Vietnam Open Tour Bus

Front desk staff at hotels will be happy to book any transportation need, although you’re better off shop around at local tour agents, as prices will vary. Going directly to the bus company office may net you a commission-free fare, but most major bus operators may not be willing to negotiate price as agents will cut their commission to get the business.

Since tour providers charge very little, they make money on their “rest stops” or “bus stations” which are often souvenir shops or cafes. Travelers buy a meal, some munchies for the ride or souvenir while taking a break or waiting for their ride. Keep in mind departure, arrival and travel times are estimates at best – never early and may be a couple of hours late. Depending on how many hotels they have to pick up passengers at, it may be a while before you’re officially on the road. Getting on the bus at the tour bus company office may get you a good seat with your companions, get there early – Good Luck. Try not to drink too much water, as “comfort” stops, especially for overnight buses, may be just somewhere where there are a lot of bushes, but don’t get dehydrated.

Some buses imported to Vietnam are designed for those of Asian stature – bigger Occidentals may be uncomfortable, particularly on over night trips. Even though you may suffer from motion-sickness, it is a good idea to take a seat at the middle of the bus rather than at the front. In the middle you won’t have to suffer watching the poor driving habits of your driver and listen (a bit less) to the his incessant horn honking.

When taking any public transportation, keep a physical control of your day-packs and fanny-packs; and be aware of where your big pieces of luggage are stored during your trip. Make access into your luggage difficult.

Some Vietnam Open Tour Bus companies offer “sleeper style” buses. These are a bit pricier and, like other buses, have various levels of comfort.

Plan to arrive during hours of daylight (if possible) so that you can find an acceptable hotel room, be aware that your driver/bus company has a financial interest in delivering you to a particular hotel – they may even own the hotel. There may be an abundance of hotel “touts” waiting for your bus to arrive and make their “pitch” to you. I have no “sure-fire” advice in this circumstance. Just don’t be led too far away from the tourist center. When you arrive at a hotel be sure to inspect your room for hot water, window screens, air-conditioning, and maybe most important – security

Major Tourist Destinations

Vietnam is full of unexpected, unforgettable experiences. Anyone visiting the country for the first time would be overwhelmed by the sensory overdose varied geography, delectable cuisine, bountiful shopping sites and never-ending beaches.

Let’s delve a little further into Vietnam’s confines and see what the world is gaga about. Take a look at some of the best tourist attractions in Vietnam:

1. Hanoi: Hanoi is a rapidly growing city which has served as Vietnam’s capital for over a thousand years. Trips and tours to Vietnam often begin this beautiful Indochinese colonial city. Hanoi is a proud city which boasts of pagodas, lakes, dynastic temples, heritage monuments and French-era villas. It has, however, remained true to its elemental personality despite the tide of change.

2. Ha Long Bay: For many tourists, a trip to Vietnam is incomplete without Ha Long Bay, which represents a pinnacle of their Vietnam experience. Contrary to Hanoi, this is the perfect countermeasure to contemporary ebullience which Hanoi provides and renders the visitors with numerous opportunities for leisure and recreation in its chartreuse waters.

3. Cat Ba Island: Cat Ba Island is a mountainous getaway nestled on the periphery of Ha Long Bay. Defining Ha Long Bay’s southwestern limits, the island expands over 350 square kilometers and is one of the best destinations in Vietnam.

4. Ho Chi Minh: Along with Hanoi, this city provides a dizzying introduction to Vietnam. Set beside the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam and perhaps, the most exciting too. A high-octane city of culture and commerce, the city is buzzing with energy and breathes life into each and everyone who chooses to traverse through its soil.

Self-Guided Vietnam Travel

A country with over 50 sub-cultures, awesome landscapes with sandy beaches, tropical weather and friendly hosts aren’t found everywhere. Sure, you can enjoy these travel attractions by joining an organized tour or even hiring a private guide to escort you around the country, but both of these options create a barrier between you and the friendly locals.

Vietnam has over 86 million people and is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. The two main concerns of travelers – heat and monsoon rains have been addressed in recent years. Modern accommodations and transportation with air conditioning are prevalent and many Vietnam travelers have decided to brave the inclement weather of the monsoons to enjoy some of the benefits the rains – mainly better “beach” weather when the rains of the day have passed.

A large variety of Vietnam hotels has emerged in the past few years – small family run “mini-hotels” to 5-star luxury resorts – make comfortable accommodations available to every travel budget. The “Backpacker Telegraph” provides access to bargain hotels by way of the internet and word-of-mouth. Spend a little time “surfing the web” and you’ll find a wide range of places to spend a night or two to fit any budget.

Transportation “to and through” Vietnam can be financially managed by conducting a bit of research on the web. The large international carriers often offer great fares to various hubs in Asia. And the recent emergence of Asia’s regional bargain carriers will provide that last “hop” into Vietnam if you can’t manage to land in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or Hanoi. Danang is now an arrival point for regional carriers from Thailand and other nearby countries.

In-country transportation can be arranged for a reasonable price by utilizing the “open tour” private tour bus industry, and if you’re really adventurous you can try Vietnam’s public bus system. Vietnam’s railroads provide excellent transportation from one end of the country to the other. Both the private tour bus companies and the railroad provide a number of choices in the area of comfort. “Hard” and “soft” are the adjectives used to describe the levels of service available on the train. You might even chance a local trip on motorcycle or enjoy a trip around town on a cyclo.

If you’re wondering what you do when you get to Vietnam, take a look at any Vietnam travel guide. There are “adventures” to meet the requirements of any traveler’s abilities and desires. Providers of local tour services can be found “online”, in travel guides, or “on the street” when you arrive in town. Waiting to arrange your tour until you’re “on-site” will allow you to make last minute changes to your plans, stay a few extra days at someplace that catches your fancy or spend your money on something else. If you’re on an organized tour you may end spending most of your time sitting near someone who’s a pain.

Vietnam Tours

One of the most requested sights people ask for when embarking on Vietnam tours is the rural experience. Many people appreciate that Vietnam tours give them a taste of the urban life of Vietnam and the country life as well. When taking Vietnam tours in the country areas, you’ll be delighted to see people tending to their rice fields using ancient techniques, children playing alongside beloved farm animals, and the humble architecture that spots the mountainous country landscape.

Hanoi, Hue, Saigon, and Halong are some of the most popular places Vietnam can take you. The Vietnam area is so vast that many people try to cover as much ground as possible in one trip. Using a professional Vietnam tours company ensures you’ll get the most out of your time in Vietnam without the stress of trying to be in too many places at once.

The topic is incomplete without mentioning the cuisine that Vietnam has to offer. From the urban to the rural areas of Vietnam you’ll be able to explore an exotic and palatable menu that will delight and inspire you. Vietnam is known throughout the world for its unique and tasty spin on traditional Asian cuisine, and experiencing this great food first-hand in Vietnam is something no one ever forgets.

If you want a truly rich cultural experience with your Vietnam, don’t pass over Hue. This ancient city is the old imperial capital city where you’ll find everything from rulers’ palaces to tombs, pagodas, and temples in the unique styling of Vietnamese design. Hue is a favorite place to take Vietnam tours for those who are interested in the true depth of history that Vietnam offers. In addition, Hue offers some of the most ancient and complex cuisine you’ll find anywhere in Vietnam!

If you want a few moments of quiet from the bustling Vietnamese culture when on Vietnam tours, make time to visit the Mekong Delta, Mui Ne, and Phu Quoc. These slow-paced villages will frame some of the most amazing scenery Vietnam has to offer and will entice you to take a break and simply rest for a while. Vietnam tours that focus on these special areas will ensure you get time on white sand beaches where relaxation is the main agenda. The water and beach atmosphere in Vietnam is famous throughout the world for a very good reason.

Hanoi is another popular destination for people. Hanoi is the current capital of Vietnam and is a favorite destination for all people taking Vietnam tours from around the world. Ho Chi Minh is a sight to be seen, and many people say that seeing this amazing space in person is the highlight of their Vietnam trip. Hanoi is another great place on Vietnam tours to experience the best cuisine and local beer that Vietnam has to offer. Hanoi is where the modern energy of Vietnam is most lively, and where you’ll get to see how Vietnam is evolving into the future.

Hoi An is the true souvenir destination. This creative city bustles with countless tailors, craftsmen, and artisans who work with ancient and modern Vietnamese art styles side-by-side. Vietnam is famous for clothing, and a Hoi An stop on your Vietnam tours will show you why. In just a couple of hours you can have clothing custom tailors to suit you using your own hand-selected fabrics. You can also find the biggest variety of traditional arts and crafts that Vietnam has to offer in this charming city.

Vietnam Wall

One of the more interesting sites we visited was Colonial Williamsburg. Betty might not necessarily agree with me, but the best moment for me was a dinner in a 17th Century Tavern on Main Street. I have a picture of us standing on the street outside the pub and we were dead tired.

Inside we ordered a drink on the rocks: a shot of Apricot Brandy, a shot of Peach Brandy and a shot of Rum. We placed our order and sipped on the drink while an Irish balladeer entertained us with his words and music.

The old Irish folk songs continued throughout our stay, with Betty and I thoroughly enjoying the 18th century cuisine, all the while, dining on a very good steak and potato meal. Of course, if the events had been reversed, the food first, then the drink and the music, I doubt the tavern would have been so memorable. The two of us being so tired, we may have fallen asleep instead. Whereas the strong drink had us primed for all that followed, and it was great.

On another day, across the street, we were entertained by a live play, one in which the audience was allowed to stand in the living room of an 18th century dwelling while the performance was under way, then later in the kitchen and slave quarters for the final acts.

The plot evolved a white man, set to marry a white woman and the man was trying to explain his intentions to his black concubine slave girl, and as would be expected, she didn’t understand. The performance was so real, it made me feel as if time had been turned back to the 1700’s and we were right there with them – the people that would have lived there during that era.

Another really great evening was a dinner-cruise up the James River, past the naval shipyard. But the highlight of our stay in Virginia Beach was a one-day bus trip up to Washington DC.

That night back in the room, Betty said she really enjoyed the trip. My thoughts were that it was a long bus ride up and back and being hurried from place to place was a little annoying to me. In one instance when I arrived back at the bus a little late, Betty said the driver had threatened to leave me behind. Luckily I showed up while the driver was still talking about it and he wasn’t forced to put his words into action.

Later, reflecting on the trip, I have to say it wasn’t that bad. We visited a portion of the capitol building, an old church and several museums. One of the museums had a giant blue whale hanging from the ceiling and a dinosaur exhibit, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as large as I had expected. Of course, what we saw was the skeleton, minus any flesh and skin the prehistoric beast once had and that would have reduced its size and appearance.

The entire journey to the east coast and back took us a good two weeks to navigate the Jaguar through 14 states, including stops in Myrtle Beach, Tunica and other places to sightsee, shop and gorge ourselves on some really great seafood.

We returned by traveling down the coast to North and South Carolina then west across Georgia back to Oklahoma. I had wanted to stop in Tupelo, Mississippi, thinking that was the birthplace of Elvis Presley. I remembered Jerry Reed’s song, The Tupelo Mississippi Flash and thought he may have been referring to Elvis and mentioned that to Betty. But I don’t think she was that impressed or was tired and we did stop.

A few minutes later I saw the sign, Tunica, Mississippi, 22 miles and realized Betty’s true intentions and that was spend the night in one of the casinos and gamble a few hours before returning to Pryor the next day.

Reflecting on the trip as a whole, I was impressed but also disappointed that we didn’t get to see that much of Washington DC. Still the situation rectified itself a few years later when I was sent back to the capitol on a business trip and Betty went along. On that trip we had seven days to prowl the streets, restaurants, subways and any museums we may have missed on the previous trip – including most all the national monuments.

One evening we took a subway out to Wolf Trap and listened to Peter, Paul and Mary perform their hits before a sold out crowd: most of them crowded inside the semi-enclosed structure but also many of them seated outside on the grass.

The next morning we took a subway to see the war memorials: the Vietnam Wall, the Nurses Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. They were all very good but I was the most impressed by the one that had the least to offer and that was the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

When I say it had the least to offer, I mean it consisted of 50,000 plus names etched into a rock wall, and that was it. But the emotions were as thick as a 9-day pea’s porridge, and there was nothing there that should have set me off. I suppose it goes to show you the power of the media – because I was primed.

Sure, I was in the Navy during the Vietnam War but I wasn’t there where all the fighting took place. The closest I came to the action was two years on Guam, in 1966 and 67. There my only thoughts of Vietnam were the roar and black smoke from the eight jet engines of bomb laden B52s, as the monster aircraft flew out in the morning then returned in silence the same day, many times while we were enjoying a movie in the outdoor theater.

One of my cousins, Delbert Williams, spent a year in Viet Nam. He told me a sniper might have taken a shot at him while he was writing a letter back home, but other than that, nothing. Also one of the guys at work, Leroy Gibson said he was over there but didn’t want to talk about it. So that’s the extent of my first hand knowledge of the war – other than what I read in the papers and watched on the evening news.

Therefore, it’s hard to explain why I would have become so emotional on that day. I had no personal or emotional ties to anyone that was over there. Still, when we crossed the road to the sidewalk that led to the memorial, I could feel the pressure building as I approached a small table where a man about my age had a few pictures and some Vietnam memorabilia set up for sale.

One picture in particular showed a man in civilian clothes standing with one hand on the wall and inside the wall was the image of several soldiers, one of them with his hand on the back side of the wall with his palm matching up with the civilian on the outside.

When I arrived the memorial, there was nothing there for me, nothing but a black marble wall inscribed with the name of every American soldier, airman, marine, sailor and coastguard, both men and women killed in the conflict. Still, I could feel what others felt, those that were there – but why?

The following poem tells the story of a small boy who lost his dad in Vietnam then grew up struggling with the thoughts that may have gone through his father’s mind when he was sent off to war and later when he was killed in Vietnam. Finally, the boy, now a grown man, stands at the base of the wall with the thoughts swirling in his head, the emotions welling up in his being, his tears staining the marble. I called it simply: The Vietnam Wall.

Educational Holidays

National Parks to Visit in Vietnam

When you embark upon holidays to Vietnam you must visit some of the national parks. Cat Ba National Park is no exception, located in Cat Hai district, Cat Hai supports a diversity of natural habitats, including forested hills and small fresh water lakes. A total of 839 vascular plant species have been recorded at the national park. Another national park you should explore is Ba Vi National Park, located 50km west of Hanoi. The park has several rare and endangered plants in its protected forest, and its mammals include two species of rare ‘flying’ squirrel. Human encroachment on the area has made the chances of seeing any of these quite rare but anything is possible in Vietnam.

Holidays to Vietnam and Wildlife

When searching for holidays to Vietnam you may be persuaded by the wonderful wildlife this fascinating country has to offer. From the Asian elephant to the leopard cat, these stunning creatures are something extra special to see for sure. The country is home to 275 species of mammal, 800 species of bird and 180 species of reptile. The extensive forests of the central highlands and far north remain a home to some of nature’s most noble creatures, such as the tiger, Asian elephant, clouded Jeopardy and sun bear. If there is ever a time to explore the wildlife that Vietnam has to offer it is now, whether you enjoy bird watching or observing a tiger in the wonderful wild. The nature of the wild is precious and waiting to be explored. Holidays to Vietnam will leave you feeling inspired and relaxed.

Things To Do In Vietnam

Cu Chi Tunnels
An underground maze covering a whopping 250km, the Cu Chi tunnels were dug by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War to act as living quarters, command centres and ammunition stores. Crawling through the tunnels is an eerie yet thrilling Vietnam travel experience.

Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta produces one of Vietnam’s most important exports – rice, and thus acts as the backbone of Southern Vietnam’s economy. While you’re travelling in Vietnam, you can take a boat trip down the Mekong, where you will pass the colourful floating markets of Cai Rang and Cai Be among others. Here, vendors will offer their wares from their boats jammed with produce, dangling their goods in the air from a long pole

Hue is the ancient royal capital of Vietnam and is rich in culture. Things to do in Hue include; a cruise down the Perfume River and visits to historic sights and monuments such as the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Palace of Supreme Peace.

Hoi An
Hoi An is located on the coast in Central Vietnam, and it’s a favourite amongst travellers to Vietnam. It is well known for its excellent tailors, its art galleries, and its narrow streets crammed with tiny wooden cafes serving steaming coffee. There is a noticeable Chinese influence in Hoi An. Centuries ago Chinese traders came to offer their goods here and the charm of the town is still completely undeniable. There’s plenty to do in Hoi An, from visiting the historic temple complex of My Son, to relaxing on the beach, or you could even try your hand at some traditional Vietnamese cooking. Either way, we’re sure that Hoi An will become a highlight of your Vietnam trip.

Tucked away in Northern Vietnam, this stunning area is home to hill tribes such as the Black H’mong and the Red Dzao. With hikes through the lush green valleys departing every day, and the opportunity to visit the famous Love Market, a trip to Sapa will give you an authentic rural Vietnam travel experience.

Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc is a splendid tropical gateway set with beautiful beaches and quaint fishing villages. There’s plenty to do here if you’re looking for more than just lying on a beach though. The interior of the island is a protected area where you can go for walks or even hiking. Phu Quoc is largely considered as one of Vietnam’s star attractions so you’d be mad to leave it out of your own Vietnam trip!

Ho Chi Minh City
Packed full of interesting things to see and do, HCMC has plenty to keep travellers to Vietnam occupied. Visits to the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and the Revolution Museum will offer greater insight into the country’s history, whilst trips to the numerous temples and pagodas will offer a far more spiritual experience.

The beautiful city of Hanoi is crammed full of local eateries, markets and shops. If you fancy a weird Vietnam travel experience, you could visit the mausoleum of former president, Ho Chi Minh. Perhaps you may like to finish a busy day with a trip to the Municipal Water Puppet Theatre, on the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Get Ready to Discover Adventure

Halong Bay: Nothing compares to the beauty of Halong Bay, Vietnam’s most dramatic natural asset. A UNESCO seascape, its thousands of lush limestone karsts rise majestically from the sea in spectacular fashion. Hidden caverns, forested islands and floating isles are accessed by overnight cruises on local junks, by kayaking, boating or simply swimming in the calm bay waters.

Northernmost Sapa: The stunning offerings of Vietnam’s Northern provinces around picturesque Sapa feature some of the best hiking and trekking opportunities in the country, and a glimpse into one of Vietnam’s most fascinating cultures. The lush scenery of soaring mountains, staggered rice terraces and plunging valleys interposed by small hill-tribe communities take away the breath. The alpine scenery affords treks to Indochina’s highest peak, Mt. Fansipan and its environs, homestays with natives for an up-close encounter with local life, and visits to remarkable ethnic markets where everything from colorful hand-made crafts to buffalo are sold. This is the best region for hiking and adventures including jeep safaris, boating and kayaking.

The Central Coast and Highlands

Vietnam’s east coast and central highlands are a traveler’s delight, featuring glorious beaches, lively resort towns, sleepy fishing villages and the imperial former capital of Hue. Inland, awesome scenery, lakes covered with lotus blossoms, neatly ploughed hillside fields and an ideal climate greet travelers.

Nha Trang: Distinguished by crystal-clear waters, modern resorts and great nightlife, lovely Nha Trang and its vicinity is Vietnams’ watersports’ Mecca. Pristine white and red beaches, invite with kayaking, snorkeling, diving and swimming.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Up the coast, 3 of Vietnam’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites cluster in proximity. Hoi An, an old sleepy river town, famed for its tailoring, lovely pagodas, a Japanese bridge and pretty French Quarter is a colonial gem. Nearby, My Son Sanctuary, with its ruins of impressive Hindu temples and royalty grounds, is the capital of the ancient Champa Kingdom. Set on the Perfume River, imperial Hue, the once-capital of Vietnam and home to emperors of the past, boasts an ancient citadel with ornate pagodas, royal tombs and a Forbidden City.

Dalat: Inland, the charming hilltop town of Dalat is perched on the cooling mountains of the central highlands. This center of romance is small, beautiful and very French, and houses Emperor Bao Dai’s summer palaces. This is the area of forested mountains, ice blue lakes and grand waterfalls where hiking, walking, boating and cycling enhance the spirit of romantic adventure.

Saigon and the South

Cosmopolitan Saigon, with its glass skyscrapers, its brightly colored, ornate pagodas, its host of modern shops, its cacophony of horns and shouting, and its unique mode of traffic – 4 million motorbikes – is glitzy, chaotic and mesmerizing. Its history sets it apart: A main venue during the Vietnam War, it overflows with tragic remnants.

About Vietnam Golf

Not the least of which is golf. Come to this land to enjoy some fabuous Vietnam Golf Vacations. In the period since 2000 a number of world class golf courses have been developed in Vietnam and its major cities. And Vietnam is an exciting and affordable destination with well organized golf tours so one never has to play the same course twice, it includes a chance to see an historic country and experience its warm weather, beautiful people, delicious food and see some of the historic sites.

A number of full and organized itineraries have been put in place to take the need for the golfer to worry about anything. And full entertainment and sightseeing packages are available for wives or non-golfing partners.

The top of the line golf excursion is an 18 Day 17 Night tour staring in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Ming City (Saigon) where you will play on the best course throughout the country. It is an ideal trip for anyone who wants an exotic and relatively inexpensive vacation, playing 11 rounds of golf on different courses and throughout Vietnam. Accommodation is in 5 star luxury hotels and the tri includes transfers and includes transfers, a boat trip in Hanoi, leisure time as well as a trip to the Chu Chi tunnels near Saigon..

The Golf courses range from the Mountainous Courses in Hanoi to the coastal courses in Danang and Saigon. Plus a game at the famous challenging course at Long Thanh. Wives or non golfing companions will be escorted to the famous sightseeing locations all around this beautiful country so this is a break of a lifetime. It is a chance to enjoy golf and visit this fabulous country and enjoy its wonderful offerings.

The other end of the scale are self arranged golfing tours where you will book your own itinerary. Vietnam Golf Tours will be delighted to assist you in any way they can from arranging hotel accommodation or times at the golf courses you request.

Take the Train

Trains in Vietnam are very cheap; you can travel from one end of the country to the other and not spend $50. You can get for instance an overnight train from Saigon to Nha Trang for about $15USD; this would be a soft sleeper with 4 people in the cabin. You can save a little more and get a hard sleeper for the same trip for about $12 where you share the cabin between 6 people, and if you are real hard core you can go with a soft seat for around $10, which I would not recommend as these compartments are over crowed with luggage.

Trains also are attractive in Vietnam if you have a lot of luggage as they do not weigh it. You can bring as heavy as you carry and load by yourself and not have to pay over weight limits which is great for scuba divers and surfers. Lets say that you come to Vietnam on a cheap flight from Hawaii, most US international flights allow you unto 70 pounds or 31 kilos; in Asia many flights are 22 kilos max including you hand luggage which they will weigh if you are close to the limit. If you take an overnight sleeper you can also save one night of hotel accommodations which is a great budget stretcher to keep you on the road longer.