We are guilty of hypocrisy – There I said it!
We did something a little different on our Vietnam tour. Previously we were of the thought extended length tours of more than a few days or destinations were for vacationers and not travellers. “Travellers like us seek out our own unknown adventures and let our heads rest in whatever ramshackle abode we can muster each night.” Real travellers we thought. Haaa how wrong we were.
“The best part about Busabout’s two week Vietnam Adventure Tour was that it has been created by REAL TRAVELLERS! People who have scoured the entire country for it’s best locations known and unknown by most.”
If we are so independent why did we decide to take this trip?
We had just spent 11 of the last 14 months on the road. Travelling as a couple, doing our own research, finding our own accommodation/transport and fighting off the hustlers and rip-off artists. At the end of a very long road we realised we wanted to relax for the last leg. A vacation from our travel life! Crazy and absurd as it sounds… Travel wear’s you out. We signed up with Busabout to hand over the reigns and take a temporary break. Our timeline was 2 ½ weeks in Vietnam and the tour was for 2. Perfect! Here we go.
How it all went down!
Accommodation booked in advance, private busses and a pre-planned itinerary to adhere to. Nothing to worry about but getting up on time in the mornings – Sweeeeet as!
It was amazing to us how much we got to do and see in the two short weeks. So here is our rundown!
Don’t worry I’m not going to list everything, you can read the full itinerary here if you want. Rather… I want to talk about our favourite bits.
The adventure began in Hanoi, Bianca and I actually missed out the first day of activities as we were pushing our luck with time. So opted to spend the day visiting Ha Long Bay and missed the meet & greet. We loved the Ha Long Bay trip, although it is not a part of the official Busabout tour…
We recommend arriving a few days earlier to add this into your trip.
When we imagined Vietnam, our mind was wandering through green rice paddies and pristine scenery. Our first stop on the tour was exactly that in the lush rural town of Mai Chau. We dropped our bags off at our authentic stilt house accommodation and after a delicious lunch took an easy bike ride tour through the rice paddy fields where workers tended their rice crop. The scenery in the idyllic valley is absolutely the pristine environment we had imagined. This simple bike ride became one of the tours biggest highlights because we knew we would have unknowingly skipped this had we not been on the tour.
In Phong Nha Ke Bang we got to explore world-renowned cave systems. In the same location as the worlds largest cave ‘Son Doong’ (a cave with its own unique ecosystem and endemic animals).
We explored two alternative caves the Paradise Cave and the Dark Cave. Both huge in their own right.
The Paradise cave has formations to send your imagination into overdrive, while brilliant lighting creates a colourful spectacle.
The Dark cave is said to take years off the appearance of those who enter, returning looking and feeling youthful. The secret is a mud bath deep in the cave! Great fun.
A visit to Vietnam is incomplete without a trip to the tailors. So it was in Hoi An where our guide Tim took us to the best of the best in tailoring. It’s got the prestigious reputation of being where the rolling stones singer Mick Jagger has had suits made. They have a 24 hour turnaround on garments, and Bianca had a very technical dress made entirely from one photo! She chose a material, then had it fitted all within 24 hours the dress from her photo was wrapping her body complete.
Hoi An however is a lot more than just a tailoring Mecca. The old town has some amazing restaurants along with beautiful scenery along the river and a fantastic night market. Hoi An claimed the prize as our favourite stop along the tour, one where we could have stayed for far longer.
The most authentic experience of the entire tour was in Dalat. Known as the Secret tour. This one would be hard to find without doing the bus-about tour. There are a few tour companies that take tours to see the minority villages. These villages have almost lost their authenticity due to the constant tourist contact. Not so the secret tour. Mr Rot the tour guide has a unique story. He was raised in the minority villages until fortune would see him adopted by a wealthy businessman who put him through schooling and university. Mr Rot now gives back to the minority communities where he was raised. The tour changes villages every time to decrease impact on the local’s lifestyles. He gives a fantastic tour that allows insight into the minority culture, an insight you simply cannot get from anyone else!
Finally, the Cu Chi tunnels. The history of war in Vietnam is hard to believe. Crawling through tiny tunnels we saw how this small nation defended itself against the word’s greatest ever superpower. For years the Vietnamese lived and fought underground in claustrophobia inducing tunnels. This is a must see when in Vietnam!
What we enjoyed most about this tour was letting go. Switching off in a sense and just enjoying the ride. We left the entire organisation up to our amazing Canadian leader. Tim was our go to guy and the perfect tour guide. Kind, and welcoming Tim has a natural knack for including everyone and making everyone feel comfortable. His history lessons during bus rides are engrossing and interesting.
He sorted our accommodation into nice hotels and helped solve any and all problems. His recommended restaurants are always on point, delicious local style and western food that never broke the bank.
This trip truly would not have been as memorable without Tim. Furthermore, we had an amazing group to share the experience with. Different to our usual flying solo approach we spent each day with a really fun group, a refreshing and relaxing change.
Would we recommend this tour?
You are damn right we do. If you fit any or all criteria below then book it in!
- Restricted by time constraints.
- Worried about safety when travelling alone.
- Lack on the fly organisational skills.
- Enjoy authentic travel.
- Want to find secret experiences that you cannot get on your own.
- Enjoy the company of others
Pack something warm/rainproof for the time in Da Lat. This city is elevated and a lot colder than the rest of Vietnam.
* This guide is written in our own personal opinion and we were not paid for this post.