There are plenty of cheap-as-chips tours of Vietnam on offer at the moment but if you want something with a little luxury, allied to romance and intrigue, Jimmy Thomson is putting together another small-group tour of his favourite country in South-East Asia.
Jimmy has written three books set in Vietnam so not only will you be seeing these countries in ways that tourists rarely do, you will be accompanied all the way by a knowledgeable and entertaining host who will add richly to the whole experience.
In this unique adventure, every step of the way you will be accompanied by Jimmy – an author, travel writer, screenwriter and military historian whose latest novel, Tunnel Vision, is set in Saigon.
You will stay in the most interesting hotels, eat the most authentic and delicious food, travel by speedboat and luxury limo-bus while gaining an insight into Vietnam that few visitors get the chance to experience.
For those who are interested, there will be free optional film nights and “book club” discussions. But be warned! By the time you are due to go home, you will probably want to stay.
With luxury accommodation all the way, top-of-the-line experiences and your own personal expert author, for a strictly limited group of no more than 10 guests, we are hoping to keep the costs to under $7500 per person, twin share, including international and internal flights.
We are looking at early April for departures. Interested? Click here email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest or ask for more details.
This is a hosted tour led by author and self-confessed Vietnam addict Jimmy Thomson and guided in Vietnam by local professional tour guides.
This will be Jimmy’s tenth tour of Vietnam and sixth as host, so who better to give you an “insider” travellers’ guide to this wonderful country, its culture and its people. Vietnam.
The following is a preliminary guide to the tour – there may be changes but they will always result in you getting more out of the trip and never less.
SAIGON ARRIVAL DAY
Enjoy a welcome drink at your hotel (possibly the Majestic – a favourite haunt of author Graham Greene and Fowler, his hero from The Quiet American).
DAY 2 – FULL-DAY CITY TOUR
The Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Dong Khoi – formerly Rue Catinat and prominent in The Quiet American, no with luxury designer stores – Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Opera House and a view the rooftop of the old CIA building which features in that famous picture of the last helicopter to leave Saigon before the city fell in 1975.
Dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 3 – Cu Chi Tunnels and Tay Ninh
This morning we’ll travel by boat up the Saigon river to the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels. The complex, as Jimmy’s book Tunnel Rats reveals, was first explored by Australian sappers (Army engineers). If you are feeling brave enough, you can explore a tunnel and fire a real-live AK47.
After lunch at a floating local restaurant, we take to the road and travel to Tay Ninh which houses the remarkable ‘Holy See’ of the colourful Cao Dai religion – and amalgam of many faiths. Back to Saigon.
Dinner in a local restaurant and optional show at the Opera House if available.
Day 4 – MEKONG DELTA
From Ho Chi Minh City pier where we’ll slip away from downtown Saigon via narrow canals and enter the lush green tributaries of the Mekong Delta. A light breakfast is served on board.
We visit Can Giuoc riverside market before reaching the mighty Mekong Delta itself. After visiting local craftsmen and women we arrive at a boutique hotel (probably the Island Lodge), where you can relax by the pool.
In the evening there’s a traditional dinner prepared with the products from the organic garden and the fish farm of the Mekong Riverside boutique hotel.
DAY 5 – Mekong Delta and Saigon
After breakfast at the hotel we continue exploring the Delta, starting with Cai Be floating market then we take a rowboat trip along small canals of the Delta surrounded by thousands of coconut palms and visit a fish farm. Arriving back in Saigon in late afternoon, there’s another adventure in store in the evening: a street food tour on scooters (cars for the more nervous travellers).
Day 6: Saigon – Hoi An
We fly to Da Nang and drive to the Unesco protected village of Hoi An. Where we’ll have dinner at one of the many top class local restaurants.
Most tours to Hoi An take guests to large modern hotels on the beach, half an hour away by bus. Thanks to Jimmy’s insider knowledge, you will be booked into a charming hotel right on the fringes of the town, so you can enjoy it in a more relaxed atmosphere in the evening when all the tourists have gone.
Day 7: Hoi An, My Son and a cooking class
You have a choice – take the 50km journey to My Son, which is a collection of temple ruins constructed between the 4th and 14th centuries by the kings of Champa. then return to Hoi An town and have lunch at local restaurant and start your city tour.
Alternatively, instead of the trip to My Son, you can start the day with a walking tour of the town markets followed by a cooking class.
Day 8 Hoi An to Hanoi
It’s back to the airport (after picking up your new clothes) for flight to Hanoi where we’ll be staying at The Sofitel Metropole where Graham Greene wrote a large part of The Quiet American. Free time to explore the city (with advice from Jimmy on what not to miss).
We recommend a trip to a local tailor for made-to-measure clothes (which they can famously turn around in 24 hours).
Dinner at the legendary Fomo restaurant started by Australia’s Jimmy Pham to teach street kids hospitality skills to give them a chance in life
Day 9 Hanoi
Visit Uncle Ho at the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and Presidential Gardens, Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo prison (aka, the “Hanoi Hilton”), where you can see the flight suit worn by the late US Senator John McCain when he was rescued from a lake after his plane had been shot down.
Free time in afternoon followed by an evening walking food tour
Days 10, 11 and 12: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay
Cruising Ha Long Bay is on many people’s bucket lists. We do it in style on our exclusive luxury “junk” with all mod cons … including all the attractions and even a movie night.
Day 12 Ha Long Bay to Hanoi
Pre-breakfast Tai Chi demonstration on deck, followed by a light breakfast, as we cruise back to the marina. Back in Hanoi, we attend the Quintessence of Tonkin open air spectacular.
Day 13 Hanoi
You have full free day to relax and discover Hanoi city by yourself. Or you can hang out with Jimmy as he explores some of his favourite parts of the Old Quarter and catches up with some local friends who will be happy to tell you what life is like for people living in Vietnam today. Pick up your new clothes then freshen up for our farewell dinner.
Day 14 – Hanoi to home
And so we say a fond farewell to Vietnam …
The plan is to have a minimum of eight guests and a maximum of 12. Although the tour has been devised by Jimmy, the logistics – flights, hotels and ground transport – will be organised by a highly reputable travel firm (like Wendy Wu Travel).
Email jimmy on email@example.com to let him know you are interested without needing to make any commitment at this stage. And tell him if there’s something not mentioned in the above itnereary that you really want to do.