My friend and i are 21yr old students from Singapore, and we're looking for 2 people to share the cost of a 4WD tour to Northeast Vietnam in early June 2008.
Day 01: Hanoi – Bac Kan - Ba Be National Park
Day 02: Boating around Ba Be lake
Day 03: Ba Be – Bac Me – Ha Giang
Day 04: Ha Giang – Quan Ba – Yen Minh – Dong Van – Meo Vac
Day 05: Meo Vac – Ha Giang – Viet Quang
Day 06: Viet Quang – Tuyen Quang – Hanoi
The operator is Vega Travel (formerly Fansipan Tours). More info about them here: http://www.vega-travel.com
We plan to do the tour in the 1st week of June. If you're outdoorsy, want to learn more about vietnamese culture, and interested in joining us please email me at email@example.com. Thanks
#1 kongxh has been a member since 23/4/2008. Posts: 13
Part of your journey possibly involves an area where internal 'visas' (permits) are required from police. Make sure the guide knows the area well otherwise you may end up in confined in a hotel prior to being 'deported' to other parts of VietNam.
Vega Travel changed their name from FanSiPan as their reputation under their old name was too notorious. Things haven't changed much, judging by comments from other customers. Their sign still hows FanSiPan - too cheap to repaint?
Remember, Ha Noi has more crooked 'travel agents' than any other place in VietNam (or Indochina).
Before putting your money down on any guided tour I suggest you meet the guide and make sure you can communicate with them and that their 'style' is compatible with yours.
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
Regarding the reliability of the company, most of the comments i've seen on forums are positive in that regard. And they don't seem to be tout-ed replies.
Have you had any personal experience with Vega/Fansipan? I understand that there are a whole bunch of fake Fansipan companies, just like Sinhcafe. Would that be the main reason for the bad reputation?
Yes, i agree with your advise on getting to know the guide better before commiting to the tour. I guess in the end it boils down to the reputation of the tour agency.
#3 kongxh has been a member since 23/4/2008. Posts: 13
There are a total of 17 complaints against Vega over the past 6 years (including their former name).
The complaints vary from money-based through tour quality.
Remember, VietNam is no Singapore when it comes to regulation of companies / travel agents and Ha Noi is the most notorious in VietNam! Don't be impressed by web sites or promises.
When I say "communicate with them" I mean you can understand what they say, and vice versa. There are more Chinese speaking-people in the north than in HCMC so maybe you can get lucky.
The China/VietNam border is a 'hot' area because of smuggling and, more particularly, border re-alignment (land given back to China) which is a bit of hot political subject and resulted in a few people ending up in jail! Parts of Ha Giang fall in to a permit required area.
Tours are easy to arrange AFTER your arrival, so don't go risking your hard-earned Singy dollars.
#4 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
How did you do it the last time you went to Ha Giang? Solo by moto? From what i know, if we want to venture further than Ha Giang town, we require permits and a guide. So that rules out renting a car and driver.
Appreciate you advice on arranging tour only after arrival. My only concern is the delays which may occur if we book there and then. From your experience, how long in advance do i need to book the tour? We're going in early June.
#5 kongxh has been a member since 23/4/2008. Posts: 13
Hi folks, I am a solo Irish traveller. Am visiting Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos during June/July 2008. I'd like to do some kayaking and biking group trips. Does anybody have any companies they'd recommend that aren't too expensive?
#6 niallreilly1 has been a member since 24/4/2008. Posts: 1
Sorry about the delay - I've been out of InterNet reach.
What I suggest is that you contact a number of agencies to see if they do tours before settling on one.
Quite honestly, if you can handle motorcycles, you might have more fun and get further. The roads are frequently single car width and the bridges are frequently good for motorcycles with significant diversions for larger vehicles. I don't drive motorcycles but cycling was fun although tiring.
Your proposed trip is quite lengthy for the time indicated, guided or not, on roads that vary from two-lane arterial through single lane with passing spots so you can count on a lot of travel at around 30 MPH/50KPH!
Your trip involves the following distances: Ha Noi/Bac Kan = 160Km; Bac Kan/Ba Be = 70Km; Ba Be/Bac Me = 90Km; Bac Me/Ha Giang = 47Km; Ha Giang/Ha Noi = 280Km for a trip total of around 800Km!
There is none too much in the way of travel in this part of the world but you could search LP for the following posters:
vuh, JakartaBoy, dammonk, AndyH73, ngythanh, Aristotle. These characters have all posted reports that will provide information.
I haven't searched the LP web site as their search function isn't the greatest and these reports were from an earlier version of their web site. All my information is from a massive corporate database.
There is also a dearth of good maps. I have detailed road and topical maps - I am able to send you copies of the road maps (the topicals are less than a year old and are copyrighted). If you send your e-mail address to < FungPee Inbox.lv > I will be happy to send copies of the road maps to you.
Where permits are required (I have residence status) there is often a requirement for a **local** guide. Whether this is to generate income for locals and kickback for the cops, I'm not sure. My status allows me better access to the border regions than visitors so I didn't get to involved in the internal permit business. Suffice it to say it involves visits to police stations and the guide.
Hope this helps.
#7 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
yes the road maps would definitely come in handy!
my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
#8 kongxh has been a member since 23/4/2008. Posts: 13