Flagler College: Vietnam Study Abroad Program (2023)


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Orlando, Florida
Max People : 15
Tour Details


June 20 – July 2, 2023

Program Name

The American War: The Struggle for Independence in Vietnam


Dr. Butler

Departure & Return Location

Orlando, Florida


Flagler College Students



Day 1
Travel to Vietnam

Fly overnight to Vietnam

Day 2
Ho Chi Minh City
  • Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and receive a guided tour of the city. The class will have a traditional welcome meal together on our first evening in the country.
  • There will be cultural activities scheduled for the day, such as possible visits to the Central Post Office (in the French architectural style and designed by Eiffel), Notre Dame Cathedral, Cao Dai Temple, Emperor Jade Pagoda, and the city’s Vietnam History Museum.

COURSE MISSION: To orientate students with the most important landmarks in the city related to its history (including but not limited to the Vietnam War).

Day 3
Ho Chi Minh City
  • Visit the War Remnants Museum (Ho Chi Minh City): The museum formerly known as “The House for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government” has a number of items directly pertaining to the war. The museum will give students the opportunity to reflect on how items are displayed and labeled for propagandistic purposes in Communist countries.
  • Free time at Ben Than market (Ho Chi Minh City): The class will have a true Vietnamese cultural experience when we visit a night market and sample the local fare.

COURSE MISSION: This day centers on the Vietnam War and will take the class to three of the most important sites related to the conflict located in and around the city. At night, the course will include a cultural experience that has been and remains central to residents in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 4
Cù Chi region + Ho Chi Minh City
  • Travel to Cù Chi region
  • Take a guided Cù Chi Tunnel tour: the 124-mile underground network that the Viet Cong used during its wars against the French and Americans. It was an integral part of the way the Vietnamese waged war against the larger, better equipped US army. Students will spend time at the complex and have the opportunity to enter parts of the maze which, according to site literature, reveals “the will of determination, wisdom, pride of Cu Chi people, as the symbol of the Vietnamese people’s revolutionary heroism.”
  • Visit the Reunification Palace (Ho Chi Minh City): This was the home of the South Vietnamese president during the Vietnam War and served as the US embassy, where diplomats were evacuated from its rooftop on April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese Army seized Saigon.

COURSE MISSION: This day centers on the Vietnam War and will take the class to three of the most important sites related to the conflict located in and around the city. At night, the course will include a cultural experience that has been and remains central to residents in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 5
Cai Be
  • Take an excursion to Cai Be, a region outside of the city where some of the most contested villages of the Vietnam War exist. The course readings will prepare students to understand the importance of these traditional rural villages.
  • At Cai Be, the class will experience another important aspect of Vietnamese culture when we board a traditional longboat and travel through the region’s floating markets. The boats pull up to stalls, stores, and shops where locals buy their daily needs.
  • Return to Ho Chi Minh City.

COURSE MISSION: To expose students to the importance of rural areas to both the Communist and American efforts during the
Vietnam War and to, once again, experience a traditional rural Vietnamese custom.

Day 6
Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat
  • The next two days takes us to the Central Highlands region, the native home of the indigenous Montagnards (‘Mountain Peoples). The class with transfer from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat, the largest city in the Central Highlands. Dalat is called “City of Eternal Spring” by the Vietnamese due to its moderate climate.
  • The French created the retreat area during their occupation of ‘Indochina,’ and city still possesses numerous examples the architectural style that characterized the colonial period.
  • The class will visit the palace of Bao Dai, whom the French installed as monarch during the colonial era. Bao Dai was the ‘Last Emperor’ of Vietnam, and his mansions were used as a summer residence for the presidents of the Republic of Vietnam through the nation’s collapse in 1975.
  • Along the way we will be stopping at various monuments and shrines erected after the Vietnam War. This 6 hour drive will allow students to get a more personal view of how the war has affected the local hinterland populations as we stop and connect more intimately with how the local population views the aftermath of the War and previuso French occupation.

COURSE MISSION: This day connects the ‘American War’ to its colonial past, particularly the period of French occupation. Bao Dai remains a controversial figure in Vietnamese history and, in visiting his former palace, students will evaluate how he is portrayed by the government in modern times.

Day 7
Dalat to Pleiku
  • Today we fly from Dalat to Pleiku. Upon arrival we will head to a lecture and lunch. After this we head out on a walking tour of Pleiku, the most important area of the highland region during the American war. It was in Pleiku that the US established an armed presence early in the conflict. A Viet Cong attack on Camp Holloway in February 1965 (which killed 7 and wounded 104 servicemen) led President Johnson to begin the bombing of North Vietnam and ultimately increase the number of ground troops sent to the country.
  • We will see the Camp Holloway site, which is now a PAVN training base, then visit the Minh Thanh Pagoda, a Buddhist architectural complex, and Kon Ka Kinh National Park.

COURSE MISSION: Our final day in the Central Highlands will emphasize the importance of geography in understanding how the American War progressed and emphasize the centrality of Buddhism and the natural landscape in the conflict’s development.

Day 8
Pleiku, My Lai, and Danang
  • This morning we awaken early and start our longest drive up through the interior of Vietnam towards My Lai. While this will certainly be a long drive and day, there will be plenty of stops along the way to view sites that are important in learning about the conflict.
  • Along the way we will visit the village of My Lai, the site of an infamous massacre in which American troops killed over 300 civilians, including women, children, and the elderly. The class will also visit the city museum and the site where the event occurred. We may have the opportunity to meet a man who survived the day.
  • Arrive in Danang: An important port city in Vietnam that is located near the old border that separated the North and South during the war. Da Nang harbor was one of the most heavily mined bays in South Vietnam during the conflict.

COURSE MISSION: To place the most publicized American atrocity into proper historical context. The course will provide readings to give students an intellectual understanding of the My Lai massacre, which will raise several questions about the American presence in Vietnam and how the Vietnamese understood its military presence. Today allows students to combine knowledge and experience by visiting the place where the event actually happened – the magical combination that happens only in Study Abroad programs like this.

Day 9
Hue – The DMZ & Khe Sanh
  • Hue is the former Vietnamese capital and remains the country’s intellectual and cultural center. The city switched hands many times during the Vietnam War and was the site of some of the conflict’s most brutal battles. Most importantly, the NVA held Hue longer than it held any other city during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
  • Experience more remnants of the American War during a visit to the region still tragically known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Names such as Khe Sanh, the Rockpile, the Ben Hai River, and Quang Tri still evoke deep emotions of the war, and are on today’s itinerary.
  • At the end of the French occupation in 1954, the Geneva conventions divided Vietnam along this section of the 17th parallel, with Ho Chi Minh and his army in control of the North and the US-backed Ngo Dinh Diem in charge of the South.
  • Throughout the American War, the DMZ became one of the heaviest bombarded regions in the history of combat, which culminated in the 77-day siege of Khe Sanh and the complete destruction of Quang Tri by North Vietnamese forces in 1972. The region remains scarred from the effects of war, as the landscape will demonstrate.

COURSE MISSION: To visit one of the most crucial places in the war’s military operation – the 17th Parallel. Students will experience the environmental impact of history on people and places, which deepens understanding of the long-term impact of the independence struggle in contemporary Vietnam.

Day 10
  • In Hue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, our guide will lead the class on a visit to the Tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, two of the most powerful and influential Vietnamese emperors.
  • Take a boat excursion on the Perfume River, where the class will visit the 200-year old city Citadel, the Tomb of Minh Mang, and the Thien Ma Pagoda. Each site is located in the center of imperial Hue, reflects the influence of Chinese and French occupational periods, and is situated in a lush jungle landscape. The Citadel is an incredible visit, where the most intense fighting of the Tet Offensive occurred.
  • After our visit to the Citadel, the class will drift down the Perfume River, whose winding flow splits Hue.
  • Take a night train north to Hanoi.

COURSE MISSION: Another day that will place Vietnamese history into a context that goes well beyond its war with America. Hue provides a physical setting and history that link the nation’s imperial past and its war against America. Students will also see first-hand why the Tet Offensive was most successful here, and will learn about some tactics (both military and psychology) the communists used during the monumental campaign.

Day 11
  • Arrive in Hanoi and take a guided tour of Vietnam’s capital city.
  • Visit the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where its namesake is interred in a mausoleum. We will also visit the Ho Chi Mihn Museum which, the facility proclaims, “is designed to show the (Vietnamese people’s) deep gratitude to the President’s great merits and to express their determination to study and follow His though, morality, and style, to make joint efforts to build Viet Nam into a country of peace, unity, independence, democracy and prosperity, which is friendly to the world’s peoples.”
  • Stop at Hoi La Prison, the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” where American Prisoners of War such as John McCain were held. The prison is now a museum dedicated to the POW experience, both American and Vietnamese.
  • Take a guided walk at Hoan Kiem Lake, which encircles the mystical Turtle Tower.
  • Visit the Temple of Literature, where Vietnam’s first University is still located.

COURSE MISSION: The visit will allow students to compare the capital of the former North Vietnam to the capital of the former South Vietnam, which is Ho Chi Minh City, and provides a stark reminder that the nation is still divided by region on many levels. The day will also give students a perspective on the importance of Ho Chi Minh to contemporary notions of Vietnamese national identity. The day is heavily centered upon the Vietnam War, with the visits to the Hoi La Prison and the Ho Chi Minh Complex.

Day 12
Ha Long & Bay Cruise
  • Travel 105 miles from Hanoi to the Quang Ninh Province for a visit to Ha Long and a magnificent cruise of the Ha Long Bay.
  • This area supplied the NVA with vast amounts of coal and was the gateway to the country’s Chinese trade, so it was the focus of intense US bombing during the war.
  • The area is one of immense beauty, with over 1900 islands and inlets, numerous caves on the uninhabited hollow islands, a seascape of limestone pillars, and floating fishing villages.
    The region was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2012.
  • Visit Dinh Huong Island, Sung Sot Cave, and either view the sunset atop Titov Mountain OR take a bamboo rowboat ride to one of the numerous bay lagoons.
  • Tonight, our boat will anchor in a peaceful spot where we will have dinner on deck (weather permitting). We sleep onboard tonight!

COURSE MISSION: Today is another valuable day that takes students beyond the ‘American War’ and examines the nation from a much wider cultural angle. The region’s physical beauty, natural wonder, and long-standing fishing culture reinforces the program concept that Vietnam (particularly to its inhabitants) is much more than a War.

Day 13
Ha Long Bay to Hanoi
  • Return to Hanoi and visit the Vietnam Military History Museum.
  • The Museum glorifies the nearly century-long Vietnamese struggle against the French, Japanese, and Americans.
  • The space outside of the museum is remarkable. First, view one of the city’s symbols – a large stone Flag Tower – that is almost 200 years old and has flown a Vietnamese flag constantly since October 1954. Second, see the surreal ‘artifacts garden’ that is a collection of tanks, planes, and helicopters captured during the American War.

COURSE MISSION: The travel experience ends by capping the program theme in a very direct manner. The museum demonstrates that the Vietnamese War for Independence was a long struggle against imperial occupation that its people consider central to its contemporary national identity. This is a museum that also highlights the artifact collection and display techniques of a Communist nation and serves as a great juxtaposition to the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 14
Travel Home

Price Includes

  • All Inclusive
  • Rountrip AirfareFrom Orlando, Florida
  • Airport Fees/Taxes/Transfers
  • Hotels
  • Meals
  • Translator
  • Admission Fees
  • Transportation
  • Tour Guide(s)
  • Health Insurance

Price Excludes

  • Private ExpensesSnacks, gifts, shopping, etc.
  • Alcohol not included

Payment can be made in full or following the payment schedule below. Tuition for FlagSHIP programs is provided by the college, students will not be charged for tuition.  More details including how payments can be made can be found here.

Total Price


Includes $75 study abroad administrative fee added upon course registration

Deposit #1


Due:  December 1, 2022

Deposit #2


Due:  February 1, 2023

Final Payment


Due:  March 1, 2023