Destination: Vietnam

An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983.

Touring Vietnam with Odyssey

You will travel on a passenger train network from the south to north Vietnam, allowing time to explore ancient and colonial pasts.

Vietnam Tours

Crafted Tours for Mature World Travellers

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Transmongolian Transiberian

65 days

Aug, Mar, Jul

Singapore to Lisbon by train

Visiting China

A small group railway journey from Singapore to Lisbon. The longest in the world for senior couples and mature solo travellers. Explore over some 56 days, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Russia, France, Spain and Portugal. Limited to 10 travelers on this escorted program.

From A$38,095 AUD

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Articles about Vietnam

FAQs

What the top travel destinations in Vietnam for mature travellers? Where to go in Vietnam?

Hanoi

Vietnam’s capital city is full of history and culture, especially in the Old Quarter. This is the epicentre of tourism in the city, with market streets, a buzzing nightlife and some of the best Vietnamese food on the planet.

Hạ Long Bay

The Unesco World Heritage Site Hạ Long Bay is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Vietnam. Halong Bay is a beautiful natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border. The Bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sqkm. This extraordinary area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. For many tourists, this place is like something right out of a movie.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the business and financial hub of Vietnam, with a prominent history going back hundreds of years.

Today, Ho Chi Minh City is a popular tourist destination due to its fascinating culture, classic French architecture, and sleek skyscrapers as well as ornate temples and pagodas. The city is also filled with rooftop bars that overlook Saigon and beyond, while fantastic restaurants offer a combination of French, Chinese, and, of course, local Vietnamese cuisine.

When do you need a visa to go to Vietnam?

To enter Vietnam, you must have either a:

  • visa
  • visa exemption certificate

Apply for an e-visa through the Vietnamese Government’s e-visa portal.

You can also apply for a tourist visa through the Vietnamese embassy’s website (Australia).

How big are your Vietnam tour groups and what is the age of your travellers?

Odyssey specialises in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups sizes are between 6 to 12 people, and no more than 14 travellers on our tour through Vietnam. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs to since 1983. We offer a wide range of fully escorted, cultural and heritage journeys that expand horizons and broaden the mind. Our tours are designed for active, inquisitive travellers in a small group environment.

What is the currency in Vietnam?

The Vietnamese dong is the official currency in Vietnam. Most payments are made with Vietnamese Dong, but US dollars can be directly used for some hotels, restaurants, tours, or other services. You may see the prices for food, drinks, and souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh City’s airport are all in US dollars. However, it is not recommended to pay with US dollars, because they will be converted at a lower exchange rate and you will end up paying more.

Does the government issue advice for travellers to Vietnam?

Visit Smarttravellers website for the latest updates: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/vietnam

What is Vietnamese food like?

The most common food in Vietnam is rice and fish sauce, rice noodles, rice paper wrappers, rice porridge, sticky rice, fried rice, puffed rice snacks, and rice wine.

Vietnamese recipes use lemongrass, ginger, mint, Vietnamese mint, long coriander, Saigon cinnamon, bird’s eye chili, lime, and Thai basil leaves.[1] Traditional Vietnamese cooking has often been characterised with using fresh ingredients, not much use of dairy nor oil, interesting textures, and the use of herbs and vegetables. A leading soy sauce manufacturer’s research confirms that fish sauce (nước mắm) is the predominant table sauce in Vietnamese homes, where it captures over 70% of the market, while the market share for soy sauce is under 20%. It is also low in sugar and is almost always naturally gluten-free, as many of the dishes are made with rice noodles, rice papers and rice flour instead of wheat.

What is the official language in Vietnam?

Vietnamese is the official language; English is increasingly favoured as a second language. French, Chinese, Khmer and various highlander languages are also spoken. Between 85 percent and 90 percent of Vietnam’s residents are ethnically Vietnamese.

What tours in Vietnam are taking additional safety precautions?

The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.

Do you speak English in Vietnam?

Frequent visitors to Vietnam report that you usually have no problems speaking English in any of the main cities like Hanoi, Sai Gon and Ho Chi Minh. The 50% English speaking proportion is over the country as a whole; it is actually much higher than this in the cities, and lower in more rural areas.

What sort of transport do you use?

Odyssey uses modern, air-conditioned, medium-sized coaches that are thoroughly cleaned throughout the tour.

What type of accommodation will I be staying in?

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our long-stay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

What's the average age of the travelers?

Odyssey specialises in educational small group tours for seniors, typically ages between 60 to 80 years.

How strenuous are the tours?

The majority of Odyssey’s tours have an activity level 2 (moderate):

Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking/hiking up to 8 kilometres on uneven ground

Please do not read into this too much, 8 kilometers is actually not very far if spread out over a day; Odyssey’s tour are developed for seniors, with an inquisitive mind and a good general physical health. We do not expect our participants to be walkers or with great strength or endurance. Our tours are also very flexible due to our smaller groups and we often offer alternative activities for participants who would like to skip an activity/sightseeing, or take a day of rest.

What is the Ho Chi Minh trail?

The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a logistical network of roads and trails that ran from North Vietnam to the South Vietnam through the kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia. The system provided support, in the form of manpower and materiel, to the Viet Cong and the People’s Army of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War.

What is the Vietnam railway like?

The railway system in Vietnam is owned and operated by the state-owned Vietnam Railways. The principal route, the single track North-South Railway running between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, accounts for 1,726 kilometres of the network’s total length of 2,600 kilometres. The national railway network uses mainly metre gauge, although there are several standard gauge and mixed gauge lines in the north of the country.

Rail transport remains relatively underused as a mode of transport in Vietnam. According to reports by the Asian Development Bank, however, the role of rail transport is growing, carving out a significant role for itself in long-distance bulk cargo transport.

What is traveling by train in Vietnam like?

Vietnam’s air-conditioned trains are the ideal way for i travellers to get around Vietnam. The train journey is a genuine Vietnamese experience, an integral part of your trip and you might even meet some Vietnamese people

Why should you travel by train in Vietnam?

You will get a real insight into Vietnam when you travel by train, both urban and rural. Rice fields, palm trees, water buffalo, Vietnamese towns and villages. And if you’re good at people watching you’ll get insights on board the train, too – the real Vietnam is as much inside as outside the train. The most magical part of a Hanoi to Saigon train journey is the world-class scenic section between Hué and Danang. The train runs along the South China Sea, snaking from cliff to jungle-covered cliff past beaches and islands, then heads through the lush green mountains via the Hai Van Pass to reach Danang.

What are the baggage regulations for train in Vietnam?

The train cabins are allowed to carry baggages not to exceed the weight limitation of 20 kgs per adult.

Tour Reviews

I wish to sincerely thank Len for his amazing care, good cheer and flexibility ! Len has that great combination of simultaneous organisation and flexibility, which is so very necessary on a small trip such as this. In his stride, he was able to re-design the program at short notice due to weather conditions (working closely with Drakpa) and the end result was better than the original plan in my opinion!!! It was clear from day one, that Len cared and payed attention to each and every one of us at every step of the way – going out of his way to assist those who needed it. The trust and camaraderie we developed with Len made the trip that much more special! I miss our laughs.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

The tour was fantastic and well organised and well managed. · I have travelled expensively but have not with a travel organisation that comes anywhere near Odyssey's attention to detail and the comfort of its travellers. · The tour was fantastic and well organised and well managed. The transport provided was always very good and where the seats were a little narrow, the bus was big enough for us to 'spread out' for more comfort. · Our accommodation was excellent as was our local guide.I would highly recommend a trip to this beautiful country with many treasures to explore and learn about. Discover Myanmar Nov ‘15

info@odysseytravel.com.au

Discovering Myanmar | Small Group Tour for Seniors

The trip to the Tang valley and the Ogyencholing museum were a highlight. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and one of the best museums I've seen. That night and all next day it snowed - what a buzz. Made everything look magical and improved the scenery for the next few days

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

The local guide, Drukpa, was exceptional value. When I was ill for a couple of days his care for me, assisted by Len, was way beyond my expectation.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

Your chat-operator was informative and helpful. We have covered quite a few countries and seasons to travel. Full marks for that!

Philip Lee

Discovering Myanmar | Small Group Tour for Seniors

We did this tour in 2011. Wonderful, extraordinary experience. Loved every minute.

Rex and Maree

Journey through Mongolia and Russia small group tour

Loved: National Institute of traditional medicine hike to Wanyditse Goemba Punakha festival – definitely a highlight Hanging the prayer flags at the pass! The outdoor picnics! Archery competition! Dumtse Lhakhang – went to heaven!!! Dzong Drak Kha (mini tigers nest) amazing views and climb Sanga Choekor Shedra (Bhuddist College) Drakpa and his team (Nima and Karma) were just amazing. Drakpa was very knowledgeable, friendly, caring and cheerful. He went out of his way to provide us with information and experiences to help our understanding of the culture and religion, he was funny and entertaining and very professional under pressure.Nima was a very competent driver, and I have never felt in safer hands in the difficult driving conditions we were in.

Participant March 2017

Bhutan | Small Group Cultural Tour

Touring Vietnam

The need to know

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Vietnam has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network, which links major cities.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our long-stay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, Environment, & Weather

Vietnam is a long, narrow nation shaped like the letter s. It is in Southeast Asia on the eastern edge of the peninsula known as Indochina. Two of Vietnam’s largest rivers, the Mekong in the south and the Red in the north, end at the South China Sea in huge swampy plains called deltas.

The main overall issue that Vietnam is currently dealing with environmental pollution. This includes a lack of clean water supply, wastewater, air pollution, and solid waste.

Vietnam’s climate is subtropical in the north and tropical in the center and south, and it’s influenced by the monsoons: the south-west monsoon affects the country from May to October, and the northeast monsoon from October to April.

World Heritage Sites

As of 2021, there are eight World Heritage Sites in Vietnam, including five cultural sites, two natural sites, and one mixed. You can view the official list of the sites here: https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vn

Festivals & Events

Inspired by the Chinese Lunar calendar, most of the cultural events and festivals in Vietnam are celebrated during specific times of the year. These festivals will let you witness and absorb the culture of the country and give you a soul-touching experience.

The most famous event, also known as Vietnam Lunar New Year, is the Tet Nguyen Dan. This Vietnamese festival is celebrated to thank the gods for the arrival of spring while the locals pay respects to their ancestors and get together with family members to welcome the New Year.

The Perfume Pagoda Festival is another extremely important one. The Perfume Pagoda is the most famous pilgrimage site in the country that welcomes thousands of pilgrims who make their way to the sacred caves to pray for a happy, and prosperous year ahead.

Reading List

The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia by Bill Hayton

Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William J. Duiker

Understanding Vietnam by Neil L. Jamieson

Vietnam: A Natural History by Jane Sterling, Maud Hurley, Duc Minh

Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction by Damien Keown

Eating & Drinking

The staple of Vietnamese meals is rice, with noodles a popular alternative at breakfast or as a snack. Typically, rice will be accompanied by a fish or meat dish, a vegetable dish and soup, followed by a green tea digestive. Seafood and fish – from rivers, lakes, canals and paddy fields as well as the sea – are favoured throughout the country, either fresh or dried.

Vietnam’s national drink is green tea, which is the accompaniment to every social gathering or business meeting and is frequently drunk after meals. At the harder end of the spectrum, there’s also rice wine, though some local beer is also excellent, and an increasingly wide range of imported wines and spirits.

Health & Safety

As of writing, smarttraveller.gov recommends exercising a high degree of caution when travelling in Vietnam. While much of Vietnam e is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical Supply

Plugs type A (two flat vertical pins), type C and type F (two round pins) fit most Vietnam electrical outlets. If your power plug has 3 pins, you might need an adapter as most electrical outlets here do not include a grounding hole. The electricity supply in Vietnam is 220 Volts at 50Hz.

Responsible travel tips for Vietnam

  • Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  • Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  • Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of Dong in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees.

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