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Returning Veteran Tours

Journeys Within guest and returning veteran, Dave, with Mr. Nam, a Vietnamese Veteran

We often work with returning veterans heading back to Vietnam to revisit the areas where they served and to see Vietnam as it is today, along with their families.  These tours are very meaningful to us and each is tailored to specific experiences, needs and desires of each veteran.  For those who are interested, we often incorporate meetings with Vietnamese veterans in the spirit of reconciliation and healing.  Our returning veterans always give us very positive feedback and we are proud to offer 10% discounts to all active duty and retired members of the armed forces.

Southern Vietnam Director Khoa with Journeys Within guest and returning veteran, Marc

Here is an example one of our favorite returning veteran tours that we put together this spring for a guest who had served in Central Vietnam:

01 May 17   Hoi An: Arrival

Arrive on your flight – Cathay Dragon CX 5224 departing Hong Kong at 17:30 and arriving in Danang at 18:20. (guest booked flight)  Your guide will meet you at Danang Airport for your private transfer of about 45 minutes to your hotel in Hoi An for check in.

Please note: May 1st is a National Holiday in Vietnam so their airports may be particularly crowded on this day.

Meals Included: None

Overnight at Little Hoi An Central Boutique Hotel – 1 Double Grand Deluxe Room

02 May 17   Hoi An: Wander the Ancient Town

Your guide, Hieu, will meet you at your hotel at 8am and together you will head out on a walking tour of Hoi An for a few hours. Visit the Ancient Town, which is home to the beautiful Chua Cau, (roofed bridge), as well as Hoi Quan, the ancient meeting places, some ancestral family homes and some of the lovely hidden pagodas. Time permitting, you have the option to head outside the Ancient Town and learn more about the Hoi An of today. In the spirit of tradition, you’ll also have the chance to enjoy the famous cuisine of Central Vietnam in a local restaurant in the old part of town. You have up to 4 hours to explore with your guide today.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner (Discuss today’s schedule with your guide.)

Overnight at Little Hoi An Central Boutique Hotel – 1 Double Grand Deluxe Room

03 May 17   Hoi An to Tam Ky and Chu Lai: Military Historical Customized Tour – Day 1

Your guide, Hieu, will meet you at your hotel reception at 8am. We will have a “then and now” file prepared for you to refer to together as you make your trip down memory lane over the next few days. Your days are at your pace and your experience will depend on the locations you choose to visit and the people you will interact with along the way.  Some of the times in transport may be longer than we would normally prefer, and so please feel welcome to request your guide for additional stops whenever you need them, and we will also have cushions in your road transport for added comfort.

We recommend that you will visit the Tam Ky area first before making your way Chu Lai and then to Tam Hoa Dock for your speedboat to your resort for check-in. Your road journey today south from Hoi An to Tam Ky will take around 2 hours, with an additional hour’s drive from Tam Ky to Chu Lai, your furthest point southwards.

Hieu will discuss plans with you in advance for your first military historical day highlights in Tam Ky and Chu Lai.  Options include: Chu Lai Airport, the Martyr Cemetery (for Vietnamese guerilla soldiers), Ky Anh Tunnels (completed around 1967 for moving medical supplies and rescue assistance for the guerilla resistance), Tam Ky City, and Chu Lai Airfield (All that remains is a landscape of bomb craters and airstrips, although in the far distance you can still make out some old airplane hangars to the east of the airstrip). Chu Lai Airfield is located south of Highway 1 near the city of Tam Ky and was of critical importance during the Vietnam War for the American military for reconnaissance and security missions. Chu Lai was not a Vietnamese town, as many thought. It was named after the Marine general officer Krulak’s Chinese Mandarin pronunciation of his initials. Approval to build Chu Lai was worked out in March-April 1965 by Defense Secretary McNamara. Chu Lai was an important base for the American Army, Navy and Air Force during the war, and one which was heavily bombed by the North Vietnamese towards the end of the war.   Uncle Ba Lai would also like to welcome you both to his home to join him for a drink and discuss the past, present and future (he joined the guerilla resistance when he was 17).

Although not related to the war, you may also be interested in visiting: Nuoc Mam Fish Sauce Factory, Khong Mieu (Confuscism Temple), Caodaism Temple, Bich Hoa Village (a former fishing village turned art village), and Khuong My Champa Temple.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, snacks en-route

Overnight at Le Domaine De Tam Hai Resort – 1 Double Villa

04 May 17   Tam Ky: Military Historical Customized Tour – Day 2

Meet your guide, Hieu, in your resort reception area at your agreed time. Today will be a big day as you will visit Fire Support Bases and Landing Zones LZ Baldy and LZ Ross, which were based along route 611, and performed daily clearing and securing of route 535 from ambush and mines with the aim to enable the movement of supplies and personnel along the route.  LZ Ross was also a refueling point between LZ Baldy and the Hiep Duc area.  In 1965, the Killer Kane operation in Hiep Duc valley saw a high proportion of “radio men” lose their lives. Often anyone near an antenna was shot by NVA snipers. Following the operation, the valley earned the nickname “Antenna Valley” in honor of the casualties. Antenna Valley runs from the Thu Bon River to the Que Son Pass. Hiep Duc Valley connects with Que Son Valley. The area was a free fire zone and reconnaissance in the area brought in artillery or air-strikes as needed to secure the area from enemy forces. Antenna Valley is also sometimes known as Dragon Valley, and is quite hard to identify today, but take your time to explore with your guide as the main base changed location from time to time during the war between Hiep Duc and Que Son and you may discover more together with local support and your guide Hieu’s interpreting help today.  At LZ Baldy – There is still some existing evidence such as the Vietnam Army Base (former LZ Baldy US base), and you’ll have the chance to visit Provincial Road No.611, Huong An Town (the area around LZ Baldy), Vung Che Bridge, and LZ Ross which is now a strip of low mountains with a large monument to the Cam Doi area to one side.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, snacks en-route

Overnight at Le Domaine De Tam Hai Resort – 1 Double Villa

05 May 17   Tam Ky: Military Historical Customized Tour – Day 3

Today you have a guide and driver with you to continue to explore the surrounding region. This day has been built in to revisit places you wanted to spend more time, or to catch places you missed in the previous two days. Discuss with your guide what you would like to do today.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, snacks en-route

Overnight at Le Domaine De Tam Hai Resort – 1 Double Villa

06 May 17   Tam Ky to Hoi An: Military Historical Customized Tour – Day 4

Today you will be met by your guide and driver will be transferred back to Hoi An.

Meals included: Breakfast

Overnight at Little Hoi An Central Boutique Hotel – 1 Double Grand Deluxe Room

07 May 17   Hoi An: Departure

Your guide will meet you at your hotel for your private transfer of about 45 minutes to the airport in Danang and will ensure that you arrive in time for your onward flight – Cathay Dragon CX 5221 departing Danang at 09:50 and arriving in Hong Kong at 12:45. (guest booked flight)

Meals included: Breakfast

Tour Rate:           $ 2,480.00 total for two travelers

                                $ 1,240.00 per person based on two people traveling

Journeys Within guest and returning veteran Lewis, with his wife Susan and guide Ms. Nguyen at the West Gate of Dong Du Base

From the Ground: New Hoi An Foodie Tour

By Jay Austin

We are very excited to announce our new Hoi An Foodie Tour!  This half day cycling tour is really all about the people you meet along the way! Our guides are trained to interact on this tour with as many local people as possible to give our guests an authentic experience.   This tour is great for guests of all ages who wish to experience a truly special part of Hoi An.

What the itinerary for the Hoi An Foodie Tour looks like:

Your foodie tour guide will meet you at your hotel at 8am. Test and adjust your trail bike so you feel comfortable. When ready hop on your bicycle and set off.  As you cycle and walk the Hoi An neighborhood together, you will enjoy a variety of local Vietnamese snacks along the way to surprise and delight your taste buds, learn of the significance of each dish in the local culture, appreciate the ingredients, and spend time with the people and families who have a passion for creating the delicious food to be found here.

From the Ground: New Hotel – Fusion Suites Saigon

By Jay Austin

The new boutique Fusion Suites Saigon is now open!  We are excited to offer this new Saigon hotel option to our guests, as we also book their sister property, the Fusion Maia in Danang.  This property includes a unique ‘all-inclusive’ and restorative philosophy, so all of the rooms are suites, daily spa treatments are included with each stay, and the Fresh Restaurant and Zen Rooftop Restaurant offer healthy, fresh and delicious food and beverage options with great service.  (We love their breakfast menu!) In keeping with the relaxing and restorative concept, calming music plays down each hallway.

This is a great mid-range hotel option for young couples and families on a budget.  Although the property doesn’t have a swimming pool, they have a Family Suite which has a bedroom just off the parents’ room with bunk beds for younger children – a very unique feature in Southeast Asia! The suites also include a kitchenette with spacious and bright rooms.  This property overlooks Tao Dan Park and the Bitexco Financial Tower, and the property offers good views of the fireworks shows from their rooftop.

From the Ground: New Saigon Artistic Tour

We are excited to announce a new artistic tour in Saigon.  You will enjoy a day of guided exploration of the city’s vibrant art galleries and museums, as well as special request visits (if made in advance) to one or two of our favorite local artists who keep the skills and traditions of Vietnamese art alive from home. You will gain an appreciation for the artistic side of Vietnamese culture and also enjoy the opportunity to learn and apply some techniques for yourself firsthand to take home with you. With a diverse program offering unique experiences, it is perfectly suited for either fine arts aficionados or travelers with a general interest in arts and culture.  This tour not only introduces the blossoming art scene in Saigon, but also allows travelers to personally meet the artists themselves. The artistic house visited as part of this tour is the highlight of the trip, and here you will have the opportunity to participate and learn a thing or two, to really round out the experience.

Southeast Asia weather weirdness

Southeast Asia is experiencing a bout of unexpected weather at the moment which is entirely uncommon at this time of year. From Cambodia experiencing rain and significantly cooler weather, to Hue and Hoi An in Vietnam who are seeing both heavy rains and flooding, this strange weather phenomenon is taking its toll on what should be a warmer and dryer season for both countries.

2016 has seen a series of strange weather occurrences in the region. The year began with the longest drought in decades spreading from Thailand to Myanmar and through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos which destroyed crops and resulted in lower than anticipated rice exports for the year. April, 2016 was recorded as the hottest April ever, setting new temperature records for a number of countries in the region. This weather extreme has been followed by another strange occurrence later in the year with the end of the rainy season, typically occurring in early November, continuing throughout December bringing with it much cooler temperatures leading into the region’s high season for tourism.

This week we have experienced extreme flash flooding in Central Vietnam with sudden discharges from hydropower reservoirs due to excessive rains in order to avoid long term damage to hydropower stations in the area. The rains continue in the region and we are seeing weather warnings not only for flash flooding in low lying areas of Central Vietnam, but landslides in the mountains and riverbeds breaking. With these extreme weather warnings come safety warnings for local residents who are likely to be affected by the floods. In many Western countries, the main safety issues are concerned with hygiene and property damage in areas affected by flood waters, but in Vietnam these safety concerns are extended to the majority of the population who are unable to swim.

Recent statistics tell us that 16 people drown every day in Vietnam, half of which are children, a figure which has shown a positive decline in the last 5 years. This is a well-recognized problem in Vietnam and the reason that we have chosen to work closely with local NGO, Swim Vietnam, to tackle the issue. To date, Swim Vietnam has taught over 9,500 children to swim in Vietnam and are adding approximately another 5,000 children to this list every year. Looking sustainably at the project, in addition to children taught to swim, the organization has now educated 150 Vietnamese people as swimming teachers to widen the reach of swimming education. Water safety is the central point of focus for this incredible organization who also provide water safety training to 10-20,000 students per year in classrooms around the country.

As the flood waters from the most recent weather event begin to subside, we at Journeys Within like to keep our focus on the long term and working on ways that we can, together with our guests, affect a positive change in the countries we visit. For more information on Swim Vietnam you can visit their website at www.swimvietnam.com. If you would like to include a visit with this highly commendable organization during your next trip to Vietnam, speak with one of our Tour Consultants on the ways you can work with us to give back to this and other wonderful organizations like this during your vacation.