I first learned of Exotic Voyages when I happened upon an article about a tour that is inspired by Anthony Bourdain's travels to Vietnam. Being a big fan of Bourdain along with a burning desire to ...
I first learned of Exotic Voyages when I happened upon an article about a tour that is inspired by Anthony Bourdain's travels to Vietnam. Being a big fan of Bourdain along with a burning desire to travel to Vietnam, this was the perfect scenario for me to make the trip, so I contacted Exotic and Diep Nguyen to put together an itinerary to include Cambodia. Having just returned from the trip on March 5, I have to say the results exceeded my expectations.
Being an experienced global traveler there are certain characteristics I'm looking for in an organized tour: Planning, Quality of Experience and the Guides/Drivers, and Responsiveness & Flexibility.
Exotic Voyages made sure we saw a good representation of the Vietnamese and Cambodian people and lifestyles, and the Vietnam landscape from north to south. The itinerary had us fully immersed in the culture and social fabric, from the rich experiences on the farms, on the boats, in the marketplaces and the restaurants as they "connected the dots" for us on how food is farmed/caught, produced, sold, cooked and eventually delivered to the table. We loved the hands-on experience of a cooking class in Hue and we'll be practicing our new skills back home. Then of course the connections to Anthony Bourdain, meeting the Banh Mi Queen, eating at Lunch Lady and staying in his favorite hotels.
The fairly complex logistics of the flights, hotels, guides and drivers were perfect. We especially appreciated seeing our guides/drivers awaiting us at the airports for each flight (there were six flights), handling the visas when necessary, guiding us at the airports for check-ins, handling the luggage, etc. They never missed a beat and constantly made sure we were comfortable and happy throughout the tour. The guides were all very knowledgeable and proud people, but I would especially call out Xuan in Hanoi who was informative and fun to hang with.
When traveling in a foreign country, and with many connection points, responsiveness and flexibility are also extremely important. Diep was always there for us both before and during the trip when we either had questions or wanted to make some spontaneous changes to the itinerary.
Overall I give high praise to Diep and Exotic Voyages for putting together a fantastic journey through two fascinating countries. It was certainly the most immersive and emotional trip I've taken, partly because of the US war history but mostly for the connection to the Vietnamese and Cambodian people who are the sweetest, most considerate, welcoming and accommodating people one could meet.