Frequently Asked Questions
(please scroll down ...we may have the answers you seek!)
When is the best time to travel to Vietnam?
A great time to visit Vietnam is harvest time (September and October) in the north ...there is much activity in the fields and towns ...it’s also wedding season!
April/May (also very good) is a time for national festivals/holidays: Springtime in the north and still dry season in the south. Mid year (June-August) is the Wet Season in the south and generally the warmest time of year (especially in central Vietnam and Hanoi) - for those who like it hot!
November to February is cool/cold in the North (winter) but pleasant in the South, however it also includes Chinese New Year (many services not available) and the peak season for travelers from the Northern Hemisphere and is therefore heavily populated with tourists - be prepared for big crowds and price increases.
When considering the climate of Vietnam, think of it this way:
The seasons of northern Vietnam are the opposite to southern Australia - when you’re freezing in Melbourne, Canberra or Adelaide, it’s high summer in Hanoi (31-37C). Hanoians wear woolen jumpers in Dec-Feb ...while Aussies are at the beach!
The South (Saigon) has a tropical climate with 2 seasons (wet & dry) ...the most comfortable weather is Dec to Feb. Wet season (June-Sep ) produces higher humidity and late afternoon monsoonal rains (20-30 minutes of rain to freshen up for the wonderful balmy evenings).
Commemorative services are held at the Long Tan Cross on ANZAC Day (25 April) and Long Tan Day (18 August).
Are FRANKO’S Rail Tours only for Australians?
The majority of our tour clients are from all around Australia, but we also appeal to South Africans, Americans and travelers from Europe looking for something different. Wherever you are from, you can book a FRANKO’S tour. We will tell you how and when to get to Saigon (HCMC) ...we will meet you upon arrival ...show you a good time over 18/15 days ...and deliver you back to the airport for your return journey. All are welcome!
What are the Rail Tour inclusions and exclusions?
Our 18 Day Rail Tour is fully inclusive of all accommodation, all meals, entrance fees, porterage, all in-country travel (incl airport transfers) and day tours, plus the services of a tour escort and a national guide.
The only items not included in your fully inclusive package are your international airfares, Visa, obligatory tipping, beverages and personal expenditure.
Why are FRANKO'S tour prices not shown in Australian Dollars?
All services and facilities provided in Vietnam are costed in US Dollars. From 2003-2008 FRANKO'S tour prices were all published in AU Dollars. During that period the AUD/USD exchange rate was quite stable. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in September 2008 saw the Australian Dollar fall sharply against it's US counterpart. FRANKO'S is a tour company not a foreign exchange agency, so the only way to avoid constantly changing our prices to match the ever changing exchange rate we wisely decided to list all our tour prices in US Dollars. An example of the stability of our pricing since then shows little or no change to our prices since 2011. On the other hand, the exchange rate has ballooned (2010-14) then fallen back over 30% again to where it has been since (2015-23). If we had not used USD pricing then we estimate that our AUD pricing would have changed on at least 32 occasions since 2008 ...when in fact, our USD prices have remained "UNCHANGED" for over 10 years.
Will my electrical plugs fit overseas power points?
In Vietnam, power points are the vertical two-pin plug, or the round two-pin plug. Electricity supply throughout Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is 220/240 volts - just like Australia. Each Sleeper compartment on FRANKO'S train has a 240V power outlet. Besides 240V, most hotel rooms include a 110V plug (shaver plug).
Any conversion plug/adaptor you need can be purchased in Vietnam. An adaptor like the one below (see pic) can be bought easily on EbaY. Here’s an example Click Here.
How much money should I take for personal expenditure/shopping?
We recommend each Rail Tour client take a minimum of around $1000(AUD/USD) or say $1500 per couple. Shopping is inexpensive in Vietnam-Cambodia-Laos ...you only need to allow for (say) $10-$15 per day for drinks and (say) $5 for laundry, and of course personal shopping expenses.
ATMs dispensing Vietnamese Dong are now EVERYWHERE ...ask your bank if your card is good for withdrawals overseas.
How much money should I allocate for tipping?
Tipping in Vietnam is appreciated and it is normal for guides, drivers and rail staff to receive tips for good service.
Our 18 Day Rail Tour clients each contribute US$100 to a group tipping fund which meets all tipping obligations on tour on behalf of each group. FRANKO'S also contribute to this fund.
For those traveling on other FRANKO’S Tours, a tip of US$2-3 (from each pers on tour) per guide/driver per day is a good estimate (amount will vary according to the degree of service).
What types of meals are served on the Rail Tour?
Our tour hotels offer full choice of breakfasts. Most lunches & dinners are Vietnamese banquet meals (yum!). FRANKO’S also include some open-menu dinners (choice of Italian, Indian, French, Aussie steak, NZ lamb, seafood), plus a smorgasborg or two and a couple of "beefburger & chips" lunches ...just for variety. If train schedule involves travel during a designated meal period, then restaurant meals are delivered to our Dining Car ...there are no meals cooked on the train.
We do cater for special dietary requirements (diabetic, seafood, vegetarian, etc.) ... please let us know when you book and we can make arrangements for you.
How far in advance should I book?
Our Rail Tours can fill quickly due to group bookings. It is best to book your tour as early as possible to avoid missing your preferred tour time. No immediate payment required ...FRANKO’S will ask for a Tour Deposit around 12 weeks before Day 1 of your selected tour.
To make a booking, simply contact FRANKO’S to check for tour availability - then just fill out our Booking Form and post/ or email it to us. *You may also book online, by following the prompts at our Website Booking Page.
Can I have hotel room to myself on tour?
Yes, but you will need to pay an additional cost known as Single Supplement. All single travellers in a non-share arrangement will need to pay the SSupp cost, but this can be avoided if you/we find another single traveller on your tour who is willing to share a hotel room with you.
Can I upgrade from 4Star to 5Star hotels on tour?
Yes ...most certainly. Please see Tour Dates & Prices page.
Do we share overnight Junk Cruise (Ha Long Bay) with others?
No ...we have a privately chartered, fully crewed, 4 star Junk just to ourselves ...wonderful. Also, each cabin has it’s own ensuite and airconditioning. Most other tour operators provide junk bookings on public cruises ...we have always preferred a private charter for our clients.
What immunisation do I need for travel in Vietnam?
Questions about CoVid-19 vaccines can only be answered in the future ...hopefully soon! No other vaccinations are required for entry into Vietnam, however we do advise that you consult your Doctor to determine what medical precautions/medications you might require. Mosquitoes are generally not a problem ...we stay clear of mossie zones! A roll-on Aeroguard repellant should be sufficient protection - if required. A small first-aid kit with antiseptic cream, band-aids, bandage, pain relief (panadol, etc) and anti diarrhoea treatment will see you through day-to-day needs.
What are the train compartments like on the Rail Tour?
Our Sleeper Car has 7 airconditioned sleeping compartments, with 4 soft sleeper berths in each compartment. FRANKO'S Superior Class offers a private 4 berth compartment/cabin to every two persons. FRANKO’S Standard Class offers a 4 berth sleeper to every 3 persons on tour ...and a chance to save a few dollars! Our Standard Class is better than "deluxe class" on any other train in Vietnam.
Each Sleeper Car has 2 toilets reserved exclusively for our clients in that carriage - at least one toilet is designated as "The Ladies" and has a western pedestal toilet. Each Sleeper Car has a washroom, but no shower. En-suite facilities are not yet available on Vietnam Railways.
FRANKO’S supply fresh bed linen and towels daily and provide "western-size" pillows.
Each sleeping compartment has a table, mirror, individual bedlamps, electrical power point and storage area for personal luggage.
FRANKO’S Dining Car includes a Bar (with the coldest drinks in Vietnam!), bar/service staff and an entertainment system (see Promo DVD!) catering for up to 28 persons seated in comfy cafe style booths.
How much time is spent on the train?
We don't "live" on the train (as some may think), but we do have a good time! In all, the 18 Day Rail Tour has 6 rail stages, including 5 nights travelling overnight. Saigon to Nha Trang (9hrs) - Nha Trang to Da Nang (9.5hrs) - Da Nang to Hue (3.5hrs) - Hue to Hanoi (15hrs) - Hanoi to Lao Cai (9hrs) - Lao Cai to Hanoi (8.5hrs).
Is the train tour suitable for children?
We would not recommend the 18 Day Rail Tour for young children (under 12) for a number of reasons including: adult atmosphere, alcohol on train, and consideration for other travellers in Rail Tour group.
We can offer families with children a separate tour with the exact same itinerary, travelling via Ticketed Rail Tour (2 persons share 4 berth sleeper compartment) and 2 internal flights. The big advantage here is that you can take the young family whenever you please ...you select the dates!
What are the buses like on tour?
Dependent on size of group, we use either 30 or 54 seater airconditioned tourist coaches with airline seats. BIG coach avoids traffic congestion - "Might has Right". Our short stay tours use 12 seater (Mercedes Sprinter or similar).
2 or 3 persons on a private FRANKO’S Tour would travel by car w/driver.
Should I take out travel insurance?
It is a mandatory condition of travel with FRANKO’S for clients to take out travel insurance cover for the period of their overseas tours with FRANKO’S. Please enquire with us or ask your travel agent about your travel insurance needs.
Can I drink the local tap water?
No. Do not drink tap water, or take local ice with your drinks. Most hotels provide bottles of drinking water in rooms and bottled water is sold everywhere we go in SE Asia. Price is around $1 for a cold 1.5lt bottle of water. Ice made from bottled water is available in FRANKO’S tour hotels and at our bar on the train.
How much free time do we get whilst on tour?
Daily activities are planned most days, however ample free time is included in our itineraries for you to do your own thing.
Past tours have indicated that we’ve got the balance of tour time vs free time just about right.
What are the tour group sizes?
Our 18 Day Rail Tour groups are limited to maximum 26 persons ...minimum 12. (Average is 16)
Deluxe Rail Tours have a maximum tour size of only 10 persons.
FRANKO’S Short Stay Tours of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and Bicycle Tours are usually around 2 (minimum) to 8 persons (maximum would be 12).
Ticketed Rail Tours are for groups of 2 (minimum) to 10 (maximum).
Do FRANKO’S tours include a visit to Long Tan?
Yes ...every tour has the option of a 1 Day visit to Vung Tau, Long Tan, Nui Dat & Ba Ria. On ANZAC Day and Long Tan Day we offer 24hr visit (overnight in Vung Tau).
Any dress requirements for Long Tan ceremony?
Attendees at ANZAC Day and/or Battle of Long Tan Day ceremonies should not wear medals, decorations or military headwear during visit to the Long Tan Cross. This is a Vietnamese government request.
ANZAC DAy Dawn Service (25 April) commences at around 4.50AM and Battle of Long Tan Day ceremony commences at around 3.30PM (18 August).
What level of physical activity is expected on tour?
Our Rail Tour clients rate their experiences as "Easy". A 2-3 hour leisurely walk/trek in the SaPa region is the one activity that could be rated "Easy to Moderate".
There are some steps to climb (not many) and some small walks on tour ...our tour coach is always nearby.
Can we link a Mekong River CRUISE with a Rail Tour of Vietnam?
Yes ...you can enjoy 8Days/7Nights cruising the MEKONG RIVER from Angkor (Siem Reap) in CAMBODIA to Saigon in VIETNAM before (or after) any Rail Tour of VIETNAM you choose. 1st step: select Rail Tour (timing). 2nd Step: FRANKO'S will advise all cruise timings to suit.
How do I arrange my airfares and visa?
You can obtain your flights from any travel agent (based on arrival in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos on Day 1 of tour or earlier), or simply advise FRANKO’S that you wish to be included in our group booking arrangements.
FRANKO’S shop around (Travel Counsellors/Flight Centre/etc) to find the best prices for each tour group and organise for a ticketing agent to contact clients (you) direct. In this way there is no need to go back and forth to a travel agency - everything is handled smoothly via mail (Registered Post) and telephone.
Your travel agent can process your Visa Application. FRANKO’S will process Visas for all persons included in group airfare booking arrangements. Visas for Vietnam are processed before arrival in Vietnam. Visas for Cambodia and Laos are obtained upon arrival in these countries (charges apply).
Why are FRANKO'S tour prices not shown in Australian Dollars?
All services and facilities provided by our Vietnam are costed in US Dollars. From 2003-2008 FRANKO'S tour prices were all published in AU Dollars.
During that period the AUD/USD exchange rate was quite stable. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in September 2008 saw the Australian Dollar fall sharply against it's US counterpart. FRANKO'S is a tour company not a foreign exchange agency, so the only way to avoid constantly changing our prices to match the changing exchange rate we quickly (and wisely) decided to list all our tour prices in US Dollars. An example of the stability of our pricing since 2009 shows little or no change to our pricing since 2011. If we had not changed to USD pricing then we estimate that we would have published around 32 major price adjustments ...when in fact, our Rail Tours today are the same price in USD as they have been for over 10 years.
Why are FRANKO'S tour prices not shown in Australian Dollars?
All services and facilities provided in Vietnam are costed in US Dollars. From 2003-2008 FRANKO'S tour prices were all published in AU Dollars.
During that period the AUD/USD exchange rate was quite stable. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in September 2008 saw the Australian Dollar fall sharply against it's US counterpart.. FRANKO'S is a tour company not a foreign exchange agency, so the only way to avoid constantly changing our prices to match the ever changing exchange rate we quickly (and wisely) decided to list all our tour prices in US Dollars. An example of the stability of our pricing since then shows little or no change to our prices since 2011. On the other hand, the exchange rate has ballooned (2010-14) then fallen back over 30% again to where it has been since (2015-23). If we had not used USD pricing then we estimate that our AUD pricing would have changed on at least 32 occasions since 2008 ...when in fact, our USD prices have remained "UNCHANGED" for over 10 years.