This is my third visit to Vietnam and my second experience with Xuan Tu tours. My son and I enjoyed immensely our DMZ motorbike tour with Xuan Tu and her riders in 2013 so I looked her up again and luckily she was free for 2 days. Arriving after a tiring flight from Australia she and her friend Lam met us at the airport like old friends. A comfortable, air conditioned car was a welcome relief as she whisked us away to the cool breeze of An Bang beach in Hoi An to just chill out with cocktails and catch up with memories of our last time together and how her business has just exploded with popularity and for good reason.
We organised to be picked up later for a cyclo food tour of Da Nang at 5 pm. I struggle to describe this experience for that is what it was – an “experience”. This tour is not just about food, although I could say a lot of great things here. Xuan Tu has created a tour where food meets culture along with the beautiful sights of Da Nang in the evening.
Our cyclo drivers don’t just carry you around. They interact with you in a hilarious way, they share the meals with you, the laughter comes thick and fast even though they don’t speak English. Universal body language is sufficient and Xuan and Lam are ready to interpret. My rider, “Mr Remember” was a load of laughs.
What impressed us was the obvious affection between Xuan Tu and “her” family of riders. As she explained, the people she employs are like a great big extended family. She has a powerful social conscience and see’s her success as a blessing in her Buddhist belief, to be shared. She see’s other tour guides working for just $10 per day, regardless of group size and won’t allow this to apply to her. Her ethics, honesty and integrity are most important to her beliefs as can be attested by her many excellent reviews and her well deserved no 1 TA rating.
The food…… The tour takes you to places normal tourists wouldn’t dream of finding. Small vendors often carrying on the family tradition specialising in the same dish for several generations and not used to westerners visiting despite being in central Da Nang. The food can only be described as very special. 8 dishes at 6 locations, difficult to remember them all, from noodles with seafood, to rice dumpling cakes, vermicelli with fish and shrimp sauce, rice paper rolls, fermented pork sausages and coconut jelly with ice cream. My vegetarian wife had plenty of options. In Vietnam, unlike the west, meat is the accompaniment rather than making the mail meal.
When my wife and I eventually laid down on our pillows our heads were filled with special memories and despite being dogged tired found sleep difficult with these great experiences.
We have booked her Hoi An walking tour in a few days. We couldn’t wait to see them again!
Traveller: FairEnough54 from Tripadvisor