Judgement shall be used to receive informations from salespeople or tour guides or hotel staffs trying to sell, regardless of the facts. You can prepare yourself and find out the truth through reviews or forums on travel websites in advance such as weather, distance, tour price and other details.
Some of the World Heritage Sites have no English speaking staffs, no any English signs in addition to Vietnamese and located in rural area such as Citadel of Ho Dynasty.
If hiring a private car or taxi, please print the Google Map to indicate the directions and distances. You get the ease of travel and negotiation for a fare with clear understanding.
Taxi operator that is available every city in Vietnam along the World Heritage route is Mai Linh which is reliable. Moreover, Hanoi Tourist Taxi is another operator in Hanoi and Vinasun in Ho Chi Minh.
Tip for taxi service that not disappointed is asking the hotel staff call a taxi for you. Driver is usually not going around and meter is turned on. Avoid taxis that wait for only foreign tourists around the top attractions. They expect to overcharge the passengers by flat rate or fake meters.
Moto taxi service, ask rates from the hotel staff as the benchmark for bargain and reliability of the driver.
My travel experiences throughout Vietnam
I used various type of transportation to travel between cities; night train, open bus, mini bus and low cost airline.
Night train travel is safer than open bus. Most of streets of Vietnam, there are only two lanes and high traffic density. You can buy tickets in advance through agent or go to buy at the station.
Ticket prices are affordable. The charge is based on the agent's commission. Vietnam national railway website has only the Vietnamese language. You can go to www.seat61.com/vietnam and owee58.com to check the train schedules and ticket prices. Before deciding whether to buy cheaper by yourself 1-3 days in advance or book through an agent, which is more convenient. It may have been unexpected case.
I booked a train ticket Hanoi - Dong Hoi from agent 2-3 weeks in advance and confirmed that the ticket is ready. Later an e-mail from the representative said Vietnam has officially changed the timetable, so need to change the time from 23.00 to 19.00, where it is not realistically be a lie. I could travel in the first confirmed time when absolutely insist that I want to go without any change.
A short trip from Hanoi - Ninh Binh (2-3 hrs) agent charged 200% commission from ticket price. Necessary to use the art of bargaining for a lesser price, it is impossible if I don't not know the train ticket price.
To purchase a ticket at the Ga Hanoi (Railway station) on the left hand side of the building, there are large, prominently timetables and prices displayed at all. Just go to the queue machine and get the paper, then sit back and wait. Here are some staffs who speak English.
|Sleeper Class, Open Bus|
Open Bus / Tourist Bus (Mini Bus)
The cost is not much, convenient and suitable for all the major attractions in the touristy cities. The attractions not include the UNESCO World Heritage site Phong Nha-Ke Bang Nation Park.
In addition, safety is a big deal that you should not be overlooked. The drivers may not be disciplined, dense traffic, narrow road and poor car maintenance. And you may not know. It is the smell of feet on the bus, due to the humid weather in Vietnam. Although all passengers must remove their shoes, put in the bags to reduce the unpleasant. Odor remains.
I booked open bus ticket Hue-Hoi An from hotel tour desk that confirmed the bus is parked within walking distance to the hotel's hub. In fact it parked at a hotel on the outskirt of Hoi An about 1km from Hai Ba Trung Street.
Reliable open bus operator is The Sinh Tourist, which office is decorated with blue tone. This company was formerly known as Sinh Café and Hanoi branch is located on Luong Ngoc Quyen Street, Old Quarter, Huan Kiem District.
Be careful if you use Google Map showing the location of the company. Map will showed Sinh Café where is located not far from original The Sinh Tourist office today. Many travelers already know that Sinh Café is the copy cat business.
Vietnam has several open bus operators. You need to research prior to take service of those companies. I purchased tickets through hotel tour desk in Hue. The operator named An Phu, Hue-Hoi An 4USD, Sleeper seat was comfortable, but dropped passengers off far from the town centre.
Phong Nha-Hue route from Phong Nha Farmstay, there is a 16 seats mini bus available. It is a journey with the Vietnamese in friendly atmosphere. People in the same village are traveling to major cities like Hue and Danang.
On land travel in Vietnam is limited by the speed of not more than 60-80km / hour.
Low Cost Airline
It's fast, convenient and affordable. I traveled from Danang-Ho Chi Minh City with Jet Star Airway, booking via website 1 month in advance, 50USD / one way.