Many Westerners still view Vietnam through the lens of war, but it is, in reality, a country of captivating natural beauty and tranquility, bustling and safe cities, serene villages, exquisite hotels for all tastes, and delectable food. Over three decades have now passed since Vietnam was officially reunited, and in that time, a remarkable healing process has taken place. Today, the gracious people of this country provide an outstanding travel experience where visitors from all nations are welcomed, and where the excitement and charm of this extraordinary country provide a not-to-be-missed experience.
We, at Vietnam Alive Travel, are here to assist you in facilitating that experience. For many years, we have served as experienced tour guides, tour leaders and tour opperators for discriminating clients. We understand that visitors to Vietnam require a local tour operator that genuinely cares about helping them discover the authentic Vietnam in comfort and safety, and at a fair price designed to meet your budgetary requirements. We commit to our clients that we will do our utmost to make your trip to Vietnam as personally rewarding as possible, and will act as both your friends and as ambassadors for our country to make you feel completely at home.
Vietnam Alive Travel is the premier private tour operator in Vietnam. We offer customized travel services for individuals, families, groups and businesses, including incentives, veteran and theme travel in Vietnam and elsewhere in Indochina.
Just tell us what you would like to see and do, browse through our suggested tours or use Vietnam destinations and travel tips to design your own holiday. Whatever you choose, we will design an itinerary and experience which will suit (and, if desired, expand upon) your own particular special requirements. Before booking your tour with us, be sure to read Vietnam Alive's booking terms and conditions. And if you require a more unconventional experience, check out our special options.
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Mr. klaus boecher (Germany): "Dear Van, still tired and trying to get used to our normal way of life I want to thank you again for the wonderful arrangement, guidance and support during our stay in Vietnam. Thanks to www.traveldudes.org where we found your company amongst the traveldudes community we got in contact with you. When we saw your website we knew that you offer your own trips and after we have travelled with your support we know that these trips will be just as good as you dealt with our trip.
We wanted to meet our Australian friends in Vietnam and travel together just the four of us and keep as much independence as possible. But soon we discovered that we would always need support as we could not hire our own car (tourists are not allowed to drive a car - after having seen the traffic I know why that is so) and as we wanted to see as much as possible we asked if you and your company would be our companions through all our trip instead of finding different partners at the different destinations. What we experienced with you showed us that we made the right decision we are MORE than satisfied because you made our trip to a success story without any worries, hustle and uncertainties - you made it to a real HOLIDAY.
As we are used to travel individually we first were a bit uncertain if we should ask for your company`s support. But after our first contact with you we thought we should give it a chance as we wanted to support a local company and also wished to get good value for our money and because you promised to fullfill our wishes and that you would also be cooperative and flexible during our trip if we wanted to have changes while travelling. Now we must say that you fullfilled your promises better than we had expected. We would give you 10 points out of ten. The trip felt as if it is was our trip but we also felt that we were in good hands and that we were looked after but you never gave us the impression to superwise us.
At the last moment of our planning and after several e-mail contacts (all our e-mails were answered immediately that showed us already how professional and effecient your service was) when it came to the payment we felt a bit uncertain if it was not too much a risk to transfer the full amount of money for our trip. But your payment possibilities with credit card and direct bank transfer (we were warned not to pay to Western Union) and after reading good comments about your company in the New York Times and on your website we took the risk and must say that this was not only safe but the best thing we could have done to give our trip into your hands.
From the first moment when your company was part of our trip when we came to Phnom Penh we realized how much we could trust and rely on you. Everything that you had planned, booked and organized for us was extremely efficient and welcoming. There was never a moment where we felt that we regretted our decision to travel with your assistance and guidance. We really got excellent value for our money.
Here some of the facts that we want to point out:
- your planning advice while planning our trip was quick, efficient, excellent and supportive but never obtrusive.
- what you promised was fullfilled and never exaggerated.
- your guides were always positioned in the area where we travelled to and they showed that they were experts in what they did and their knowledge about the area was excellent. So we met many different characters which made the trip even more interesting and every single person was worth meeting.
- the guides were polite and guided us and gave us the feeling of security at any moment. At the same time they accepted our wish for changes in our programme when we realized that we would prefer something different than it was planned in our itinery. This gave us the feeling that it was our trip and our wish for individuality was fullfilled. The guides tried hard and made everything possible.
- the guides spoke English so good that we never had understanding difficulties (I am sure your German speaking guides will be just as good). They were friendly and we enjoyed their company and their discret guidance because they never took over the trip. Instead they always tried to please us and our wishes and showed a great flexibility and reliability.
- the drivers were save and careful drivers who never put us in any moments of distress. They were punctual and reliable.
- your bookings were excellent and and at every destination a guide, driver or person from the hotel waited for us to take us to the place where we were expected.
- the hotels you booked for us were not only the standard we had asked for. They were extremely well chosen. Their postions were always close to the highlights in walking distance. When we left the hotel we were immediately in the scene. This saved us long taxi rides or walks in the heat. We were always just there where we wanted to be. This was in all places we went to.
- the services in the hotels were great and welcoming.
- now last but not least - to you, Mr Van. Welcoming us as soon as we entered your country (phone call in the hotel in Chau Doc) but also meeting you personally and a member of your office staff was part of a great experience of our visit in Vietnam. You and your staff and all the people that accompanied us personally or in the backgound made our Vietnam visit to an unforgetable holiday. Thank you als for the lovely meal you invited us to when we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City.
We can only encourage Vietnam travellers to travel with Vietnam Alive Travel.
Thank you all. Thank you, VAN. Kind regards
p.s. you can use my e-mail and publish it or extracts of it if you wish. We would also aprreciate if you recommende www.traveldudes.org to your clients".
Mr. Sean Healey, New York, United States: "I just got back from 3 weeks touring Viet Nam and Cambodia. Our tour was planned and executed brilliantly by Vietnam Alive Travel. Van and his team were consistently responsive to our needs, suggestions, and ideas over the planning stages. He responded quickly with expert advice usually within 24 hours. He is highly knowledgeable about these countries. Amazingly, all our flights and guides were on time and highly professional. I encourage you, as Van did to us,to use local guides wherever possible. I experienced Van more as a consultative partner in developing itineraries/destinations than simply a travel agent who books stuff. I am a veteran traveler who has been to most parts of the world many times and I can state unequivocally that Van and his team are at the top of my list as a partner in planning and executing wonderful and satisfying trip experiences. The old adage works here: the more you put in, the more your return will be. Most recommended and endorsed. Cam on, Van!".
Mrs. Sally & Mr. John Kell (Australia): "Hi Van, Sorry for our delay in writing to you ….we wanted to thank you firstly for treating us to the delicious dinner on our first night in Saigon. It was fantastic to meet you and Vy and experience the flying fried rice!! It was such a fun evening and then walking through the night markets with Vy was great. A big thank you to you both. Thank you for organising such a fabulous trip for us – we had an amazing holiday with Gabi and Klaus and the tour you arranged for us was terrific and all the hotels and guides were just great. Vietnam is certainly a fascinating country and we particularly found the people all so friendly and helpful. We certainly have brought home wonderful memories and lots of photos. Warmest greetings to you and your family and again many thanks for all your help.John and Sally."
Mrs. Leslie Bellas (United States, woring in UAE): " We went to Vietnam and had a marvelous trip. We travel extensively and we can say that Van from Vietnam Alive put together a trip tailored to our needs and desire. He advised us where to splurge (Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi and Vinpearl Luxury Resort in Nha Trang - we had kids with us) and where to save a little money without sacrificing much. His guides enthusiastically showed us the Cu Chi Tunnels, arrached for us to bike along the Mekong Delta, visit the art galleries of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, and experience the street life and food. Van definitely took the time to ask us what we wanted to do and prepared an itinerary to deal with our active lifestyle. My husband was shocked that he found a lovely boat (for one day only as we are not cruise people) to tour Ha Long Bay. Van is absolutely geared to customer service. We sometime changed plans on the fly. We had a lovely dinner with him our first night in Ho Chi Minh and we felt like we were seeing a long lost relative. I can recommend Van and Vietnam Alive without any reservation. It was a trip we will remember and we plan to return to Vietnam within the year. – Leslie Bellas, Abu Dhabi "
Mr. Charles E. Flam (Canada): "I have used Vietnam Alive Travel for four visits to Vietnam. Without doubt, Vietnam Alive is Vietnam’s best tour operator. Arrangements are always superb, service is always at the highest level and the advice given is always appropriate. Visiting Vietnam has been one of my most loved travel experiences, thanks mainly to Mr. Van Nguyen from Vietnam Alive. I keep returning for more! I have also recommended Mr. Van to many friends and family members, all of whom have returned to say “it was the trip of a lifetime”. For anyone contemplating travel to Vietnam, I advise using the best: Vietnam Alive Travel."
Ms. Kate Hecht (United States): "We have really enjoyed our adventure here--a tour we planned for just the 2 of us thru Vietnam Alive, a small boutique travel company run very expertly by a young man - Mr. Van Nguyen - in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We flew Hanoi, took the overnight train to and from the mountain/minority area NW of Hanoi on the China boarder (Sapa), over-nighted on a junk in Halong Bay, flew to Hue, drove to Phong Na National Park to see the largest cave by river in the world, drove to Hoi An, flew to Saigon/HCMC, drove to the Mekong Delta and are now flying to Pho Quac Island. We had a driver and tour guide for some of the time and on our own usually one day in each area. Worked out very well. We visited local markets (on land and floating), homes, museums ,schools, small home industries (making rice pancakes, candy, etc). We traveled by motorized boats as well as rowed canoes in the delta. We had many nice surprises, such as a private cooking class, musical performance, wood carving and enameling workplaces and dinner with Van's family at his apartment in Saigon. We learned a lot about recent changes from our young guides, who have grown up after the war, but whose parents ( our age or a little younger) grew up during the French, American, Chinese and Cambodian wars. Vietnam's ancient and recent history is one of repelling invaders. Since the mid 1990's, when the US lifted its embargo, the economy had steadily grown. Where it was considered special to have a bicycle for the family in 1990, now the standard is to have a motor bike and a cell phone. Basic education and health care is available in most places, but costs a fee for everyone except the rural minorities I believe. Ho Chi Minh's pictures, saying and statues are everywhere and he seems to be genuinely venerated as humble liberator of his country. The people were very friendly, quick to smile, and helpful. We had no problems with money (When we arrived we made our first ATM withdrawal - 6,000,000 Dong = $300 USD! We figured out the conversion by moving the decimal point 4 to the left and dividing by 2!). Even crossing the street with the mass of motor bikes wasn't as scary as it seemed when we read about it before we came. Hanoi and Saigon have an interesting mix of restored French Colonial, modern styles and old/moldy buildings. There is a lot of water and parks in both cities, especially Hanoi, and walking was always rewarded by interesting sites, especially all that was carried on scooters such as heavy loads of vegetables to live animals, traveling kitchens and whole stores of things to sell. We often saw bride and grooms posing is parks, along rivers, at churches and even in the middle of the busy street! Classic old buildings were still in use, such as the Central Post Office where half of the old wooden phone booths are now used as ATMs! We really enjoyed all parts of visit and highly suggest Vietnam as a adventure vacation for those of you who haven't been here yet. We have selected just a few of the more than 1000 photos to share with you. We will be back in San Francisco November 24 an wish all a very Happy Thanksgiving. We are very thankful to live in a free and prosperous country, and for the results of the recent presidential election. Love to all, Kate and John" .
Mrs. Susan Harrison (United States, working in Dubai): "Dear Van & Vietnam Alive Team: We wanted to let you and your team know that we had an absolutely fabulous time in Vietnam and are looking forward to returning in the near future. I wholeheartedly believe that your help in organising our tours and Henry our guide made this trip so very special for each of us. With the new direct flight from Dubai I sincerely believe you will see many more visitors from this region. I will do my utmost to promote your services here in the region. Thank you very much for taking such good care of us, we can't wait to return."
Mr. Andrew Davey (UK): "We chose Vietnam Alive to plan our Honeymoon, which is obviously not something you want to get wrong....I could not be happier that we chose them, from the first communication with Van to being dropped at the airport on our last day everything was professional, organised, sensitive, easy and well considered. The guides were knowledgeable, flexible and great company the hotels consistently excellent and ideally placed. I looked into a number of options and what they offer is really unbelievable value too. I had very high hopes for the trip and can honestly say Vietnam Alive over-delivered at every stage - I would strongly recommend. - Andy UK"
Ms. Shelley Flam (Canada): “I have travelled around the world twice in my life and can say - 100% - that Van is the best guide I’ve ever had (he’s guided me 3 times so far). Van is a people person so is able to really listen to his clients and then do all he can to meet their particular needs and interests ... it seems that there is nothing Van cannot do. In everything he does, he is absolutely genuine and trustworthy, so positive and open, very quick and witty, and has tremendous heart. As a guide, he is full of interesting information that he conveys in fun, funny and creative ways. It is clear that he wants his clients to really gain an understanding of his country and culture. Van is one of a very very few service providers I can recommend without any reservation.”
Ms. Judy Jamison - United States: “I would like to thank you and everyone at Vietnam Alive Travel for the great service and you presented Vietnam and Cambodia wonderfully. All the services ran very smoothly every step of the way. We all thoroughly enjoyed our guides in all the cities - Ms. Xuan in Hanoi, Mr. Thanh in Hue and Hoi An, Mr. Phuc in HCMC and Ms. Julie (I dont remember her Khmer name) in Siem Reap. They are so knowledgeable at presenting the history and culture of the countries. We hated to leave every one of them! The drivers were very good and we felt safe as they maneuvered their way through the cities. The accommodations were the best including the locations and the staff at each hotel were wonderful. The Halong Bay cruise was a delight and we were pleasantly surprised at the high level of accommodation and food on the boat - we loved it. The people of Vietnam and Cambodia are so warm and genuine - it was hard to come back. It is hard to say what was the highlight of the trip. I personally think the entire trip was something I will never forget - we will come back and visit Laos next trip."
Mrs. Frank and Wendy Middleton - Australia: "Hi Van, I would like to thank you and your company for the effort that you and your team put in to make your stay in your country a most pleasurable experience, which will leave a lasting impression in our minds. Everything you booked for us was correct and we were met with smiling faces in both Cambodia and Laos the guides were good and at times tried to please too much, the lady that took us from PP to SR talked all the time, we couldn't keep her quite but it was fun. We are in Thailand now and heading home on Tuesday. Once again Wendy and myself want to say a big THANK YOU. Please keep in contact and we will tell all our friends about Vietnamalive and the wonderful work that they do. Your Aussie mates, Frank and Wendy"
Ms. Oanh's family: "Dear Mr. Van, It was so nice meeting you. Thank you so much for the lovely dinner. We all loved it. I cannot think of a better way to end our trip in Viet Nam. We all had a great time during our trip. Your meticulous planning and incorporating all the needs of three families made that possible. We will write more this weekend when we get ourselves a little more settled. Thank you so much again. Oanh"
Mrs. Bonnie (United States): "Now that we are home and missing your beautiful country and the warmth, I wanted to thank you for sharing your home and family with us as well as planning and executing and extraordinary trip. Your guides and drivers were knowledgeable, pleasant and caring. The accommodations were superb. We couldn't have asked for more. Thank!. Bonnie"
Mr. David & Mrs. Nanette Douglass (United States): "Hi Van, We are finally rested and back at work. Thank you again for arranging a great trip for us. It is rare that we finish a trip and we conclude that if we did the trip again we would do everything the same way. In the case of our trip organized by VietnamAlive, we would not have changed anything. The itinerary and lodgings were fantastic. We especially appreciated the generosity and hospitality extended to us by you and your family. We also appreciated your flexibility in accommodating some of the changes we requested during our trip. We wish you and the entire VietnamAlive organization much success and are happy to help you grow your business in any way. Please do not hesitate to use us as a reference for your fine firm. Warm regards, David & Nanette".
Rider University - Accent Travel & MBA (United States): "We, Rider's University EMBA students and professors from New Jersey, US, would like to thank you for the excellent guide service you have provided to us during our business trip. When we arrived at Vietnam we were not sure what to expect. Some of us were even a little bit nervous. But you made the trip exceptional. Your knowledge of the country combined with your sense of humor was something that we will not forget any time soon. A big THANK YOU, for helping us to better understand Vietnamese people, their daily lives, customs and beliefs, as well as Vietnamese history and culture. Thank you for showing us Ho Chi Minh City, a busting city with busy streets of bicycles, which needless to say were a challenge to cross. Thank you for giving us a sample of new and unique cuisine, full of exotic spices. Thank you for your kind smile that will always stay in our memories. Rider University Students (May 28, 2011)"
Ms. Coney Bright (American Express Travel Agent - United States): "I am very impressed with the way Vietnam Alive Travel handled somewhat difficult clients of mine. My clients kept changing their minds about the hotels on the itinerary. This lasted literally up until the week they left. Mr. Van Nguyen from Vietnam Alive Travel was the paragon of patience. Each day he proposed a new itinerary with their chosen hotel and room category. Eventually the clients were pleased. When they arrived home they were thrilled with their trip and offered to be a referral for the supplier. These are well traveled, luxury clients who demand the best. They are now my clients for life. I also used Vietnam Alive for an overnight shore excursion to Angkor Wat from a cruise ship and saved my clients 40% off the cost of the exact same shore excursion with the cruise line. They stayed in the same hotel and saw the same sights, but with a private guide instead of the cruise ship group, all the while saving money. Thank you Van and Hoan. You made me look like an expert, even though I have never been to Vietnam nor Cambodia. I highly recommend Vietnam Alive".
Mrs. Sue Jordan & Daughter (United States): "Our trip was AMAZING! Van, we cannot stop telling all out friends about our time in Vietnam. Your attention to detail, your focus on what was important to us and our comfort made our trip amazing. We appreciated being able to have individual attention from our tour guides. Please use me as reference anytime. Vietnam Alive is the BEST!! I hope someday to come back and visit Laos and Cambodia and hire your company again".
Mrs. Leigh & Mr. Brian Hilton (United States): "When we 2 couples, were checking into a trip to Vietnam we quickly got a message back from Van who runs Vietnamalive and that was our great fortune. Van organized our whole trip from pickups at airport, visas, tours in comfortable vans, flights between cities, the best cabins on Ha Long Bay boats and the best rooms on Sapa trains. His local guides were knowledgeable and spoke English very well. We upgraded to 5 star hotels and they were all awesome. He gave us the choice of changing our itinerary at any time to suit us It was an amazingly well run holiday and we thank Van for all his work. We would highly recommend Van and his company Vietnamalive for your Vietnam and Cambodian travels . . May I add the price was well with in our budget, so much less than going through an American agency"
Mr. Robert Buffington - Australia: “Dear Van, We would like to express our thanks to your company - Vietnam Alive Travel for a really wonderful holiday in Vietnam. Every aspect of it was just perfect. Mr. Thanh Tran made the arrangements very quickly, always answering every question and request with no delay, and making every effort to give us exactly what we wanted. Her judgment on the right hotels was perfect. The guides and drivers were wonderfully helpful. We particularly want to mention Mr. Tran in Hue and Hoi An and Mr. Vu in Ho Chi Minh City. They were amazing, so enthusiastic, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. We have come back to Australia just singing your praises, and urging our friends to use your company for their holidays too. And of course we fell in love with Vietnam - we will come back!. Many thanks to you all.”
Ms. Darcy Volpe (New York, United States): "Thank you so much for arranging such a fabulous trip for us. We had an amazing time. Your country is beautiful and we're so thrilled to have had the opportunity to experience the diversity of each area. I'll take a look at the survey and send to you some time this week. In the meantime, I'd like to express our gratitude for your wonderful service. Our kick-off dinner boat ride was a blast and set the tone for the whole trip. A special thanks goes out to your guide Sa. He has a wonderful disposition and is EXTREMELY knowledgeable and great company to have on a trip. Maureen and Maria said their guide to the Cu Chi tunnels was awesome as well, and we appreciate you making that happen. They are so glad that they did not miss it. Son, in Hanoi, was also terrific. She is smart, personable and she has a great sense of humor. She was extremely accommodating and a pleasure to be with for two days. As for destinations, we especially loved Hoi An and Halong Bay."
Mrs. Terri Baker (United States) regarding to the trip Highlights of Vietnam & Cambodia in Mar, 2011: " General: We would rate our vacation as excellent. The best part of the holiday was the ability to travel in a private large vehicle with excellent guides with safe and cautious drivers. We have traveled extensively and have never used this type of service before. Having a car waiting for us was very efficient, and enabled us to have more time to sightsee. We particularly enjoyed having a guide who was knowledgeable provide us with background information and current information. We learned so much more than is provided in tour books. I don’t believe we were disappointed in any way. Only one time during our visit, did we change a detail, and that was after our night on Halong Bay. According to our itinerary, we were to leave Hanoi at 8:00pm, and we arrived back from the Halong Bay cruise at 2:30 pm. We requested a hotel room for the 5 hours as we all needed showers and someplace to wait. We were able to get one room for all 4 of us and that was perfect. I would recommend that anyone who has the same schedule, to consider having a hotel room waiting for them. It was possible to shower onboard the boat, but not very conveniently. Our guide helped us to negotiate a rate to stay at the Boss Hotel ($30) for that short time, and we very much appreciated his help.
Accommodation: All of our accommodations were very good. We requested 3 star hotels, and we feel we got good value for our money. Obviously, there are “better” hotels available, if one wants to spend more money. Some of our hotels were better than others, such as the Parkview Hotel in Hue, The Kim Tho Hotel in Cantho, and the Bopha Angkor in Cambodia, but the other hotels were just fine. We got good service and the reception was very friendly everywhere. One hotel in particular, Hai Au in Hoi An was extremely attentive. The staff knew all our names upon check-in, and they went out their way to be kind. When we left the hotel, we felt as though we were leaving friends.
Guides: All of our tour guides were knowledgeable and spoke well. We enjoyed each and every one of them. They were all punctual, friendly, and efficient. The memory of each one will be forever tied to the city or area that we visited. I have always felt that it is the people that you meet while you travel that create the most long lasting memories.
Transportation: All the drivers were excellent as well. I never felt unsafe or worried and the streets of Hanoi were challenging! The drivers were all punctual and considerate.
Dining: We ate the local cuisine and enjoyed the food very much. The best breakfast was at the Caulong Hotel in Sapa. It was an extensive buffet with luscious fruit, delectable croissants and pastries, besides the usual fare which was also high quality. The best lunch “set menu” we had was in the Mekong Delta. We had a local specialty which was a fried whole fish and various other courses, each of which was very good. The best set menu for dinner was in Siem Reap before the Aspara dinner show. The buffet exceeded our expectations for a tourist menu; it was extensive and very go. As far as restaurants that we chose and paid for, the best were in Hoi An and Saigon.
Highlights: It was a long overnight trip on the train to Sapa, but the end result was well worth it. In addition to seeing the picturesque mountains enshrouded in a foggy mist, and the painstakingly terraced rice paddies, it was fascinating to be among the Hmong people. There were several moments that startled and surprised us. One such incident occurred when a group of women literally threw themselves against the side of our vehicle all the while showing us items for sale. I will never forget their exuberant and expectant smiling faces peering into the windows. I was entranced with their extraordinary hand stitched garments worn with such dignity amongst dirt roads and rural surroundings. I remember with joy and a tinge of sadness, the 18 year old Hmong girl with her 5 month old baby, walking with me along the small dirt path through her village, speaking perfect English. We sat and watched with smiles on our faces, while two small children played hopscotch barefoot, in the dirt, and enjoyed themselves the way all small children tend to do. It seems no matter how far you travel, children are the same in every culture and that is reassuring and comforting to observe. In other words, the experience there was very personal, very memorable and altogether unexpected.
Saigon was an extraordinary city for us for several reasons. One, our tour guide extraordinaire, Van, graciously accompanied us and imparted a wealth of information which we deeply appreciated. It was definitely a very personal touch for Van to be with us after months of emailing back and forth, and it was much appreciated.
Second, the tour at Cu Chi Tunnels is forever etched in our minds. It was mind boggling to see and enter a tunnel and learn about what life was like for those who lived there. We had our own sense about The Vietnam War (or the American War) but it was very good to learn how it is represented from the other side. We remain convinced that war is not good for anyone. The war museum was difficult to tour, but I think it is necessary to see the atrocities and aftermath, in the hopes that maybe someday we as a people, will learn to avoid war at all costs.
And third, the city itself is a beautiful, thriving and bustling metropolis with beautiful historic buildings as well as great restaurants and shopping. That was a big surprise for me after visiting Hanoi. The two cities are like night and day.
The colorful and boisterous floating market in Cantho was another highlight. We had a personal up close experience there as well. We pulled up to a boat to buy a pineapple and watched an exchange between the seller and a potential buyer. The woman who was selling was in a heated argument with the man who agreed to a price and then tried to lower it. The pineapples were loaded into his boat at that point. Oh my goodness! In the end, the pineapples were taken off his boat and given back to the seller who was none too happy. It was an everyday occurrence for them, but an attention-grabbing memory for us!
Tonle Sap in Cambodia was another fascinating highlight. The lake whose flow changes direction twice a year and the floating village were very intriguing. Angkor Wat, especially the Ta Prohm temple (big roots growing in and through temple walls) provided us with astounding sights and photographs. Our tour guide there was a very likeable and intelligent young man. His plea to us at the end of the tour to return and see the rest of Cambodia was heartwarming.
All in all, it was and will remain one of the most fascinating and educational trips we have ever taken. We are grateful that that we able to travel the entire country from north to south. We wouldn’t change anything in our itinerary. We are highly satisfied and will be please to pass on our praise regarding Vietnam Alive. I am contacting our travel agent to tell her and I will write a review on Trip Advisor as well.
Thank you, Van and Vietnam Alive, for making this a once in a lifetime experience! Terri"
Ms. Carole Scherer (American Express Travel Agent): "I am very impressed with the way Vietnam Alive Travel handled somewhat difficult clients of mine. My clients kept changing their minds about the hotels on the itinerary. This lasted literally up until the week they left. Mr. Van from Vietnam Alive Travel was the paragon of patience. Each day he proposed a new itinerary with their chosen hotel and room category. Eventually the clients were pleased. When they arrived home they were thrilled with their trip and offered to be a referral for the supplier. These are well traveled, luxury clients who demand the best. They are now my clients for life. I also used Vietnam Alive Travel for an overnight shore excursion overland to Angkor Wat from a cruise ship and saved my clients 40% off the cost of the exact same shore excursion overland with the cruise line. They stayed in the same hotel and saw the same sights, but with a private guide instead of the cruise ship group, all the while saving money. Thank you Van! You made me look like an expert, even though I have never been to Indochina. I highly recommend Vietnam Alive Travel."
Ms. Lori Rackl (The Chicago Sun Times): "I highly recommend using Mr. Van Nguyen from for a guided tour. His company, Vietnam Alive Travel, charges $30-$85 a person (the more people, the lower the price) for Cu Chi tunnel tours, including round-trip transportation from Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Alive Travel also offers tours of Saigon and the Mekong Delta, among other places". Lori also has an article about us.
Mrs. Lucy Weir (United States): "My family was first introduced to Mr. Van Nguyen when my 24 year old daughter and her friend visited Vietnam two years ago and Van was her guide. When it was time for me to visit Vietnam last year, my daughter said: "You must use Van". Mr. Van Nguyen has his own travel company-Vietnam Alive Travel and he planned my 21/2 week custom trip to Vietnam, Halong Bay, Cambodia and Laos. All of the guides where very professional,extremely pleasant and accommodating. Everything was perfectly executed, and I am a very discriminating traveler. Van was always very pleasant and willing to please. I would highly recommend Vietnam Alive Travel!"
Mrs & Mr Magrath (Australia): "In 2006 when our friends heard of our interest in travelling to Vietnam, Mr. Van Nguyen was instantly recommended and we were very grateful. From just a few scant details of places of interest, Van arranged a wonderful 21 day tour throughout the country. He covered every aspect from start to finish and certainly made it a wonderful and memorable experience. So much so that we have developed a strong friendship ever since and had no hesitation in booking Van again when we returned a second time. He was always there to greet us at either the airport or the hotel, take care of our luggage and ensure our comfort and safety on every aspect of the journey. His very friendly and relaxed manner made it an absolute pleasure to travel in his company as he imparts his vast knowledge of his country. We have no hesitation in recommending Van and are looking forward to touring with him again in Vietnam and neighbouring countries"
Mr. Gary Feldman (Canada): "Hello Van - What you set out in your agenda was what we received without any problems at all - it enhanced the enjoyment of our trip considerably knowing that we did not have to worry or concern ourselves - if it was on the agenda, we would receive the service. In Phnom Penh, the hotel was beautiful and we were royally treated. I think my favorite hotel was Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap - just beautiful and located in a much more interesting area. I had my first Thai massage there - it was perfect. Although we very much enjoyed our time in Cambodia, I must say I preferred Vietnam - it is a much more lush and beautiful country in my view. Halong Bay is magnificent and we all very much enjoyed our too short cruise on the junk - Debby and I were even upgraded to the main suite because of a leak in our cabin. Again, our guide Suan (I apologize for misspellings) was an absolute pleasure to be with. She was young, had much to say about many topics, was very forthcoming, answered our many questions and did all she could to enhance our pleasure. The Hanoi Hilton (as opposed to Hao Lo Hilton) was a wonderful choice and well located. You know we were looking forward to spending time with you in the south but fate intervened and we are very happy for your new addition. If we couldn't be with you, Triet was a perfect substitute. He is smart and very well informed and like the others was happy to put up with our endless stream of questions and definitely helped us to better understand the people and culture of Vietnam. The Majestic was a wonderful choice. I am not sure exactly what I anticipated seeing in the Mekong Delta but it was more lush and advanced and built up than I had anticipated and the drive and boating tours were illuminating. As you can tell Van, I have no negative comments (except the overwhelming heat and humidity) which you cannot control and which did not stop us from doing all we wanted to do. The best compliment I can pay is to say if I had the chance to make changes to the agenda, I would change nothing. I only wish we could have had more time to explore other areas but that will have to wait for the next opportunity. Of all the wondrous sites (Angkor Wat, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and grounds, the city of Saigon, Cu Chi tunnels, etc), the most wondrous was watching the flow of traffic - it had been described to me but it is unbelievable in Hanoi and Saigon to actually watch but somehow it works! By the time we were finished, I was crossing the streets like a native. I don't know what else I can add except again to thank you for all your efforts. Be well - hope to see you again Van."
Mr. Martin Rolls (Norway): "My wife and I have returned from our holiday in Vietnam. We would both like to thank you and your colleagues for making our visit such a memorable one. We enjoyed every aspect of our trip and found the Vietnam people to be very friendly and helpful at all times. We intend to recommend Vietnam and your services to our friends here in Norway. We also plan to return at some point in the next few years to maybe include the northern part of your country as well. Once again thank you very much for all of your help in organising a trouble free trip for us".
Mr. Alan Phillips (U.S Army): "Dear Van, You were our guide on 24 February, 2010 - we were a party of eight on the ship Nautica if you recall. The rest of our trip in Asia went well but you were our best guide! Perhaps you remember that I had a street map of Saigon dating from my time there in the 60's and you were interested in the street names. If you would like I would be happy to scan my map, in several sections, and email it to you. Just let me know. Thanks again for an excellent tour".
Justin and Dara (United States): "Hi Van, after a long time travelling, we finally made it home to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I just wanted to write again to say thank you. We only had one whole day in Ho Chi Minh City and I am convinced we found the best person in all of Vietnam to spend it with. Dara and I can't stop talking about how awesome our day with you was. You actually made us both upset we couldn't spend many more days there with you. We also have been talking about you to all of our friends and family. We will, without a doubt, forward all of your infirmation to anyone we know travelling to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. You were very knowledgable, professional and well organized with emails and the itinerary. We learned more about your city and the war from you than we did in our days at school. We loved how you had an open-ended view of the war and told the truth from both sides. You gave us the best day on out trip to S.E. Asia and memories of things we will remember forever. If you ever come to our area for any reason in the future, you have friends here. I plan to keep in touch with you and hopefully get more amazing tours with you in the future. Keep up the excellent work in the tourism industry and good things will follow! Thanks again, Van".
The Taich Family (Chicago, United States): "Dear Van, many many thanks for making our trip to Saigon so absolutely wonderful & memorable! Hope to see you in Chicago some day soon! Warmest personal regards, the Taich Family: Sarah, Jim, Elizabeth, Spencer and Catherine"
Mrs. Norman & Mr. David Lorry (United States): " This is the second time I have used Vietnam Alive Travel's services and I have been pleased each time. What is excellent about your work is that you are reliable and do what you say you are going to do. Those actions breed trust and confidence. Before I arrived in Cambodia and we were conversing by e-mail, each time you said you would check on something and get back to me you did so in a timely manner and with the information I needed. You told me my flight tickets from Siemriep to Saigon would be at Hotel De La Paix hotel when I arrived and they were. Everywhere I went I found the Cambodian people to be genuine in their wish to help and their effort to please. You extended the same feeling on behalf of your organization and I thank you for it. I have been in 52 countries in the last 20 years and I am most impressed with the experiences I have had in Cambodia which was arranged by Vietnam Alive Travel. My heart goes out to all the Khmer people. I will return to your beautiful country and it's wonderful people."
Mr. David Guia (United States): "Hi Van, I am pleased to report that all aspects of our trip were exquisitely handled by Vietnam Alive Travel. Every meeting, every tour, every aspect of our journey was managed with the utmost of care to our needs and exceptional attention to detail. We cannot overemphasize our extreme level of satisfaction with all of your people who helped make our first visit to Vietnam one that we’ll always remember – and hope to soon repeat".
Mr. Jan Parott (Unites States, client from All Tour-American Express Travel Agent): "The services provided by Vietnam Alive Travel were beyond our expectations. Everything promised was delivered, and then some!! From the moment we were greeted at each airport, until the time we were taking off for the next city, we felt secure, comfortable and relaxed, knowing there was nothing for us to think about other than having a good time! Each guide and driver was outstanding, making it impossible for us to single any one out. They were all extremely knowledgeable, professional, reliable, and added the personal touch that enabled us to truly understand the culture, history and nuances of each city we visited. Our guides were all flexible and took great interest in personalizing our experiences, based on our interests and their good judgment. Thus, we felt like we were with good friends and family, all of whom we would love to see again!"
Mr. Chris Dickey (US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam): "Dear Mr. Van Nguyen, great job! I will definitely recommend your services for future consular events. Thank you!"
Mr. Kim Loo (Philiphine): "Dear Van, I would like to say a big Thank You and well done to your hard work. With your good coordination, everything went smoothly accordingly to plan. My family are having a good times with the good services of the tour guides and drivers".
Mrs. Joan Kennet (Unites States): "Hi Van, we want to thank you for all the things you did personally for us on our trip to Indochina. We were amazed at the little personal touches - The phone call from you to us in Ho Chi Minh City, the replacement of Bernie’s small T-shirt with two larger ones, the arranging of the birthday celebration, complete with singing and birthday cake at the Apsara dance show in Siem Reap, and finally the lovely white roses and expression of sympathy when I was sick in Saigon! We know that you were involved in all of these actions and they were such nice touches – thank you!"
Ms. Shirley Juay (Hongkong): "Dear Van Nguyen, Sorry for sending you photos late as I have been really busy ever since I come back from Vietnam. I have enjoyed my trip tremendously because I have a bunch of fun loving friends with me. The tour guide, Miss Huong in Hanoi, is also a friendly and helpful tour guide who is very accommodating to all our needs and made a difference in service level. Many people tell me that I have nothing much to buy in Vietnam. I actually do not bring a lot of money in Vietnam for me to buy back all the lovely stuffs that I wanted. What a waste. Vietnam has all the beautiful exquisite handicrafts that are cheap! Goes without saying the lovely bags and shoes, they were so cheap that I bought a lot. Not enough to give to my friends. Anyway I have not enough space to stuff in that big luggage bag of mine. Almost explode. The hotels rooms were large and nice for both hotels. But I regretted paying higher price for a better room because I realised my friends were so active that we came back very late in the evening, after 10pm, to shower, watch TV till we sleep. I also enjoyed Vietnamese food a lot. They were tasty and to my likings. I have never tried out a lot of special dish before. Really miss them now. As it was a very memorable trip for me in Ho Chi Minh City, I hope to go Hanoi the next time I travel to Vietnam in a couple of years. Keep in contact and hope to see you in Hanoi. Thanks for everything as you have been helpful too".
Mr. Dave & Mrs. Alice Pickett (Ireland): "Hi Van, We have just returned from Bangkok after our holiday in South East Asia and wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our time in Vietnam and Cambodia travelling with Vietnam Alive Travel. Our guides were all excellent and we especially enjoyed our guide in Siem Reap and in Hanoi, they were all great. We have nothing but praise and thanks to you for making our trip very special and a very comfortable experience. Everything went according to plan and we are amazed at how much ground we could cover and all the things we were able to see and do. The itinerary was fantastic. Please be assured that we will wholeheartedly recommend your company to our friends. We also want to thank you very much for helping us retrieve the charger from our hotel in Saigon that you forwarded to Hanoi - that was exceptionally kind of you. So thank you once again for a wonderful holiday".
Mr. Shane Visser (South Afica): "We are back home and still wishing our holiday had some days to go. We had a wonderful time in Vietnam and came home much richer for the experience. You have a wonderful country full of contrasts and lovely people. The spirit of the people was what struck us mostly. Everybody seems happy and works very hard. We must thank your company for the experience we had. Your guides were great with much knowledge. They really looked after us and made us feel special. The drivers were equally great and safe. Thank you for recognising Jeanettes birthday. That was very special. We will recomend your company whenever possible and make use of it in the future".
Mrs. Shirley & Mr. Max Konisberg (Canada): "Dear Van, you made our Vietnam vacation very easy, interesting, adventurous, delicious food, enjoyable, fantastic support and companionship. We will never forget you & your wonderful tour. We hope to meet you again. Love. Shirley & Max"
Mr. Charles Smith (United States): "I am sure there are a lot of highly reputable travel services in Vietnam. But, I have only met one so far - Vietnam Alive Travel. Everything they committed to was delivered in the manner they committed. Their advice was also right on target about how to successfully communicate and deal in Vietnam. For example, we Americans tend to seek instant gratification on a lot of things. Van gave me two bits of advice - one, be patient in your dealings with Vietnamese people (they have to get to know you and have confidence in you); and secondly, keep your sense of humor throughout the trip and you will have a good time. I trust Van and his guides"
Mrs. Linda Harrell (United States), review regarding to Hanoi Stopover Tour for four Ladies from 24 April to 28 April, 2008. The trip is focused on food, shopping. “Hi Van, I am just back home. Hanoi was fun and a great trip for the ladies. There was a lot of shopping that we do not really get to do when we travel with our families. The pick up and transfers went well. The Sofitel in Hanoi was a great hotel. There was shopping and restaurants in the area. All of the food we had in Vietnam was great. The Red Dragon excursion in Halong Bay was really wonderful. Halong Bay was spectacular and I would really like my family to see it and experience it while we are still in Asia. The variety of the food on the junk was great. The presentation of the food was unbelievable - many fruit and vegetable carvings... The staff also did a "performance" for us with singing and guitar. I also enjoyed the kayaking very much. The water puppet show was a tradition and nice to visit. The temple of literature was also lovely and I would highly recommend that to others as well. We felt very comfortable with Lan and the driver and both were helpful. Thanks again. I will be back Vietnam soon. Regards, Linda”
Mr. John Beam (United States): "Hi Van, We arrived home from our trip to Vietnam & Cambodia last week and I wanted to write and thank you for helping make it a truly memorable experience. The service we received from Vietnam Alive, from planning the trip through the actual tour itself far exceeded our expectations. The personalized service was much appreciated and the tour was well suited for our needs, both the adults and the children. In particular, I'd like to emphasize that the locations we visited and the items on the itinerary were well planned out and enabled us to see and experience a wide variety of the people, culture and history of Viet Nam. The guides and drivers were all competent and professional and made the many transitions very smoothe. Their input about local restaurants and places to visit on our own were very helpful too. Thanks again for a terrific experience. We will certainly recommend Vietnam Alive Travel to our family and friends...some of them are already far more interested in visiting Viet Nam having heard about our trip"
Mr. Dennis Robson (Australia): "We have just returned to Australia from our holiday in Asia. Just wanted to write and thank you for organising our tour of Saigon and the Mekong Delta. Had a wonderful time and everything worked like clock-work. I won't hesitate to recommend your services to our friends. Thanks again, Dennis"
Mr. Robert E. Popken (New York, United States): "We have finally settled back in at home and wanted to take a moment to thank all of your staff for guiding us through Vietnam and Cambodia. It was a trip of a lifetime- something that we will never forget! Your guides were all so knowledgeable and friendly. We keep telling people what a wonderful job Vietnam Alive did in guiding us. Thank you again!”
Mr. Dave Ferguson (United States), review regarding to Northern Vietnam Discovery, specialized for his family from 14 June, 2008 to 21 June, 2008. The trip is focus on culture, food, and history. “Dear Van, We're back home, already reflecting on one of the best travel experiences ever! Van, I really want to compliment you and your staff for your knowledge of what travelers like, attention to detail, and personal touch. Every single aspect of the tour you put together was exactly suited to our needs. In particular, Oanh, our guide in Hanoi, and Anh, our guide for Halong Bay were off the charts excellent”
Mr. Micheal Abraham (U.K): "We've being telling everyone how much we enjoyed our holiday. My wife and I would like to thank you once again for the care and consideration you took with our travel arrangements and for the warm welcome. There is no doubt that we will be back one day."
Mr. John Smith (England): "Vietnam Alive Travel has been fantastic. They have provided a first class itinerary and service. This is a country to devour with relish and we will come again, without a doubt."
Mr. Adam & Mrs. Erin Henechowicz (England): "Dear Van, thank you very much for touring us in Vietnam. Your services were great, which made our honey moon very enjoyable, thank you!"
This deluxe tour through the Mekong Delta is for visitors who want to see the local life of Vietnamese in a comfortable way, with one night in Cantho...
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