David and Thuy F

"A trip of the lifetime for our family thanks to Huong at Way to Vietnam."

We just came back home from 3 weeks long trip in VietNam. There were 9 adults and 4 children on the trip, my husband, myself, our two daughters,their husbands, our four grandchildren, my two sisters and my niece. My husband thought it was a trip of the life time and we agreed. All thanks go to Huong, the Sale Manager of Way to Vietnam travel agency.

I started to research for the trip on June last year. I normally organized travel trips myself, with no travel agent involved. However there was a ten, eight, three years old and 16 months old grandchildren on the trip, a limited time to fit in with the older children school break and the desire to see as much of the country, especially where I had grown up, that prompted me to seek help from a trustworthy travel agent. I found Way to Viet Nam on Tripadvisor. I always use Tripadvisor for my travel research because so far the reviews on the site are mostly accurate.

Way to Vietnam does not have as many reviews as other agencies, but they have many interesting sample tours on their website, with solid 5 star grade reviews and demonstrates a willingness to help with private tours. They met my requirements at the time. I also felt comfortable with the reviews about Huong.
I received Huong's reply the very next morning after I posted my initial request on their website. From then on we worked on our complicated itinerary for months on end, about 281 emails exchanged and countless text messages on WhatsApp.

We started the trip from Hanoi with 7 adults and 2 children, then made our way south. A week into our trip we added 2 adults and 2 youngest children. To make it more complicated, about 2 months before the trip, my sister and her daughter joined us from different state and difference arrival time. Throughout these changes, Huong calmly welcomed the add-on, the late joiners, the new needs for connecting rooms... She went through a complicated process of rebook the existing hotel reservations to reduce the cost for the late joiners. It was not a pleasant task because the high demand of the hotel rooms during Christmas time, but she did it without me request this.

Huong is very intelligent, astute, very knowledgeable of her trade. Her hotel suggestions and tours were just right with our needs. Five start hotels if we wanted king beds, certain hotels with plenty connected rooms, because we needed to be able to check on our young travelers. The tours which were fun for both adults and children, meals in attractive environments offered local specialties, cruises with bright rooms and connecting balconies, interesting activities....

She is also very patient with my many requirements for a group of travelers aged range from babies to old grandparents. I was the only one in the group involved with planning details for the trip, therefore I took it upon myself to request many things in order to provide comfort for my loved ones. Throughout the six months planning, Huong had worked with me patiently, wisely and gently steering me in the right direction if I was wrong, and listened to me when I had real concerns.

The local guides and drivers she selected to provide services for us were fluent in English, knowledgeable of their local attractions, flexible, gentle and helpful with women and children in our group and friendly with all of us. They were very professional also.

Some highlights of the trip:

In Ha Noi, after carefully asking me if I liked to have bun cha at well known place like Obama's bun cha or a place that the locals like for years, Charlie Nguyen took us to the best Bun Cha lunch we had ever had. It might even be the best meal of our trip. While people waiting in line to see the water puppet show, after Charlie talked to the attendants, we just walked right into the theater, avoiding the long line. The water puppet show was outstanding. I am sorry I can't recall the names of both places but you always can ask Charlie if you use Huong's service.

Au Co Cruise activities were just right for us. The most memorable one was kayaking or having a boat taking us to a lake in the middle of the mountain. We were able to see a wild monkey family complete with mom, dad and babies of all ages. They were fed bananas and we just enjoyed watching their antics while eating the bananas.

In Hoi An, we were able to light up the lanterns from our sunset boat trip, sending them down the river, a magical moment in our life. We then enjoyed a dinner at one of the most beautiful old mansions full of lanterns, where we discovered the Halico Ruou NepMoi, a Vietnamese version of volka, a much better version of volka, full of pandan flavores. It is now our favorite hard liquor drink, unfortunately I am unable to find it in USA.

In Ho Chi Minh City, our guide Viet took us to a food tour on cyclos. Thirteen of us, old and young, were on ten cyclos, waving, smiling at each other like crazy tourists. We stopped multiple places for foods, Viet even took us to try many different kinds of snails, grilled snails, coconut and lemongrass snails.... For me the highlight was the stop at the flower market. I bought a bouquet of delicate yellow orchids which stayed fresh and finally adorned our dinner table at Phu Quoc Premier Village sea view villa.

Viet was also our guide during the three day Mekong delta trip. Huong had ordered a 26 passengers coach for us. We traveled in so much comfort in this spacious bus. We each had our own row, the baby had his car seat, the 3 year old had a portable bed of her own. Viet who is a father of two young children was so kind. He sat close to the young children and helped to comfort the two young children. At the end of the trip, the 3 years hugged him while saying good bye and said "I love you chu Viet". They missed him still.

Our Mekong trip was a trip to Chau Doc and Can Tho to find my childhood homes, my high school and university. Viet and some locals tried very hard to help me find my old homes, but I was not sure we found it. We did find my high school, the big tree on the way to my house and the park I used to play with my sisters when we were young in Chau Doc. We also touched a big snake, fed the ducks, took a boat trip under the shadow of the coconut trees, checked out the alligator farm, ate apple custards, sweet dried tamarind, fresh jack fruits, hot and delicious cha lua at the rest stop...

When Huong said she will be available to help 24/7, and said we have nothing to worry about, we now believe her. Everything was just as described in the itinerary or better. She checked us in the hotels before we arrived. She got the airline boarding passes for us as soon as they were available. At midnight she was with us on WhatsApp to give advice when my daughter had a typo on her e-visa. She reminded me to check in for my return home flight which wasn't purchased by her. Every airport and hotel pick up was on time. The drivers were always there at least 30 minutes early.

While we traveled, Huong's service was not ended after we paid her. When I did not have enough Vietnam dong on hand to give a generous tips to the guides or the driver, I asked Huong to help me, by transferring the money to them and I just paid her back later. She did that twice smoothly and effective, and she helped to buy extra luggage kilos for the domestic flights. She dropped by our hotel in Ha Noi to give us gifts. When I told her my sister loved the special O mai she gave us, she sent more to my sisters while they stayed longer in Can Tho. I told her my shoulder was in pain, she gave me a herbal heating pad that helped to reduce the pain and reminded me to use it when I arrived home.

In my goodbye text to Huong, after thanking her for a perfect trip facilitated by her, I told her I consider myself fortunate to have found her, and smart enough to ask her to arrange for our trip. I can say a lot more amazing things about Huong and Way to Vietnam travel agency, but this review is long enough.

Travelling in Dec 2023

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