I’m planning on doing an organized/half guided trip throughout Vietnam in November for around 14 days with having a couple of spare days before/after the tour on my own.
Searching through the forum for guided tours I always only found 2-3 days trips in Halong Bay. Does anyone have any experience with “longer” guided tours? By reading all the Halong Bay comments I could see that mostly the operators Handspan, OceanTravel were recommended. Has anyone done a 14-days trip or so with them, or probably GAP adventures (ads on this site)?
The reasons why I wanted to do a guided trip was because of the hassle free experience, especially when I read about some horrible adventures on open-ticket-bus trips, fake operators etc. and good memories from guided tours in the past.
Grateful for any thoughts on this and about what you think about their service and value for money etc.
#1 Billabong has been a member since 11/7/2009. Posts: 4
this company can show you about:
For Halong Bay:
Probably because of the way the tourism industry began, tourists take either a 1, 2 or 3 night 'excursion'.
The gov't has licensed boat operators to 'process' passengers. By that I mean that the boats depart the Halong wharf, take pax to a cave complex, go to where the boat will be moored for the night, and in the am, return to the wharf for an 'exchange' of pax. Some boat operators have contractors that take pax for 1 day excursions. So, if the passenger doesn't want to return to the Halong wharf, they can go on an excursion. In the afternoon, the boat taking the excursion passengers meets up with the 'mother' boat and the passenger returns to that boat for a meal and bed.
Whichever travel agent you choose for a guided tour, unless they own their own boats, they will merely act as an agent for a boat firm.
If you type in the words Halong Bay into the Search Travelfish box in the grey area up top, you'll see comments about various travel agents. There is one that is constantly recommended as OK:
Columbus Cruiser Company
36 Hang Bac Street
Hoan Kiem District
You can book directly with them (they ARE a boat company).
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Because there are less than desirable operators, mostly who only onsell for the 'real' operators, what other places/sights do you have in mind?
I forgot to add that passengers on the boat excursions can also get taken to the CatBa area for a couple of days in a resort/etc. There, you can wander along sandy beaches, go swimming, etc.
Columbus Cruises can arrange this if you prefer.
Another nearby area that is oft recommended is Monkey island.
With the right accommodation providers, both would be OK.
Thanks for your quick response and explanation!
@Manticore: have you done a tour guided by them yourself? Their website sounds really good!
Something like that would be my desired itinerary - from north to south incl. Halong Bay and Mekong Delta...
#5 Billabong has been a member since 11/7/2009. Posts: 4
Gecko is an Australian company delivering holidays to passengers who want everything 'organised'. The company has a good reputation in Australia. Their 'product' is in the lower end market range (mainly for younger pax).
There are several similar companies offering escorted small pax number tours. Each targets a different $$ range and pax age range. For example:
Each offers something different, all with a guide, etc.
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It is also worth noting that Travelfish is currently recommending All Points East as a worthwhile travel operator. Go look at:
Hope this helps.
thanks a lot for the links. Will look into their offers.
#7 Billabong has been a member since 11/7/2009. Posts: 4