Tours By Locals Vietnam got a truly awesome review on Tripadvisor about 5 day tour North Vietnam off the beaten track. It seems how authentic travel experiences with a local guide should be.
A part of lifetime Vietnam trip, we would love to hear more stories about their off the beaten path travel with Tony Adventures in his passionate country offered.
How to work with Tours By Locals Vietnam
Around 2 months before we actually want end to start travelling we fired a few Mails to different tour operators asking for a trip around the North of Vietnam directly on or just before Tet 2016 off the beaten track. Tony answered within a couple of days with a rough description of a Tour Itinerary without too much details.
5 Day Tour North Vietnam Package
Although he was (by about 25 % ) more expensive than the next best offer, we finally decided to go ahead with Tony due to being a guaranteed all private tour, good reviews on Tripadvisor and a good first impression during the Mail conversation
We agreed on pick up and payment details. Usual half before half after the trip. Due to the Tet holiday everything was a bit more difficult to organize but at the end we agreed on the travel days to return to Hanoi directly on Tet. Read more: Tony Adventures’ reviews
Hanoi airport pickup welcoming
Halong Bay Cat Ba island Tour
Recommended road trip: Hanoi to Halong Bay
We started our Trip without problems with him picking us up in our Hotel and then heading off to Ha Long Bay (which was originally planned at the end of the trip, but due to Tet would not be available this time). The Cruise around Ha Long Bay was absolutely fabulous and represented one of the absolute highlights of our trip.
A really small, but comfy boat would sail us around. We are really into trying foreign food, so (upon our request) we ate what the crew ate. It was absolutely delicious and would set the the mark for the rest of the trip. Don’t be afraid of the stuff you’ll get, it’s clean and great. Read more: What to do in Cat Ba Island
Halong Bay ride to Ninh Binh on the north loop
After the Ha Long Bay we drove to Ninh Binh for a homestay night. It had gotten a bit late due to the massive Traffic just before Tet, but we had expected something like that. We were kindly greeted by our homestay family and welcomed to our home for the night. A new modern equipped extra building next to the main house was absolutely fine, clean and comfy. Own bath and proper bedding made for a good nights rest. Once more we had a really great dinner together with the family. We enjoyed a lovely evening and nice conversations.
Recommended Ninh Binh Day Trip from Hanoi
Ninh Binh Tour and Attractions
Next day we went to visit the Bai Dinh Pagode (apparently one of the biggest in Vietnam) which was nearly deserted just before Tet. After a a trip with a small rowing boat through the “Dry Ha Long Bay” we continued our trip towards Pu Luong National Park. Read more: Things to do in Ninh Binh
Ninh Binh head to Pu Luong Nature reserve
Once more we were in for a homestay. This time with the ethnic minority of the Thai Mountain Tribes. Also there we had a small separate house and a wonderful evening with our hosts. Up to this point we had barley seen any other tourists and were clearly off the beaten track. Even getting to the small village we stayed in made for an interesting journey. After some hiking in this fabulous landscape we continued back to civilization in the form of the Mai Chau Villas. Read more: Things to do in Pu Luong Travel Guide
Get a break in Mai Chau valley
A beautiful drive already, the valley of Mai Chau is really astonishing but also more touristic than the spots we have been before. Our overnight though was a bit outside the main areas and perfectly nice. Hiking, some nice walk around and a visit of the Mu Loung Cave made for the day and after a nice dinner we continued towards Hanoi on the next day.
Mai Chau getting back to Hanoi
So far this trip has been absolutely perfect. Tony always took care of our well being, checked out the restaurant (and their kitchens) before he lead us for lunch or dinner. We would not know too much about where we would stay the next evening, but that we perfectly fine for us. Everywhere we had a good bed, clean toilet and superb food.
Recommended Mai Chau road trip: Hanoi to Mai Chau – Pu Luong
Exclusive Tony Vietnam Adventures
Car and Drivers were always trained to not scare western tourists too much :)After our normal Trip, Tony invited us to stay with him and his family the first two days after Tet, this was not part of our trip itinerary but a real invitation. We settled on a small extra charge for a driver as we would fit on the back of his motorbike and set off for a 2 hour ride to a small village north of Hanoi.We were greeted by his whole family and stayed with him and his family on the farm on his father.
Read more: Get your private guide in Hanoi
Hidden gem of rural North Vietnam Village
This was really the highlight of our trip as tourists were absolutely not common in this part of Vietnam. His mother showed us and his son how to make Tet Cake and afterwards we were in for the feast of family dinner and party with friends. Great food and interesting people made for a great evening with far too much rice wine/booze which kind of spoiled the next day.
Activities on Tet Holiday in Tony village, part of North Hanoi
On the last day we had the honor to participate with Tony’s visits to old friends and family. Countless times we enjoyed Tea and homemade Tet Sweets and fruits with different relatives and friends. All very friendly and interested in how we got to their village 🙂
We even met the father of one of his best friends, who had spent 4 years in former East Germany in the 70’s. After 40 years we were the first Germans he could talk to. This was clearly one of the most moving meeting of our trip. Afterwards we had one last great family and friends dinner before we drove back to Hanoi.
Last but not least about Tony Vietnam Adventures
Tony as a private tour guide was the perfect choice for us. We really got to know the local Vietnam. He just has a perfect sense how to deal with his customers. I bet we would also have enjoyed this trip as a vegetarian how only eats pizza. In the 2,5 weeks afterwards where we travelled through the rest of Vietnam, we never got so far off the beaten track as with Tony. Pricey? Yes but worth every Cent.
Only small drawback would be on the payment side (but we had that problem throughout all of Vietnam). They are not used to Credit Card Payment as we are, as they all expect the customer to pay the CC or paypal charges. We accepted that (we could have paid all in cash) because we don’t like to carry around that big amounts of cash.
Recommended on Tripadvisor: 5 day tour around North Vietnam – Off the beaten track
Recommended Northern Vietnam Tours:
- Ninh Binh Pu Luong Package 4 Days
- Ninh Binh Lan Ha Bay Tour 4 Days
- Northern Vietnam Loop Tours 12 days
- Day Trips from Hanoi
- Ninh Binh – Pu Luong Trip 3 Days