Best of Vietnam - 14 Days - Dec 23 - Jan 7, 2019
the trip was amazing and we were well looked after throughout! Especially the Tu Lan cave-trip was absolutely stunning and amongst the best I have ever experienced. The kids were completely in awe and we will all never forget the trip, the many friends we made and the many experiences we made. It is impossible to list all the other experiences but clearly, each component had its own value and exceeded our expectations.
Our guide for the food tour was very good, friendly, knowledgable and explained a lot.
Hung, our guide from Oxalis was amazing. He adapted the tour for us, added an additional cave (which required a lot more climbing), and was full of energy and fun.
Ni was an excellent guide with lots of energy making sure we always get the best out of it. She adapted the programme perfectly around the weather (rain, rain, rain) and our interests.
I have a few areas were changes could be possible (not to be regarded as criticism, just for future planning):
1.) Swimming in Ha Long is not allowed. Should be taken out of the description
2.) The hotel in Phong Nha (I think we were in a different than in the programme) was not the greatest. I would suggest two possible improvements: a) IF staying in this hotel it should be highlighted that they can wash the clothes from the treck but the laundry should be handed in before 6pm to avoid express charges - this could then be in the programme and used to plan packing and getting things clean and dry again after the treck. b) It would also be good to allow for a late breakfast. After the trek we were super-tired and a sleep-in, then breakfast, then cartrip would have been appreciated. b) Alternatively, rather than staying overnight in the Phong Nha area the car trip to Hue could be done immediately afterwards. This would allow us to sleep in the car but gain a whole day.
3.) The hotel in Hue was quite loud with lots of party across the road.
4.) In Hoi An the first fisherman experience was superb. Friendly, happy and "off the beaten path". The second fisherman village was then very touristy and a bit of a shock. The basket boat row could well have been done with the first fishermen (or skipped). Maybe alternatively, one could learn about local ways to grow crop and harvest and process it.
5.) The Mekong trip was interesting, but somehow less exciting than the previous parts of the trip. I had expected more nature and was a bit disappointed. In total we spent too much time driving relative to the experiences made. While it is important to understand that various religious groups live together in harmony (and I think it reached the kids that this is by no means the standard), the visit to the Cham village was rather disappointing. It also feels wrong to walk along a street and look at people. The floating market was nice but the number of tourists outnumbers the locals. Tra Su made up for it (but only lasted for about 1 hour).... We had fun in the evenings though, eating locally, strolling around and enjoying the locals (who enjoyed us...). If a "Mekong Experience" could be organised from HCM - maybe in combination with the tunnels it would save two days and a lot of driving. I would then rather spend another day or two in the Tu Lan area. Alternatively one could try to save a day and use the time to see Angkor What. It would also be nice if the car had internet for the long drives (the car from Pho Nah to Hue to Hoi An to Danang had internet which was very welcomed).
As said, these comments are not a criticism, we thoroughly enjoyed our journey, were exhausted from all the input (and still are), and thank you again for the great organisation and putting such a dense and exciting programme together.