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Lifestyle : Travel Vietnam 2012
AG5248551AA-220712 Great Value CONDUCTED VIETNAM TOURS For more information or bookings contact: MACLEAY VALLEY TRAVEL Pty Ltd Phone Toll Free 1800-810-809. We try harder to find you the best travel deal Shop 4, Clyde Street Mall, Kempsey 2440. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.macleayvalleytravel.com Note: The prices listed include return air fares from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, good twin share accommodation, many meals, all transfers and entrance fees, Australian tour leader and local tour guides. VIETNAM LUXURY TOUR Only $4,460 20 Day Tour Departs Oct 10 Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi, plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 19 day coach and air tour of Vietnam including the fascinating hill-tribe area of Sapa. Mainly 5 star accommodation. VIETNAM EXPLORER TOUR Only $2,525 15 Day Tour Departs Oct 17 & Mar 13 Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi, plus 2 flights within Vietnam. 4 nights Saigon, 4 nights Hoi An, 4 nights Hanoi, 1 night Halong Bay with cruise. VIETNAM HIGHLIGHTS TOUR Only $2,785 11 Day Tour Departs Jan 18 Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi. 10 day coach and air tour of Vietnam. Optional Angkor Wat extension. VIETNAM OVERLAND TOUR Only $3,815 3 Week Tour Departs Nov 7 & Feb 6 Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Hanoi. 19 day overland tour of Vietnam. Optional Angkor Wat extension. INDO CHINA (Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia) Only $4,975 23 Day Tour Departs Oct 15 Flying Singapore Airlines into Saigon and out of Phnom Penh, plus 5 flights within Indo-China. 14 day Vietnam tour, 4 day Laos tour, 4 day Cambodia tour. Flavours of Vietnam A combination of breathtaking landscapes and culinary delights. Enjoy a private cooking class in Hanoi and cruise around the limestone islets in Halong Bay. Visit the Red Bridge Cooking School in Hoi An and shop at the local markets in Saigon. Flavours of Vietnam enjoys superior accommodation. 12 DAYS FULLY INCLUSIVE From$4,415p.p twin share ex Syd Departs 3 Oct 2012 Vietnam Highlights Capturing the best of Vietnam in a comprehensive programme. Explore Saigon and the Mekong Delta, discover beautiful Nha Trang and picturesque Hoi An. Stroll along the tree lined boulevards in Hanoi and spend a night onboard a junk boat on spectacular Halong Bay. 18 DAYS FULLY INCLUSIVE From$3,840p.p twin share ex Syd Departs 3 Nov 2012 Call 1300 318 203 or contact your AFTA Travel Agent wendywutours.com.au/sh Prices are per person, twin share ex Syd. Airline fuel surcharge and tipping included and subject to change. Advertised prices based on Flavours of Vietnam departing 3 Oct 2012; Vietnam Highlights departing 3 Nov 2012. Additional departures available. Seasonal surcharges apply. Prices and availability correct as at 16 Jul 2012 and are subject to change. Tour details and booking conditions as per Wendy Wu Tours 2012/13 Vietnam brochure. Wendy Wu Tours Lic No 2TA4792. 8765K. Group tour price includes international economy airfares & all charges, all meals, accommodation, guides, transport & visas for Australian passports! Holiday favourite . . . clockwise from main, Uniworld's River Saigon; Life Wellness Resort at Quy Nhon, also on the cover; the Reunification Express at Hai Van Pass; traditional dishes. it's good to have Gary as well -- he's used to dealing with the ghosts," McLachlan says. "Others go on the tour and just have a great experience, look around, tell their old stories and come back the better for it. Either way, it's a moving experience for anyone who goes." A Vietnam vet from Yamba, Russell Gander, returned to Vietnam for the first time in March at the urging of his wife, Lindy Roberts. After their tour with McKay, Gander says: "It probably got a bit of a monkey off my back. But it wasn't just the war side of it -- the food was absolutely sensational. We're both keen to go back again." His wife enjoyed the battlefield briefings, he says. "The other veterans' wives on the tour seemedtogetsomuchoutofit--I suppose it helped them understand who they've been married to all these years." Combining veterans and non- veterans works well, McLachlan says. "The two groups support each other pretty well -- the veterans make sure the other people on the tour understand what it was like and the other people there, who represent the rest of us, can thank them for what they did," he says. Vietnam commemoration tour, March 22-April 6, and November 2013, $3497 a person, twin share, land only, single supplement $1097, $200 discount for Vietnam vets. battlefields.com.au. Cruising River-cruise company Uniworld started plying the lower Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia earlier this year. To say it's a success is an understatement: the rest of the year's cruises on the 60-passenger River Saigon are booked out, prompting Uniworld to add a sister ship -- the River Orchid -- to the route for 2013. The general manager of Uniworld, John Molinaro, recently tried parts of the tour, which allows passengers to add extensions such as an overnight cruise on the World Heritage-listed Ha Long Bay. The bay's towering limestone karsts, Molinaro says, were "something I'd never seen before". The seafaring locals were also a highlight. "The women taking us around in their sampans were very playful -- they'd hit us with water with their paddles and they were just having a bit of a laugh." Although Molinaro sees parallels between the Mekong and Europe's Danube and Rhine as industrial and commercial "highways", his biggest surprise was how lush and fertile the Mekong's banks are. "The farmers live on the water," he says. "The children are screaming and yelling at you and waving, the mountains in southern Cambodia and south Vietnam are quite striking . . . the experience is completely different from Europe." Uniworld's 15-day Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong tour, including a seven- night Mekong River cruise, departs year-round except during April and May. It costs from $4825 a person, twin share. uniworldcruises.com.au. Biking, hiking, kayaking It was the chance to try a bit of everything that took the Queensland manager of World Expeditions, Amanda Fletcher, to Vietnam for the first time at Easter. Her tour around the country's north included four days of cycling, often through serene rice paddies, two days of trekking and three days of kayaking. "I'm not a full-time cyclist," she says, explaining why she didn't opt for a cycling-only tour. She also wanted to experience the less-crowded northern mountains. "There were some little spots we went to where they're just not used to seeing Westerners, especially on bikes," she says. "We also really loved the home-stays -- we did one at Mai Chau and another one the day we did the jungle trek in Cuc Phuong [National Park]. I wasn't sure how they were going to go because they say it's really basic facilities but the food was amazing. The [families] also pull out the rice wine and start the songs." Fletcher's strongest memory was of the local people. "We were in the middle of nowhere, slogging along a very muddy path, when we suddenly broke through the mist -- there was a lone Hmong man guarding his teak trees. He loosened his red blanket to proudly show us his baby grandson asleep on his back." Fletcher also enjoyed kayaking Ha Long Bay. "You've got these big eagles that swoop down around you every now and then," she says. "It was just really quiet and still." World Expeditions' 11-day Bike, Hike and Kayak Northern Vietnam tour departs regularly year-round and costs $2050 a person, twin share. worldexpeditions.com. Rail It's known as the world's slowest railway, but that's part of the charm of boarding the Reunification Express connecting Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, 1725 kilometres away. Railbookers' London-based product and marketing director, Andy Brabin, rode the rails late last year to test the train tour his company now offers. He travelled with none other than famed English train blogger Mark "The Man in Seat Sixty-One" Smith (seat61.com). "The highlight of the journey is between Hue and Da Nang -- the train starts to hug the coastline there," Brabin says. "There are jungle-covered cliffs and seas crashing down below -- it's quite a wild sea at that point. At the top is Hai Van Pass, which translates to 'Ocean Cloud Pass', referring to the area's drifting sea mists." While there are no showers on board the train (the hop-on, hop-off itinerary includes overnight stays at Hoi An near Da Nang and at Hue), Brabin says attendants keep the on-board toilets and washrooms spotlessly clean. "I also slept really well [in the four-berth sleeper compartments]," he says. Smith says: "Inexperienced travellers sometimes think they'll save time by using internal flights -- in fact, an overnight train ride from Hanoi to Hue or Da Nang actually saves time compared to flying because the train leaves Hanoi city centre in the evening and arrives in Hue city centre next morning. But it's more than this -- the train journey is a genuine Vietnamese experience. Flying is a wasted opportunity." The six-night Vietnam and the Reunification Express tour departs year-round, and costs from $995 a person, twin share. railbookers.com.au. 3 VIETNAM SUNDAY, JULY 22, 2012 THE SUN HERALD Special report
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