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LA to the Bay April 18-28 2012?

5 Aug 2011 lou_85 asked


My friend and I are booking this trip and were wondering if anyone else has booked or is thinking of booking? I know it's a while away but I like to be prepared in advance!!

  • Read the responses 111 responses so far
  • 8 Aug 2011 Michael said


    I did this tour in June, and it was the most amazing trip everr!!
    If you have any questions hit us up.

  • 9 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Hey, thanks so much! – I have a few…

    1 – Did your tour start from the Kyoto grand in LA? I’ve seen lots of conflicting info about which hotel is the start point?
    2 – Did you have any free time before the trip in LA? I don’t know whether we should spend a couple of days beforehand or just get there one day before, get over the jet lag and go for it?
    3 – Were the hotels ok? I know there won’t be a lot of time spent in them (only sleeping) but I’m a bit worried about bed bugs etc!
    4 – Did you do the optionals and what was the best one? Anything we definitely shouldn’t/should miss?
    5 – Did you get to see a Walmart? We need to visit one of these!
    And is there anything else that we should know? Neither of us have been to the US before…

    Thanks heaps, Lou :)

  • 9 Aug 2011 Michael said


    No worries.
    Yeah I started from the Kyoto Grand in LA which is actually a really nice hotel, some people stayed at other hotels and had to catch a cab to the Kyoto Grand on the morning of the tour, it’s just so much easier to stay there.

    I got to LA the day before the tour started and really wished I had a few more days before the tour. Some tour mates did things like Universal Studios and Disneyland..All I really did was shop and check out Hollywood Boulevard, which was really amazing still, but I wish I had more time…Which is why I’m going back after my Europe Contiki next year.

    The hotels were really nice, I didn’t expect much but they were all really nice and comfy, if you’re twin sharing you both get double beds, the only time you triple shared or quad shared was in Bass Lake but you only sleep in there so it doesn’t matter, while you’re in Bass Lake you visit Yosemite National Park..Make sure you have your camera on you..And even though they say to expect a quiet night at Bass Lake, expect the unexpected, that was by far one of the drunkest nights on tour..Random people..You gotta love meeting them haha. But all the rooms are really clean and really nice, so don’t worry about the accommodation!

    I think I did pretty much all the optionals, Hot Air Ballooning in Arizona was really awesome, even though before I went on the tour I had doubts about the Red Rock Jeep Tours, but I did it anyway and I don’t regret it, it was a lot of fun and the drivers are pretty funny.
    Depending on what you wanna do, in places like Vegas there is a really awesome shopping outlet on the North end of the strip it’s only a 10 minutes cab ride away and cab’s are reasonably cheap and they all know where they’re going!!…Just don’t forget to tip your cabbies! If you’re not sure about any of the optionals, go ahead and do them, you won’t regret it. The only one I didn’t do was the helicopter over the Grand Canyon, people said it was pretty awesome though.

    I did see a walmart, it’s pretty cheap and you can pick up lots of goodies from there.
    One tip, if you plan on doing a lot of shopping, don’t pack heaps!! You can do washing in just about any location you visit, so if you need to wash stuff the tour manager can point you in the right direction. I did a lot of research on things to do before I go, especially for those free days we had.
    Also prepare yourselves for big nights out – if that’s what you’re after. Most nights I only got 4 hours sleep, but there’s plenty of opportunities to sleep on the bus.
    Vegas is the most incredible place I’ve been so far, defo my fave place on earth atm haha.

    If you have any other Q’s don’t hesitate to ask :)

  • 9 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Thats excellent! I’m so excited, have just shared your answers with my friend who’s coming with me. I’ve definitely got goosebumps!.

    I’ve had a look at the Kyoto’s website and it looks really nice so I was just a bit suprised that it would be the right one! (but I am comparing it to hotels I stayed in in Europe on my last (and first) contiki in 2006)

    Maybe we should plan to get there earlier then, we both really want to see Disneyland.

    I was thinking I’d definitely do the hot air ballooning (my friend doesn’t want to) and I was a bit iffy about the jeep tours but I guess depending on the cost I’ll give it a whirl! And the shopping sounds brilliant – I don’t know how much room I’ll have in my bag tho, I’m doing 2 more tours after and a week in NYC, I may need to ship it home!.

    We are definitely planning on big nights – especially vegas – I want to see it all!!! Did you see the Eiffel Tower hotel and the one with the Venice canals? I thought I might check these out if there’s enough time in the schedule! And did you see any famous people? I would love to see a celeb!

    Did you go to NYC? We’re planning on spending a week there after the tour but we’re going to do it on our own, not with a tour group.

    This might be a bit random but did you or any of the tour members get any tattoos? I know that might sound strange but my friend and I would love to get them in vegas as a memento… I might chicken out tho!


  • 9 Aug 2011 Michael said


    You should be excited!! It was the most awesome trip ever haha.

    Yeah I thought the same thing when I looked at the Kyoto, but my room was really nice and comfy, which was good, especially after the 13 hour flight there. Just remember that you can’t check in till 3pm, you can definitely leave your bags there though so you can go check out the town.
    If you want to go to Hollywood it’s easily accessible from the Union Station which is a 5 minute walk from the hotel. There are a lot of homeless people around the states so be prepared for that, they won’t bug you though, I went by myself and had no issues.

    If you wanna see Disneyland I’d definitely suggest going a few days before, I don’t think you’ll get everything done in a day, as far as I know the hotel can organise transfers to Disneyland which I think pick you up at 8am so best to do that on your second day and use your first day for shopping. Public transport is really easy and tickets can be bought at the station for $6 for the entire day which lets you on metro trains and buses. ( – to check out your route).

    There were some skeptics about the hot air ballooning but I thought it was pretty amazing, I’d say do them all if you can.

    Well I saw a few hotels, but i didn’t see everything I wanted too, I went shopping instead, 2 days in Vegas isn’t anywhere near enough time to do everything, you literally need at least a week there which is why I’m going back soon :D But try and do as much as you can, and expect a HUGE night on the town in Vegas..Totally worth it!!

    I didn’t get to go to NY this time round, but I’ll be spending a few months in the states the year after next and plan on going there for a while, I heard from some people that went before and after the tour and said it was absolutely amazing, the shopping is incredible and it literally is the city that never sleeps.

    Nobody on my tour got tattoos but I’ve read things about people getting them so it’s not too weird, it’s a pretty cool momento though I reckon haha.
    Also a word of warning the lights are strange in the states, they still have the walking men to tell you when to cross, but you must do it within a time limit cos it counts down and don’t cross at the last second because if a cop sees you, you’ll get fined lol.

  • 9 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    I haven’t looked at flights yet, so I don’t know our arrival time, but I will remember the 3pm check in – I want to get a later flight so I’ll be able to check in straight away and have a shower!.

    And yes I definitely want to go to Hollywood – thanks, that sounds really close!.

    I’ve had a bit of a look at the Disneyland website, I don’t know if I could do 2 days but maybe I’ll work out exactly what I want to see and go from there. I def need to do the spinning tea cups! :)

    Is the shopping really as cheap as everyone says? I just don’t know if I can believe it – yet!

    I think NYC will be a blast – just trying to find the right area to stay in at the moment.

    I think I’ll wait til I see the tattoo palours before I really make up my mind and if it’s going to take too much time, I don’t want to miss out on anything on the tour.

    I never knew that about the lights! I’ll be carfeful to watch out – and to remember to look the opposite way!

    Thanks heaps for answering all my questions!!!

  • 9 Aug 2011 Michael said


    Well when I booked my flights, I flew from Melbourne, but the only flights that were available were flights that got into LA at like, 8 in the morning. I flew V Australia which I thought were really good too. Customs does take a while to go through as they have to fingerprint you and ID you, but they are really nice, I had no problems with them.

    Well I planned to have a shower first but just went straight into the city cos of the 3pm check-in.
    Shopping is soooo cheap over there..Half the places we went to beers were $3 a bottle, mixed drinks were slightly more, I hated beer until the states lol, it gets addictive when it’s cheap!
    There was a pair of Puma shoes that I wanted which were $120 over here, I scored them for $50, all the Nike running shoes I wanted were $90 each compared to $120-140 here, so yeah, shopping is reeeeally cheap over there haha.

    Yeah, that’s the thing that tripped me out the most – making sure to look in the opposite direction..It’s probably a tad easier for you cos you’re going with a mate so at least they’ll be able to double check too.

    Have a blast though!!

  • 9 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Yeah, I thought I’d fly V Australia but I may have to look elsewhere just because of my further travel plans – its cheaper with other airlines.

    SO excited about the cheapness – hopefully our dollar stays up, might have to buy some USD if it falls any further.

    I think we’ll just walk when the others walk!!!

    Hopefully some others are going to book this trip – I don’t think it will go ahead if it’s just me and my friend!.

    Thanks again!

  • 9 Aug 2011 Michael said


    I was pretty impressed with V Australia’s service on the way to the states, on the way back not so much, but when they dim the lights it’s pretty funky haha.

    Yeah that was the most exciting thing about the states, well, not the most, but cheapness is pretty exciting haha, and if you’re worried about tipping, don’t be, you get use to it pretty quickly and don’t have to tip in retail stores just in places like restaurants or cabbies – stuff like that.

    Lol, that’s what i did too, although there were a few times right at the start when no one crossed at the same time, I like, freaked out the first time I crossed a road, I just guessed it and soon found out I was doing it correctly haha.

    Trust me, I’m pretty sure others book the trip and it will definitely run, there are two other tours in the group, one which starts and ends back in la so they go right through, la to the bay ends in san fran, which is good especially if you’re planning to go somewhere else after that. :)

  • 9 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Yeah, I think my friend is planning on going with V, depends on who’s the cheapest – and who’s not going to fall out of the sky!.

    Tipping will be fine, I’ve done it in other countries so we’ll work it out, as we’re going on a bit of a budget though we’re not going to be tipping over the top or anything! It’s expected about 10-15% of the total meal/fare? Is that about right?

    ha ha – I have this picture of myself going to and fro off the curb, stop, no go!, stop, no go!, oh well it’ll be an experience!

    Other tours? Does this tour join up with part of another? Is that what you mean? And I can’t wait for San Fran – I can’t wait to see the bridge and the house from Full House! One of my fav tv shows when I was little!!


  • 10 Aug 2011 Michael said


    LOL! That’s why I went V Australia, they haven’t had an incident yet..I never fly anyone who has had an incident, I just don’t trust those things.

    yeah 10-15% is right, that’s exactly what I did, except the first tip at the bar I always tipped a bit more so I got served quicker, and with more alcohol ;) ….Go the free pour :D

    Ahahaha, yeah those lights are a challenge, and making sure you check the other direction instead of what we’re use to lol, takes a while to get use to, on tour I just followed everyone else Lol.

    Yeah, so instead of just being LA To The Bay it’s that plus two other tours that start at the same place, and one may come in starting at Las Vegas, but those people were really cool that we had, so don’t worry!

    Omg!! I got so excited when I saw the houses from Full House…I LOVE that show!!!
    You gotta cycle across the bridge, it’s one of the San Fran optionals, it’s a challenge, but it’s fun and totally worth it and you get some really awesome photo ops too.

  • 10 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Yeah – we may end up flying together but who knows, it’s still 8 months away :( I wish it would hurry up already!

    Hmm, I’ll have to remember that – did you ever tip anyone less than that? Like for poor service? That would be something I’d do!

    Yeah – if we get a big group I’m just going to hide myself in the middle! ha ha.

    Oh ok! It doesn’t mention that in the brochures! Oh well – It’ll be a new mix of people I guess. Have you stayed in touch with people from your tour?

    I know! I love michelle, uncle jesse and the next door neighbour chick, oh I’ve forgotten her name, DJ’s friend… kimmy?! I would definitely ride across the bridge! I’d be struggling at the back of the pack but that just means more time on the bridge to me! :)

  • 10 Aug 2011 Michael said


    Yeah, my europe trip is like 11 months away..I wish it was next year already!!!
    Nope never, I always had good service, people are pretty silly to provide bad service over there anyway cos their pay is based mostly on tips so it’d be silly not to provide good service.

    Yeah I know, I thought it was pretty funny when I found out, but it’s all good :)
    Yeah I’ve stayed in touch with a few people, a girl I met over there who lives in brissy I talk to quite a lot and she’s coming down next weekend so we’re gonna get a bunch of people and catch up so that should be pretty good =D

    aawwww Michelle is sooo cute! haha yeah Kimmy, she’s annoying but pretty funny lol.
    Yeah I hadn’t ridden a bike in a few years and it took a while to get use to haha, I looked so clumsy!

    But at least I didn’t get run over lol

  • 10 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    I know – wishing the months away then it’ll be here and then it will be over! We’ll be wanting to turn time back then!

    Ok, that’s alright then, was a bit worried about that – I did that a bit in Europe, I think some places I went to were used to tour groups and felt like they could treat us however they pleased!.

    Oh nice! I met 4 of my closest friends on my Europe tour, 2 girls and a couple, I’m really hoping to make some more great friends on this trip, it was really the best part about it! Other than the sights of course!.

    Do you get to stop and have photos taken outside the house? I hope so!

    And yes – that’s a bonus! would of been a good story though – I’ve never know anyone who’s been run over on the golden gate bridge! ha ha.

  • 23 Aug 2011 Michael said


    Sorry for the delayed reply! I didn’t know you posted back!! haha.

    The bus kinda stops for like a minute if there isn’t any traffic on the road but you don’t get to jump out and take pictures of them so you gotta be quick to get some just before the bus takes off, I got a few good ones though so you should be right =)

    Lol, well I could have been the first!! But luckily I wasn’t haha, that could’ve been a good news headline “Clumsy Contiki bike rider hit on Golden Gate”.

    Not too long to go to your trip! It feels like eternity waiting for it though haha, I just wanna go already!!

  • 23 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    No worries!

    Damn – I may have to go back there the day the tour finishes if I don’t get any good shots – you don’t remember what side of the bus you need to sit on to get the best photo do you??? Or if I’m on the wrong side I’ll just jump across to the other side!

    Lol – that would of made headlines everywhere.

    I know! – we’ve paid our deposits now, so we’re definitely going even if no one else is! I can’t wait another 8 months! I’m waiting for it to be September so I can say 7 months! so painful… I keep looking at the other discussions on here and everyone’s going on trips like next month and I’m thinking, soon, soon, soon that will be me! How long til yours?

  • 23 Aug 2011 Michael said


    haha yeah, I’m pretty sure if you’re sitting on the right side of the bus you’ll have better views, I was on the left and managed to get some decent shots, but if you have time after the tour then go back after cos then you can spend heaps of time there and I think that there was a little park across the street form it you could chill at for a bit.

    hahaha yeah well at least yours is only 8 months, mine’s 10!! It’s like nearly a year away :(
    I know!! I keep doing the same and I’m like “only 10 months to go and that’ll be you” :( sooo far away!
    But I’m heading up to Sydney for a week tomorrow then QLD in December so hopefully those will come around quickly then I’ll only have 6 months by the end of the year.

  • 23 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Ok, I’ll remember that ,the right side… I wonder if the park you’re talking about is the one they use in the opening title??? That would be awesome. I think we’re just going to stay in San Fran the night we finish the tour, do you remember if it finished in the morning or the afternoon of the last day?

    I know… but at least when I’m at work I’ve got a goal for why I’m here!. I’m heading to QLD for 2 weeks at Christmas (I’m going to bake my brains out – not used to hot weather!) but they’re the only hols I have until April, but at least I’ll be able to say it’s 4 months from then!.

  • 23 Aug 2011 Michael said


    I don’t think it is, I think it was just like a grassy patch that you could chillax on..But I can’t really remember haha. The tour finished in the morning, but if you wanna do some activities and stuff that the remaining people do you can still join them, you just pay for them..You pretty much have the entire day to do whatever you want.

    haha, I suppose being from tassie n all you wouldn’t get much warm weather hey..It’s pretty nice up in Melbourne today, bring on Summer I say!!

  • 23 Aug 2011 lou_85 said


    Ah, ok, we’ll just have to see how it goes when we’re there. Oh good – I’m happy with that, we’ll be there for a day and a bit then, I just want to see the Full House house and the Golden Gate Bridge, oh and go on one of those open trams (do they call them trams?).

    I know! It’s apparently 17 degrees here today but it feels like 7. I can’t wait for Summer cos once it’s over here comes the travelling!!!.

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