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Best Value: Vietnam with Smartours or independent?

Best Value: Vietnam with Smartours or independent?

Feb 2nd, 2007, 01:50 PM
  #1  
Syl
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 497
Best Value: Vietnam with Smartours or independent?

I've been researching in depth to find the best value for a 2-3 week trip from Montreal to Vietnam/Siem Reap/Luang Prabang.We're in our 60s,well travelled & prefer independence vs large tour grps.Although Smartours & Friendly Planet seem to offer great value for the price, what are my alternatives considering the cost of airfare & decent accomodations?
Syl is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 03:09 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,987
In my expereience, I can always do better myself than the tours in terms of price.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 03:12 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Oops - I hit post too soon.

Also, the group tours move much too fast, you cover a lot of ground without expereincing much. In three weeks, you could do Luang Prbang, Siem Reap and two locations in Vietnam, but don't try to cover all of VN plus the other places in two to three weeks.

Kathie is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 05:37 PM
  #4  
Syl
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Thanks, Kathie, so which 2 areas of Vietnam do you recommend if we are also going to Siem Reap & Luang Prabang? If you had to plan, would you do the trip differently taking into consideration our time frame & that it's our 1st time in Asia? My husband is also enticed by the tours' deluxe hotels while all I care about is a clean room with a good matress, private bath'm, breakfast incl, & in a good location.Unfortunately, we've got to make a decision soon because the fall tour schedule is coming out mid Feb. & sells out quickly. Thanks for your help.
Syl is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2007, 08:38 PM
  #5  
 
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I note that you want to visit Luang Prabang also but the tours you mentioned don't include this. You would have to arrange this separately. Both Siem Reap and Luang Prabang can be done very easily on your own. In SR a car/driver and perhaps a guide will be needed to visit the temples anyway. In Vietnam it might be advisable to go the tour route. You could fly from Montreal to Bangkok (with probably 2 stops) for around $1400. From Bangkok fly discount airline Air Asia to Hanoi (about $85 including the 700 baht airport tax). Then tour Vietnam ending in Saigon and catch a flight to SR with Vietnam Airlines (under $200). Or if you have the time take a 2 day Mekong river cruise from Saigon to Chau Doc, overnight and then boat to Phnom Penh, stay 1 night and then bus or taxi to Siem Reap. You should spend at least 3 days here. From here fly to Luang Prabang either directly with Laos Airlines (only on certain days) or use Bangkok Airlines (SR/BK/LP). If you use Bangkok Airlines consider their pass which is $107US per flight. Luang Prabang deserves at least 3 days.
Scotters is offline  
Aug 29th, 2007, 03:44 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Hi Syl, I wonder if you made a decision on your trip to Asia? Did you choose SmarTours? My husband and I are planning to spend Christmas with our daughter (who's teaching in Kuala Lumpur)... but would like to see as much as we realistically can of: Hong Kong, Vietnam, Angkor Wat for a couple of weeks before her vacation starts. SmarTours looks interesting and affordable, but it's difficult to know which tour company to pick. Thanks to anyone who's familiar with SmarTours.
DonnaAnn is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 08:51 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Hello from some other Canucks!

We are about the same vintage , and don’t usually use guides, but in Vietnam this can be a wonderful experience for getting to some of those off the beaten path gems.

There is a lovely fellow who works out of Hanoi and goes by the name of “Smiley”. He is a kind person with a great sense of humor and wonderful knowledge of his country.

We have used him many times and would highly recommend him. Others who have used him also rave about his services and great prices. If you would like to contact him he can be reached at [email protected] and his website is www.smileytours.com

Enjoy!
megamiles is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 04:53 PM
  #8  
 
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2-3 weeks is not a lot of time for all those places. Vietnam is a big country and you need at least 3 weeks to do just the main areas. If you want to add Siem Reap and Luang Prabang, you would have to just pick one part of Vietnam, probably northern. In two weeks, you can do 3 places comfortably, 4 if you push i. In 2-3 weeks, you can do 6 at most. Siem Reap and Luang Prabang will already take a full week plus travel time. So you only have a week left, or maybe 10 days. So you should add Hanoi/Halong Bay and maybe HoAn/Hue if you have those extra 5 days.
smartcookie is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 04:54 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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oops, posted too fast.

You can do all of these on your own by just hiring a guide when you arrive. Buy a good guidebook or use Travelfish.org or Frommer's suggested itineraries.
smartcookie is offline  
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