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Get beneath the surface of Vietnam

7th February 2013 Print

Specialist in travel to Japan, InsideJapan Tours, has launched a sister holiday brand, InsideVietnam Tours. Offering reassuringly familiar in-depth levels of country expertise, and consistent with the ‘Inside…’ aims and aspirations, InsideVietnam Tours offers itineraries – both escorted and tailor-made – and experiences that enable travellers to get beneath the surface of the country.

Director Alastair Donnelly comments: “Following a survey of our clients, we found out that many would be keen to travel Vietnam with us. So, we’re using the same (InsideJapan Tours) concept in a different country, with a new team of experts. Our clients are curious to discover new places; they like to be adventurous, experience the culture and meet the people. Our specialist InsideVietnam team can facilitate all of this, with real passion, in the same way as the InsideJapan team does. It’s a successful way of working, and one which seems to be appreciated by our clients.”

From the misty mountains in the rural north to the magnificent tropical Mekong Delta in the south - with lush jungle, paddy fields, lost cities and white-sand beaches in between - InsideVietnam Tours currently offers four small group escorted tours covering some of the major highlights of Vietnam, plus a wide range of tailor-made itineraries and experiences. Accommodation ranges from five-star to homestay, and water-borne experiences range from luxury cruising up the Mekong River to exploring the waterways and floating markets on converted rice barges, not to mention traditional Chinese-style junk trips through Bai Tu Long Bay, more off the beaten track.

Small group escorted tours

Highlights of Vietnam (IVT Essential) – a ten-night tour taking in no less than five UNESCO World Heritage destinations, including historic Hanoi, sublime Halong Bay, ancient Hoi An, Imperial Hue, lively Ho Chi Minh City and the mysterious Mekong Delta. Costs from £1,290 pp (two sharing)

Vietnam and Cambodia Uncovered (IVT Classic) – a 13-night tour linking the histories of these two countries. Visit the highlights of Vietnam – Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, with tours of the grand tombs of the Nguyen Emperors in Hue and the Stalinist mausoleum of leader Ho Chi Minh, before heading to Cambodia, to the jungle-clad temples of Angkor, laid-back Siem Riep and the capital, Phnom Penh. Costs from £2,220 pp (two sharing)

Magnificent Vietnam (IVT Superior) – a 13-night tour in comfort and style, including some of the country’s most beautifully-converted colonial properties, a luxurious night on the Mekong Delta onboard a renovated rice barge, a night’s cruising through Halong Bay, two overnight train journeys and tastes of authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Costs from £2,750 pp (two sharing)

Wild Vietnam (IVT Explorer) – a 13-night tour for explorers who are prepared to dig deeper beneath the surface, but still wish to take in the country classics. Hike around Ba Be Lakes National Park in the north, staying with the minority Tay people; visit the vast caves of the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, swim in the Nuoc Mooc Springs and trek through dense jungle, where sightings of leopards, tigers and the Siamese crocodile are possible. Drop in at Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City on the way. Costs from £2,150 pp (two sharing)

Prices include airport meet & greet, accommodation with daily breakfast, some lunches and evening meals, all domestic transport, the full-time services of a tour leader plus a local expert guide in most destinations (tips included for local guides and coach drivers), and a detailed information pack; international flights not included, but can be booked on request.

Fully-tailored journeys: total freedom and flexibility to suit personal interests and any budget, from backpacker to five-star

Fancy helping local farmers plant rice, knee-deep in mud in the paddies? Or how about creating an exquisite Vietnamese dish at a cooking class in an historical former merchant’s house? Solo travellers can take their pick, and couples or groups can find the flexibility they seek for differing holiday interests. Families might enjoy cycling the streets of Old Hanoi, kayaking in Halong Bay or fishing in Hoi An, whilst newly-weds could incorporate idyllic beaches, a Chinese-style junk cruise and some adventurous trekking to create a unique honeymoon. From messing about on boats to a multi-day trek to indigenous villages, from spying sea turtles in the Con Dao National Park to a tailored tour of World Heritage Sites, InsideVietnam Tours will deliver with passion and expertise. Private guiding or private exploration? It’s down to individual choice, as are ways of getting around, ranging from on foot, by bicycle, cyclo (bicycle rickshaws), train, private car, hot air balloon, private helicopter or even on elephant back. And, as with InsideJapan Tours clients, everyone travelling to Vietnam will receive their own detailed and tailor-made information pack.

Fully-Tailored Journeys allow independent travel but with an expertly-designed itinerary, pre-booked, carefully-chosen accommodation, all transport tickets organised and explained, guided excursions and transfers included, and back-up every step of the way. No less than eight suggested itineraries are featured to give travellers a start-point from which to personalise them; simply select a suitable start-date, year-round, talk to the InsideVietnam experts, and off you go.

Experiences and Inspiration: the icing on the Indochinese cake

Ideas include Culinary Vietnam (street food, market tours and cookery courses), Beaches of Vietnam (beaches combined with marine park exploration, sea turtles and tropical fish, diving and snorkelling, plus island escapes on the Con Dao islands or Phu Quoc), Outdoors Vietnam (cycling, trekking, kayaking, swimming in caverns), On the Water (explore by junk, rice barge or old colonial river cruiser, complete with stateroom cabins and private balconies), Sustainable Tourism (meet the Vietnamese people, try gardening, weaving palm leaves, fishing, rowing a tub boat or riding a water buffalo through rice paddies, overnight and help make dinner in homestays as varied as wooden houses on stilts, mountain village accommodation or a Chinese merchant’s house, take a lesson in traditional painting techniques or making traditional silk lanterns at the home of a local artist, visit and support animal conservation projects for primates, crocodiles and turtles).

See Tonle Sap Lake, the life-blood of Cambodia, breeding ground for many birds and fish and home to floating communities. Fall in love with Laos – land of a million elephants - offering a totally different experience from Vietnam – unhurried, jungle covered, lush and mountainous.


Vietnam’s 2,000 km-long coastline and topography mean that the climate varies considerably from north to south. In the north, Hanoi and the surrounding region see more rain from June through to August, whilst central – Hue and Hoi An – and southern parts, including Ho Chi Minh City, see heavy downpours in the autumn months, from September to December. Detailed temperature and rainfall charts – you will almost certainly experience tropical rain at some point in your trip! – are given in the brochure for all regions of Vietnam plus Cambodia and Laos.

For further information and expert advice, visit