Program photograph
Upcoming Programs:
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Journey Through Vietnam

October 10-25, 2009
Faculty: Peter Yu, U.Va. Assistant Dean, Office of African-American Affairs

Price: $3,095 per person land only, double occupancy
$4,195 per person from Washington Dulles*

This trip is limited to 24 participants.
Please call us toll free at 866-765-2646.

Registration is Open

view more photos view more photos


In a land of breathtaking natural beauty, abiding tradition and profoundly hospitable people, rewards abound for the thoughtful traveler. Journey with U.Va. alumni, parents and friends to experience the beauty, history and culture that flourish in the fascinating country of Vietnam.

^ back to top

Program Highlights

^ back to top


Intercontinental Hanoi: Overlooking West Lake, the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake offers a tranquil resort atmosphere conveniently located just 15 minutes from the city center.  The 359-room hotel, decorated with contemporary Vietnamese styles, includes several restaurants and bars, fitness center with sauna and spa, and outdoor pool.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Morin Hotel: Built in 1901 by the French, the Morin Hotel is one of Vietnam's oldest hotels. Lovingly restored to its century-old glory, the Morin Hotel offers everything a discerning traveler expects from a world-class hotel without sacrificing old world charm.

Furama Resort: This five-star haven is celebrated as Vietnam's most prestigious resort. The resort enjoys a stunning beachfront location on one of Vietnam's finest beaches, fringed by natural pines and coconut palms.

Victoria Hotel : The only luxury hotel in the center of the Mekong Delta and set amid gardens of exotic plants, the four-star Victoria Can Tho Resort blends colonial-style architecture with the natural beauty of the river.

Sofitel Plaza : The Sofitel Plaza Saigon is located in the city center, near shopping, entertainment and Saigon's major attractions. The hotel's guest rooms, suites and rooftop swimming pool offer breathtaking views of the city.

^ back to top


23 meals: 13 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners

^ back to top


U.Va. Faculty: Peter Yu, Lecturer on Chinese Culture and Language, and Assistant Dean of African-American Affairs

Dr. Yu has been working with the University since 1996 and directed several University study abroad programs. He received his college education in China and went on to earn his M.A. from University of Exeter, England, and Ph.D. from University of Virginia with a focus on international education. A scholar of Chinese culture and Chinese education, he teaches courses on Chinese language and culture and Chinese calligraphy at the University. He has led the U.Va. Darden School's Global Business Experience--China program since 2004. He is currently writing a book on Chinese calligraphy for American learners.


^ back to top


Day 1-2 - U.S. / Hanoi

On Day 1 we depart the U.S. for Vietnam, spending Day 2 in transit.

Day 3 - Hanoi

Mid-morning today we arrive in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and transfer to our hotel. After some time to rest and relax, we will take an informal walking tour of the area surrounding our hotel. Dinner tonight is on our own.
Intercontinental Hanoi

Day 4 - Hanoi

After an informative briefing about the journey ahead, we set off on a walking tour of Ba Dinh Square, a popular complex of cultural and historic sites, including the marble and granite mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. Ironically, Ho Chi Minh wished to be cremated, but the nation so mourned him that it chose to construct a massive edifice of natural materials collected from across Vietnam. Inside, Ho Chi Minh rests in a glass sarcophagus, visible to onlookers although we will not be able to view as his remains are sent to Russia for "upkeep." We also see the French colonial Presidential Palace, and 1,000-year-old One Pillar Pagoda, built on a single stone pillar to resemble a lotus blossom.

Following lunch on our own we embark on an orientation tour of this French-accented city with broad tree-lined boulevards and colonial architecture. We pass Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city, where legend has it that in the mid-15th century Heaven gave Emperor Ly Thai To a sword to drive the Chinese out of Vietnam. We also see the marvelous Temple of Literature, founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. It later became Vietnam's first university and today remains an active place of worship. Later we walk through the narrow streets of the Ancient Quarter (more commonly called the “36 Streets District”), where goods of all types are bought and sold, alongside houses and temples. There are so many shops, in fact, that each has its own separate street – Shoe Street, Sugar Street, Paper Street – to help direct customers to their desired product. This is also one of the city's most popular gastronomic areas, with dozens of excellent restaurants. We dine here tonight, after attending a traditional water puppet performance.
Intercontinental Hanoi(B, D)

A visit to the infamous Hau Lo Prison, also known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War has been added to this day's itinerary.

Day 5 - Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

We depart early this morning for a full-day excursion to Ha Long Bay ("Bay of the Descending Dragon"), Vietnam's legendary and beautiful waterway sprinkled with almost 3,000 islands and islets, and surrounded by a fairytale landscape of limestone cliffs, secret grottoes and hidden caves. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay was the home of ancient cultures dating back 25,000 years. Our tour here includes a boat ride on the placid waters and a lunch of local specialties. We return to our hotel in Hanoi early this evening; dinner tonight is on our own.
Intercontinental Hanoi (B, L)

Day 6 - Hanoi / Hue

Today we fly to the ancient imperial capital of Hue, whose temples and attractions evoke its past grandeur as home to emperors and mandarins. After checking in at our hotel, we tour the Imperial Citadel, housing the Forbidden Purple City where the emperors once lived with their families. A vast complex of palaces, residences, temples, courtyards and gates, the Imperial Citadel was built in 1804; today it is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also visit the Dong Ba central market where locals buy their produce, fish, meat and sundry items such as Vietnam's ubiquitous conical hats, ironware, jewelry and tea. Tonight we enjoy a special Hue buffet outdoors at our hotel (weather permitting), accompanied by a performance of traditional music.
Saigon Morin Hotel (B, D)

Day 7 - Hue

This morning we cruise by sampan along Hue's Perfume River to peaceful Thien Mu Pagoda, a Buddhist monastery that ranks among the city's oldest and most important monuments. After admiring the seven-story octagonal tower, we visit the palatial Tomb of Minh Mang (c. 1840), with its pavilions, reception hall, summerhouse, lakes, gardens and courtyards modeled after the Ming Tombs of China. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then visit two other tombs: Tu Duc, sitting in a narrow valley in a pine forest and considered one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture from the Nguyen dynasty; and Khai Dinh, an elaborate architectural mélange of European and Asian, ancient and modern styles.  Dinner tonight is on our own. 
Saigon Morin Hotel (B, L)

Day 8 - Hue / Da Nang

After a morning at leisure, we depart by motorcoach for the journey south to Da Nang, Vietnam's third largest city, situated on the south central coast. We tour the acclaimed Cham Museum, which celebrates the Cham people's Hindu legacy with a fine collection of sculpture and artifacts dating from the 7th to 15th centuries. Built in 1915, the museum is constructed, like the art inside, in Cham style, with simple lines, smooth corners and windows open to the sea air. We reach our beachfront hotel mid-afternoon and the remainder of the day and evening is at leisure. Lunch and dinner today are on our own.
Furama Resort Danang (B)

Day 9 - Hoi An

This morning we visit the nearby town of Hoi An, where a succession of Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese traders all contributed to the building of an architecturally diverse and colorful village (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) where many ancient traditions still hold sway. Because no cars are allowed here, the streets belong to pedestrians (and bicyclists), making it perfect for exploring. We take a walking tour past the low, tile-roofed houses lining narrow streets, the Japanese covered bridge and the Chinese communal house. The rest of the day is at leisure to either remain in Hoi An and explore on our own (the town boasts numerous art galleries, shops and tailors), or to return to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.
Furama Resort Danang (B, D)

Day 10 - Da Nang / Hoa Chau

This morning we visit the nearby village of Hoa Chau, nestled amidst seemingly endless rice paddies. Here we gain a special insight into the everyday life of a local farming community as we walk through the village past modest homes, gardens of vegetables and fruit, the village temple and the husking mill. We see into the living rooms of homes open to the street, many with their pictures of Ho Chi Minh, shrines and television sets connoting a certain level of prosperity. Depending on the season, we may see the villagers engaged in threshing and harvesting. After returning to our hotel around lunchtime, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on our own.
Furama Resort Danang (B)

Day 11 - Da Nang / Mekong Delta (Can Tho)

Today is a travel day that begins with an early morning departure for the airport, where we board the one-hour flight to Saigon. Upon arrival we transfer to a motorcoach for a drive south to the Mekong River town of Cai Be. From there we travel by coach and ferry to the busy river port of Can Tho, the provincial capital where the various waterways that comprise the Mekong Delta converge – and where we spend the next two nights at a riverside hotel. There is time to relax and enjoy the hotel's amenities before we meet for dinner here tonight.
Victoria Can Tho Hotel (B, D)

Day 12 - Mekong Delta / Cai Rang

We rise early for a tour highlight: today's excursion by boat to the bustling floating vegetable market at Cai Rang, one of many such markets on the Mekong's lower reaches. Lifeblood of southern Vietnam, the Mekong region counts as one of the country's two “rice bowls,” as well as a major producer of vegetables and tropical fruit. It is along the river that locals conduct the business of everyday life, as we see farmers lined up displaying and selling their goods from bamboo poles suspended over their boats. After this scenic outing, we visit the highly regarded Mekong Museum, which chronicles the river's vital role in local life. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then return to our hotel mid-afternoon; the remainder of the day is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on our own.
Victoria Can Tho Hotel (B, L)

Day 13 - Mekong Delta / Saigon

An hour-long coach ride this morning brings us to the upper reaches of the Mekong. Here we board motorized sampans for an up-close look at river life as we explore the maze of tributaries and inlets that lead to tiny settlements and villages populated by fishermen and farmers. We stop for lunch at a local restaurant then continue by coach to Saigon (the name Ho Chi Minh City is used interchangeably). We reach our hotel late this afternoon; dinner tonight is on our own in this vibrant city.
Sofitel Plaza Saigon (B, L)

Day 14 - Saigon

Once the proud capital of South Vietnam, Saigon was renamed in 1976 by the war's Communist victors as Ho Chi Minh City and virtually closed to the outside world. Since the instituting of economic and political reforms in the mid-1980s and the reentry of a peaceful and united Vietnam into the community of nations several years ago, however, Saigon has once again reclaimed its more cosmopolitan outlook – and its former name, which is used interchangeably with Ho Chi Minh City. We get our first real taste of Saigon on this morning's tour that includes such highlights as the former Presidential Palace (now called Reunification Palace), the former wartime headquarters that remains preserved just as it was on April 30, 1975, when Communist tanks entered the city; the Historical Museum, housing a fine collection of art and artifacts of Vietnam's indigenous peoples; the stunning Central Post Office; and Notre Dame Cathedral, built in 1880 with bricks from Marseilles and stained glass windows crafted by artisans from Chartres, France. Lunch today is on our own; this afternoon is free for independent exploration. We dine together tonight at a local restaurant.
Sofitel Plaza Saigon (B, D)

Day 15 - Saigon / Cu Chi Tunnels

On this morning's tour we visit a place of infamy: the Cu Chi Tunnels. Built over a period of 25 years beginning in the 1940s to sabotage the French occupiers, the tunnels are marvels of engineering, stretching from Saigon to the Cambodian border. Parts of the tunnels descend several stories deep, and include living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals and kitchens. Americans will be most familiar with the tunnels because of the role they played during the war, when they allowed the North Vietnamese to engage in combat in an area completely surrounded by Americans and South Vietnamese. Those who choose to will have a chance to descend into one of the tunnels. We return to our hotel in time for lunch on our own then the remainder of the day is free for exploring. Saigon boasts virtually hundreds of pagodas and places of worship worthy of our time, including the Giac Lam Pagoda, the city's oldest; and the Jade Emperor Pagoda, considered the most colorful temple in Saigon. Or just take a walk and enjoy the sight of thousands of bicycles and small motorbikes winding their way through the city streets, shop for fine silks or locally made crafts, or visit one of the city's colorful free markets. Tonight we gather for a farewell dinner.
SofitelPlazaSaigon (B, D)

Day 16 - Saigon / U.S.

This afternoon we depart for the airport and our connecting flight to the U.S.

We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally though, unexpected obstacles, and opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. Vietnam Airlines, which we use within the itinerary, occasionally has schedule changes that may cause us to make some alterations to the order of the tour. Rest assured that you will still see all included sights, and enjoy all included meals and features as promised.

In addition, please note that domestic U.S. and international airline schedules are also subject to change. We will provide you with updated flight information closer to your departure.

For Business Class Guests

A reminder that your Business Class seating applies to your Trans-Pacific flights only; it does not apply to any flights in the U.S. or to internal flights included on the tour.

For Land Only Guests

If you choose to purchase Journey through Vietnam tour as "land only," you will be making your own international air arrangements and will join the tour at the first hotel.

While airport transfers and luggage handling at the arrival and departure airports are not included when you purchase a tour as land only, you are welcome to join our motorcoach transfer to the hotel. This service will be provided to you on a complimentary basis.

To join in the transfer, you must be at the Hanoi airport concurrent with the group of arriving program guests. Look for our representative holding a University of Virginia or Odysseys Unlimited sign and you will be directed to the motorcoach. Please note that you must be present when the coach is preparing to leave.

For Journey through Vietnam, the currently scheduled group flights across the Pacific are as follows:

Please remember that all flights and schedules are subject to change.  Upon the tour's completion, you are also welcome to join the group transfer to the airport for your flight home.

For Guests Taking the Optional Post-Tour Extension to
Angkor Wat & Phnom Penh

Price: $995 (Single supplement $295)

Day 16 - Saigon / Siem Reap

A morning flight brings us to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where travelers meet the Odysseys Unlimited representative who will accompany you throughout your stay. After checking in at the hotel and time for lunch on our own, we begin our discovery of the Angkor Wat complex of temples. The exploration starts at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers. Sites here include the Elephants Terrace, Terrace of Leper King and the stunning Bayon Temple, an imposing stone edifice of 54 towers, each carved with four enigmatic faces and decorated with bas reliefs detailing events of the reign of Kong Jayavarman VII (1181-1202). The day concludes with a walk to the West Gate of Angkor Wat to watch the sun set over the ruins.
We return to our hotel where we dine tonight.
Sofitel Royal Angkor (B, D)

Day 17 - Angkor Wat / Tonle Sap Lake

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the three great Buddhist sites of the Eastern world for many years, Angkor Wat was rumored to be a lost city, hidden from the world until its discovery by French explorer Henri Moughot in the mid-19th century. However, studies reveal that Angkor Wat was inhabited until recently, a contention proven by the fact that one of its main temples contained Buddhist statuary from every century between the 15th and the 19th. Today the site contains magnificent temples and statuary from the Angkorian Empire, which in its heyday rivaled those of Greece and Egypt; as well as various Hindu and Buddhist imagery. At the center is Angkor Wat Temple, the world's largest religious building. It took more than 500,000 artisans, workers and slaves some 37 years to complete, and it comprises five towers, each reaching more than 180 feet high.

After touring the temples of Angkor Wat itself, we continue on to the 12th-century temple of Ta Prohm, a mystical, decaying Buddhist shrine dedicated to the encroaching jungle. The ruins here have not been touched – they are exactly as they were when first discovered, with massive tree roots virtually strangling parts of the stone façade. More than 100 temples stand here, struggling to keep the jungle at bay. Then we return to the hotel for lunch on our own and to relax during the heat of the day. Late this afternoon we drive outside Siem Reap past some very poor villages to a spot on Tonle Sap River, where we board a small boat for a ride along the backwaters and onto huge Tonle Sap Lake, lifeblood of the Cambodian fishing industry. Along the way we see up close the segregated Cambodian and Vietnamese fishing villages of floating bamboo houses, schools, a police station, even a floating basketball court; and the sunken forest – riverside trees that are submerged by the annual monsoon floods, which recede during the dry season. Following this excursion we return to our hotel where we dine tonight.  
Sofitel Royal Angkor (B, D)

Day 18 - Siem Reap / Phnom Penh

Mid morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. After checking in at our hotel, we set out to discover the city.  We begin at the Royal Palace, a complex built in 1866 by King Norodom. Residence of the Cambodian king and ceremonial heart of the government, the palace comprises a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound. Next we visit the National Museum, where we see treasures from Angkor Wat, among other artifacts. Then we pay a somber visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, the former high school that became Security Prison 21 during the Khmer genocide of 1975 to 1979 and is now a museum memorializing that tragic era. We dine together tonight at our hotel.
Raffles Phnom Penh (B, D)

Day 19 - Depart for U.S.

After breakfast at the hotel and a morning at leisure, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Hong Kong, where we connect with our return flight to the U.S.

We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally though, unexpected obstacles, and opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written.  We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. Vietnam Airlines, which we use within the itinerary, occasionally has schedule changes that may cause us to make some alterations to the order of the tour. Rest assured that you will still see all included sights, and enjoy all included meals and features as promised.

^ back to top

Program Fees

$3,095 per person land only, double occupancy *
$4,195 per person air & land inclusive from Washington, D.C. - Dulles (IAD)*

Extend your stay with a vist to Cambodia: $995 per person, double occupancy.

Prices do not include airline, port, or security taxes and departure fees. (Currently $233 per person for the main program and subject to change.)

Single supplement: Please add $1,295 to the per person rate for the main program and $295 for the extension.

The air inclusive trip price includes the following:

The trip price does NOT include the following: Costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; excess baggage fees; communication charges; airport and departure taxes and fees, which will be listed as separate items on invoices (currently $233 per person; $317 per person with the Angor Wat extension); airport transfers when purchasing a land-only package; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion ($10-$15 per person, per day is recommended); optional sightseeing; Travel Protection such as trip insurance.

4-day/3-night post-tour extension to Cambodia is available for $995 per person, double occupancy. (single supplement is $295).

Business Class up-grade on the trans-pacific flight may be available and currently priced at $6,995.  Business class can not be confirmed until 65 days prior to departure.

^ back to top

How To Register

Ready to register? The best way to do this is by phone so that we can ensure we are meeting all of your needs. Please call us toll free at 866-765-2646. Or e-mail with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

A deposit of $500 per person is required to reserve your spot. Final invoicing at approximately 110 days (June 22, 2009) prior to departure. Final payment is due 95 days (July 7, 2009) prior to departure.

Deposits can be made via Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover.

Early registration is encouraged as space is limited to 24 participants.

^ back to top

General Terms & Conditions

Please read this information carefully, as a payment of a $500 deposit per person represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Payment Schedule:  A deposit of $500 per person confirms your reservation. The balance of your invoice is due 95 days before departure.

Cancellation and Refunds:  If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your written notification.  Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges: Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge; Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 50% of tour price; Cancel 64-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price; Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund. 

Upon reservation you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket's reissue.

Responsibility: The liability of the University of Virginia, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchase transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent, or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The University of Virginia and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts, and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line, and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality. If you choose to make your own air arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from cancellation of this tour or changes in this tour.

^ back to top