I have recently completed a 5 days 4 nights private tour organised by Mr Linh’s Adventures to Ha Giang and Cao Bang and, in my opinion, it couldn’t have been done any better!
To begin with, my experience with the tour operator Tam has been entirely positive. She was very responsive to all my enquiries. Even after my booking was confirmed, she continued to proactively offer assistance and reminders from time to time. Both the driver and the guide ‘Mike’ / Minh Tu also did a fantastic job. Tu in particular was thoughtful and very attentive and did everything necessary to ensure I got the most out of my journey, including coming up with ‘Plan B’s as required to deal with unexpected circumstances, and even preparing his own homemade crushed peanut garnish in advance just in case my vegetarian meals were not sufficiently appetising! He was also fun to be around, with lots of informative, interesting and often amusing stories to tell about Vietnamese history and culture. He even let me use his mobile data every day!
In short, I have nothing at all to complain about this tour. I have to say, though, the tour was not at all cheap for me as a solo traveller, and indeed very expensive by Vietnamese standard especially when the accommodation (including 2 nights in homestays in villages) was relatively basic although perfectly adequate. On the other hand, if there are 2 or more people on the tour, the cost per person would be significantly less and, considering what you do get, the tour would be more than worth it.
In my case, I couldn’t have done it any other way to cover all the places I wanted to go (including Hang Pac Po) in these remote regions in the limited time I had, without being able to ride a motorbike myself. And as a solo female traveller, I did want to go with a reputable company rather than some randomly picked cheap outfit. Having a Vietnamese guide also allowed me to gain valuable insights into local cultures and to eat where the locals eat which, in the remote towns and villages, would have been difficult as a vegetarian who doesn’t speak any Vietnamese. Speaking of the latter, I was very impressed with the simple but delicious vegetarian food I have had on this tour, comprised of a dizzying range of vegetables including many that I had never seen or even heard of. The locals certainly do a good job with their fresh produce, and also, thanks to Tu for explaining my dietary requirements at every meal!