Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
benjihill

Ho Chi Minh City With Xuan

Recommended Posts

Normally my spouse and I like to go out on our own when we travel to different countries.  Recently we travelled to several locations in Vietnam (via cruise ship) and we decided that this time we would like in to organized tours.  We were extremely lucky and hooked up with four other couples on organized tours in Dang Nang, Na Trang and Ho Chi Ming City. The very best part was the tour guide was the very same person for all three locations.  This brings me to the reason for my review of Tours by Xuan.  This was probably one of the best travel decisions we have ever made.  Let’s start with Xuan himself.  This young man was extremely endearing, charming, trustworthy, knowledgeable of the area, accommodating and professional.  He was able to provide tours of three locations that were enjoyable for all ten people that for the most part were total strangers. 

Next, the tours themselves.  As soon as we disembarked from the ship Xuan was there waiting for us.  In each location he provided a comfortable, air-conditioned van that was driven by a local driver that knew the area very well.  This in itself addressed  two concerns we all had.  First, there was no time wasted driving to different areas as the driver was well aware of the best way to get around. Second, and probably the most important, both Xuan and the driven were aware of driving times, possible delays and detours, or anything else that may cause us to return late to the ship.

In all three locations, we were taken to areas that would not have been possible if we had been on bus tours or ships tours just because of the sheer number of people and the size of the vehicles they would require.  Additionally, because Xuan was quite familiar with the places we visited, we were able to spend time in places that we know for a fact others never had the opportunity to visit.  Lunches were not included in the cost of the tours however,  Xuan took us to places that were extremely enjoyable, provided a variety of choices and were very easy on the wallet.  He did however, take us to several little cafes  where he would buy us refreshments and he always had a bag of local fruits for us to try.

I guess the best way to sum it up is to simply say that our visit to Vietnam was a memorable experience due in great part to a young man named Xuan whose pride in his country and pride in the service he provided to his customers is surpassed by none.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In March 2019, we too went on tours with Xuan to Danang and Hoian. Since he was busy with another tour, we had an associate of his for Ho Chi Minh City.  I concur with your assessment of Xuan and the tours and HIGHLY recommend him and his associates for tours. The highlights were the 45 minute Trishaw ride in Ho Chi Minh City and the restaurant off the beaten path where only locals knew about. 

It's wonderful to only have 8 people on a tour that is so reasonably priced. 

CC18ABD2-8FF4-40F5-88ED-8C993C6CE84D.jpeg

E9A1A197-397D-441A-891D-2F7063DE8DC3.jpeg

90095ABB-3670-4A02-95FC-75C4A7B55CCB.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have always been a little perplexed about this thread and the never ending glowing reviews for this one or that.  Seems to me that some posters are being encouraged to report/review in order to persuade others to book with this one or that without looking at other possibilities.  Call me a cynic but having visited Vietnam many times since the Government sent me there for a 12 month paid holiday in 1969, something is not quite right!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We used Xuan last September and I completely vouch for him. Felt completely safe and at ease with him. We customized our tour and never had any issues. Two people for two days at $90 a person as opposed to 47 or 37 people at $74 each. It's a no brainer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Bpos said:

Have always been a little perplexed about this thread and the never ending glowing reviews for this one or that.  Seems to me that some posters are being encouraged to report/review in order to persuade others to book with this one or that without looking at other possibilities.  Call me a cynic but having visited Vietnam many times since the Government sent me there for a 12 month paid holiday in 1969, something is not quite right!

OK, you're a cynic. I was fortunate to join a roll call organized tour with Xuan for both of our Vietnam ports this past January. At no time were we urged to leave a glowing review or to persuade anyone else to use his company. People leave these glowing reviews because he provides an excellent experience. Period. Full stop. It is up to the individual reader to research their alternatives and select the one they are most comfortable with. No one is preventing anyone from looking elsewhere.

 

I have not experienced a Vietnam tour offered by another operator,  so I cannot say whether their tour leaders ask their guests to post a good review. Even if they do this, I can't imagine too many people who would post such a review if the tour was a bad one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We used XUAN last year and were thrilled with him!  Yes, he was higher than we expected, but his service is top notch and professional.  He is passionate about teaching visitors about his county, without being pushy.  I booked 1 full day in HCM City and we were there with my FIL who fought in the war and has lived with PTSD.  Xuan went out of his way to show us sites that were not on a "tour" and as kind and compassionate as anyone could be.  He had a full lunch which was delicious.  I know I could have paid less for another tour guide, but for us, he was worth it and I'd do it again.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr. Pham,  my wife and I were on both the MeKong River Tour and the Nha Trang with your tour group.  Both tours were superb, inclusive, very well executed plus each was an excellent value.  You are correct,  we paid ONLY US$60/per person.  I repeat. The tours were both EXCELLENT and I would repeat any Pham Tours to any place you go. I am convinced that we could not have gotten the degree of insight into Vietnamese life that we got with your tours.  The is no way that could we have gone to a private home/cottage industries and seen conical hats being made, bed mats being made, and rice cakes being made on a ship's tour nor in a huge charter bus.  We loved the days we spent on the Pham Tours!!  The attached pictures are but a few of the excellent things that we were so privileged to experience.

IMG_7854.JPG

IMG_8176.JPG

IMG_8219.JPG

IMG_8074.JPG

IMG_8143.JPG

IMG_8196.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a posting earlier to review tours provided to us by Tours with Xuan.  I'm amazed a some of the things that have been posted since.  I want to make something perfectly clear and it will be the last posting I do on this subject.  I was not asked by anyone to make that post.  I was not paid by anyone to make that post.  I was not compensated in any way, shape or form to make that posting. Normally I don't do any reviews. However, I was so impressed (blown away) by the service we received that I truly feel he deserved the accolades.  I was not saying that others should only use his service.  I was not putting down any other service.  I was not saying that he was cheaper than any other service (I made no mention of cost).  It was not in anyway to start some sort of competition.  What I was saying was that he made our trip one that will be in my memory books for ever and I just wanted to share that experience with others who in the future may be looking for options and suggestions when visiting Vietnam. 

Enough Said

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Pocket1, we got back from our cruise last week and was going to post my review and in the meantime I'm surprised at how this thread has taken a bit of turn. At no time were we pressured to put in this review but we had a fantastic time and felt that Xuan was a very genuine person. Very upfront, nothing in my correspondence with him before and on the day ever felt "dodgy" or like a scam. This is not the first independent tour we have done and there are always risks which you must consider before booking an independent tour. We felt very comfortable with Xuan. I'm sure there are other tour operators that are just as good and it depends on your experience. We had just the two of us and could customise our tour to suit, if we paid more for that then that is our problem and prerogative. 

 

As for paying a deposit upfront I can't see any reason why this would be a problem. Xuan was upfront about this and also his refund policy - which we had no issues with. 

 

Anyway here is my review.

 

We have returned home after our 19-day cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong. On our stop in Vietnam I had organised a day trip with Xuan based on his good reviews on this forum. Well I have to say he did not disappoint. We had a fantastic day with Xuan showing us around. It was just myself and DH so he met is outside the port gates (private tour operators as not allowed into the port) and was easy to spot, with a driver and a late model air-conditioned car before we headed off to Saigon. We then had a great day seeing places you don’t also get to see on the big bus ship tours. We then left the city with plenty of time to get back to the port.

Xuan is a lovely young man with a passion to show his country to travellers, he was very easy to deal with – all over email - and discussed what we wanted to do with his recommendations.  I booked this tour well in advance as he does book up quickly. If you have one day in Vietnam then I would definitely recommend using Xuan. If you are worried about getting back to the ship on time due to Saigon being 90 minutes away, I would say don’t worry as Xuan was very conscious of the time and we where back by about 4.15 for a 5.30 all aboard. I can’t pick one highlight as the whole day was fantastic. Xuan also took lots of photos and videos during the day which he then sent through to our phones. The trishaw ride was also a highlight just to experience the traffic!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started researching Vietnamese tour companies a year prior to our cruise.  Tours by Xuan was highly recommended by many cruisers.  I started corresponding with Xuan and others prior to making our decision.

Xuan has an International guide license since 2012 and he has been working for a big travel company in Ho Chi Minh city for many years.

Like many individuals starting out, the last couple of years he has been a local guide for Toursbylocals, mostly private tour & small group tours on his own.  Xuan still works for a travel company in Ho Chi Minh City as freelance guide. 

Since he is an independent freelance guide with a tour guide license and doesn’t own any travel company he doesn’t need any bonding.  He feels confident to conduct the tours with full legal documentations as behind him is another travel company where he has been working for many years.

There are many good guides & travel companies in Vietnam and I and others have given Xuan excellent reviews.  We are not saying anything negative about other guides and companies.  Everyone will make their own decisions by reading and exploring the many options available.

Happy Travels!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted a review of my experience using Xuan for 2 ports on our recent cruise. Why, simple, the experience exceeded all expectations. Having used private tours in many countries I think I know what is value for my dollar and when on a time limited excursion just what I expect within that time. Xuan delivered a memorable experience, a caring attitude and service beyond what I have previously received in other countries. 

 

As far as the cost for his tours, just compare what you are getting from the ship based tours verses what Xuan and other private tour operators offer and you will find the price is more than fair. Could it be cheaper to use other operators, yes but I also have seen other tours that were higher priced than Xuan, I tended  to find his price was fair when compared to other operators and that is why I decided to book 2 tours with Xuan. 

 

I agree that this thread is for posts regarding Xuan and his tour, if your experience is good or bad than post by all means but it is not a thread to promote others or bag Xuan without having used his service and to do so is poor form. 

Edited by beldin61

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Totally agree @beldin61!!!!!!    

 

I'm a bit confused though it appears that the negative inappropriate comments have mostly been removed.  Which makes me very happy!!!!  Shame the one promoting the other company wasn't removed also.

 

Xuan was a wonderful guide and these 2 tours were the best tours of my whole cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/20/2019 at 6:32 AM, Bpos said:

Have always been a little perplexed about this thread and the never ending glowing reviews for this one or that.  Seems to me that some posters are being encouraged to report/review in order to persuade others to book with this one or that without looking at other possibilities.  Call me a cynic but having visited Vietnam many times since the Government sent me there for a 12 month paid holiday in 1969, something is not quite right!

 

I posted a positive review about our tours with Xuan in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City & Nha Trang) because we enjoyed them so much and wanted to share with others just how delightful he is and how well-planned his tours are...not for any other reason. I often read of others experiences in order to make sound decisions on cruise excursion choices and felt it was time to return the favor by taking the time to write my own review.  I wanted anyone who was interested to know how much fun we had with Xuan and that we wouldn't hesitate to use him again. 

 

I believe the purpose of this thread is to review and share our own personal experience of Ho Chi Minh City with Xuan and that's exactly what I did. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That exactly what this thread is about, experiences with Xuan. Because of this thread, I have booked with him for Oct. He was personally booked (I emailed him 10 months ahead), but he assured me I would have one of his very knowledgeable guides. I have no problem with this, since others have had positive experiences with his other guides.

 

Bpos,

 

Good tours and good guides will always get a number of posters reviewing them. That’s what the Ports of Call board is for. When I’m looking for a private tour, I always come here first for suggestions. I thank people for taking the time to tell about their experiences. I choose to look at the glass half full.

 

If others want to talk about their personal preference, they can either join a generic Vietnam tour thread or make their own thread. Sometimes, one just needs to speak up if they feel a thread has been hijacked.

 

 

Edited by crzndeb

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/22/2019 at 4:11 PM, djsm63 said:

I wanted anyone who was interested to know how much fun we had with Xuan and that we wouldn't hesitate to use him again.

 

After having read reviews of Xuan's tours here on CC, I was able to book him for our recent stops in Vietnam (Danang/Hoi An, Mekong river and Saigon).  What a blessing he was!!  You WILL NOT be disappointed!  We had Xuan personally and his choices of sights, his humor and his photography made these 3 days some of the best of my vacation.  I did book Xuan 1 year in advance and we just had 8 of us on the tour.  His vans were comfortable and we saw and did so many things with the local people that organized tours could never do. 

 

I'm not sure why anyone wouldn't want someone to write a review of their tour...isn't that the whole idea of the ports forum??  As long as you personally took the tour, CC says you can write a review. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had contacted Xuan in early March after reading about him here on Cruise Critic for a private tour in HCMC during our one day visit on MSC Splendida on April 17.  After several emails for 2 to 6 people and finally ending up with 20 people from the ship for a private tour with Xuan, he was polite and detailed of what he could provide from a small van to the comfortable bus for 20 people, I booked his service.  We kept in contact thru Whatsapp and on the day that we got off the ship and took the shuttle from the ship to outside of the port area, Xuan was there with a sign identifying our group with a smile on his face.

Our group was of a mixed age and ethnic background, but our ambassador, Xuan, made all of us comfortable and informed of our full day tour of HCMC.  When we arrived in the heart of the city, we all got off the ship and were greeted by 20 rickshaw drivers all in blue shirts with a map of Vietnam on them ready to take each of us on the ride of our life thru the heart of the city.  We laughed and prayed as we dodged scooters, chickens, dogs, people and traffic.  Xuan was all over the place following our ride, taking pictures of each of us.  He forward a file to me of those pics which I forward to our group.  

The tour continued thru the city, stopping at a local place for lunch on our own for typical Vietnamese food.  We stopped at a musuem about the war in Vietnam, the post office for shopping, walked the city main streets, and being informed about all the highlights of HCMC.  As promised Xuan got us back to the port in plenty of time to get back on our MSC ship.

All of the participants of our group raved about the tour and the rickshaw ride for the rest our voyage.

I would highly recommend Xuan for his detailed and caring tours of HCMC and Vietnam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was in a group of twelve from the Sapphire Princess where we thoroughly enjoyed a two-day tour with Xuan. Our first day was in Nha Trang. That evening we returned to the ship for our journey to Ho Chi Minh City. Xuan flew to HCMC to meet us the following day day for our tour in Ho Chi Minh. I highly recommend Xuan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone tell me what Xuan charges for his tours?  And are they all private, or can you join  on a shore excursion tour with Xuan  that is shared with others from the ship?

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cleobella,

Here's an example of Xuan's tour of Ho Chi Minh City.  We also did the one in Danang and Hoian with him. For our cruise in March 2019, I created a google doc and requested fellow cruisers sign up so we could decrease this amazing tour. I won't reiterate the glowing reviews that myself and others have written.

 

2 persons:  340 USD.
4 persons:  440 USD.
6 persons:  540 USD.
8 persons:  640 USD.
10 persons: 740 USD

Time    "Pick up at 08:00am at outside of port gate - 700 meters from a dock with a sign of your name. Return to the port before 6pm.
(We dock at 7am and depart 9pm)"
Details    "- Visit a local fresh market (fruits, vegetables, fish...) in small alleyways to see local life.
- Visit a Thien Hau temple in Chinatown.
- Trishaw ride 45 minutes through local markets
- Driving along a canal to see a huge contrast between poor stilts houses and high rise apartments. 
- In downtown: walking around Dong Khoi & Nguyen Hue streets to visit some historical sites like post office, notre dame cathedral, city hall and  CIA building where one of the last American helicopter landed on the top for evacuating in fall of Saigon 1975.
- Have lunch at a good local restaurant (pay by your own) 
- Visit war remnants museum ( or Independent palace). 
- Shopping at Ben Thanh market if you wish to see and buy local souvenir.

The tour includes a comfortable van Ford Transit (16 seaters), a tour guide, all entrance fees, 45 minutes trishaw ride in Saigon, bottles of water. Meals, tips and personal expenses are excluded. And i will recommend you some great local restaurants during the trip. 

Rita Lee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chocolate lover91 said it all. Xuan is incredible! You can customize your tour. We did a foodie and sites....we added beer and soft drinks, fruits and extra water, extra cost, but we requested it......the trip was way cheaper than the ship

I posted for people to join us on roll call and I had 24 people join us. We explored more sites than the ship offered, sampled 8 local fruits, coffees, desserts and ate were only locals had lunch.....no tourists. It was the highlight of everyone’s cruise.

He is reliable and honest, book him, best choice you will ever make!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Xuan is a Real Memory Maker!

 

Note: I am another of those who have nothing but praise for Xuan.

 

How can words adequately express how delighted all 8 of us were with our 3 very different days with this young man! I’ll try.

Almost a year ago I was advised by a previous customer to book Xuan, saying Xuan was the best guide EVER. He was so right!

Our group of 8 had a tour with Xuan in Danang area, Nha Trang, and Saigon.

What Xuan provided was above and beyond my expectations. His tours are vastly superior. He is thoughtful, cheerful, so knowledgeable, and so well organized. He showed us sights, provided experiences not available on “standard “ tours, provided insights and sense of prospective, and had so many extra touches that would not have occurred to us, Example of an extra touch: during our 45 trishaw tour of Saigon, Xuan went ahead as passenger on one of the millions of scooters so as to take many photos and some videos of each person then finally as a group.

Xuan gave a truly excellent introduction to his diverse country. He provided so many memories!

Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. Book Xuan!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Westiesheepie said:

Can someone review Xuan’s Mekong Delta tour please. We have 2 days in HCMC on Seabourn Ovation in February. I believe we dock right in town. Thanks.

Hi there! We have toured with Xuan and he is excellent!! We cruised on Silversea Silver Muse Nov 2018.  We also had 2 days in Saigon and so I did some research to find a good guide and Xuan’s name kept popping up...both on Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor.  Some folks said he was the best guide they had ever had.  Anyway, I booked him about 6 mos out since I knew he was pretty popular based on the reviews on CC. He was quick to respond , recommended a couple different itineraries and then we altered a couple things to tailor it more to what we were interested in.  Once we were all booked  with him, we got his whatsapp number and made it very easy to communicate prior to our cruise.  Xuan is from the Mekong Delta originally, so his all day tour there was fascinating with a local’s perspective.  Vietnam is such an amazing country and every minute of your trip will keep you engaged since it’s so unique.   As you may know, many Vietnamese can be somewhat difficult to understand, their accent can be quite strong when speaking English but Xuan is very easy to understand and very well spoken. I think that’s really important with a tour guide ...they must have an excellent command of the language and he does indeed.  Xuan loves to take pics and so no worrries, he will get lots of pics of you to remember your trip by.  Our 2nd day we did Saigon and he took us to neighborhoods that few locals go to.  Markets that few local go to.  On that day, we told him taht really wanted to see “daily life” of Vietnamese .....  we told him we wanted to do a trishaw through the streets of SAigon and what a ride we had! It was about a half hour and utterly fascinating. He even road ahead on a motorcycle and would stop at intersections and stand in the street to get pics of us being chauffeured around ...love the action shots! He really is one of the best guides we have ever had...so personable, so kind ,....since our trip, we have recommended him to friends and colleagues that have traveled both for business and pleasure to Vietnam and they all have raved about him as well.  Let me know if you have anymore questions.  Happy to answer.  We are looking at an Asian cruise again in 2022 and if we choose one that stops in Veitnam, we will definitely hire Xuan again.  

 

 

 

 

9CAA8CCD-AFE5-412E-AA57-D759B6666A98.jpeg

CF11A32B-6AF4-4068-88AC-E05227EFF378.jpeg

2187E156-BDBD-4937-9FAD-5AA6C241EDA4.jpeg

BB3F513E-65CC-4BB7-99DC-E19794E891E9.jpeg

72FEFC26-3250-4836-9037-AFCD3D61390C.jpeg

BE94B20B-9252-49DB-856F-ED6DA2888924.jpeg

Edited by Tarwood3
Can’t figure out why post says “hidden”?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just returned from our Asia cruise and due to the virus , Vietnam was the only ports we visited...however, we are thankful to Celebrity for cancelling our cruise and bringing us all back healthy.

Xuan was our guide for our 3 ports and he was great...he is knowledgeable, passionate about his country and his tours, friendly and caring and made sure that we were always happy...we had Vietnamese coffee, lunched on Pho , tasted freshly made rice crackers, and  toured Ho Chi Min on a rickshaw which was a blast..

the best tour and tour guide !

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...