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“Great guides, crappy company”

Vietnam Open Day Tours
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Ranked #336 of 871 Tours in Hanoi
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Owner description: Being located in the very heart of Hanoi City, just five minutes on foot from Hoan Kiem Lake, we provide many tours in the city as well as many other tours in Vietnam with the competitive price for you!
Reviewed 31 August 2013

My friend and I did 2 trips with Vietnam Open Tours. One to Ha Long Bay and the other to Tam Coc. Both of the tour guides were great. Wonderful, respectful, knowledge people. Peter, our young Vietnamese guide was very enjoyable, personable, humorous, and knowledgable.

Tam Coc was pretty nice. Relaxing, enjoyable day. Went to the old capital of Vietnam (kinda boring). Afterward we had a buffet lunch, which served traditional goat meat dishes (average). Then we sat in a boat while a local farmer rowed us down the river and through some limestone caves. The scenery was impressive and peaceful. After that we biked through the local town and went into a traditional Vietnamese home. Then we headed back to Hanoi. All in all, I would do it again...unless I could find another tour group that skipped the old capital.

Both my friend and I were very disappointed with our trip to Ha Long Bay. We expected to be on a nicer ship, as we chose to spend more money to stay on a boat like the one in the pamphlet, which we now refer to as "The Book of Lies." The ship was not in good condition. It needed a good paint job. Our room had plastic covering on the ceiling, because it was leaking water from above. The wood roof deck was in terrible condition. My foot fell through and had I stepped just a bit further to the right, I would have been cut by the jagged broken wood. The smaller boat, which took us to the amazing caves (which were quite amazing) was also in poor condition, with broken wood pieces and exposed rusty nails. Also, my friend was charged for water when we were told that water was included. You will be charged for all beverages. Make sure to bring water with you.

We met some great people on our 2 day, 1 night stay. The staff were very friendly as well.

I don't know if there is a better tour group or boat service, but I would suggest trying to find one as this one was quite underwhelming.

Thank fenixboi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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50 - 54 of 62 reviews

Reviewed 19 July 2013

When I read the earlier reviews, I have to admit that I was taken aback. Unlike the previous travellers, we had experienced nothing but good things during our trip to Hanoi & Halong Bay with Vietnam Open Day Tours.
This was our first trip to Vietnam and we decided to go for a 5d/4n tour. Our tour guide, Tony, was there to fetch us from the airport and he was there with us throughout the whole trip. He even assisted some of us to check in at the airport. I had never been to a tour where the tour guide takes so much pride and personal responsibility to ensure that the customers are well taken care of. Tony's motto is "Your happiness is my success." As a customer, I am certainly impressed.
We were arranged to stay in a comfortable and charming hotel located in the Old Quarter and all transportation to the day's destinations are all taken care of. We are only required to meet up at the lobby at the pre-arranged time. Tony was always on time and he was very clear on his instructions: where to meet, what to bring, what we will be doing, and when.
Two of the days, we spent in Halong Bay and stayed on the Imperial Cruise. The crew was really friendly and although not everyone can speak english very well, they were always During the kayaking session in one of the days, I was without a partner. For safety reasons, we can only kayak in pairs. I was so thankful when Tony volunteered to kayak with me! Otherwise, I will have to give the session a miss.
When we travel, our priority is always safety, experience and value for money. This trip definitely fulfiled all of the above and more. I would definitely recommend this tour (and the tour guide) to any that wants to take a short trip to Vietnam.

2  Thank Zing L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 July 2013 via mobile

We visited the Hanoi office in Hang Than Street based on a local friend's recommendation. For 350k Dong, six of us had a private minibus, English-speaking guide and private boat (built for 48 people, complete with crew, seafood lunch etc), kayaking and cave visit at Ha Long Bay. Simply excellent value. Half what our hotel wanted us to pay for the same thing - without the private boat. Perfect.

Thank AndyL332
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 May 2013

There were so many problems that we encountered throughout our 2-day 1-night tour to Halong Bay that we will only list the most irritating issues, all of which are because of our terriible tour guide Son:

- two minutes after getting into an old kayak with a broken seat, my thoroughly worn-out and shabbily taped-up paddle broke. The end of the paddle just fell off into the water and sunk. I went back and asked for a new paddle and the people at the kayak place yelled at me and said that I broke the paddle and I needed to pay $20 USD for a new one. Instead of defending me, our tour guide (Son) told me that it was definitely my fault and I needed to pay them and if I didn't then he would not let the boat leave and nobody would get dinner. Everyone on board told him how ridiculous this is and that there is NO WAY I should pay for their old defective equipment. I argued and I tried to contact his boss and the people who booked our tour, but after speaking with them on the phone, the tour guide outright lied to me and said that they will not help me and that they all said I should pay. I later found out that this was not true, and that they did want to help but the tour guide would not listen, hung up on them, and lied to me to get me to pay. We think that it's a scam in order for him to get his friends at the kayaking rental facility more money. The paddles are so cheap and poor quality that they are probably not even worth anywhere near $20. I had no intention of paying, but after he literally withheld all the passenger's dinner for almost 2 hours while we were trying to figure out the situation, I eventually felt so bad that I just paid the money so we could leave and eat. Everyone was angry with him but he did not care at all.

- In the tour itinerary, it clearly states that we can go swimming (weather dependent). We even had copies of this and we showed the tour guide when he said there was no way that we could go swimming, despite the gorgeous weather. We tried to get a reasonable excuse out of him as to why we couldn't go, but we just got ridiculous claims such as: "nobody's allowed to go swimming in halong bay anymore" (not true, as we saw many locals swimming near the kayak place); "the swimming area is too far from the caves, so we can't do both caves and go to a beach" (not true, as we ironically drove past a lovely beach 3 minutes after he made this claim, where boats could stop and where people were swimming at the time); "if everyone swims here the water will get too dirty" (because clearly all the plastic water bottles floating around are much less contaminating); "it's not in the schedule so we can't stop to swim. this is not the tour company's fault. it's the fault of your booking agents who gave you incorrect information" (brilliant. because clearly they didn't get their tour descriptions and itineraries from YOUR company). The way that the guide handled the situation was so rude and arrogant. He talked down to us throughout the cruise as though we were pesky little children, ruining his personal vacation.

- we had to stop for 3 different tourist "rest stops" on the way to and from Halong Bay, just so that the company can get money from forcing us into buildings selling low quality, overpriced products. That's a full hour and a half of fun shopping adventures that is not only unadvertised in the tour description, but completely non-negotiable in case your tour group feels like stopping for a little less time, or not at all.

- after arriving back in Hanoi, the minivan pulled up to the side of a busy street. Without even telling us where we were, the tour guide just said: "everyone get out". As a girl was stepping out of the side door, suddenly the police pulled up to the minivan because it was illegally parked. The driver panicked and sped away with the door still open, before the girl had even finished stepping out. She fell out of the minivan but luckily did not hurt herself. We were all shocked, but it was clear that the tour guide did not care. He just wanted to get rid of us, and clearly felt no responsibility whatsoever to take care of us.

Please do yourself a favor and do not book with this tour company!
Their website lies. They do not care about you. They will not take care of you. They will blame you for everything and try to take as much money as possible from you.

If you do a tour and end up with Son, then say your prayers...

5  Thank Markkk_P_D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 May 2013

We booked a trip to halong bay through our hotel with vietnam open tours. We booked a luxury trip as we were advised the quality of the boat and food would be better, and chose a 3 day and 2 nights trip around halong bay and catba bay, and chose to stay in a beach bungalow on catba island. The trip cost 252 US dollars and was out of our budget but decided to splash out for a more luxurious experience. Upon being picked up from our hotel, our tour guide did not know that we had booked the 3 day and 2 night tour and we pointed out to her that we had paid for this trip she told us she would make a telephone call to the office. 30 mins later we were told everything was sorted, and the group of people on the mini bus were separated at halong bay to go on the different boats. The boat we boarded looked nothing like the pictures we had been shown, and we were disappointed at this point however decided to make the best of the tour. The food and rooms were ok, but again did not feel this was the luxury boat we had booked. We got chatting to our fellow passengers only to realise that everyone on board was just doing one night and 2 day tour which we felt was strange as we believed everybody on the boat would be doing the same as us. We were also told by some fellow passengers that they had chosen this tour as the cheapest one, at 60 US dollars. The tour guide told us later that evening that we would be picked up at 7am to go to a different boat, again we felt this was a strange tour. The next morning we were picked up and taken to a lovely boat,luxurious and similar to the pictures we had seen when booking. We went into the dining room for breakfast and attempted to sit at the table and were told that no, we could not sit there and were put on a small games table in the corner of the room. We then realised that in fact, this was the boat we should have been on, and again from speaking to fellow passengers we found out everyone had paid the same price as us. We tried to make the most of the rest of the tour and felt reassured the hotel would resolve our problems, and were indeed advised by the guides that we should speak to the hotel we booked it through on our return there. We arrived back at our hotel and the company agreed to visit us to discuss our complaint. We spent the first 10 minutes being fobbed off by the tour guide they sent on behalf of the company who tried to say there had been no mistake and the boat we were on was the same one we had booked. After 10 frustrating minutes of arguing the tour guide realised we were not stupid and confessed that we should have been on that boat but the air conditioning had broken in the room allocated to us, but they had transferred us to one that was the same quality. We again argued this point, and explained that this should have been pointed out to us before we set off on the trip so that we could go on a different day but on the right boat. We were also very disappointed in this information should have been provided and an apology offered there and then, rather than hoping we would not notice. We were offered 10 dollars each in compensation, and were advised that in fact the tour guides manager had only offered 5 dollars each and he had argued for more on our behalf. We were understandably not happy about this insulting amount of compensation, given the trip cost so much and our first night was ruined. The tour guide just sat there refusing to give any more and we unfortunately had to accept this, but do not wish anyone else to experience what we did an so urge you to reconsider if you are thinking about booking one of these trips. This was expensive even on western terms and to be cheated out of money has really ruined our experience and we would not want anyone to go through this. I would suggest it may be better for the trip to be booked at halong bay as opposed to through tour companies so that you can actually see the boat you are paying for. I would also recommend haggling down the price on any trip, however uncomfortable it may feel at the time.

2  Thank Kate H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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