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Tips for Travel to Vietnam/Cambodia

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TIPS ON TRAVEL to VIETNAM & CAMBODIA

Updated 10 February, 2012  – ST @ Property of Value World Tours@ All rights reserved

To our “Valued” Passengers!

Welcome to our exciting cruise & tour program – exploring Vietnam and Cambodia via our leisurely 12 day cruise/tour along the MEKONG RIVER & DELTA! Not only is this a relatively new destination for river cruise enthusiasts, but is also the easiest and most comfortable way to see the great variety of sights in both of these fascinating countries!

Our beautiful boutique size vessel, the TOUM TIOU II was built just in 2009 and in 2011 was improved with an enclosed and air conditioned restaurant, an added big screen TV and wi-fi and now truly represents a wonderful way to explore one of the greatest waterways in Asia, offering a crucial link between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia – three of the most important cities in this region.

Mekong River & Delta

The Mekong flows from Southwest China through all the mainland South-East Asian countries - China, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam (a total distance of 4,800 kilometers –or about 2,983 miles). It connects not just countries and commerce, but also diverse cultures and history. A river journey on the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia can offer greater insights and experiences than any other way of exploring two very unique and fascinating lands.

From its marshy source in the highlands of Tibet, the Mekong flows down through China’s Yunnan province in deep gorges and over rapids. Leaving Yunnan, the Mekong forms the Myanmar-Laos border, then curves E and S through NW Laos before marking part of the Laos-Thailand border. From Laos the river descends onto the Cambodian plains, where it receives water from the giant Tonle Sap Lake during the dry season by way of the Tonle River. During the rainy season the floodwaters of the Mekong reverse the direction of the Tonle Sap River and flow into Tonle Sap, a lake that is a natural reservoir, over 150km (93 miles) in length and rich in fishing grounds.

The Mekong finally flows into the South China Sea through its many tributaries in the vast Mekong Delta. The Delta, which covers an area of 39,000 sq. km (about 15,058 sq. miles), is crisscrossed by many channels and canals and is one of the greatest rice-growing areas of Asia. It is a densely populated region with Saigon located just to the east of the Delta. This is a fascinating area to explore, with whole towns floating on rafts, and a richness of river activities. Lush tropical plantations and gardens extend along endless channels. There are over 5,000 km (3,107 miles) of waterways in the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong River is navigable by large vessels for 350km (218 miles) upstream, and Phnom Penh is a designated international port. North of the Cambodian border, the Mekong is navigable in shorter sections as far as the Khone Falls, a series of rapids over 10 km (6 miles) long. Here the Mekong drops 21m (69 feet). Thanks to our ultra shallow draft, we are one of very few ships and that can sail and dock DIRECTLY in the city center of Saigon, as well as explore the northern reaches of Cambodia with sailings to Kratie Lake and its unique freshwater dolphins! Welcome Aboard!

Introduction to Vietnam and Cambodia

The changes in economy and politics have only recently opened these countries to foreign tourism. Your participation in traveling to these countries not only helps their economy but also spreads friendship and understanding between our people. You virtually act as an Ambassador of the United States when visiting these countries, which were closed to visitors from the west for so long. The impression you leave will have an everlasting effect on future relations between these countries and your own.

It is therefore important that we advise and prepare you for some of the cultural and social differences you will encounter. These Travel Tips have been designed to provide useful information and helpful suggestions to ease your adjustment and help you get around any obstacles you may encounter. Your journey will be greatly enhanced if you take the time to prepare for it. Thoroughly acquaint yourself with the information provided herewith - but also talk to others who have been there or study one of the many comprehensive guide books available or check the Internet!  The effort you put into planning your trip before you go will make all the difference... THANK YOU!

Please NoteThe cruise portion of this tour is best described as an expedition cruise.  While you will sail in comfort on a ship with all the modern amenities, there are certain aspects of the cruise that are still beyond anyone’s control.  Delays and changes in the itinerary due to water levels or extended stops at border crossings are to be expected.  Leisure cruises along the Mekong are still a novelty to officials and local folk, so your flexibility and patience are kindly requested! J

GENERAL CRUISE & TRAVEL TIPS

VISA REGULATIONS: Travelers from the US need tourist visas for entry into Vietnam and Cambodia. While the Vietnamese visa must be obtained prior to your trip (please see the separate visa application kit), you can get the Cambodian visa at the border. Please note that for your Cambodian visa, you will need to bring one passport size photos (real photos, no photocopies!!!) and a $25.00 per person application fee (to be paid in CASH if entering Cambodia through the airport or billed to your cabin if entering Cambodia on the ship). ALSO, please make sure your passport has a minimum of 3 empty pages so as not to encounter any unnecessary problems at the border.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS AND DUTY FREE: Travelers can bring up to $10,000 into both Vietnam and Cambodia, but they are required to declare it on their customs forms on arrival (the amount taken out upon exiting must be lower).

When entering Vietnam, visitors should declare all precious metals, jewelry, cameras, radios, videos and unexposed camera and video film that they plan on taking back with them. Even though actual checks are rarely made, on exiting, you may be asked to prove that you brought all these items with you.  When leaving the country you should also keep exchange receipts for all the foreign currency you have spent even though the authorities rarely check.  The import and export of Vietnamese Dong is forbidden.

Cambodian/Vietnamese Customs also allow 200 cigarettes or the equivalent in tobacco and cigars, 1 open bottle of spirits and a reasonable amount of perfume. On departure from both Vietnam and Cambodia, duty free facilities are limited and therefore cannot be relied upon. 

VOUCHERS: If traveling within a group or on any set program, vouchers will not be required or issued. If traveling as an individual and/or deviating from the regular itinerary, we may issue vouchers for services paid for. When included, vouchers will be listed on the check-off list sent with your final documents.

AIR TICKETS: Whenever tickets are issued by us, they will be included with your final documents. In some cases, when tickets are issued directly by the airlines, they may be sent to you under separate cover. Please consult your check-off list. 

TRANSFERS: If you have purchased your airfare or have prepaid your arrival transfers through us, please look for our Tour Guides holding yellow triangle Global Tours & Cruises (GTC) Signs
after exiting the Customs Area of the airports!

 

Or in some cases your individual names may be held by someone at the airport who will then transfer you to the hotel.

If you have purchased land/cruise only and are arranging for your own arrival and departure transportation, the names and addresses of your hotel and the port locations will be listed on the

Contact Sheet enclosed and sent with your final documents.

DEPARTURE TAXES: Please note that the airports in Cambodia and Vietnam charge a departure fee. At time of print, the fees were:             Siem Reap, Cambodia            $25 per person

                                                               Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam        $15 per person

                                                               Hanoi, Vietnam                           $15 per person

Please note that these fees are paid at the airport upon check in and are subject to change!

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Before leaving home, please ensure that you have your valid US PASSPORT and appropriate VISAS. Based on our programs and countries visited, VISAS are currently required for traveling to Cambodia, China, India , Myanmar, Russia, and Vietnam. Please make sure your passport has a validity of at least 6 months beyond your scheduled travel dates and check for visa updates with the appropriate foreign consulates at least 90 days prior to your departure.

If you are a holder of a foreign passport, please check with each country’s respective consulates!

BAGGAGE: Make a detailed list of everything you pack for the trip, and then leave this list at home. We cannot be responsible for lost baggage, but most airlines will make every effort to recover baggage or make proper compensation if you are able to itemize the suitcase contents. It is also a good idea to tape a piece of paper INSIDE your luggage, which shows your full name, home address and telephone number. The purchase of Travel Insurance is always strongly recommended! 

BAGGAGE WEIGHT: Please remember that weight allowances vary and are lower when flying domestic and intra-continental routes, utilizing smaller aircraft. Check your airline ticket or call the specific airline for instructions and pack accordingly or you may face over weight charges!  

OUR FINAL DOCUMENTS – TRAVEL PORTFOLIOS  

FREE ELECTRONIC DELIVERY: Once final payment is received all paper documents including: day by day itinerary, travel tips, airline tickets, contacts and other related  information will be sent to your electronically via email. This service is free, provided we have your email address.

PHYSICAL DELIVERY OF OUR PORTFOLIO OF TRAVEL ITEMS AND PAPER DOCUMENTS:

If you do not have email OR would prefer to receive paper documents along with our set of useful, travel related items as outlined below, these items will be sent to you approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure via registered or overnight mail. The cost of this service will be listed on your invoice. 

1. LUGGAGE TAGS: Will be provided. If you would like your luggage to take the same vacation you do – please use them! Please note: The tags have been designed to allow you to list up to 6 points of travel (hotel to ship, ship to hotel, etc.). DO NOT DISCARD THEM! Simply cross out your previous location and write in your next destination (and room or cabin number if you know it).

This will help our staff and porters deliver your luggage to you in the shortest possible time!

2. SQUARE LUGGAGE STICKERS: If provided, Please stick them visibly on your suitcases when possible - the stickers will allow you, our guides and porters to recognize them quicker and get them to their destination faster!  

3. BADGES: If provided, please wear the badges at all airports, transfer points, hotels, and at any time you are embarking/disembarking the ship. Not only does your badge assist us in providing adequate security on the vessel by identifying you as a group member to our guides, staff and security personnel, it also allows you to get to know your fellow passengers sooner!

NOTE: Since people go by nicknames, our badges come blank. Please print your name the way you would like to be addressed and wear them at least for the first few days.

4. PENS & TRAVEL BAGS: Our unique pens and practical travel bags are not only “good looking” but superbly designed to hold everything from your documents to cameras to water bottles! People love them- and you will too!

5. SURPRISE GIFT: Depending on your travel destination and time of year, we may include a surprise gift, which may be a hat, an umbrella or “cool shades”….who knows, maybe even a winning lotto ticket! (but you must promise to give us a fair share if you win J)

PASSENGER MIX:  There is usually an international mix of people from all over the world – United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia.  It is an excellent opportunity to meet the people of the world and make new and long lasting friends! Whatever the mix, however, English is always the main language used.

WEATHER: There are no good or bad seasons to visit. The weather year round in the southern regions of Indochina is always hot and humid. It is basically divided in two seasons: the Wet (May through September, wettest in June and July) when monsoon rains are a daily 2 hour occurrence and the Dry Season (October to April) where the rains are gone – but the heat is always there – no avoiding it! (Good news is – you are just visiting!)

CLOTHING SUGGESTIONS: The dress code is INFORMAL!  So please - PACK LIGHTLY! The emphasis should be on casual wear. For a few dressier dinners in restaurants, the Captain’s dinner, and entering Buddhist shrines, you will need to have a pair of long pants or dresses below the knee (not shorts & t-shirts).  However, for all other days and activities, Due to heat and humidity, we suggest lightweight cottons, shorts/t-shirts, avoiding synthetic materials as much as possible.  In the dry season, long sleeves may be needed, when it can be cooler in the early mornings and evenings. During the wetter months a lightweight raincoat, rain poncho, waterproof jacket, and/or an umbrella will be useful. 

SHOES: Do pay particular attention to footwear - you should have a good pair of comfortable walking shoes with thick rubber soles and firm arch supports and a pair of flip flops. If you buy new shoes, "break them in" before the trip. These cruises involve extensive walking during visits ashore, so you need to be comfortable! When ashore, guests should wear easily removable footwear for visiting Buddhist sites.  At certain times, when the riverbanks and paths are very dusty or muddy, we will ask you to  kindly remove your shoes when returning to the ship so that the crew can clean them for you. Suitable footwear aboard the ship would be sneakers, deck shoes, tennis shoes and similar rubber-soled shoes.  

PHYSICAL DISABILITIES: Please note that the majority of the passenger vessels sailing the various rivers of the world (including this program) have limited services for the physically impaired. There are no elevators, and staircases are the norm. In addition, due to their small size and shallow draft, the ships often anchor at remote undeveloped ports and stops. While this ability enhances the itineraries, it also means that most of the shore excursions are done on foot. Therefore, severe walking disabilities may limit the passenger’s overall enjoyment on these programs. Passengers should be surefooted for this program.

Regretfully, we do not recommend this cruise to severely disabled passengers, and wheelchairs cannot be brought on board! 

  

CRUISING ALONG THE MEKONG RIVER

Your enjoyment of the trip will depend in large part on your positive attitude. Here are a few pointers that will help you prepare for your journey regardless of the country you are visiting.  Cruising the Mekong River is a new and unique experience compared to any other form of travel!

General River Rules

1.     Maritime Law - As with a pilot on a plane, the Captain of a ship is the ultimate law. He is responsible for the ultimate safety and comfort of the vessel and its passengers. It is within the Captain's jurisdiction to change the sequence of stops, ports, etc. if he deems it necessary due to inclement weather conditions, high or low water levels, dock and lock schedules, technical reasons etc. The Captain has the right to remove unruly passengers, quarantine the ship in case of disease and similar. Therefore, although unlikely, certain changes in schedules may happen. Though we expect to provide sightseeing of all of the major stops and attractions listed in our cruise program, there is a possibility that the sequence of touring may be altered to take into account the operating hours at museums, galleries and monuments. Shore excursions may be changed in response to sailing conditions and other factors. Your understanding and cooperation in such instances is expected as well as appreciated!

2.     Cultural Differences - Remember that you may be traveling through countries whose political, social and cultural backgrounds may be different from your own. Do not let political differences govern your perspective. Instead, travel with an open mind, and you will satisfy your curiosity about the people, their lands, their history and their culture.

3.     Service - If you receive poor service at any point, try to take it in good humor and solve it directly. If you have any serious complaints, take them to your guide and/or Cruise Director.

4.     Bureaucracy - Expect a little bit of red tape and try not to be bothered by bureaucratic rituals, which may be different from country to country.

5.     5.  Do not compare things you see by American standards. Our ship was specifically built for cruising the unique Mekong Delta. Although quite comfortable, it is small and practical and should not be compared with huge ocean faring vessels. Above all, keep your sense of humor and enjoy the cultural legacies, physical geography and rich variety of the people as you sail through these unique and different lands.

The M/V “TOUM TIOU II” – 4*

OUR SHIP: Named after the ancient Khmer legend about tragic lovers Toum and Tiou (which many believe inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliette) our boutique boat was specially built to navigate the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia.  Reminiscent of the glorious 19TH century old style British schooners, the TTII is enhanced with Burmese teak and lovely furnishings throughout.

She carries a maximum of only 28 passengers in 14 twin cabins spread over 2 decks. All cabins are outside facing, about 140-160 sq ft, with big picture windows, beautiful wood paneling throughout and private bathrooms with 2 headed showers.  Each cabin has its own air conditioning. The ship has a huge Sun Deck that features a fully stocked bar, along with ample outdoor seating for the finest river viewing! Due to her small size and low draft the TTII is one of the few ships sailing the Mekong that can actually DOCK IN THE CITY CENTER of Saigon thus avoiding 2 hour transfers to My Tho and enabling our passengers direct access to the city’s main attractions!

THE RESTAURANT:  Located on the Upper Deck, our restaurant was remodeled and enclosed in June of 2011 to provide a more pleasant and air conditioned dining experience! In addition, we added a large flat screen TV to enable playing movies and documentaries along the route, and added wi-fi for Internet use which is FREE – although still limited to specific ports and stops along the route. The seating is designed to be CASUAL and RELAXED enabling passengers to mix and mingle as they choose. No tuxedos needed!

THE MEALS: We believe you will find the food delightful! With a kitchen staff of 5 to feed just 28 people – you simply can’t go wrong! Breakfasts are self serve buffet’s featuring cooked to order eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, fresh fruit… with a few Asian delights thrown in. But the Cook will also be happy to prepare made to order eggs/bacon/pizza if that is your desire! And we bake our own bread! Lunches are also self serve buffet’s with the accent on light soups, salads, fruits and always a choice of 2 types of fish/chicken/meet along with lighter western fare such as sandwiches, pizza or similar. Dinner, in typical French influenced fashion, is a sit down affair featuring appetizers, salads, main courses and deserts! Water, coffee and tea are always free and soft drinks, beer, wine and liquor are available at reasonable prices.

YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE: Enclosed in your final documents will be a daily itinerary listing the main stops on your river expedition. However, much will depend on river conditions and other such factors. Therefore, a final “Daily Schedule” will be given each evening for the following day.  This will contain a fact sheet with information on the sites that will be visited on the following day. Guests are asked to remain patient and flexible. The ship will do its best to devise an interesting, educational, and exciting program for each port but, being an “expedition”, it will not always be possible to follow itineraries exactly as river conditions may alter by the hour. The Cruise Director or Purser may announce changes during the day.

THE CREW: The TTII  is staffed by an enthusiastic crew of 16 Cambodians and Vietnamese with an English speaking European Cruise Manager who will oversee all shore excursions and all activities. In bigger cities, knowledgeable local English speaking guides will lead the sightseeing tours.

WATER: We recommend against drinking tap water anywhere in Vietnam and Cambodia! Bottled water is provided for drinking on board free of charge. Off the vessel never accept ice in your drinks and avoid ice cream, crushed sugar cane, salads and the skin of fruits.

LINEN/TOWELS: Due to limited storage and cleaning facilities on board and in order to conserve water, towels will only be changed daily if they are placed on the floor. Extra blankets are available and will keep you warm in the colder season (ummm…if your AC setting is too high J)

LAUNDRY: A laundry bag is provided for your laundry needs, and a laundry list is available in your cabin.  Laundry is collected each morning when your room is made up and will be returned to you by the following day. If you wish to have your laundry done, please place the items in the bag and mark up the list. The charges will go on your bill in US $. Dry cleaning is not available. If there are items that you do not wish ironed please note it on the laundry slip.

HAIRDRYERS: There is a hairdryer in each cabin.

ELECTRICITY:  European style 220 volts.  In order to use any appliance (including shavers, hairdryers, chargers for cameras), you will need to bring 2 things:

1)      UNIVERSAL TRANSFORMER to convert from the US 110 Volts to the 220 (please check your electronic devices as some newer models automatically convert within a voltage range)

2) UNIVERSAL ADAPTER PLUGS for sockets, which are different than at home. Since there are no supplies of converters/adapters on board we highly recommend you purchase transformer adapter plug set at any travel or appliance store before you leave.  “2 round plug about 1 inch apart” is the one needed.

NOTE TO CAMERA & VIDEO OPERATORS: Most Asian countries have a different TV system (PAL/SECAM) than the United States (NTSC). They are not compatible! The same is true for DVD codes, DVDs in Asia are encoded differently than in the US. DVDs you purchase during their trip may therefore not operate in your DVD player! Also, film or memory cards for cameras may be different and not readily available. Bring along enough supplies, including batteries or a recharger!

HEALTH/VACCINATION:  With regards to health requirements for your trip, please contact your own doctor for his/her recommendations. At this time, however, no vaccinations are required and all travelers are simply advised to bring insect repellant with them. All senior staff are trained in First Aid, but in case of emergency, local medical stations are within reasonable reach on land along the river route. Each passenger must have insurance that covers any risk of medical expenses and repatriation.

SMOKING: Please note that smoking is only permitted in designated outside areas, not in cabins, dining room or lounge.  This is a wood-finished ship and the danger of fire should never be ignored.

SECURITY: Security is generally good compared with many countries abroad.  Nonetheless, it is a wise precaution not to carry valuables such as large sums of cash outside the ship.  A small safe is available through your purser. Passports are collected for the duration of the cruise and safely stored for you.  When in port, a 24-hour watch is kept on the gangplank controlling access to the ship.

CURRENCIES & FORMS OF PAYMENT: 

While Traveler Checks and Credit Cards are growing in acceptance – their use is still LIMITED to hotels, banks and selected shops in major cities ONLY!

CASH IS STILL KING – and the US DOLLAR is the preferred currency! 

In Vietnam, payments can often be made in US dollars or can be made in local currency (exchanging USD at the hotel exchange desk is most convenient). The exchange rate is generally fixed.

In Cambodia, the US dollar is the preferred currency but change may be given in local currency.

Vietnam’s unit of currency, the Dong, currently circulates in bank notes of 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, and 200 denominations.  Please check the web for current exchange rates a few days prior to leaving. The US dollar is, however, the most favored and easily exchangeable foreign currency, and we would strongly recommend taking US Dollars in cash, as it can be difficult in areas outside of the main cities to change travelers checks.

In Cambodia, the currency is the New Riel (KHR). However the US Dollar is widely accepted everywhere.

ON THE SHIP: The onboard currency is the US Dollar. All your onboard expenses are billed to your account, which is settled on the day of disembarkation. You can pay this bill in cash or credit card (Visa and Mastercard Only)

SHOPPING: Indo-China offers a variety of goods for the tourist such as lacquer wear, clothing and fabrics, in particular silk and cottons. It is one of the world's largest exporters of gems and jewellery, but these you should purchase only from a reputable dealer.  Hill tribe crafts, including embroidered goods, such as bags and clothing, and ornaments are also good buys. REMEMBER: Bargaining is EXPECTED! Whenever you make purchases, please note that the majority of items are handmade and may contain imperfections natural in goods that have not been mass-produced.  It is worth taking a little

time to check each item that you wish to buy in order to avoid disappointment. We regret that neither we or the ship owners can be held responsible for problems relating to purchases you make while cruising.

EXCURSIONS: When moored, you are welcome to come and go from the ship. We ask all passengers to hand in their key before leaving the ship so the staff can track who is on board and who is not. The sailing time will be advised on the Daily Schedule and passengers are requested to consult this before leaving the ship. Group shore excursions are organized by the Cruise Director and are accompanied by a member of the ship’s crew. Details of these are posted in the schedule as well.

THE DO’S AND DON’TS: The people of Vietnam and Cambodia are generally tolerant and easy going. However please try to avoid political discussion and remember that both countries are strict regimes and Vietnam’s National Hero is “Uncle” Ho Chi Minh. The history and relationship of these two countries has not been simple for the last 50 years, but time passes and wounds heal. The one thing that does cause upset is any form of disrespect for their national religion, Buddhism. Unlike many faiths, Buddhists make their temples open to foreigners, permitting the snapping of cameras and invasion of their sacred space. However, they ask that you take your shoes, socks and hats/caps off and to observe the following “rules”:

·         Do not point with your feet.

·         In the company of Monks and elders never cross your legs.

·         Do not touch people on the head or the upper body.

·         Do not shake hands with Monks and Nuns as people in general rarely shake hands. Instead, smile and bow or simply nod your head. In Cambodia the Indian palm greeting is used most often.

·         Females should never sit down next to a Monk.

·         Shorts and skirts should be longish (below the knees). For both sexes it is okay to expose arms.

GRATUITIES:

Tipping today has become commonplace in all countries of the world. Due to the nature of these new economies, salaries for regular folk are pitiful compared to the rising costs and inflation in their countries - let alone if we compare them to western standards.  Consequently, for the majority of the people working in the service industries (hotels, restaurants, travel), tips and gratuities have become a large part of their income. Therefore, your gracious generosity will be appreciated throughout your trip. However, unlike in many places in the west including the United States - where tips are either tacked on to your bill or demanded (regardless of the quality of service), tips in the "east" are still left to your discretion!  Therefore, no service - no tip! The choice is still yours. Nevertheless, since we repeatedly get asked to provide guidelines - here they are: 

TIPPING SUGGESTIONS:  Tips are divided in 2 separate categories:

1) Individual tips: To staff/personnel on land & cruise portions who have earned your gratitude (Cruise Director, Country Guides, local guides, motor coach drivers, motorboat drivers, specific waiters at hotels or other ground personnel that have gone beyond the call of duty to help you). These should be provided directly to that individual service provider.

2) Pooled tips: For a group of individuals working as a team to serve you on a specific portion of the trip (the ship’s crew).

1 ) INDIVIDUAL TIPPING: While you are in cities or on shore excursions, you will have various drivers and local guides. The so-called standard tip is $1 per person for the driver and $2 for the local guide. A $1 tip will also be appreciated by porters. A $1 per person/per day should be left at hotels for your maid. For taxi cabs or at restaurants add 10 to 15% to your final bill amount. Additionally, depending on voyage, you will have 1 or 2 Country Guides who will accompany you on the cruise as an onboard resource for their country (a different set for Vietnam and Cambodia).  At the end of their stay, $3 tip per day/ per person will be appreciated.

TOUR GUIDES/CRUISE MANAGERS are the Travel Experts that are with you to make your travel experience easy and comfortable.  They will be your guiding angels throughout your vacation. They will lead you, educate you, entertain you and if need be, scold you - but we are certain you will find their assistance indispensable in providing you with the utmost travel experience possible! Since they are essentially at your disposal 24 hours a day, we recommend an amount of $5 per person/per day x the number of days they are with you. On Mekong packages you will enjoy 2 Tour Directors – ONE FOR Vietnam and another for Cambodia – plus your Cruise Director on the ship, and a Tour Director in Siem Reap.

2) POOLED TIPPING (CREWS ON SHIP): For ship crews we implement a Pool System whereby all the crew members, from the Captain to the "lowly" deck hand share in the gratuities collected from all passengers. The reason for doing this is that during the course of your cruise, you will actually see and meet only about 1/2 of the crew - mainly the restaurant and bar staff and maybe your cabin maid. However, there are many more crew members you will not see whose good work is equally important to the smooth operation of the cruise - from the engine crew who sweat in the "bowels" of the ship and who keep us afloat, to the many crew members who arrange for our busses & excursions, to the catering people who travel to our ports in advance of the ship in order to obtain and provide us with the best available food and beverage supplies... and on and on. Therefore, to ensure equality for all, we ask that you place your total gratuities for the crew in an envelope and put it in the Tips Box . Suggested amount: $10 per person/per day x 7 days spent on board = $70 per person.

IMPORTANT FINAL NOTE ON TIPPING: The above suggestions are given as guidelines ONLY!

You may leave as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. If you endear yourself to any particular crew member and wish to award them directly - please feel free to do so!  Another helpful tip:  Bring $100 pp in new $1/$5/$10 bills---not only are they useful for tipping, but also for small purchases during the trip. But please make sure they are NEW and undamaged…

WE HOPE THAT THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HEREWITH WILL MAKE YOUR TRIP MOST ENJOYABLE! FOR FURTHER DETAILS ON THE COUNTRIES YOU WILL BE VISITING, PLEASE SEE OUR LIST OF SUGGESTED READING BEFORE YOUR GO! AND CHECK THE WEB!

J THANK YOU AND BON VOYAGE!

  SUGGESTED READING BEFORE YOU GO!!

 

Title of Book                                                  Author                                                                       

INDOCHINA

Travelers Vietnam, Laos                           Chris Taylor 

& Cambodia Companion                                   Alain Evrard (photos)

Vietnam:

The Rough Guide to Vietnam                     Jan Dodd

Catfish and Mandala                                 Andrew Pham

The House on Dream Street                      Dana Sachs

Blue Dragon, White Tiger                          Tran Van Dinh

The Cat from Hue                                     John Laurence

Cambodia:

Lonely Planet Guide- Cambodia                  Nick Ray

The Gate:                                                  Francois Bizot

Angkor: An introduction to the Temples        Dawn Rooney

Brother Enemy                                           Nayan Chanda

INTERNET:

 

Lonely Planet                                             www.lonelyplanet.com

VIDEOS: TTII on YouTube                         http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUPjpNjUrDM

EMERGENCY CONTACTS:

For the hotel names and addresses used for your specific departure - please consult the CONTACT SHEET supplied with your final documents. In addition, the following addresses may be useful to you:

Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA

Embassy of the United States of America

#1 Street 96, Sangkat Wat Phnom

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Ph: (855-23) 728-000

Fax: (855-23) 728-600

 

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) - VIETNAM

U.S. Consulate General

4 Le Duan Blvd., District No. 1

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ph: (84-8) 822 9433

Fax: (84-8) 822 9434

Email: uscongenhcmc@state.gov 

SOME USEFUL  VIETNAMESE  WORDS AND PHRASES*

 

Hi! – Chào                                                                        like the Italian “Ciao”

Good Morning – Chào Bu?i Sáng (not very common)           [tshou boi san]

How much does it cost? – Bao nhiêu ti?n ?                        [bao nnju tin]

Too Much! - M?c quá!                                                       [mak wa(w)]                          

My name is – Tôi tên là                                                     [toi ten la]

Thank you – Cám on                                                         [kam on]

Please – Làm on                                                               [lam on]

Bye – Chào                                                                      like Italian “Ciao”

Goodbye - T?m Bi?t                                                          [tm bit]

Yes – Có                                                                          [ko]

No – Không                                                                      [kong]

A few numbers (useful for bargaining):

 

One - M?t                                                                        [mot]

Two – Hai                                                                         like English greeting “hi

Three – Ba                                                                        [ba]

Four - B?n                                                                        [bon]

Five – Nam                                                                       [namn]

Six – Sáu                                                                         [sau]

Seven - B?y                                                                     [bai]

Eight – Tám                                                                     [tamn]

Nine – Chín                                                                      [shin]

Ten - Mu?i                                                                       [moi]

Twenty – Hai Muoi                                                                                                                           

Twenty One – Hai Muoi M?t

Thirty – Ba Muoi

One Hundred - M?t Tram, Two Hundred – Hai Tram, One Thousand - M?t Ngàn, One Million - M?t Tri?u

 

Pronunciation Guide: Vietnamese is a “tone” language – the same word pronounced differently can have a totally different meaning! Here are some tips on stress points when pronouncing words.

Á: upward stress denotes upward pronunciation.

À: downward stress denotes downward pronunciation.

?: a dot below the vowel means it is a “heavy” vowel.

?: this sign means that the vowel is elongated. There is a tiny wave in its pronunciation.

Words ending with the consonant –n sound almost like the English word ending –ng.

Words starting with t- and k-/c- sound softer, almost like initial d- and g- sounds

GOOD LUCK! (no one said it would be easy J)

*This section provided by a Vietnamese expatriate.

Items You May Wish to Bring Along:

 

·         Shower caps, as they are not supplied on board.

·         Skin cream, Sun block and other cosmetics for sun protection.

·         Insect repellent (past passengers recommend OFF wipes or put “Bounce” in their pockets)

·         Spare set of eyeglasses for emergencies. If you wear contact lenses, bring a pair of eyeglasses for occasions when contacts are bothersome to wear, such as in strong wind or dust.                                    

·         Medications, which are vital to your health. These should be accompanied by a letter from your doctor (signed and dated), certifying that such medications are vital to your health. Dosage should be indicated. (Or often medications kept in their original prescription bottle suffices.) Always pack any personal medications in your carry on luggage, not in your checked baggage. Past Passengers recommend Imodium Extra Strength.

·         Common remedies such as laxatives, indigestion tablets, aspirin and travel sickness pills (the latter will probably not be needed while on the protected river waters but may be useful on speedboat rides if one is very susceptible to motion sickness).

·         Sunglasses.

·         Umbrella (good for downpours and as sun block)

·         Plenty of film, memory cards, or blank video cassettes.

·         Sewing, cosmetic, first aid kits, etc.

·         Laundry soap packets and flat sink stopper.

·         Diet sweeteners if you do not use sugar.

·         Instant coffee especially if you prefer decaffeinated!

·         Binoculars (excellent for viewing scenes from the rivers).

·         Batteries for cameras, shaver etc.

·         Electrical Extension Cord if needed (not available on most ships)

·         Transformer and plug adapters (purchased at K-Mart, Thrifty, appliance stores)

Average annual temperatures: (Oct to April – DRY season / May to Sept – WET season)

 

 

Hanoi ( North) VIETNAM

 

Saigon (South) VIETNAM

 

Phnom Penh CAMBODIA

 

Month

Av. Temp (Fahrenheit)

Av. Temp (Fahrenheit)

Av. Temp (Fahrenheit)

Jan

81

81

82

Feb

82

82

84

Mar

84

84

81

Apr

86

86

90

May

84

84

84

Jun

84

84

86

Jul

82

82

90

Aug

82

82

88

Sep

81

81

84

Oct

81

81

82

Nov

81

81

81

Dec

81

79

79

      Source: Various Internet sites

 

Updated 10 February, 2012 - ST @ Property of Value World Tours Inc. @ All rights reserved