Myself and my partner are planning a two week trip to Vietnam from the UK

As part of this we've contacted a bunch of tour companies for possible itinaries and quotes. (We're aware that doing it alone is possible, and are considering it, however it seems that the increased costs for having guides etc is not too bad if you book from the right places).

Some of these agents are British, where we know the drill - ensure that they are actually ATOL protected so if they go bust you still get something etc. My question is what are similar checks you should do with Vietnamese companies (beyond checking the Internet to see if people have actually been on a holiday as advertised). Are there licenses etc they are expected to hold? How can I check. Are there any unpleasant suprises (extra taxes etc applied on top of the final price) to be aware of. ETc.

  • For the record, we went on the trip, the agent turned out to do a very good job and be very much above board - although suffice to say we paid somewhat over the odds for some services, partially made up by the hotel rates we paid being a bit lower than what you could find online. It was clear once we were there that there were many rules and laws that these organisations are supposed to follow - all our guides showed us government issued guide ID for example. Be useful to know more about that.
    – CMaster
    Jul 2, 2015 at 8:36
  • 2
    please add your experience as an answer so that it lives forever, comments are second class citizens on stack exchange
    – g3rv4
    Jul 2, 2015 at 14:01
  • @Gervasio Marchand - I don't feel like I actually learned enough to anwer my question is the problem.
    – CMaster
    Jul 2, 2015 at 17:21

3 Answers 3


From personal experience (I lived in Vietnam for 2 years and travelled extensively) I would say avoid the Vietnamese run tour companies like the plague....The good local ones are few and far between...

Your best bet is to either plan to travel independently, and when you want to go to somewhere like Ha Long Bay, organize the trip either through the original Kangaroo Café (Griswalds) in Hanoi, or go with Hanoi Backpackers (they have a party boat, and a couples boat which is quieter and more luxurious) - that one's run by Aussies who were the first hostel in Northern Vietnam.

Hanoi Backpackers Hostel

The Original Kangaroo Cafe

Be warned, there are at least a dozen copies/rip-off places with the words 'Kangaroo cafe Tours' ... your best bet is to find the right one, and check out the prices...

The right one will serve you a decent western style meal and a decent cup of tea ...

Another tip, be careful of taxis...the reliable ones are ok, but there are plenty of shysters who will happily take unsuspecting tourists and charge $100 USD for 200 meters or 5 minutes...some even have the meter wired to the gearstick...I recommend you ask your hotel or hostel in Hanoi/HCMC to recommend a good one, or stick with Mai Linh taxis that have a green logo.

Taxis in Vietnam


I had good experiences with Vietnamese run tour companies, by:

  1. Checking for recommendations both in guidebooks and recent online reviews. Both because online reviews can be faked, businesses that were reputable 4 years ago can be taken over, but it's very difficult to turn a formerly-reputable business into a rip-off tourist trap without incurring the wrath of the internet.
  2. Finding the office directly, using the address and guidebook map. It's pretty common for suspiciously-similiarly-named places to appear near to somewhere with a good reputation.

It's tricky, but possible.


My wife and I visited Hanoi, Sapa and Halong Bay last year and used a travel agent (and house/room rental B&B) through AirBnB. It was the many positive reviews, pictures on Facebook, etc., that provided confidence.

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