July 1st marked the end of our time in New Zealand and the beginning of our short time in Asia. We left the cold weather behind and dove head first into the heat of summer. We planned 17 days in Asia, split between the modern city of Singapore and more rural Vietnam.
Being our first time to Vietnam, and wanting to maximize our limited time we worked with our Virtuoso Onsite Exo assist us in planning our itinerary and scheduling transfers and guides as we explored the country.
Our brief tour of Asia included six nights in Singapore and eleven in Vietnam. We all thoroughly enjoyed our guided time through Vietnam where we learned about the Vietnamese culture, tasted several new dishes, visited with locals and even had a chance to ride an Asian water buffalo. Our fears of exploring the unknown quickly disappeared and we were quite comfortable throughout our few weeks in both countries.
I loved buying the paper lanterns from the cute little old lady in Hoi An. I also loved the food, and our guide Tony. He took great care of us everywhere we went.
Working in the rice paddy, touring with Tony and riding the water buffalo were my favorite things we did in Vietnam.
The homestay meals that Tony from Exo helped coordinate for us really made our visit special. It was great to discover the new culture through the girls eyes.
The food we had in Vietnam was outstanding. It was so nice to have Tony there beside us to direct us to the right roadside and guide us to safe homes for dinner.
We began our Vietnam adventure in the city of Hanoi. After a brief city tour, we left the city traffic behind to venture into the countryside. Guided by our new friend Tony, we biked through rice paddy’s and even helped the farmers one day, dined with a few local families, learned about the culture of the North Vietnamese, and experienced a junk boat on Ha Long Bay.
From North Vietnam we flew on to Danang where we spent a few nights in the city of Hoi An. While based in Hoi An, we learned to farm and fish with the locals, rode a water buffalo, visited a theme park on top of a mountain, and strolled through Old Town Hanoi beneath the lights of the paper lanterns.
Out of the countryside and into the big city, while only a couple hour flight, the two Asian countries are a world apart in feel. We split our six nights in Singapore between three of the cities many Virtuoso properties – The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, The Andaz, and the Six Senses Maxwell. Each property had it’s advantages
We’ve arranged for most of our family touring in Vietnam with Exo Travel. We like exploring new destinations by all methods of travel – cruising, touring, or on our own. The thing we like best about private custom tours is that we can collaborate with and design our experience exactly the way we want, under the expert guidance of a trusted local operator.
Southern World has contacts all over both islands of New Zealand. Under their knowlegable guidance we’ve coordinated several day tours as well as chosen cities to serve as our home base while we explore the amazing country.
River Cruises are a very popular way to experience Vietnam as they offer an opportunity to visit many sites without having to unpack every other day. On a river cruise, you can enjoy the luxury of exploring the interior waterways of the country with a small group of like minded travelers and experience guided excursions at each stop along the way. At the end of each day, return to the luxurious accommodations on your ship to rest in comfort and observe the scenery floating by.
There are several options for cruising around the perimeter of Vietnam- Large ship, small ship, expedition. The cruises are a great way to see the sections of the country you may like to return to at a later date. Some itineraries include a port or two in Vietnam while visiting several countries in Asia, others are based solely in Vietnam. We recommend anyone visiting the country spend a few days pre- or post-cruise to explore a bit of the interior of the country in addition to the coast.
Taking a tour with a small group provides the opportunity to experience the sites of New Zealand with other like-minded travelers on popular pre-designed itineraries.