FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. What Currencies Should I Bring/Are Credit Cards Accepted?
A. Vietnam remains a cash economy, it is thought that some 90% of all financial transactions are made with cash. Our currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). There are ATM's in most major centres, they usually dispense just 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 VND (though sometimes more depending on the bank) - you are normally free to make several withdrawals each day. Credit/Debit Cards such as VISA & MASTERCARD are accepted in most major hotels, tailors and up-market shops and restaurants – Diners Card & AMEX can be problematic. Most smaller shops, homestays, eateries and other outlets (i.e. the majority) accept cash only.
The $US is widely accepted.
Major world currencies can be changed in various locations including Da Nang International Airport, banks, hotels & some shops etc. I find most clients bring a mix of payment methods when visiting Vietnam - cash in the form of major currencies i.e. USD, AUD, Euro, GBP, NZD, CAD etc and credit/debit/ATM cards. Some use a pre-loaded credit card, but I understand card & bank fees should be checked-out before using these.
From a practical point of view, ensure currency for exchange is clean, unmarked and unfolded – money exchanges can refuse to change otherwise. Many day-to-day purchases in Vietnam are for relatively small amounts so you should include small denomination VND notes.
Q. How Do I Pay For Your Private Tours?
A. I accept payment by cash in $US or our country's currency, the VND (Vietnamese Dong). Some of my Private Tours, Packages and Ship Excursions require a 20% deposit payable through PayPal which will be shown on your quotation, I can accept part-payment for other tours via PayPal if required. I can also accept payment by credit card during your stay in Vietnam, but not as a payment from outside Vietnam.
Q. Will You Be My Tour Guide?
A. As you can understand, with running multiple tours each day I am unable to guide every tour. But my team are trained to my exacting standards and are really enthusiastic English speakers - my tours are generally conducted in English. I have a fluent Mandarin/English/Vietnamese speaking guide if required at extra cost. All my team mates are university educated, government licensed and passionate about their country and our overseas visitors.
Q. What Vehicle Do You Use For My Tour?
A. I use modern air-conditioned vehicles depending on your party size. 6/7-seater SUV's are used in the majority, 11 seat, 16 seat and 21 seat vehicles are used for larger groups. Each vehicle is usually less than 2 years old, is maintained to manufacturers specifications and I only use drivers that are professionally trained to my stringent requirements. Each vehicle carries cold bottled mineral water and chilled scented face towels for the duration of your tour. My drivers are an integral part of your time with us and ensure your safety and well being at all times.
Q. Do I Need A Visa To Enter Vietnam?
A. I regret I am not an expert on Vietnamese visa requirements - many change on an annual basis. Neither can I advise on the benefits of VOA over visas granted directly by our embassy situated in your country. However, I am happy to give general advice and to find details of our embassy in your country.
Q. Which Hotel Do You Recommend/Do I Need To Stay In Different Cities
A. All Private Tours shown in my website can be reached within a day from either Da Nang or Hoi An, there is no requirement to change hotels whilst in central Vietnam - my clients invariably tell me it is far more relaxing to pick just one hotel in Da Nang, My Khe Beach or Hoi An and tour from there. Metered taxis are really inexpensive and many hotels offer a free shuttle service. Our imperial city of Hue, Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Bay, Ba Na Hill Resort and My Son Sanctuary are no more than a half day or a day away with an evening return to your hotel.
I am happy to recommend hotels based on your budget and requirements - please ask.
Q. What Will The Weather Be Like When I Visit?
A. There is not really a right or wrong time to visit Vietnam as during most months of the year you will experience both sunshine and rain in varying quantities. Welcome to my country, with 2000 + miles of coastline and three different weather systems! Whilst Vietnam is typically warm and humid, the weather can vary significantly from one region to another due to the country's length. At times there has been snow (yes white snow!) in the mountainous far north whilst the beaches in the south enjoyed 32 °C and sunshine. It pays to imagine the country as three separate destinations when researching weather for your intended visit and the following information will hopefully help you.
Hoi An, Hue & Danang in central Vietnam have hot and mainly dry weather from mid-January to late August, with temperatures often reaching the mid to upper-30's°C - it can rain at any time, often showers which last just a short time and clear quickly. During the winter months the rainfall increases during October and November with December achieving peak levels, very occasionally in the form of typhoons - yet November & December is the peak tourist season in Vietnam! Hue is often cooler than Da Nang & Hoi An, especially early in the year. In addition, with each sitting on opposite sides of a small mountain range the weather can often differ between the two on any given day.
Q. How Do I Transfer From Da Nang International Airport?
A. Because most Da Nang hotels are no more than 25 minutes and Hoi An hotels 45 minutes travel time, the most cost effective transfer is by metered taxi from Da Nang International Airport to your hotel. However, if you prefer a 'meet & greet' service using my comfortable, clean and air conditioned vehicles, I can provide Private Airport Transfers. Yes, a little extra but more convenient with my driver waiting for you in arrivals. And please remember my professional drivers understand your safety requirements such as no-smoking and mobile phone usage!
Q. Which Restaurants Do You Recommend?
A. Out of central Vietnam's long and diverse history comes a fiercely proud people with unique culinary traditions, making Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue amongst the most compelling food destinations in South East Asia. Depending on your requirements I can recommend eateries ranging from street vendors to 'high end' restaurants that would easily grace major cities worldwide. I can also provide Authentic Vietnamese Dinners with family or a Private Cooking Class with my mom!
Q. Are Your Tours Suitable For Our Young Children?
A. Yes, very much so. Babies & young children are revered in Vietnam and will be the centre of attention. Our youngest client so far has been a 12 month old baby. My team are really adept at family groups, even ensuring the teenager is engaged throughout the day!
Q. Are Your Tours Suitable For Our Elders?
A. Yes, very much so. Like young children our elders are revered in Vietnam. Our oldest client so far has been a 97 years old grandmother in a family group. She was wheelchair bound but took part in nearly all the 3 days activities when touring with us. My team are really adept at family groups, and this is where are lovely drivers come into their own by ensuring the safety and well being of our older visitors.
Blog & Latest News
06/07/2107: I ask every client to give honest opinion about my company after every tour and one of my lovely British clients sent me this and said I could use their comments in any way. They know us really well, both toured with me at the very start of my company and have visited my amazing country three times since then, using my services every time. So with their permission I am really excited to show you this writing:
To understand Xuan Tu and her successful business is to understand the recent history of her amazing country. The tragic years of the Vietnam War followed 107 years of colonial imposition by the French and led to reunification of Vietnam in 1976. It wasn’t until 30 years ago, in 1986, that her country opened itself to the modern outside world with the Doi Moi Policy (Chính sách Đổi Mới), a series of economic reforms designed to create a 'socialist-oriented market economy."
Born in the early 1990's, Xuan Tu is a child of modern Vietnam where parents ensure by any means their children are educated to the very highest level. Parents like Xuan Tu's who survived deprivation through their country's recent conflict – Mr Mai became a civil servant speaking fluent French (a legacy of Vietnam's colonial past), Mrs Mai became a successful restaurateur. Through their efforts, Xuan Tu gained a BA in English from the internationally renowned University of Da Nang. Working as an English teacher within a major Vietnamese software company she saved sufficient to apply for her government license to operate as a Tour Operator in central Vietnam – at the age of 21! With Private Tours focusing on local interactions and helping the 'little guy' she initially gained clients by word of mouth and her business rapidly gained positive comments and encouragement from impressed overseas visitors like us.
Three years on and at just 24, Xuan Tu has a professional website attracting clients from around the world, employs 4 government licensed tour guides ('team mates'), offers a portfolio of 20 Private Tours & Private Shore Excursions within central Vietnam, a Private Cooking Class (led by her chef mother) and western style accommodation in the family Da Nang homestay.
"Xuan Tu Tours reminds me of a social enterprise, in which their business model sees a portion of their fee being donated to the homes of the villagers we visited. We learnt that the agency's tour guides, such as Lam himself, take time to get to know the locals on Cam Kim Island and would work with households that struggle to make ends meet. So instead of taking us to shops where the guide would stand to gain from commissions, this agency is actually giving back to their local community. I say what they are doing is simply wonderful"
"What really touched us was that this tour contributed to the livelihoods of these families we visited"
"And her concept of the tours is adorable as part of the tour fees will be sponsored to those locals in supporting and sustaining the Vietnam's culture. Highly recommended!"
Today her business still operates on that basis of local interaction and helping the 'little guy', is rated No.1 on the influential TripAdvisor website with some 500 positive reviews and attracts unsolicited comments like those above. We happily recommend Xuan Tu and her team to anyone visiting central Vietnam - you will not be disappointed!"
John & Margaret