1 independent reviews for Vietnam Northern Highlands tour, 6 days

Reviews for Vietnam Northern Highlands tour, 6 days

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review 15 Oct 2022

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

My 19 year old daughter and I went on this trip in September 2022. It was wonderful to experience rural communities with the insights of our amazing guide, Hiep, who was always enthusiastic to stop and speak with people as they went around their activities, in their work and - in the villages - in their homes. The warmth of reception was beautiful, in the home stays and also serendipitously - the tea shared as we were invited in to shelter in someone's house in a downpour. At each of the home stays we were warmly welcomed and included, including at our last Hmong family who were planning a wedding the following day, with much celebration and beautiful rice wine at the dinner. I had not travelled with a guide before, and Hiep's ability to translate not only language, but custom, and to anticipate our questions, was excellent. The countryside into the mountains - tea plantations and rice terraces at harvest time - was spectacular.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

We were novice travelers in Asia, and - with only 9 days away - were probably overly careful to stay well. We avoided initially all fruit, and later in the trip - given the beautiful offerings - ate fruit we could peel ourselves. We had no sign of gastroenteritis. We pre-treated long sleeved clothes with permethrin for the mountain areas, and used DEET 80%. With this we had I think no bites, though others around us were being bitten: I would probably do this again. We carried DEETed mosquito nets for bedding which were not required, as mosquito nets were provided at all of the home stays. The walk on the second last day was at least moderate grade: we covered close to 20km including some steep bits in bamboo forest which were slippery in mud and mossy concrete, on a misty rainy - very atmospheric! - day. It was great and felt fulfilling: we are both fit and I would imagine this particular walk could be challenging for some. My daughter loves running, and felt safe and supported to go for long runs in most of the locales, including laps of the Hanoi lake Hoan Kiem amidst the many early Sunday morning activities: she would list this as a must-do!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, absolutely. The benefit to locals seemed particularly palpable in emergence from COVID - in some areas it felt like we were some of the first non-Vietnamese tourists in a couple of years, and people were very pleased to see us as heralding some return of tourism. The tourism sector was apparently minimally active for around three years, and some of the younger children could not remember seeing foreigners. We stayed in home stays, and one of the joys was seeing produce from the growing through harvesting to preparation and eating stages. For example, we were there just in advance of sticky rice harvest time, at a time when the green sticky rice is harvested and prepared as 'baby rice': threshed then pounded then dry fried for 30 minutes in a large wok over coals, ready to steam and eat. We saw each of these stages, and spoke (translated) with the people involved, then had baby rice eggroll for breakfast the following day: nutty, toasty and textured, beautiful, and only available in this part of Vietnam. We saw similar processing and growing of soybeans/tofu, herbs, tea and indigo. We ate vegetarian food by preference, and I think probably had a week of eating our lowest food mile menu ever.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent. Kudos also to our driver, Mr Binh, who navigated the chaotic traffic in a way that left us always feeling confident and at ease. Overall, the combination of guide, driver, the work on itinerary to take in home stays with ethnic minorities in their traditional houses, and spectacular scenery, made for a wonderful vacation which we would highly recommend.

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