Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Around 12 hours flying time, and approximately 6,703 kilometres from Melbourne, Australia, you will find Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
If you are visiting Vietnam for the first time, you may experience a sensory overload, as this country can provide you with almost anything you have ever thought of when you think ‘holiday’.
It is a country of breathtaking natural beauty and is developing at an astonishing pace. The country is considered to be extremely safe for travelers – except for the traffic! Motor bikes are the most common form of transportation and people in hoards pack roads and intersections riding them – I have heard of pedestrians taking up to 10 minutes to cross the street through a ‘tsunami of motorbikes’ in Hanoi.
The Vietnamese markets are where the locals shop for fresh vegetables, meats and spices, they also shop at these markets for animal stock – buffalo to add to their herds, or chickens to add to the coup. The markets also provide any household utensils imaginable and knock off designer clothing, bags and gadgets.
Vietnamese food is outstanding and draws the attention of many travelers. Sample the cuisine at market stalls, restaurants, roadside vendors or partake in one of the many cooking classes where you can learn the techniques of working with a myriad of herbs, meats and vegetables.
Vietnam is also known for its beautiful and pristine beaches where you can bask under a tropical sun and forget about the rest of the world. Take a cruise on a Chinese junk in Halong Bay where you will witness the sandy bays of the coastline and limestone islands jutting towards the sky.
For those looking for more physical activity this country offers motor biking up tall mountains to kite surfing on tropical waters. You can trek or stroll through remarkable scenery and discover tiered rice paddies, limestone mountains and plunging valleys.
If you are like me and the words holiday and activity are words that should not go together, then Vietnam also offers outstanding spas at resort prices in beautiful temples made from marble to small family run salons with backpacker-friendly rates and everything in between.
A trip to Vietnam can be anything you want it to be – action packed, relaxed, historical and anything and everything in between, but not all holidays are suited to families.
Ride & Seek, creators of the epic Hannibal and Napoleon cycling tours, has announced a family-friendly ‘Coastal Vietnam’ cycling holiday designed for both cyclists and their non-rider family members. Using two centrally located 4-star hotels in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Hue and Hoi An, this tour is geared as much for cyclists as it is for the guest who wants to kick back, relax and enjoy a luxury holiday in Vietnam. Each day, Ride & Seek guides will offer optional morning rides (70 -100 km) with the aim of being back at the hotel in time for lunch and traditional tourist activities, ranging from exploring historic sites and National Parks to lounging on the beautiful beaches of Hoi An.
“This tour appeals to avid riders and their non-cyclist family members,” said Sam Wood co-founder of Ride & Seek. “In addition to offering an exciting program for cyclists, we have a full itinerary of activities for the rest of the family.”
Highlights of the Vietnam Coastal Tour include:
- Exploring the Imperial city of Hue and marveling at the numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Morning rides of up to 100 km designed to get cyclists back to their families by lunch for other activities.
- Relaxing on the stunning beaches of Hoi An and taking in the delights of Vietnam’s most atmospheric town.
- Taking a trip up to the DMZ from Hue and among other sites visiting the Vinh Moc tunnels.
- Sampling the delicious central Vietnam cuisine renowned for its spice.
- Riding through the incredibly bio-diverse Bach Ma National Park with its 1,400 plants and 132 species of mammal
For more information on the seven-day “Coastal Vietnam” journey scheduled for March 20-26, 2016, visit http://www.rideandseek.com/local/vietnam-coastal.
While this country is outstandingly beautiful, many travelers tend to worry about contracting infectious diseases, but it is rare that you would catch a serious illness. Tummy upsets are relatively common, but that is a common occurrence for travelers in many parts of the world.
Eating in restaurants is the biggest risk factor for contracting travellers’ diarrhoea. Ways to avoid it include eating only freshly cooked food, and avoiding shellfish and buffets. Peel all fruit and try to stick to cooked vegetables. Eat in busy restaurants with a high turnover of customers.
Be very careful of what you drink, stick to bottled water, which is available everywhere. Ice is generally safe in the cities and resorts, and is often added to drinks and coffee.
Health facilities vary vastly throughout the country with major cities having good facilities but rural areas have limited access to medical care.
As with any travel, you need to exercise precautions – mainly common sense – but also local travel conditions need to be considered.
Here are some things to remember –
- Pack any medications in clearly labelled containers.
- Bring a letter from your doctor describing your medical conditions and medications.
- If carrying syringes or needles, have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.
- If you have a heart condition, bring a copy of a recent ECG.
- Bring extra supplies of any regular medication (in case of loss or theft).
- Even if you are fit and healthy, don’t travel without health insurance – accidents do happen.
- THREE months before traveling, check with your doctor or travel clinic that your vaccinations are up to date.
Getting there from Australia is easy. With prices starting at around AU$650 (one way) flights are available via Qantas, Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia and Air Asia.