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-   -   Smile Tours OR Smile Tourist? (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2004231)

MalibuCA March 7th, 2014 07:19 PM

Smile Tours OR Smile Tourist?
 
We are looking for a private guide in Ho Chi Minh City. Many CCers have recommended "Smile." There are at least two different companies that go by the name "Smile," and it has been mentioned on these Boards that some tour companies in Vietnam take other company's names so as to take their good reputation along with their business from cruisers like us. This is so confusing.

There seem to be two companies discussed on these Boards: One is: www.smiletoursvietnam.com, and the owner's name is Thi Hoang. The other is: www.smiletourist.com, and the owner is not identified on their website.

For those of you who have toured Vietnam, and specifically, Ho Chi Minh City, please identify which of these companies you used, whether you recommend I contact them, and why.

Thanks,
Shelley

messengerc21 March 8th, 2014 12:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MalibuCA (Post 41956821)
We are looking for a private guide in Ho Chi Minh City. Many CCers have recommended "Smile." There are at least two different companies that go by the name "Smile," and it has been mentioned on these Boards that some tour companies in Vietnam take other company's names so as to take their good reputation along with their business from cruisers like us. This is so confusing.

There seem to be two companies discussed on these Boards: One is: www.smiletoursvietnam.com, and the owner's name is Thi Hoang. The other is: www.smiletourist.com, and the owner is not identified on their website.

For those of you who have toured Vietnam, and specifically, Ho Chi Minh City, please identify which of these companies you used, whether you recommend I contact them, and why.

Thanks,
Shelley

Hi, We just got back from a 2 week Cruise and used Smile with Thi, [email protected] <[email protected]>; They were Outstanding and Thi responded quickly in every question I had for them! Mark Messenger

ghstudio March 8th, 2014 10:32 AM

We were very pleased with smile tours when we used them for all three ports in Vietnam.

Smile Tours Service Int. Co., Ltd.
Add: 72C/2 Binh Thoi, Ward 14, District11, HCMC, Vietnam.
Tel: (84 8) 62642861
Fax: (84 8) 62642863
Cell: (84) 918209273
Website: www.smiletoursvietnam.com
Email: [email protected] ; [email protected]

MalibuCA March 8th, 2014 04:18 PM

Thank you! I've begun communicating with them, and Thi seems very efficient. I'll let you know which company we decide to use. Did you happen to do the evening food tour that Thi offers? Anyone do this?

Thanks,
Shelley

greatam March 9th, 2014 11:33 AM

Be VERY, VERY careful when booking tours in Vietnam and Cambodia. There are MANY, MANY tour agencies that have the SAME or VERY SIMILAR names. And you have no idea unless you do some very, very good research whether you are getting an ORIGINAL tour or a knockoff, which could be anything from seat in coach on another tour company's bus to a company who has NO idea what the pricing should be, how much everything costs and quotes too cheap a price and then the driver is out of gas or has no money to pay entry fees into things you think are prepaid.

Tourism in Vietnam and Cambodia is relatively new (within the last 20 years). Le Von Sinh was the first person who started a tour agency that catered to Western tourists. He is from Saigon but was in San Francisco working as an engineer when he started the very first tour agency in Vietnam. His original agency was called Sinh Cafe, was basically dedicated to backpackers, had a lot of bus and bicycle tours and was in Hanoi. Today, there are Sinh Cafe's all over Hanoi. Probably 50 or more. Some are side by side on the same street. MOST have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the original (which is still in business but Le Von Sinh has nothing to do with it anymore). And who knows what kind of service they provide. And the last time I was in Hanoi (2 years ago-I don't particularly like Hanoi but LOVE Saigon), I even spotted a lot of SINGH Cafe's (with the G-which is the Indian spelling).

You REALLY need to know who you are dealing with. Please be careful. Vietnam Tour agencies are SUPPOSED to have a government license. A lot of them don't. And very, very few, even the big guys, have NO INSURANCE. It is just not customary in Vietnam to have insurance. I move quite a bit of freight from Northern Vietnam to the ports in the South (container space is cheaper) and when I first started doing this, I asked for insurance certs. The people in the office in Saigon (who speak very good English) looked at me like I was NUTS. I now provide my own cargo and liability insurance. So don't think you are getting insurance if a car wreck or similar happens. You MUST depend on your own travel insurance. And there is a fantastic hospital (the Aussie hospital) in Saigon if you need it. I had a car/driver/nurse get me out of Cambodia when I got very, very sick and take me to the Aussie hospital in Saigon. Fantastic service and great co-ordination between my travel insurance policy and the hospital.

Enjoy!!! A fabulous and very industrious country not burdened nearly as much by the Communist way of life with the government controlling most everything as in China.

Preston pal November 30th, 2015 11:09 AM

smile tours
 
We have just returned from a cruise to Asia. In Ho Chi Min city we had a private tour with Smile tours www.smiletoursvietnam.com which was excellent. They met us at the ship after we had given advance personal details. We would definitely recommend them. Full name is Smile tours Service Int.co.Ltd Director is Ma. Hoang Thi Minh Thi

highland cruiser December 1st, 2015 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Preston pal (Post 48403863)
We have just returned from a cruise to Asia. In Ho Chi Min city we had a private tour with Smile tours www.smiletoursvietnam.com which was excellent. They met us at the ship after we had given advance personal details. We would definitely recommend them. Full name is Smile tours Service Int.co.Ltd Director is Ma. Hoang Thi Minh Thi

I have been working with Thi for almost a year now and we are planning 3 tours in Vietnam with her this coming February.
She is wonderful to work with. Very prompt in answering emails and very helpful organizing where we want to go and what we want to see.
I am looking forward to our tours with her and Smiles Tours.

Jade13 January 13th, 2016 11:12 PM

We used Smile Tours and Thi in 2010. Highly recommend.

John Bull January 14th, 2016 09:29 AM

As per Greatam's post, there are a lot of operators with similar names (Smile is a very common one), and some wannabe's deliberately choose a name similar (mebbe even identical) to those with excellent reputations.
So rely on precise web & e-mail addresses given by folk on CC & elsewhere.

JB :)

Pak59 January 19th, 2017 11:41 AM

We are going on a cruise in Feb 2017, and have been speaking with Thi, owner of Smiletoursvietnam. We are thinking of booking 3 tours with them and see that some of you have used this group. Were you satisfied, did they pick you up on time and have you back before the ship left, etc?

epc3099 January 19th, 2017 11:52 PM

We used Smile Tours as well on our visit to Ho Chi Min last year and we highly recommend it. We did a couple of tours on two different days and were picked up on time and made it back to the ship with no problem.


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windsor26 January 20th, 2017 08:12 PM

We have used Thi from Smile many times and have recommended her to friends Never any problems Great service with a Smile She goes mover and above.

Wez May 31st, 2017 09:56 PM

How the heck did they get my private email address when I have never even enquired with them? Also wanting my name, date of birth, PASSPORT number & Nationality! Seems to be the same as the tour operator above. Thi from Smile Tours. They know what dates I will be in Vietnam & what ports I am visiting from which ship. Not happy :(


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