TRAVELLING STORY 2
Although the tours arranged by Smile Tours Service are well organized, the travellers still enjoy lots of spontaneous things on their own. Enjoy these stories!
I want to give you some feed back on everything you organised for us.
HCMC - Our highlight for the entire trip was you greeting us at the airport, with your wonderful smile and hospitality.
Dai Nam hotel - great location, friendly and helpful staff, clean rooms, good facilities.
Very good tour of HCMC - good length of time too, as we found throughout our trip, 3 hours tended to be the maximum time we felt comfortable in the summer heat.
The restaurant you took us to was fabulous - we have told many of our family and friends about this. Great atmosphere and fantastic food. A big thank you Thi, from all of us!
Train trip - a great experience, and a good contrast to the rest of our trip. The train arrived 3.5 hours late in Danang. If you book this for future tourists it would be best to warn them, as we could not communicate with the train officials. We were concerned we would miss our bus trip to Hoian - but of course Mr Tran (I think that was his name) was there to greet us. He was very friendly and his bus was very clean - I would thoroughly recommend him.
Hoian - we loved our hotel - the Ha An hotel - it did not have a swimming pool, but it was beautiful. Great location - walking distance to everything, great staff, just magic - that was our favourite hotel on the trip. That was our children"s favourite hotel they have ever stayed in. It is also voted the number one hotel in Hoian, on the Trip Advisor web site.
Our Red Bridge cooking class was fantastic - very beautiful river front, open air kitchen - even young Jake cooked and had a wonderful time. Definetly recommend this.
Hue - Our transfer to Hue was on time and very good. Our hotel (the Orchid) was in a good location, and it had the friendliest staff of all the places I have ever stayed, too. The rooms were stuffy though, clean but a little damp I think.
Hanoi - Our transfer to the airport was on time and efficient. Our pick up at Hanoi airport, as you know, had the wrong name on his paper. We thought it was one of the funniest moments of our trip - both of us ringing you and passing by one another for at least 30 minutes. The driver was very embarrased though. It is probably something to be aware of though, in the future.
The Majestic Hotel was in a very good location, had very helpful friendly staff, but the rooms needed upgrading - they were very old. Clean though and comfortable. This was recommended to me by a friend who stayed there last year. I am sure there are better hotels around, though.
Our guide, for our half day tour, was fantastic. Very intelligent, good humoured and fun. His English was fantastic too. I would thoroughly recommend him.
Our private junk you organised was one of the highlights too. It had just been refurbished, so it had new bathrooms and sleeping quarters. Lovely staff, too. It was a good idea booking a private junk, especially for a large group like ourselves - we could thoroughly relax and treat it like home.
Well, as I said before this holiday was the best we have ever had. We love Vietnam and it"s people - we feel especially connected because of you Thi - your kind hospitality and your wonderful organisation. We want to return and maybe see Myanmar, or Thailand as well, who knows?
Richards family & Snell family – Austrlia – July 2008
Hello there Thi,
How are you? I hope this email finds you well. We are settling down to life in Australia with everyone back at work, study etc. But we wish we were still in Vietnam!
Thank you so much for organising a brilliant holiday for us. We were so delighted to meet you, and thank you for taking such good care of us, not only when we were in HCMC, but also by phone, when we couldn"t link up with our driver in Hanoi! What a funny episode that was, we laughed so much! But is was reassuring that you were just on the end of the phone to sort things out!
We have so many beautiful memories, mostly of the lovely people we met. But we thought you might like to get some feedback from us - what worked, what we loved etc.
We loved our accommodation in HCMC; fantastic position and lovely hotel. The train was a huge adventure and well worth doing. Our accommodation in Hoi An was fabulous. The rooms were lovely, but it was also great for the group to have rooms all in a row on the top floor, so that we could get to each other"s room easily. The other advantage about being on the top floor was that no strangers walked past our rooms all the time, which happened to the people on the ground floor. So I would recommend a balcony room for sure. The set up was particularly good for families also, in that the (younger) children could be quite independent if they liked within very safe confines. Jake would just get up in the morning and go down and order breakfast at the restaurant by himself - very happily! If the children didn"t feel like exploring Hoi An for their evening meal, they could just order from the restaurant and then wander back to their rooms when they felt like it. It worked very well. The location also was very good. We liked being close to the old town and the market, and were very glad that we weren"t staying closer to the beach. Chris, Noah and I rode some bikes down to the beach which was a fun thing to do but we thought our hotel was better situated than the beach hotels. Our little hotel in Hue was also good - with the staff particularly friendly and obliging! Again a good location - the breakfast not quite up to the standard of Hoi An, but still good. They even put breakfast on early for us, when we had a very early departure on checkout day, which was kind.
The hotel in Hanoi was again in a good location but the rooms were not so good. I think Jenny had a recommendation from a friend about this one and we wondered if the friend had actually stayed in the sister hotel which was closer to the lake, rather than ours. They were both called the Salute, but ours was the MS Salute - bit confusing really.
Anyway, just for your information, some of the rooms had dodgy plumbing which meant that they smelled very damp. However, again the staff were very helpful and friendly. In any case musty smelling rooms had no detrimental effect on our spirits - we were having too good a time! Its just for your information.
The tour in Hanoi was also good and our drivers were all excellent except for the one who drove us to Halong Bay. His driving seemed to be more risky than we had experienced before and he did fall asleep at the wheel briefly on our return trip, which was scary. We felt for him as we didn"t know what his personal circumstances around being so tired, might have been. However, clearly it wasn"t great for us; but we survived!
In conclusion, we had a very happy time and have been singing your praises to anyone who will listen (!) and passing your details on to those who are thinking of/planning a trip to Vietnam. Thank you again
Thi, and all the very best,
love from all of the Snells, Anna, Chris, Laura, Noah and Jake – July 2008