FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. How Much Physical Activity is Involved?
A. In general, all my Excursions require no more than lightly moderate physical activity. But you should note that the Marble Mountains in Da Nang, while reached by elevator does have steep and uneven stairs within the complex and the imperial tombs in Hue have steep but even staircases.
When enquiring please let me know if this could be an issue, and any other concerns you may have – I will advise accordingly to ensure your day with us is really special.
Q. What Money Should I Bring?
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, eateries and other outlets (i.e. the majority) accept cash only. The $US as cash is widely accepted.
Major world currencies can be changed and 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 small denomination VND notes can be helpful.
As of 05/03/2019, currency import & export regulations are
Currency Import regulations:
Local currency (Vietnamese Dong-VND): no restrictions but amounts exceeding VND 15,000,000.00 must be declared on arrival.
Foreign currencies: no restrictions but amounts exceeding USD 5,000.00 (or equivalent) must be declared on arrival. For amounts under USD 5,000.00 (or equivalent), to be deposited in credit institutions and branches of foreign banks must also be declared on arrival.
Currency Export regulations:
Local currency (Vietnamese Dong-VND): no restrictions but amounts exceeding VND 15,000,000.00 must be declared on departure.
Foreign currencies: no restrictions but amounts exceeding USD 5,000.00 (or equivalent) must be declared upon departure. Proof of expenses is required.
Q. Will I Miss My Ship?
A. No! Although cruise lines lead you to believe that independent Shore Excursions carry this risk, in reality we are well aware of your ship’s departure time and my Excursions are designed to get you back on-board with more than enough time to spare – in over five years, I have never had a client miss a ship, flight, train or any other method of onward travel.
Q. Will Xuân Tú Be My Shore Excursion Guide?
A. As you can understand, with running multiple tours & excursions 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 can offer a Mandarin -Speaking Service with prior arrangement. All my teammates are university educated, government licensed and passionate about their country and our overseas visitors.
Q. Is There a Dress Code When I Visit Vietnam?
A. In general, the dress code is casual but conservative. Skimpy shorts and T-Shirts can be considered offensive even in the larger cities like Hue, and definitely so in Vietnam’s rural areas. Be aware that when entering someone’s house, local dwellings, or visiting religious sites like temples and pagodas, it’s a must-do to remove footwear at the front door. Most importantly, respectful attire when visiting temples and pagodas is essential. This means no shorts above the knee or singlet tops or to show bare midriffs or cleavage. Shoulders, chest & legs should be covered and failure to do this will inevitably mean you are refused entry. Please check with me if you have any concerns, but remember our South East Asian sun can be fierce and more coverage also means better sun protection!
Q. What Vehicle Do You Use For My Private Excursion?
A. I use modern air-conditioned vehicles depending on your party size. 6-seat SUV’s are used for 2 or 4 persons, with 11, 16, 23 or even 45-seaters for larger families, groups of friends or groups formed via Cruise Critic’s ‘Roll Call Forums’. Each vehicle is usually less than 2 years old, is maintained to manufacturers specifications, fully fitted with seat belts 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 – it remains a complex subject and many change on an annual basis. Generally, all passenger’s visa requirements are handled by your cruise company on-board before arrival. I am happy to give general advice and to find details of our embassy in your country if necessary.
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 & Da Nang 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. Do You Include Lunch During My Excursion?
A. Out of Vietnam’s long and diverse history comes a fiercely proud people with unique culinary traditions, making it amongst the most compelling food destinations in South East Asia. You will find a huge choice, so normally we recommend and you pay locally – depending on your requirements we recommend eateries ranging from street vendors to ‘high end’ restaurants that would easily grace major cities worldwide. But I am happy to include an authentic Vietnamese lunch if required, but please let me know of any food allergies or intolerances (also my guide on-the-day). Veggie & Vegan meals can be arranged in Vietnam.
Q. How Long Will My Private Shore Excursion Last?
A. Generally, my full-day itineraries are designed to be about 7.5-8hrs in length – from shipside pick-up to drop-off in plenty of time for your ship’s departure. We are always waiting at the port for your ship to dock. In practice, and as we are aware of your ship’s published arrival/departure times, your Excursion will be tailored to suit your individual ship timings.
Q. How Do I Pay For My Private Shore Excursion?
A. I ask for a 30% deposit payable on your receipt of my PayPal invoice. Receipt of your deposit by my company will indicate that you have read my payment/cancellation Terms & Conditions and that you have accepted them. I do not charge additional bank fees to accept your 30% deposit.
Your Shore Excursion balance is payable at the end of your excursion in cash – $USD, or our local currency (VND) at the exchange rate prevailing on the day.
I know some clients appreciate making pre-payment before arrival to reduce the amount of cash carried, and I am happy to forward a PayPal invoice for an agreed amount on request. Up to 30% pre-payment (the deposit) is at no extra cost to you. Amounts over 30% and up to full pre-payment will incur an additional 4.4% to offset PayPal bank fees
Q. Why Do You Ask For A Deposit?
A. Your deposit is used to pay Vietnam Port Authority fees prior to your arrival (a legal requirement here, to allow shipside pick-up & drop-off).
Q. What is Your Cancellation Policy
A. 100% deposit return – if Excursion is cancelled by you, 28 days or more before your arrival date
50% deposit return – if Excursion is cancelled by you, between 28 & 14 days before your arrival date, unless your tour slot can be rebooked. Every effort is made to rebook
0% deposit return – if cancelled less than 14 days before your arrival date, or for ‘no-shows’ after the ship has docked.
Cancellation by your cruise company where the ship is unable to dock/tender due to Force Majeure reasons
In the most unlikely event your ship is unable to dock at ports or the tender can not discharge passengers, my company will endeavour to negotiate with the Vietnam Port Authority Agents to minimize the cancellation charge – repayment is not guaranteed by the agents. It’s worth saying that in the last 5 years, only once has a cruise ship been unable to dock due to inclement weather where Private Shore Excursions have been booked with my company.
Please remember that my driver and tour guide will have been sent to the port to welcome you and will require payment for their time. I will advise you on specific details if this is the case and inform you of any refund amount.
Q. Am I Expected to Tip Your Driver & Guide?
A. No. Extending a tip or gratuity to my staff is strictly optional but is greatly appreciated by those guiding you through your time with us, and if you feel they gave you an exceptional experience
Q. Are Your Shore Excursions 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 Shore Excursions Suitable For Our Elders?
A. Yes, very much so. As with young children, our elders are respected 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 our lovely drivers come into their own by ensuring the safety and well being of our older visitors.