Special "extra" experiences in Vietnam

Nov 11th, 2005, 06:13 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 39
Special "extra" experiences in Vietnam

I am planning a two week trip to Vietnam for my 60ish parents in February. I was in Vietnam 7 years ago, so know enough to book the basics of the trip, but I am looking for some special "extra" experiences to surprise them with.

As my travels were of the backpacker variety, and they have a more generous budget, I'm open to any suggestions. I'm thinking of things along the lines of cooking classes, "insider" tours, balloon rides, special meals, galleries or craft shops, that kind of thing. Anything particularly unusual or adventurous (but not too physically strenuous) would be great. Their itinerary will be Saigon (with day trips to CuChi and the delta), Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi (with overnight in Halong). Any recommendations?

Thank you!
cfs2035 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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on our way back to hanoi from halong we made two stops....one was at a village where there was at least one artist who did traditional vietmese art in pen and ink....you actually went right into his house and were greeted by the family...the art was very cheap and there were small as well as larger items for sale...in fact we have a tall piece of his art hanging on a wall next to our bed...

the other stop was at the so called 'pottery town'...it was not far from hanoi....you could see everything from the making of the clay to the finished product in the many shops throughout the town...

i do not have either name but we were taken by the asian trails rep to both...our guide knew of these places so i suspect your parent's guide will also know of them...
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 11th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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In Hanoi Suzanne Lecht can organize trips to artists studios - mtg the artist IMO can enhance the experience of buying a piece of art. She has her own gallery www.vietnamesefineart.com so take a look then you can mail her if it interests you. The Metropole has a cooking schoool which is said to be the best. Also check in advance if there is a performance at the Opera House which I am told is an experience not to be missed. In Saigon the sushi boat is said to be an experience for dinner (I have not been) - www.yakatabune-saigon.com.
hobbes is offline  
Nov 11th, 2005, 04:28 PM
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IN Hanoi, I found the loveliest crafts at Craftlink, a fair trade crafts store across the street from the Temple of Literature. We also purchased ink brush paintings from an artist in the old town (close to the origibal Little Hanoi restaurant) and from teh shop in teh Museum of Art.
Kathie is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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For cooking classes, you might want to check out the 4/10/05 New York Times article called "Savoring the Bounty of Vietnam." It is an interesting article and lists several options for cooking lessons in Vietnam.
Voyageuse is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 03:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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If you contact them in advance, you can visit (in HCMC) Mama Tina's Orphanage, and see the wonderful work this lady (Christina Noble, originally from Ireland) has done (and is doing). It's an experience you won't forget; you'll probably be making plans to go back there before you're even half-way through the tour! Have a look at this site: http://www.cncf.org/vietnam/hochiminh.asp#sunshine.

Back in 1997, we just rolled up at the gate (having walked from our hotel in the centre of town) without an appointment, without a prior phone call, and without any kind of gift to leave behind; yet they still found time to take us through the complex. Nowadays, I hear, they just can't do this without a prior booking, but that website should contain all the information you need to make the necessary arrangements.

Another place worth a visit is the School for Deaf Children in District 12 of HCMC; the volunteer worker there, Be (pronounced like "bear")Huynh, speaks English and will co-ordinate a visit for you... and she'll look after you grandly! The children (about 70 of them, from age 3 right up to 16 or 17) treat visitors like royalty, and you come away inspired....disability or not, these kids are approaching life with such optimism and confidence that you will want to go back there and help them achieve their aims. I can honestly say that our morning there, during our September holiday to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, was very definitely the highlight of the whole trip; when it comes to memories, people -- especially children -- will beat scenery and food every time!

There is a website with the school address and contact numbers: http://www.carryforkids.org/schools/...m/hearing.html.

Both organisations can use children's clothing, so if you plan to fill up a suitcase with your souvenir purchases, instead of taking it across empty, you could take it full of children's clothes. I can promise you that both these institutions will provide an unforgettable "extra" experience which will put the Cu Chi Tunnels and the Mekong Delta in the shade!
Alan is offline  
Nov 16th, 2005, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Oh, and also, your parents might enjoy a night at the Hanoi Opera House, which is a copy of the famour Paris Opera House, and has been lovingly restored in the past few years.
Alan is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 07:38 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Have them stay a few days longer in Hoi An than you might think necessary, and have them stay at the Hoi An Hotel. It is a four star resort-type hotel right adjacent to the ancient town, a short walk away from all sorts of shops and handicraft studios.

We had a gorgeous deluxe room booked through www.vietnamstay.com for just $50 US including sumptuous buffet breakfast and all taxes.

It was just a wonderful hotel and small town to spend a few days vegging and relaxing from all the otherwise gogogo of a sightseeing vacation.

We found the restaurants in Hoi An FAR superior to what is available in Hue. But maybe we went to the wrong places in Hue ...

In a nutshell, we hated Hue, loved Hoi An.
Juju2 is offline  

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