Even though the weather did not cooperate on this trip, we still had a fabulous time. It didn’t just rain, it poured!
Our hotel pickup service was timely and we had great communication the evening before via WhatsApp for confirmation.
The ride is long but our tour guide Vu did a great job of filling our minds with lots of cultural information. As a first time visitor to Vietnam this was great background information to have. We talked about history, philosophy, astrology, family dynamics, and more.
The ride was broken up by the standard tour “visit” to a gift/coffee shop. As a non-shopper I don’t love these visits, but I do appreciate a bathroom stop and I know many took advantage of the shopping.
We first stopped at Hoa Lu and learned about the history of the area. We then got on bikes and rode around town - stopped for lunch - the bikes were pretty rickety and when we stopped for lunch someone “swapped” mine and I got one which was worse so I recommend putting something not valuable in or on the basket so you know which one is yours. I think the lunch was not to the liking of a typical American palate, but it was edible.
We then went to Tam Loc where Vu clearly set expectations for tipping and buying pictures which helped eliminate uncomfortable moments. We rowed through the caves and it was quite beautiful and peaceful despite the poor weather. The process to get your life jacket and get on the sampan was a hot mess but Vu was there to help guide us.
Lastly we went to Hang Mua and climbed the 500+ steps for the great views. I truly loved this - the stairs were no joke so if you have bad knees or hips I don’t recommend it.
I don’t feel that there was enough time for everything we squeezed in but I don’t know how else they could have done it to improve the situation - if you want to see it all you have to do it quickly! I can’t imagine what this must be like during high season or when it is VERY hot. I imagine we should be thankful for the rain!
Truly the highlight of the tour was our guide Vu - he was knowledgeable, approachable, entertaining, and thoughtful.