Vietnam: North to South (If I could rate Indochina Pioneer higher I would)
This was a once in a lifetime trip with my boyfriend and my Mum. I wanted everything to be perfect and with the help of Lam we had nothing to worry about. My Mum was travelling from the UK and my boyfriend and I from Australia. Lam helped to arrange transportation from the airport for the three of us, with our guide Huan meeting us at our different arrival times.
We started off in Hanoi where Huan did a fantastic job of guiding us around. It was then time to head up to Sapa. The overnight train was the only part of the trip that was not the greatest – it was cold and there were no extra blankets, and a little daunting as wasn’t quite sure where we were getting off. Thankfully on this trip, we got off at the end of the line. They are doing work on the tracks so the train was later in than expected, but we were met by the most wonderful guide, Maya. Maya made our trip to Sapa simply unforgettable. She had an incredibly warm personality and very quickly became a part of our family. We even met her Mother, Grandmother and Sister-in-law. She gave us a real opportunity to find out what it is like to live in Sapa – no question was ever too much. We had a trek into the villages whilst in Sapa – we weren’t expecting it be 12km, across rivers – but we look back now and treasure that time with Maya and her family.
We returned to Hanoi on the overnight train and jumped on the mini-bus to Halong Bay. (Each time we ended our train journey, there was a hotel arranged for us to have breakfast and a shower – they really had thought of everything). Halong Bay wasn’t quite what we were expecting. Huan made sure we got onto the correct boat (there were plenty) and we could start relaxing on the calm waters. The attractions we visited were what everybody else was doing so you did feel a little bit herded but it is a minor detail. The food and staff on our boat were great.
After Halong Bay it was back to Hanoi to catch the overnight train to Dong Hoi. This was a little nerve-racking as we were getting off mid-train journey – most people were going on to Hoi An. We awoke to ensure we got off at the right stop but once again there were works on the train line so it was delayed. We arrived in Dong Hoi and were very pleased to see our guide, Vu. Vu was a fountain of knowledge. We spent 6 days with him touring the caves at Dong Hoi, driving to Hue, Danang and then onto Hoi An. Hoi An is simply beautiful – not surprising that it is a ‘cultural heritage’ spot. I managed to have clothes made for me in Hue and Hoi An – I was told about this prior to arriving in Vietnam but wasn’t quite sure – it was awesome. I had 3 items made for me in 22 hours – incredible!
We had to say goodbye to Vu as we flew down to Saigon, where we were met by Tam. We were sad to say goodbye to all of our guides but each one was just as helpful and caring as the last – I am not sure how Indochina Pioneer have so many wonderful tour guides but they are an absolute credit to the company.
Saigon was not quite what we expected – so busy. It was a little bit of a shock as we hadn’t been in a city since Hanoi and this was even more hectic – scooters everywhere! And I’m not kidding…. Tam was wonderful in showing us around and then onto the Mekong Delta. I was really hoping to see the floating market but we didn’t have enough time for that in our trip. The only bit I personally was not comfortable with was the small boat down the river – but I needn’t have worried, we were perfectly looked after once again (it was just a bit rocky getting on and off with my camera!).
So this was our 14 day trip in a little detail! It was incredible – what we thought was going to be a once in a lifetime trip has really made us think about visiting other areas around because we know we could do this with Indochina Pioneer.
Our thanks go to Lam, Huan, Maya, Vu and Tam – without each one of these incredible people we would not have had the most amazing holiday.
As you can probably tell – I would recommend this company to anyone wanting to visit Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos – in fact I have already….