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Encounters Photo Tours

Encounters Photography Expeditions

In conjunction with Intrepid Travel of Australia


Viet Nam through the Lens 2011

March 16th – 29th  


*See below for inclusions and Exclusions



12  places booked, None available











Important Note: The trip begins on March 16th in HCMC and ends on 29th am - the Sapa trip begins on the evening of March 29th and ends on the morning of April 2nd.


‘Viet Nam Through the Lens’ is a collaboration between photographer Ian Wright ARPS, based in Exeter UK  and Intrepid Travel of Australia, the internationally recognised adventure travel company who carry 90,000 travellers a year to the most exciting destinations in the world. Ian photographed in Cambodia and Viet Nam in February 2010. 

From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of wonderful people and picturesque landscapes. Imagine exploring the beautiful lakes and boulevards of Hanoi, or exploring the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City - and what better way to get to know the locals than to be their guests in a Mekong Delta homestay? Experience historical temples, spectacular scenery, delicious banquets and lively cities all with a touch of comfort on this 14-day adventure. Work with local photographers and photograph amazing fishing villages, markets, villages, landscapes – experience motorcycle journeys into the heart of rural Viet Nam and wonder at the chaos of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.




Days 1-2 16th-17th March HCMC

You will be met on arrival at Ho Chi Minh Airport and transferred to your hotel. Please note that arrival airport transfers are included, so please advise Intrepid of your flight details when booking and there will be a representative from Intrepid Indochina to meet you at the airport and transfer you to our hotel. You must advise us of these details at least 14 days prior to departure if you wish to have this transfer provided.

You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting. Your Intrepid leader and Ian will leave a note at reception telling you where and when this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. The meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner.

Our clean and fully equipped hotel in Ho Chi Minh City is centrally located in District 1 and has ensuite bathrooms, air conditioning, a restaurant, bar and business centre.

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of just over six million people. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives gives Ho Chi Minh City a dynamic atmosphere. The city is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds: ancient pagodas, mosques and cathedrals sit squarely up against the former Presidential Palace, the War Museum, historic Dong Khoi Street (the Rue Catinat from Graham Greene's novel The Quiet American) and the bustling markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Much of the city's life takes place on the busy streets lined with stores, shops, stalls and vendors with their wares spread out on the footpath selling everything from soup to sophisticated electronics! The French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer.

Day 2 Activities in HCMC

Days 3-4 Mekong Delta, 18-19 March 2011


This morning we head down to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. At Vinh Long, we board our private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries before heading to our overnight homestay along the water.

Tonight at our homestay we will be sleeping on simple campstyle foldout beds in a dorm style sleeping area. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided and there is a basic shared toilet and bathroom facilities (cold water only). Rising early to the sounds of the Delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boats to visit the famous floating markets en route to Cai Be. Today, we also visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda before returning to Ho Chi Minh City on the afternoon of day 3. In the afternoon we take a leisurely cyclo tour and visit some of the city's highlights, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.

In the evening, we board the Reunification Express sleeper train to Nha Trang (night 3). The sleeper trains have four beds to a compartment (two upper and two lower) for the overnight portion of the journey. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Simple food is also provided on the train but many people like to stock up on freshly baked bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure. Bottled water should also be bought before the journey.


Days 5-6 Nha Trang, 20-21 March 2011


We arrive in the morning to Nha Trang, one of Vietnam's most attractive and charming coastal towns, featuring a harmonious combination of mountains, islands, sea and sand. We take an afternoon cyclo tour to explore Nha Trang and its idyllic surrounds. We will work here with Viet Nam’s most famous photographer Long Thanh and visit the intriguing Cham people. The coast and bay here is amazing with fishermen and their families providing terrific photo opportunities.


On day 6 we take a boat trip to the nearby islands and wander individually – street photography at it’s best. We have the chance to swim and snorkel in the warm waters. Nha Trang is famous for its fresh seafood, and we enjoy a delightful meal of the day's catch on board our boat. Once on land again, you can browse the local art and craft sold around town, and later, head out to enjoy the nightlife this seaside resort town is famous for.


While in Nha Trang we stay in a centrally located three star hotel which has comfortable twin and double rooms, air conditioning and a restaurant.


Days 7-9 Hoi An, 22-24 March 2011


On day 7 we take a flight to Danang. The drive from Danang to Hoi An is about an hour and we stop along the way to vist the magnificent Marble Mountains. Hoi An is a delightful riverine town about 30 km south of Danang and a firm favourite with Intrepid travellers. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did a century-and-a-half ago. More than perhaps any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.


Hoi An offers great photography – a brilliant and vibrant market, amazing fishing, pottery  and vegetable villages nearby – in 2010 we rose at 5 am on each day in Hoi An and worked with a terrific local photographer. Hoi An is famous for its large number of tailor shops so if you want to have a new wardrobe made up, this is the time to do it!         Hoi An is the place to shop.


Our accommodation in Hoi An is located near all the attractions of the Old Town and has lovely twin and double rooms with private facilities and air conditioning. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar and a pool.



Days 10-11 Hue, 25-26 March 2011





Leaving Hoi An, we drive to Hue via China Beach and the spectacular Hai Van Pass, an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views of Lang Co Beach. We stop at beautiful Lang Co Beach for lunch en route and arrive in Hue in the afternoon.


Founded as a royal city in 1687, Hue is the gateway to the treasures of Vietnam's royal past. Today, the city remains one of Vietnam's major tourist attractions, the magnificent architecture of its citadels, palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples built under the Nguyen Dynasty attracting visitors from far and wide.


Motorbike expeditions are a photographic highlight of our stay in Hue and we also take a boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It is an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. We also visit one of the majestic royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and we may even visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the Royal Tombs, Minh Mang.


Tonight we stay in a modern hotel located on a quiet street near the centre of town. The clean and spacious rooms have ensuite facilities and air conditioning.


Day 12  Hanoi, 27 March 2011


Today, we fly from Hue to Hanoi. The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a charming city with a population around four million. This city is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and for its thriving centre which is an architectural museum piece, with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South East Asian countries, Hanoi's beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and tangle of ancient streets in its still surface. The city hums with the never-ending flow of bicycles, cyclos, latest model Mercedes Benzs and everything from racy new Honda Dreams to 30-year-old Russian motor bikes.


We have time to freshen up before heading off to tour the fascinating Old Quarter including the Temple of Literature and the Fine Arts Museum. This evening, we jump onboard cyclos for a visit to the famous water puppets, followed by an optional dinner at a local restaurant.


In Hanoi our fully equipped hotel is centrally located near the historic Old Quarter. It has both twin and double rooms with private facilities and air conditioning, and the hotel has its own restaurant and bar.















Day 13  Halong Bay, 28 March 2011

This morning we start our day with a buffet breakfast at KOTO restaurant. KOTO is one of Intrepid's Responsible Travel supported projects. It aims to teach street children hospitality skills and give them practical experience to enable them to find employment. After breakfast we drive to Halong Bay (approx. 4 hours), stopping en route at a handicraft centre run to raise money for disabled people. On arrival, we board a private boat for a cruise around Halong Bay to soak up the misty atmosphere of this wonderful World Heritage site. With over 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of the Bac Bo Gulf, this secluded bay is simply breathtaking. The bay covers an area of about 1,500 sq km and is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottoes, created over thousands of years by the waves and wind. Spend time exploring caves filled with amazing rock formations, swim in the turquoise waters if it's warm enough and enjoy sumptuous seafood on board. Tonight, enjoy the tranquillity of the bay sleeping on board our private boat.


Our overnight accommodation on Halong Bay is on a sailing junk with twin bed cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There is also a dining room and bar where we enjoy a scrumptious lunch and dinner.



Day 14 Hanoi, 29 March 2011 (Sapa begins Evening of 29th)


We return to Hanoi on day 14, stopping en route at some villages where lovely locally made blue and white ceramics can be purchased. Your afternoon is free to further explore Hanoi's sights and to do some last-minute shopping.


Those extending their Vet Nam visit to Sapa will travel on the overnight train this evening – otherwise stay overnight in Hanoi before departure on Day 15 - you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is at 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Our hotel tonight is located in the heart of the Old Quarter and features comfortable twin and double rooms with private facilities.




Hotels (11 nts), sailing junk (1 nt), multi-share homestay (1 nt), overnight train (1 nt) The sleeper trains have four beds to a compartment (two upper and two lower) for the overnight portion of the journey. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, but some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Simple food is also provided on the train but many people like to stock up on freshly baked bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure. Bottled water should also be bought before the journey.



While travelling with us you will experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Generally, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your group leader will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. Please check the 'meal inclusions' section below for details of meals included.


Allow USD $250 for meals not included.


Meal Inclusions

13 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners


Single Travellers

With the exception of our Comfort trips, our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share. Please note some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis - where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On our Comfort trips you have the choice of sharing or paying a single supplement. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre- and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.



Plane, overnight train, private bus, boat, cyclo, walking


Activities Included

This is a list of included activities on this trip. All other activities are optional and at your own expense. For a list of optional activities and sightseeing available on this trip, see the optional activities section below. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.


Arrival airport transfer

Notre Dame Cathedral – Ho Chi Minh City

City sightseeing by cyclo – Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants MuseumHo Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels – Ho Chi Minh City

Sightseeing and boat trip – Mekong Delta

Boat cruise and lunch – Nha Trang

Cyclo Tour - Nha Trang

Flight from Nha Trang to Danang

China Beach, Marble Mountain, and Lang Co Beach – Hai Van Pass

Hoi An Ancient town and orientation walk – Hoi An

Citadel, tomb and Thien Mu Pagoda – Hue

Perfume River boat cruise – Hue

Flight from Hue to Hanoi

Old Quarter tour - Hanoi

Cyclo to water puppets show – Hanoi

Temple of Literature and Fine Arts MuseumHanoi

Visit KOTO restaurant for breakfast - Hanoi

Visit Handicraft Centre for disabled people - enroute to Halong Bay

Overnight cruise on Halong Bay - Halong Bay


Optional Activities

We list the following optional activities for your information. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only.

They are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any of them, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Intrepid.

Mud Baths, including taxi, Nha Trang – from US$14

Bao Dai's Villa , including taxi, Nha Trang – from US$6

My Son Cham Ruins, including car transport, Hoi An – US$24

Thu Bon River Boat Trip, Hoi An – US$5

Cooking Course, Hoi An - from US$5

1 day bicycle hire, Hue – US$1

Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi – US$1

Women's Museum, Hanoi – US$1

Army Museum, Hanoi – US$1

Temple of Literature, Hanoi – US$1

Hoa Lo “Hanoi Hilton” Prison, Hanoi – US$1

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, Hanoi – US$2

Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi – US$1

Taxi to each museum, Hanoi – US$3



International Flights – via Bangkok, Singapore or KL – many carriers available.

Visa fees – each member of the group must carry a valid passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the duration of your trip) and have obtained the appropriate visa. 

Other meals not mentioned on the itinerary

Travel insurance (compulsory) - Please also note that comprehensive medical and travel insurance is compulsory for all Intrepid travellers. You will need to give the policy number to your leader on Day 1.

Tips, personal telephone charges

Entrance fee during free time

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