Old Compass Travel - Our tours

Welcome to Old Compass Travel ! 

We're a new, boutique travel company - but we’re definitely not new to travel. Founded by Mark Bowyer from Rusty Compass, we run heritage tours of Saigon focused on history, architecture, religion and the emerging contemporary life of the city. We also run an alternative look at the Viet Cong tunnel complex at Cu Chi.

If you're coming to Saigon, spend some time with us. You can also visit us at The Old Compass Cafe hidden away downtown.

Vietnam by the Book is a unique 15 day tour from Hanoi to Saigon that operates each October led by Mark Bowyer. Three books provide shared understanding and a backdrop for our exploration of Hanoi, Dien Bien Phu, Sapa, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon.

We love to dig deeper and do things differently. We care about history, art, culture, food, architecture, photography and the amazing contemporary life of the places we visit. Explore Saigon on our unique tours, or spend 2 weeks with us on Vietnam by the Book.

Saigon - Tales of the City

Saigon - Tales of the City, is a half day heritage walking tour that tells the incredible story of Saigon through its bustling streets, and its most evocative historical sights. It's a unique Saigon experience of history, architecture, food and contemporary life. We've created an experience for travellers wanting to dig deeper than a standard city tour. Groups are small and personalised. Duong and Nhi are insightful guides for your walk.

Pagodas, temples and churches - the religious architecture of Saigon

Saigon has always been a city of immigrants. And immigrants brought with them cultures and beliefs that have shaped the modern city. This tour explores Saigon’s history through its religious architecture – the  temples, pagodas, churches and mosques that represent the traders, refugees and invaders who made the city their home over the centuries. The tour will take us into areas of the city that see few visitors.

 

Cu Chi Tunnels - the alternative tour

Our tour of the Vietnam War era Cu Chi tunnels 70kms from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) focuses on the history and solemnity of the site.  Most tours treat the tunnels complex like a theme park. We’ve created a tour that looks at the events that occurred and the remarkable achievement of determination that the tunnels represent. For that experience, we start early. We leave Saigon at 6.30AM !

About us

We have some old ideas about what makes great travel experiences. We’re interested in history, architecture, art, food – the stories – and the incredible changes sweeping our region. And we’d much rather be on the streets than sitting in a coach.

We’re a boutique company in every sense – offering an in-depth walking tour of Saigon, special interest tours and customised travel advice.

Our tours are designed by our founder, Mark Bowyer. Mark first set foot in Vietnam in 1990 when the country was opening its doors to the world. He’s been hooked ever since. Mark leads our “Vietnam by the book” Old Compass Travel Book Club tours which run a few times each year. They’re unique itineraries enhanced by Mark’s unique experience and interest in Vietnam.

Mark publishes the travel website www.rustycompass.com. He’s been photographing, filming and writing about travel in Vietnam for decades.  He’s fascinated by Vietnam’s incredible history, culture, language, architecture and the country’s economic development. Mark’s love of Vietnam imbues the tours he designs.

Vietnam is a visual feast for travellers. All the photos on this website and on Rusty Compass were shot by Mark.

Read more about Mark in this New York Times profile.

Duong, leads our Saigon – Tales of the City tour and  was born in the central province of Nghe An. Nghe An is one of Vietnam’s poorest provinces – but it’s also the proud home of Ho Chi Minh. She moved to Saigon as a child. Duong loves art, design and her country’s incredible history. She has worked in furniture design and production, architecture and in art galleries. Duong loves to share her stories, and the stories of her city. She co-owns Old Compass Travel and The Old Compass Cafe.

How to book

Email us at info@oldcompasstravel.com

Give us a call at +84 903 900 841

or visit us at The Old Compass Cafe - 3rd Floor, 63/11 Pasteur St., D1, HCMC

For more, check out www.oldcompasstravel.com

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Saigon shapes - pre 1975 offices of Shell Petroleum.