Unless you have been here during the past twenty years, your mental picture of Vietnam is probably dead wrong. Many Westerners (especially Americans over forty) expect a land of darkness, deeply marred by the still-festering scars of war. The people (many of whom are burned and limbless) are zombies, tamed and controlled by a wicked and oppressive regime. Their contempt for the West is boundless.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. For most who visit Vietnam for the first time, the big surprise is that it is an exciting, spirited and remarkably beautiful place full of happy, healthy, optimistic people. While it was the world's third poorest country two decades ago, it now has one of the world's fastest growing economies. It is also a wonderful place for a gay- or lesbian-friendly vacation. We have been offering gay Vietnam tours and sightseeing for nearly fifteen years so it is one of our favorite places.
Vietnam can be divided into three different regions, each with a different history, culture and climate. Many believe Northern Vietnam to be among the most beautiful places in the world. Hanoi is ancient, with architecture going back to a time when it was a part of China. You will find incomparable shopping and dining in this cosmopolitan city. The World Heritage site of Halong Bay just a few hours from Hanoi is one of the most spectacular places to see in Asia.
Further south, the ancient capital of Hue is full of history, while equally ancient Hoi An is charming, mostly unspoiled, and has one of the best beaches in Asia. Booking a hotel in Hoi An is not difficult since there are numerous hotels along the coast.
Southern Vietnam offers a lot of diversity. Stylish, fun-loving Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the country's economic capital. From there you can visit the sleepy French hill station town of Dalat and enjoy a year 'round tropical Mui Ne beach resort near Phan Thiet.
Planning Your HolidayPurple Dragon offers all-inclusive vacation programs and unique side trips designed to help first-time visitors get acquainted with incredible Vietnam and help return guests peel back the layers of places they want to see again. Creating the perfect adventure could not be easier! Our packages are all modular. Choose a destination and arrive any day. Add any extra sightseeing you like and your trip is tailor-made to suit your own schedule, tastes and budget. Your private tour includes personal guides, so you'll never be herded around on a bus with 40 strangers. Although we have already chosen the optimum amount of time to visit each place, you can extend your stay in any of our destinations. We use only LGBT-friendly hotels, of course, so you will not be subjected to scrutiny at the reception desk during your vacation in Vietnam.
It is easy to spend two weeks or more exploring Vietnam. If you have a week or less, however, and have never visited Vietnam, combining Saigon, Hanoi and Halong Bay is the best way to see and do the most.
Purple Dragon Outshines the CompetitionThere are one or two gay tour companies in Vietnam and we are often asked to compare our services to theirs. We live and work every day in Vietnam, just as they do and we all specialize in LGBT visitors. Similarities end there. Our guides are highly experienced and licensed. They often use amateurs who have little or no experience, as well as guides we have terminated for very good reasons. They cut corners to make their prices cheaper, while we constantly fine tune what we do to make it better. Unlike Purple Dragon, they dabble in prostitution. Perhaps the most important difference is that Purple Dragon is owned and managed by Westerners who have a far higher standard for quality and efficiency. We have nearly 15 years experience with gay visitors to Vietnam and we think Purple Dragon is your best possible option.
Convenient Modular PackagesPurple Dragon's Vietnam packages offer great value and save you time and effort by arranging your choice of hotel, round trip airport transportation, and sightseeing with a personal English-speaking guide. You can always add extra nights and optional sightseeing if you wish. In most cases we are happy to customize our packages any way you like.
Hanoi Highlights If you can only afford two nights in Hanoi, this program is perfect for you. It includes a full day city tour by "cyclo" (pedicab), lunch in a traditional restaurant, and an unforgettable performance of water puppetry.
Hanoi & Halong Bay This is our most comprehensive Hanoi adventure. In addition to the features included in Hanoi Highlights you get an overnight trip (with two half days cruising) to spectacular Halong Bay, plus your choice of full day trips. Six days, five nights.
Grand Hanoi You will be pampered on this program with a Benz waiting for you at Noi Bai airport, a room at the historic Metropole Hotel, a city tour, and an overnight trip to Halong Bay, where you will live aboard a teak sailing boat.
Sapa Journey to the edge of Vietnam's border with China to visit rustic Ethnic Minority tribal villages, experience colorful country markets, and do some easy trekking through the lush, green rural landscape.
Hue and Hoi An Explore Central Vietnam on this five-day program with two nights each in Hue and Hoi An. Hue, Vietnam's ancient capital, is full of history and magnificent architecture left by long-dead emperors. Hoi An is an idyllic village with narrow lanes, canals, four hundred year old buildings and one of the loveliest beaches in Vietnam.
Saigon Sizzle Four days and three night in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's bustling economic capital. In addition to a full-day city tour, you also make a full day trip to the Mekong Delta with your private guide.
Simply Saigon Guests with less time may choose this two-night program that includes a full day city tour. Both of our Saigon programs also include a taste of the local nightlife.
Dalat Delights A former French Hill Station a few hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat is known as the Honeymoon Capital of Vietnam. The town is full of gardens, small farms, colorful markets and some odd things to see. Dalat is a terrific get-away because it is incredibly peaceful and surrounded by natural beauty. From there you can return to Saigon, or continue to Phan Thiet (below).
Banana Belt Beach Bash While most of Vietnam's great beach are closed for business between October and April, Phan Thiet welcomes visitors 362 days of the year. It rains so seldom that there are vast sand dunes. Beyond the beaches lies a colorful fishing town with fresh prawns and even a bit of nightlife.
Saigon to Angkor Wat in Style Luxury cruise from Ho Chi Minh Cith through the Mekong Delta to the Mekong River, Phnom Penh, Tonle Sap and Siem Reap. Two ship. Eight Days. An unbelievable adventure.
Gay Life in VietnamThere are no exclusively-gay or lesbian venues in Vietnam, so do not waste your time if you are going only for the nightlife. Both Saigon and Hanoi have several mixed bars and discos that attract local gay people and Saigon has a restaurant where local gays go to see and be seen on Sunday mornings. The gay scene seems to move around every night, prompted by a flurry of SMSing. Unless you know someone these places may be difficult to find. Nevertheless, most Vietnamese are very friendly and easy to meet, keeping in mind that people in the north are conservative and stony-faced until they get to know you. There are no obvious signs of a lesbian scene in Vietnam, but women are always welcome anywhere men can go. English is widely spoken. We will provide more "Before You Go" information before you depart.
TetThe annual lunar new year holiday celebrated throughout most of Asia as "Chinese New Year," and other names is called "Tet" in Vietnam. This is the worst possible time to visit, so we do not accept reservations during this brief period. It is bad luck to work during Tet, so our guides decline to do so. Most people who have moved to big cities return home during Tet to celebrate a ages-old daily rituals that go with the holiday, including buying new clothing, washing the front of your home and/or business, and visiting elderly relatives and childhood teachers. Everything closes and there is practically nothing to do.
WeatherThere really is no bad time to visit Vietnam. October and November tend to be very wet in central Vietnam. The north is cool, though not terribly cold, during the winter except for Sapa, which can be quite chilly. The south is tropical all year. Unlike neighboring Thailand, Summer is high season and the best beach weather is May through September. Aside from always-tropical Phan Thiet, November through March are not suitable for beach holidays.
Passports & VisasA visa is required for citizens of most countries. Visas are not issued on arrival. Before your trip we will give you extensive "Before You Go" information that includes tips about packing, weather, money, shopping, food, travel practicalities and local culture that will help you enjoy a worry-free holiday.
What We DoPurple Dragon is Asia's oldest, largest and most respected tour operator specializing in programs for discerning gay and lesbian travelers. All of our tours are private and include private transportation and one of our legendary private guides. We do not offer group tours. The big advantage to a private tour is, of course, that you do not have to put up with other people or compromise your own schedule or activities to suit others in a group. You can spend a bit more time at places that really matter to you, avoid places that do not, and go at your own pace. We use gay-owned or LGBT-friendly hotels wherever possible and show our guests the local gay nightlife where it exists. You do not have to be gay to enjoy one of our all-inclusive tour packages. A growing number of mainstream guests travel with Purple dragon because they know they will get something better from a gay company.
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