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Tour company or independently ?

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posts: 15
reviews: 15
Tour company or independently ?

We ( 3 adults) will be visiting Hanoi in June.( never been to Vietnam before ) We usually enjoy travelling on our own as it allows us to enjoy the whole experience. I was wondering if its advisable considering the language and the scamming incidents read about on TA. Also, if going without a tour, what is the best way to get to places outside of Hanoi eg Ninh Binh? Taxi also? Car rental for a few days maybe? Thank you.

posts: 11,551
reviews: 8
1. Re: Tour company or independently ?

Ah, you might have read about scamming incidents, but how many thousands of people have come running to TA specifically to say they weren't scammed? As with life in general, it's the voices of the angry that are loudest.

Apart from taxis (and you really do have to be careful about which ones you use) you are very unlikely to be scammed. The only real scammers I know of are the bogus Red Cross donation collectors - anyone professing to be from the Red Cross should be ignored.

Overcharging by vendors is commonplace, but that can't be called a scam, is certainly not unique to Vietnam, and the amounts are generally miniscule. Street food vendors can be particularly naughty and routinely overcharge non-locals, so don't buy from them unless you know the actual price of what they're selling.

Language is not a problem - just about everybody with whom you will need to exchange words will have at least some English, and anybody connected with the tourism and hotel sectors will have a good command of it.

All hotels have a tour desk and you will be able to book day tours through your hotel, as opposed to using one of the many small walk-in agencies scattered around the Old Quarter, where the staff are not always properly qualified and back-up may not be forthcoming if things don't go according to plan. Car rental is out of the question because it's illegal for foreigners to drive in Vietnam unless they have a Vietnamese license. Hiring a car with driver is easy though.

To answer the question in your title, you most certainly don't need a tour company to organise your trip to Hanoi. Just do what you always do when you travel.

Edited: 1:33 pm, June 01, 2013
Cologne, Germany
posts: 591
reviews: 26
2. Re: Tour company or independently ?

The city is very easy to explore by yourself. The most interesting parts are in walking distance, if you stay in or around the old quarter or just a sort taxi or bus ride away.

If you have some days for outside Hanoi you can do most DIY using buses or trains or taxis. For Halong bay a tour might be easier.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 285
reviews: 16
3. Re: Tour company or independently ?

I would have to concur with the others; Hanoi is an easy place for independent travel. Language is no particular issue, 'scamming' is a hot topic on this forum, but if you find out what the legit taxi companies are your unlikely to have any problems. I had a shop keeper run after me down the street to give me some really small amount of change after buying a bottle of water - now people don't usually come dashing to tripadvisor to tell people about that sort of pleasant experience, but that doesn't mean its not happening :)

Have a fun trip (I totally recommend the ethnology museum)

Edited: 12:08 am, June 02, 2013
posts: 15
reviews: 15
4. Re: Tour company or independently ?

Hi CreakingBones, pzinken & enday_enday, thank you so much for your replies n info. Its quite funny n true that we seldom write in about all the wonderful things total strangers do for us that make a trip memorable, but get all excited over some unpleasant encounter. OK, sounds like going on our own would be good indeed :D

5. Re: Tour company or independently ?

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