viet Minh required somewhere to hide from French air attacks, and by 1965, the tunnel complex was estimated to consist of 200 km of tunnels. It included, hospitals, schools, meeting rooms, kitchens, and sleeping quarters. Life was difficult for the inhabitants, and to protect against outside intruders, booby traps were laid throughout the complex. Today, the Vietnamese government have preserved approximately 75 km of the Cu Chi tunnels as a memorial park, and in some areas the tunnels have been widened and low powered lights installed so that visitors can now fit through the complex.
Your local guide will take you on a fascinating tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, where you'll learn more about the conditions the people lived in, the hardships they faced, and the amazing ingenuity employed to maintain life in the tunnels. Walk past huge bomb craters, evidence of the heavy bombing campaigns in the region during the Indochina conflict, discover hidden entrances right beneath your feet, wander past tiny little chimneys in the ground that dispersed smoke from the underground kitchens, sample some of the simple cuisine that local fighters would have survived on, and have an opportunity to venture into the tunnels and explore the complex. You'll end this historical Ho Chi Minh City tour with a greater understanding of the local impacts of the conflicts of the 20th century. Following this step back into modern history, return to the chaos of Ho Chi Minh City. Your South Vietnam Getaway adventure ends upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh at around 2pm.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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