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Hanoi Kids - which tour to take with them?

Hanoi Kids - which tour to take with them?

Jan 29th, 2010, 03:40 AM
  #1  
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Hanoi Kids - which tour to take with them?

We have been in contact with the Hanoi Kids and have been given the following options of tours to do with them. Can any suggest which one would be best done with them and which would be better on one's one?

FULL DAY (normally start at 9am and finish at around 5pm)

* Option 1: Ho chi minh complex, Temple of Literature, Sword lake area and Old Quarter
* Option 2: Temple of Literature, West lake area, Hoalo prison and Museum of Ethnology
* Option 3: Museum of Ethnology and Old Quarter (including Long Bien bridge)
* Option 4: Old Quarter or Museum of Ethnology and 1 out of 2 handicraft villages (Bat Trang pottery village and Van Phuc silk village)
dgunbug is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 04:53 AM
  #2  
 
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It was nice having the Hanoi Kids with us to help us around the Ho Chi Minh complex. I think you can do the Museum of Ethnology and the Old Quarter on your own. We had the Kids at the Temple of Literature and found them somewhat helpful - the two that were with us that day did not speak English very well though. You can always devise your own program as there are two or three museums that might be of interest to you and are not included in these tours. Keep in mind that the HCM Complex and museums are not open every day.
Craig is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 05:42 AM
  #3  
 
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A few thoughts to sift through as you decide.

From a logistical support point of view, you need the help at Ho Chi Minh's tomb because very tight security requires you to leave your camera, bag, any valuables, with someone while you file by his body. Once you get inside, don't put your hands in your pockets, don't smile or laugh, don't press too close to the person in front of you, etc. The guards maintain rigorous -- one might say fussy -- decorum. It is a very interesting experience and quite worthwhile, I think (although I didn't bother to go see Mao's body in Beijing, for some reason). I liked seeing his home as well.

As a westerner who knows no Vietnamese, I find the Museum of Ethnology and the Hoa Lo prison quite manageable to visit on one's own. Deeply knowledgeable guides would enhance the experience as they do anywhere, but casual guides would not likely add much value.

The Temple of Literature is enjoyable on one's own but I would have been pleased to have learned more about what I was seeing from someone truly knowledgeable.

You can enjoy Hoan Kiem (lake) on your own and make your way solo around the ultra-the bustling Old Quarter just fine but company would be lovely IF your companions spoke very good English and IF they had substantial knowledge of the area. Alternatively, it could be fun to stroll and chat and have them guide you through shops in the Old Quarter.

I am not a big fan of Bat Trang pottery village. Others may have had a better experience there.

What are they proposing to show you out in Westlake?

I would try to probe what your prospective hosts know best and capitalize on any opportunities. At the outset, they probably propose what they think tourists want to see. Any special expertise or willingness to get you off the beaten track would be great. Aside from the practical help at the HCM mausoleum though, you don't absolutely need help to navigate any of these places.
marya_ is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 11:03 AM
  #4  
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Thank you both for your insights. I was leaning towards option #1 so you confirmed my own opinion. We will be in Saigon on Saturday and Sunday, reserving Monday for the day trip to the tunnels when things are closed.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 1st, 2010, 05:51 PM
  #5  
 
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dgunbug - let me know how the tour goes, I have reserved the same Option #1 tour in a few weeks. Thanks
ArizonaShyGuy is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 04:56 PM
  #6  
 
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Please report back since I'm also interested in using these guys.
happy_life is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 10:01 PM
  #7  
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I will report back following our trip.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 12:26 PM
  #8  
 
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There is another angle to this. Rather than thinking of them as free tour guides, why not think of them as Vietnamese people you might otherwise not meet. Get them to show you their Hanoi, chat with them about what the various places mean to them, learn about life in contemporary Vietnam, take the opportunity to contrast student life in your country with that in Vietnam... The list goes on.
RedKite is offline  
Feb 5th, 2010, 12:49 PM
  #9  
 
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RedKite has expressed exactly the way to deal with the Kids. IMO you should not be touring with them unless getting to know the Vietnamese people is your goal. We got so much more out of our time with the Hanoikids because of this approach. If you count on them just being tour guides, you may even be disappointed...
Craig is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 07:02 AM
  #10  
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Redkite & Craig - We totally agree with you and intend to enjoy their company, getting an incite into their world, however they have given us a list of tours and we only wondered which option would be best to cover with them. We rarely use tour guides and look at this as the perfect opportunity to get to know the Vietnamese people. Any suggestions on gifts to bring for the kids?
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 07:55 AM
  #11  
 
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Take them to lunch.
Craig is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 01:20 PM
  #12  
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Of course we'll take them to lunch! That's a given.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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You don't need to bring them a gift, just bring an open mind and be willing to listen to a point of view that I guarantee will be different from your own. Again, I suggest you do some research and come up with an itinerary that suits you rather than go with one of the options. The kids will actually take the time to prepare for whatever you suggest in advance so that your visit is worthwhile.
Craig is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 04:39 PM
  #14  
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Craig - do you have any particular suggestions on an itinerary with the kids? We will also spend time with the kids in Saigon.
dgunbug is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 05:15 PM
  #15  
 
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I don't have any suggestions because I don't know you. All I know is when I went to Hanoi, I knew exactly what I wanted to see because I researched it rather than to let someone else determine my priorities. Maybe you are more of a go-with-the-flow kind of person and that is fine. Only you can determine what itinerary is right for you but it will be far more satisfying I think for both you and your guides if you do some research prior to making arrangements. I don't know how many more ways I can say this before you actually get my point. Step out of the box and propose your own itinerary based on what YOU want to do and see.

I have not been to HCMC (formerly Saigon).
Craig is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 10:38 AM
  #16  
 
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I agree with Craig, research and figure out what YOU want to see. when i contacted HK i told them what i wanted to do, they tailored the tour that way (it helped it was pretty much the usual first see's in Hanoi) I took a gift with me and it was some key rings with familiar British images - Underground sign, pillar box and a red phone box- when i gave them to my HK she said Oh just like in Harry Potter and loved them.(of course we also took her to lunch)
Smeagol is offline  

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