I am happy to announce that my Egg guy and his darling wife are back on the job. Both of them are bruised and sore, and the man hase stitched on his head, but they are back making those sandwiches everybody enjoys. As a welcome back, he was overrun with business and had to close early because her ran out of stock.
I have read many posts on the web forums about whether a person should use a tour company to travel, or whether to do it ones self. There are many people who are familiar with Vietnam and are comfortable with making travel arrangements on their own. I am one of them. Do it yourself (DIY) travel is not difficult if you are the adventurous type, or are travelling on a very strict budget. Most of the areas a person will stay in Vietnam have tour
companies with English speakers that can assist you in booking local sights, air, bus and trail tickets, and many other services. In most cases it is the same price as if you booked yourself. The agency is making its money by a commission paid by the service provider. DIY travel is the cheapest and most flexible way to travel but how do you know where to go, or even how to get there? Expect problems … The language barrier and sometimes just the different expectations of what you think you are purchasing can lead to frustration. I was faced with the same dilemmas years ago and found that I missed some of the best sights of
Vietnam because I was not even aware of their existence. It is true that DIY is something that can be done with some research and planning, and if you have a solid stomach, you can eat at some of the most unusual and delicious places. DIY is the way I travel by myself, but if entertaining guests or recommending to a person who has no Vietnam experiences the things to see, I often refer to a good guide or tour company and here is why.
I have had conversations with a couple of personal friends that run one of the better tour companies in Vietnam. (I feel the urge to give a big plug for them here but I will resist) Reputable tour companies are regulated by the
government and HAVE to conform to certain standards to make sure the tourist is safe and protected. All of the restaurants they will take you are of good quality, and there should be nothing that will make you ill. Even fussy eaters will find something that they are comfortable to consume. Tour companies are also familiar with most or all of the sights you will want to see. You can travel most of the country without missing important highlights. Sure you will be in a group on an adventure… but so are we if we DIY… we still book through a local agent and do s similar trip. But probably the most important thing the Tour Company provides is the piece of mind that all of your transportation, accommodation, and other bothersome details are covered. Vietnam can be a bit stressful to the first timer and worrying about details should be totally unnecessary. Tour companies can also get you prices much better than you can do for yourself if you are a 2 star traveler like me. In the long run, I honestly believe that you end up spending less money with the organized tour because there is no need for the taxi expenses to go places, the many hidden costs, and you do not get overcharged for things as many new comers do. Your guide is a wealth of information on where and what to spend.
It has been my experience that the backpackers travelling on the tightest budget imaginable almost always opt for the DIY option. That is fine, but many never get a taste of anything but the tourist areas and local sites of the areas they stop, and have very little opportunity to explore the sights and famous landmarks between destinations. For those that can afford a bit more, a tour package can cost as little as 50 dollars a day and it will include everything except perhaps your dinner each day. You will also be put up in hotels that are usually of a good standard. Just make clear to the company what level of hotel you want, and they will make it happen. I myself have been coming here for 12 years and now live here, but I still use my friends at the tour company to escort friends and family instead of trying to do it myself. It is just so much easier. However, I do not take a pre arranged package. The best way to travel here if you are a newbie in my opinion, is to do your research on where to go and what you want to see, and then supply that information to the tour company. A good company can set it all up for you. You can even ask them to take you to alternative places not so touristy. It is your trip after all. Keep in mind that the more there are, the cheaper the price will be, so if you are traveling solo, you may have no choice but to join a group. My wife and I joined a group on a Cambodia tour and had a great time even though we could have done it ourselves quite easily.
In the end it is up to you. It costs nothing to ask or get a quote…
One last piece of advice. If you are considering a tour company, use one located in Vietnam rather than in your home country unless you are going on some kind of group charter. It will cost much less