Thanks once again
Luke made the difference to my holiday guiding me through an ever changing minefield of rules and regulations entering and transiting through four different countries. Changing my return flight when I extended my visa. It's great to know when you are travelling in faraway places you can get advice info and help.
As always, great service, no problems
The flights were great both ways. However airport assistance over which you have no control was total rubbish coming back at Changi and Heathrow. On the other hand at Siem Reap it was faultless!
Everything was good..
Excellent service as always
I have waited since 2007 to fly with Singapore Airlines. Never again! Nearly missed the flight due to them. And nearly got stuck in Cambodia thanks to them
Thanks for securing early flights home from Phnom Penh once the risk of becoming stranded became too high. My original return flights home with Singapore Airlines did actually get cancelled some days later when I had already arrived back in the UK.
Always a pleasure to know I’m safe in your care
I want to thank Jake and Owen for their endeavours to get me home in difficult times
Charlie and his team did a great job in sorting our holiday
Very efficient service. Well done!
We were upgraded on our Hanoi to Dubai flight. Business Class was really nice.
All went to plan.
It was very easy to organise this trip as it was all done for me. Jack helped me all the way. Listened to what I needed and it was all done
A fantastic trip organised by great staff - top class service and backup.
Thanks Bruno for everything, it was an amazing holiday.
Always book through you - always an excellent service.
Incredible personal service - I feel the staff really know me and do everything they can to plan my trips whether to Cambodia, Sierra Leone or France. Can’t recommend them highly enough and will always turn to DialAFlight for future trips.
Seamless journey, team was on hand for any questions. Excellent service, that is why I come back for my trips
You made it so simple, nothing was an issue. Your calm helpful approach was 10 out of 10
As usual a great service from Frank and team
Excellent support and follow up phone calls for reassurance. When travelling with children this was particularly appreciated.
Absolutely brilliant trip.
Jenson always does a great job. This trip was tricky to plan but he persevered to get it right. Even when plans were cancelled due to weather Jenson supported us to find a resolution. Invaluable service and always at the best price. I highly recommend DialAFlight
Friendly and professional service. Couldn’t ask for more.
Yet again another faultless performance by Ivor. I don't use anyone else and he is already busy sorting flights to the US for our family for thanksgiving.
Great flight, great holiday. Always first class service
Very happy with DialAFlight again.I recommend all the time
As always - excellent communication - all questions answered promptly. Have used the company many times and will do so in the future due to the excellent customer service
This was not the golden age of travel. Our soft-sleeper carriage had basic bedding and no shower – just a shared sink and one Western-style WC. On a table between the bunks was 'breakfast': cheesy crackers, crisps, a yoghurt drink and a tin of mixed kidney-type beans.
But what our train lacked in luxury was more than made up for by the raw experience of seeing Vietnam up close and personal, as the single-track line weaved through city centres and so close to houses and motorists that you could almost reach out and shake hands.
There were 40 of us on our rail tour from Hanoi to Saigon via iconic Halong Bay, then by speedboat up the Mekong Delta into Cambodia. We met as strangers – seven singles, one tour manager and the rest married couples – but friendships were quickly made.
On the way to Hanoi, Vietnam's capital, we passed lush rice fields, the 'hedges' a network of irrigation channels. Water buffalo still plough the land.
Our hotel was minutes from Hoa Lo Prison – the famed 'Hanoi Hilton' (now a museum) that held American prisoners of war in the Seventies, including 2008 presidential candidate John McCain.
A coach tour took in Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, modelled on Lenin's tomb in Moscow, and the humble stilt house where 'Uncle Ho' lived.
Travelling in traditional tuk-tuks gave us a close-up view of the narrow old city streets, where locals eat, drink and chat on little plastic stools, or have streetside pedicures in plastic washing-up bowls. Then there's the scooters. Vietnam (a little larger than Italy) is home to 88million people and 35million mopeds and scooters.
Crossing the road is not for the faint-hearted. Our guide joked that traffic lights were merely 'a suggestion'. The trick, he said, is to look confident and walk on: the traffic will weave around you.
From Hanoi we took a two-day cruise of Halong Bay, with islets of limestone karst pillars rising dramatically from a mist-shrouded sea.
Legend has it the bay was formed when the gods sent dragons to protect Vietnam from invaders. The dragons breathed out jewels, which formed into thousands of islands. Today, it's home to floating fishing villages, rare wildlife and cruise ships.
We visited a floating village, on a sampan rowed by a local girl. Then we boarded the Reunification Railway. You can travel the 1,070 miles from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in 33 hours, but Great Rail Journeys broke it into four days.
We spent one night in a privately run sleeping car aimed at tourists, a notch or two above the regular 'softsleepers'.
Tip: make sure you secure your door. A Vietnamese woman, seeking a free bed, frightened us in the dead of night when she tried to climb into our vacant top bunk.
But mostly we stayed in hotels along the way, all comfortable with great food. Vietnamese cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, relying on fresh ingredients and simple flavourings. In the town of Hoi An, my friend Ruth and I went shopping. Ruth had four perfect copies of a favourite dress made in different fabrics, and a young shoe shop girl insisted I hop on the back of her moped – 'Don't worry, I'm a very safe driver' – so I could get another pair of shoes from my hotel while they copied the ones I was wearing.
Our last leg took us into Cambodia along the Mekong river in a speed boat, where we witnessed the harshness of rural life, with stilt shanty houses lacking both running water and electricity.
Elsewhere was evidence of a coming modernity, with the cities leading the way. Even on our train, we got a sense of what might soon be.
My advice is to catch that Reunification Train while you can – before the country changes beyond all recognition. It's charming now, just as it is.
First published in the Daily Mail - August 2016
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