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Vietnam Past & Present Tour - 2019

journey to the former battlefields of Vietnam

Vietnam Past & Present Tour - 2019

journey to the former battlefields of Vietnam
Defence Escapes
Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi
12 days
From $3,147
Tour code: DE-121
  • Reunification Palace
  • War Remnants Museum
  • Ben Thanh Market
  • Welcome dinner
  • Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Home cooked meal with former VC soldier
  • Long Tan  
  • Nui Dat  
  • SAS Hill  
  • Luscombe Airfield
  • Sightseeing tour of Vung Tau
  • Front Beach
  • White Palace 
  • Long Hai Hills
  • Memorial of 33 NVA Regiment
  • Nui Le battle site explained by a veteran
  • Imperial Citadel
  • Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Former MACV Compound
  • Visit a Tet Offensive veteran in his Vietnamese home
  • Hoi An Walking Tour
  • Thang Long Royal Citadel
  • Underground war bunker
  • Army Museum
  • One Pillar Pagoda
  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Presidential Palace
  • Hanoi Hilton  
  • Farewell dinner

Walk in the footsteps of more than 50,000 Australians and 3000 New Zealanders who served during the Vietnam War on this emotional journey to the former battlefields.

Our tour takes in all the key Anzac sites, plus some American sites as well as allowing you to discover many of Vietnam’s cultural treasures and experiencing its vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine. Gary McKay, who served as a platoon leader in Vietnam and was awarded the Military Cross during Australia’s last battle of the war, will be your guide. This tour is designed to appeal to first time visitors to Vietnam who wish to discover the modern Vietnam while also gaining insight into its turbulent past.

12 Day Tour

Price from $3147 per person twin share

Departure Date: 24th November 2019

Single Supplement: $750

Deposit 30%

Contact our reservations team on 1300 789 824or click on the enquiry button below and advise your cabin preference and need for pre/post hotels, flights, insurance, etc.

Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions. Any changes will be advised closer to the time of departure.

What's included?

  • Services of our expert Australian Historian and a Vietnamese tour escort
  • All excursions, scenic drives and sightseeing as described in the itinerary
  • Commemorative Service at the Long Tan Cross Memorial, and opportunities to meet a former VC soldier and a Tet Offensive Veteran
  • 11 nights’ accommodation
  • Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue, and Danang to Hanoi
  • Travel by comfortable air-conditioned coach
  • Breakfast daily, 8 lunches and 6 dinners incl. a welcome dinner at the residence of the former US Ambassador to Saigon
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • All tipping
  • Copy of Gary McKay's book, 'Australia's Battlefields in Viet Nam'


Arrive Ho Chi Minh City

Please make your own way to our centrally located Ho Chi Minh City hotel. This evening is at your leisure to soak up the hustle and bustle of this vibrant city.


Ho Chi Minh City

This morning we visit the Reunification Palace the former headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government and residence of the presidents. The history of Ho Chi Minh City lies hidden within its colourful maze of small alleys. Discover a secret chamber that was once used by the Viet Cong (VC) as a place to hide, store supplies and important documents during the war. We head to a historic venue for a lunch. The small restaurant used to be the headquarters of VC Commanders where they gathered to plan for the 1968 Tet Offensive. We then visit the War Remnants Museum. Explore the history of the war through photographs and relics as your guide delivers a briefing on the Australian headquarters system and how they acted as a liaison with Vietnamese and American headquarters during the war. After that, visit the Ben Thanh Market. Tonight we will enjoy a welcome dinner at the former residence of the US Ambassador of South Vietnam. In the early 1960s, Mr. Henry C. Lodge aided in conducting a mission to overthrow the South Vietnamese Government. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Reunification Palace  ★ War Remnants Museum  ★ Ben Thanh Market  ★ Welcome dinner


Cu Chi Tunnels

Once the scene of countless battles during war time, Cu Chi is now famous for its rubber plantations and rice paddies. Depart Ho Chi Minh City for a two hour drive northwest to the Cu Chi tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels used by the VC as hiding spots during combat. Originally dug in 1948 for the guerrillas to shelter from French air and ground sweeps, the tunnels also served as living quarters, communication and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food and weapons caches throughout the American War. Visit the underground villages for a better understanding of the tunnels’ history, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. After, drive to the home of a former VC soldier where you will join him and his family for a home cooked meal. After lunch, walk with him through his garden and listen to his stories of life during and after the war. Return to Saigon. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Cu Chi Tunnels  ★ Home cooked meal with former VC soldier


Ho Chi Minh City - Vung Tau

Today we will travel to Long Tan, the site of Australia’s most costly battle of the Vietnam War. Our first stop is Nui Dat, Australia’s main combat base in Vietnam from 1966 to 1971. While here we will explore the old bunkers, Kangaroo helicopter pad, SAS Hill and Luscombe Airfield. We will then head to nearby Long Tan village to see the Long Tan Cross, the memorial erected by Australian troops in 1966 to remember their fallen comrades. Marvel in the panoramas of rubber plantations that flank the battleground, and imagine the rich and troubled history still tangible on these grounds. The journey continues at the Horseshoe, a former Australian Fire Support Base. We will then continue to Vung Tau, a major rest and support area for Australian troops during the war, where we will enjoy a local meal together. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   ★ Long Tan  ★ Nui Dat  ★ SAS Hill  ★ Luscombe Airfield

Vung Tau - Minh Dam

This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Vung Tau, including Back Beach (the former site of an Australian logistics group) and the site of the Peter Badcoe Club. The area is now a public beach and houses a massive VC war memorial to honour the Vietnamese soldiers killed in the area. We will walk to the top of the memorial and overlook the Badcoe area. We will also visit Front Beach, White Palace and the airport area. Spend time in the bustling town centre and the market area where the large antenna on Radar Hill is still visible. After lunch we will stop at Ap My An to learn about Australian actions during Operation Bribie which was fought in 1967. We will visit the Long Hai hills (also called ‘Minh Dam secret zone’), a major Viet Cong base during the war, and the scene of desperate Australian fighting. The many caves in the area served as a natural shelter, medical care and headquarters for Vietnamese troops. We will also visit a memorial which commemorates more than 2000 Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in this area, mostly in operations against Australian troops. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Sightseeing tour of Vung Tau  ★ Front Beach  ★ White Palace  ★ Long Hai Hills

Binh Ba - Bui Le - Ho Chi Minh City

After breakfast, check out and drive to Binh Ba to visit the memorial of 33 NVA (North Vietnamese Army) Regiment located where a big battle between Australian soldiers and the NVA took place on 6th June 1966. The last stop is the site of Nui Le (Le Mountain), where the last battle between Australian soldiers in Vietnam took place, before returning to Australia and also where your tour leader will reveal why he was awarded the last Military Cross for an Australian. Have a picnic lunch at local coffee shop and enjoy local beer, coffee or a fresh coconut. Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Memorial of 33 NVA Regiment  ★ Nui Le battle site explained by a veteran

Saigon - Hue

Transfer to the airport for your early flight to Hue. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. Once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords, from the 17th to the 19th centuries, Hue’s splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel contribute to its undeniable royal charm. Depart on a short walk (weather permitting) to explore the Imperial Citadel at the centre of the Complex of Hue Monuments— inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Enter through the towering main gate and appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the events and the intrigue surrounding the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily during the Vietnam War, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections intact and others that are being carefully restored. Drive to the Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Built in 1601, the seven-storied tower pagoda, perched on top of a hill overlooking the Perfume River, is one of Vietnam’s most recognisable icons. After exploring the pagoda, return to your hotel. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Imperial Citadel  ★ Thien Mu Pagoda

Hue - Hoi An

Follow the traces of the 1968 Tet Offensive, a battle for control of the city, including the old Shell Gas Station, the former MACV Compound, Tran Cao Van Street, Girl’s High School, Hue University, Treasury, Public Health Building, Provincial Capital Building area, and the Church of the Redemptorist. We then pass by the Citadel, with its ramparts and towers, and visit sites specific to the northern battle. At Dong Ba Gates, you will meet Mr. Nguyen Dac Xuan, a culture researcher and survivor from this bloody battle. Transfer to Mr. Xuan’s house to participate in a 45-minute discussion with him to gain a deeper understanding of this battle. Learn from his first-hand encounters as he is willing to share with you the history and what he saw with his own eyes many years ago. Transfer from Hue to Hoi An over the Hai Van pass. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Former MACV Compound  ★ Visit a Tet Offensive veteran in his Vietnamese home


Hoi An - Walking Tour

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An known then as ‘Faifo’, was a prosperous trading port, attracting Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish ships amongst others. Today, this World Heritage ancient town is recognised for its well-preserved architecture, pedestrian-only streets and distinctive local cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past. Hoi An’s narrow lanes are ideal for a guided walking tour of its many sights including: the old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, first built in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its intricate woodcarvings; and the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day or two. After your guide had shown you around, you will have the afternoon and evening at leisure to explore. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Hoi An Walking Tour


Hoi An - Danang - Hanoi

Transfer to the airport for a mid-morning flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, commence your touring. Hanoi has over 1,000 years of history making the capital city charming with many tourist attractions. Start with a visit to Thang Long Royal Citadel (closed on Mondays). Visit the underground war bunker in the same compound that played an important role in the American war, especially during the 12 days and nights of the Hanoi – Dien Bien Phu air battle in 1972. Finally, visit the extensive Army Museum. This repository of Vietnam’s military history includes rooms full of war propaganda, photographs and documents from Chinese, French and US wars. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS  ★ Thang Long Royal Citadel  ★ Underground war bunker  ★ Army Museum



Today, you will start with a visit to see the One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Presidential Palace. Continue to Hanoi Hilton where American POWs were kept and then head to Truc Bach and Huu Tiep Lakes in Ngoc Ha village where many B52 planes were shot down. This afternoon you are free to explore the Old Quarter and the charming streetscapes of Hanoi.

Tonight we will have a farewell dinner at KOTO restaurant, a social enterprise created by an Australian Vietnamese who has won an Order of Australia medal for his work in supporting disadvantaged youth. We will get a chance to glimpse the future of Vietnam and receive some warm hospitality before the tour comes to an end. (B, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS   ★ One Pillar Pagoda  ★ Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum  ★ Presidential Palace  ★ Hanoi Hilton   ★ Farewell dinner

Hanoi Departure

Sadly our tour is over and it is time to check-out of our Hanoi hotel after breakfast. (B)

Prices: All rates are specified in Australian dollars and are subject to change without notice.  The expression “from” with respect to price means the lowest price for the travel product we believe is available based on costs and exchange rates as at 8/7/2019. Price Variations: Itineraries and prices in this brochure are accurate at the time of printing and valid until 31/12/2020. Once a passenger has paid in full, the price of the tour is guaranteed, subject to any tax changes or levies imposed by any government, their agencies or any airline or if minimum numbers are not achieved. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier reserves the right to make alterations to itineraries and prices for any reason prior to you booking. Taxes, Charges & Currency Fluctuation: All government taxes and charges imposed by suppliers beyond the control of Defence Escapes and its travel supplier (including ticketing fees and airline fuel surcharges) are payable by you and are subject to change. Prices are also subject to surcharge due to negative currency fluctuations prior to you making payment in full.  Exclusions: The price does not include airfares (unless otherwise stated), passport and visa fees, insurance, laundry, phone calls, beverages, meals not detailed in the itinerary and items of a personal nature, excess baggage, expenses, fees or costs incurred in case of illness, or of refusal of entry to, detention in, or expulsion or repatriation from a country or part of a country. Deposits: A non-refundable deposit of 30% of each tour, is required to secure your place on each tour within 5 days of booking, capped at a maximum of $750 per person, per tour. For tours that include domestic flights or permits, payment in full for these services is required at time of booking and is non-refundable. Some hotels may require pre-payment in peak seasons. You will be advised of this at time of booking. For bookings under the value of $500, full payment is required to secure your place. Final payment: Final payment is due no later than 90 days prior to the departure date of your first tour unless otherwise specified. We are under no obligation to remind you when payments are due. Credit cards: Visa &MasterCard are accepted and attract a merchant fee of 1.1% Cancellations by you: All cancellations must be received in writing and cancellations are subject to the following cancellation fees, which you acknowledge are reasonable to protect the legitimate business interests of Defence Escapes. Any change or substitution of a nominated passenger’s name after the final payment has been made will be deemed a cancellation, and the applicable cancellation fee will apply. The departure date is the date indicated on the Defence Escapes booking confirmation. If a nominated passenger does not join the tour on the departure date the cancellation fee will be 100% of the total booking cost. If a nominated passenger withdraws from the tour after commencement for reasons of illness, the passenger will not be entitled to any refund for unused services. We recommend the passenger obtains a medical certificate in support of any insurance claim which can be submitted independently via the passengers’ travel insurance provider. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier makes no representations or guarantees concerning reimbursement of funds paid by a nominated passenger or paid by a representative of a nominated passenger under any insurance claim. Cancellations by us - Force Majeure: If the tour cannot proceed due to flood, earthquake, war or civil strife, acts of terrorism, hurricane, cyclone, industrial disturbance, strike, fire, lock out, epidemic, pandemic, failure or delays of scheduled transportation facilities, or other Acts of God, or any law, order, decree, rule or regulation of any government authority, or for any reason whether of a similar or dissimilar nature beyond the control of Defence Escapes and its travel supplier (Force Majeure), our contract with you will terminate and there will be no claim for damages by either party against the other, provided that we will refund you any payments made by you that we have not expended (or legally committed to expend) minus an administrative fee of $200 per person. If we provide you with any alternative services or assistance where a tour is cancelled because of force majeure, then you agree the amount to be refunded to you will be reduced by the value of these services and assistance. Cancellations by us - operational reasons:  If we cancel a tour for reasons beyond Force Majeure, then we will refund you all amounts paid at the time of cancellation. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier will not be responsible for any other travel arrangements affected by, or any additional costs incurred as a result of our cancellation. Itinerary variations: Every effort will be made to adhere to the published touring itinerary. Occasionally, circumstances beyond our control will force changes, amendments or modifications to the itinerary and its inclusions. To the fullest extent permitted by law, Defence Escapes and its travel supplier will not be responsible for any omissions or modifications to the itinerary or the inclusions made as a consequence of these circumstances. If you are entitled to any compensation at law for any changes or modifications in these circumstances, then you agree that any compensation you are entitled to will be reduced by the value of any alternative services we provide to you which you accept. Minimum numbers: Unless noted as a ‘Guaranteed Departure’, tours are based on a minimum number of passengers travelling. Special requests: Any special meal requirements will be on a request basis only. Defence Escapes and its travel supplier cannot guarantee special meal requests nor will it assume any responsibility or liability if special meal requests are not able to be fulfilled. Travel documents: Travel documents will be sent to you approximately 21 days prior to departure (providing full payment and all required information has been received). Travel insurance: It is a condition of travel that each passenger is adequately covered by an appropriate travel insurance policy. Please also check the contingencies of your prospective insurance cover and ensure you are aware of its conditions and omissions. We strongly advise travel insurance is purchased at time of booking to provide full cover. You must provide us with the insurance company name, policy number and emergency contact number relating to such a policy within 14 days of final payment being made. Medical Information:  We rely on the information provided in your booking form and as updated as necessary. You warrant that the information you provide is accurate and there are no other medical issues that may impact your ability to participate in the tour without the need for special assistance. We reserve the right to exclude you from a tour if we acting reasonably are of the opinion that you require special assistance for a condition not previously fully disclosed. Baggage: On all tours, passengers are limited to one standard size suitcase and one piece of hand luggage per person. Porterage is not included for any tours. All baggage and personal effects are at all times and in all circumstances the responsibility of the passenger. Baggage insurance is recommended. Please check with your airline for applicable baggage allowances. Single travel: Single Supplements represent a fee passed on to us by hotels and/or operators for sole use of a room and/or any other services included in the tour. Travelling with Minors: We are unable to carry children under the age of 8 years on any group tours. Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult and share their accommodation with an adult. Pre-departure contact: You must provide a telephone number and email address where you can be reached, if necessary, within 24 hours prior to your departure from Australia and whilst travelling. Air travel: Air travel is subject to the conditions and limitations set out in the airline’s conditions of carriage. Airfares are subject to change at any time.

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