Family Trip of a Lifetime!!!
Given that this was the first time I have ever used a travel agency, I was initially quite wary. However, after the numerous communications with my Indochina Voyages travel consultant, Ms. Hue Nguyen, I felt relieved because she was extremely helpful, responsive, patient, and knowledgeable and able to answer all my questions and concerns. She allowed me the freedom and helped plan the perfect vacation for my family based on the places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do. Every detail and consideration were attended to and my children, husband, sister-in-law, and I could not stop raving at how amazing this trip was!
From the moment we were picked up from the airport in Hanoi (from the US), we felt so well taken care of. Our first tour guide, Dan, greeted us cheerfully (even though our flight was delayed for > 2 hours and it was almost midnight when we arrived). He and the driver whisked us away in a well air-conditioned van and transferred us to the hotel, helped with our luggages, and helped us check in smoothly. The first impression, in my opinion, is one of the most important and from that initial interaction, I already felt like we would be having a great trip! Dan was our tour guide for 6 days in northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Ninh Binh, Halong Bay) and he was such a joy to be with — he was very knowledgeable about the area and his love for northern Vietnam clearly shined through. He was also quite a funny guy and our children, ages 12 and 10, enjoyed talking and interacting with him. Some of the activities we enjoyed the most were the walking food tour in Hanoi, the trek through the rice fields in Muong Hoa valley in Sapa where our kids got to swim in the river with local H’mong kids, boat ride through the Trang An Landscape Complex in Ninh Binh, and the one night cruise in the Halong Bay on a beautiful and luxurious cruise boat, more like a yacht (Scarlet Pearl Cruise).
After 6 days in northern Vietnam, we flew from Hanoi to Danang and spent 5 days in central Vietnam (Hoi An and Danang). Our tour guide, Truong, was also such a delight and very knowledgeable about this area of the country. On our first night, we explored Hoi An, had one of the most delicious meals ever at the Morning Glory Original restaurant, and experienced a lantern boat ride on Hoi An Old Town’s canal. Another fun activity we did in Hoi An was the cooking class at the Red Bridge Cooking School — we all had a great time, especially our kids, and learned a lot about Vietnamese cuisines. We have never done a cooking class before with our prior travels and this was surprisingly one of the highlights of our trip! The remainder of our stay was at a beautiful 4 bedroom ocean villa at the Danang Marriott Resort and Spa, where we lounged on the beach and by the pool. We also spent a day in Ba Na Hills and saw the famous Golden Bridge (which was quite Insta-worthy). The kids enjoyed the Fantasy Park as well. On one of our free days in Danang, my 12 year old son wanted to fish with local folks and pretty much at the last minute, Hue was able to help arrange that. My son and husband spent a day with local fishermen and had a wonderful time. Furthermore, during our time in Danang, my daughter had a birthday and turned 11 years old and Truong, our tour guide, gave my daughter a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a gift from Indochina Voyages. My daughter was elated and felt so special.
We spent the remainder of our second week in Ho Chi Minh and explored the city as well as the Mekong Delta. Our tour guide there, Minh, was very helpful and provided great guidance. We stayed at one of the most beautiful hotels ever, The Reverie Saigon, and were treated like royalty. One of the highlights was watching the A O Show, an acrobatic cultural spectacle, at the Saigon Opera House. And one thing that I cannot fail to mention is that we had friends from Singapore who were flying to Ho Chi Minh to meet up with us on short notice. I asked Hue to see if the driver could pick them up at the airport and if our two friends could join us on all the tours and excursions, and she gladly agreed to arrange all of that. I was so appreciative of how she accommodated our friends even though it was a last minute request!
After two splendid weeks in Vietnam, we flew from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were graciously greeted at the airport by our tour guide, Vuthy, and the driver and were transferred in a luxurious minivan to our hotel. We spent three days in Siem Reap. On our second day, we woke up at 5:00 am to go see the Angkor Wat at sunrise — it was one of the most majestic views I have ever seen! Vuthy was such an amazing tour guide who clearly loved his country. He had so much knowledge about its tumultuous history and had many stories to share with us. Once again, Hue came through and allowed us to make last minute changes to our itinerary. We had one free day in Siem Reap but decided to visit family in Battambang, which is approximately a 3-hour drive. Hue was able to arrange for the driver to take us there so that we could spend the day in Battambang with our family, which we greatly enjoyed and appreciated.
Our last few days of our 3-week vacation were spent in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, where we explored some must-see attractions such as the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng Museum (S-21 prison), and Choeng Ek killing field with our wonderful tour guide, Vibol (aka Bol), another highly knowledgeable guide who shared so much information with us. It was quite disturbing and sad to see the suffering of the Cambodian people at the hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge but I felt that it was an important part of this country’s history that my kids should know about.
Last, but not least, Indochina Voyages came through again and went above and beyond to ensure our trip was amazing by gifting us a farewell dinner on a river cruise in Phnom Penh. This was the perfect ending to our unforgettable family vacation!
Vietnam and Cambodia have such rich, yet tragic, histories, some of the most breathtaking sceneries we have ever seen, genuinely friendly and beautiful people who have overcome so many trials and tribulations, and the most delicious foods (we ate nonstop). We are a family who loves to travel and go on a major international trip at least once per year (except during the COVID pandemic). This has undoubtedly been one of our favorite vacations. Thank you to Indochina Voyages for making this a family trip of a lifetime!