March 1-9, 2019 | 9 days / 8 nights | $3,495
“Vietnam is not for the faint at heart; it pulls at your senses, introduces you to new foods, forces you to explore a difficult history, pushes your limits as a traveler, and invites you into the homes, lives and traditions of some of the hardest working, and kindest people, you’ll meet in a travel experience. If you’re like me, you’ll leave going ‘when can I come back?!’” Mary —- Living Big Travel trip host for this adventure. To learn more about Mary, click here.
Day 1 – March 1
Start your journey to Vietnam so that you arrive into Da Nang International Airport on this day. Your Trip Host will meet you at the airport, and coordinate your transfer to the hotel in Hoi An so you can relax and rest from the long journey. In the early evening you’ll meet the rest of the group over drinks, and then we’ll set out to explore the beautiful Hoi An streets and enjoy a tasty dinner. See the FAQ tab for specifics on airport codes and arrival times. Drinks and dinner included.
Day 2 – March 2
After breakfast in the hotel’s beautiful courtyard our first stop will be the tailor. No trip to Hoi An is complete unless you leave with a custom-made piece of clothing that you get to design from scratch with their tailors. Afterwards we’ll head to our favorite Banh Mi stand for lunch, then set out to further explore the charming town, its shops, cafés and history. We’ll meet up in the early evening to head to Miss Linh’s home for a hands-on, and delicious, cooking class. All meals included.
Day 3 – March 3
We’re heading out early on Vespa motor bikes (you’ll be riding behind the driver) to explore the countryside, visit the local vegetable market and fishing village and meet a few women running small businesses to support their family and local economy. When we get back into the city, we’ll all stop by the tailor for our first fitting, then regroup in the evening for dinner. All meals included.
Day 4 – March 4
By this time in the trip you’ll likely be captivated by the lanterns that hang among the streets. They’re not only beautiful, but a big part of local traditions, and we’re going to learn to make them! We’re going to visit a local nonprofit that is supporting disadvantaged Vietnamese become self-sufficient, and one of the ways they raise money is by offering lantern-making workshops. After our morning class, you’ll likely need to stop by the tailor to pick-up your creation, and then the rest of the day is your own to head to the beach, relax by the hotel pool, explore the shops and history of Hoi An, or maybe get a massage. You do you! Breakfast included.
Day 5 – March 5
Today will be an early day as we fly north and make our way towards Ha Long Bay. You might have heard about, or seen photos of hundreds of ships departing at the same time. Don’t you worry – that won’t be us 🙂 We’re departing from a different port that is much quieter, enabling you to really soak in the beauty of this UNESCO protected area. On this first day we’ll explore the area by boat, on kayak, and just as the sun begins to set. All meals included.
Day 6 – March 6
The crew on board will direct today’s activities, which generally includes a visit to Cat Ba Island for a cycling trip, educational tour through local villages, and kayaking among the karst formations, secluded beaches, floating villages and more. On board we’ll enjoy cooking demonstrations, delicious meals prepared by the onboard Chef, early morning tai-chi on the top deck, and warm hospitality. All meals included.
Day 7 – March 7
Before disembarking we’ll explore local cave communities in small bamboo boats, and then start the journey back to the mainland. From here we’ll make our way to Hanoi, the beautiful northern capital of Vietnam. We’ll dive right into all-things-history, food, street markets and more. A local guide will introduce us to Vietnamese culture, specifically the life, legacy and history of Ho Chi Minh and the war between Vietnam and USA. We’ll explore the areas museums and monuments, and between visits stop to try the street food Vietnam is famous for. All meals included.
Day 8 – March 8
On this final full-day we’ll continue to explore Hanoi with visits to the Hoa Lo Prison, Vietnamese Women’s Museum, visit the local shopping markets and enjoy one final meal together. All meals included.
Day 9 – March 9
Swap phone numbers, emails and photos. Everyone will either head home or start the next leg of your journey. Breakfast included.
Trip itinerary is subject to change but will always maintain a spirit of adventure and diverse activities. Questions? Check out the FAQs (click here) for this trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is going on the trip?
This trip is made up of 12 women: 11 guests and your Trip Host. A major tenet of Living Big is to make international travel more accessible to women who don’t want to go at it alone. To learn more about the philosophy, click here.
Can I join the trip solo? Or can I invite a few of my friends to join me on the trip?
Yes and yes to both questions! Some women join Living Big trips on their own; there to make friends and see the world, and others join Living Big trips because they want to share the experience with their friends, sisters, mothers or daughters and don’t want to do any of the planning!
You’ll find that the trips are structured in a way that you’ll have a good amount of group time, but also a fair amount of independent time to explore on your own, with new friends you met in the group, or with the friends joining you on the trip.
Who is the Trip Host? And what is her role?
On this trip your Trip Host is Mary. To learn more about Mary, click here.
The role of the Trip Host is to be there to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible, even when the inevitable travel bumps come our way – such as an unexpected rainy afternoon, traffic, missing luggage, etc. But more importantly, to be a resource that will give you the space you need to really enjoy the experience. So if throughout the trip there is something your Trip Host can do to support you in this regard – please let her know. For example, if you’re not feeling well, having trouble sleeping, not getting along with someone, not satisfied with something, etc. please please share these concerns. No one needs a ‘Mother’ on this trip – that’s not our intention, but if there are small adjustments that can be made to create more space for you to enjoy the experience —- the Trip Host will see what can be done!
How much does the trip cost? And what is included/excluded in this price?
The total price per person is $3,495. This includes the following:
- Planning: all trip logistics, including pre-trip negotiations with all hotels and vendors, onsite coordination, useful information leading up to your trip such as advice on what to pack, how much to budget for spending money, support securing a Visa, a cheat sheet for learning the local language, advice on local currency, etc.
- Hotels: 8 nights accommodation based on two people sharing a room.
- Airfare between Da Nang and Hai Phong on March 5.
- Meals: see the daily itinerary for meals included each day. On some days, you’ll be on your own for a meal. Some alcohol, water and snacks are also included.
- Transport: all ground transportation, including airport transfers and hired ground transportation, are included.
- Activities: all activities, unless specified in the itinerary, are included. The trip includes the cost of one custom-made piece of clothing, up to a value of $100 USD.
- Gratuities for all local guides.
The following expenses are not included in the total trip price:
- Round-trip airfare is not included, but gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles or to extend your trip as you wish. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences.
- You are responsible for securing your own Visa to enter Vietnam.
- A set amount of wine and beer will be purchased with each hosted dinner, but each guest will be responsible for alcoholic beverages beyond this amount or during the day.
- While not required, each guest is encouraged to consult their existing insurance policy to determine what is covered while on the trip, and if needed, secure an individual insurance policy for the trip.
- Any additional activities you want to book along the way or outside of the coordinated group trip: spa visits, private tours, etc.
- Luggage fees on your international flight, as well as the domestic flight from Da Nang and Hai Phong that exceed what is included in your ticket. Note: luggage weight restrictions and baggage fees for the domestic flight will be provided.
- Spending money.
- Additional tips for the Trip Host.
What are the health and physical fitness requirements to join on the trip?
Guests should take personal responsibility to ensure they are physically able and healthy to participate in all group trip activities, such as hiking and walking on uneven surfaces for durations up to 6 hours, climbing up and down up to 500 steps, riding in a minibus for up to four hours at one time including periods of time on windy and steep roads, carrying luggage up stairs, riding in and getting on/off various modes of transportation such as buses, taxis, tuktuks, boats, scooters, kayaks, trucks, bicycles; riding on a small regional airplane, hiking in a natural environment and being in humid and polluted environments. The trip is moderately strenuous and best enjoyed by anyone who is physically fit and enjoys active days.
The foods in Vietnam can be exotic, and alternatives/substitutions cannot always be accommodated. Consult with your Trip Host to discuss dietary restrictions, or preferences, that would need to be accommodated in order for you to enjoy this experience.
You should consult with a medical doctor to determine if you are healthy and physically able to participate, and if there are any vaccines you should get before the trip.
Is there a minimum/maximum age to participate?
Women over the age of 21, that are physically able to participate in the trip itinerary, are welcome to join for this adventure. Please see the detailed itinerary and FAQ on minimum physical fitness requirements to learn more.
What should I do to secure my spot on the trip?
The first step is to request a spot, which you can do that online (click here.) Once you reserve your spot, we’ll reach out to you to schedule a call to review the trip details, get to know you, give you a chance to ask questions about Living Big, etc. If after this conversation you’re on board to join for the adventure, you’ll receive a link to the registration page where you can formally register, submit your first payment and sign the trip waiver. Please note: registration is taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Is airfare included in the trip fee?
Round-trip airfare is not included in the trip fee, but this gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles, to extend your trip any way you like, and to select the routes and airlines you prefer. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences.
What do I need to know before I book my flight?
Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences.
- Inbound flights should arrive into Da Nang International Airport (airport code DAD) on March 1 by 2PM, local time. Note: if you arrive on an earlier day, you will be responsible for your own transfer from the airport to Hoi An.
- Outbound flights should depart from Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi (airport code HAN) any time on March 9. Note: if you depart on a later day, you will be responsible for your own transfer from Hanoi to the airport.
Will I be sharing a hotel room? Can I choose my roommate?
Yes, everyone will be sharing a room with at least one other person. In most instances, you will have your own bed. You can request a roommate preference on forms that will be included in your Trip Packet, which you will receive approximately 12 weeks before the adventure begins.
Can you tell me about the type of accommodations we'll be staying at?
You betcha! During our time in Hoi An we’ll be staying at a four-star property. We’ll be staying on a luxury cruise ship during our 2-night cruise through Ha Long Bay. And in Hanoi we’ll be staying at a four-star property. There is limited to no elevator access at all lodging establishments.
What kind of ground transportation will we use?
All kinds! During our stay in Hoi An plan on a good amount of walking, riding in local buses, scooters (you’ll be riding behind a driver) and large passenger vans. We’ll fly a regional airliner between Hoi An and Ha Long Bay, and then travel in boats of multiple sizes during our cruise through Ha Long Bay. During our stay in Hanoi we’ll do a fair amount of walking and ride in local taxis and large passenger vans. Throughout the trip we’ll be traveling on uneven surfaces, narrow roads with experience traffic behaviors unlike what is traditionally found in the United States.
What should I pack?
Prior to the trip, you’ll receive a packing checklist and advised on what type of clothes and supplies you’ll need.
Do I need to carry my luggage?
Yes, plan on carrying your bags to/from the airport, on/off buses and vans and in/out of the hotel.
I don't speak the local language. Is that OK?
Don’t worry about mastering the local lingo to join our trips. When traveling internationally, locals do appreciate it when visitors know at least a few key phrases. We’ll provide a quick language lesson and cheat sheet.
What will the weather be like?
March weather in Vietnam will change as we move from the central coast (Hoi An) and make our way up north. Temperatures will range from 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit. There might be occasional light rain and winds. Evenings can be cool after the sun goes down. And it can be incredibly humid during the day.
What if I don't need every hotel/activity/etc. on my trip?
Unfortunately, refunds aren’t possible for unused hotel rooms, meals or activities. The total trip price is a package deal; credits are not given for services not used. Please contact Living Big (click here) if you have questions or concerns about any trip activities due to a physical condition. If there is a reasonable alternative, we can explore it.
How do I communicate information like allergies, injuries, etc?
About 12 weeks before we begin our adventure, you’ll receive your Trip Packet. It includes forms, questionnaires and waivers that you’ll need to submit no later than 8 weeks before the trip begins. The forms in the Trip Packet allow you to share these important details. Living Big will provide meals as outlined in the official trip itinerary and will work with you to try and accommodate special dietary requirements; however, Living Big is not required to provide such meals, supplements and/or any special requests beyond what is outlined in official trip itinerary.
Do I need a U.S. Passport or Visa for this trip?
Yes, a U.S. Passport is required to visit Vietnam. Your U.S. Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date and have one blank pages for the Visa.
Yes, a Visa is required for citizens of the USA to visit Vietnam.Please consult the Embassy of Vietnam website for more information. And additional advice will be provided for upon registration.
But please note that entry requirements can change at any time. While Living Big will attempt to keep you informed of changes, you should take personal responsibility to ensure you can satisfy entry requirements. Click here to learn more about entering Vietnam with a U.S. Passport. If you plan to visit another country before or after your Living Big trip, please consult the following site for individual entry requirements: click here
Do I have to pay for the entire trip up front or can I make payments?
No, you do not need to pay for the entire trip up front. (Although you can, if you prefer.) Check out the Trip Pricing tab (click here) for payment details.
What if I need to cancel the trip?
If you decide you need to cancel your trip the following refund schedule applies upon written notice of your cancellation:
- Cancellations made on or before November 5, 2018:
- Your trip deposit is nonrefundable. If you paid in full for the trip the deposit is $500.
- You will be reimbursed 50% of what you have paid to date, less the nonrefundable deposit.
- As an example, if you made a $500 deposit, then made two additional payments each for $250 (total paid = $1,000) then the amount you would receive back is $250.
- Cancellations made on or after November 6, 2018:
- All payments made to date are nonrefundable.
Travel insurance helps protect against last-minute cancellation, trip interruption, and to cover medical treatment or emergency medical evacuation during your trip. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance and flight cancellation insurance in advance of your trip. To learn about travel insurance, click here for a quick lesson!
What if the trip doesn't fill up or is cancelled?
The trip requires a minimum number of participants in order to take place at the stated price, since it takes into account group discounts, shared accommodations and other factors that create cost efficiencies. Once an adequate number of participants sign up for the trip, you will be notified. If a trip does not have enough participants, or if someone unexpectedly cancels, you will be refunded your deposit or you will be given the option to pay a trip supplement to continue the trip with fewer participants. Should additional participants sign-up after you have paid the trip supplement, this fee will be refunded. Your air travel itinerary is yours to decide, and we recommend you purchase flight cancellation insurance. Living Big is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip including non-refundable air tickets, gear, medical equipment or travelers insurance.
What is Living Big's policy on non-discrimination and violence?
What if I can't make payments according to the payment schedule?
If unusual circumstances arise and you can’t make payments on time please contact Living Big (click here) to discuss. Generally speaking, failure to make payments according to the schedule may result in losing your spot on the trip.
Trip Pricing + Payment Options
This trip is nearly all-inclusive of meals, all hotels, all ground transportation, and all activities outlined in the trip details tab (click here), all the planning and booking (so you don’t have to do ANY work but show up!) and advice on what to pack, tips on international travel and a go-to resource available to answer any questions you have leading up to the trip, and on the trip, to help ensure that you have an amazing experience!
There are two options for payment:
- Pay the full amount by credit card or by check.
- Break your payments into equal monthly installments. Make a deposit of $500 to formally register for your spot, and then on the first of each month (following the month you made your deposit payment) your credit card will be automatically charged a set amount, so that the final payment is applied on January 1, 2019. If you decide to make monthly installment payments, you will receive a payment schedule based on when you register.