Quick-fire answers to our most frequently asked questions
In this section we've put together some of the questions we frequently get asked about our tours and about travel in Indochina. We have divided this section into 3 areas according to the different kinds of holiday we offer: General FAQs, Small Group Tour FAQs, and Fully Tailored Journeys FAQs.
If your question is not answered below please don't hesitate to contact us directly.
On our Small Group Tours you will be part of a group up to only 14 people and will travel around Indochina with the full-time services of a tour leader. These trips have fixed start dates and depart throughout the year.
On a Fully Tailored Journey you will travel independently, not as part of a group and without a full time tour leader. We do usually include the security of time with a private guide and driver both for transfers to and from airport, and to help you make the most of your time in the destinations you visit. You can take a fully tailored journey at any time of year, around dates that suit you.
The Fully Tailored Journey itineraries you'll find on our website and in our brochures are intended to give you an idea of some popular routes, and to show how the logistics work. They are just suggestions though, and we are very happy to tailor-make an itinerary just for you, based on your thoughts and ideas and to suit the budget you've put aside for this trip.
If you have more questions relating to the kinds of trip we offer, have a look at our Fully Tailored Journey FAQs and Small Group Tour FAQs sections - or get in touch with us to find out a little more about what we can offer.
If you were to list the main reasons people choose to travel abroad: beautiful and exotic landscapes; unique local cultures; delicious cuisines; fascinating history; pristine beaches; great weather; exciting cities and remarkable architecture, you would be perfectly describing the appeal of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Although it is somewhat of a travel cliché, this region really does have something for everyone, whatever your interest.
InsideVietnam is part of InsideAsia Tours, an independent team of travel specialists, founded in 2000. The company was set up to offer trips to Asia organised by those who know and love the region, at a price that needn't break the bank.
We have offices in Bristol (UK), Boulder (USA), Brisbane (Australia) and Nagoya (Japan). All of our UK staff have lived, worked and travelled in the region, and all of our local office staff across Asia are English speakers.
For more information about InsideVietnam Tours and what we do, see our About Us section.
If you are travelling from the UK we would be delighted to arrange international flights for you. We can arrange flights from many locations in the UK to any part of Indochina with Vietnam Airlines, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and other airlines. If you would like international flights included please ask us for more details on the numerous options available. Flights can be arranged in economy class or a premium cabin if this is your preference.
International flights are not included as a standard part of our packages as we have clients coming to Vietnam from around the world and we like to give our clients the flexibility to make their own arrangements should this be your preference. Even if you wish to book your flights separately we are happy to provide advice about the best routes and prices.
The first choice you have to make is whether to fly direct or via a European or Asian hub. Using a UK departure as an example, direct return flights from London Heathrow to Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines start from around £650 per person for an economy class ticket, depending on the season of travel. Indirect flights using another Asian carrier are likely to be a similar price, but may offer the benefit of more frequent departures and the chance to add a stopover in one of Asia's great cities as part of the fare.
Many of our trips include the support of either an expatriate tour leader, if you are joining a group tour, or an English-speaking guide if travelling on a Fully Tailored Journey. These people are on hand to ensure the trip runs smoothly and you are able to communicate freely as you travel.
When visiting the more popular travel destinations in the region you will find many local people working in the tourist industry speak a decent level of English. Menus in some restaurants will have English translations, though we are firm believers in the universal language of pointing at something that looks tasty and smiling, if this is not the case!
In summary we will make sure that you are well supported and don't need to have studied the language to get by, but you can be sure that any efforts to learn and use a few words will be much appreciated by your hosts! Our pre-departure information packs will contain a handy language guide, and your guide and driver will enjoy teaching you a few key phrases if you are interested.
In the majority of cases the answer to this question is yes, though passport holders of certain Asian nations are permitted an exemption for stays of up to 15 days.
For visitors holding UK, US or Australian passports you will need to ensure that you have arranged a visa in advance of travel to Vietnam. Both Cambodia and Laos offer a visa on arrival option, though in Cambodia arranging this in advance using the new online e-visa service can avoid delays on arrival.
For full details of requirements please refer to the Travel Tips section of the website.
Everybody spends a different amount when they travel, but Indochina can be pleasantly inexpensive, and as eating out is very reasonable this helps keep costs down. Taxis, tuk-tuks and cyclos are generally reasonable - check with your hotel or guide what they suggest as reasonable as a certain amount of negotiation is often required to get the best rate. This principle applies to the purchase of most tourist souvenirs - haggling is part of the fun but don't get too carried away over the equivalent of 20 cents!
As a rough guide we recommend USD 25-50 per person per day as a good amount to cover basic costs on a two week trip. This should cover your meals, a couple of drinks, local transport and any entrance fees. What this won't cover are significant souvenir purchases, or meals at the more upmarket hotels or restaurants. -
Although there is little general culture of tipping in the region, it has increasingly become an expected part of life in tourist-related industries. In general no tip is expected at restaurants or in taxis, but it is generally accepted that those working in the tourist industry supplement their income through the tips they receive from their clients.
Most international mobile phones will work in all the Indochina countries, and coverage is excellent, often in even the most remote locations, but you are likely to incur high "roaming" charges. If it is important for you to keep in touch then you may like to consider purchasing a local SIM card on arrival. This is relatively inexpensive and your guide will be able to assist should this be of interest. If you plan to use your own mobile phone then we recommend contacting your phone contract provider in advance to ask about service availability and costs for receiving and making calls whilst abroad.
InsideAsia Tours Ltd is bonded with ABTOT for your financial protection and peace of mind. Under the terms of the bond, all monies paid to the company are secured in favour of ABTOT Trust Ltd. You can, therefore, rest assured that your money is safe.
InsideAsia Tours is also member of AITO, The Association of Independent Tour Operators. Established in 1976, the AITO symbol has become the hallmark of good holidays from specialist tour operators. All AITO companies are fully bonded and governed by AITO's independent dispute settlement service which means you are in safe hands when you book with an AITO member.
Travel to Indochina is a pleasure at any time of year - the decision of when will be the best time of year for you will depend on your own personal tolerance of heat and rainfall, and the activities you wish to include.
Vietnam's length and varied topography combine to make it a challenging country to describe climatically. As most journeys cover the entire length of the country, however, it is highly likely that you will encounter rain at some point along the way; where this is most likely to fall and the impact it may have on your trip will depend on the time of year. In most cases rainfall is tropical in nature, meaning short intense storms that clear the air, rather than extended periods of rain.
Like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia and Laos are warm to hot year round and the climate is dominated by the annual monsoon cycle with alternating wet and dry seasons. June through October is wet season, with the winter months from November to May being largely dry. Temperatures begin to rise from March, reaching a peak of up to 40C in April and May. Travel is possible year round, although the period from November through to February is generally considered the best time for visiting both the interior and coastal regions of the country. Each season brings its own benefits, however, with rainfall rarely lasting more than a couple hours and the countryside is at its most lush and verdant during the rainy season.
One of the conditions under which we accept bookings is that our clients take out travel insurance against medical and personal accident risks and have adequate baggage cover. You may like to consider the companies below for your cover.
Travelling from the UK:
Gold Cover Affiliates Travel Insurance. You can apply on line at: http://www.insidejapantours.goldcover.net/ or by telephone by calling 01892 559 530.
Travelling from the Rest of the World:
Insure My Trip. You can apply on line at:
Of course, do feel free to use alternative insurers if you wish.