I just wanted to let you know that our trip to Vietnam was wonderful, awesome and perfect in every way thanks to your help and the great local agency and guides in the country. The accommodations were great – in the case of the Victoria at Hoi An, incredible. The itinerary was a perfect balance of touring and relaxing.
Best of all were the guides and drivers that expertly shepherded us through your wonderfully planned itinerary with their great insights and knowledge of the regions. Not only did they know the important things to tell us but they also added in culture, custom and personal stories. Their outgoing and winsome personalities made us feel so content and comfortable. In particular, Dong in Hanoi has an incredible sense of conveying just the right background and history to make sights in Hanoi so interesting by sharing tidbits one would not find in a tour book or with a less engaging guide. When we asked him how the rice was grown and harvested he had the driver pull over, jumped out and plucked a small plant shoot and proceeded to give us a lesson in how rice is sown, grown, harvested and exported! His English is perfect, he led us to just the right restaurants and coffee shops and was so enjoyable to be with.
Although impossible to pick just one place or experience as the top highlight I think it was the bike day in Hoi An with the cooking lesson and lunch with the local family – what a unique experience of a lifetime that was! Ngoc, the family cook told us he taught himself English by watching American movies – which was probably true in that he has all the funny lines memorized. I think his meal was one of the best we had in the country. The guide there, Tho, clearly enjoyed his job and his enthusiasm shined through. He even suggested that we bring our laundry along on the bike ride and drop it off a a local laundry, for the experience as well as for the fact that we were able to have a whole load done for what one item would have cost at the resort. This is the kind of attentiveness these guides offered.
Ending our time in Saigon with Lam was a treat as well. He is so pleasant and being the seasoned guide that he is, could sense that my husband was really interested in the Reunification Palace and seemed to show him every broom closet with a story to tell. I really cannot think of a single thing I would change, except the time and traffic to get to the Mekong Delta (which you warned me about and is no reflection on the guide or driver). While the floating market is an incredible thing to experience we were mixed (two for and two against) as to whether we might have wanted to do something else in the country with the time and effort it took to take that in.
We were also blessed with some things that were not on the itinerary but nevertheless helped make the trip better — really nice weather (unusually so for this time of year according to the guides) and coming home the plane was not full so we ended up with a center seat to spread out a little which was a great treat, being so tired with such a long trip ahead of us. So, much thanks for your time and expertise. We can’t wait to share our photos and stories with friends and we’re sure some will want to be in touch with you themselves.
Carrie embarked on a Highlights of Vietnam custom tour arranged by our expert in Vietnam vacation packages, Travel Specialist Tom Lastick. This was Carrie’s first trip with Asia Transpacific Journeys, and we hope to help her and her family plan another trip to Asia in the future.