Our group of three adults and two kids (10, 7) had a brilliant one night stay with Mango Tours. Organised by A&K but with a great guide from Come and Go (the very energetic Lochy) we really enjoyed getting off the beaten path.
Our tour started at 10:30 when we were taken onto the Sampan. It had a small covered lounge at the front and two bedrooms (one for two and one for three) separated by a shared bathroom. Think luxury safari. A corridor runs down one side of the boat with curtains forming the wall to the corridor for the bedrooms. There is an air con unit in each bedroom, useful and night to keep the temp to a very comfortable level. But there isn't much spare room, the bathroom is nice but small and the curtains mean there is a bit of noise. We felt it was like five star camping which was a terrific experience for a night.
Plenty of pampering on board with five staff, great food and drinks and good company. Food is served at the back of the boat on a small open deck between the bedrooms and the kitchen. The engines are right under this area, so it can be noisy and with a vibration. Don't expect a serene trip - these are real Sampans and they have used every inch of the boat. It's also quite noisy at night. The boat did not stop until about 11 pm and then started again at 5 am. You will hear and feel the engines while in bed, particularly if you are in the bedroom closer to the end of the boat. You will also hear engines from other boats passing in the night. They have ear plugs if you are a light sleeper. I slept with them and slept pretty well. For me, the noise was less of an issue than the rock hard bed (it was like sleeping on a piece of wood).
All the meals were great, particularly the dinner meal, set up as a cooking demonstration at your table. After dinner, we relaxed on the front of the boat watching the stars and other boats pass by.
Our extremely attentive guide locked after us the entire trip. After board at 10:30, we got underway for a few hours before stopping to explore one of the islands on foot. It became apparent that we were not going to tourist areas. It was until the floating markets the next morning that we saw another tourist.
After exploring the island, we were back on board for a lovely lunch and more sailing. I the afternoon we disembarked for a cycling tour (our 7 year old taken via moped with the guide). This biking tour was amazing. Visiting rice fields, factories, two temples and a local family. Our ten year old loved biking on the roads with all the chaotic traffic (scary for the first few minutes, but a real adventure). We crossed local pole bridges to rice fields, had tea with Cao Dai priests and dodged traffic on the roads. All without seeing a single tourist.
Back on the boat we headed to an interesting brick factory before settling in for drinks and the cooking demo/dinner mentioned above. After a decent sleep, the boat was underway at 5 am, we were up by 6 am for breakfast at 6:45 before we left the Sampan at 7:30 am and we're transferred to a smaller boat for a tour of the floating markets and a visit to a rice factory. By 10:30 am we were back with our A&K guide.
Everyone agreed it was a great 24 hour adventure, helped by the excellent local guide, great food and that feeling of being off the beat track. No Mosquitos anywhere either. Pack light and bring ear plugs for the evening and you will have a great time.
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