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We had the two most amazing leaders....the tour guide and the skillful driver. Everyday was amazing beyond words. Our tour guide, Long, was knowledgeable, pleasing, courteous and simply the best. Our driver, his name was Long, too! He was simply so fabulous and he made us feel very safe. He was also very helpful in bringing our luggages in and out of the hotels and so on. We definitely recommend this trip for the travellers who have an open mind and open heart. The places we went were not very popular with tourists. That's the reason why it was so extraordinary.
Aptly named - this tour takes you off the beaten track to experience the grass-roots Vietnam, staying in bamboo stilted homestays with thatched palm roofs, experiencing fresh home cooked food and seeing how the farming folk of North Vietnam live. You get a real sense of family and friendship! The stress of driving in a foreign country where you don't speak the language is taken away with the tour including a new Toyota air-conditioned SUV with driver and tour guide/interpreter. If like us you're not used to overly hot temperatures then I'd recommend going as we did in November. Temperatures ranged from mid-thirties around Hanoi to the high teens as we got in to the highlands near the China/Vietnam boarder. The tour guide is very knowledgeable and happily points out items of interest along the way. If you want to stop anywhere along the route they are more than happy to do so. The highlights for us were the cave trips and longboating - you'll certainly want to pack a camera for this trip! Not to mention marvelling at what can be carried on the humble motor-scooter - the most common form of transport on crowded streets and the small secondary roads you'll find yourself on. My advice is to have a small day pack when you leave the car and throw in a couple of water bottles when you do so as you'll work up a sweat and also for when you bed down for the night. The tour guide always ensured there was plenty of bottled water available for us. Also pack a small torch for the caves, some travel wipes, toilet tissues and hand sanitizer as bathrooms along the way are basic at best. Thankfully the homestays and hotels are chosen in advance to ensure you always have a decent hot shower and western-style toilet. Pack some flip-flops too.
You'll really have a great experience, enjoying the awesome scenery and come home with a great story to tell!
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