Vietnam Tunnel Rats and Sappers' Tour 2020
Australia fought side by side with the USA in Vietnam from 1962 to 1973 as a counter to the "Communist tide" that was sweeping through Asia. 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam and 521 were killed while 3000 were wounded. Join our team led by Colonel Sandy MacGregor MC on this memorial tour to Vietnam to visit the battlefields where the Australians operated with such professionalism. As a young Army Engineer, Sandy commanded 3 Field Troop, the first Allied troops to investigate the Vietcong’s massive tunnel system North-West of Saigon and was awarded the Military Cross for his achievements.
This tour takes you to where those latter-day ANZACS fought bravely against a seasoned enemy. When visiting those sites we remember those who fell. This tour also allows you to experience the rich natural beauty and culture of this remarkable Asian nation.
Price: land only $(AU)2720.00 (9 days / 8 nights) per person twin share, single supplement $(AU)600.00.
Included in the tour price:
Not included in tour price:
Day 1, 11 May 2020: SAIGON
Your first appointment at your Hotel is at 5 pm to have a Meet and Greet with Sandy MacGregor. We will meet in the Lobby and then go to the Reception Room for a cocktail and a brief chat. We will then be transported to the first of our dinners at a local restaurant. D
Day 2, 12 May 2020: SAIGON
Breakfast at our hotel before starting our tour of Saigon. We will see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post Office, the Presidential Palace (with the American communications bunker and escape tunnel), the 40th floor of the Bitexco Tower and the War Remnants Museum. On the tour we will stop at several landmark buildings of particular significance during the Vietnam War. After that part of the tour we will visit the Ben Thanh Markets. We will also point guests in the direction of reliable tailors where you can order made-to-measure clothes that will be ready before your departure. Dinner in an authentic Vietnamese restaurant. B/D
Day 3, 13 May 2020: MEKONG DELTA – CAO DAI TEMPLE
In the morning we travel south from Saigon to the gateway to the Mekong Delta, the scene of Operation Marauder, conducted by Anzac troops alongside the US 173rd Airborne Brigade in January 1966. Operation Crimp followed during which the CU Chi tunnels were discovered. Most of the troops went directly from Marauder to Crimp to try to surprise Vietcong forces before spies could warn them.
Today, this is the most fertile region in the country and the main producer of rice and tropical fruits. We stop en route at the Cao Dai pagoda, the temple of a religious sect that combines all the world’s great religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. We explore the Mekong River and its narrow canals by boat, gaining a real insight into the lives of the local people.
The tour includes a visit to a local family home for a delicious lunch featuring local specialties, including Elephant Ear Fish, return to Saigon by late afternoon. B/L/D
Day 4, 14 May 2020: SAIGON – SAIGON-CHU CHI TUNNELS
After breakfast we take a cruise on the Saigon River to the Cu Chi tunnel network which stretches over 250km and extends to three levels underground. Although the Vietcong tunnels had been found before, Sandy MacGregor’s men of 3 Field Troop were the first to go down, investigate them and reveal their secrets.
We will visit both sets of tunnels (most tourists don’t). The first set of tunnels at Ben Duoc have been widened slightly and interconnect with chambers where you can sit at a table with mannequins of lifelike Vietcong soldiers in an underground bunker. After visiting a pagoda and shrine to the war dead, and a Vietcong Heroes Cemetery, we have lunch at a riverside restaurant before carrying on by boat to the second set of tunnels at Ben Dinh.
We hope to be celebrating the 51st Anniversary of the discovery and searching of the Cu Chi Tunnels with original Tunnel Rats from both sides at Ben Duoc. This will be incredible – being present with both adversaries of all those years ago.
Ben Dinh is a very different experience with the bunkers accessible by steps from the surface (for claustrophobics) while the tunnel there is much closer to the real thing in size (or lack thereof) and is multi-levelled. There is also a rifle range where the Vietcong actually trained and where you can try out various weapons that were used in the war. We return to Saigon by boat and visit another restaurant for dinner. B/D
Day 5, 15 May 2020: SAIGON – CORAL/BALMORAL – BIEN HOA – VUNG TAU
Breakfast at our hotel before beginning our journey to the site of the battles of Coral and Balmoral, this was the longest and costliest engagement with the enemy encountered by Australian forces in Vietnam. After lunch we travel to Bien Hoa where we visit the military airfield which was the US Army Base in Vietnam and the original home of the Australian forces at the beginning of the war. We drive on to the popular and stylish seaside resort of Vung Tau, where Australian and American troops went for ‘R&C’ and where we will enjoy dinner in one of the fabulous seafood restaurants and overnight in Vung Tau. B/D
Day 6, 16 May 2020: VUNG TAU
Today we will be visiting the Vung Tau Cross followed by a tour of Vung Tau including the War Memorial at Back Beach, the Front Beach, Bao Dai Summer House, the airport area, the town centre and Vung Tau’s market area. We will also visit the amazing Military Museum with exhibits going back 1000 years. This museum was established by an avid millionaire collector. The markets and the beach are also must-see attractions then we will head back to our accommodation in Vung Tau. B/D
Day 7, 17 May 2020: VUNG TAU
Driving out from our base in Vung Tau we explore the Vietcong’s secret cave HQ at Minh Dam in the Long Hai mountains and visit the Horseshoe, a fire support base used during the construction of the Barrier Minefield, where Sapper Neil Innes won the military medal. We also find remnants of the minefield itself (described in “A Sappers War” as one of the greatest military blunders in Australian History since Gallipoli). We will enjoy dinner in yet another one of Vung Tau’s fabulous restaurants. Overnight in Vung Tau. B/D
Day 8, 18 May 2020: VUNG TAU - NUI DAT - SAIGON
After breakfast in Vung Tau we drive to Nui Dat—the former Australian Army base for most of the Vietnam War—where the former runway is now a wide street and the old heli-pad a soccer field. There’s also a pre-school established by Australians nearby. We will also today visit the Digger’s Rest Museum and the Tunnel Rats Home in Vietnam. On the way back to Saigon we will stop for lunch before visiting the Ba Ria bridge which was destroyed by Vietcong troops but rebuilt overnight despite pouring rain, by a combination of Australian and American Sappers. We intend to take you to a Pho Restaurant in Ba Ria for a real luncheon experience. We return to Saigon for Dinner. B/D
Day 9, 19 May 2020: SAIGON - HOME
The whole day to explore Saigon from your hotel base (don’t forget to pick up that suit) until late check-out at 6pm (if required) and transfer to the airport for your flight home. B