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Trip Report Vietnam was made easy by local guides

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My partner and I travelled to Vietnam for just over two weeks in January 2012 with two of our children, aged 14 and twelve. We had some additional challenges as one of our children has poor mobility and can only walk a limited distance. It made it a lot easier for us to allow a local company to research and negotiate accommodation / transport / outings etc. A group called Absolute Vietnam Travel gave us fantastic service and eased our way through all the challenges at very little cost.
It seemed very easy in Vietnam to have a more pampered style of travel than we are accustomed to, with driver-guides very attentive and inexpensive. This meant we had locals fluent in the hard-to-acquire local language to negotiate Cyclo rides, motorcycle doubles for our disabled child, train rides to and from Sapa, Halong Bay cruising, touring Hue and Hoi An etc. We also had excellent guidance about food choices in Hanoi and Sapa. Tailoring a package to suit our needs was readily done.
We felt we had an inside run, and ended up with better lodgings at lower cost than other people we encountered. Our hotel right in the old quarter of Hanoi was very atmospheric.
Walking tours through communities of ethnic minority groups in the Sapa area were a great highlight, and certainly not crowded with tourists, even if there was a bit of clamouring to sell local wares.
Having a locally owned and run company, with good English speaking skills and genuine local knowledge from the guides helped us feel we had a 'real' experience of a small section of Vietnam. I would happily {and lazily!} have the same company organise everything on my behalf for a more extensive trip in the future.

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