Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I don't understand why this trip is so poorly rated! I recently returned from two exciting and action-packed weeks that I would recommend to anyone. Here's what you need to know:
Bring lots of local currency! Money is not always easy to get out of ATM's (especially in Buenos Aires as we found), so be sure to bring enough cash with you to South America. It's usually not recommended to carry tons of cash on you, but all of the hotels we stayed in had safes in the rooms and there were no issues with these. ATM's in South America limit the amount of cash you can draw in a transaction, in some cases as low as about $100 USD (in local currency). This means that to take out any reasonable amount of money you're forced to do multiple transactions and get dinged on transaction and ATM fees.
Bring enough USD to pay for all of the Me-Time Optional activities. I wish that Contiki had told us that we could pay for the Me-Time Optional activities in USD. Contiki accepts either USD or local currencies, for this tour that's the Argentine Peso and the Brazilian Real. However given how unstable South American economies are, Contiki hedges their bets and you get a really shitty exchange rate. If you pay in local currencies, you will end up paying more for the same thing than you would have had you used USD. For example, a $100 USD activity will cost you 1200 Pesos, even if the bank exchange rate for $100 USD is only 800 Pesos. Bring lots of USD!
People on my tour that had their cards stolen or disabled by their banks had a hell of a time getting replacement cards sent to them. Vacation is a lot more fun when you have enough money to do things, so tell your banks where you’re going and take care of your cards while you’re away!
-Me-Time Optional activities
In general I find that the optional activities are fun and good value, and that is definitely the case on this tour.
The Polo day in Argentina was the most underrated activity, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It's a little pricey at about $180 USD, but that's a whole day activity including transportation outside of the city, unlimited delicious red wine and beer, unlimited empanadas, unlimited steak, viewing a polo match and of course, playing a polo match. That’s right, you spend an hour on horseback playing polo. Bring a dirty pair of jeans for the riding, and a bathing suit for the pool afterwards. Definitely a must-do!
The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires was also a must-do. A fun night where the staff explains some of the nuances of the culture, while drinking unlimited wine and eating some of the most delicious steak I've ever had. Definitely don't miss this one.
The helicopter ride over Iguazu falls was incredible, though a little pricey. The 10 minute ride will run you about $120 USD, but on a clear day the views are worth it and the once in a lifetime experience speaks for itself.
The speedboat ride to Iguazu falls is a must-do. You get to see all sides of the falls (especially if you do the helicopter ride), and the view from the water is not to be missed. This option is quite pricey as well, but it’s about 30 minutes of excitement, including a couple moments where the boat is driven right into the falling water.
Depending on scheduling, an extra optional activity might be to go see a soccer game in Rio – do not pass this up!
Hang gliding in Rio was the highlight of my trip, and definitely worth the cost. The views are incredible, the guides are friendly and it was definitely something I will never forget. It should be noted that hang gliding is not covered by most insurance plans, so look into that before leaving.
The cable car ride up Sugarloaf Mountain is a staple for Rio, and should not be missed. Of course, the views are spectacular and the value isn’t bad considering transportation is included.
The Brazilian dinner in Rio is worthwhile for anyone who is not a vegetarian, and even our lone vegetarian came along to see what it was all about.
Argentina and Brazil are not unsafe countries, but there are some things that should be obvious that weren’t for some people. Things like carrying phones when going out at night, getting into cabs alone at night while drunk, and even carrying a wallet in your back pocket will get you into trouble. Nobody on my tour had any issues with getting mugged and I never felt outright unsafe, but like anywhere else be aware of where you are and who is around you.
If you haven’t done a Contiki tour before, you should know that if one person gets sick, there’s a good chance it’s going to spread. This tour is action packed with very little down time, so don’t expect to be well-rested – your body is going to take a beating. It’s prudent to visit a travel clinic to know what shots you need, but on top of that there’s a few things to bring that will make life a lot easier for you. Don’t leave home without: multivitamins, cold and flu medicine, nausea medicine and diarrhea medicine. You’re going to need all of them.
So this Contiki was a spur of the moment choice to finish off my time in Europe. I had been traveling on my own, but I loved the ease of doing it with Contiki!
My guide (Christina) was amazing and so funny. She went out of the way to show us some awesome stuff and ensure we had a fantastico trip. The driver Pino was a riot! "Contiki go DANCING!" They really made the trip.
The accommodation was really good value, especially in the Mediterranean where everything can be so expensive! There was only one bad hotel in Barcelona, but I think we were told that they wouldn't be going back there.
The food, oh the food. Thank goodness for the sightseeing walks otherwise I would have been rolling off the bus by the end. Everything was soooooo good and the servings were generous at all the included and optional meals. The dinner the first night and last nights plus the night in Florence was just mind-blowing.
The transport was really good. The bus was always clean and Christina's iPod provided a great soundtrack for the journey. Shame there was no onboard wifi, but I wouldn't have traded Pino for anything, so it was worth not having it!
The other people on the tour were great. There was a good mix of people that wanted to go out and those who didn't, so no matter how you wanted to spend your night others were keen for whatever.
I loved the South of France. All the beauty of that area was overwhelming. The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire tour.
I decided to do this trip while on study abroad and it was the best decision. I probably wouldn't have done it if I wasn't already in Europe, but that is okay. I had a great time and a really moving experience. Being with Contiki allowed me to see the area and get information from a great local guide. I still keep in touch with some of the people from this trip, even though it is short it was a very deep and moving experience. Do it, not for bucket lists or anyone else, do it for you because it will change and shape your thinking about everything you have been taught. There is nothing like being there!
Prepare for some random thoughts jumbled into one review. I would absolutely pick Rome-Madrid over Madrid-Rome, there are some very long bus rides between France and Spain and near the end of the trip you are pretty tired anyway so it's a good time to relax. Also everyone jokes about Contiki cough but it's a real thing stock up on COLD MEDICINE because almost everyone ends up buying it anyway. Didn't do the opera dinner, didn't feel like I missed out. Did do the Monaco dinner and it was delicious, but don't feel pressured to do it/not do it (others did find affordable food). I wouldn't consider it overpriced as one comment below said. Ladies the cobblestones in Rome will break your ankles in heels, I'm not sure how some of the girls on my trip managed that. I also skipped "the David" to have some more free time and didn't feel like I missed out, you end up seeing the fake David anyway. Sparkling fountain in Florence is really cool (near fake David). Go to the Modern Art museum in France, it's really weird and also go to the beach
Another unforgettable tour ;) All I can say is Contiki is a must if you wanna see the world and meet awesome people !!*
We kept a journal, and we had all our friends write in daily. Sometimes I go back to read it and, then I am like "really, we did that"
I went with my cousin, and we had the trip of a life time. We met a group of all randoms, one couple, two solo men, and then us, and our roomie. We are ALL still in contact, and one as even come to see us from a 22 hour plan ride away. I took this trip last winter, and I can't say enough about the friends it has given us! we love them all! It was winter, and cold! plan on that! plan on extra money. Plan on granola bars b/c your breakfast is going to SUCK. Plan on good rooms, plan on crappy rooms. Plan on being on a bus for long hours, and plan on some rain. but, most important plan on a trip of a lifetime. I thought about giving a day by day play, but it's what you make of it! We did and tried everything. We also kept a journal and had all our friends write in it! that was the best. drunk thoughts, crazy thoughts! Just go have fun! Know that some things are going to suck, just go with it!
Seen some great historical sites rich with history in Athens, Olympia and Delphi on this trip. Had a awesome social group on this trip but the only trouble was only half our group continued to the 3 day island hopper cruise.
The 3 day cruise was fantastic drinking by the roof top deck pool everyday til we landed at our next destination, then off to explore the island for about 4 hours at a time before we had to be back on the ship. Santorini was amazing I would do it again and the Donkey ride up the hill was fun but probably wouldn't do that again.
The cruise ship was great to party with our group every night at different bars on the ship and had a awesome Toga party night as well.
Seen so many amazing sites and scenery of this trip, but also meet some amazing people on our tour..
The adventure side of this trip was fantastic, White Water Rafting, Bobsledding, Mountain Bike Riding and best of all Paragliding in Hopfgarten.
Lauterbrunnen was by far my favourite place on this tour.
If your a first timer to Europe I highly recommend this trip but the only trouble is you will want to go on holidays again as soon as you get home.
I hoped to have reviewed the trip sooner. It was very properly planned and very well executed. The time of the year I went in was September which was pleasantly warm and bearably cool in most places. I was slightly intimidated of doing a Europe trip but going on this 9 day tour really eased me into it and I realized that the cultural and language barriers are not intimidating at all and are very enjoyable on the contrary.
The trip was a quick one and we had limited time in each place but that made me do so much in a day, especially in Paris which was the last stop. I never thought I could walk so much in a day and see so much! The people I met were very diverse and great fun to hang with. I was travelling alone and was in groups, pairs and by myself as and when I liked which was super. It is great what a trip like this can offer lone travellers.
Our tour manager Evan was very knowledgeable and helpful. It was worthwhile to get a historical, contextual and cultural introduction to all the places we visited. The maps he explained to us and his suggestions for the places made it even easier.
The trip overall was like a taster session of Europe, very well delivered in 9 days. I am definitely clearer about what I want from my next Europe trip. I miss it so much and hope to do Contiki again someday for another continent or who knows another region of Europe! Highly recommended for lone travellers and groups/couples alike! :D
Such a great trip, as it was my first contiki trip ever it did not disappoint in the least and resulted in me booking another trip shortly after returning home. I had reservations for it being such a short package and feared I wouldn't get to experience enough or see all the things I wanted to. But I was very happy with it and didn't feel shorted in the least. Of course there were places I would have liked to stay longer I still wouldn't have changed a thing either. The guide and driver were awesome and helped me find some of the best off the beaten path places and we're very knowledgeable for all the areas we visited. As for the group I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of people who I'm sure have become long time friends because of it. A few of my personal highlights had to be Edinburgh in general I loved, and I had the great pleasure of spending my birthday swimming in lochness and tasting a 107 year old Scotch! As the title says I'd recommend this to everyone who wants to see these places.
Check out more about my trip and tips at www.sageoftheworld.com
I initially chose to go to South East Asia because I wanted to travel to a tropical location for my winter holiday. Other then wanting to catch some rays, I had no other aspirations. But I now have a new love and appreciation for asian culture and solo travel.
This trip introduced me to a completely foreign culture, new (amazing) foods, friendly people, peaceful cultures, exotic adventures and stunning landscapes. This trip put me out of my comfort zone and completely emerged me in different ways of life. I can honestly say I have returned as a stronger, braver and more confident person. I recommend going on this adventure alone. You will meet many like-minded travelers and you will discover so much about yourself.
When I booked this trip I expected to stay in mostly hostels and cheap hotels...expectations were blown out the water. We stayed in mostly 4 and 5 star hotels. Every place was nicer then the last. But my favorite places we stayed we not the 5 star hotels. We stayed at two charming guest houses and on a beautiful junk boat in Ha Long Bay. Every place we stayed had free wifi, water bottles, safes and hot water!
I couldn't have asked for a better group of fellow travelers. I will forever be friends with many of the people I met. Especially my tour manger Lee (Hailey). I can safely say she made my trip. Lee is super cool, chill and fun. She showed us the best bars, hangouts and foodies in town. She was familiar with the locals and even spoke most of languages. I told her initially I planned on turning my brain off for most of my trip. So it was awesome having her plan most excursions and helping me have the time of my life.
The coolest thing about this trip is you're not stuck on a bus all day long like many other contiki trips. Don't get me wrong there are bus trips. The longest was 6 hours. To get through the different countries you will take an overnight train, boats, tuk tuks, buses, vans and jets. I loved our overnight train ride. It really gave everyone a chance to bond.
My favorite things I did on the trip were the Wat Phrathat in Chiang Mai, Thai cooking class in Chiang Rai, Elephant riding, "Kangaroo Sunset" bar and kayaking in Luang Prabang, causing a street dance party in Siem Reap, jumping off our boat in Nha Trang and sailing in Ha Long Bay.
I would recommend this trip to everyone. I always felt safe, culturally submerged and had a blast.
Tips I wish I had been given:
-Bring temple wear (Long pants, t-shirts)
-Pack your bag and then take out half. It's super easy to do laundry.
-Bring only one swim suit. There are water activities, but not consecutive ones. You only need one suit.
- You should not need more then $25 a day if you don't plan on doing much shopping.
- Invest good pair of flip flops. You have to remove your shoes a lot and they're easier to get on and off then sandals.
-Don't bring a huge suitcase. A back pack is better.
-You don't need to bring makeup. Most of the girls on the trip won't wear it. It will just sweat off.
-Bring your own bug spray.
-Bring or be prepared to pull out american dollars. You will need to pay for most excursions with USD. Also Cambodia widely prefers USD over Riel.
-If you're coming from the states you don't need an adaptor. All outlets take the US plug!
-Wifi is everywhere. Turn your phone on airplane mode and don't bother getting a plan. Just Skype and iMessage people using wifi.
-Pack playing cards!
-Pack your own portable charger!
Want to read more about my trip? Check out my blog:
This sail in Croatia is probably my most favourite thing I have done travelling.
I was fortunate enough to get a really good group of people with a diverse mix, however we instantly came together as a group of individuals on day one and were like a family by the end of the trip.
In relation to Croatia, WOW what a country. I'm sure in the winter time it's a bit different, however in summer this place is incredible. They Croatians are very welcoming and their is just a good vibe in all of the places you visit.
The night lift is great, everything is really well priced, and it's a well organised trip by Contiki.
It is much different to the European Contiki's etc, you actually get time to relax!
I will be paying Croatia another visit very shortly.
This is my second Contiki trip, and it was even better than I had expected it to be. The tour guide, Sherif, was exceptionally knowledgeable on Egyptian history and was an excellent guide. He truly made the world of a difference, making this trip as much fun as it was educational. There were 21 of us on the group and we all had a great time and made some new friends. Also, Egypt was totally safe - we never had any issues and never felt unsafe. Their tourism has been suffering and I'm happy Contiki added this tour back because it felt totally safe to be there!
I am just writing in to say that this Contiki trip was absolutely amazing! Rhi (our tour manager) and Sandro (our coach driver) were beyond a doubt the best any trip could ever ask for! I have #noregrets whatsoever and that's all because of these two fantastic people!! Thank you Rhi and Sandro making this a trip of a lifetime!! xoxox
I currently write this as I am trying to pass time at the airport making my way home from the European discovery back to NY. Man what a great 2 weeks. So many unforgettable moments and so many great memories with people you will never forget. So many lifelong friendships were created with people on the other side of the world who you probably may never see again. Tears will be shed when it's time for goodbyes... Big thanks to Evana and Miki for being great leaders for our tour. They absolutely made this the best trip possible. If anyone is reading this trying to decide whether to book or not I say DO IT! You won't regret it. This was my first time doing a group tour and being in Europe so I had a few reservations about how things would go coming into the trip. I also booked it very spontaneously around 1 week before the actual trip. So I did not know what to expect and how much I would enjoy the vacation. But in then end I am incredibly happy with my decision. Not only do you learn about other countries and cultures, but you also learn a lot about yourself. Such a great 2 weeks and I wish I could just keep reliving them over and over with the people I met and never go back to work! Will definitely do Contiki again
A life changing experience which I would recommend to anybody wanting to see the amazing islands of Thailand. Being my first Contiki trip and traveling alone, the group of people on our tour made it feel like we'd known each other for years and have made some life-long friends because of it. Partying on Koh Phi Phi and swimming on Maya Beach were amongst some of the greatest things i've experienced in my lifetime. This may have been my first Contiki Tour, but definitely will not be my last!
This was the most amazing experience of my life. Matt was the best tour guide in the world. There was never a dull moment and I couldn't have asked for a more life changing experience. Between elephant riding and hanging out with tiger's my life has been forever changed. This tour is worth every penny and more. I wish it never ended.
Had a wonderful time in NY. Unfortunately the description and itinerary is a bit deceiving. Thought we were going to see a lot more than we did. It was more of a drive by than actually stopping, which was disappointing. Would have liked to see more of the touristy places. However it was still a good tour!
Optional tours were fantastic though!!
I went on this trip alone, straight out of high school, knowing no one and never having travelled overseas by myself before. And I have to say, it was the best decision I've ever made!!
Not only was the tour manager (Enzo - a local Italian) AMAZING and beyond funny, but the places we went, the food we ate, and the benefits we got as Contiki travelers, were just incredible. Contiki really does go the extra mile to make sure every part of your trip is well taken care of and that you have the time of your life, without having to worry about the finer details.
Most importantly, however, were the friends I made. I was 18 years old - one of the youngest on the trip - and I found myself forming my closest friendships with 28 and 29 year olds. I was able to have mature, intellectual, emotional and deep conversations; connecting with people on a level I have never been able to do with people my own age. I grew up tremendously on Contiki, and I have made life-long friends from all over the world.
That was my first Contiki trip and I am already planning my next trip for 2015. Without a doubt one of the best experiences ever!
And just a note on going alone (for those of you who are concerned about that): I asked two people to come with me and was let down by both of them. I didn't let that stop me though, and I went by myself anyway. And as I said earlier: BEST DECISION I've made! So if you're looking for advice, I say: Leave your friends behind and GO ALONE. I promise you it will be worth while. You will be forced out of your comfort zone and you will make friends that you may never have considered if you had had the safety net of a friend. Also, being alone means you have no one to consider and no one to please - you go where you want, with whoever you want, and that's that.
Thanks again Contiki, you'll be seeing more of me! :)
This tour is absolutely amazing and exceeded all my expectations in terms of accommodation, food, tour manager, local guides, sightseeing and every thing else.
Our tour manager was Alex and his knowledge of everything China made the trip even better.
I booked this tour at the last possible minute and it ended up being one of the best decisions of my life. I was in a group of 16 and we all got along really well. I know that the people I met on tour will be friends for life.
The tour includes all the essentials but it doesn't feel rushed at any point. Each city you visit has its own highlights whether it's the Great Wall or Forbidden City in Beijing, the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi'an, the nightlife and shopping in Shanghai, the karsts and beautiful sights in Yangshuo or Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. My personal highlights were the Great Wall, the Shanghai nightlife and two days of unwinding in Yangshuo.
I can't recommend this tour enough and I will be encouraging all my friends to do it. China is an amazing country, the people are so friendly and the culture is fascinating. If you're considering doing this tour just book it. You won't be disappointed.