"Travel with an old compass"
Welcome to Old Compass Travel
We run heritage tours of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Sydney, Australia, focused on history, architecture, religion and the contemporary life of the cities. Everything we do is small-scale and unique. Our people are dedicated specialists.
We also operate specialised tours for schools and universities, expert talks, and unique corporate events mixing education and fun activities in Ho Chi Minh City and Sydney.
WE'VE BEEN WELCOMING GUESTS AGAIN FOR MONTHS AFTER TWO YEARS OF COVID DISRUPTION. WE'D LOVE TO SEE YOU!
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.
Join Mark Bowyer in 2023 on an unforgettable journey through the history, culture, cuisine and unique beauty of Vietnam. We use the works of three distinguished authors to help us along our way. Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Duong Van Mai Elliott’s Sacred Willow and Nguyen Qui Duc’s Where the Ashes Are, tell different tales of Vietnam’s modern history. Our reading will bring meaning and shared insights to the places we visit. We’ll travel and read beyond these books. Read on - we've created a uniquely engaging itinerary reflecting our decades of experience.
In 2023 we're also offering an extension to the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap. Let us know if you're interested.
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SYDNEY TALES OF THE CITY IS BACK! JOIN US FOR A UNIQUE WALK OF HISTORY AND SYDNEY'S STUNNING BEAUTY
Sydney - Tales of the City is a unique walk through Sydney's past. With the intimacy and low-impact of a small group (maximum 8) we experience history, architecture and energy as we walk the streets and parks of Australia's oldest and largest city. We'd admire Sydney's spectacular beauty, its buildings, gardens and harbour, as we look at the improbable journey, that transformed a violent penal colony, into one of the world's most admired modern cities. $95per person incl. 10% GST expert guide and harbourside drink.
An alternative walking tour of Sydney’s historic Rocks district. With the intimacy and access of a small group (8 or less), we'll see where the harsh convict settlement of New South Wales was established in 1788. And where the long history of invasion and dispossession of the continent’s First Peoples began. Some of the best preserved remnants of colonial Sydney are found here, right by Sydney’s spectacular harbour and in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Tales of crime, intrigue and developer battles, lurk in cobblestone lanes and alleys that also became home to Sydney's first Chinatown district. The Rocks has been at the centre of Sydney’s most bitter heritage conservation campaigns.
We have some old ideas about what makes great travel experiences. We’re interested in history, architecture, art, food – the real stories. We’re also interested in the contemporary life of the places where we operate. We’d much rather be walking the streets than sitting in a coach.
We’re a boutique company in every sense – offering in-depth walking tours of Saigon and Sydney, longer special interest tours and customised travel advice.
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. Duong moved to Saigon as a child. She 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.
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. These are unique itineraries enhanced by Mark’s unique experience and interest in Vietnam, Cambodia, and now, back in Australia.
Since 2020 Mark has been curating experiences in Sydney and now we have two special walks in Australia’s biggest and best-known city.
Mark publishes the travel website www.rustycompass.com. He’s been photographing, filming and writing about travel in Vietnam for decades. Rusty Compass is now covering Australia too. Mark’s long been 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. And now he is bringing his approach to travel home to Sydney.
ll the photos on this website and on Rusty Compass were shot by Mark. Sydney is a photogenic feast too – and you can check out Mark’s evolving impressions of Sydney at Rusty Compass here.
Read more about Mark in this New York Times profile.
Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or come and visit us in Saigon at
The Old Compass Cafe
3rd Floor, 63/11 Pasteur St., Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.