This travel company was extremely responsive especially with such a short timeline. I booked the trip, and was on the ground in less then 3 days. There were some difficulties with drivers and guides throughout the trip, but this travel company made an effort to make it right. Overall, I enjoyed seeing the highlights in Vietnam and look forward to going back and exploring further, especially in the more remote areas.
* The Halong Bay Cruise was incredibly beautiful and relaxing. The old fashioned Junk boats were well run and the food was delicious. I caught a squid while night fishing!* Hoi An had a beautiful beach and I enjoyed staying closer to Old Town.* The Mekong Delta home stay was exactly what I was looking for in my trip to Vietnam. Good food, seeing the island villages and biking to the various markets. The local guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. I also enjoyed the group cooking class at the homestay.
* I didn't realize Ha Long Bay was such a long drive from Hanoi. I would have booked a longer cruise, 3 days 2 nights instead of 2 days 1 night. A more active trip, focused on kayaking in the area would also be a great option.* Open Jaw flights would have been more efficient, especially on such a short flight. Next time, I would fly into Hanoi and return through Ho Chi Minh. This trip spend too much time at the airport.
Problem on the trip:
The driver in Hanoi was quite rude and did not communicate well with me.
On the way to Ha Long Bay, he did not tell me how long the trip would be. When we stopped at the rest stop, all he said was "Toilet" and drove off. I had no idea where to meet him, and was waiting for him after less then 5 minutes at the door where he dropped me off. After waiting for 10+ minutes, I asked one of the salespeople and they told me I was supposed to wait on the other side of the building. Overall, I was at the rest stop for 45 minutes, with nothing to do. I understand the driver needed a break, but he did not tell me the stop was for anything besides a bathroom break.
On the way back to Hanoi from Ha Long Bay, I requested that I be dropped off in Hanoi instead of at the airport, since there was a 3 hour difference between our estimated return time and my flight. I understood that this was not in the itinerary, and would have been willing to take a taxi or book my own car from Hanoi. The driver argued with the tour company and my Ha Long Bay guide for almost an hour. This was a waste of my time and his. After he agreed to drop me off in Hanoi for less then an hour, I was still unsure if he would come back to pick me up and take me to the airport. Since this is a private tour, I thought I would have some flexiblity, as needed. The driver's attitude was unacceptable.
This travel company is aware of the driver mix-up in Hoi An and offered a free dinner to make up for it.
The guide that picked me up in Ho Chi Minh City slept most of the first day he was with me. At first I joked with him, why do I need 2 guides, if you're not doing anything? He explained to me that he was the guide from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta, but the local guide in Mekong Delta knew more about the sights. He slept on the boat, slept at the homestay, and did not add any value at all the first day. The next morning, we were supposed to go for a bike ride and he begged off, saying he was tired. Only after I spoke to the local guide and told her I planned to complain, did he change his tune and all of a sudden decide to accompany us on the bike ride. As we were leaving on the boat, we all waited for him for over 15 minutes on the boat, while he packed and changed after eating a late breakfast. Even if he was jetlagged, there was no excuse for his unprofessional behavior.
Travel Company's Response to Traveler's Feedback Above
I have discussed at length with our team in Vietnam to investigate the issues arising from Ms. Chao's complaint.
As for the driver in Hanoi, he expressed his sincere apologies for his limited English and that he should have been more proactive to look around for Ms. Chao to continue the journey to Halong Bay earlier to avoid waste of time at the rest stop. Another point that we have agreed among our team is that our personal tour operator should have briefed Ms. Chao before the tour that most of Vietnamese driver can speak very little English and brief our guests about timing for rest stop en-route to Halong Bay. More importantly, we will always arrange an English speaking guide from now on for all the tour to Halong Bay to ensure smooth transfers between Hanoi and Halong Bay.
He also explained he reluctant to drive to Hanoi on the return as he was afraid that he would encounter heavy traffic and might be traffic jam later on the way from Hanoi to the airport as later would be rush hour in Hanoi. He also agreed that he should not have lose his temper while driving and should have personal tour operator to explain the situation, and has requested us to convey his apologies. We will keep one eye on his performance and will surely stop the contract with him if there is another single complaint on him.
We’re sorry about the mix-up at the airport in Danang as I also received a phone call from Ms. Chao and checked for the driver straight away. It was a shame as I figured out that our driver brought with him a wrong welcome board. Thus, Ms. Chao did not recognized it was her driver. This is, incidentally, the first time we have had a mixed up. Ihave seriously talked with our local supplier in Danang and Hoi An and he is sure that won’t happen again to any future clients.
We also would like to apologize to Ms. Chao for the regretful behaviour of the guide appointed for her to the Mekong Delta excursion. Mr. Loc is one of our experienced tour guides and he has been highly appreciated by many of our clients. In his report, he confessed that he was tired due to the long-haul flight from US, following by a five-day guiding tour to Nha Trang just before this tour. He has expressed much sorrow for this unhappy circumstance, and has requested us to convey his apologies. However, he should have been more straight forward and informed us about his health status so that we could arrange another guide for Ms. Chao. From Ms. Chao’s comments, we’ve decided to cease the contract with Mr. Loc for two months and we might not use him for any of our future tours.
While we have acknowledged this shortcoming, we’ve also decided to arrange only one guide for the trips to the Mekong Delta. Our guides will start the tours from Ho Chi Minh City and we will only use a local guide for special interest tours to the Mekong area.
Please kindly extend my heartfelt apologies to Ms. Chao for any disappointment encountered during her tour with us, and also to you personally for your kind attention to these matters.
With all necessary actions taken, I believe that we will operate all future tours smoothly and there won’t be any complaint again from our clients. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.
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