I booked a car trip with private driver to do the trip from Hoi An to Hue via the scenic route. I paid, Coral Travel Company Ltd, 45 Le Loi Street Hoi An, $US60 for this trip and was assured at the time of booking I could go via the scenic route and the driver would speak good English and stop wherever I asked him to.
It was the worst trip I have ever done and to say I was terrified is an understatement. There were a number of issues;
I asked him to stop in Da Nang as I wanted to have a quick wander on the beach, his response to this was '10 minutes'. I assumed he was just going to stop further up the coast. After 25 minutes I said again, please can we stop. Same response. He then turned off to go inland which surprised me but I let it go for a bit longer. When we got to the huge rest stop just prior to the tunnel I asked again if we could stop. No, 10 minutes. Well over half an hour had passed.
He did finally stop after the tunnel in a very unsavory spot. I got out of the car in need of a breather, he too got out and then locked the car doors and walked away. Twenty minutes later he came back! I started to ask why we had gone through the tunnel and why we were not on the scenic route. I also asked him to call the travel agent, he refused. He demanded I get in the car, and given that all my luggage was in there I had little choice. I kept asking why we were not going on the scenic route and asking him to call the agent. After some time of constantly questioning him he finally did make a call and speak for about 10 minutes, I spoke to no-one. About half an hour out of the tunnel the phone rang and it was the agent. I was told, without being asked anything that I was not allowed to use bad words at the driver. I was stunned. I had done nothing other than constantly question why we were on the main highway and not taking the scenic route I had paid for. I kept trying to tell the agent that this was what the issue was and that I had said nothing unacceptable. She would not address the issue of why we were not taking the scenic route. She asked me to pass the phone to him which I did and he spoke with her at length.
He drove like a lunatic and refused to turn on the air con even when the car temperature reading was saying it was 41 degrees. In the end I just opened a window and this seemed to tip him over the edge. He slammed the breaks on and got out of the car and started yelling at me, mostly in Vietnamese, and hitting the car door and demanding that I get out of the car as he would take me no further. I was terrified. I was alone, female, and in the middle of nowhere with a huge amount of luggage, in a country whose language I do not speak. He blustered about out of the car for about 10 minutes and then finally got back in and started to drive again.
We made it from Hoi An to Hue, including his 20 minute breakfast break and his rant at me in two and a half hours, pretty sure he thought he was a rally driver!
I tried to call the Blue Coral Travel Co office a number of times once I was back in Hue but it seems the number they gave is only for Vietnamese speakers and they have no web site! They use the same logo as the Blue Coral Dive company but it would seem they may not be associated with them!
They are located in the heart of the Old City, and they have a very prominent position, there is also an ATM in their office, and they look very legitimate but it seems they might be one of those Vietnam con's, and I got conned. It is the first bad experience I have had, and other tours and hotels I have used have been fantastic, so this is not normal even for Vietnam. Interestingly there are some other negative comments about Blue Coral Travel but they have been listed on the Blue Coral Tripadvisor page and there is a response saying they are not associated.