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“The Vietnamese Bach is a Classic!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of HanoiKids Tour

HanoiKids Tour
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi, Vietnam
+84 978 162 283
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Ranked #1 of 411 Tours & Activities in Hanoi
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: Hanoikids is a volunteer tour guide club of young, friendly and ambitious students who love Hanoi and want to bring local breath to tourists from all over the world. More than all, we are desperate to become little ambassadors of Vietnam.
Cambridge, MA
Top Contributor
95 reviews 95 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 62 cities Reviews in 62 cities
144 helpful votes 144 helpful votes
“The Vietnamese Bach is a Classic!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

The day before I left Ha Noi was clearly a highlight of my time in Viet Nam. I
took a tour from an unusual organization called "Hanoi Kids" that stands in
opposition to all stereotypes of Vietnamese bad service. The organization is a
club of about 200 university students with highly selective membership. Exams
are set for would-be members and they are interviewed to make sure they have
both a strong knowledge of Vietnamese and specifically Ha Noi culture and
geography and are also personable and likely to interact well with visitors.
Only one out of seventeen applicants is accepted.

I don't normally take tours of any kind, but for my last day in Ha Noi I wanted
to go well off the beaten track, and for this Ha Noi Kids seemed just the right
place to check.

They seemed to know what they were letting themselves in for as they assigned
me Bach, one of the tallest Vietnamese I have encountered, to ensure I was kept
under control! I told him that the plan was to go around by public bus, but it
did not quite work out that way due to slow travel times. After the first bus,
we took a taxi to get quickly to the first place we were visiting, the Ha Noi
Museum. We were going to this museum not to see its contents but to admire an
example of government waste. The building is in the style of an upside-down
pyramid, symbolically projecting itself lower and lower into the ground,
indicative of the waste in its construction, Bach told me. The building
contains a mass of poorly-labelled junk: earthenware pots and the like,
randomly scattered, and not the well-annotated story of Ha Noi one might
expect.

There were no other visitors in the vast space... We went next to look at the
Ha Noi city plan in the National Urban Planning Exhibition Center, a building
next door. The exhibition is in Vietnamese only, poorly advertized and, like the
Ha Noi Museum, empty. Bach explained that buildings such as these were
built for opening day ribbon cutting and nobody cared that they were empty thereafter...

We looked at the tall Keangnam apartments from a distance -- and then
went for a peek at Bach's university. We got there by bus and a walk to the
dusty campus whose buildings lack air conditioning. We had a snack and an iced
tea at a student outlet -- quite good, in fact. Plenty of students typing on
laptops...

There were many terrifying roads to cross as part of the day's excursion.
Vehicles never stop for pedestrians -- pedestrian crossings such as exist are
irrelevant. Vehicles neither go faster nor slower when a pedestrian is sighted:
they just keep going. Bach walked into the street holding his hand up to the
vehicles as if to tell them that some foreign tourist was crossing. This made
no difference. The trick to getting across the road is to keep walking at a
steady speed -- yes, you just walk into the traffic and do what the vehicles
are doing. Both you and they keep going regardless, and somehow or other it all
works out. The one thing to note is that you absolutely must not slow down or
stop, for then you will be hit with certainty...

Next, Bach took me to the West Lake -- I'd asked to see examples of houses of
the well off and we walked round rows of neat villas, a number of them blocked
off by forbidding gates. Lunch was at one of Bach's favourite places that
specializes in dry pho -- pho without the soup. We sat on stools in the street
and had several things that looked somewhat odd but were really very good.

And then I'd requested Bach to take me to see the poorest of the poor. Bach made
his one mistake of the day at this point (for which I have ordered him a free one-way ticket
to Singapore to receive a flogging!) and we ended up at an area where wedding
parties go to be photographed alongside flowers. I told Bach this looked far too nice and I
really wanted to get a whiff of Ha Noi's urban despair.

Took another taxi and got to the Long Bien Bridge. There's a railway line over
the bridge and we went first onto the viaduct that contains the station and
from which it is possible to look directly into the private spaces of some very
poor-class housing. It was intriguing to see how at least some of these
properties had been given order -- possessions organized neatly, flower pots
arranged with a touch of class, indications given that life in this location
had permanence and value. You can see the same thing at the vast Khlong Toei in
Bangkok.

We then went in the other direction, in which the railway line crosses the
river. As we approached the river, slums of horrific squalor appeared to the
left. There is a market nearby where most of the people in this housing work.
Its not clear to me why this housing is so much worse than a couple of hundred
feet away. Perhaps it is occupied more briefly by new arrivals who move on as
soon as they can.

Closer to the bridge are market gardens -- a flood of green vegetables as
antidote to the urban chaos nearby.

I'd requested a visit to a shopping center next. On the way, we paused for a
creme caramele that was absolutely French apart from its serving style: the
food comes from a tiny room and is served to diners on low stools in the
street. I craved a cold drink, and Bach indicated a supply of iced lemon tea on
the other side of the road. Everything you'd want in Ha Noi can be found just
by turning your head and searching a bit...

We took a bus to a luxurious shopping center, but I told Bach this wasn't what
I was was after: I wanted something suburban and more ordinary than luxurious.
By this point, however, Bach was in a state of complete exhaustion from his
assignment -- he said he'd been assigned as the only Hanoi Kids member crazy
enough to be able to meet my unusual demands -- but even he had been broken
down by the giddying riding and walking around the city I'd required!

So I told him to put me on a bus to the Mall at Long Bien -- actually the other
side of the Long Bien Bridge. From the bus I texted to ask if he was in an
ambulance yet. "Just got off the ambulance. I'm in the emergency room of Crazy
Hospital," he replied.

In conclusion, Hanoi Kids is justifiably rated as the number one attraction in Hanoi on Tripadvisor. Not only is the concept fantastic, but the delivery is professional in ways that
you will rarely find for any amount of money in Viet Nam. My guide, Bach, was highly
intelligent, brilliantly prepared, confident, and witty -- and even if I did drive him to "Crazy
Hospital," I am sure he will rebound to educate and entertain many after me.

One thing to add: Hanoi Kids ask for nothing. If you have connections to educational or other
opportunities, please feel free to offer advice or any other appropriate assistance. These
wonderful people are the best possible ambassadors for Viet Nam and deserve the brightest
future that can be possible for them.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hanoikids, General Manager at HanoiKids Tour, responded to this review, March 30, 2013
Dear Mr.Patisson
We are delighted that you had a highlight of your time in Viet Nam with us.
Your review is absolutely encouraging, which makes our voluntary work more meaningful. We will certainly pass your good words to Bách
Thank you once again for using our service and wish you all the best !
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New York City, New York
Top Contributor
66 reviews 66 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
230 helpful votes 230 helpful votes
“Wonderful and Positive Experience with Ha Noi Kids”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

I highly recommend the Hanoi Kids experience for any travelers who want to engage with local students in Ha Noi. Please remember that Ha Noi Kids is a student run program and that all the guides are students who want to practice their English skills. Our guides, Bach and Binh, were simply fabulous. We had a healthy exchange of ideas and experiences, beyond a simple tour. They were flexible, funny, smart, and knowledgeable. Be prepared to laugh and have fun. We went to the Temple of Literature and the Ambassador's Pagoda in addition to lunch.

Please be advised that Ha Noi kids really runs from its website. Beware of tour guides or fakes.
Ha Noi kids is an .org organization. It is always free; however, it is nice to make a donation.

Try it. I think you will enjoy it. We did.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hanoikids, Public Relations Manager at HanoiKids Tour, responded to this review, April 10, 2013
Dear Mr. Seanworc
Thank you for the review.
We are happy to hear you liked the tour with us. And do you know the kids who traveled with you are both "superkids" in our club :-)
We look forward to seeing you here in Hanoi once again!
Regards
Tùng
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Great kids”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

My experience with Hanoikids was a very wonderful and enjoyable one. They took us around the Old Quarter doing shopping and also helping us with the language barrier. I must say that they are very knowledgeable and well trained. They are also very friendly and helpful.
Thank you Hanoikids.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SUNDERLAND ENGLAND
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Great Afternoon with Hanoikids”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2013

We were assigned a boy and girl student who arrived at our hotel and confirmed what we would like to do and see. We had booked the old quarter tour but had explored it ourselves the previous night so they were happy to change the itinerary. We then jumped into a taxi and headed off to the Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo prison.Both visits were made infinitely more interesting due to their knowledge, pleasant company and good humour. They gave us quite a few insights into Vietnamese culture also. We finished the afternoon tour with some extremely cheap and extremely good seafood. Many thanks Bach and Ha.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“The most honest tour guide you can find...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2013

Free?? Really?? That's what i'm thinking when i read the review for the 1st time. What type of service they can possibly provide when we pay for nothing ? Hmmm... a but skeptical but my curiosity about their service force me to gamble & contact them to book for half day city tour. Quest what??? It was a great day tour with 2 great kids and a bit regret that i never book for longer tour with them. So i suggest that if possible it will be good if you can have a full day with them to enjoy the city to the max. Just mail to check their availability.

Patiently waiting for 4 of us to arrive our hotel because our flight a bit delayed. We walked to temple of literature from our hotel. After that having lunch Cha Ca La Vong at old quarters. Wandering around old quarters where we try & buy some Vietnam apple & local bread. It is easy to get cheated when buying things but this kids help us to bargain with the local. Having a coffee break with egg-coffee & sunflower seeds, a bit weird but we enjoyed it. Visited the ancient house, walked around the Sword lake while listening to their story. They also company us to search for the cheapest cotton cloth at the local market. Dinner at An-Nisa restaurant and we back to Hotel.

Seriously after half day with them, we really feel more comfortable to just walk around the city. It's the best city tour ever! Love their company & hope that this great service from HanoiKids Tour will be more successful!

Visited February 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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