We flew Asiana Air from JFK via Seoul, 14 hours then 4 hours 40 mins. We flew business class using the AMEX offer of buy one get one free which they no longer offer. Fully refundable tickets. The dinner onboard was a six course gourmet experience and the best food we have ever had on a flight. The flight attendants were very friendly.
Our arrival coincided with the start of the New Year ‘Tet’ celebrations which tended to be a good thing as far as we were concerned, we arrived at the hotel around midnight and our tour was scheduled to begin at 6-30pm. A couple of people had arrived three days early and complained that the museums had all been closed and they felt Tauck should have told them about the new year and not had a tour over that time, we feel you have to do research and check for these things.
This was a small groups tour, we do not usually book these by choice but it was the time we wanted to travel, so we were expecting the number of people to be 24, it was 20, ten married couples, the first time we have been in a group with even numbers for a while. Most of our tours lately have not been full, personally we do not yet see the value of paying Extra for small group departures.
We were expecting to have a lazy day before the start of the tour in Hanoi, but our package from the tour director at the front desk informed us that we should meet him between 9 and 10am to surrender our passports and then he offered an orientation walking tour at 10-15am which lasted a good 1 hour fifteen minutes, we could then follow him back to the hotel or make our own way back which is what we did.
The city traffic was much lighter than usual but it gave us easier practice of crossing the road, the key being, don’t run, walk at a steady pace, don’t step back and don’t stop, this way the scooter drivers can gauge where you will be as they approach and can hopefully miss you. The Welcome reception began at 6pm and not 6-30 pm as stated n the green booklet, so be aware of these changes if you plan other things that day.
I am not reviewing everything because we usually find anything that Tauck has planned on the itinerary as worth while, I will give my tips and note any extra things we did that others may enjoy.
The New year time is lovely, the Vietnamese decorate with beautiful peach blossom trees at this time, beautiful pink blooms, in the north. In the south it is yellow blossom apricot trees, but there were some of these in Hanoi. There were lanterns everywhere. The roads might have been quieter but there were people everywhere dressed in their best clothes, families enjoying time together, we really enjoyed the atmosphere during this few days.
A note about our Welcome dinner dress. I wore a dress, one other woman had a skirt, my husband wore a nice dress shirt and pants, one man wore a jacket, the remainder wore everything from quite scruffy jeans including one woman with the hole in the knee look, I do not think it mattered if you were comfortable and we were in a private room anyway. Our tour director, Larry, a 30 plus year Tauck man was always smartly dressed and a laugh a minute. We are barely at halfway point as I write.
I am writing just before we leave Hoi An, we had to have our bags outside the door at 5am so we are waiting for breakfast to open.
Our highlight so far is a tour we all decided to take, a Vespa Scooter ride, we sat behind scooter drivers and rode a total of 40 kilometers for four hours through the beautiful countryside. Stopping and visiting ordinary homes, trying our hand at making rice cakes, weaving mats with an elderly couple, watching how rice wine is made and sampling, I did not try the 65% proof! Eating a late lunch outside in an organic vegetable farm, and more. $65 cash and probably going to be one of the highlights of the trip.
I will hope to add to this review as we go along, so check back for additions.


  • And here is my part 2. I just did. To have more time for my Tauck review, I barely had time to keep my blog going. Hope you find some things useful

    One of the big advantages of taking this tour over the tour that includes Thailand is that this tour goes to Halong Bay, which has proved to be one of the highlights of the tour so far. You arrive there after a three and a half hour to four hour drive from Hanoi. The drive is a wonderful opportunity to see towns and countryside so I enjoyed the journey. We were on a fancier and larger boat than described in the Tauck publicity because it usually only available for two night tours. So we lucked out. The Boat terminal area was a shock, it is full of half built but abandoned hotels and generally very built up. There are about 600 boats operating in the Bay, but they are strictly distributed throughout the area so it does not feel crowded. We took one excursion out on tender and row boats to a floating fishing village and another the next day to a cave with a collapsed roof. We were excited to see lots of monkeys clambering over the rocks and bushes to catch the chopped bananas that the guides were throwing their way. Generally l was so surprised at the enormous number of rock outcrops there were and how beautiful it was
  • British. Could you please detail what you did with Tauck in Hanoi. I can't tell from the itinerary which sites are drive-bys and which are visited. Did it include the Ho Chi Minh Museum or just Mausoleum? We are trying to plan for a few extra days in Hanoi and don't want to replicate Tauck.
  • edited July 2018
    AshvEd wrote:
    British. Could you please detail what you did with Tauck in Hanoi. I can't tell from the itinerary which sites are drive-bys and which are visited. Did it include the Ho Chi Minh Museum or just Mausoleum? We are trying to plan for a few extra days in Hanoi and don't want to replicate Tauck.
    Mausoleum was closed the day we toured. Don’t think we did a museum. Hanoi was our least favorite part of the tour. I mean it was a great tour but if you asked me to break it down, that would be how I would describe it.
  • Can you tell me what adaptors are required for these 3 countries. I am getting all sorts of answers. Also, is a convertor necessary? We are going in December.
  • We have a multiway adapter which pretty much works anywhere in the world, so I can’t remember, I leave those things to Mr B. That’s the best thing to buy and then it will be useful anywhere you go. You are unlikely to need a converter if you just intend to use a camera, cell phone or iPad. They all have internal converters.
  • edited November 2018
    I'm sure it was just an oversight, but British forgot to mention, that you should also take a travel size outlet strip so you can plug in multiple devices with one adapter. : ) Some like this one have 4 outlets and also USB ports.


  • Yes, Alan is correct, we take one of those too. My head is so full of thinking about what to pack for our trip next week. We really really loved this tour.
  • Thank you so much. We have so many adaptors since we have been all over the world so I thought I would probably already have what I needed. I think I also have the multi adaptor so I should be just fine. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the trip

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