I usually do all the work for our family vacations—I read the online research and reviews and book all the hotels and activities. But I had not kept up with Vietnam’s progress economically and based on my previous experience in Vietnam plus having to book domestic flights in Vietnam (which I knew nothing about) and just not having the time to do all the research, I decided this time to hire a travel agent to help me out.
My brief Google search landed me on the webpage for Exotic Voyages. Exotic Voyages specializes in customized luxury tours in Asia. They offer several ready-made packages but are willing and happy to take out anything their customers don’t and add in anything they desire. I inquired and was put in contact with Linh, who put together a Vietnam package based on their ready made “Family Fun in Vietnam” tour that was to go to Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon, and the MeKong Delta. She cut out a few activities to accommodate for our 12 days (versus 14 as dictated by the package) and also added a short trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand to visit an elephant sanctuary. We communicated frequently via email to customize the trip as she gave us quotes for a package with mostly 3 and 4 star hotels versus 4 and 5 star hotels (not much of a difference! Go with the higher star ratings!) and advised us as to what she thought would work best for us. We did not want to visit any places where tourists ride the elephants and we were concerned about one tour that involved riding a water buffalo. She kindly helped us work that out too (booked an elephant sanctuary and reassured us that water buffaloes have much stronger backs than elephants and can withstand much more weight on their backs). She also advised us to stay an extra day in Lang Co instead of spending a hectic day in Bangkok, because Bangkok really requires a few days to enjoy. This turned out to be excellent advice.
The communication was fantastic. She always wrote back within 24 hours and was patient and answered my questions. I was given numerous opportunities to check and double check the itinerary and was even given the names of all the hotels so I could check the out online. Once she got my approval on the final itinerary, she booked our hotels, tours and domestic flights. We were responsible for getting to Hanoi, the first city on our itinerary, and for getting out of Chiang Mai, the last stop. Once I got that information, I forwarded it to her along with our passport information and she was able to finalize everything.
I had a little trouble with getting our Vietnam e-visas and wrote to Linh in frustration and she gave me a link that worked a lot better than the one I had, plus she told me that their company could (for a fee) obtain our visas for us. I liked that she did not push me to spend money to have them get the visas for me, even though that would have generated more money for them.
Upon arrival to every city—Hanoi first, then Hue, then Saigon and finally Chiang Mai, we were met by the Exotic Voyages local tour guide. We were provided a comfortable air conditioned van with a separate driver and the tour guide accompanied us to almost all our tours and activities. Each van had a lot of water bottles for us, complimentary. This was highly appreciated, given the 44C (112F) heat index most days in Vietnam.
The hotels that Linh booked for us were fantastic—top quality in every way. The tours were also fun and enjoyable, top quality as well. Our drivers were safe and considerate, and our tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful. Our Hanoi tour guide got our water puppet theater tickets for us and also booked xich lo tours for us, while our Saigon tour guide and driver went out of their way to help me find my family’s old house in Saigon. Our Saigon and Chiang Mai tour guides spoke excellent English. We were really impressed with how well they spoke. Our Hanoi and Hue guides spoke good English too, it was just that the others spoke really well.
All in all, I would highly recommend this travel agency for those who like to have everything done for them and who want a very easy relaxed vacation with little worries. Everything was done in a superb and with care to detail and customer service. Super organized and very professionally done.
Visited August 2017
This review was originally posted on TripAdvisor