Few weeks before our trip to Vietnam, I searched for different Hanoi-based tour providers for our Sapa Town and Halong Bay tour. I sent email to around 10 tour operators and asked them for a quotation. Asia Charm Tours gave us the lowest price among them all so I decided to get their services. We used to have a DIY trip before but I've been really busy with work.
Our itinerary for this trip is a customized one which you can't find on their website because we have specific places we wanted to go. Even so, Ms. Linda of Asia Charm Tours made it possible for us. She created an itinerary based on our preference.
The itinerary for our Sapa tour was followed but our little one became really tired after our Mt. Fansipan hike so we decided to skip other destinations like Silver Waterfalls and Ham Rong Mountain. We just went around the town instead and took more rest after.
Transfer from Hotel to Tran Quy Cap Train Station: The service arrived just on-time at the hotel. Upon arriving at the train station, their representative got our tickets and accompanied us going to our assigned cabin.
Lao Cai Train Station to Sapa Town: We didn't have to wait because our pick up was already waiting for us outside the station. Thankfully, my name was written in big font so we saw it immediately. It was about an hour drive going to Sapa Town and we enjoyed the cold weather.
Sapa Town to Lao Cai Train Station: Our service pick up arrived earlier which is totally okay with us because we're already waiting at the lobby.
Hotel to Halong Bay: We were asked to wait at the hotel lobby around 8:00 - 8:30 am but the bus pick up arrived around 9:00 am. We understand that it may happen because it's a joining tour and they picked up passengers from different hotels.
Sapa: Our guide in Sapa has an understandable English. He's informative and was able to explain things about places and its people. He even helped us carry our child several times. However, when we went to the market, we've got separated and we couldn't find him, so we decided to walk on our own back to the hotel. We just told the person at the hotel to call our guide and inform him that we already came back.
Halong Bay: Our guide in Halong Bay has an understandable English as well. But we were really disappointed with him and our overall Halong Bay tour. The guide couldn't handle the big group and he added more guests when we arrived at the Bai Chay port who were not part of our bus. We were cramped inside the cruise ship. After visiting Thien Cung Cave, all guests were already at the cruise ship but the guide took too long to go there.
When we arrived in Sapa, the driver dropped us off in Sapa Unique Hotel. I thought we're going to check in there but after having our breakfast, the staff took us to Dang Nguyen Hotel. I didn't ask why but I think there's no available room at Sapa Unique Hotel that time. Anyway, it's just a few steps away from there so it's okay with us.
Our room is in he fourth floor and there's no elevator. It's fine to take the stairs but we have a heavy luggage that we have to carry all the way there. The room is spacious - we have two beds and there's a balcony. However, the heater in the bathroom didn't work properly. The water can be hot in few minutes but will eventually become cold even without switching. Also, there's a hole there where the cold wind can enter so it's really chilly inside the bathroom.
What I liked the most is that they allowed us to check in early at no extra cost, so we have an hour of rest before starting the tour. The next day, we check out early at Dang Nguyen Hotel because we expected a whole day tour.
Since we decided not to go to Ham Rong mountain, we're back at Sapa Unique Hotel around 1:30 pm. They gave us a room there where we could wash up and rest. The room and the facilities are pretty similar to Dang Nguyen Hotel. Around 3:30 pm, they asked us to check out because there are other guests to use that room. We just waited for our service transfer to Lao Cai train station at the lobby.
I really loved our stay in Sapa and that includes the food! On our arrival, they said we can choose 2 sets of food and drinks for each one of us. I ordered pancake with bananas and omelette with ham and cheese. The next day, the breakfast is in buffet style and there's even more selection of food. The set meals for our lunch and dinner are also in big servings so we're totally satisfied with the food. They served traditional dishes and some fruits.
Drinks are not included so we paid for it separately. The staffs are also friendly. They tried their best to understand our requests.
All drivers are okay except for the one driving the bus to Halong Bay. He kept on using his cellphone during the trip. For me, it's unacceptable because he should be focusing on the road, especially that it's a long drive.
All transportation are comfortable especially the big vans. However, the bus going to Halong Bay is very uncomfortable because we were in the middle seat. They picked up last so we didn't have a good seat going to Halong Bay.
Overall, we're still satisfied with the service of Asia Charm Tours. I liked how Ms. Linda sent me messages on Whatsapp to ask how was our trip. Also, when I said that I will only pay half as down payment and I'll pay the 50% upon arrival in Hanoi, she agreed to it. We've met at the hotel lobby and she's really friendly.
Thank you so much Asia Charm Tours for arranging our trip!