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“Ok, but disappointing” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Ethnic Travel - Day Tours

Ethnic Travel - Day Tours
Lisboa
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Ok, but disappointing”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 28, 2012

We got the 3 days, 2 nights tour to halong and bai tu long bay. Well, first what they told us: free food and drinks, double room on boat on halong; second trip on a sail junk boat, kayaking, bike, some beach, max 10 people and overnight at an old fishermans house With a guide tour for every step.

What really happened: drinks were always by our own and very expensive, like 2.50USD for a tiger beer semi-cold; double rooms were limited on the boat and guesthouse and not enough for every couple on the trip; we were around 13 on the first night and 16 on the second. No junk boat. No explanation for that at all, only by request and vague answer. There was this sensation that the tour was being organized at it was goin on. On the second day we kayaked twice in different locations and we had to take turns because there werent enough kayaks. We also had counterclock beach time, like ten minutes on day 3. The guides were nice but mostly translators and didnt explained much unless you kept asking. Also, the oldman house turned out to be a cheap guesthouse with little interaction, bad rooms but good vibe between tourists.

Overall the trip was nice, the boat avoided the main tourist areas on halong and the sleepover is worth for the sunrise on the bay. The bike tour was nice, bai tu long is a nice getaway from the tourist buzz. We think we paid extra for being "ethnic" And at the end the tour wasnt very well organized but was still worth it despite giving the impression that it was expensive.

Oh, the meals were always good and fulfilling. But no free drinks!

Visited October 2012
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4 Thank zedu v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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nc
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Just ok to Ha Giang”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 24, 2012

Ha Giang was a beautiful place to visit and i'm happy we went up here. The scenery is great. However, the experience with Ethnic Travel was largely disappointing. We chose this tour in a large part because it promised daily hikes. We confirmed this aspect via email and in person in Hanoi. But we only went on one hike in the 5 days. The guide was nice, but was more like a translator to order food than provide information and insights into the places and people we were visiting. The guide never got any of the information we gave to the staff in Hanoi about diet and preferences. We did really enjoy the family homestay near Ha Giang city. But for the price, i was expecting more from the tour company.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank kichizi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hervey Bay, Australia
Level Contributor
72 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Two Tours Two Views - First Review”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2012

We booked with Ethnic Travel for 2 tours. 5 days to Ninh Binh, Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, Quan Lan Island and 8 days to the North West with a short break in Hanoi between the two. They turned out to be 2 different experiences (you would almost think we used 2 different tour companies).
Our first tour started with our guide's arrival at our hotel (on time) to tell us that the company proposed to change the order of our tour because the weather forecast for Halong Bay was for windy/rainy change to arrive in a couple of days so we should go to Halong first. No argument from us. (Now wonder if we were just making up numbers for other tours - hmmm?)
At a rest stop 2 hours down the road we were told that the group which we would join at Halong would not arrive until 1:00pm and that our ETA was 12:00pm so perhaps we should look at souvenirs a little longer. (Perhaps if we had been forewarned we could have had a more leisurely breakfast and a later departure from Hanoi.) We duly arrived at Halong at 12 even after the prolonged stop and then sat in a carpark until after 2:00pm when the other group arrived and we were told to follow them (no explanations, no apologies, and no introduction to the new guide who now seemed to be in charge of the combined group and who had no interest in us). Onto the boat (nice boat, well appointed, good cabins, most uncomfortable deck furniture in the world) where lunch was served and eaten while we sat at the wharf for a further hour. Needless to say that by the time we got under way the day was almost gone and the day's program (visit to a floating village and kayaking) was severely curtailed. Ah well, this is Vietnam and some hiccups can be expected, let's just relax with a nice cold beer - well not so cold, hmmm, $2.50, hmmm, you want a mixed drink? you'll have to buy the whole bottle for $40, hmmmmm, a glass of wine? sorry the bottle or nothing, hmmmm, water/tea/coffee?, $1, hmmmmmm. That's enough! When the start is disappointing it becomes easy to become picky. Suffice to say our Halong Bay experience wasn't quite what we had hoped. Oh and that first evening our guide (for 5 days we thought) informed us that she would take her leave of us back on shore and we would join another group to Bai Tu Long.
Bai Tu Long Bay is lovely, the boat was good, lunch was good, with a bright young guide who included us, and the company was good. Things were looking up. We arrived at Quan Lan Island on dark and were transported to our Home-stay. More a guest house than a home-stay with very little interaction with the family whose house it was. A bit disappointing but we had a nice evening all the same.
Back to the boat (our guide was staying on the island with the party she had brought from Hanoi) - don't worry there will be a guide at the other end to meet you,or maybe not. Someone will take you from the boat to your van which will take you to Ninh Binh. Wellll, that didn't happen either. Finally we found a van but no driver. After 10 minutes a driver appeared, a bit perplexed by these 4 people asking if he was their ride to Ninh Binh. But in we got and off we went. A phone call later and we are told we will change vans in Halong but still no word on our guide.
Skip forward 5 hours and we arrive at our home-stay (well guest house - no interaction here either) in Ninh Binh to be met by four members of the Halong Bay group and their guide (but no guide for us). Not a comfortable re-union. Maybe tomorrow? Why not forget Ninh Binh and join this group who are heading off to somewhere else tomorrow? Pardon?
Tomorrow, finally, a guide of our own and he is very good and we have a good day (but no van, it went with the other group, so perhaps we can walk?). The next day goes well also, then back to Hanoi.
It reads worse than it was. We got round the annoyances and enjoyed the surroundings and sights. It just didn't live up to expectations. These expectations were built on some great reviews on trip advisor and unfortunately we didn't have the experience that some reviewers have had. The world hadn't ended.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank PandLH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Expected more - not at all whay Lonely Planet make them out to be”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2012 via mobile

The booking service was very good until we arrived to the offices on the day of the trip. It was chaotic and somewhat rude. They just paid attention to us regarding paymets but not about our questions. We were promised a tour with maximum 10 people and there were 14. When we questioned this they said the group would split. This didnt happen. The trip on tr boat and the food is very good but the homestay is not very authentic. Yes it is someones house but it is more of an Ethnic travel guesthouse than a homestay. With 14 people on the tour it is difficult to feel like you are on a homestay and the family didn't seem too interesting in interacting with us. Finally, one of the guides, Mimi, was extremely rude to one of the women on the trip, to the extent that the whole group had to intervene to calm her shouting and insults.
Overall it wad extremely disappointing and not at all what Lonely Planet makes it out to be, an authentic way of seeing areas of Vietnam.

Helpful?
10 Thank sica60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chiavenna, Italy
Level Contributor
73 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Alternative tourism!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 14, 2012 via mobile

We found Ethnic Travel on the Lonely Planet (unfortunately we had done our trip to Ha Long with another company)... So we chose the Red River Delta/Nihn Bihn for one day! As promised, we were the only tourists around and we had a personal tour guide: Pilou (sorry for the wrong spelling!). We had a bike ride through the rice fields - very hot and humid but amazing- and then a DELICIOUS (best meal in Vietnam) lunch with a local family! Then afternoon with boat trip on the Red River... We made amazing pictures! Highly recommended! Thanks Ethnic Travels!!!

Helpful?
2 Thank Jade A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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