04 Nov 2014 - 15 Nov 2014
Our Contiki trip through Vietnam was such an eye opener, and so different to any other tour I had previously been on. My boyfriend and I went on the Vietnam Experience tour from 4 Nov-15 Nov 2014, I think there were about 24 of us in total when the Vietnam Highlights group joined us on day 3 back in Saigon. Everyone clicked really well, and the homestay in the Mekong Delta really helped us bond quickly and brought our group together. Definitely worth the extra money to add those 2 days to your Vietnam trip! Our tour was a special one, as 2 girls from The Bachelor Australia were on our tour, along with writers, bloggers, and 2 big bosses from Contiki to manage them along the way. It was a unique experience having this on our tour (both good & bad points!), but made for some very memorable moments! The Contiki boss Katrina was super lovely & amazing- so glad she came along for the ride! Our tour manager James was really helpful & definitely knew his stuff, powering on even when he felt sick, & was kind enough to give those of us traveling on afterwards many tips on where to go & what to see in Laos, Cambodia, & Thailand as well!
Crossing the road in Saigon is an experience you will never forget, you will never again see so many scooters in your life! The markets throughout Vietnam were awesome for picking up a bargain (Hoi An probably had the best shopping), just keep in mind that Asian sizes are much smaller than Western sizes! Our accommodation was of good quality at each of our destinations (though a little more basic at our Mekong Delta homestay). We were treated to so much delicious food over the 12 days, we were spoilt for choice. So many yummy soups, spring rolls, savoury pancakes & fresh seafood!
Nha Trang was one of our favourite spots, we easily could have stayed here longer! Gorgeous beaches, mud baths were great, snorkeling trip was amazing & dinner at The Sailing Club was one of the best meals of my life! The passionfruit mojito was the best drink I've ever tasted & the mushroom gnocchi was to die for!
Hoi An is World Heritage Listed & I already can't wait to go back & visit it again one day. Had so much fun riding bikes around the old town, exploring the markets & lounging by the pool and visiting the hotel's spa. We all got suits or dresses made there at Yali, I'd strongly recommend having pictures of what you want with you on your phone before visiting, so you can be really clear & specific with them on what you want, to save time and confusion.
By the time we reached Hue we were getting pretty tired, but the Perfume River showed us an amazing sunset & the nightlife there is pretty fun! When we reached Hanoi we were all exhausted & couldn't wait to sleep! Was probably our least favourite destination in Vietnam, the weather was cooler here & overcast, and the city felt like many others in Asia. We also didn't do as much together as a group here. Halong Bay was stunning, although the water was a little cooler this time of year (but not so cold you couldn't swim or kayak). Was amazing to see monkeys close up in the wild on the islands and the scenery was stunning. The pirate party on the junk boat was pretty incredible too!
I'd recommend staying an extra night in Hanoi once your tour ends, as you're bound to make new friends who you'd like to spend more time with! Our group was a mix of (mostly) Aussies, Canadians, South Africans, Brits, a Kiwi and an American. The average age of the group was mid-to-late 20s, which was perfect (no 18yr olds getting crazy silly, or old nanas holding us back), and was of a slower pace & a bit more luxurious than European Contiki tours. I'd definitely recommend an Asian Contiki tour- you money goes so much further in SE Asia and for people like us who had never been to Asia before, it was a great introduction to the culture, and gave us the confidence and knowledge to then travel on in the region by ourselves. I had a blast, & so did my boyfriend (who was initially quite reluctant to do a Contiki tour, but was definitely surprised!). Save your dollars and give it a go- you'll have an amazing time guaranteed! :)
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
16 Aug 2014 - 27 Aug 2014
Vietnam is a genuinely beautiful and relatively untouched country that few people in the West (especially Australia) have truly seen. The good thing about this tour is that you get to see it from top to bottom. Central Vietnam (Nha Trang, Hue and Hoi-An) is one of the most beautiful regions of the world I have ever been.
Try ALL THE FOOD AND DRINK on the tour, the rat is good, the snake isn't the best and the snake and banana whisky will literally take your breath away. Get ready for a variety of delicious dishes that will be your staple diet for two weeks, and the spring rolls (wow)...the ones back at home will never be quite as good as they are in Vietnam.
The local people are generally friendly and helpful if you decide to go off the beaten track a bit. In the north they are ruder and less helpful but certainly not as harrassing or annoying as the locals in places like Bali. Be prepared to BARGAIN HARD, that means acting disinterested, walking away, and coming back 30 minutes later. The Vietnamese give no quarter but respect assertiveness.
Contiki get a 10% discount at the Yali (tailor-made) clothing outlet in Hoi-An so take full advantage of this and leave a little space in your luggage for a suit, shoes, dress or whatever you decide to get - there is alot of choice and the quality is top notch for a fraction of what you pay in the West. Both boat cruises off Nha Trang and Halong Bay are definitely worth it and are alot of fun. The Cu-Chi tunnels visited as part of the Vietnam Experience that aren't included in the Highlights tour are also great, make sure you physically get into the tunnels (they are tiny), open your mind to the Vietnamese perspective (while keeping in mind there is alot of blantant Communist propaganda) and shoot an AK-47, M16, Garand or M-60 at the end for good measure. In Hanoi, ask your tour manager to take you to the Water Puppets show, this is a weird and wacky cultural experience that is definitely worth the small entrance fee.
Being a slightly smaller contiki in terms of group size, your experience on this tour is impacted heavily by the quality of the group and tour manager, luckily both for me were good, especially the tour manager Alex Palma. Alex is very knowledgable and helpful, he also is good for a laugh to.
Make sure you book some time before and after your tour in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi (respectively) at a backpackers, as the backpacking culture is awesome and the pub crawls are definitely worth checking out. Don't get stuck partying with the same people, go and join in with the hundreds of backpackers who are keen to party! Central Backpackers in Hanoi is great for this due to the free beer they serve during happy hour, and the large pub crawls with Hanoi Original Backpackers are legendary.
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
26 Oct 2013 - 06 Nov 2013
Had a great time, tour manager James is an absolute legend who ensures everyone has fun. Cultural value with learning about the war and Vietnamese colonial history mixed in with great food and fun outings. The heat can be oppressive and you nearly get killed multiple time crossing the street but it is a great place to visit! Nha Trang was my favourite, great beach town, spend the whole day at the beach if you can. Plenty of variety in the tour, every day is different. Optional snorkel cruise was great fun as was the optional kayaking where we saw monkeys and the overnight boat trip on the bay was great. Word of advice, make sure your room is as far away from the boats engine room as possible. My room was right next to the engine and they keep the engine running constantly and my whole room was shaking and the noise was brutal plus the diesel fumes. That was the only downside, the rest of the tour was amazing. Not to mention all the "Dong" jokes from their currency.
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
31 Aug 2013 - 11 Sep 2013
This trip was full on. Most days started early around 7:30-8am and if you are like me, most nights didn't end until 3am. The lack of sleep was just a sign of how much fun everyone was having. Our tour guide was great and took really good care of us. He organized quite a few "family dinners" and accompanied us on all the awesome extra activities which was highlighted by the sailing & snorkeling trip in Nha Trang. Halong Bay was absolutely stunning and it was quite difficult to leave the ship on which we spent the night. I was hesitant to book this trip but in hindsight, i cant imagine having not done it. It was 12 days of awesome and epic memories with some cool new friends from around the world.
Review written Sep 2013event 0.3
11 May 2013 - 22 May 2013
This trip literally had everything! Bustling cities, beautiful beaches, amazing scenery, lots of nightclubbing and drinks to be had, tons of fascinating history, loads of culture, delicious food and more. I would recommend it for a first time solo traveller as it was short enough to as to not make you too anxious but long enough to lose yourself! By the time we were done how ever it felt like I had been gone for months and my tour mates were my best friends! I was lucky enough to be placed with a fantastic group of people and our tour leader Tara was amazing! I would recommend this tour if you’re not opposed to running on little to no sleep as it was non-stop! I made a pact with a couple of guys that I had just met that we would go out every night and we did! I was definitely living on the philosophy of “I can sleep when I get home”. I would advise everyone to take up every optional activity on offer as none of them clash and it is worth every minute. The experiences are amazing and unlike anything you would see on any other country. Drinking shots of snakes blood and rice whiskey in a village, eating snake soup and rat, lying in the sun as you float down on the Mekong river (cue credence clear water revival), crawling through the Cu Chi tunnels, firing a machine gun in the same jungle where the Vietnam war took place, visiting the war remnants museum, (amazing, but will bring a tear to anyone’s eye) Snorkelling (and drinking) in the South China Sea, a hilarious lady boy show on the ocean, cycling through the beautiful little village of Hoi An, visiting the imperial city in Hue (pronounced “Hway” and Not “Huey”) and my personal favourite, the overnight junk boat on Halong Bay. I believe this is where one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was filmed. The water is beautiful and there are amazing little cliffs and islands that you have to see to believe. One of the simple highlights for me was the hot afternoon we spent jumping and diving off the top of the boat with everyone while a thunderstorm rolled in. (Might just add, can back flip.). Make sure you get off the boat and do the tour of the heritage listed caves they are breathtaking. We had a huge pirate theme party on the Junk boat that night followed the next morning with a very hung over kayak session. If you’re lucky there’s a little island you can paddle your kayak to where you can see a troop of monkeys, but the storm seemed to scare them off for us but we had just as much fun attempting to flip each others boats and splash the really hung over people (most still wearing their pirate costumes from the night before I might add). The scenery throughout the whole tour is to die for. I planned to catch up on sleep during the bus rides but found myself mesmerised by what ever was through my window. It’s really a beautiful country. I went in May and if you plan to go then keep in mind it gets really hot! Even the locals felt it was an extreme heatwave. The Vietnamese guides were lovely and it was devastating each time we left a city as we wanted to take them with us! This tour is the second half of the South East Asia tour and judging by the crew that did the first half, that’s definitely something worth looking into as well. I found the whole Country to still be quite untouched and not as commercialised and touristy as other parts of SE Asia which was perfect as it was what I was after and it’s definitely a place you want to be in a tour group for as your tour manager and guides will give you tips and tricks on where to go, what to do and what not to do! I really do wish I had of submitted a review earlier as I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention something amazing, so maybe you should just book the tour for yourself to experience it first hand! I would re-visit this country in an instant but I do think it’s only fair to see what the rest of the world has to offer! Until next time Vietnam xx
Review written Sep 2013event 0.3
08 Dec 2012 - 19 Dec 2012
Overall a fantastic trip, we had the best tour manager 'Hugh' who knew is stuff and was a lot of fun but still very professional. This contiki group was a lot of and very mixed which was great. There was also a great mix of activities and lots included for the price of the tour. The hotels were not bad either and were very centrally located. I recommend the 12 day tour over the 10, as the home stay, chu chi tunnels and mekong delta cruise was fantastic and a great way to bond at an early stage of the tour.
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3
04 Aug 2012 - 15 Aug 2012
There is so much I want to say about this trip because it was the absolute highlight of my year.
I needed this break away very much so and travelling with a friend I haven’t seen in 5 years was also a bonus. Leaving the cold behind for the extreme heat in Vietnam was just what the doctor ordered!
Our amazing and awesome tour manager Tash made sure we got the experience of a lifetime during the day and experienced the nightlife as anyone should when they are on vacation.
Highlights for me included:
- trip to Ha Long Bay on the overnight cruise and the pirate party
- seeing Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum
- eating Vietnamese food everywhere!
- Heading off to Yaly for dress fittings in Hoi An (FYI totally go with SABRINA she was the best!)
- Making the best of friends on tour
- Seeing Tim on tour decapitate a snake with sheer shock in his eyes
- seeing the sunset over the bridge in Hoi An and watch the town turn into a beautiful, colourful place of lanterns and candles
- having drinks on rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi
I mean the list goes on and on but to be honest, there isn’t enough time in the day for me to tell you all the amazing things, just do yourself a favour and get out there and do it! Vietnam is the hidden surprise to any traveller. Highly recommended!
Review written Aug 2012event 0.3
11 Jan 2012 - 22 Jan 2012
This was my first contiki trip AND my first overseas trip and afterwards, I can say it won't be the last!
Vietnam is such a culture rich country and contiki helps you see some of the best parts of it.
A highlight myself was the beautiful sights of Halong Bay (even in cooler weather!) and the old charm beauty of Ho Ani.
Our tour guide was great.. gave us lots of helpful advice.
The group of people was amazing!!
Tips and Recommendations:
- Don't stress about money! Everything is cheap from food to clothes to little nick nacks- don't hold yourself back.. Vietnam is a great trip to do if you are on a budget
- Have something in mind that you would like made in Hoi An otherwise you will be overwhelmed by choice!
- Try the food!- don't be scared ;)
- You must barter.. and you will get the hang of it ;)
- Have an open mind: especially when hearing about Vietnam's side of the War
- Don't bother taking heels girl.. they are DEFINITLY not needed: one pair of thongs, one pair of canvas/walking shoes and a pair of 'going out casual' flats is all you need
- There are opportunites to do laundry so don't worry about packing something for everyday
- People do try to steal bags so make sure you take a shoulder bag that hangs infront of your body and only carry cash you really need
- BEWARE OF CYCLO SCAMS!!!-
AND BEWARE OF JUNGLE JUICE AND JAM JARS ;)
Review written Feb 2012event 0.3
06 Aug 2011 - 17 Aug 2011
The first thing i will say is if your thinking about this trip dont forget your not going to a destination where tourism is well developed things will go wrong that is the joy of travel if you wanted it to run smooth you would stay home...
Saying that this was probably the best trip i have been on not everything went to plan but thats where special memories come from.
The Contiki tour was very well organised with a very professional tour manager (Hoover) and the local drivers where great.. the local tour guides where very knowledgeable although hard to understand some times when they had the microphone but they where easy to approach and answered all questions.
If youve done other Contikis. you might be a bit suprised when a big pink local bus pulls up out the front of your hotel . The bus was a bit older but it seemed well maintained and was comfortable for the longer days..
The hotels we stayed in where great they where clean and had everything you needed.. The only hotel we had trouble with was in Hanoi but we where told it was the first and last time contiki would stay there..
If your on this trip to see the sites or to party there is plenty of opportunities to do both and dont worry we did both.
You have the opportunity to eat western or asian at most stops dont deprive yourselves of there fabulous food . I did give in about half way through my tour and had a steak 1 night but that was a mistake. You will have the opportunity to eat Snake and Rat in the Mekong supprisingly the Rat tasted pretty good wasnt a fan of the snake but glad i tried it though
Our tour had a range of people on it from 18 - 36 and everyone got along great we have had about 4 reunions since aug 2011.. It was a good mixture of people i turned 35 on the tour so if your wondering if you should do Contiki because your at the tip of there range its not a problem these young ones need someone to show them how to party LoL...
There arent to many optionals in Vietnam but everyone signed up for all of them ..
There are things that will come up remember your on holidays and your doing CONTIKI so just go with the flow and do it.. I got called up to sing Karaoke in the middle of the ocean with a ladyboy not many people can say they've done that (or want to) . or float around in the middle of the ocean on a tube drinking rocket fuel. To seeing the war remaments and Vietnams history ..
If your looking for a tour that shows both the sites and traditions of a country where you can learn alot to trying traditional foods to going out at night and partying this is definetly the tour for you..
The great tour guide we had
The tour companions with all the sites and partying with out great people on the tour i dont think it would have been as enjoyable .. The tour is only as good as the people on it make it;;
Going to get on a plane and finding someone else already had that seat so haveing to catch 2 planes to get to the destination after the group ( i did get buisnees class the whole way though.. and i did say not everything will go to plan but just go with it . Its part of the travel to these destinations
Seeing the War museum and Vietnams history
Bartering (Its a bit daunting at first have fun with it though and it becomes enjoyable . but dont barter for something you dont want ause if you agree on a price you will end up with it..
Trying rat and snake..
Halong bay the party (My Bday) the sites and just the relaxing day
The whole trip was a highlight and i could mention everything..
But as i said go on this trip with a open mind as you are traveling to vietnam not everything will run to plan but they make up some of the unforgetable times on your trip and it makes your trip unique from the next....
And yes i would definetly recomend Contiki Vietnam
Im happy to answer all questions
Review written Jan 2012event 0.3