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“Ha Giang and Lao Cai Provinces, North Vietnam”

Custom Vietnam Travel Day Tours
Book In Advance
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US$118.00*
and up
Day Trip to Bac Son Valley from Hanoi
Ranked #1 of 41 Nature & Parks in Hanoi
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Custom Vietnam Travel is a fully licensed tour operator in Hanoi. We specialize in high quality, memorable custom tours. Taking travelers to less-visited destinations to uncover the authentic cultures and beautiful landscapes. You can depend on us to skillfully organize special interest tours, and other comprehensive travel services in Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia. We pride ourselves on our flexibility & attention to what is important for the fulfillment of your travel expectations.
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Ha Giang and Lao Cai Provinces, North Vietnam”
Reviewed 11 November 2012

If you want to experience a beautiful, culturally fascinating, and remote area of Vietnam, I highly recommend taking a tour with Smiley of Custom Vietnam Travel to North Vietnam’s Lao Cai and Ha Giang Provinces, which my wife and I did in April, 2012.
Smiley is a wonderful guide with his great sense of humor. He speaks excellent English and has a good grasp of what interests tourists who wish to learn about Vietnamese life, culture and history. Smiley’s wife, Phuong, was also wonderful in making changes to our flights within Vietnam and to Cambodia. Smiley’s jeep driver did a great job cautiously negotiating the curves of the mountain roads.

The presence of bordering China is strong throughout this scenic and mountainous region but the H’mong, Tay, Thai, Dao and many other “Hill Tribe” ethnic groups who live in this predominantly agrarian area have their own distinctive cultures, dress and homes. Avoiding the best known Hill Tribe town of Sapa, we saw few tourists and during the four day stretch of our trip in Ha Giang Province, we saw a total of four other Westerners.

After Smiley showed us around Hanoi and arranged a wonderful junk boat overnight trip around a less tourist filled route in Halong Bay, my wife and I began our journey from Hanoi to Lao Cai, taking the noisy and bumpy nine hour overnight train with Smiley. When we arrived at 6 am, Smiley's driver was waiting with a jeep. After arriving, we glanced across the river to the China, and then traveled to the small mountain town of Can Cau for the colorful Saturday market full of food, tapestries and buffalo. We spent the night in Bac Ha and woke up to that town's famous Sunday market full of a wide array of food and wares. Go to the Bac Ha market early, before the Korean tourist buses arrive,

After the market, we took a hike through rice paddies observing the hard working, cone hated woman in the fields. We then a boat trip to a nearly village for lunch (as usual during our time in Vietnam, the food was extremely tasty, fresh and bountiful), where the jeep was waiting for a long drive the Panhou Lodge, located in a jungle area near Hoang Su Phi. The lodge is French owned and seemed to have mostly French tourists staying there. The following morning we left to Ha Giang province, again getting close to the Chinese border. After getting travel permits in the provincial capital of Ha Giang, we drove on mountain road switchbacks to the town of Yen Ming, where we stayed the night is the best hotel in town, which was passable but not particularly clean. Be aware that the beds in Ha Giang hotels have mattresses which are as hard as hardwood floors, a sign that the area has yet to change their accommodations to attract Western tourists. But why should they?

From Yen Ming, we traveled to the vibrant town of Dong Van, stopping first at the Saphin to see the H’mong King’s palace. Then, before reaching Dong Van, we came across a small village in the mountains where many children came running up to us, as their mothers were washing clothes in the creek. We had brought pens and clothes to hand out for just this situation, and they were well-received.

After spending a few hours in Dong Van we drove to Meo Vac, where we spent the night is a wonderful room in hotel overlooking the main town park, where boys where playing soccer and a competitive women’s volleyball game was taking place. The drive between Dong Van and Meo Vac is has a reputation of being the most stunning scenic drive in the country and we were not disappointed. We loved our hotel in Meo Vac, with it’s clean and spacious room overlooking the town park and market, I woke up the next morning early to take photos of the children walking to school, shopkeepers opening their businesses, and women pushing carts full of wares. After breakfast, we returned to the provincial capital, where we enjoyed walking around the town, eating dinner and coming across a Chinese ballet troupe performing in an amphitheater. The next day we returned to Hanoi.

You may wish to skip the Panhou Lodge and going straight to Ha Giang, unless you extend the stay there to two nights. It was too much extra driving for one night. I think an extra night or even two in Meo Vac would also be worthwhile, giving you a chance to relax, get a better feel for this pleasant town and spend a full day trekking in the mountains. Smiley will gladly work with you to accommodate your preferences.

Visited April 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Gene M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Smiley-Phuong, Managing Director at Custom Vietnam Travel Day Tours, responded to this review, 18 November 2012
Dear Mr and Mrs Mechanic,

We really appreciate your long and detailed review and comment about our travel service. It was great to see that you and your wife had such a memorable trip "off the beaten track" with us to the Northern mountains and on a private cruise at Halong Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a review. We would love to be your company again for the future adventure!

Best regards,
Phuong Nguyen
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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265 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Vietnamese first
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English first
Frankfurt
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Trip to Bangkok and Hanoi”
Reviewed 18 September 2012

This year in September I went with a friend to Ha Long Bay. Custom Vietnam Travel organized our tour and it was great. The boat "Dragons Pearl III" from Indochina Junk Co. was (except the white color they painted it outside) comfortable and the cabins clean and nice. The trip was well organized by CVT and I would recommend this travel agency to anyone. The boss is called Smiley, a truly great and knowledgeable guide.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
10 Thank Brigitte D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Smiley-Phuong, Managing Director at Custom Vietnam Travel Day Tours, responded to this review, 21 September 2012
Dear Ms Brigitte,
Thank you so much for your kind words about us. We were happy to know that you and your friend had a good time in Hanoi and Halong Bay, even it was quite a short time.

We look forward to your longer trip next year to Vietnam.

Best regards,
Phuong Nguyen
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hanoi, Vietnam
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Brilliant!!!”
Reviewed 17 September 2012

We used this travel agent for a few times when my parents- in-law from England came over for a visit. All I can say is we really enjoyed our trips with this agent. They were really professional, very well- organised. We didn't want to follow the normal tours as other people, and this agent was so good at arranging for us a private program as we needed! Will definitely recommend this travel agent to everyone and we will for sure use this company again

Helpful?
8 Thank hangvp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Ha Long Bay”
Reviewed 13 September 2012

In September a friend and I visited Vietnam and the HaLong-Bay. I knew already Smiley, because he arranged a trip to the BAN GIOC WATERFALL near the chinese border in 2009. It was a wonderful trip and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I contacted Smiley this year again to organize our second trip to Ha Long Bay. He is a real pleasure to be with. He is friendly, attentive and well informed about Vietnamese culture and history. I will always contact him, when I visit VN - something I will do as soon as possible!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
7 Thank Marlis C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The highlight of our Vietnam Adventure”
Reviewed 27 August 2012

We found Custom Vietnam Travel through reviews on Trip Advisor and choosing to structure our holiday with them was the best decision we made for our holiday. They are thoughtful and accommodating and incredibly proud of their beautiful country.
Thank you for arranging such a special trip and for making the chaos of Hanoi familiar and comfortable.
Our day trip to Mai Chau was a highlight, the bicycle tour of Hoi An with the children was a delight and it was an honour to spend our last day in Saigon with Hu (Mango!) the guide who so patiently let me shop in the markets and finished over time!
Smiley and Phuong, you are both one in a million and we all feel touched to have been a part of your world.
Could not recommend Custom Vietnam travel more Highly

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
7 Thank Jaclazza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Smiley-Phuong, Managing Director at Custom Vietnam Travel Day Tours, responded to this review, 26 September 2012
Dear Jaclazza,

Thank you so much for the review. It was our pleasure to customize the holiday for your family. We were indeed happy to know that the whole family enjoyed yourselves very much during your time traveling along the country. I personally was lucky to spend some time with your family in Hanoi, missing the kids. Again, Custom Vietnam Travel thank you so much for your trust and kind support. We certainly hope to see you again.

Best regards,
Phuong Nguyen
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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