Amazing trip, fantastic organisation
Believe the rave reviews for Indochina Pioneer! We booked a 3 week tour of Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos with Indochina Pioneer and I can recommend them unreservedly. Very competitive prices for the attention and detail put into your trip – we just travelled as a couple so had individual attention. Superb. Great hotels and experiences and the guides/drivers were superb, it was like clockwork so time was really maximised. Great flexibility regards visits – Lam at Head Office in Hanoi was so friendly and helpful when we were booking the trip, he even came out to meet us at our hotel when we arrived. Hotel d’ Opera in Hanoi was brilliant – well worth eating there too, superb food.
The guides were really knowledgeable, spoke good English and knew exactly what times to visit places so that they were at their least busy. Exploring the temples round Angkor Wat was a real highlight and we were able to see most places with very few other tourists. Fascinating insight into the culture and diverse ethnic groups and you got the opportunity to see ordinary people in their homes/stilt houses etc which was so interesting. Such a pity that the US deliberately destroyed so much of Vietnam’s cultural heritage alongside 2 million civilians! The Imperial Palace at Hue was awesome even though 90% was destroyed by American bombs. You really wonder at their mentality but the Vietnamese seem amazingly forgiving and only look to the future.
Hanoi is a crazy city but we loved it once we had got over the initial culture shock. So many scooters/bikes/motor bikes and crossing the road by just stepping out and walking slowly across through the chaos takes some getting used to but we didn’t see any accidents – the riders and drivers aren’t at all aggressive and all give way easily. Halong Bay is well worth seeing unlike any place I’ve ever seen.
We loved Hoi An in Central Vietnam – great place for having clothes made but also many excellent places to eat. We were there for Tet, the New Year and it was so colourful. The Mekon Delta was very interesting and we took a boat up to Phnom Penh – we only had one night there but very interesting city and totally different to anywhere in Vietnam. Siem Reap and the temples is an absolute must see – truly awesome. The Cambodians were such nice peole even though they have had such an awful recent history – the US killed 600,000 during the Vietnamese war and opened the way for Pol Pot who wiped out another 2 million! I just hadn’t realised how much damage had been done across the whole region. Siem Reap isn’t particularly attractive as a town but there are loads of places to eat and some great bargains to be had in the shops and markets but be prepared to haggle.
We finished our trip at Luang Prabang in Laos, a very attractive French colonial town with some great restaurants and beautiful surroundings. Having guides and skilled drivers (and the drivers really were good, I wouldn’t dream of driving in the region!) made such a difference. It was like being royalty and having everything arranged for you and all you have to do is turn up. Everyone was so friendly and you always felt safe wherever you went. If you’re considering a trip to Indochina then I would look no further, these guys are local experts.