Our first trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, traveling with another couple, and we wanted to experience the country in the company of a knowledgable guide but without the structure of a group tour. On the advice of friends, we contacted Tony Nong of Ann Tours, which operates out of HCMC (Saigon) and Hanoi. He created a 16-day itinerary that took us all around the country, finishing up in Siem Reap, where we toured the ancient temples, including Angkor Wat. After discussing our preferences by email, Tony put together a terrific itinerary for us--varied and comprehensive, with daily opportunities to see the sights, learn the history, meet the people, eat wonderful food, and sample the cultural offerings. It was fascinating to be in a country in economic transition, where so many "realities" exist side by side. We had all done a lot of reading about Vietnam prior to the trip, but it couldn't prepare us for the exciting experience of being there. Our four guides (north, central, south, and Cambodia) were excellent: well-informed, friendly, professional, patient, and courteous. The drivers were excellent too, and they never complained as our luggage got heavier and heavier with our purchases in the local markets. How nice it was to find a clean, air-conditioned van and a bottle of cold water waiting for us just as we finished a long tour on a hot, steamy afternoon. It really made it easier to keep up a good pace as we moved from stop to stop. The hotels Tony picked for us were terrific--comfortable, updated, reflective of the VN aesthetic, and well-located. calming oasis). On meals included in the package, the restaurants were great too, the food fresh, healthy, and unbelievably delicious. Ann Tours really wants you to have a great trip, as evident in the care taken in creating the itinerary, hiring professional guides, and providing outstanding service. We got around from place to place on different means of transportation: private van, boat, flights, train. Our guides made the long drives between cities interesting with cultural mini-stops and informative conversation. We asked a lot of questions about life in VN, politics, the economy, the war, health care, education, job opportunities, etc. etc. They talked about themselves and their families, and asked similar questions about us. They were a personal link to life in your country. And so we learned a lot on those drives. The whole package included everything but airfare and independently arranged meals, and the cost was quite reasonable--especially considering the breadth of our experience and the quality of the hotels and service. A first-rate operation. Highly recommended.
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