DIY or an organized tour of Vietnam?

A hard working couple

DIY or an organized tour of Vietnam

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

Back on the job

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

On my bike ride

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

A gate for what?

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

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139 thoughts on “DIY or an organized tour of Vietnam?

  1. Hi Owee,

    I was the one who wrote to you at tripadvisor just now. I would like to have the contact for the tour agent in HCM. With the long holiday, I think it is better to engage one so that we can be at ease, don’t you think so ? Greatly appreciate your advise please. Thanks.

  2. Hi Owee
    We are planning on going to VN next November and I am wondering if you will give the name/names of local tour companies to arrange hotels etc.

  3. Hi Owee,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
    I’m heading to Vietnam early June this year.
    I’m thinking of doing both Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, plus Halong Bay.
    Are you able to recommend agencies whom I can travel safely with for day tours?
    My friend is a Muslim, do you have any recommendations on the areas we should put up at?

    1. Most tourist areas have Halal food. Halong does not but a lot o fseafood. Day tours are basicly all the same and can be booked in locel office. My friends at Vexplore can look after everything.

  4. Hi Owee:

    Planning to bring a group of 16 (8 couples) to Cambodia/Vietnam in March, 2016. I have come up with a 23 day agenda that includes sightseeing and golf in Siem Reap, Saigon, Hoi An/Hue and Hanoi/Halong Bay.

    I have been discussing the trip with two companies (Vietnam Luxury Golf Tours and Travel Vietnam). Have you any experience with these companies or have other suggestions?

    Let me know.

    Thanks, Ron

    1. I do not have any experience with them. They may be alright. As you have probably read, I highly recommend V’Explore Travel for organized trips. They can custom build anything you want. I will send you email with more information.

  5. Hi Owee
    We are wanting to travel in Dec and would like to know if you could provide us with details of a good tour company


  6. Hi Owee, we have 9 days from HCMC to Siem Reap on Dec. Plan to stay 2 nights in HCMC, travel to Phnom Penh through Mekong with overnight at Chau Doc. Ovenight in PP, last 3 nights in Siem Reap. Would appreciate your help/suggestions and recommendations for Tour Providers.

    1. I always recommend my friends at V’Explore travel. They can take care of everything. They have a great Mekong tour that will take you to Chau Doc over 3 days on your own private Sampan and connect you with the Hydrofoil to Phnom Penh. From there they can escort you to Siem Riep and visit the famous temples. I did the same with them a few years back and had a stress free holiday. Much better than guiding it myself.

  7. Hi Owee

    Great site lots of tips and information. I am heading to VN in August and would like to go from Saigon to Hanoi or vice versa will be there for 3 weeks. have read with much interest about the easy rider tours and would love to do one of them, I also would like to visit Sapa, do a Halong Bay o/night junk experience, the eastern highlands sound great would that be practical with an easy rider tour? I would also like to visit Hue, Hoi An, Dalat and Na Trang do a cruise on the Mekong Delta and see the Cu Chi tunnels. I am more into the history and culture of VN than shopping and big cities any suggestions would be very much appreciated. I am also contacting to see how they can help me get around. Thanks in advance

  8. I thought I posted a question on this site earlier today but can not see it come up here anywhere. How do I contact Owee thanks

      1. I am in South Africa. We have a special Groupon offer with Far East Company situated in Hanoi. I cannot find any information about them and wonder if they are a reputable company before booking. Also we are a couple in late 50s early 60s and wonder whether we could see vietnam on our own doing our own bookings and taking day tours. Please advise.

        1. It can be difficult to weed out info on companies as many of them copy each other and use very similar names. Vietnam is very easy and inexpensive to see on your own by using local tour companies once you are here, however, expect them to be busy, not the best quality, and very touristy. Private tours are much more organized and comfortable. I guess it depends on the kind of traveler you are. If you want to experience a more real and less tourist Vietnam, Do your research and arrange your plans for each destination. If you want a headache free tour, use a tour company. Even though I guide off the beaten track tours in Vietnam, I use my friends at V’Explore when it is my friends or family. Most tour companies are similar in price. If there are deep discounts, usually quality will be less….. In Vietnam you get what you pay for. I might suggest using private tour companies to arrange small package tours such as Hanoi city tour with a Halong Bay cruise, but then travel freely to your next destination as DYI. You will get the best of both. If DYI becomes too bothersome with people trying to get at your money, you can arrange an escorted tour on the fly.

  9. Hi Owee,
    This is very informative.. Me and my wife are planning to visit Vietnam for 4days, Would you be able to email me a list of good and affordable travel agencies. We will be staying in Ho Chi Minh District 1. Thanks Owee:) Cheers!

  10. Hi Owee,
    We are planning a multi-generational family trip back to Vietnam (My folks and I are from Rach Gia, we left Vietnam when I was 8 and have not been back since). We are in the process of planning a 2-week trip back to VN in December. We would like to visit Hanoi-Halong Bay-Hue-Danang/Hoi An-Nga Trang-Saigon-Can Tho-Rach Gia. Any thoughts regarding the proposed itinerary, too much for 14 days? We will use a tour company as I would like to “enjoy” the trip and not worry about the logistics. I will email and inquire with V’Explore. Thank you.

  11. I have learned the hard way that when trying to setup a tour with Vietnamese tour company, expect trouble with communications due to the language difference. Be sure to ask for total cost, disregard any quote labeled “per-person.” Lucky for me I was dealing with a good tour company and will not lose any money.

    1. It is my fault, not the tour company that the total bill was twice what I expect. I failed to read all the email. Thankfully I was dealing with a tour service recommend by owee58.

  12. Hi Owee,

    I am so glad i found your site, as i am completely lost and really need help to plan my vietnam trip with my boyfriend.

    We are leaving Toronto on February 6th – March 6th. We will only be able to go on tour for a max of 2.5. Weeks as i have family in Saigon, so i will be needing to spend some time with them for the last week before i head back to canada.

    We were thinking of visiting Nha Trang, Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa, Hoi An, Ha Noi, Da Nang. and hopefully we can squeeze in couple days to go to either bangkok, malaysia, or singapore.

    I just don’t know where to start or what to do or how much all of this can be and can we do all this trip within 2.5 weeks?? Have you heard of TNK Travel Company?

    I am just completely lost hahaha. and this will be the first time we are both going to vietnam, so we would love to have an amazing experience. And is there any tour groups with a younger crowd?? as i am 23 and my boyfriend is 25.

    please email me with what you think! as it would help us out a lot!!!

    Thank You,


  13. I am glad I found your website as I really feel that I am getting good information about traveling in Vietnam..
    We were in Hanoi and north a few years ago on our own, and pretty much did Sapa and Halong Bay and more thru the hotels we stayed at and had a wonderful trip!
    We are coming back with another couple for about 2 weekss and are thinking about starting in Siem Reip to see the temples then fly over to HCM or else boat,,,With the time we have would it be easier having a guide with usand I loved your sites:
    Phong Na, Hoian, Hue, Mekong Delta..
    I love the idea of going to off the beaten path and not where all the tourists go..
    I would like to hear what you have to say and recommend.

  14. Hi Owee,

    Love all your insights about Vietnam. Appreciate all the ideas and recommendations. Me, my gf and my cuz will have a short visit in HCMC this Mid Nov(15, 16 and 17) and still undecided on what to do. We have contacted Elios Hotel for us to stay since I was also doing research in tripadvisor and planning to get the XO Tour. Did we pick the right place to stay and is XO Tour a good choice? Also, one of the reason we are going to HCMC is for a very special occasion. I will be proposing to my GF. Can you suggest a good place/tour for me to pop the question? I would appreciate your response. Thanks!

    1. Elios is ok right in the thick of things. I cannot comment on XO as a work with other companies. Perhaps take her to the Sheraton hotel roof top bar in the evening when the city is lit up.

  15. My husband and 3 children14,12&9 wanting to travel and see some wow factors. Culture with a real life factor. We want to create an amazing experience for our children that they can take something away with them to keep them thinking&talking.would appreciate any advice.hopefully travelling to vietnam next year. Ps what month do you think would be best.


  16. Hi,
    i’ve been reading through you’re blogs, which are amazing! Me and my boyfriend are planning on a holiday to Vietnam in August this year. i’ve spent hours reading through blogs, trying to decide where to go, so i’m hoping for a little advice.
    relaxation will be a part of our holiday, but so will things like watersports, sightseeing, nightlife and we’d love to check out the wildlife! we havent got a huge budget, but i will propably only visit Vietnam once, so i’d like to do it properly, if you know what i mean!
    Would really appreciate some insight as to where the best place to go would be.
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey Becky,

      I am doing the same… my boyfriend and I are going to vietnam for 3 weeks in April. Just wondering if you could pass on the advice from Owee, and what you got up to and recommendations.


  17. Hi,I was wondering if you have heard of a tour company called Tailored Tours Asia? In HCM. Someone put me on to them,but I can’t find a license no on the website, I am also a bit iffy on the web page, I can’t find any reviews for them, someone else suggested Buffalo Tours, I can find positive comments for them

    1. Sorry I have not. I am aware of Buffalo, however, I of course recommend the company i use and am now partnered with. V’Explore Travel

  18. Hello Owee…I have been reading various areas in your blog and really appreciate how helpful you are to travelers coming to Vietnam! I am traveling there with a friend at the end of June 2013 for 3 weeks and we have been planning on just doing it on our own…we were going to fly into HMC and then up to Hanoi…train down to the central part of the country and make our way down. Would also like to spend some time in Phu Quoc. After reading some of your comments, I feel a little nervous not having a “tour”. Neither one of us are the touristy types and very adventuresome (although my travel partner won’t do a motorbike tour). We don’t want to miss the best spots and are looking for a good itinerary. I would not say we are apposed to tours…just want something that doesn’t feel like cattle herding and want to have some time on our own if we find a place that we want to stay at a couple of days. Could you give me some suggestions? Thank you!

    1. You can travel out of the way places but you may not get to see all of what there is to offer. The train will link you to all the usual tourist spots. You could always arrange a car with a guide and driver for the central highlands. I will be on a short visit back to Canada in June so I could not do it myself.. I might be able to find someone to drive you from Hoi An to Nha Trang via the highlands.

      1. Would you be able to recommend an itinerary? Do you feel like it is better to focus on one area (south, central or north) for more time and try not to do as much? How about the junk cruises? Mekong Delta or Halong Bay? Or is it like comparing apples to oranges?

        1. Apples and oranges I am afraid. Start by looking at the itinerary section and you can always email me at

  19. Hi Owee, love reading your advice to travellers to Vietnam, so thought I would ask your advise about a booking agent in Hanoi. Have been to Vietnam 2 years ago where I went on a Tour, but next April both my Husband and I would love to go to the North again and visit places we missed out on, like Sapa. Then we would like to go to Hoi An, as well as the country side. I was going to do it all myself but decide to do what you suggest and use an agent in Hanoi. Maybe you can suggest a good one, we are both in our 60’s. Thank you for your help and keep up the good work.

    1. As far as the countryside, that is mor my area of expertise, (perhaps a motorcycle tour from Hoi An to Nha Trang?) however, for private tours for all areas of Vietnam, I always recommend my V’Explore friends. They use the best guides possible for the areas you wish to visit and are familliar with all of Indochina) If you mean a local Hanoi tour shop for joining a group, I cannot help you. I have always either been on my own or with a custom built program. (I am a big fan of letting others organize things for me according to my wishes) The local tour shops will offer you packages for an inexpensive price top SAPA
      Thanks for the compliment

  20. Hi owee, your blog is great and as I am feeling completely lost I hope you can help. we are thinking about flying into HCM from Bangkok mid July next year and spending approx 2 weeks in Vietnam, we have never been before and will have 2 young children with us (a 6 year old and 10 month old). What would you suggest?Should we use a tour company? I haven’t got a clue what is possible in that amount of time and with young kids and so would really appreciate some help from someone as knowledgeable as yourself

    1. With two youngsters, using a company might make it the easiest and less stressed holiday not having to deal with language difficulty issues and organization, however, it would cost a bit more than doing it on your own (not much more) Children are loved here and will command a lot of attention. If you look at my itinerary section, you will get some ideas. I will email you my suggested itinerary based on the Children.

  21. I recently discovered your blog, and enjoyed reading !

    We want to travel to Vietnam in july next year for +/- 18 days. I’ve understood from your website that using a local travel agency might be the best choice.

    I’ve got the name of a travel agency, Topas travel from Hanoi, from people that have used their services earlier this year. As they were happy with it, I guess their service is OK (not sure if you know them and might have other experioences ?). But as we are traveling with 5 people (3 kids – 17-18 and 20 years old) and I’m not Bill Gates, price is important. So I have no idea how they compare to other agencies (like the one you use ). So I would appreciate some feedback – thanks.

  22. The kids should be fine on the boat to the caves and with most of the cruise, however, Kayaking is probably out. 6 days is enough. 3 night Sapa (2 of them on night train) 2 nights Hanoi and 1 night Halong Bay…. add another to Hanoi if you wish. If you want it to be stress free, Have my people ( V’Explore )build the trip for you

  23. Hi Owee,

    I am planning to go Vietnam in end Nov/early Dec, with parents (60+ yrs old) and young children (3 and 7 yrs old). We plan to go Hanoi, Halong Bay, and may be Sapa.

    My main concern is traveling with young children. The activities described in most forums/websites i chanced upon seems not suitable for this age group. For example, kayaking at Halong Bay, small boat ride to explore caves, etc. I may have the wrong idea, so your advise will be greatly appreciated.

    Will a 7 days/6 nights trip enough time to cover these 3 areas? Or I should just do Hanoi-Halong Bay-Hanoi? I understand it will be cold in Nov/Dec, is this a good time to go?

    What is a sample itinerary for my plan? I would like to have a more relaxing trip as there are 2 children in toll.

    Any suggestions/comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  24. Hi Owee,

    I enjoy reading your blog!

    I’m planning to return to Saigon after 37 years. My husband and I will arrive Saigon on October 16 and leave from Hanoi on Oct 26. We have 10 days to explore VN, I’m thinking to spread out our time Saigon 4 days, Nha Trang 3 days, and Hanoi, Ha Long 3 days. Does this itinerary look okay? Thanks for your advice.

    1. ooo…. now I see your intention… October is a slow time of year in Nha Trang bercause of rainy season so no need to prebook, however, maybe pre book Hanoi. There is also is many tour compainies that can book your junk for you. The company I am involved with currently use Oriental Sails. Book your flights in advance as in October, there can sometimes be flight delays and if you are prebooked, you will get highest priority on next available flight.

  25. Hi, my husband and I are traveling to your fantastic country in August next year, (I realize it’s a long way away, but planning and studying about the country is all part of the holiday for me). Anyway we have about 21 /22 days. Motorbike trek, cooking classes, halong bay, R&R. Shopping. If possible i would love to try snorkelling or scuba. Some of the things We want to include. We dont want to spend all our time travelling to one place then the other. We would fly oppose to train between. We prefer private tours, so then we can do what we want, get up early if needed and not have to wait for others.
    The reason why we travel in August is to get out of the very cold weather we have here in Christchurch, New Zealand also My husband turns 60 while we are there?

    Thanks Chris and Marty

    1. Look me and my friends up when time is closer, we can make all of those ideas come true….. Lucky me…. I am off on a motorcycle tour this morning 😉 Also, I should be posting longer itinerarie suggestions soon.

  26. Hi, there will be 8 people travelling to Hanoi and Nha Trang. Is it better to diy or to organise a private tour/driver?

    1. With 8 people it will be a lot easier if you have it arranged for you…..probably only about 80 dollars per person almost all inclusive.

  27. Hi Owee,

    Myself (from UK) and a friend from Spain arrive in Saigon on the 28th July for about 19 days in total. We arrive on the same day but at slightly different times. In your opinion will it be possible to do Hanoi, Halong bay, Nha Trang, Mekong, Saigon, also Siem Riep to see some of the ruins within that time period? Or if you can suggest an alternative itinerary for 19 days that would be great, we are open to do internal flights when required. Do internal flights need to be booked well in advance to get the best deals like here in Europe? I understand we are coming in the rainy season so do flights get cancelled often and which parts of the country are the most dry? I have read some of your website for information on Vietnam, which has been very helpful. We normally do DIY trips when we both travel together, but we also may consider guided tours to save us time and see much as possible. Depending on your response I may ask you some other question if you don’t mind as this is our first trip to Vietnam. As I have read from some of your past comments pre-booking is not always necessary. is that true for most things? Look forward for your advice.

    Regards, Din

  28. I’m wanting to travel from Saigon, departing 19/8, to Siem Reap, departing there on 24 august. can you suggest a tour operator to take me there? should i book online now, or wait till i get to Saigon? as a solo traveller, I find the cost of an escorted tour is expensive, so would be happy to be part of a guided tour. i want to boat part of Mekong, then travel onto PP, and finally spend a few days in SR.

    any suggestions appreciated

    1. I would wait until you get to Saigon. There are many tours to Siem Riep you can join. I did one with Saigon Tourist in the past and it was pretty good. Boating trips the Mekong can also be bookes in one of the local travel companies you will see all over the tourist area in Saigon. Don’t worry about pre booking at all.

  29. Hi Owee
    I plan to be in Nha trang from September 16,2012 for 2 weeks then Saigon for 1 week. Not a fan of heavy rain. Do you recommend to be in Nha trang toward in the second half of september this year?
    Thanks for your response.

    1. Hi will,
      September usually still has good weather however, we are going into our rainy season so there is a chance.The heave rains do not usually happen until the end of Octobwer and november. The earlier in September the better.

  30. We are planning to go to HCMC and Cambodia. When would be the best time and how many days should we allot for such a trip? Instead of joining a tour,could you
    recommend a rental with driver we could hire? Thank you very much.

    1. Ernesto,
      Best time is March until end of June. I would suggest 4 nights in Cambodia. 3 in Siem riep and 1 in Phnomn Penh. You would need 3 weeks for Vietnam places I suggest are Saigon with Mekong, Nha Trang, Dalat, Hoi An, Hue, Sapa, Halong and Hanoi.
      Most drivers do not speak English, so you would also need a guide. Check with my friends at V’Explore

  31. My partner and I are looking at travelling to Vietnam later this year and have found your blog really helpful. We were planning on Aug/Sept timeframe however have noticed this is wet season, we don’t mind getting wet but would you say this is ok to travel still or recommend that come another month?

  32. Hi, myself and two friends (all ladies – 38, 50, 66) are coming to Vietnam at the end of June for two weeks. What would you suggest to do in that time? It has been suggested by a friend (who has traveled to Vietnam) to do it our self but I am not sure about that. Can you please tell me some good tours/tour guides? Can you please email me your thoughts and suggest an itinerary that would let us see as much as possible without spending all our time getting from one place to the next. We are quite happy to stay at comfortable places not luxurious places. Thanking you for all help.

    1. I have emailed you Liny You can find a lot of the answers you are looking for if you follow the links on the right

  33. Love your site, could you please let me know the name of the tour you joined to Cambodia,
    cheers Carole

    1. I have used 2 companies and they both were good trip. I joined a group of people on a coach tour with Saigon tourist.
      I have also uased My friends at V’Explore arrange a tour with their Cambodian office for a more private tour.
      Hope this helps

  34. Hi Owee,

    My parent is going to HCMC in August with my 2 aunties, so altogether 4 of them. I’m not going with them, and so quite worry about them when they reach. I’m planning to help them make tour-booking before they depart. They’ll be reaching 8pm on 18 August and will leave HCMC at 9pm on 21August. So, they’ll have 2 and a half day in HCMC. What places of interest would you recommend? I’m planning to book a hotel in District 1 for them. Should I ask the tour agent to book the hotel for me too together with the day tour for a better price?
    Thanks for your advise.

    1. Do not worry.. Vietnam is a very safe destination and it is easy to get around. There is no need to pre-book unless you want a private guide and tour. If that isd the case, contact my friends at V’Explore Travel. There are a lot of local tour companies scattered throughou the area so a city tour can be had from a variety of places that are very inexpensive. I often stay at the duc Vuong hotel in dist1. Very clean, nice staff, and decent buffet breakfast for a reasonable price. You can book on your own

  35. Hi Owee can you send me a duplicate email to what you sent Tung??

    There are 6 of us traveling from Hanoi to Saigon. We will be there from July 4th to the 19th.

    We aren’t that particular about seeing everything. We are mainly laid back travelers who is more interested in the food, drinks, and kicking back.

    We were thinking about doing the Open bus tour, but only from Hue to Saigon. We will fly from Hanoi to Hue.

    Maybe once we are in Vietnam we can stay at your hotel! Thanks!

  36. Hi Owee,
    Thanks for the great info & stories about your experience in Vietnam. I’ll be returning to Vietnam for the first time since my family & I left over 30 years ago. My girlfriend and I have 15 days and would like to travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. We would like to do a discovery Vietnam kind of tour but not too sure what is the best places to go. Would you be able to recommend places? Is that enough time to do that without rushing? Any advice is much appreciated.

  37. Hi, I appreciate your reticence to advertise your friend’s travel company, but I am travelling to Vietnam for the first time in June and would really love to know how to best enjoy the trip. Could you give me the name of the travel company you recommend. Thanks very much, love your blog.


  38. Hi there

    I arrive into Saigon and will be on my own for a couple of days before friends arrive; I’m a total novice to the region but would love some advice for something fun to do on my own with a day to spare before friends get there.

    Ideas? Thanks

    1. you can find walking tour maps in one of the many local tour offices. You will also find short day excursions to the Mekong and Cu Chi tunnels. When your friends arrive, you can be the guide 😉

  39. Thank you for comprehensive thoughts and information.
    Prior to reading your tour company recommendations, we had already commenced dialogue with Asia View Travel, not committed at this stage but would certainly appreciate any advice or knowledge you might have on these people. (I find their Credit Card form a bit daunting).

    Kindest regards,
    Darryl .

    1. I am sorry but I am not familiar with Asia View Travel. Their website is typical like many others and they have their licence posted at the bottom of the page so I assume they are legit. It is all about customer service more than price…. If you are happy with their responses and attitude, then they may be fine.

  40. My husband and I are planning a trip to SE Asia next June — we both work in the schools (US), so we are able to spend up to 30 days on our trip. I have decided to use a tour organizer — to make the arrangements and transportation for our trip. I was in contact with Indochina Odyssey tours after doing some research on Trip Advisor. Any info, good or bad, on them? I also emailed your recommended travel co. today.

    How many days is best to visit most of the Vietnam highlights with a few days to see Cambodia. I don’t mind rushing through a city for a few days, but don’t want to keep this up the entire trip. Hoping we can spend a week in Thailand before we leave.

    I just discovered your website today — so if this is answered elsewhere, my apologies!

  41. Hi Owee

    Further to your email some time ago re a tour I would really like to speak with you & wondering if you are on Skype –
    due to bad backs I dont think my husband & friend would be able to handle bikes. In your email you mentioned travel from Hoi an to Nha Trang via moto – It looks a huge distance & wondering how long the drive would be in between overnight stays. I also wondering if we should forget about visiting Dalat as it sould tooooo touristy
    I look forward to hearing from you

  42. My husband and I in our late 50’s will be travelling from Hue->Hoi An->Phu Quoc->Nha Trang->Dalat->HCM. We have 11 nights, how many days do you recommend in each place. By the way we are Malaysian backpackers and we hv beend to HCM and Hanoi, Sapa b4.
    Tks for all the help, enjy reading your blog.

    1. I usually recommend 4 nights in the Hue/Danang/Hoi An, 4 nights in Nha trang, 1 or 2 nights in Dalat. IF you are trying to do all of the above in 11 nights, you will not have time for all of them…. esprcially Phu Quoc because of distance. I have emailed you

  43. Good stuff thanks for the article. I figured since you have a travel blog you’d want to push the more adventurous solo tour option. I’m flying solo for 4 days and was planning on doing it all myself but now may reconsider.

    I’ll be heading from HCMC to Phu Quoc via either Rach Gia OR Ha Tien. Would like to get your thoughts on a couple things if you didn’t mine. Saw you had an article about Phu Quoc that I’m gonna check out now.

  44. Hi Owee,

    I am thinking of travelling mid november to Vietnam,arriving in HCMC for two weeks. Planning to visit the Meekong Delta, but would also like to go to Cambodia, visit Phnom Penh and Siep Reap for approx. 8 days. After that some relaxation on the beach.Maybe Nha Trang.

    or would that be too rainy?
    Do you think your tourguide will be able to help us with that tour, even if it is to Combodia?
    Do you got any other suggestions?

    Thanks a lot, you got a phantastic website with a lot of info!!!

    1. Thanks for the compliment
      The tour company I reccommend also cover Cambidoa and Laos. I did such a tour with them ablut 6 months ago and the 9 that I accompanied had a great time. I am afraid that in November, we can be hit by rainy weather. I would give the odds at it being wet at 60/40. Perhaps Phu Quoc or Shinookville in Cambodia might offer more stable weather.
      I have sent a copy of this response to your email

  45. We are planning a trip to vietnam next month,starting at Nha Trang and heading north, finishing at hanoi after about 15 days. i have been to vietnam last year on a tour and have some ideas of where to go, my husband has never been there. wondering whether to do another tour(if any leave from Nha trang) or organise it ourselves I can see the appeal of doing a tour, now that I’m doing the research on where to go etc. Can you reccommend a tour company that would be suitable?

    1. Sorry Claire.
      You did not provide email so I cannot respond personally.
      On the right side of my blog you will see a link to The tour company Owee uses
      You will find my recommendation there

  46. Owee,

    My husband and I are from Canada and are now in Bangkok using it as a base to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. We are just retired and plan on being away from home for 2 months or longer. We would like to visit Vietnam in Sept (probably this week) but noted Sept is the worst month to visit Vietnam because of weather. Would you suggest we wait until October? I’ve emailed V’explore to use their services as tour guide but forgot to ask about timing.

    Your advice and suggestion would be most welcome.


  47. Hi, I am thinking of taking a career break at 33yrs old. Am thinking of starting my break visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and maybe Laos and then onto other continents. Are these destinations ok for a single female? I am very much a city girl and have always studied and lived in London. Any help would be appreciated on whether I should DIY or join a group tour. thx!

  48. Hi Owee

    I will be travelling alone for about two weeks around late October early November. I am a 60 year old female. Could you please email me the name/s of your trusted tour companies. I would like a comfortable tour, not 2 star ,but not 5 star either. I would like to go it alone but just not game. Some relaxing beach time would be nice.

    Thanks for the interesting article.

  49. Hi Owee,

    What a fantastic blog you’ve got here! I’m (46) travelling with my partner (52) at the end of January. We’re flying to Bangkok, but only to get us closer to Vietnam! We’re looking for an organised tour of only about 7-8 days, which will end in a 5-6 night stay in a comfortable beach location.

    Thanks for the suggestions for travel companies. With only 7 nights to see the best bits, how would you suggest we spread our days? As an alternative, would it be better sticking to the south and maybe taking in some of Cambodia?

    Also, which beach location would be good? We don’t mind basic accommodation when we’re touring, but would like a few creature comforts to spoil ourselves at the end of our trip!


    1. How about a private tour of the Mekong for 2 nights and than head up th Nha Trang for your beaches. There are also Phu Quoc and Mui Ne….. (not as good as NT in my opinion)
      It might also depend on the time of year you wish to travel
      I will email you

  50. Hi Owee,
    I have been resarching for some time now incl searching trip advisor. Unfortunately we (4 adults/3 teens) only have 1 day to visit the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City and I want to cover the ‘must do’s’ as best I can – like most travellers we are all on a tight budget. One dilema I have is we wanted to see the floating markets but given our tight time frame wondered if this was feasable – given my research so far states – you need to be there very early or it is a waste of time and the more distant floating markets are the best???
    What other sites would you rate as not to be missed (with a 1 day time frame in mind!)
    I wondered if you could give me any advise as to how best meet this probably unrealistic goal?

      1. Hi Owee
        was reading your reply about recommending a decent single day trip to the Cai Be floating markets and would also like to know about that please.

  51. Owee,

    Thanks for the great info & stories about your experience in VN. I’ll be returning to VN for the first time since my family & I left over 30 years ago. My wife & I, 35 years old, have 10 days and would like to see Halong Bay, Saigon & Hoi An/Da Nang. Is that enough time for all those places? Any advice is much appreciated.

    Be well,

    1. You will be rushed Tru,
      2 nights Hanoi
      1 night Halong Bay
      4 nights Hoi An/Danang/Hue
      3 nights Saigon includung a Mekong trip

  52. Thank you for all the time and information you provide tourists. My husband and I are experienced travelers who are active 70 yr olds. We will be in Vietnam in early October. What would be your not to miss places to visit and experiences? Do you have a ‘once in a life time’ thing to do, place to stay, or place to eat? Thank you for recommending your friends at V’Explore. I’ll contact them. Will rain interfere with our travels? Will we want to spend a night in a village near Sapa or stay in Sapa? Do people ever take a day train to Sapa? What would you recommend doing in the Mekong Delta? Any information and help will be greatly appreciated.

  53. Hi Lorraine,
    For Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, I only use one company now.
    There are other decent companies out there, and I have used about 6 of them, but since my reputation is on the line, I can only vouch for ones that ones that I beleive will not let me down. I will also be adding a tour company from Cambodia and Laos (independnts) in the near future. I will email you what I think would be a good itinerary.

    1. Hi Owee, I am trying to book our honey moon to Vietnam in November 2015 on a medium budget saving money where we can on day tours. We are thinking about booking our accommodation and flight through Expedia but I am now wondering if V’Explore could help us with everything. We would like to stay a ween in Ho Chi Min City and a week in Nha Trang doing a few 1 days tours at each. Neither of us have ever been to Vietnam or done a domestic flight in a foreign country so any help would be really appreciate as I am getting very confused researching online especially with the easiest way to get visas from Australia or a VOA. If you could email anything you think would be helpful that would be great.
      Thanks Tara

      1. Yes I can help Tara. VOA is the way to go. I will email you with more information as your answer may be a bit long winded. As to V’Explore looking after everything… They would do a good job for you bit if you intend to only stay in a couple of locations, You will have time to DYI. You can simply use them for shorter excursions such as the Lazy Waterways Mekong Tour. (probably the best Mekong tour available right now)

  54. Hi

    We are in the same boat as Terri
    terri says:
    July 6, 2011 at 02:56
    would you please forward us same info

    thanking you

  55. Hi! I am also planning my 3rd trip to Vietnam this coming end of July. As I am going to Hue and Hoi An, I am still thinking whether to do DIY or take tour. It seems contradicting. Would you recommed DIY or tour for those few places?
    I had travel by Sinh Cafe and also DIY when I was in Saigon and by bike tour when I was in Dalat. This time, it seems very hard to decide. Hope you can help.

  56. I am just starting to do some research for a trip in 2012… You say to provide the tour operators with where you want to go … on the other hand you talk about missing some places because you didn’t know about them.. What “sites”/experiences would you recommend for a first timer? My hubby and I are in our early 60s and want to experience the culture and history of Vietnam. We are also thinking about combining this trip with Cambodia and Laos.

  57. Hi Owee,

    We are first time travellers to Vietnam in August this year and have 14 days; please provide us with the names of three reputable travel companies we can contact. Thank you very much in advance.


    1. I have used a number of companies and have had mixed results. Even though some of the following companies have touters and cheerleaders on some travel forums, (makes me roll my eyes with a groan), here are a few that seem to offer honest service. You will have to decide for yourself who is the best for you. One thing to keep in mind it that they are building a tour based on your interests. You tell them where you want to go and want to see. If they are a worthy company, they will build the trip you want. I may edit this response in the future if my opinions change on any of the service providers………
      Firstly, the company I personally use and will stake my reputation on is V’Explore Travel. They have become good friends and I do not mind giving them a plug even though promoting any special interests is not what this blog is about. You will find information about them on a link to the right.
      A few others that seem to be popular with not too many controversial internet posts are

      Vietland Discovery
      Come and Go Vietnam

      You can also take a look at Tonkin Travel, but I am slightly suspicious about the way some people review them.
      There are some other very good companies that I could name, but their prices stop me from doing so.

  58. Hi Owee – You seem very knowledgable about Vietnam. Can you please tell me which tour companies you recommend? We’re going on our honeymoon and the more I research the more I feel like I don’t want to think about anything while I’m there – I just want to enjoy it. Obviously this is a once in a lifetime trip and we’d like to stay in some nice hotels. Anything you could recommend would be great. Thanks in advance!

  59. Thanks for the information Owee, we are looking at travelling early August. Can you also please pass on information on tour companies? 🙂 Thank you, Shanelle

  60. Hi.. thanks for the great article. Can you pass along some names of the tour companies you trust?

  61. Hi Owee

    Very interesting article. I agree with many of your comments. We are looking at organising a private tour in September (10 days North to South). Would be grateful if you could pass on the name of the company that you were reluctant to plug 😉

    Have heard good thins about T***** Travel and we are also contacting them

    1. Hi Owee,

      We are looking to go to Vietnam for 17 days starting Nov 21st, 2014. Could you recommend some tour company to help us plan?

      thanks a bunch


        1. we will be arriving Dec 29 2014 Ho Chi Min and will spend 5 weeks – any tour company you can suggest would be appreciated

  62. Owee, I was wondering if you have come across Travel Indochina out there on the ground? What do you think of them for a couple of 50-something year olds?

    Thanks for your advice,

  63. The gate is an entrance to an old city dating back to the 12 century.It is on the way to the mental hospital I had to visit for my assesment.hahaha

  64. Very Interesting , I was thinking about doing Vietnam Solo.
    But now I might do both , Solo and Tour Company.