Vietnam: getting there

Arthur Frommer, the American doyen of travel writers, notes that “To me today, travel in all price ranges is scarcely worth the effort unless it is associated with people, with learning and ideas.” If you’re Frommer’s kind of adventurous traveller – and according to a Lou Harris poll, 40 per cent of vacationers these days are – you’ll find plenty to relish in Vietnam.

Book your visit through a small-group tour company that has operated in the country for some time and you not only get to know other interesting tourists, you benefit from the operator’s knowledge of local customs, the best places to exchange your dollars – and what are reasonable prices. You’ll also meet the local people on whom the tour operator relies, and often their families.

And the tour leader will deal with the red tape that’s part of the fabric of this communist country. Most importantly, they know the best places to eat – and Vietnamese food is very tasty indeed.

Travel deals
Canadians 55-plus can take advantage of Cathay Pacific’s 2000 All Asia Pass, flying round-trip (economy class) to Hong Kong from Vancouver or Toronto for $1,399 Cdn, travelling to as many as 15ther Asian cities in the following 30 days. Cities not on the list may be purchased as optional add-ons ($400 to go on to Hanoi). It’s possible to purchase an upgrade to business class as well, making the long trip to Hong Kong more comfortable and less tiring. For more information, see the website at or call CARP Travel at 1-877-246-2277.

Before you book your trip to Southeast Asia, check with the experts at Fresh Tracks Adventure Travel Centers Inc., a specialized travel agency that links clients with tour operators offering a wide variety of off-the-beaten-path journeys. Staff members – travellers themselves – understand the importance of giving clients memorable experiences as well as value for their money. (As much as 70 per cent of Fresh Tracks’ business comes from repeat clients and their referrals.) Call toll-free 1-800-627-7492 or check their website at

Well before you go, check the Travel Information and Advisory Reports posted on the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s website or call DFAIT toll-free at 1-800-267-6788. Ask for their free publications: Bon Voyage But…Information for the Canadian Traveller; and Her Own Way – Advice for the Woman Traveller.

You’ll need to have proper immunization so check Health Canada’s website as well as the travel information on the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s website at