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Review by D. Becker1 year ago
We booked the paragliding tour via Ms Min over email. Throughout the email conversations (of which there were many), she was always eager, patient and able to answer and clarify them. Our travel coordinate Mrs Ana was very punctual to pick us up on the day of the tour; with her were our paragliding pilots. The ride to the village was about 3 hours, including a rest stop to buy snacks. This was followed by a bone shattering, white knuckle ride in an SUV up the rocky hill in Hoành Bồ where the take off would be - but we were in good hands (the driver is apparently a monster truck champion in Vietnam.)
The pilots were very professional, guiding us through the take off, flight and landing process and taking every safety precaution. It was a bummer my girlfriend was fitted with a heavier / more professional setup so she fell down while running down the slope during take off and had to redo it. It might have been better if the pilots decide based on our body size who should be fitted with which setup. Nevertheless the whole thing went on smoothly, lasting about 10 minutes. Being our first paragliding experience, it was exhilarating and at the same time peaceful, cruising at a high altitude and staring into the greenery below. They also provided a selfie stick attached to an action camera for us to take a video of the whole flight.
The tour then ended off with a sumptuous dinner comprising local seafood delicacies at a nearby restaurant before the 3-hour ride back to hotel.
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Review by Pauline Craig7 years ago
Everything was well organized, food & accommodation exceeded our expectations, and guide was excellent. We enjoyed the homestay . Highly recommend. We were looked after above and beyond anything we could have asked for. I would definitely recommend Active Travel Asia to my friends.
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Review by Perth8 years ago
After reading about Vietnam's largest cave, Hang Son Doon in National Geographic, I started making enquiriesto see if any Vietnam-based travel agents could arrange a customised tour for my family. Only Active Travel Asia responded with good news. While not previously open for tourists, ATA, through their extensive networks and diligence, were able to obtain the necessary approvals to undertake the first tourist-based trip to Son Doong Cave.
Sunny, our travel consultant was exceptional in her service - prompt, informative and polite. She maintained regular email contact with me over the 5 months leading up to our tour. Being the first of its kind, you might expect some hiccups in the organisational aspects of the tour. But I was amazed - the preparations appeared to go so smoothly, although I know that Suny would have gone to much effort. When Sunny left to have a baby just prior to our tour, Candy took over the final preparations.
Our tour was scheduled to commence in Dong Hoi, but due to bad weather our flights from Hanoi were cancelled. But Candy made no haste in booking us a soft sleeper cabin on the overnight train and had our tickets delivered to our hotel.
When we arrived early in Dong Hoi, we were met at the station and taken to a hotel for a shower and breakfast. There we met ATA's Product Manager Mr Tran, who would prove to be the most friendly, down-to-earth guy and a great interpreter too! We met up with the rest of our support grew in Son Trach village, on the outskirts of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. We knew that we would be in good hands when we met our crew, particularly since Mr Khanh (the man who first discovered the cave) was to be our main guide. Also present was a National Park ranger and the Director of the Park's Tourism Office plus a team of porters to carry equipment and supplies.
Unfortunately, a heavy storm a few days earlier meant that the normal route in was impassable due to the flooded river, so we had to trek 12 kms over steep mountains and through thick, leech-ridden jungles. The going was slow and we could not reach our campsite by night so had to make camp in the jungle. The crew erected our tents in no time flat and cooked up a hearty meal.
The next day we hiked a short 30 minutes to reach the first cave, Hang En. The cave was absolutely stuning and we spent a couple of hours exploring. However, a raging river bocked our trail to reach Son Doong Cave, which was still a further 2-3 hours hike away. And with another storm looming, we were forced to abandon our quest to reach Son Doong.
Mr Khanh negotiated a shorter route along the valley which was much easier that the previous day's hike. We stopped to drink tea and chat with the locals from Mountain Doong Village before completing our last trek back up the mountain to reach the waiting mini-van.
While it was a shame that we did not reach Son Doong Cave, we did not regret one bit of this trip. The National park is absolutely beautiful and worth the effort to visit while in Vietnam. I wish now that I had been in better shape to tackle a 12 km hike over rugged mountains, and next time I'm leaving the heavy hiking boots behind! Flimsy, rubber sandals is all that is needed!
To sum up: the team at ATA were awesome - I can't recommend them highly enough. The food was plentiful and nourishing. The guides were experienced, professional and always smiling.
Thank you ATA for making our journey a real experience we will never forget!
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Review by Eric M9 years ago
A buddy and I did 10 days in Northern Vietnam and wanted to get a few days of hiking in. We opted for ATA's 4-day Mai Chau Homestay. Mr. Hai picked us up at our backpacker's hostel with a private car and driver. Mr. Hai was very knowledgeable, had a great sense of humor, and spoke great English. The drive was quiet and comfortable, though uneventful as it was raining. When we reached Mai Chau, we stopped at the Homestay HQ where we were treated to a good 4-5 course meal and waited for our local guide, Thanh. Thanh did not speak a word of English, but was friendly and pleasant from the start. She would prove to be absolutely wonderful once the trip started. From Mai Chau, we took a short car ride to the beginning of the hike. We departed our transport and hiked to a Hmong village high in the mountains. Though it was still raining and chilly, the Hmong house was warm and comfortable. Right when we arrived, Thanh headed to the kitchen and began working over a wood fire. We quickly learned that this would be the norm, regardless of how long the hike was prior. The Hmong family pressed on with their day-to-day activities. At dinner time, Thanh delivered the first of several unbelievable meals. The typical dinner meal was about 7 courses with the freshest ingredients I've ever tasted. I can't begin to express how good the food was throughout the trip. The Hmong husband and wife joined us during the dinner and shared their company as well as their homemade corn wine with us.
The next morning, we were welcomed with a delicious breakfast. I can't recall what we ate on any particular day, but it ranged from noodle and vegetable dishes to omelets to banana pancakes. Fresh fruit was always served. The second day we hiked down the mountain to a black Thai village. The terrain was extremely slippery. With hindsight, I would probably have been much better off with a lightweight hiking shoe rather than a heavier boot. We broke for a quick lunch midway through the hike...tuna sandwiches and fresh fruit. Arriving at the black Thai house, we were drenched and the lady of the house helped us figure out how to wash some clothes and helped us hang them to dry. We were offered beer or other softdrinks for about $1 each. Again, we were treated to a wonderful meal, great company, and homemade rice wine. After dinner, we grabbed some more beers and walked down to a rice patty wall where we sat, talked, and enjoyed the night scenery. I felt completely safe in the sleepy village (as well as everywhere else I visited in Vietnam).
After a delicious breakfast, we began our third day of hiking. We hiked through some amazing scenery...limestone cliffs towering hundreds of feet above plush, green rice fields. There was no shortage of activity to witness, from girls working the fields or busy embroidering to men leading their water buffalo to graze. We even got to take about an hour break to watch a local soccer match, complete with water buffalo running through the middle of the field. Another quick lunch included sandwiches and custard apple fruit. The only way I can explain what a custard apple is that it is somewhat of a pineapple-like fruit, but with pudding inside. It was amazing! We spent our last night at a black Thai house where we were again treated with Thanh's wonderful cooking, pleasant company from our hosts, and homemade rice wine.
The next day, we started off with a good breakfast again and had a 3-4 hour hike back to the Homestay HQ. There, we had a refreshing shower followed by a good meal. This village has plenty of shopping available, so definitely save your shopping for the last day.
Mr. Hai was wonderful. We is an entertaining, knowledgeable guide. We were constantly engaged in entertaining dialogue, exploring everything from local customs to Vietnam history and politics. I can't imagine a better English-speaking guide in Vietnam.
Thanh was unbelievable. She led us down slippery trails and through river crossings wearing only her flipflops. Each day, following the day's hike, she would cook the most amazing meals over a wood fire. She was the first one awake, greeting us each day with a delicious breakfast.
Mai Chau is unspoiled. Not once was I approached to provide change or to buy something. The people all seemed pleasantly indifferent to us. Smiles and greetings were exchanged, but I never felt any pressure common in similar tourist situations. The people of Mai Chau seemed to be proud, friendly, and respectful.
Planning the trip was easily done via email. Ms Sunny helped me up until she took leave to deliver a baby. After that, Ms Candy ensured we were taken care of.
I don't know what else I can add. It was simply wonderful!
Visited September 2011
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Review by Thuy Vu9 years ago
We just spend four days on a vacation in Vietnam. We booked the trip with Active Travel Asia, a tour operator in Vietnam. We have do kayaking in Halong Bay, one of the most beautiful bay in the world.
We have come back at home, very delighted with my Vietnam trip: Halong Bay kayaking tour with the Active Travel Asia.
The services on junk's board was very good, and the kayaking tour introduced us too amazing and very quiet landscapes, with an excellent tour guide listening to us.
Moreover the weather was fine! We are very glad to have chosen the 4 days tour with 2 kayaking days : it's better to discover the bay in Vietnam
We would like to come back if we have the opportunity.
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Review by Bobby Tran9 years ago
Our excursion to Halong Bay with Active Travel Asia one of our package tour in Vietnam, then we have some days in Hue, Hoi An and Mekong Delta. Hai our guide in Hanoi and Halong Bay was excellent, knowledgeable, funny. We were a couple to go relax and kayaking Halong Bay. He showed us a great experience and romantic heaven in Halong Bay. We have a great time and would definitely recommend Active Travel Asia.
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