Just returned last week from a Crystal Cruise where likely our best highlight was the day we spent In Da Nang and Hoi An. Through much pre-cruise research for each of our stops we booked several independent tours so that our group of four could have our experiences tailored to just what we wanted to see in each city.
Looking at all of Soong To’s Trip Advisor reviews and having had several emails back and forth we knew we had to book with Soong To! The promptness of her communications in addition to her skilled English and thorough details throughout our planning process gave us the confidence that we were in store for a great day.
Soong Tu picked us up with her driver promptly at our port holding a sign with our name at the planned meeting spot. She arrived well before our boat had even docked as she mentioned traffic is always unpredictable. We could see that as the owner of her own company she takes great care and responsibility for any one of her bookings whether she leads the tour or whether one of her associates do. We followed the script of our pre-determined tour by heading to Da Nang. Her passion for guiding us in her native country was palpable. When Soong To saw a gathering of fisherman and their wives at a beach along the way she had the driver stop and we got out to see their wives collecting and selling their catch. What an great unplanned experience to see locals pulling over on the highway getting off their motor bikes to shop fresh fish.
Our second stop was the town of Hoi An. She showed such enthusiasm teaching us the history of “her city” and showing us the streets and sites where she grew up and continues to live. This stop allowed us some desired shopping (with Soong To’s bargaining skills) but also was full of historical information she shared as we walked.
As an important aside, not only does Soong To have an excellent command of English but she has such a wonderful sense of humor and intelligence. Soong To is very culture savy (we are from the US ) and it was immensely enjoyable discussing cultural issues through the day. She knows all of the popular American songs and television shows so we had lots of fun singing in the car as well!
Lunch was as locals do and Soong To brought us to a wonderful street side restaurant for an unbelievably delicious lunch. She even arranged for delivery of a Vietnamese type sandwich we had talked about wanting to try earlier. She had those brought from another specialty location just to make sure we tried the best!
Our last stop was at Marble Mountain and the Lady Buddha which I will spare details about but will say that Soong To took us through every nook and cranny of the caves while detailing the war history behind the site. On the way back to the ship we pulled over to receive iced Vietnamese coffee she had her cousin purchase and deliver to us roadside.
By the end of the day we felt we were leaving a very dear friend and we sincerely offered up mutual future visits to each others homes. Do not skip the opportunity to get to know Xuan Tu’s home with her as your guide. We can’t wait to go back and visit our new friend.
Traveller: lucky1sue from Tripadvisor