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[quote name='PhillyGirl2']We were told not to trust getting an e visa. Someone said that depending on who is on duty checking credentials might not look highly upon this document and could reject it. In his words he said "when entering a Communist country, you don't want to take any chances." However, I would like to hear if anyone else did this. We did send our VISAs through the mail for our China trip and not only did we get them back in plenty of time but we also received a call from the service to clarify something. this was a service recommended by Viking River Cruises. We were told that they had never lost a VISA in 13 years.[/quote]

Thank you, PhillyGirl2,
I live in Mexico so I thought I would check with the Vietnam Embassy in Mexico City to see if I could get my VISA through them. What I got back was a direct link to the vietnamvisa on line service. Oh dear----what to do.
Cheers,
Lorna

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Hello 2Fltravelers!

Thank you for a marvelous review - so very helpful and certainly answered a lot of questions. I also have printed out your review as I know that I will be referring to it often. I and some friends are booked for the December 6 land-cruise trip this year. Now- if I can just figure out how to get a VISA from Mexico---

Thank you again.

Cheers,
Lorna

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Lady Marion:

First let me apologize for not thinking you were on the correct thread-my mistake. In answer To your question about the Mekong Deck cabins, I just checked my pictures of La Marguerite and it shows that all three passenger decks-Mekong, Saigon and the Sun Deck all have picture window and balconies. It is the lowest deck where the crew cabins are that have portholes. All other cabins are the same except for location(hence the difference in price) and if it is a junior suite or suite (located on the top deck only). I actually took a peek in the Mekong Deck cabins and they looked exactly the same as mine on the Saigon Deck. If anyone is interested I can upload some pictures of the ship and our cabin. As I mentioned in my review, the balcony is standing room for two only. I only went out there to take pictures of the sunset one evening.

Freddie:

I also love planning all of my own trips. This was the first time we have ever taken a "tour". I always book our own air, even on cruises so I definitely agree with you on many of your comments. I can't really comment on land tours but I do have a wonderful guide in Saigon if anyone is interested.

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[quote name='snorkling lady']Hello 2Fltravelers!

Thank you for a marvelous review - so very helpful and certainly answered a lot of questions. I also have printed out your review as I know that I will be referring to it often. I and some friends are booked for the December 6 land-cruise trip this year. Now- if I can just figure out how to get a VISA from Mexico---

Thank you again.

Cheers,
Lorna[/QUOTE]


Hi Lorna:

I'm honored that you printed out the review. Did you check the Vietnam Embassy website in Mexico for information on how to obtain the visa? That's how I found out what I needed to do to obtain mine.

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2Flt - According to both the AMA website and the Greentrail-Indochina link I noted above, there are four decks with passenger cabins: Mekong, Tonle, Saigon, and Sadec (Sun Deck). This is the AMA description of Mekong Deck: " 8 Staterooms (226 sq ft) on the Mekong Deck with a Porthole".

As for a guide for our two days in Saigon, we have booked Zoom, based on the many excellent recommendations here on CC and from several friends who have used him. It was encouraging to read your positive comments about him.

Cheers, Fred Edited by freddie

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Hi Freddie:

I know they have those cabins on the Mekong deck but may use them for the guides who travel with us on the river. On our trip all passengers were on the Tonle, Saigon & Sadec decks and we were told it was sold out. I don't know if this is accurate.

I'm so glad that you have booked Zoom.passenger. I think you'll be pleased. Edited by 2Fltravelers
Repeated something

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Hi Fltravelers,

When I commented on your great review, I didn't notice that you were from Hollywood, FL. My grandson is in the brand new Beachside Montessori Village school there. When he got in, it was like winning the lottery!!

Sheila

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We are taking the Amawaterways Mekong trip with land in October and have found your
detailed trip report very helpful. We'll be Hanoi for four extra days pre-trip will book Hanoi Kids for a tour.
A few questions:
Did you meet anyone who obtained their Visas for Vietnam or Cambodia at the consulates/embassies in person? We can get them in New York and wonder if it is a hassle.
You said there were two choices of entree on the boat at dinner. Was one of them, hopefully, Vietnamese or Cambodian each night?
We'll book Hanoi Kids through their website. Did anyone on the tour do a day trip out of Hanoi? We have four days pre-trip and are condsidering one..
Would you please share Zoom's contact info. Thanks for your help. SuSuTrav

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SuSuTrav -

Here is the contact info for Zoom, whose full name is Nguyen Tri Dung:

[email]dungzoom@gmail.com[/email]

We have found him to be remarkably responsive to our emails. It is clear why he has such stellar recommendations here on CC and on TripAdvisor.

2Flt - Like a number of other posters on this tread, I printed out your exellent review and have read it twice already. Several new questions have come with my latest reading:

1. Did you keep the same bus groups (by color) for the cruise part of the trip as for the land part? Were the cruise-only passengers on a separate bus?

2. Which junks did you use on Halong Bay? Were they the Indochina Sails junks?

3. Other than lunch at Cha Ca La Vong, any suggestions for dining in Hanoi? You mentioned your dinner at Green Tangerine but did not comment upon it.

4. Thanks for the great advice about having lots of $1 and $5 dollar bills for the trip. Did you take nice crisp bills? We have found that in some countries, notably Russia, bills of any denomination are not readily accepted unless they are quite new.

Cheers, Fred Edited by freddie

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Fred: I can address a few of a your questions, as we travelled with 2Fltravelers:

We were on the 8 day pre-extensions (Saigon to hanoi - with Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang, in between) - we were 2 buses (green and blue of approx. 18-20 each....When we reached Hanoi, 2 Fltravelers were added to our bus group (green) since we requested to be together... There was one more bus (orange) consisting of those that were taking the 15 day land/cruise portion (2Fltravelers would have been on that bus, if we had not arranged to be together).

The passengers that were cruise only were on a 4th "white" group bus - if I remember correctly.

If you are travelling with others (friends, relatives) - just make sure your TA or AMA has cross-referenced your booking numbers to be assigned to the same bus.

As far as US bills, yes bring crisp bills --- the banks really do not have anyway of collecting old ones and getting new reissued bills, as is done in the US.... In Cambodia, you can have US currency dispensed from the ATM's - remember to push the button "universal" rather than checking or savings, and the machine will work.... You can also have Cambodian Riel dispensed, but since everyone accepts US dollars and/or credit cards, I don't see any reason to carry Riel. In Vietnam the ATM's ONLY dispense Viet Dong (local currency)...

The junks that were used by AMA were Indochina Sails, apparently ours was a few years old (possibly 5 years)...

I will let 2Fltravelers comment on Green Tangerine (we dined with them, but as I was not feeling well, I ordered and ate very bland) - we did eat Italian our first night with them, I believe it was Luna d'Autumno - but again, I'll let 2Fltravelers corroborate that.

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Have been so puzzled about 8 day pre-extension metioned on board from past cruisers and called AMA wondering about it. This was offered by AMA for about the first year the cruise was offered and is no longer. We are taking the 16 day Hanoi to Saigon trip and that is complete AMA offering as for now. Just in case anyone else was wondering.

As to laundry prices, they do not have a list for the Vietnamese boats as they do not own them (they can email European laundry lists however) and their ballpark quote on prices seem way too low so we will wait for actual list on board. (Representative said office mates guessed about $2 for either a shirt or trousers.)

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I was speaking to the Product Manager at AMA, and asked him about the 8 day pre-cruise extension and is it true they are no longer offering it....He said that they had very little response - my sailing was the only one with a substantial number of people ( aprrox 40 people - 2 busses) - they were running it with very low numbers and found it to be not cost-efficient....Also the pre-cruise extension along the coast (China Sea) is not offered September to November due to weather conditions (rain, monsoon?) along the coastal areas.

I am so glad that we were able to do the pre-cruise extension, it was fabulous and we saw so much - the resort at Hoi An was amazing and we had some "beach/resort" time.

I would highly recommend that anyone going to that part of the world spend the extra time/money and find a good tour company/guide to show you this part of Vietnam.

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[quote name='shoshona2']Hi Fltravelers,

When I commented on your great review, I didn't notice that you were from Hollywood, FL. My grandson is in the brand new Beachside Montessori Village school there. When he got in, it was like winning the lottery!!

Sheila[/QUOTE]

Congratulations! I am not familiar with that school as my youngest is graduating from college next month. Pre-school seems like a lifetime ago and there are no grandchildren for us yet.

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[quote name='SuSuTrav']We are taking the Amawaterways Mekong trip with land in October and have found your
detailed trip report very helpful. We'll be Hanoi for four extra days pre-trip will book Hanoi Kids for a tour.
A few questions:
Did you meet anyone who obtained their Visas for Vietnam or Cambodia at the consulates/embassies in person? We can get them in New York and wonder if it is a hassle.
You said there were two choices of entree on the boat at dinner. Was one of them, hopefully, Vietnamese or Cambodian each night?
We'll book Hanoi Kids through their website. Did anyone on the tour do a day trip out of Hanoi? We have four days pre-trip and are condsidering one..
Would you please share Zoom's contact info. Thanks for your help. SuSuTrav[/QUOTE]


Susutrav:

You will be very happy with HanoiKids. It will be a good overview for your time in Hanoi. As I mentioned in my review, you should consider what you want to see on your own and what is covered by AMA and then plan on an itinerary with your university student guide. If you want to go inside Ho Chi Minh's tomb, you may want to go with the HanoiKids guide as we did not go in with AMA. Had I known this in advance, I would have planned to go in with her the day before. I don't know of anyone on our trip that arrived in Hanoi more
than a day before. I think that with 4 days pre-tour you would be wise to take a day trip out of Hanoi as I think 3 days in Hanoi is sufficient. I was interested in the northern highlands (Sapa?) which sounded intriguing but that may be an overnight trip.

You will be very happy with Zoom. We correspond quite often by email and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. Again, I recommend that you tailor your time with him as some of the sights you will have seen with AMA. It just depends on how much you want to repeat, etc,

As for dinner choices on the ship, there were some entree choices that were local such as fish that was prepared in a local style. Mostly, it was the soups and appetizers. Breakfast and lunch had many more local choices as I mentioned in my review. I think that AMA tried to provide a balance between local and Western tastes.

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Freddie:

My dear friend CJCruzer did a great job answering some of your questions. As to restaurants in Hanoi, we heard from the large group on our bus that they enjoyed KOTO which I believe is near the Temple of Literature and is run by a group that trains poor kids to work in the restaurant industry. They said it was a wonderful evening and that the food was very good. Green Tangerine was good but I was not that impressed. The food is Vietnamese/French and the portions were small as I recall. I enjoyed our lunch more that day at Club de L'Oriental. Dinner at Luna d'Atuna was very good but the Italian dinner at La Hostaria in Saigon was better. I will check my notes for the names of some other dining choices that were recommended to us and post them here.

As for the newness of the bills we brought, I did ask my bank for the newest bills they had but I had no problem with any of the bills I used anywhere, some of which I got on the boat and others from fellow passengers.

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As to laundry prices, they do not have a list for the Vietnamese boats as they do not own them (they can email European laundry lists however) and their ballpark quote on prices seem way too low so we will wait for actual list on board. (Representative said office mates guessed about $2 for either a shirt or trousers.)[/QUOTE]

The prices onboard were more expensive than that. I remember that underwear was $2 as were socks. The cheapest price was $1 for a handkerchief. I believe my pants were $4. It was cheaper than the Metropole but not as inexpensive as I thought it would be. I really recommend bringing your laundry to the local laundress. It is an experience that will be an adventure and you will see a great deal more about the culture and life of the locals while providing an income, something that they really need. We used the hotel and boat as a back-up since we did our laundry 4 times in 20 days.

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[quote name='2Fltravelers']Susutrav:

You will be very happy with HanoiKids. It will be a good overview for your time in Hanoi. As I mentioned in my review, you should consider what you want to see on your own and what is covered by AMA and then plan on an itinerary with your university student guide. If you want to go inside Ho Chi Minh's tomb, you may want to go with the HanoiKids guide as we did not go in with AMA. Had I known this in advance, I would have planned to go in with her the day before. I don't know of anyone on our trip that arrived in Hanoi more
than a day before. I think that with 4 days pre-tour you would be wise to take a day trip out of Hanoi as I think 3 days in Hanoi is sufficient. I was interested in the northern highlands (Sapa?) which sounded intriguing but that may be an overnight trip.

You will be very happy with Zoom. We correspond quite often by email and I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time. Again, I recommend that you tailor your time with him as some of the sights you will have seen with AMA. It just depends on how much you want to repeat, etc,

As for dinner choices on the ship, there were some entree choices that were local such as fish that was prepared in a local style. Mostly, it was the soups and appetizers. Breakfast and lunch had many more local choices as I mentioned in my review. I think that AMA tried to provide a balance between local and Western tastes.[/QUOTE]
Thanks again for your valuable trip report 2 FLtravelers.
We like to spend at least a week in major cities when we travel, but may do a day trip from Hanoi; I have a list of them that we're considering. The extra days will also be chance to recover from an intensive trip to far Western China that precedes the AMAWATERWWAYS Mekong trip.
We love Vietnamese food, and look forward to sampling many meals while in Hanoi and
Saigon. Thanks again....SuSuTrav

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Hope 2FLtravelers are checking in every once in a while. Need their expertise. We got our frequent flyer mileage in order and booked Continental/United for our flights using points for next March. We arrive one day early and took your advice and let AMA take care of the hotel and transfers. We thought we would do a half day (afternoon) excursion with Hanoikids. What do you recommend. Should we do the inside of the Ho Chi Minh Masoleum as you pointed out that the AMA tour did not go inside or do you suggest something else.
Looking forward to your advice.
Thank you
Cruzin'd (Donna)- up the road apiece in Boca Raton

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We have just booked the December La Marguerite trip. We were in Hanoi a few years ago and decided to extend a few days in both Hanoi and Saigon. We enjoyed Vietnam and the Vietnamese so much last time we really wanted to see more of the country.

Last December we were on an Antartica expedition with Hurtegruten. This will really be a different experience. No penguins!

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[quote name='snorkling lady']Hi,

Thanks for all the great information. I will be doing the AMAWaterway trip this December. So - my question is: Has anyone used the on-line Vietnam Visa service ([url]www.vietnamvisa.com[/url]) to get the visa? If so, did everything go well? I really don't like sending my passport through the mail and would prefer an electronic service.
Thank you in advance and happy traveling!
Lorna[/QUOTE]

We are also booked for the December trip. Look forward to meeting you.

Armand

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[quote name='exsausd']We are also booked for the December trip. Look forward to meeting you.

Armand[/quote]

Hello Armand,
Are you booked on the December 6 trip? There are three of us who will be traveling together. It will be great to meet you.
Cheers,
Lorna

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Yes, we are on the Dec. 6 trip. We're doing the extensions and will be arriving a day before the tour begins in Hanoi. We were in Hanoi a few years ago and wanted to see a few things that we missed the first time.

Armand

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[QUOTE=cruzin'd;29169984We thought we would do a half day (afternoon) excursion with Hanoikids. What do you recommend. Should we do the inside of the Ho Chi Minh Masoleum as you pointed out that the AMA tour did not go inside or do you suggest something else.
Looking forward to your advice.

Hi Donna:

Sorry for the delay in responding.I was checking in too frequently for awhile and didn't see any posts so I begged off.

I was disappointed that we did not get into the HCM Mausoleum. Since I don't know if that is standard or not with AMA, I would opt for it if you think you want to do it. I was told that his body gets shipped to Russia every September so I don't know when it gets back (assuming that's true). As for a half day, I was happy that we did a full day with Phang. While you can walk around the Old Quarter by yourself, I found it to be helpful to have someone walk me through and explain things since we only had the one day on our own. We are not tour people and like venturing out on our own but with little in English and arriving late the night before, it was a good decision for us. Hope this helps.

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2Fltravelers, thank you for taking the time to answer. We were thinking of a half day tour in Hanoi because we get in late the night before and thought we might need some time to get our "legs". If we don't go to the HCM mausaleum in the morning then we can't go at all because it appears it is closed in the afternoon. We'll see if we can gather our strength for a whole day tour. Any other suggestions will be appreciated.

Again, thank you so much. You guys are the best source of information !

Donna

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