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Mother Indochina (2015) - 2016

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This trip has it all. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, beaches in Sihanoukville, history in Phnom Penh, and pho in Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hanoi… Never heard of Indochina? Don't stress. You'll come for Angkor Wat, but you'll stay for the pho/amok/spring rolls (we could go on).

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Day 1 : Bangkok

Markets, tuk-tuks, temples. What's not to like? Get to grips with Thailand’s wicked capital, taste your first pad thai and sink a cold one or two at the Geckos crew meeting this eve.

Day 2 : Siem Reap

Jump on a bus to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and get to know your new travel mates over pork rind crisps. Mmm… salty. Get set for highlights galore in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Angkor Wat? Tick. Counting the faces of Bayon? Tick. Doing your best Lara Croft impression in the jungle of Ta Prohm? Tick. If you get templed out, head into town and spend some coin at the local night market. Sugarcane juice, anyone?

Day 5 : Kampong Cham

Make tracks to French-colonial Kampong Cham. Hire a bike and pedal to Koh Paen island or uncover the mysteries of the nearby mountain temples. If you uncover anything awesome, give us a ring. We love hearing about awesome uncoveries (new word).

Day 6 : Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the face of Cambodia’s tragic past, and it’s somewhere you should visit at least once in your life, which is good, because here you are. If you want to learn more about the Khmer Rouge regime, head out to Choeung Ek Museum and the Killing Fields. If you’re after a much less sombre day, there are bargains galore at the Psar Thmei market. Whatever floats your travel boat.

Day 7 : Homestay

Take a bumpy bus out to rural Cambodge. Bunk down with a local family, help out with the everyday and sit down to a traditional, home-cooked dinner. How many of your mates have done that?

Day 8 : Sihanoukville

If you're the type who likes mangrove forests, monkeys and exotic birds, then a safari in Ream National Park could be just the ticket. Likewise, if you're the type who enjoys doing bugger all, then hanging out on the beaches of Sihanoukville or taking a boat to nearby islands might be more your thing. Either way, enjoy.

Day 10 : Phnom Penh

De-sand your pants and head back to Phnom Penh. Maybe find more reminders of Cambodia's past in the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum or get a massage at Seeing Hands.

Day 11 : Ho Chi Minh City

Hello Vietnam. Take a bus to Ho Chi Minh City today. Learn to move with the ocean of motorbikes and maybe hire a cyclo to hit up the city’s best sights. Ai ai ai, so many sights. And so many restaurants and bars and clubs, too…

Day 13 : Mekong Delta - Overnight Train

Trundle on down to the dock and board your river vessel. Cruise the Mekong River, visit Ben Tre and spend the night with some locals. It's a fully immersive experience that will have you waking up the next day and thinking, ‘Bloody hell, I'm so glad I did that. I actually feel like my soul is enriched because of it’.

Day 15 : Nha Trang - Overnight Train

Alight your overnight train in beautiful, beachside Nha Trang. Eat seafood. Soak up some rays. Go on a boat trip. Sit in a bath full of mud. All of these things are up for grabs today – it’s just up to you to grab them.

Day 17 : Hoi An

Wander through Hoi An and say, ‘This place is fantastic and I don't think I want to leave,’ to your tour mates at various points throughout the day. They'll feel the same, so it's cool. Wander through the Phung Hung Old House, cycle through the countryside or learn how to cook up a pho stock from scratch at a local cooking class. Life skills, that’s what we're all about.

Day 20 : Hue - Overnight Train

Head to Hue. It's like something out of a Roald Dahl book. There are ancient ruins everywhere and the type of food that makes you do a happy yelp when you taste it. Take a cyclo tour around some of the sacred temples, if you want, or a dragon boat cruise up the Perfume River, then it’s time to jump back on the ol’ overnighter.

Day 23 : Hanoi

Next stop, Hanoi. Learn all about it on an orientation walk. It’s pretty cool. And if you like to shop, this is a spot to pull the wallet out. Let’s see… Silk. Silver. Funeral flags. Festival Flags. Flowers. Fish sauce. Tombstones. Conical hats. Joss paper. Shoes. Rice-paper paintings… You might just need one of everything. Although the tombstone may be a pain to get home.

Day 24 : Halong Bay

Drive through the Red River Delta, stopping along the way for snacks and beverages at a handicraft workshop run by disabled people. Feel humbled. Cruise past super-massive limestone karsts in Halong Bay. Maybe go for a cheeky swim. Sleep overnight in Halong City (Bai Chay).

Day 25 : Hanoi

Tuck into one last Vietnamese feast – we’re talking pho, banh mi and plenty of rice-paper rolls – and cram in as much exploring as you can before we call it quits. If you’ve got downtime up your sleeve, kick around Hanoi for a little longer. You’re the boss.

Basic Details

Starts in: Bangkok
Ends in: Hanoi
Group Size: maximum 16
Fitness Requirement: A reasonably good level of fitness is required for this holiday and you should be in good health. Any physical preparation will always be to your advantage. Anyone with respiratory or cardiac problems, or over the age of 60, should fully consult their medical adviser prior to booking and we may require full medical clearance.


Highlights

- Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
- The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
- 'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay
- Learn new road rules in Vietnam
- Bond with your local guide in Thailand
- Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Phnom Penh
- The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An


What's Included

- Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guides throughout the tour.- Free time to explore Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, the temples of Angkor and Bangkok.- Local homestay experience in Cambodia.- Walking tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter & Walking tour of Hoi An’s 'Old Town'.- One day Angkor pass including guided tour.- Reunification Express sleeper train from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Nha Trang to Hoi An and Hue to Hanoi.- Day cruise on Halong Bay including lunch.

Meals Included: 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners


What's NOT Included

International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.


Accommodation Styles

- Sleeper train
- Homestay
- Basic hotel


Important Information

Crossing Cultures When you are taking a tour that covers three different countries, you will be tempted at times to draw comparisons between them. However, you will get the most of your travel experience if you try to understand and respect each culture and the people living there, regardless of whether you preferred the destination you were in previously. There are some cultural elements that do cross over between countries in South East Asia: - Patting someone on their head is considered extremely rude and insulting. - Public displays of affection are not acceptable, especially kissing. - Losing your temper or showing anger and shouting or yelling will lose respect immediately, to remain cool, calm and collected at all times is an admired quality - When visiting temples ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. They are places of worship please treat them as such. - The monarchy is held in high esteem in Thailand & Cambodia, please treat them with respect
Begging At some of the tourist sites and in the cities it is possible you will come across beggars. This can prove an uncomfortable encounter especially for inexperienced travellers. There are many genuine beggars, however there are also those who find the lifestyle easier than working and these people often see tourists as easy prey. As a general rule, if you feel the impulse to give, you should be discreet in the giving. Never make a show of it, as you will attract a crowd, which brings with it its own set of problems. There are often charities that take care of the needy and it may be wise to give to them rather than to individuals begging. We do not recommend giving money to children begging or selling goods on the streets.
Dress standards In places you should dress conservatively to avoid attracting unwanted attention and so as not to offend the local population. This is especially applicable to women travellers. Dress rules also apply at many of the religious sites.
Local Tour Guides By employing and training local site guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour guide’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success. Infrastructure and Tet Holiday Period Please note that Cambodia and Vietnam are developing countries whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year) and Chinese New Year. If open, some tourist sites and restaurants may impose surcharges. Tet (Vietnamese New Year) Is a time where most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required. Please check with your booking agent when Tet is this year.
This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local cultures. Please be open-minded.
Please note that, on your tour, you may link up with passengers booked on other tours in our Gecko’s Asia program.
Please remember that our tours are of an adventurous nature. Our style of travelling means that it is more desirable to carry a backpack and a day pack on our tours.
Please note that the accommodation facilities here are basic, but provide you with an authentic experience of how these people live. You may wish to bring an inner sleeping sheet for the train journeys and the village stay, but please note that this is not a necessity. For light sleepers, we recommend that you bring ear-plugs and eye-patches for the overnight rail journey and the village stay.
Occasionally it may be necessary to amend this itinerary for reasons beyond our control. Changes to domestic train schedules occur and sometimes with little notice. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available (this can be especially so during the Vietnamese Tet holiday period). Any such changes may necessitate some alterations to your tour.
TET Departure Changes:Due to the lack of train tickets available during TET, we have had to make the below changes to the trip departing on the 1st February 2015.Day 14 - Stay an extra night in Ho Chi Minh CityDay 15 - Private bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang to (Approx.9 hours)Day 16 - unchangedDay 17 - Private bus from Nha Trang to Hoi An

Day Rooms & Early Check In
Please note we only include use of day rooms on Days 14 and 23 in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. These rooms are provided for shared group use before or after the overnight train journeys. We have some days where we arrive at our destination before check in time, and as this is a budget tour, a day room is not included. If you have booked a single supplement whilst on tour, it will not apply to these day rooms. Your leader may be able to assist you in booking a room for your use (depending on availability) until our group rooms become available for an additional charge. Please talk to your leader at the Group Meeting if this is a service you would like to request.
Passport Details Please note for all trains in Vietnam, full names as per passport are required, including middle names. Please provide your exact name as per passport at the time of booking. Ticketing fees may apply for updates or amendments to details within 45 days of departure.
BROCHURE MISPRINT
Please note there was a misprint in the brochure for 2015. The meals were listed in the brochure as 5 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners however the correct meals included on this trip are 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners. We apologise for this misprint.
Single Supplements
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip. On the following nights a single room is not available:Day 7 HomestayDay 13 Mekong Delta homestayDay 14 Overnight TrainDay 16 Overnight TrainDay 22 Overnight Train
Local Emergency Contacts In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Gecko's Cambodia office can be reached on Tel: +855 92 555 969, Gecko's Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770, Gecko's Thailand office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722.
Emergency Funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.


About this page

The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. You can check the most up-to-date version of the trip notes online at www.geckosadventures.com. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or your nearest Gecko's office. We are here to help you!

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