02 May 2015 - 13 May 2015
This was one of the best vacations I've ever been on. I've previously read some not-so-good reviews about Contiki (e.g. tours centering entirely around drinking and partying), but this trip definitely exceeded my expectations. It was a perfect mix of nature, culture and nightlife. I don't like getting wasted every night, though I do enjoy the occasional bar night here and there, and I still fit in with the group perfectly.
Best things on this trip: everything was great, and Vietnam is very different from Western Countries. In particular, I enjoyed Nha Trang beach and the boat cruise, the My Son temples, driving through the Pass through the Ocean Clouds, as well as walking around crazy crowded Hanoi and getting 25-cent beer among the locals. Of course, my favorite place was Halong Bay. This place is amazing and I got to kayak and see monkeys, swim on the beach as well as go to a big cave.
Another great thing about Vietnam: the food. Prior to going, my coworkers told me the food is amazing, and they were proven right. My favorite place was Bale Well in Hoi An. Our trip manager Courtney took us there, and it's about $6 for all you can eat spring rolls, chicken and pork skewers and banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes). Also we went to a place in Saigon that served beef that you cooked yourself on a roof tile and in Hanoi we went to Koto, a restaurant that employs street children and teaches them about the restaurant industry. If you go on this trip, do not order western food unless it's at a really nice place, as most likely you'll be disappointed and the local food is so much better. There were several of us on the trip who don't eat seafood, as well as a vegetarian, and Contiki was able to provide us with very good meals that fit these preferences.
Our trip manager Courtney was great and very knowledgeable about Vietnam. She was always able to suggest places to eat, drink and visit. Also our whole group was great, and I feel like everyone got along really well. Contiki is a nice way to travel by yourself but never be alone, and I'm thinking of going on another Contiki trip next year.
Review written Oct 2015event 0.3
14 Feb 2015 - 25 Feb 2015
This was my first Contiki.
I had high hopes for it; also the best & purest intentions. The tour was very good and planned well, but I don't miss the people I was with. I was very new to travelling and very scared. I asked for some guidance from my group & guide, and although they told me they would help me - they didn't.
When I ran into a cash crisis in the middle of my tour, my guide wasn't very sympathetic of my situation. I was here to tour on a budget, not spend wildly like I'm on holiday! He wasn't taking good care of people in the group who didn't want to go out either. The Tour guide took us to bars and after parties every night! After another party, we had an early morning flight just 3 hours afterwards and I decided to return to the hotel to pack and sleep. Our guide didn't even make it to the bus! Someone had to go and wake him up 5 minutes before the bus had to move! I lost so much respect for my guide when I found out he was sleeping with a girl from our group; this upset me more when I reviewed that this is normal behaviour on Contiki tours. I was hoping for a more adult and proper tour, but this kind of behaviour made me uncomfortable. I found my guide a bit unprofessional, since it looks like he's taking advantage of younger members of our group. I'm put off Contiki.
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
25 Nov 2014 - 06 Dec 2014
As an individual who loves to travel and explore, I will have to say that this was probably the best decision I have ever made. Vietnam was the most incredible country I have ever visited in my life. This adventure had absolutely everything you could ask for; culture, history, tradition and modernity, amazing food and tons of heavy duty exploring.
This was my second time doing Contiki Tours (first time having done so in Europe) and all I can say is that Contiki by all means never disappoints. All Contiki does is make sure you have life changing experiences and that you transform into a world class traveller. I travelled solo and met people from all over the world. There were travellers from Canada, the U.S., the U.K, Scotland, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Everyone bonded so great and became friends for life. I must say that every day I miss all the wonderful character my travel mates had and were the ones that made this adventure as special as it was.
Our tour manager, Danny, was the best. He went out of his way and worked tremendously hard to ensure we all had the greatest experience of our lives. He arranged dinners, lunch and cooking class in Hoi An, biking tours, museum tours and took care of everyone's requested accommodations so courteously.
As for my own experience on the tour, here is a breakdown of every destination:
Mekong Delta - This destination is only included on the Experience tour (nine mates joined us on the Highlights tour as it is the same tour) so if you want an experience in the jungle, this is the option to choose. It was the first day and night that the group really got to develop chemistry and bond together. From wearing rice paddy straw hats, to adventuring on the Mekong River, to trying freshly produced coconut caramels, rice crispys, snake soup and jungle juice vodka, oh and elephant fish for lunch, the food was just delicious. Our homestay at the family guest house was an experience to remember. Our local guide, Kevin, arranged for the locals to perform some Vietnamese cultural entertainment for the group, which was awesome. Come prepared with bug spray, because mosquitos and other bugs just roam everywhere at nighttime. The night was fun packed with drinking games and parties.
Cu Chi - The next destination on the way back to Ho Chi Minh City is the part of the trip that provides you with a brilliant learning experience about the Vietnam War (American War as its known in Vietnam). The experience of crawling through the rat tunnels will give you an understanding about how brave and courageous you had to have been to be able to crawl in those dark claustrophobic spaces in wartime. I cant forget to mention firing AK47s and M16s at the Cu Chi gun range, giving you the warlike scenario. There are also B-52 bomb craters to check out.
Ho Chi Minh City - Out of all the destinations, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) was probably my least favourite. The city is very large and quite dirty. We met our group at the hotel the night prior to the Mekong Delta and later nine new travellers joined us for the Highlights tour. The only exception I enjoyed in Saigon was the War Remnants Museum. As an individual who is big into history and wanted to become more educated about the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese perspective, this place along with the rat tunnels in Cu Chi were some of the most unique, yet sombering experiences I have done. Seeing the museum really shows you how so much of the history in Vietnam was tragic and that they went through so much to get to where they are today, particularly to open up its doors to tourism to flourish their economy. The last thing about Saigon that impressed me was the local Saigon Beer. It is awesome and you will not have a chance to find this anywhere else in the world, so take advantage of this opportunity.
Nha Trang - Probably my most favourite due to it being the tourist destination of Vietnam. It is well known for bringing in many Russian tourists and lots of Russians live and work there. Danny organized a mud bath for the group and took us to the Sailing Club for delicious seafood dinner and a beach party, which was epic. Unfortunately, due to a storm out in the South China Sea, our snorkelling adventure got cancelled. Since the snorkelling was cancelled, the group just went about doing their own things and we met up later at the hotel.
Hoi An - Flew into Da Nang, had rice pancake spring rolls for lunch at Ba Le Well and took a cooking class at night. Visited the ancient temple in My Son in pouring monsoon rain, which made the experience more cultural. Late November is monsoon season in central Vietnam. Van, our local tour guide for the My Son adventure and a Vietnam War veteran with the US Army as an interpreter was amazing. Very highly educated, he shared with the group some incredible stories of his life experiences, particularly during the war. Cant forget to mention the tailor made clothes at high quality standards for relatively cheap prices. Advice: bring you're own clothes and the tailors will make identical clothes within a day. Danny arranged for us to visit Yaly Coture. If you ever see the lovely Pamela, I certainly recommend her as she helped organize my fitting for my awesome new suit I had tailored. Opportunity to do laundry with the local tour guide, Gaiu (Laow) just down the road from the hotel. He will also lend you bicycles for you to ride around the town for cheap price.
Hue - Didn't really have enough time to get adjusted to the culture here, but we visited the Ancient Citadel and Pagoda Temple up the Perfume River. Not to mention the ride in the cyclos, which Danny arranged. So much fun. Also had the opportunity to try some of the local food where you would not get the chance to try anywhere else.
Hanoi - The complete opposite from Saigon, and certainly a city full of history, entertainment and plenty of sightseeing. Hotel was the nicest on the whole tour. Went to a Vietnamese water puppet show, which was fascinating to see. Visited the Mausoleum of Vietnam's father figure of independence, Ho Chi Minh and the Temple of Literature.
Halong Bay - All I can say are these words: HIGHLIGHT OF THE TOUR!!!! Photographs just do not do the trick for this part of the tour. Basically have to be there first hand to get a true experience of this destination. Junk boat was wicked. We kayaked into the cove and got lucky to see some monkeys (the monkeys do not always appear on some days). Had a pirate theme party with the group on the boat in the evening. Went cave exploring the morning before our trip back to Hanoi. Only thing I wish that would have been different for the group and I was the weather. Was cloudy and cool since it was early December. The north part of Vietnam is cooler at this time of year than the south. Still the best part of the whole tour.
All in all, Vietnam Experience was the best tour I have ever done and made nothing but amazing memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. Contiki is no doubt the best tour company in the entire world. The one thing I would have changed would have been to do the entire Indochina adventure in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia as a few of the travellers in the group explored those countries prior to Vietnam.
Last Recommendation: Try to stay in Hanoi for an extra day or two as many of the Contiki mates did in order to do sightseeing of some of the city's landmarks. I chose to extend for a day and got the opportunity to visit the body of Ho Chi Minh inside the Mausoleum, (very quick, yet intense and emotional experience), Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton), Vietnamese Museum of Military History and Vietnamese Ethology Museum. I was exhausted after seeing all those sites in one day, but is certainly worth the effort and investment as I learned so much. The ME time activities are limited, but all amazing. Do all the activities if you can?
Overall, do not hesitate and think too much about exploring Vietnam; JUST DO IT!!!!!! No Regrets
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
23 Dec 2014 - 03 Jan 2015
For me, going on this trip was quite spontaneous and a spur of the moment thing, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions and one of the most incredible experiences of my life so far.
I travelled solo and did this tour over Christmas/New Year and had the best time. I met the most incredible people from all over the world. I met people from Australia, South Africa, the US, Germany, Ireland and we all got along like a house on fire! So much so, I miss them every day!
Overall, it's a safe place to travel (although beware of pickpockets, especially at night - don't take your valuables out with you), your money goes so much further there, the accommodation is great, the people are so friendly and the food is unbelievable.
I'd recommend the Vietnam Experience over the Highlights tour, purely as you have the extra 2 days at the start. With the 'Experience' tour, you go to the Mekong Delta and that is the first full day of the tour. The night in the jungle was a great ice-breaker of a night and a great bonding experience for the group. The people who joined later as part of the 'Highlights' tour very much became a part of the family, but were like 'oh man!' when they heard about the night in the Mekong!
Highlights for me were:
-Christmas Eve at the homestay in the Mekong Delta.
-Nha Trang. The day on the boat/swimming in the sea and the night at the Sailing Club were incredible.
-Halong Bay. Like nothing you've ever seen before. You'll be awestruck at it's beauty. Kayaking in the bay and through those limestone karsts was just magic. Photos just don't do this place justice. Quite possibly the most beautiful place I've ever been.
I feel the group dynamic on the whole is slightly better on Contiki Asia tours than the Euro ones, as there is a max of 30 here. As a result, everyone gets to know everyone really well and it's like everyone's known each other for ages!
This country has so much history, everywhere you go, it's such an interesting place. I'm so glad I made the spontaneous decision to go on this trip. I've got friends for life and still reminisce about this trip all the time.
If you've got any questions at all, feel free to hit me up here or on facebook, I'll be happy to answer them! My instagram's also got many photos of the trip (@adamjcp), feel free to check it out!
Last recommendation - If you can, spend a bit more time after the trip in Hanoi. There are a few people who stay behind a bit longer after the tour and all you'll want to do is keep exploring with your new contiki family!
Review written Apr 2015event 0.3
31 Dec 2011 - 11 Jan 2012
It's been a bit over 3 years since I have been on this tour, and it is truly a trip you will never forget.
From the moment you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, right through to you say your goodbyes in Hanoi; the Vietnam Experience is full of highlights, excitement and unforgettable memories.
We had the privilege of starting our tour on New Years Eve, in Ho Chi Minh City. Talk about a party! The streets were filled with tourists and locals, all bringing in the New Year in style, with plenty of drinks, laughs and spray foam, as we spilled out into the streets for the countdown to midnight. This was the perfect opportunity to get to know my fellow travelers and guides.
Bargains can be found all around in Ho Chi Minh City. Try your luck at the Bến Thành markets, which is close to your accommodation. You can find all sorts of things there from Watches, Clothing, Food, Frogs, Turtles and even Snake Wine; A truly unique product you can’t miss, and one that you will have many chances to sample over the next 12 days.
From the hustle and bustle of the city, to the relaxed Mekong Delta, the home stay was truly an experience you will want to take in. I always look for an opportunity on my travels to really engulf myself in the culture of where I am. Contiki defiantly give you this opportunity, and the locals are extremely welcoming, friendly, and kind. We got to enjoy a great local performance as well as take on the challenge of fishing, using nothing but a bowl and our own two hands, a skill which only some in the group could master.
Traveling back to Ho Chi Minh City after an interesting night getting to know everyone better with a bit of Jungle Juice, we traveled to the Cu Chi Tunnel. These tunnels where used by guerrilla fighters during what the Vietnamese call the “American” War. Even if you are claustrophobic, try to muster the courage to down into the tunnels and work your way through. A truly unique experience and a sobering insight.
Next we visit Nha Trang, in what us Australians on the tour affectionately refer to as the Gold Coast of Vietnam. This is definitely one place you will want to take the ME options available on tour. Take the cruise offshore and enjoy some great swimming, snorkelling and lunch. There was heaps of unexpected surprises to be had on this cruise, and well worth the extra cash to experience.
Nha Trang is know for relaxation, and what better way to relax then with a trip to the Mud Baths. Not only an experience for the ladies, this is a great way to chill out and relax. At one stage we where treated to a fantastic hot spring soak with what can only be described as a giant tea bag!
A short flight to our next stop Hoi An, aka the fashion capital of Vietnam. Hoi An is famous for it tailors. Grab yourself a stylish suit, a swish dress, or anything else you can imagine. It’s a good idea before you travel to Vietnam, to take some photos of things you would like to have made, the tailors in Hoi An will make anything you can dream of.
At this stage in the tour we decided it would be a perfect opportunity to take on Vietnam’s famous traffic head on. After hiring mopeds (from the same place we got our laundry done) we headed for the coast and took in the amazing scenery along the way.
This is just a taste of the many experiences you will have on this tour. I've made life long friends on this trip, and we all still reminisce about this tour 3 years on. There is so much to see and do. Party on the beach in Nah Trang, Get styled and learn to cook amazing food in Hoi An, take in the natural beauty of Ha Long Bay, and enjoy the craziness that is Hanoi!
I'd highly recommend clicking the BOOK NOW button, if you have a sense of adventure, for a trip that you'll truly never forget!
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
01 Jul 2014 - 12 Jul 2014
An incredible Contiki Adventure.
It was my first contiki tour, I was going alone and I was scared. The contiki was easy to organise and tour leader Pheobee, made me feel so comfortable and at ease. You meet so many people, so do not be scared to go alone - You won't regret it!
What we saw/What we did: Do all of the optional extras, I did and they were all awesome. Beware of the heat, bring electrolytes, drink plenty of water and wear a hat. In terms of what we, Ho Chi Minh is great, arrive early and spend a few extra days there. The Mekong Delta and the home stay night is awesome fun, beware of the Jungle Punch though. The Cu Chi tunnels was an amazing experiences, yes it is cramped and small inside, but you must go in! It's something you'll never forget. Nha Trang, was my favourite destination. The island hopping day in Nha Trang is a must, the mud baths were heaps of fun too. In Hoi An everything is absolutely adorable, I didn't get anything made, but heaps of people chose to get clothes made, instead we decided to get a bit of pampering, hire bikes and explore the towns and beaches (it was incredible). Then heading up to Hanoi and Halong Bay, Hanoi is a pretty cool city, we had a lot of fun there, and Halong Bay is amazing! The canoeing optional is a must, the caves are beautiful and the Boat party is great Fun.
Optionals: Do all the optionals, its a once in a life time experience, do them all! If not, the Island hopping in Nha Trang, The Mudbaths, The Temple visit and the Canoeing in Halong Bay were the most fun.
Accommodation/Food: All of the accommodation was beautiful. The hotels were in awesome locations and so clean and beautiful and all came with breakfast. The Mekong Delta special stay is heaps of fun and very clean too. I did not have a bad meal at all in Vietnam, try everything, their local and western food is both amazing.
Transport: The bus was great, clean and with zircon - don't worry you sleep most of the time on the buses anyways.
Tour mates, Best Moments: Everything was a highlight. There was never a dull moment. It was definitely worth the money. Everyone in the group was lovely, I was 18 at the time and the youngest, the group ranged in aged up to 32. Everyone got on really well with a group of 29 at it's biggest, some people left on different tours at different points in the journey. As for best moment, I met a guy on Tour from Perth (I am from Queensland) and we are still dating today, it was love at first sight.
Review written Feb 2015event 0.3
06 Jan 2015 - 17 Jan 2015
this tour was amazing, we got to see so much of vietnam, with the weather holding out for the magnificent halong bay, on an incredibly nice junk boat. great sights, great people, great food. We had the most amazing tour guide ever lee, who never failed to make us happy and had continued to have a great time with us. i would highly recommend this tour but if you have a bit more time on your hands book the big indo tour as this is part of that tour and i plan to go back to do the asian adventure which is the beginning of the big indo before vietnam. Vietnam was amazing, great on a budget as things are very cheap, its a full on trip make sure you do all the extras!!!!
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
20 Dec 2014 - 31 Dec 2014
I had the best experience on my Vietnam Experience. First off, I definitely recommend this tour over the shorter one in Vietnam. Those extra few days in the Mekong Delta are truly amazing and got a bit ... wild. This was my first contiki but I'm extremely impressed and convinced this is the best way for young-ish people to initially travel a foreign area. Having an excellent tour guide, a group of friends and itinerary made sure I felt like I was getting the best bang for my buck.
The thing that makes contiki special though are the tour managers (thanks Danny!) and the other travellers your with. Its amazing how quickly you might develop friendships (maybe travel to their home country!)
On top of all this, Vietnam was amazing! Everyone needs to go visit Vietnam soon before its completely changed. Its quickly becoming a westernized city and its in this great spot right now where you can see the old historic culture clash with new technologies.
Did I mention the Pho ? :)
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
20 Dec 2014 - 31 Dec 2014
This was without doubt the best trip of my life. I wasn't sure what to expect, it being my first contiki, and spending Christmas and New Years in a different country with people I didn't know. All i can say is that the sights that we saw were breathtaking, the experiences and memories I made will last me forever and the friends I met are friends for a lifetime.
Our tour guide Danny was so helpful, and went above and beyond to make sure that everyone's needs were met and that we were all taken care of. He gave us heaps of options for activities in our spare time, and had great local knowledge of each place. Our guides spoke excellent english and were really fun!
From the quiet street of Hoi An, getting tailor made clothes fitted, to the huge beach parties in Nah Trang, it was a once in a lifetime gig. Theres something for everyone.
Vietnam is a must do. The country is beautiful. And i couldn't imagine doing it through any one other than Contiki!
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
25 Nov 2014 - 06 Dec 2014
The 12 day tour of Vietnam Experience is a fantastic way to see the country. We were told it is a more in-depth Contiki tour, because we spend so long on one country. It is definitely time well spent, because while it is not a big country, it is incredibly diverse, and there are big differences between the north and south, in culture, buildings and food. It is definitely worth booking the experience ahead of the Vietnam Highlights, as we thought the Mekong Delta homestay experience was great fun, and the Cu Chi tunnels very valuable in our understanding of the Vietnam War. The optionals, I think, are worth doing, and all of them. You will find the weather varies across the country, because it is so long, so you can never pick a time of year where the entire country has perfect weather.
Things you will see: Ho Chi Minh City - the cathedral, post office, Ben Thanh Markets (though I suggest do more of this in your own time, because we actually didn't really get a lot of time actually in the market if you want to do some shopping), War Remnants Museum (if you like history, and want to read it all in-depth, you may need to see it again, or in your own time, as we had enough time to read about two levels of stuff, but I had to skip the end)
Mekong Delta and Cu Chi Tunnels
Nha Trang - we were supposed to go on a snorkelling trip, but didn't due to a typhoon warning. We went to Yang Bay Tourist Park - it's a really weird place, and some may find it a bit uncomfortable there. It seems to be built by the Vietnamese, specifically for the large Russian population that visit Nha Trang and surrounding areas
Hoi An - this place is beautiful! The tailoring shop that is recommended to us by Contiki is very reliable, and better quality than most places here. Linh Shoe Shop for shoes and bags was also quite good, though if you are looking to emulate a particular design, the lady didn't really pick up on specific details. You will see My Son Temples, but I didn't go because I was hungover and tired from a big night before, so I can't say how it was.
Hue - you only spend one day here, and the day is jam-packed and well spent. Our bus broke down between Hoi An and Hue because the driver didn't fill up, but that was the only issue we had. It was also the wet season in Hoi An and Hue.
Hanoi and Halong bay - Halong Bay is definitely one of the big highlights of the trip. In Hanoi's old quarter, there is so much shopping to be done, so if you don't get to go to the Ben Thanh markets in Ho Chi Minh City, don't worry. Apparently The North Face stuff is cheaper in Hoi An and Hue than Hanoi though. Egg coffee at Cafe 39/Friz Coffee at 39 Nguyen Huu Huan St is really good. Pho 10 and the Banh Mi lady just up the street there are both really good. Hang Dieu St. had Bun Bo Nam Bo, which was an amazing dish! So much good food to eat!
All accommodation was good, the Vien Dong hotel was the most basic, and probably what we were actually expecting, but the other hotels exceeded expectations.
Everything was organised by our tour leader perfectly and everything ran smoothly. I would definitely recommend this tour!
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
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