Impressive and consistent support and organisation from all Realistic Asia staff- amazing! Can’t recommend highly enough 🤩
Vietnam | Nov 14 - Nov 25, 2023

Jayne
Jayne S.
New Zealand | Reviewed on Nov 30, 2023

Hien, was attentive and responded promptly throughout our experience with Realistic Asia from planning the itinerary to daily enquiry for feedback and on the last but one night we requested support to change hotel room, she was promptly right there on the phone and facilitated a change of room for us! Not
The accommodations chosen by Hien were a mix (on request) of 3 star to 4.5, the beds were incredibly comfortable in all places!
All of the staff were of this amazing high quality.
The travel guides were all so helpful, informative and fun-MsHa who picked us up from the airport, Ms Ngoc who showed us so much- Ba Bi Eco Tour, Ninh Binh- Tho Ha Village, Hanoi-Temple of Literature and Museum of Ethmology and Ms Zee our guide in Sapa on a trek, Ta Van Village homestay. We were so impressed by how attentive the guides were to our needs and were also able to accommodate changes when I developed a reaction to a covid booster before the trip and couldn’t trek or bike ride and both of our guides organised me to go by motorbike- amazing! The drivers, although spoke little English, managed to communicate effectively and were prompt, drove so expertly so that we felt comfortable and safe at all times.
We thoroughly enjoyed everything about our trip. We were continually surprised how attentive and supportive the whole experience from Realistic Asia was!

Hotel Reviews
Splendid Star Grand Hotel

The beds are so comfortable in this hotel. I consider this the most important thing in accommodations in order to get a good sleep. The hotel has sister locations that you may be accommodated in if you are travelling back and forth to Hanoi from trips outside Hanoi. The rooms are all different, we had family rooms and they were all spacious, one out of the three different rooms was tired in its bedroom decor but the bathroom was pleasant enough. One of the rooms was so lovely looking out towards St Joseph’s Cathedral and below is a karaoke bar; we thought the people performing were professionals, it sounded so good! This hotel- Splendid Starlight doesn’t have an elevator if that’s an issue for you though. The staff are fun, friendly and helpful. We did need to engage the support of our travel company to change one of the rooms though because it was around the corner, at a different hotel again, in what we considered, an inferior depressing room, but the staff did change us back to Splendid Star and we were happy with our room.

Authenticity & Character
All the rooms were different. All were spacious.
Location
Walking distance to Ho Kiem lake and in a shabby chic district with interesting shops and good eateries.
Staff
There were many different staff, happy to help and cheerful. The dining room staff were very attentive.
Cleanliness & Comfort
The rooms were clean. The decorating just needed a touch up.
New Livitrans Train

The bed mattresses are fairly thin and narrow. We used silk sleeping bag inners for extra warmth. We slept well on the train. The toilet was grubby and we didn’t see the sink until we we’re getting off the train because it was at the other end of the corridor. The complimentary water bottles, clean wipes and snacks were appreciated.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Cleanliness & Comfort
Cleaner toilet.
Local homestay
Sapa

This homestay is a main hostel type arrangement with bar and balcony dining area and cabins situated around a pretty pond. We were lucky to stay in a cabin, other trekkers we were with stayed in the hostel accomodation. Our cabin was very rustic, it had comfortable beds, and an ensuite. The bathroom has open brick sized vents to outside. We enjoyed the night time cold fresh air and snuggled under the covers but the room would be pretty cold in any temperature below 6-7 degrees at night and there’s no heating. The hosts were good at getting the party spirit going during dinner with the ‘happy water’, the meals were good, the trusty cooking lesson before dinner, and the atmosphere was convivial on the deck. We really enjoyed our stay here. Our fellow walkers complained about mattresses as thin as strips of cardboard and too few bedclothes and no sleep as a result. This may have been because their tour company changed their itinerary but they insisted on keeping the same one and thought they were bing punished. We thanked our lucky stars for having Realistic Asia for our tour company!

Lacasa Sapa Hotel

This hotel appears to have been one of the original grand hotels in Sapa but is quite tired now and in need of renovations. This has been attempted with murals on the walls up the stairs but although I’m fond of murals, it added to the feeling of shabbiness. The beds were comfortable though and this is my number one priority. The dining room was vast and the breakfast good and varied.

Le Clos Du Fil Hotel
Ninh Binh

I loved everything about this hotel. It was simply stunning down to every last detail. The room was very spacious. There were many extras in the decor to add to a feeling of comfort. I loved the little teapot set on a coffee table for the ubiquitous tea ceremony. The pool was fresh and clean, the gardens much more developed than the website photos and so lovely to spend our rest day enjoying the environment. The staff were respectful and attentive. I would love to stay here again.

Dragon Legend Cruise
Hon Gai

This overnight excursion was incredibly well organised. No time was lost on fitting in the maximum amount of activities in this short amount of time. The staff were incredibly enthusiastic and attentive and it felt like this was their maiden voyage! The boat has a wonderful authenticity and is tastefully decorated and there’s consistency between cabins from what I could tell. I loved this trip to Bai Tu Long Bay, but do have concerns for the environment there and was happy to hear the staff voice that this is starting to be addressed.

Activity Reviews
Sapa - Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van – Overnight at homestay (B/L/D) GROUP TOUR
Sapa - Y Linh Ho – Lao Chai – Ta Van – Overnight at homestay (B/L/D) GROUP TOUR
Sapa

This tour was very well organised, challenging enough in the trek but not too much. Good footwear is a must. The tour guide was so informative about the local culture. There was plenty of time to kick back and enjoy the company of fellow travellers, the food was great and plentiful, there were numerous opportunities to haggle with the locals over some beautifully crafted goods. It was a most enjoyable trip.

Quality of Experience
K
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Family trip to Ba Vi Eco Tour
Family trip to Ba Vi Eco Tour
Hanoi

The hosts were well organised, so friendly and attentive. The cooking class was fun to experience with other travellers and the group well managed. The food was amazing! The bike ride was enjoyable in the local countryside and the host and a tour guide had a lovely playful rapport they shared with us. We loved the tea plantation experience and meeting the couple, Mr Duc I think his name is was an American War veteran. We won’t forget his beautiful sharing of his experiences translated by the tour guide. It was fascinating tasting the different types of tea and I have a new found appreciation of my morning cuppa now!

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Hanoi Half Day City Tour & Water Puppet Show
Hanoi Half Day City Tour & Water Puppet Show
Hanoi

Our tour guide for this trip was as usual incredibly knowledgeable about The Temple of Literature and The Museum of Ethnology. We so enjoyed her company and felt like a friend to her. The tour guide graciously changed the itinerary at the last minute on my request due to health issues so that the walking wasn’t too much. As usual the tour was very well organised and we very much enjoyed our lesson on the vast culture of this country.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Hanoi - Tho Ha - Galaxy Grotto
Hanoi - Tho Ha - Galaxy Grotto
Vietnam

We loved this day with the hosts at Tho Ha. We didn’t realise what a special experience we were having until exploring Tam Coc that evening and seeing the mass tourism of the boats to be taken to the caves. Our experience was very individual. We had a bike ride and again our tour guide was able to arrange to take me on the back of a motorbike, a late change to arrangements; a cooking lesson, the wonderful trip to the Galaxy Grotto caves and a lesson on planting rice, and catching fish and crabs traditionally, all in the rice paddies on the farm. We did a lot but it didn’t feel too much or tiring. The host had a wonderful understated dry humour! I loved this activity day.

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Visit Bac Ha Market  ( Only on Sunday)
Visit Bac Ha Market ( Only on Sunday)
Sapa

Bac Ha Market wasn’t what I was expecting. It was super busy, a sensory over. It felt authentic but I understand for our guide that since the Chinese boarder has closed with Vietnam, there is no longer large livestock traded. I expected it to be open air in a field and not based in the streets of a town. I quite enjoyed the haggling for the beautiful crafts but didn’t enjoy my attention grabbed at every corner as soon as I showed an interest in something! The guide was incredibly helpful throughout the day, so attentive and energetic but although enjoyable, it was an exhausting experience.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Hien Do
Hien
Hien Do
Local specialist in Vietnam | Replied on Dec 01, 2023

Dear Jayne,
Thank you for your kind words and thorough feedback! I am so happy to hear you had a wonderful time during your time in Vietnam with your family and hope you visit us in the future again for your next adventures to Southeast Asia. I will pass on your kind words to the whole team ( ms Ha, ms Ngoc and Zee ) that you met during the trip.
Vietnam would love to have you back :) Maybe we will meet again someday
With my very best regards,
Hien