It’s too early to tell whether the October terrorist attacks in
Southeast Asia will have a ripple effect on tourism throughout the
region, but losses for places such as Bali could translate into
additional gains for tour companies offering packages to Vietnam, a
destination that has fared well lately.
Before the attacks in Indonesia and the Philippines, Vietnam saw
international arrivals from January to September rise 11% compared
with 2001, according to Vietnam’s National Administration of
Tourism. U.S. arrivals increased 8.8% to nearly 205,000 during that
Among the tour operators presumably banking on Vietnam’s
continued popularity are the following companies, each of which
recently launched new Vietnam products for the coming months:
Backroads, a Berkeley, Calif. tour operator,
combines Vietnam and Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex on a
walking tour called Vietnam and Angkor Wat: Natural and Cultural
Wonders of Indochina.
The 11-day tour starts in Hanoi, where highlights include a
rickshaw tour of the city’s Old Quarter. Other activities include a
tour of the World Heritage site of Halong Bay, sailing on a
Vietnamese junk among the limestone peaks that rise from the water,
as well as walks through small villages and in rural Vietnam. After
overnights in Hue and Da Nang, travelers fly to Cambodia to tour
the ancient complex at Angkor Wat.
Accommodations range from historic landmark properties to beach
resorts, and they include the Hotel Sofitel Metropol in Hanoi and
the legendary Grand Hotel d’Angkor at Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Departures are slated for September through November 2003 and
for March and April 2004. The tour is priced from $4,498 per
person, double, land only.
Call 800-462-2848. Web site: www.back roads.com.
Through March 31, 2003, New York-based luxury operator
Absolute Asia offers a tour called Escape to
Vietnam priced from $1,710 per person, double (not including
The seven-night plan departs daily and starts in Ho Chi Minh
City, with excursions to the Cu Chi Tunnels (an underground maze
where thousands of fighters and villagers hid during the Vietnam
War) and Cao Dai Temple.
Travelers then head to the historic village of Hoi An, an
ancient trading port, for a two-night stay. The next stop is Hanoi,
with ample free time to explore the city’s art galleries,
restaurants and shops. The trip concludes with a daylong cruise on
Travelers stay at the Caravelle Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City; the
Victoria Hoi An (in a seaview room); and the Sofitel Metropole in
The price includes regional flights, many meals and airport
Call 800-736-8187. Web site: www.absolute asia.com.
For those interested in seeing some of the off-the-beaten-path
attractions of Vietnam, Asian Pacific Adventures
of Northridge, Calif., has introduced a 14-day tour called
Vanishing Tribes of Northern Vietnam, showcasing a region where the
rugged landscape has helped sustain pockets of various ethnic
The tour starts in Hanoi and includes visits to that city’s
Museum of Ethnology and the Tay and Thay pagodas. Travelers are
driven through the countryside, past tea plantations and through
the mountains to Mai Chau Valley, home to the White Tai tribe.
From there, travelers visit H’mong and Thai ethnic villages
before stopping at Dien Bien Phu, site of the battle that led to
the end of French rule in the region.
Tour participants travel to a series of relatively untouched
villages that are home to the Red Dzao, Nung, Zay, Black Thai and
other H’mong tribes, which Asian Pacific describes as being far
less commercialized than the more famous hill tribes found in
Thailand. Travelers also visit Sapa, a former colonial hill station
set in the Tonkinese Alps. From Sapa, participants hike to villages
and markets rarely frequented by outsiders.
The trip concludes in Hanoi, with optional add-ons to Halong Bay
and Angkor Wat available.
A departure is set for Dec. 27 to Jan. 8, 2003, as well as for
April 25 to May 8, 2003, and Oct. 24 to Nov. 6, 2003. Prices,
excluding international air, start at $1,960 per person, double
(based on six participants); single supplement is $290.
International roundtrip air from Los Angeles costs about
Call 800-825-1680. Web site: www.asian