a concert of traditional music, just for two

Ngo Truc Mai playing a traditional Vietnamese instrument (c) 2018 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

There are real advantages to using a travel advisor when you visit exotic destinations like Vietnam. We know the top experts most anyplace on earth, and our contacts provide access to exclusive and special experiences you'd never otherwise know about.

Like the private concert we enjoyed yesterday afternoon... when we were welcomed into the home of Ngo Truc Mai (pictured above) and Dinh Linh, two accomplished musicians who own and play a collection of traditional Vietnamese musical instruments. Mrs. Mai and one of her students treated us to a private concert, and it was a really cool experience ... not one of those performances that went on and on (which, frankly, had been my fear). The concert was just the perfect length and the repertoire both interesting and varied. After enjoying the performance, we got the chance to try our own hands at playing these instruments. Claire actually got a monochord zither to sound like it's supposed to, and I enjoyed playing a duet with Mrs. Mai on her stone lithophone, earning me a high-five. Sorry, Trip Advisor, but this experience is nowhere to be found in your top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

I've been spoiled by expert private guides who have treated me to so many extraordinary travel experiences over the years. The best guides will save precious time (we skipped the 45 minute public line to Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum). They'll help you make the most of your limited time at each attraction. You'll get efficiently from place to place, won't waste time looking for the ticket booth, and will focus on absolute must-see sights before moving along to the next stop on your adventure. (Less is more ... and it's an art to know what to skip.)

And the best perk? Great guides enable stress-free travel! Their job: handle the logistics, make dinner suggestions and reservations, and attend to all the details. You won't have to figure out when to leave for the airport; it's wonderful to be told when your driver will arrive and to be escorted through check-in all the way to the security line. Your job: simply to sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation. Your travel advisor's job: to match you with the right travel partner for the trip of your dreams.

copyright  (c)  2018 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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