Ms. Elizabeth Lees - USA
Impression: The trip was really great and amazing
The trip was really great and amazing. Being back is kind of well, grey.
All hotels were good, but the Ha An in Hoi An was outstanding. It was beautiful, the room was spacious and comfortable, staff very warm and helpful, great breakfast.
The Sapphire Elegance in Hanoi was very good. Staff was great. There were a few minor things not working in the room- desk lamp, towel rack, but they sent someone to fix right away.
The bungalow at Topas Ecolodge was gorgeous. It might be good to give people heads up about the enthusiastic Red Dao women. They swarmed us when we arrived and when we walked up to the gate to have a look around, and they came along with us on our trek. It was actually an amazing experience- we enjoyed them and made friends with them, but they were pretty aggressive and when, at the end of our trek, we agreed that it was time for us to buy some of their wares, things got pretty chaotic and a little scary as we couldn’t buy from every single one of them. Topas addresses it a bit in their literature.
The Cha Pa hotel in Sapa was very sweet.
As you may have heard, the room we had on our first night at the Frangipani Villa hotel in Siem Reap was not so good. It was drab, the bathtub not clean, there was only one thin towel in the room. The second room (garden/pool view) was much better, much more similar in quality to the hotel rooms we had in Vietnam.
Khanh was very responsive to my email and she had the room changed right away.
The Halong Bay trip was amazing. The Prince Junk was quite nice and our guide was a lot of fun. It’s quite touristy but it was great and not to be missed.
Hanoi was great, especially once we learned to cross the street.
You also may have heard about a rough spot we had regarding tipping. The driver who picked us in in the early morning from the Hanoi train station after the Sapa trip and who drove us to Halong and then back to Hanoi would not accept our tip. The short story is that it wasn’t enough. I went into this in detail in emails to Khanh and Andres. It wasn’t a big deal but it was a little uncomfortable- we felt badly that we didn’t offer enough. Our guide told us what was expected.
We love showing our photos to friends although it’s taking a while to edit them and post them online. And we love talking about the trip.