How was your Explore Tour Leader?
"We had 2 tour leaders, Chinh and Tung.
Both were very helpful and informative.
Tung was very knowledgable about local history and politics."
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
"Some people had clothes/shoes made in Hoi An and were very pleased with them.
Visits to villages from Sapa, be prepared for local women crowding round the bus as soon as you arrive. Quite daunting and they will follow you for the whole walk. Very interesting to chat to and their English is excellent but be prepared for the hard sell at the end.
A budget holiday means hardly any trips are included. Be prepared for lots of extras including tips and taxi fares if you intend to do the optional excursions.
Good for those who prefer to do their own thing rather than spend a lot of time with the group.
Most places accept USD as well as Vietnamese dong but always check. Large restaurant in Hanoi (in Rough Guide) did not take USD. Last night - not enough dong, saved by the credit card!"
Do you have anything else to add?
"Itinerary is inaccurate in places - hopefully should be updated soon.
Day 9 & 13 - you need an overnight bag for the trips to Halong Bay and Mai Chau which is not mentioned.
Day 15 - Main bags have to be left in Hanoi while you spend 5 nights in Sapa and the surrounding area. Make sure you have suitable luggage to accommodate this.
Day 16 - Hotel in Sapa was damp and had mould in the rooms.
Day 17 - No village to visit, no option for traditional herbal bath, no option to shorten walk as bus unable to get to homestay due to condition of roads.
Day 19 - Market trip is actually full day trip.
Day 20 - This will always fall on a Monday when museums in Hanoi are shut. Plan to visit museums on Day 12 instead."