advertisement

 

According to the Vietnamese National Administration of Tourism, travel is up almost 23 percent to Vietnam compared to this time last year. That shouldn't be a surprise to global travelers. Enshrined in the history of modern times for its diplomatic and fighting spirit, the country is blessed with diverse beauty that includes lakes, rivers, deltas, beaches and cities filled with eclectic Franco-Sino colonial architecture. Its people are enlightened, educated and friendly. With one small foot in the West (its people love baseball) and one big foot in the spirituality of the East (Buddhism is the country's principal religion), Vietnam is an eye-opening experience for any culturally inclined traveler.

For a quick visit to the country, Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com/southeast-asia) features a 12-day guided tour of Vietnam that covers a good portion of Vietnam's popular sites. Flying from Los Angeles into Ho Chi Minh and out of Hanoi, this trip includes ten nights accommodations at a deluxe hotel, ten breakfasts, one dinner, all transfers, sightseeing excursions and travel in an air-conditioned travel coach, entrance fees to important sites, and all in-country transfers. The tour stops in Ho Chi Minh, Hue, Hoi An, and Hanoi. Major sights along the way include the former Presidential Palace and the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh, the Old Imperial City in Hue, and the Old Quarter in Hanoi. Starting at a cost of approximately $1,399 for departures on October 12, November 2 and 16, 2005 and January 11, February 15, March 8, and March 29, 2006.

For a shorter trip hitting just Hanoi, Gate 1 offers a seven-day five-night self-guided tour to Hanoi (sightseeing tours are optional and extra) starting at $979 for departures from September 5 to November 18, 2005. The trip includes round-trip airfare out of Los Angeles, five nights of accommodations at a three-star moderate hotel, and daily breakfast. Other departure points are available. For a listing of sightseeing excursions offered through Gate 1 and prices, go to www.gate1travel.com/southeast-asia/sightseeing.asp. Air security fees and departure taxes are additional.

For a longer trip to Vietnam, Djoser Travel (tel. 877/356-7376; www.djoser.com) has an 18-day guided tour to Vietnam that takes a look at sights, cultural heritage and modern-day life in the country. The trip departs October 13, November 3, December 15, 2005 and January 12, February 9, and March 23, 2006. The trip costs $1,975 out of New York and $1,925 out of Los Angeles. (A single supplement is just $275 extra.) Travel insurance, meals, sightseeing entrance fees, tipping, personal expenses and airport taxes are not included in the price of the trip. Rest assured, Djoser guides are extremely well informed about the insider tips for where to eat, where to shop and what to do when on your own. Restaurants are often local joints known for flavor and ambiance. Djoser tours avoid American chain hotels, opting for smaller, centrally located comfortable local hotels that give the traveler a more in-depth view of the culture of the country. For a look at the astounding natural beauty of Vietnam and its environs, check out the slide show for this tour on the trip's general information page, www.djoserusa.com/www/bestemming/index.php?bestemming=0038. The rice paddies, the mountainous regions and valleys, will whet your travel appetite. This trip visits Nha Trang, a popular coastal town with beaches known for snorkeling and sun bathing.

Globus Journeys (tel. 866/755-8581; www.globusjourneys.com) is offering a 12-day tour of Vietnam that makes stops in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Siem Reap in Cambodia. Starting at $2,669 for an air/land option departing on December 8, 2005, cost of the trip goes up to $2,728 for departure dates on November 3 and 17, 2005. Airfare is out of San Francisco. A single supplement for this trip costs $339. Accommodations are at "first-class" hotels. In Siem Reap, your hotel is only a few minute walk from the Old Market.

Chat with fellow travelers on our Vietnam Message Boards.