Vietnam Past & Present Tour - 2021

Tour

DEPARTS: 15th August 2021

$3399
12 Days
  • Price: per person, twin share
  • Single Supplement: $700
  • Deposit: $750
Walk in the footsteps of 50,000 Australians and 3000 New Zealanders who served during the Vietnam War, gaining insight into the country’s turbulent past as well as discovering the modern Vietnam.

Vietnam Past & Present Tour – 2021

Visit beautiful Vietnam and join us to walk in the footsteps of more than 50,000 Australians who served during the Vietnam War on this emotional journey to the former battlefields. Our tour takes in all the key Australian sites, plus some American sites as well as allowing you to discover many of Vietnam’s cultural treasures and experiencing its vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine. Gary McKay, who served as a platoon leader in Vietnam and was awarded the Military Cross during Australia’s last battle of the war, will be your guide. This tour is designed to appeal to first time visitors to Vietnam who wish to discover the modern Vietnam while also gaining insight into its turbulent past.

Itinerary

Day 1 > Sunday 15 August 2021 | Arrive Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to our very special tour! Please make your own way to our centrally located Ho Chi Minh City hotel. This evening is at leisure to soak up the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.

Day 2 > Monday 16 August 2021 | Ho Chi Minh City

This morning, we will visit the Reunification Palace for a guided tour of the former headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government and residence of the presidents. The history of Ho Chi Minh City lies hidden within its colourful maze of small alleys. We will discover a secret chamber that was once used by the VC as a place to hide, store medicine, money, and important documents during the war. Housed in what used to be a street-food restaurant that supported the VC, we will enjoy a cup of coffee with the owner and learn more about the site’s intriguing past and walk in the footsteps of the VC as we explore the small corners of the chamber – a first-hand look at how they were able to escape the American soldiers. We will enjoy lunch at a historic local restaurant followed by a sombre visit to the War Remnants Museum. This afternoon we will visit the famous Ben Thanh Market. Tonight, we will enjoy a sumptuous Vietnamese welcome dinner at the former residence of the US Ambassador of South Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Mr. Henry C. Lodge aided in conducting a mission to overthrow the South Vietnamese Government. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Reunification Palace   War Remnants Museum   Ben Thanh Market Welcome Dinner

Day 3 > Tuesday 17 August 2021 | Cu Chi Tunnels

This morning, we depart Ho Chi Minh City for a 2-hour drive northwest to the Cu Chi tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels used by the VC as hiding spots during combat. Originally dug in 1948 for the guerrillas to shelter from French air and ground sweeps, the tunnels also served as living quarters, communication and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food and weapons caches throughout the Vietnam War. We will visit the underground villages for a better understanding of the tunnels’ history, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. After lunch, we will return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy an evening at leisure. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Cu Chi Tunnels

Day 4 > Wednesday 18 August 2021 | Vietnam Veteran’s Day

Today we will travel to Long Tan, the site of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War. Our first stop is Nui Dat, Australia’s main combat base in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. While here we will explore the old bunkers, Kangaroo helicopter pad, SAS Hill and Luscombe Airfield. We will then head to nearby Long Tan village to see the Long Tan Cross, the memorial erected by Australian troops in 1966 to remember their fallen comrades. Marvel in the panoramas of rubber plantations that flank the battleground and imagine the rich and troubled history still tangible on these grounds. We will hold a private and discreet commemorative service at Nui Dat or Long Tan to acknowledge Anzac Day. The journey continues at the Horseshoe, a former Australian Fire Support Base. We will then continue to Vung Tau, a major rest and support area for Australian troops during the war, where we will enjoy a local meal together. (B, L, D)

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to cultural sensitivities, holding a private commemorative service will be subject to approval from local authorities and therefore cannot be guaranteed.

STAR INCLUSIONS  Long Tan Anniversary Service   Nui Dat   SAS Hill   Luscombe Airfield   Minh Dam secret zone

Day 5 > Thursday 19 August 2021 | Vung Tau to Minh Dam

This morning we will explore the sights of Vung Tau, including Back Beach – the former site of an Australian logistics group and the Peter Badcoe Club. The area is now a public beach and houses a massive war memorial to honour its past. Walk up to the top of the VG Memorial and overlook the Badcoe area. We will also visit Front Beach areas, Bao Dai Summer House and the airport area. Many will remember it as the home of ‘Wallaby Airlines’ and our ‘hueys.’ We will have the opportunity to spend some time in the bustling town centre and the market area where the large antenna on “Radar Hill” is still visible. After lunch near Long Hai, we will stop at Ap My An and learn about the battle of Bribie. We will also visit Long Hai hill (also called ‘Minh Dam secret zone’), the main base of Viet Minh and VC during the French and American wars. The many caves served as a natural shelter, medical care and head quarter for the troops. We will also visit the VC memorial to commemorate where more than 2,000 soldiers died during the war.(B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Sightseeing tour of Vung Tau   Front Beach   Operation Bribie

Day 6 > Friday 20 August 2021 | Minh Ba to Nui Le to Ho Chi Minh City

This morning we will drive to Binh Ba to visit the memorial of 33 NVA (North Vietnamese Army) Regiment located where a big battle between Australian soldiers and NVA took place on 6 June 1966. It was a famous battle after the battle of Long Tan. The last stop is the site of Nui Le (Le Mountain), where the last battle between Australian soldiers in Vietnam took place, before returning to Australia. We will enjoy lunch at local coffee shop before returning to Ho Chi Minh City this afternoon. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS    Memorial of 33 NVA Regiment   Nui Le tour

Day 7 > Saturday 21 August 2021 | Ho Chi Minh City to Hue

This morning we will transfer to Saigon airport for an early morning flight to Hue. Once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, Hue’s splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel contribute to its undeniable royal charm. We will take a short walk (weather permitting) to explore the Imperial Citadel at the centre of the Complex of Hue Monuments— inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Enter through the towering main gate and appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the events and the intrigue surrounding the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily during the Vietnam War, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections intact and others that are being carefully restored. Next, we will visit the T

STAR INCLUSIONS   ★ Former MACV Compound   Home visit with Tet Offensive veteran

hien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Built in 1601, the seven-storied tower pagoda, perched on top of a hill overlooking the Perfume River, is one of Vietnam’s most recognisable icons. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Imperial Citadel   Thien Mu Pagoda

Day 8 > Sunday 22 August 2021 | Hue to Hoi An

Today we will follow the traces of the 1968 Tet Offensive, a battle for control of the city, including a visit to the old Shell Gas Station, the former MACV Compound, Tran Cao Van Street, Girl’s High School, Hue University, Treasury, Public Health Building, Provincial Capital Building area and the Church of the Redemptorist. We then pass by the Citadel, with its ramparts and towers, and visit sites specific to the northern battle. At Dong Ba Gates, we will meet Mr. Nguyen Dac Xuan, a culture researcher and one of the survivors from this bloody battle. We then transfer to Mr. Xuan’s house to participate in a 45-minute discussion with him to gain a deeper understanding of this battle. Here we can learn from his first-hand encounters as he is willing to share with us the history and what he saw with his own eyes many years ago. We then transfer from Hue over the Hai Van Pass before checking into our central Hoi An hotel. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS    Former MACV Compound   Home visit with Tet Offensive veteran

Day 9 > Monday 23 August 2021 | Hoi An

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An known then as ‘Faifo’, was a prosperous trading port, attracting Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish ships amongst others. Today, this World Heritage ancient town is recognised for its well-preserved architecture, pedestrian-only streets and distinctive local cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past. Hoi An’s narrow lanes are ideal for a guided walking tour of its many sights including: the old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, first built in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its intricate woodcarvings; and the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk. The afternoon and evening are at leisure to explore. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS  Sightseeing of Hoi An

Day 10 > Tuesday 24 August 2021 | Hoi An to Danang to Hanoi

Today we will transfer to Danang airport for a mid-morning flight to Hanoi. Hanoi has over 1,000 years of history making the capital city charming with many tourist attractions. Start with a visit to Thang Long Royal Citadel (closed on Mondays). Visit the underground war bunker in the same compound that played an important role in the American war, especially during the 12 days and nights of the Hanoi – Dien Bien Phu air battle in 1972. This afternoon we have some time at leisure to explore the Old Quarter and the charming streetscapes of Hanoi. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   Thang Long Royal Citadele  Sightseeing of Hanoi

Day 11 > Wednesday 25 August 2021 | Hanoi

Today, we will start with a visit to see the One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace. We then continue to the Hanoi Hilton where American POWs were kept and then on to Truc Bach and Huu Tiep Lakes in Ngoc Ha village where many B52 planes were shot down. We will end the day with a visit to the extensive Army Museum. (Closed on Mondays and Fridays). This repository of Vietnam’s military history includes rooms full of war propaganda, photographs and documents from China, France, and the US wars. Tonight, we will have a farewell dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise created by an Australian Vietnamese who has won an Order of Australia medal for his work in supporting disadvantaged youth. We will have a glimpse at the future of Vietnam and receive some warm hospitality. (B, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   One Pillar Pagoda   Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum   Presidential Palace   Hanoi Hilton   Army Museum

Day 12 > Thursday 26 August 2021 | Depart Hanoi

Sadly, today our tour comes to an end after breakfast. The day is at leisure to meet onward travel arrangements. The journey may be over, but the memories will last a lifetime. (B)

Inclusions

★   Services of our expert Australian Historian and a Vietnamese tour escort
★   All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
★   Commemorative Service at the Long Tan Cross Memorial, and opportunities to meet a former VC soldier and a Tet Offensive Veteran
★   11 nights’ 4-star hotel accommodation
★   Flights from Hanoi to Hue, and Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
★   Travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach
★   Breakfast daily, 8 lunches and 6 dinners incl. a farewell dinner at the residence of the former US Ambassador to Saigon
★   All entrance fees as per the itinerary
★   All tipping
★   Copy of Gary McKay’s book, ‘Australia’s Battlefields in Viet Nam’

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Contact our reservations team on 1300 880 340 or click on the enquiry button below and leave your details.

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Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

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