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Old 10-30-2011, 10:09 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,352,353 times
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Anyone here been to Vietnam? My parents have been, and they say it's pretty easy to get around (they did it by themselves though), but I am looking at doing a private tour - i.e. just myself with an English speaking guide/driver, I wonder if anybody has any experience doing this in Vietnam.

The one I am looking at is with Asia King travel

Vietnam Tours, Vietnam Tour, Vietnam Travel, Vietnam Holiday, Vietnam Vacations, Vietnam Trip, Vietnam vacation, Trip Vietnam, Tours Vietnam, Tour Vietnam, Vietnam Traveling

I am generally trusting, but it's hard to know if they are reputable/might try to cheat you or something.

Any advice/experiences/reviews appreciated.

Thanks, John
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Old 11-03-2011, 03:41 PM
 
Location: SWUS
5,421 posts, read 7,887,191 times
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Yes, I have been to Vietnam. I will PM you shortly.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:36 PM
 
12 posts, read 31,176 times
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Vietnam has a long way to go, when it comes to tourism. Let me just say that if you book something on there, don't be surprised if it isn't what you booked.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,221,895 times
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If you want a private tour, there is no reason to book it in advance. Just buy your plane ticket and check into a convenient hotel when you arrive, then get up the next morning and look for a guide. That way you can check out their credentials and reputation on the ground, and ask around for recommendations.

My personal experience (from 15 years ago) is that Vietnam is the least trustable country in the world, which means you can only trust 98% of the people, instead of 99%. I had a few uncomfortable experiences there, and at that time, there was very little travel infrastructure in place yet for foreign travelers. Tour guide facilities were set up for a few destinations of touristic interest, but moving about on your own was very difficult. I assume it is a lot easier and better organized now.

Go to YouTube and search for videos of /hanoi traffic/, to get an idea what you are in for. Walking across a street in Hanoi is definitely an experience of a lifetime, in the category of skydiving or crocodile wrestling.
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Old 11-06-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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We've backpacked thru Vietnam... no travel agency, no guides, no itinerary, didn't speak a word of Vietnamese, just winged it, fairly easy.

It has become pretty popular among Euros and Aussies so there is a relatively solid indie traveler infrastructure in place. Yes there are scammers but pretty much same stuff you encounter in places like Thailand or India. Don't do a packaged tour, you can accomplish the same with much more flexibility by arranging things locally.

To cross street in Hanoi or Saigon either:
1. Cross with steady pace making eye contact with approaching drivers, they'll go around you like a stone in a stream
2. Wait for a local to cross and use human shield technique by keep pace with them
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:26 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,352,353 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
If you want a private tour, there is no reason to book it in advance. Just buy your plane ticket and check into a convenient hotel when you arrive, then get up the next morning and look for a guide. That way you can check out their credentials and reputation on the ground, and ask around for recommendations.

My personal experience (from 15 years ago) is that Vietnam is the least trustable country in the world, which means you can only trust 98% of the people, instead of 99%. I had a few uncomfortable experiences there, and at that time, there was very little travel infrastructure in place yet for foreign travelers. Tour guide facilities were set up for a few destinations of touristic interest, but moving about on your own was very difficult. I assume it is a lot easier and better organized now.

Go to YouTube and search for videos of /hanoi traffic/, to get an idea what you are in for. Walking across a street in Hanoi is definitely an experience of a lifetime, in the category of skydiving or crocodile wrestling.
The traffic does look scary, that's probably my biggest worry. I'll just do what everybody else is doing!

So it's pretty easy to arrange a private tour/guide? I am sure that will come in handy, especially in the more remote areas.

Yes I will try to err on the side of caution, without being paranoid about things.
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Old 11-07-2011, 07:09 AM
 
8,266 posts, read 10,705,471 times
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You won't have to make much effort to arrange a tour or guide, they'll come to you. Hotels and guesthouses make nice commissions arranging trips/treks/etc. so if where you are staying can't book things directly they can certainly point you in the right direction.

For example you tell guesthouse you want to take the train the next morning. You pay them for the tickets, they get on their cell phone and babble in Vietnamese for a bit, and a half hour later some kid shows up on a scooter with train tickets. Costs a bit more than if you had bought at train station but factoring in cost of getting to train station it can end up a wash.

Common problem in Vietnam = taxi drivers lying. You say go to Hotel A they might take you to Hotel B where some guy who can speak some English is waiting for you out front either claiming that it is your hotel it just changed names, or that Hotel A burned down or closed recently so their guests have been rebooked here. Pretty harmless stuff, we'd make sure to not put our backpacks in the trunk so we could threaten the walk off and you'll eventually get your way and arrive at your actual destination.

Another angle is if taking taxi to bus station make sure you arrive at the real bus station, not a travel agency claiming they are the bus stop. Their minivan that costs 4x more is not the long distance bus you want.
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:45 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,352,353 times
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Thanks for the very helpful advice slackjaw. I will keep all of that in mind. I am thinking of travelling by train, is that what you did? I've traveled on an old rickety train in China so that is what I'm expecting.
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Old 11-07-2011, 11:33 AM
 
Location: City of Angels
2,935 posts, read 4,764,328 times
Reputation: 2236
where you plan on going in vn
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:56 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
9,593 posts, read 17,165,375 times
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I've been and I'm going to say that you must not miss Halong Bay--it's absolutely gorgeous. You can buy a bus ticket from Hanoi to Saigon or vice versa and have 3 stops on the way. We stopped and stayed in Hue, Hoi An, and Da Lat. All were wonderful and we were lucky enough to get into Hoi An for the full moon, when they light all the lanterns in the town and the weather was perfect--it was beautiful. In Da Lat, there is a beautiful lake and our favorite attraction was the Crazy House, a hotel that has been handbuilt by a very eccentric lady and each of the rooms is themed--if you like stuff like that or ever liked treehouses as a kid, you'd love this. We also booked a tour into the Mekong Delta and that was beautiful--we really liked Vietnam a lot and had no problems with the language and while short tours are fine, I don't think you'd need a tour for the whole trip, but that's just me--I chafe at the restrictions of even a short tour and with our one in the delta, it almost caused us major problems, since I found bedbugs in our hotel room and asked for a switch, but there was only one other room to switch to and even then we had to sleep on the floor. It's harder to change rooms on a tour, and practically impossible to change hotels.
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