You only need one reason to travel to Vietnam with Scott McGregor’s Railway Adventures, but here’s 6!
Remember Scott McGregor, the gorgeous bloke who appeared in almost every Australian TV series of the 1980’s, had the star turn in quite a few ABC Mini-Series and then went on to host popular lifestyle shows including Better Homes and Gardens, Room for Improvement and a few fun Rail-themed docos? Ever wonder what happened to him?
Well, after he left our TV screens, he indulged two enduring passions – trains and travel – and launched his own travel company, Railway Adventures. Now in its seventh year of operation, the company has grown from developing and hosting two to 27 railway-themed tours around the world and with their partnerships with other railway tour companies, there’s pretty much nowhere you can’t go.
I joined the Railway Adventures Vietnam by Private Train 2019 tour and what a blast it was! Here’s six reasons why you should sign on for 2020!
Reason #6 – I’d never been to Vietnam
One of the best reasons to go anywhere. What a country! What an incredible history. What resilience and resourcefulness. The people, the food, the scenery, the bustling cities, the bars and restaurants, the markets – all of it made for an incredible two weeks exploring a country I’d had on my list for a while but hadn’t managed to get to. It has only whetted my appetite for more. I’m already planning my next visit.
Reason #5 - The Itinerary got me off the beaten track
Railway Adventures is well known for it’s quirky itineraries. Not content with just taking people to big cities for a bit of box-ticking, shopping and lounging around pools, Scott is totally committed to giving people as broad and as authentic a travel experience as possible. After all, it may be the only opportunity you get to visit a country and you want to see as much as you can while you’re there. Each tour designed by Scott and his team get you off the beaten track and out into the country as well as spending time in major cities. And of course the whole train theme means you will get to ride some of the most fascinating heritage railways in the world, more often than not, as VIPs.
Reason #4 - Small group and great travelling companions
As someone who has never been a ‘group’ sort of person, I always approach group travel with some caution. But as a 59 year old woman, I’m getting past striding out and traveling alone in unfamiliar territory, so the next best thing is to be part of a small group. But how would I go, being in such close proximity to 17 other people for two weeks? How would I cope with my activities being directed by someone else? I needn’t have worried. I was with my tribe – people who love quirky, like getting out of the cities, enjoy local experiences with local people, are respectful and kind toward their fellow travellers and are just downright fun! And there was plenty of opportunities for me to go off and do my own thing. Many in the group were repeat Railway Adventures travellers and said they would never travel with any other company. I can see why.
Reason #3 - Brilliant hotels
I was seriously impressed by the quality of the accommodation provided on this tour. For the price of the tour, I wasn’t expecting the quality hotels we were put up in. I’ve been on other group tours and quite frankly, they’ve been awful – ordinary, scungy little hotels away from the main action, pokey rooms you can’t swing a cat in. Not with this company. All of the hotels were 5-star, or at least the best in town when visiting some of the more regional areas. And we must have had upgrades in most of them if my room was anything to go by. The Anantara Hoi An Resort was hard to leave, let me tell you! A beautiful hotel in a beautiful town. This tour offers seriously good value.
Reason #2 - Private Boat on Halong Bay
Again, I wasn’t sure about two nights on Halong Bay. All I’d heard about was the crowds, the hundreds of boats and the pollution. But travel is an adventure, so off I went! I couldn’t have been more wrong. Or should I say the naysayers couldn’t have been more wrong. What a truly beautiful place – spiritual, even. The Vietnamese government are really getting it right. They’ve limited the number of boats, assigned different boats to certain parts of the Bay on different days to avoid congestion and closed a number of the floating villages to reduce pollution. And our boat was luxurious – outside cabins with ensuites, a stunning top deck with bar to relax, brilliant food from our private Chef, and massage therapists on board for when we weren’t off the boat canoeing through caves or visiting local temples!
Reason #1 - Private Train
And here it is. My Number One reason. And here is where Railway Adventures really trumps all the others! You have your own private train. Fully-catered, private carriages attached to the iconic Reunification Express, unhooking at our itinerary stops and re-attaching when we are ready to move on. From Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. An absolute luxury and oh, so much fun. Picture a wonderfully fun retired primary school principal in full swing to Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen’ in AUSLAN, a bunch of 50 and 60 somethings reliving their dancing youth to soundtracks from the 70’s and 80’s, more food than you can imagine, flowing beer and wine, our artist travellers churning out wonderful sketches and water colours, stunning scenery and much more. And to top it all off, we each had our own private cabin to retreat to when we wanted to just rest and watch the countryside pass by.
I cannot imagine any more travelling fun than this, heading into the third phase of my life! Check out some video here.