Smile or Vietnamese Private Tours

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#1
toms river, nj USA
2,013 Posts
Joined May 2003
I am having a real hard time deciding between these 2 tour companies for Hanoi, Da Nang and HCMC.

Any experiences with these guys? Help Please
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#2
toms river, nj USA
2,013 Posts
Joined May 2003
Thanks for the reply.

We are really trying to use one operator for all 3 locations, they have both given quotes for all 3 but now trying to figure out which operator I should use.
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Carnival Holiday 1991 - Western Caribbean
Norwegian Sea August 2001 - Canada / New England
Carnival Triumph August 2003 - Eastern Caribbean
Celebrity Horizon October 2003 - Bermuda
Vision of the Seas - Northbound Alaska August 2004
NCL Sun - Thanksgiving 2005
NCL Crown - October 2007 - Bermuda
NCL Gem - New Year's 2009
NCL Dawn Thanksgiving Cruise Adrift at Sea
Spirit New Orleans - Free Cruise Dawn Adrift Credit - thank you NCL
NCL Epic - Thanksgiving 2011- 2 BR Haven - No Dead Engines This Time
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NCL Pearl - Walking Dead Sixthman Charter cruise 3 day - so much fun

#3
Came from the land above to the Land Downunder
6,435 Posts
Joined May 2008
smile smile every time used Thi twice and she goes over and beyond great service
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#4
Canada
577 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
We cruised Asia in Jan-Feb 2015 for 28 days. I did extensive research and booked the following:

HO Chi Minh City: I was lucky enough to book ZOOM one year in advance. He toured Chelsey Clinton years ago when her parents were in HCMC. Zoom (be careful as other people try to use his name) was maybe in his 50s with a passion for his country. He was extremely interesting. "My" group was tHe first one to leave the port and we were the last one (I asked the crew how maybe people were still out and he said 5 after scanning my card and 5 people in my group were behind me!) to board the ship at 8pm. Saigon is INCREDIBLE... It took about 1 hour and 20 min to get to Saigon from the port. The highway was very smooth and new... Tell him that The Canadians! are sending you. One of the best guide we have encounter in all our travelling. I believe he used to be a teacher...
My group was 17, we boarded "outside" the port and we paid an EXTREMELY good price compared to bigger companies... We paid him 50% of the cost of the tour through PayPal (8 months in advance but I really wanted to secure him) and everything went very smoothly.

Da Nang: Again, I did extensive research. I found Tommy Dao through only one CC writer. Again, it was in Jan 2014 and there wasn't as much info about Asia then... I organized a tour on CC and to make a long story short, 47 cruisers from our ship used him and his workers. Tommy Dao of Tommy Tours Hoi An was not anywhere to be found on the Internet and he is currently #16/118 on Tripadvisor. I will never forget seeing the first rice field on his tour. You never get tired of looking at rice fields!!! If you are going to Da Nang or Hoi An, consider him.

Everyone spends a lot of money and energy planning for their special Asian cruise, I just Hope people are as fortunate as we were...

The Canadians!
#5
Canada
577 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Hello again,
I just want to expand on our tour in Danang. It was outstanding. We just wish the ship would have been docked longer at port. Tommy had an all-inclusive tour prepared for all of us. We were 12 in "my" group but some group were only two... The lunch was exquisite. Don't make me start with Hoi An... I would love to go back and spend an entire week there. For you ladies out there, my opinion is that the shopping is the best in all Asia (quality/price). Again, Tommy kept 47 cruisers very happy that day... Give him a chance and you will see what a nice young man he is.
Happy travelling!
The Canadians!
#6
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
6 Posts
Joined Oct 2015
Hi, Cashmeremypuppydog,

How do I know whether Zoom is Zoom himself? I contacted a Dung Zoom and he uoted me on a day tour. We will be on Sappphire Princess this December 1.

Superbuddha
#7
Sydney Australia
1,537 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
The real Zoom can be contacted thru this website
http://saigonprivatetour.com/wp/?page_id=39
We toured with him a couple of years ago...
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#8
Canada
577 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by Superbuddha
Hi, Cashmeremypuppydog,

How do I know whether Zoom is Zoom himself? I contacted a Dung Zoom and he uoted me on a day tour. We will be on Sappphire Princess this December 1.

Superbuddha
Hello Superbuddha,
You can find the "real" Zoom at http://saigonprivatetour.com/wp/?page_id=39 as mentioned by Melba51. I hope he is not busy on Dec 1 and he can guide you around HCMC. Enjoy!
The Canadians!
#9
Alabama/RhodeIsland
346 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
I am using for the second time, Ngoan, owner of this agency below. She will work with you for all the locations and give you exactly what you are looking for. I am using her for my trip in Feb. and have everything booked and ready, great to work with.Le Thi Ngoan/ Mrs -Travel Authentic Asia
[email protected] / [email protected]
Website: www.travelauthenticasia.com
You will be glad you went with her and her agency.

Kwar
#10
200 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by cashmeremypuppydog
We cruised Asia in Jan-Feb 2015 for 28 days. I did extensive research and booked the following:

HO Chi Minh City: I was lucky enough to book ZOOM one year in advance. He toured Chelsey Clinton years ago when her parents were in HCMC. Zoom (be careful as other people try to use his name) was maybe in his 50s with a passion for his country. He was extremely interesting. "My" group was tHe first one to leave the port and we were the last one (I asked the crew how maybe people were still out and he said 5 after scanning my card and 5 people in my group were behind me!) to board the ship at 8pm. Saigon is INCREDIBLE... It took about 1 hour and 20 min to get to Saigon from the port. The highway was very smooth and new... Tell him that The Canadians! are sending you. One of the best guide we have encounter in all our travelling. I believe he used to be a teacher...
My group was 17, we boarded "outside" the port and we paid an EXTREMELY good price compared to bigger companies... We paid him 50% of the cost of the tour through PayPal (8 months in advance but I really wanted to secure him) and everything went very smoothly.

Everyone spends a lot of money and energy planning for their special Asian cruise, I just Hope people are as fortunate as we were...

The Canadians!
Our family group of 10 also used Zoom yesterday for our Ho Chi Minh tour and it was a fantastic tour at a cost much lower than the price quoted by the other other tour companies. We also met him outside the gate, which is a 10 minutes walk from the ship. Two members of our family group were disembarking on this port and Zoom rearranged our itinerary so that we can drop them off at the airport at the end of our tour. Zoom's tour includes a Vietnamese noodle lunch at Pho 2000 where Bill Clinton also had lunch when he visited HCM. We visited all the highlights of HCM including a 40 minutes stop at the central market where we bought souvenirs and clothing at super cheap prices. it was raining hard on our way to the port. Zoom was very thoughtful and bought each of us a rain poncho at one of the stalls on the highway.

Our ship, Legend of the Seas, also stopped at Nha Trang. Zoom recommended his partner to us at a price which is also below the cost quoted by other tour companies and it included a Cai river cruise. We also met the Nha Trang tour guide outside the gate, which was a 5 minutes walk from the ship. It was a fantastic tour well worth the money we paid.

Zoom worked as a tour guide for over 10 years with the tour company used by RCCL. You can't go wrong using Zoom as your tour guide. He is very prompt in replying to your email enquiries. A deposit is required to secure your tour with him, and he will confirm receipt as soon as you send the deposit.
#12
Canada
577 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by Trend
How did he ask for the deposit is it through PayPal?
Hello there,
Yes, we did pay our deposit through PayPal. I organized the tour with Zoom but asked all cruisers coming with us to pay their deposit to Zoom. If they were not able to pay, well, they unfornately did not join out group... It is very easy to create an account with PayPal and very secure. Good luck.
The Canadians!
#13
Canada
577 Posts
Joined Oct 2012
Originally posted by verga
Our family group of 10 also used Zoom yesterday for our Ho Chi Minh tour and it was a fantastic tour at a cost much lower than the price quoted by the other other tour companies. We also met him outside the gate, which is a 10 minutes walk from the ship. Two members of our family group were disembarking on this port and Zoom rearranged our itinerary so that we can drop them off at the airport at the end of our tour. Zoom's tour includes a Vietnamese noodle lunch at Pho 2000 where Bill Clinton also had lunch when he visited HCM. We visited all the highlights of HCM including a 40 minutes stop at the central market where we bought souvenirs and clothing at super cheap prices. it was raining hard on our way to the port. Zoom was very thoughtful and bought each of us a rain poncho at one of the stalls on the highway.

Our ship, Legend of the Seas, also stopped at Nha Trang. Zoom recommended his partner to us at a price which is also below the cost quoted by other tour companies and it included a Cai river cruise. We also met the Nha Trang tour guide outside the gate, which was a 5 minutes walk from the ship. It was a fantastic tour well worth the money we paid.

Zoom worked as a tour guide for over 10 years with the tour company used by RCCL. You can't go wrong using Zoom as your tour guide. He is very prompt in replying to your email enquiries. A deposit is required to secure your tour with him, and he will confirm receipt as soon as you send the deposit.
Hello Verga,
Thank you for your detail post. If I remember correctly, we saved $15/person to meet him outside the port. It was totally worth the 5 min walk...

In Nha Trang, I organized another awesome tour. Could you share with us who Zoom suggested you use?

Thanks again for your post.
The Canadians!
#14
200 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by Trend
How did he ask for the deposit is it through PayPal?
We were given two options for payment: direct transfer to Zoom's bank account or by PayPal. We opted to pay by PayPal.
#15
200 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by cashmeremypuppydog
Hello Verga,
Thank you for your detail post. If I remember correctly, we saved $15/person to meet him outside the port. It was totally worth the 5 min walk...

In Nha Trang, I organized another awesome tour. Could you share with us who Zoom suggested you use?

Thanks again for your post.
The Canadians!
Yes, we saved the $15 permit fee per person charged by the port. Definitely worth the 10 mins walk to the gate.

In Nha Trang, Zoom suggested his partner Thao. Unfortunately, I didn't take his email info as everything was done through Zoom. Zoom only provided me with Thao's cell # and Vehicle license plate #. We also met Thao outside the gate and saved $10 or $15 permit fee per person. The walk to the gate is very short.
#16
Spain
154 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by Michael86
Hi guy,
In Ho Chi Minh, you can use services of Smile Travel. In Ha Noi, you should use the services of Vietnamese Private Tours. In Da Nang, you should use local operator here. I have had David Nguyen as my tour guide when I took seaborn cruise Ship at Tien Sa, Da nang. He is an excellent guide, very knowledgeable, professional and friendly. You can contact at: [email protected].
Good luck!
We had all tours with smile tours. Little Ann was really nice. Delta de mekong, HCMC, Halong Bay.

But was really expensive the tours. The problem in Vietnam was, hardly anybody spoke english so there was no chance to get a taxi ourselfes, Was always somebody there taking comisions.
#17
Perth Western Australia
713 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Michael86
If you want your shore excursion cheaper, you can take taxi. Most of driver can speak English. They work in tourism.
Not sure that most can speak English - best to have an address or map to indicate where you want to to.

Taxis are one of the most talked about tourist scams in Vietnam - make sure you only use Vinasun or Mai Linh taxis. Drivers of these cabs wear a Red or Green Tie respectively. If driver not wearting a tie - find another taxi.

And always insist they use the meter although if you use the two companies above rarely a problem.
#18
Perth Western Australia
713 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by Michael86
Hi,
You will see taxi drivers who can speak English inside the port. They work in tourism. For sure. In Chan a May/hue/ Da nang, you can take the private tour with a nice man David at [email protected]. So impressive with his services.
Michael
Michael - you are promoting yourself on this forum - cruisers beware
#19
Spain
154 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
On our Vietnam cruise with azamara we found out it was soooo dificult to get a taxi in the port.
There are so many men around taking comision and asking for high prices.

If you go out of the port and stop a taxi there is the language problem.
You would need to show them on a paper where to go, but in their language.

When we went to Hue in the taxi, the comision men in the port told us a price and we said we would pay this when we are back from Hue.
We arrived in Hue and tried to explain the driver to wait for us 3h there.

In the end, he didnt understand us and looked for us all the time. Was a nightmare really, there was no way to understand him and we speak 3 languages.
#20
Mid Essex UK
779 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
We recently cruised Singapore to Hong Kong and used the services of www.shoreexcursions.asia . We were able to book tours for each port of call in Vietnam and also for Hong Kong. The service we received from Angela at this company was excellent. All our guides were personable and had good English. The prices too were most competitive. We really would highly recommend this company.
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