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.
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