The trip went smoothly and the women who organized the trip, was extremely responsive by email and was able to make numerous changes to the proposed itinerary without issue. Overall the trip was moderately priced and there were no major snags. I have two main complaints. First was that we spent two nights sleeping on a train. I have spent many nights on a train and do not have issue with this in itself. However, when my brother and I arrived to the train, I was surprised to see that instead of having a private cabin, we were booked into a small cabin that slept 4 people and we had both an upper and lower bunk. This is a mode of travel usually reserved for back-packers and that constituted the other 98% of people on the train. Fortunately, the people who we shared the train with on both legs of the trip were nice but this does not constitute "luxury" travel which is what I expect when booking on this site and is what I specified to our agent when I set up the trip with her. Although my brother and I are in our early 40s and can easily hop up and down from the top bunk in the middle of the night, this may be a major issue with many people. In retrospect, this information was buried in the fine print, but I would have been more than happy to spend the extra $75-$100 each way for a private cabin if I was given that option. In addition, when were arriving to Lo Cai, we were told that we had an area to shower and refresh. To do so, we were directed to a room just above the restaurant in which we were having breakfast. The room that we were sent to was filthy and dingy. I have travelled to many parts of the world and have showered in many places but this was truly nasty. In addition, the towels that we were provided were little more than falling apart rags, but at least they were dry. My brother, who is relatively adventurous, refused to use the facilities. Again, this would have been fine when I was 20 and backpacking, but when I book a luxury vacation, this is not acceptable. The kicker is that Hanoi to Sapa is only 3.5 hours by car and I would have been much happier to sleep in a nice hotel and drive instead of taking the train. Other than that, the tour was fine. I was happy that I booked my own hotel rooms.
Sapa and Halong Bay
Drive to Sapa and back
TRAVEL COMPANY REPLY:
Dear Mr. K,
Thank you for sending us your thoughts and opinions about your time in Vietnam. We value feedback very highly and use it to improve our service.
We are sorry to know that the overnight train to Lao Cai and the refreshing room were not good enough to become one of the meaningful highlights as the others in your trip. I regret any inconvenience you have experienced and assure you that we are anxious to retain you as a satisfied customer.
We always aim to provide our travelers with excellent 4 and 5 star ranked hotels; however you chose to book your own accommodations. As you mentioned you had booked 3 star accommodations only, we thought you may not be interested in the upgrades we could provide to luxury, high-end services such as a private cabin on the train to Lao Cai; while we thought we had mentioned you would share the cabin of 4 berths and it may have limited services and facilities, we apologize for not making this more clear to you up front. With using mini hotels for your refreshment, this is not something we have had a complaint about before, but we did copy your comments to that hotel and will certainly look into further alternative for coming groups.
Please note we always suggest the transfer and tour activities based on clients’ time and requirement. When you planned the trip, you mentioned that your time is limited, so we offered tour to Sapa by overnight train. The car transfer on the new highway between Hanoi and Sapa will take 4,5 hours and you will travel during the day time, which you will only have 1 day and 1 night in Sapa, not as much time as taking the overnight train. I am sure train travel is your best option. Finally, on behalf of our staff members, many thanks for traveling with our company - we loved working with you. We look forward to seeing you again one day and we will do better to serve you.
With Best Wishes,
Your Travel Company Specialist
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