How was your Explore Tour Leader?
Tui in Thailand poor. Delighted when I arrived with group flight and cancelled meeting. Information comprised of 'turn right for backpackers land, left for the river.' Had been given incorrect information about Cambodain visas by Explore she put me in the position of having to pay more. Nak in Cambodia very knowledgeable and efficient. First guide in Vietnam, Binh, excellent. One of most pleasant, obliging and knowlegeable guides I have ever travelled with. Then Bac; had knowledge and organisational skills but lacked people skills. When one guest complained optional tour was extremely bad value response was that he couldn't care less whether we went! Then came Dat fortunatley from the same mould as Binh. Very knowledgable and obliging.
What tips would you give to someone else booking this tour?
Everyone wants US dollars. ATMs in Vietnam use Agribank; they will allow up to 6,000000dong most others only 1,000000/2,000000. Don't lug a sleeping bag or water bottle around for 30 days. Bedding provided adequate and bottles of water available. Check if water in hotels complimentary. Some isn't and the hotel will rip you off when checking out! Laundries close to your hotel often fraction of the price. In Sapa laundries will get your muddy boots or shoes sparkling clean and dry for equivalent to 80p. Make your own arrangements for a boat trip at Nha Trang. Treat yourself to massages in particular at the centres for the blind. Be sure you're comfortable with carrying luggage (wheels or a rucksack on your back). Have to get it to public transport. You are not ferried around in group bus.
Do you have anything else to add?
Not a holiday for tourists; an adventure for travellers. Full on and includes a mix of everything; mountains to cities,and nature to culture. There is a lot of time spent in Hanoi due to it being included in 2 of the itineries. It would be nice if more time could have been spent in Mai Chau. Prepare yourself for an initial culture shock at homestay on the hilltribe trek. However, you'll end up thoroughly enjoying roughing it. Take old clothing, particularly foot wear, on the trek to give away to the porters who really have nothing. Gave my hiking boots to one young boy; you'd think I'd given him £1,000000 - a definite highlight of my trip.