TravelManagers’ Exclusive Vietnam Famil
TravelManagers’ exclusive nine-day Vietnam famil to Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An gave seven personal travel managers (PTMs) the opportunity to experience this fascinating country themselves.
Hosted by Ms Huyen Thanh and Australia-based sales rep, Anthony Triscari, both from Vietnam Travel & Cruise, the group’s itinerary had them arrive into the capital city, Hanoi, in the north of the country on the banks of the Red River. They were then free to spend the rest of the day exploring the sights and sounds of the city’s Old Quarter.
For TravelManagers’ Amanda Brady, who is representative for Wellington Point, QLD, it was her first visit to Vietnam, despite having long been intrigued by its natural beauty and colourful history. She says the group’s cyclo tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter was a highlight of her time in this ancient city.
“This was also our first chance to sample delicious Vietnamese cuisine – eating Bun Cha alongside the locals at the restaurant where Anthony Bourdain and Barrack Obama famously dined.”
From Hanoi, the group boarded a tender for a transfer to their floating accommodation for an overnight cruise of stunning Ha Long Bay. Listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature, this is a wonderland of amazing limestone karst formations that soar above the sparkling waters of the Bay.
“Our cruise took us into some of the more secluded, untouched areas of the Bay, around Cat Ba Island” says Brady. “Many of the cruise ships don’t venture here, but it’s just as picturesque and serene, with opportunities to explore caves and limestone cliffs by traditional Vietnamese rowing boat, and to visit a local water fishing village.”
After two days afloat, the group returned to Hanoi to catch a flight to the city of Hue in central Vietnam. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this was the seat of the Nguyễn Dynasty, before becoming the site of one of the Vietnam War’s longest and most brutal battles. Today, Hue is still home to some of Vietnam’s most famous landmarks, including the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Hue Royal Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City.
After a day exploring the highlights of Hue, the group were transferred to Hoi An, a former port city whose Ancient Town is remarkably well preserved.
“The main highlight of the famil for me was our eco-tour in Hoi An,” reports Kerstin Rheinlander, representative for Sinnamon Park, QLD. “It started off with a bike ride through the rice fields, but along the way we got to ride a water buffalo, assist a local farmer with planting her crop and learn how to fish in traditional manner – by throwing out nets from a boat and later from land.”
“We didn’t catch many fish, but the crew kindly prepared us some dinner for our amazing efforts,” she adds.
The group also had time in Hoi An to try a local cooking course or indulge in a little retail therapy, which provided the opportunity to seek out some of the souvenirs for which the city is famous. PTM Sheri Foreman, representative for Eagle Heights, says her favourite find were coloured, handmade lanterns, but also recommends the handmade silk clothing and custom-made leather products.”
“It’s a good idea to take with you anything you’d like copied by one of the many talented tailors,” she adds, “they can even product expert imitations from pictures!”
All seven PTMs who participated in the famil say they returned from their time in Vietnam with a greater appreciation for all that it has to offer, which they are looking forward to sharing with their clients.
“Vietnam is worth more than one trip,” enthuses Rheinlander. “I only saw a snippet of Vietnam, and there are so many more places to discover – but that snippet gave me the most memorable impression of this beautiful country and I’m longing to return and discover more.”
“I have fallen in love with Vietnam and can’t wait to return for more exploration and more experiences,” she adds. “It’s rich on tradition and culture and history, both good and bad, and it’s great to see that it’s being preserved for the future generations to see.”