Preparing for your trip

Package: A Taste of Vietnam, Oct 2017 - May 2018

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed 12/10/2018. Please check back for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Complete your tour registration. A link to this secure form will be included in your booking confirmation email. Within 24 hours of booking
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your trip, and that the name on your booking matches your passport exactly. Immediately
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel

In addition, if you booked flights with your package:

Item Due
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Call the airline to confirm your flights and any special meal requests. 72 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Thailand

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least six months after your arrival date.

U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to enter Thailand for tourist stays up to 30 days. Otherwise, a visa is required prior to arrival, which can be obtained from the Thai Embassy, a consulate or a fee-based visa service, such as our preferred provider, VisaHQ. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Vietnam

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least six months after your arrival date.

U.S. passport holders must have a visa to enter Vietnam, obtained no more than six months prior to arrival. You may apply for a visa through a Vietnam embassy or consulate, the official Vietnam visa website, or a fee-based visa service such as our preferred provider, VisaHQ. Consult the Vietnam Embassy or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • It is the responsibility of each traveler to determine passport and visa requirements and comply with them and to secure the proper travel documents. To avoid disappointment and unnecessary expenses, please carefully review the requirements so that you can obtain all necessary documents well before your trip. Requirements are subject to change, often without notice, and we suggest you verify requirements with the relevant embassy or consulate. Airlines and cruises may deny boarding and your trip may be disrupted if your passport and visa are not in order. We will not be held responsible for any charges, trip interruptions, or cancellations due to incorrect or missing visas, nor will travel insurance cover your lost expenses.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Protection Plan

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our travel protection plan by Travelex, you can find the full policy here, which varies slightly by state. Carry these documents with you when you travel, as they include contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Land Only Option: If you purchased this package without flights, you are responsible for booking your own flights to the destination. (Please review the itinerary carefully, as some packages start and end in different cities, requiring "open jaw" flights.)

Flight schedule: If you selected flights with your package, please review the flight schedule. If you requested flights from another city, our air specialists will research the best options and send you a tentative flight schedule and quote for your approval. Please note that flights generally cannot be booked more than 300 days prior to travel. If you are departing more than 300 days in the future, we'll book your flights once they become available. Otherwise, we generally book flights and issue tickets within 1–3 business days of your booking. After we issue your tickets, we will send your actual confirmed flight schedule. Please be aware that airlines may change schedules even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes.

Need to arrange connecting flights? While you may want to book these as soon as possible, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization. In addition, your international flight times may change—airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. When you purchase connecting flights, always confirm the schedule for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Questions about your flights before you depart? Contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 208 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, in the special requests section, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Airport Transfers

If you purchased this package with flights, scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage.

If you purchased this package without flights, transfers are generally not included. In most cases, private transfers are available for an additional fee; contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the touring program start and end points, usually the first and last hotels listed in the itinerary.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. If you are arriving on one of our group flights, or booked your own flights and supplied us with the details, our partners will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Flight Schedule

The flight schedule(s) below are for general planning puposes, and we try to keep them up-to-date. After we issue your tickets, we will send your actual confirmed flight schedule. Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again prior to departure.

Questions about your flights before you depart? Contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 208 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

China Airlines Toll-Free Number is 800-227-5118.

EVA Air's Toll-Free Number is 800-695-1188.

Flights from Los Angeles (LAX) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 Departures from Los Angeles (LAX)

For Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 departures from Los Angeles on China Airlines, you must arrive at LAX by 8:45 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart before midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 2 days later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CI 007 Los Angeles (LAX) Taipei (TPE) 11:45 PM 5:10 AM (2 days later) 14.25 hrs
CI 781 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:30 AM 10:05 AM 3.35 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CI 792 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 11:35 AM 3:10 PM 2.35 hrs
CI 006 TPE LAX 5:00 PM 1:40 PM 11.40 hrs

OR

For Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 departures from Los Angeles on EVA Air, you must arrive at LAX by 9:30 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 15 Los Angeles (LAX) Taipei (TPE) 12:30 AM 6:05 AM (1 day later) 14.35 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:50 AM 3.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:35 PM 4:10 PM 2.35 hrs
BR 12 TPE LAX 7:20 PM 2:50 PM 11.30 hrs

 

 

Flights from San Francisco (SFO) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Mar 27 - May 8, 2018 Departures from San Francisco (SFO)

For  Mar 27 - May 8, 2018  departures from San Francisco on China Airlines, you must arrive at SFO by 10:30 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CI 003 San Francisco (SFO) Taipei (TPE) 1:40 AM 6:00 AM (1 day later) 13.20 hrs
CI 781 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:30 AM 9:50 AM 3.20 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
CI 792 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 11:35 AM 3:10 PM 2.35 hrs
CI 016 TPE SFO 6:00 PM 2:25 PM 11.25 hrs

OR

For  Mar 27 - May 8, 2018  departures from San Francisco on EVA Air, you must arrive at SFO by 10:00 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 27 San Francisco (SFO) Taipei (TPE) 1:00 AM 5:30 AM (1 day later) 13.30 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:45 AM 3.25 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:05 PM 3:55 PM 2.50 hrs
BR 18 TPE SFO 7:40 PM 4:10 PM 11.30 hrs

 

 

Flights from New York (JFK) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 Departures from New York (JFK)

For Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 departures from New York, you must arrive at JFK by 10:15 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 31 New York (JFK) Taipei (TPE) 1:20 AM 5:30 AM (1 day later) 16:10 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:50 AM 3.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:35 PM 4:10 PM 2.35 hrs
BR 32 TPE JFK 7:30 PM 10:10 PM 14.40 hrs

 

Flights from Houston (IAH) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 Departures from Houston (IAH)

For Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 departures from Houston, you must arrive at IAH by 9:30 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 51 Houston (IAH) Taipei (TPE) 12:40 AM 6:10 AM (1 day later) 16.30 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:50 AM 3.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:05 PM 3:55 PM 2.50 hrs
BR 52 TPE IAH 10:00 PM 10:40 PM 13.40 hrs

 

Flights from Chicago (ORD) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Jan 23 - May 8, 2018 Departures from Chicago (ORD)

For Jan 23 - May 8, 2018 departures from Chicago, you must arrive at ORD by 9:15 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 55 Chicago (ORD) Taipei (TPE) 12:20 AM 6:00 AM (1 day later) 15:40 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:50 AM 3.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:35 PM 4:10 PM 2.35 hrs
BR 56 TPE ORD 8:05 PM 7:45 PM 13.40 hrs

 

Flights from Seattle (SEA) for Main Tour

Sample Schedule for Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 Departures from Seattle (SEA)

For Mar 13 - May 8, 2018 departures from Seattle, you must arrive at SEA by 10:15 PM on your scheduled departure date. Your flight will depart after midnight and will arrive to Vietnam 1 day later.

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 25 Seattle (SEA) Taipei (TPE) 1:20 AM 5:20 AM (1 day later) 13.00 hrs
BR 395 TPE Saigon (SGN) 7:20 AM 9:50 AM 3.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
BR 398 Hanoi (HAN) TPE 12:35 PM 4:10 PM 2.35 hrs
BR 26 TPE SEA 11:40 PM 7:10 PM 10.30 hrs

 

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: In general, our tours & packages allow per person: one checked bag, not to exceed 44 pounds; one personal item such as a purse or camera bag; and one carry-on bag, which should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. If your trip includes domestic flights within your destination and/or travel by motor coach, your carry-on should also fit should also fit under your seat or in the overhead bins on those flights or coaches.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags than what airlines typically allow. It's so much easier and faster to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat.

Luggage tags: We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This moderately-paced, locally hosted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.

Meals

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary. For all other meals, you're at liberty to dine where you like. Your hotels will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book with an agent, or in the special requests section when you book online,. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about Thailand

Overview

Capital: Bangkok
Population:  67.9 million
Currency: Thai baht
Languages: Thai
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT +7

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Malaria is not present in major cities. Although not required, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis vaccinations should be considered if you're going to remote areas. If you get nipped by a dog, even in Bangkok, get checked for rabies. Skin infections are common—even the smallest wound should be disinfected and covered with a bandage.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

Thailand's climate is always hot and humid, with the highlands being around 10 degrees cooler. November through February is the best time to go when the days are more mild. March thru May is extremely hot, with temps into the low 100's. The rainy season is May through October.

What to wear

Since weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we suggest that you carry a small folding umbrella. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken-in, not brand-new) walking shoes, consider taking both pairs.

In the warm climates of Thailand, you’ll find that cotton and lightweight clothing will be the most comfortable. Take some lightweight slacks as well as shorts. Please be sure to have respectable attire for visits to temples and religious sites—wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Jungle exploring is more comfortable with covered legs! Plan to dress in layers, so you can adjust your wardrobe according to the weather conditions of the moment. Remember that comfort and convenience should dictate your wardrobe for the tour, and casual clothes are in order for most every occasion as you travel. All hotels provide laundry service for a small fee.

Money

The local currency of Thailand is the baht. Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency. Your hotel will be able to exchange your cash for local currency. We highly recommend that you bring crisp, new bills in small denominations. Old, torn, crumpled bills are not always accepted. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted in Thailand. If you intend to use traveler’s checks, please verify that they are still accepted in the places visited in this program.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Thailand is famous for its silk (silk from Jim Thompson is good quality). Shop also for lacquerware, painted umbrellas, bronze, silver, temple bells, celadon pottery, tribal weavings, custom-made shoes, opium weights and pillows, and carved water buffalo bells. Beware of copycat items in Thailand from clothes to watches. Some 24 carat gold is also somewhat less than 100% pure, but crafted well.

You will certainly have time for shopping. Your guides will no doubt have some favorite shopping places, where the vendors are known, provide good quality merchandise and probably pay some sort of commission from sales to the guide. This should not surprise or offend you. This is how business is done throughout the world. Be cautious when you shop, especially if you are buying jewelry or other valuable items. If you plan to buy jewelry or other expensive items, be sure to inspect the items before you leave the store. Most stores will not allow you to return or exchange purchased items.

Electricity & Power Adapters

220 volts. Plugs A & C. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Photography

Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities. Bring an extra battery for your camera, as not every type of camera battery is always available as you travel.

Fast Facts about Vietnam

Overview

Capital: Hanoi
Population:  90.5 million
Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND)
Languages:  Vietnamese
Drives on the: Right
Time zone: GMT +7

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Malaria is present in rural areas of Vietnam. See your doctor about malaria suppressants. Dengue fever, plague, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis and trypanosomiasis have also been reported in Vietnam. Disinfect wounds and bandage to prevent skin infections. Seek medical aid if bitten by an animal.

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

The best months to visit Vietnam are between October and December when temps are mild and nights are cool. The northern part of the country has cooler temperatures. In the south, monsoon season occurs between May and September. The mountains can be quite cold any time of the year. Bring along a sweater for cooler nights.

Tipping

Upscale restaurants will add a 5% service charge. Inexpensive restaurants do not expect tips. Taxi tipping is optional, but most appreciated.

Money

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for hand-embroidered items, jewelry, baskets, carvings, fabrics, marble boxes, water pipes, statues, water puppets, lacquerware, paper-mache, beaded bags, kimonos, watercolors, war-related items, and custom tailored items. Avoid tortoiseshell, coral, ivory and even antique items, as many will not be allowed back into the U.S. or Canada.

Electricity & Power Adapters

127/220 volts. Plugs A, C & G. You will most likely need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances, even though some outlets will correspond to American plug types and voltages. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Fine Print

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.