Smile Tours OR Smile Tourist?

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#1
Malibu, CA
1,263 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
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
#2
san jose
324 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
Originally posted by MalibuCA
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
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#3
Southwest Florida
10,757 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
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]
#4
Malibu, CA
1,263 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
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
#5
Arizona/Missouri
14,848 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
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.
#6
3 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
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
#7
Oregon
1,392 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by Preston pal
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.
#9
Romsey England
11,492 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
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
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Anyone who looks like their passport photo is too ill to travel (Will Kommen)
#10
Spring, TX
10 Posts
Joined Sep 2015
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?
#11
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
154 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
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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#12
Came from the land above to the Land Downunder
6,432 Posts
Joined May 2008
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.
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yafm11 at tpg.com.au

Airtours: Sundream 4; Sunbird 1; MV Isabella Nile cruise; Thompsons 1; P&O UK 3; MV Victoria Yangtze cruise; P&O Australia 6; MV Royal Star Kenya; RCI Legend/Seas 2; Rhapsody/Seas 2; Voyager/Seas 2; Celebrity Infinity 1; MV Murray Princess river cruise; HAL Oosterdam 1; Carnival Legend 2; Carnival Spirit 1; Princess cruises Sun Princess 7; Dawn Princess 3; Diamond Princess 3; Grand Princess 3; Island Princess 2; Old Royal Princess 2; Sea Princess 2; Emerald Princess 4; Golden Princess 1
#13
Australia
29 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
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