March 2018 Trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

March 16, 2018, is the fiftieth anniversary of the My Lai massacre.  This is an anniversary worth lifting up so this trip will be built around that date.

From 1985 until the late 1990s I led one or two trips a year to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.  Initially they were designed for university teachers and administrators, but came to include lawyers, NGOs, foundations, business people and veterans of the OSS.  The goal was to increase mutual understanding and help all four countries move to normal diplomatic, cultural and economic relations.

More recently I have organized trips for former anti-war activists and members of their families. These offer an opportunity to see the impact of the war, reflect with hosts on the role of anti-war activism, and experience fascinating cultures, histories, geography and cuisines. Meetings with government and US embassy officials focus on contemporary issues, including economic development, trade and the danger of conflict over territorial claims in the South China (a.k.a. East) Sea. 

The itinerary is below in overall and detailed forms.  The core of the trip is two weeks of programmed days in Vietnam, covering north, center and south.  People who want to have more time for conventional sightseeing are encouraged to come early and/or stay later.  I will provide an introduction to a capable Vietnamese travel agent and offer advice about excursions to Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, the Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple, natural parks, etc.  

Depending on the amount of interest, I will include Laos and Cambodia in the trip or simply help you arrange your own program there before or after Vietnam.  Personally I recommend spending an extra week to get a sense of  two very different but related histories, cultures, economies and contemporary political systems.  (Laos could be scheduled before Vietnam or after Cambodia.)

The cost of the trip is about $2,500 for the ground program in Vietnam.  Laos will be roughly an additional $300 and Cambodia $700.   That does not include air fare between countries or from the US.  Exact costs depend on the number of participants sharing the expense of the guide/interpreter and for administrative work of our host, the Vietnam-USA Society.

You may be able to use airline mileage on trans-Pacific flights.  Call your airline's program; don't depend on its on-line reservation system.

My goal is to share my experience and personal relationships.  I do not earn anything from the trip, but your $200 confirmation payment will hopefully cover my cost of accompanying and assistng you.

Register for the trip here, preferably by no later than January :

John McAuliff 
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

General itinerary

(Pre-program sightseeing options:  Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, Pottery Village or ?)
Saturday, March 10  arrive in Ha Noi no later than the evening
Sunday-Wednesday, March 11 - 14  meetings, museums, special sights, US embassy
Thursday, March 15  fly to Da Nang, meeting at Institute for Socio-Economic Development, beach 
         hotel in Hoi An
Friday, March 16  drive to My Lai for anniversary observation
Saturday, March 17 meetings in Da Nang
Sunday, March 18  travel by bus from Hoi An to Quang Tri, visit DMZ and cemetery
Monday, March 19  Quang Tri land mines UXO projects, drive to Hue
Tuesday, March 20  Meetings in Hue and sightseeing
Wednesday, March 21  Fly to Ho Chi Minh City
Thursday, March 22  Meetings and sightseeing in HCMC
Friday, March 23  Visit Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta, the site of a less known atrocity
Saturday, March 24  Meetings and sightseeing in HCMC
Sunday, March 25  Departure to US, Thailand, or Cambodia; personal option for visit to Cu Chi  
                               tunnels, Cao Dai temple

Optional extension

Sunday, March 25 - Tuesday, March 27    Phnom Penh
Tuesday, March 27 - Wednesday, March 28  Angkor Wat
Thursday, March 29 - Friday, March 30  Vientiane, Laos
Saturday, March 31  depart for Luang Prabang, Xien Quang, Bangkok or home


Detailed Vietnam program, subject to change

 (From 10 March – 25 March, 2018)

Saturday, March 10: HANOI
Anytime      Arrive in Noi Bai Airport, Ha Noi (or return from personal excursion)
By night       Check in the hotel
19:30           Dinner on own (those interested, gather in lobby)

Sunday, March 11: 
9:00             Welcome meeting
10:00           Bus tour of Ha Noi, Temple of Literature
12:30           Lunch with group
14:30           Visit the Museum of Vietnamese Ethnology
17:30           Water Puppet Show
19:30           Dinner on own or with friends  (optional)

Monday, March 12: HÀ NOI
9:00-10:30  Presentation “The American War and the Anti-War Movement” by
Historian Duong Trung Quoc, discussion of PBS series with Bao Ninh  
and others interviewed by Lynn Novick
10:30-11:30 Presentation “Social and Economic Transformation from the Time of Doi Moi” by Mr. Bui The Giang
12:00           Lunch with group
14:00–15:30 Meeting with the Institute for East Sea Vietnam Study – “The Situation 
                     in the East Sea”.   
16:00           Meeting with Mr. Tran Dac Loi, Deputy Head of the Commission for
Foreign Relations of the Party
17:30           Meeting with Dang Nhat Minh with option of watching “Don’t Burn It”
19:30           Dinner on own or with friends (optional)
Tuesday, March 13 : HA NOI
08:00           Visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his house on stilts and museum
 (long pants or dress and buttoned shirt)
12:00            Lunch with group
14:30            Meeting with US Ambassador (All passports need to be ready for 
                     security checking at the Embassy)
16:00           Time on own
19:30           dinner on own or with friends

Wednesday, March 14: HA NOI
09:00           Meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
10:30           Museum of choice (Art, Women, Military History)
12:30            Lunch with group
14:30           Visit GARCO 10 equitized factory  

Thursday, March 15: HA NOI -  DA NANG - HOI AN
07:30          Leave for Noi Ba Airport for flight to Da Nang
10:30          Fly to Da Nang.
12:30          Lunch with group
14:00           Briefing at Institute for Socio-Economic, meet Deputy Director Dr. Tran 
                    Duc Anh Son, a former Fulbright scholar
15:30          Travel to Hoi An town. Check in Beach Hotel
18:00          Walking tour of the ancient town of Hoi An, World Cultural Heritage Site
19:30          Dinner with Andrew Wells Dang

Friday, March 16: HOI AN - MỸ LAI QUẢNG NGAI - HOI AN
07:00          Travel South to Quang Ngai Province to My Lai for anniversary 
12:00           Lunch at a local restaurant
13:30          Travel back to Hoi An
15:30           free time on beach
19:30          Dinner on own

Saturday, March 17:  HOI AN - DA NANG - HOI AN
08:00          Travel to Da Nang
09:30          Meeting with the Vietnam – USA Society, bus tour of city
12:30          Lunch with group
14:30          Visit school for Agent Orange affected children or Cham museum
16:30           Return to Hoi An
19:30          Dinner on own

Sunday, March 18: HOI AN - DA NANG - HUE - QUANG TRI
07:30          Travel to Quảng Tri
12:00          Lunch at Restaurant in Hue City
14:30          Travel to Quang Tri.
17:00          Check in Hotel in Dong Ha City Quang Tri Province
19:00           Dinner with group

Monday, March 19: QUẢNG TRI – HUE
08:30          Visit to the landmines/UXO exhibition Center of the Project RENEW in Dong Ha City and
12:30          Lunch in Dong Ha capital city of Quang Tri Province
13:30          Visit DMZ and cemetery
16:30          Travel to Hue
18:30          Check-in  Hotel and Dinner

Tuesday, March 20 : HUE
09:00          Meeting with Hue City Union of Friendship Organizations
                   Visit Royal Citadel
12:00           Lunch with group
13:30           Visit University of Hue, meet international cooperation staff, appropriate                          specialists
15:30           Visit Lin Mu Pagoda

Wednesday, March 21: HUE – HO CHI MINH CITY
10:00          Check out of the Hotel
11:00          Leave the hotel for Phu Bai Airport. Lunch at the airport
13:15          Fly to Ho Chi Minh City
14:45          Arrival in at Tan Son Nhat Airport/&transfer to downdown Ho Chi Minh 
                   City, Check-in  Hotel
16:30          City tour by bus (including Cho Lon)
19:30          Dinner with group

Thursday, March 22:
09:00          Meeting with the Ho Chi Minh City Union of Friendship Organizations (veterans, students, leader representatives)
10:30          Visit War Remnants Museum
12:30            Lunch with group
14:00          Meet with expert on HCMC economic development, visit economic
                     development zone
17:00           Free time, visit market?
19:30           Dinner on own or with friends

Friday, March 23: HCM - BEN TRE/MEKONG DELTA
Leave Ho Chi Minh City for a travel to Mekong Delta
Visit Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta, the site of a less known atrocity
Lunch at a local restaurant
Visit local economic development project (if suggested by Mdm Ninh)
17:00          Return to Ho Chi Minh City
19:30          Dinner on own or with friends


Saturday, March 24: HO CHI MINH CITY
9:30-11:00  Meeting with Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh
12:00       Lunch on own
13:30      Visit the Vietnam – USA Society English Language Center
15:00       Free time
19:30      Final group dinner  (special location)

Sunday March 25 : HCM - ?
Delegates depart for the US, Thailand or Cambodia

(Night flights would permit personal tour visit to Cu Chi tunnels) 


  1. John, I am potentially interested in joining you on this trip. I have never been to Laos so I would like to do that leg of the trip if possible. I would like to meet with VTV4 television where my distributor, PBS International, has been negotiating. I think they have studios in HCMC.
    If I can be of any help to you, please let me know.

    Please keep me in the loop.

    Happy Holiday to you and your family,

    Janet Gardner

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