Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This class was thorough and required a lot from its students. I enjoyed the boat setup and all of our dives. But you don't need to bring shoes on the boat because you will be barefoot the whole time, and try to get on of those quick drying towels from kathmandu. None of the cotton towels could dry in time on deck - but those could handle the quick turn around dives.
Also, if you get seasick I highly recommend taking dramamine most of the time you are out there. But the night before take it and then again in the morning while boarding. I was able to keep my dosage up and then during the tough drive out to the reef I was fine and didn't get sick. But I did sit at the back of the boat staring at the horizon the whole time. Once we made it to the reef it was easy. But the same for heading back into town - keep your dramamine levels up. I'm prone to get sick but with these tips you should be fine.
My dive partner and I rented a dive camera that we really didn't need. We got maybe 2 or three photos that were good, but looking back I would just wait until I'm a more experienced diver to get a nice camera to take photos with.
One of my favorite parts of the day was sitting up on deck after the dives to see the stars out there and relax with a beer gossiping about what each person saw that day or what good stories they had.
I was very nervous about going on this tour alone and not sure what to expect. I loved every minute of it. The entire outback is most romantic - sunrises and sunsets were out of this world. The wildlife was surreal to see out in the open - kangaroos with their baby's hoping within just 10 feet of you. The stars we camped under were brighter than I had ever seen - and in between the hiking, camping, abd helicopter tour - I made lifetime friends.
Take versatile clothes and pack light. You just need closed toed tennis shoes, sunblock, hat, and a good water bottle. It's so hot out there youll need to rehydrate constantly. Also, you'll end up buying a mosquito net (worth every dime I paid for it - but I noticed price fluctuations so you can shop around a little).
And the most important thing to do is to sit at some of these amazing places and take a moment to reflect on them. At kata tjuta you can take a moment to evaluated the scenery and listen to the wind. The way the rocks align up you can hear the wind speaking to you. At uluru you can reflect on the aboriginals story of creationism while watching a sunrise change the color of uluru right before your eyes.
I was lucky enough to go on a tour that had a manager and driver that created a super fun and amusing environment. The manager went above and beyond his call of duty by giving us additional MEtime optional activities that weren't offered anymore or at all and he got us discount on them as well. He had great insight into every location since both he and the driver grew up on the east coast of Australia. The tour went through many different lifestyles and areas of Australian life and the group of people I was with made the trip even better. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
When I look back at this trip I have mostly positive thoughts, although there are also some negatives. I'm going to be completely honest here because I believe that potential trip-goers need to have a realistic perspective and honest opinion.
Queenstown: This place is literally the best spot for young travellers. Its aesthetically pleasing, full of adventure activities and sights too see for people who like a slow pace and has plenty of hype for people who love their nights out! We were there for 4 days and it feels like home by the end of these days. The included activities included the Shotover Jet (the most amazing experience! So much adrenaline and something that I will remember forever) and dinner at Winnies Pizza (this pizza is heaven!). Metime activities are expensive but some are worth it. For people that are starting their Contiki in Queenstown beware; most people on my tour started in Christchurch so they had spent 3 days together and had already booked their metime activities hence there was a bunch of activities that I wanted to do like the Canyon Swing and Ziptrek that I was not able to get into because it was all booked out. I did Minus 5 Ice Bar (recommended), Milford Sound (recommended; the drive was more amazing than Milford Sound itself), Shotover Rafting (I don't recommend, the rafting I did in the Tully river was better than this and definitely not worth $200+) and Skyline Dinner (something like a 18-course buffet- amazing!- and great value for money). Hidden costs in Queenstown annoyed me like transport (taxis, buses) and beware those of you that are not about the nightlife, there is nightlife happening every night and most of the time you feel pressured to join.
Franz Josef: We were going to do the Ice Explorer but it was cancelled due to a bad crash and weather. The Kiwi enclosure is not worth the $30 to get in there but the Hot Springs are definitely recommended! (so niceeee and a perfect way to warm up) Also, there is a themed party so make sure you shop in Queenstown and the theme changes every trip.
Christchurch: Did not get enough time here. We had around 15 hours here. Although we did go to Lonestar for dinner and it was expensive but the food was amazing. The ferry ride from the South to North Island was boring- have entertainment!
Wellington: Maybe my favourite stop. DO THE $25 DINNER/BAR! We went to Blend bar and got 2 drinks, a meal and dessert for $25. Drinks were $5 only and this bar had classics to dance to such as YMCA, the macarena and more and the bartenders conducted drinking games. This was the only night I got really drunk but had an amazing time! The next day do stuff thats free. Wellington has plenty! We did the museum and it was amazing and took up a good amount of the day.
Taupo: Taupo itself is lovely! Nice and hot compared to the South! We should have gotten another day here as it looked like there was plenty to do. The boat party was legendary. It was also a graffiti party so we all had to wear white shirts and buy markers and Sharpies.
Rotorua: I cant give an accurate description of Rotorua because I was sick and spent the day in bed. Although, Huka Falls was incredible. Do the OGO balls!!! And definitely do the gondola and luge rides! The Maori dinner was so interesting and insightful and included!
Waitomo: Awesome little small town. Most of us did the caves walk and its amazing. Others also did the Rafting and said it was a highlight of their trips.
Auckland: From what I saw by spending 5 hours there it was nice! Its got a great vibe and has lots happening. I did the Sky Tower Walk and I recommend this 100%, it's insane as well as the Sky Tower Jump!
Accommodation wise, here's the low-down:
Queenstown: Beautiful, 9/10
Franz: Average, not enough room for Quad Share, 6/10
Christchurch: Luxurious, 9/10
Wellington: Average, better than Franz, 8/10
Taupo: AMAZING, 9.5/10
Rotorua: Average, probably the worst, so hot! 5/10
Waitomo: Better than I expected, 7/10
Auckland: Didnt stay in accommodation, left this day :(
OVERALL, I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND THIS TRIP!
I had a great experience on this trip. It was my second contiki and I am hooked. Check out my vlogs from each day below and book this trip with confidence!
--GO THROUGH EUROPE WITH ME AND MY FRIENDS--
Day 0, Minneapolis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGPZEffGr6g
Day 1, London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acsGQwHhalI
Day 2, London: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9DhWPiBsPk
Day 3, Amsterdam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgVZbC0shbU
Day 4, Amsterdam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZTYmttWMO0
Day 5, Berlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PjtJSpSzKc
Day 6, Berlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1KnOGJBQGU
Day 7, Prague: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woBicgeqDSg
Day 8, Prague: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kin_ixDt_aI
Day 9, Munich: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHF3Jlzsgsc
Day 10, Munich: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVL-08Uwq68
Day 11, Austria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMCIWsqbLzs
Day 12, Venice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY481iCblZw
Day 13, Rome: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOtnDKE1OGU
Day 15, Florence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCZhErzO6Uk
Day 16, Florence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv8vVt2CUT8
Day 17, Pisa/Lucerne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7AktdC5JyA
Day 18, Lucerne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW51XCx8blk
Day 19, Paris: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LgHBf5Q0xk
Day 20, Paris: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiXkD3SOYpA
This trip was much more than I imagined. I flooded the bathroom on the first night from taking a shower. I fell asleep at a bar with zero alcohol consumption. I made friends and now all we talk about is fart jokes. I'm now invited to a wedding after my tour mates got engaged at the Hobbiton. The scenery was amazing. You saw sheep and sheep and heaps of sheep. Skydiving got cancelled due to the weather but we were able to bungy jump from the Auckland Harbour Bridge which I don't think I'll ever do again. Ogo is a must-do thing. Black water rafting in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is actually a lot colder than you imagine, but you end up being numb and direct your attention towards the glowworms. There wasn't free WiFi at most hotels and the WiFi on the coach had limitations, but on a trip with so much to do, you won't really have time to worry about your social media accounts. The food theme of this trip would be ribs, steak, and fish and chips, all of which were delicious. The coach was pretty comfortable and provided a great space for naps. Our driver, Aaron, was really nice and funny. He told us about a foot fetish story from his previous tour in Russia. Our tour manager, Katie, was pretty cool. She let us have a sing-along on the coach during a long drive. My roomies were great. On our first night in Rotorua, we stayed up making fart noises and fart jokes and we all had a hard time falling asleep. The majority of my tour mates were from Australia. I think there were a lot of best moments. We have a lot of inside jokes with each other. We stayed together even after the trip officially ended. We planned dinners together and went up the Sky Tower to watch the sunset together. We share friendship gems. We're a crazy bunch and we will always remember this trip. Also, Kiwis are very funny and generous.
This trip was AMAZING. I highly recommend.
Transportation: Travel pace was very fast, and you should expect to spend a lot of time on a coach bus. However, I did not mind this bus time because our tour manager and bus driver kept it fun by playing music, movies, and running games. It also is significantly better if you choose to socialize and get to know the people on your trip while you ride.
Contiki Inclusions: The included activities were fun at times, and other times they were a bit lame, but they never were too long and you almost always have the option to skip them. If you are really particular about what you spend each minute doing, it may be kind of difficult to work around the contiki schedule, but for the most part, it was fun and staying with the group was a better option from a social standpoint.
Food: the included meals are typically cooked at the contiki-owned properties on the "special stopovers". Food was always good, but don't expect a five star chef. The contiki staff is a better cook than I am personally, so i had no issues with this. You also get plenty of opportunities to go out on your own for lunch/ dinner. Also, be aware that sometimes you will be asked to pick up your dishes and bring to the dish room (crazy, i know). Some people had a problem with this, but it was maybe 5 seconds of effort?
Accommodations: The accommodations were a 2-4 person hotel at best, and a cabin in a campsite at worst. I am not particular or fussy about where i stay, but if you are, this is something to keep in mind. You have a sleeping bag with you (included depending on what country you are from) and typically are given a fitted sheet to cover the bed with. Our tour manager would pass around a clip board each day for us to sign up in groups of 2-3 for housing, so it was very flexible. You could stick with the same people or switch it up as you please. i found that switching it up was nice because it gave me opportunities to get to know others that I hadn't really talked to yet. The contiki special stopovers are typically a ways outside of the city, so you will need to pay for a cab if you want to go out in the city at night. I don't recall spending a ridiculous amount of money for any cab rides, but I was always splitting with a couple others. At the contiki accommodations, however, they always have a bar that serves pretty cheap drinks, and often they throw themed parties. Your contiki will be one of 2-4 groups staying at that accommodation on any given night, so the parties that contiki hosts are really fun! I particularly loved the Beaujolais Wine Region Chateau that had a dark basement with black lights and loud music plus bottles of local wine for maybe 8 euro.
Me Time Optionals: Some of these were great, some were very overpriced. Most people chose to do every single activity, so if you want to stick with the group, be prepared for about 350 euro extra for that. We were able to make decisions on which activities we wanted to do up to 48 hours in advance, so I didn't sign up for any initially, but made my decisions once i met the group.
Pace: The pace of this trip is extremely fast. If you want to see as much as possible in as little time, this trip is for you. If you have already been to many of the places on the list, you might not like getting the introductory overview that this trip is intended for. Most cities you arrive mid afternoon and leave early in the morning. There was only a couple cities that you got two nights and a full day in. Be prepared for a lot of time spent hung over on a bus exhausted. I thought the exhaustion made it more fun, but just know this trip is NOT relaxing. The people on your trip will be loud and really drunk, and will likely disturb your sleep if you are trying to get to bed earlier. The trip is most fun if you just embrace the craziness and go as hard as you can for every minute of it.
Was awesome, went all the way through Vietnam, Contiki was great met people, did all activities, got harassed and ripped off by locals, stayed in good hotels, saw the War Museum and VC tunnels, shot guns, rode scooters, had a mud bath, went to beaches, local restaurants, beach restaurants and night markets, went on a boat tour and swam in the river and dived off the boat and snorkeled. Got clothes made at Yalys, rode bikes around, went to a cooking class, visited the imperial palace and local temples and pagodas, did karoke, bought stuff, went to Halong Bay and kayaked and stayed on a boat, showed everyone my penis. Great trip 9/10
Im telling you, Please don't waste your money supporting this company. I was so upset most of the time.
There were bedbugs at all but one of our accommodations! Everyone got bit including me!
The trip itself was a sex fest / drunk fest. The trip manager encouraged it. It was just gross.
The trip as a whole, complete disappointent and so much money wasted. 3 other people and I got our own personal hotel several of the nights because we didn't want to sleep with the bedbugs.
So much money wasted.
Hopefully this will save you some.
:( such a crap company.
As it was the first time I had been to Europe I was nervous about if contiki would be for me. I had a 5 week period to travel and I decided to spend 2 of those weeks on contiki doing European Highlights. It was an awesome decision but in reality I wish I had picked a three week option. (Regretted not going to Swiss Alps and Austria people I spoke to said it was their highlight).
Contiki is amazing if you go in with the right attitude be realistic and make the best of every situation your in. Also remember this tour is "high energy" they mean it, you will see the "highlights" of Europe, but you will not have much time to relax and take them in. Think of it as a bucket list tour, you can tick of so many items and decide if you want to go back.
There where people on our group that expected 5 star accommodation that is not what your going to get. The accommodation is fine but basic I went during the height of Summer and it was very hot and there where not fans in any of the accommodation and air conditioning was a rarity that you normally had to pay for. Contiki will tell you that you need a sleeping bag, if you go in Summer don't bring a sleeping bag bring, bring a silk sleeping bag liner you will be a lot more comfortable, they also have bed bug repellant on them if you buy the right brand. (Mum gave me this advise from when she did her contiki when she was my age).
My highlight was Munich make sure you have a night out at "Cult Fabric" it's a red light district with an almost theme park layout. Entry was 10 Euro's my tour manager Zac recommended it, but other tours went to Pacha don't do this go to "Cult Fabric" you will not regret it. The "Mikes Bike" option was also heaps of fun.
Another thing to note is make an effort to speak to your bus driver. My tours bus driver Pedro was a great guy who had seen it all. He helped out people when they where sick and went the extra mile to make sure that everyone had a great time.
All things considered you will have an amazing time if you decide to go on this tour, you will meet lots of amazing people, you will see so much in such a short space of time and you will make memories that will last a life time. Just go in with the right attitude and remember in the words of my tour manager Zac "it's not weird, it's different".
7/10 does better justice than 3*s - these are undeniably some great cities and I enjoyed my trip. Do be prepared to pay the extra €250 or so for ME time activities as these were the highlights of the trip and the thing which really sets apart travelling with Contiki rather than hostelling by yourself. Also, the vast majority of travellers on this trip will have been together for the previous 2 weeks - it can be a little harder to break into the group, especially as by this stage people are feeling the effects of non-stop travel &partying for 15 days! Unless you've already visited, choose the first module of the Europe trail (Amsterdam, Berlin etc) to avoid this. Bear in mind as well that coach days will use up all the (short) daylight hours so for the nights where there's no activity planned, research in advance what you might like to do before the daily trip to a watering hole! Overall this is a fun, sociable and stress free European experience.
The amount of countries and cities I was able to visit in 37 days was absolutely incredible. We had an exceptional Tour Manager who did everything she possibly could to make sure everyone had the best experience possible no matter what they wanted out of the trip.
But, I have a gluten intolerance which has put me off travelling as I can rarely eat in restaurants at home because of the worry of having a reaction. Contiki state that they will cater to any dietary requirement which put my mind at ease and was one of the main reasons for me choosing a Contiki tour. Needless to say, they didn't.
Breakfasts became a huge struggle for me, and baring in mind the cost of breakfast is already included in the trip cost, I was having to go to cafes and supermarkets to buy my own breakfasts, meaning I was paying for breakfast twice nearly everyday. Where I was able to eat breakfast, I was paying the same amount as everyone else but could eat about 10% of what was available. In the Contiki run chateaux in France, a buffet style breakfast was available in which we queued up for. Amongst other things there was fresh fruit, which was all I could eat, but by the time I reached the front of the queue this was all gone. I went to the kitchen to ask for more but they had said that that was all they had. I was shocked that a plate of fruit was not put aside for me and that people able to eat the other food on offer had got priority on the only food I could eat. In the hostel in Dubrovnik, I presented my 'Gluten Free' card the first morning and I was told that there was nothing the kitchen could do for me and after a long discussion I was handed a moldy banana (it literally had grey fur growing on it) and the second morning there was nothing for me at all.
Dinners weren't any better either, particularly the included dinners (in one place I was presented a slice of ham. Just that.) and in a restaurant in Mykonos my gluten intolerance was confused with a cucumber allergy and after this was resolved i was left uncertain as to what was in what I was given.
Having already 'bought' the included meals, I did not budget for these meals (I am a student and I was looking for a BUDGET holiday) which left me significantly over budget as I was paying about an extra 6 euros a day on buying breakfast from cafes or supermarkets (on all but 2 days) and re-buying myself dinner. This soon adds up. I mentioned my concerns to my trip manager who did the best she could do in trying to make sure I had enough to eat - checking in with me after each meal to see if I'd been given something) and argued with kitchen staff in numerous places about getting me a gluten free meal. She did her absolute best and I am so grateful for this.
When I arrived home, I phoned Contiki to ask for the breakfast and dinners that I had paid for in the trip cost to be reimbursed as I had not eaten these in the majority of places to which I was told that it was 'my fault', 'my problem and not theirs' and when I asked what they were going to do with the money I had paid them for food, that clearly hadn't been used/spent, I was hung up on. I sent emails and received a letter saying that would have been aware when signing up to the trip that eating would be difficult for me and that it is common knowledge that European breakfasts often consist of pastries. So why do they say they can cater for all dietary requirements, when clearly they can't? They refused to reimburse me and I was left out of pocket some 200 euros. This is appalling as they are not following by what they have stated on their website and it is leading to false advertisement. It was such a shame because I had the time of my life on this trip but the stress and upset of how meals were handled has put me off signing up for another Contiki or even travelling again.
I'm disappointed and angry about how my complaint was handled by their customer service - how can they tell me that this is my fault for having a dietary requirement?!
If you are thinking of travelling with a dietary requirement, think careful, over-budget and ignore everything that Contiki says about catering for you - it isn't true.
The London, Paris, and Amsterdam trip was my first Contiki and it was truly amazing! I went as a solo traveler and met so many awesome people from all over the world. I highly recommend traveling with Contiki as it is safe, takes care of all the logistics, and is way cheaper than booking all of these places separately. I have already booked another Contiki and will continue to travel with this company for years to come!
Had an awesome time exploring Scandinavia in August September, join in on the extras, bobsledding is the best! The only think I regret is not doing the Russia section as well. Do both if you can.
If you choose trail to Rome you will, and i guarantee have the most amazing time of your life. One night you are partying away at the biggest club in Berlin and the next night you are attending the opera in Vienna. It is truely amazing the amount of things you see and how much there is to do! We have an incredible tour manager Jake "the snake" Stewart and a cracking driver Porfirro who made every aspect of the trip unforgettable and knew exactly where to an not too go. One absolute must do is the scare house in Krakow which was the most exhilarating 20 minutes of my entire life. We had big group which worked really well. Every single day keeps getting better! Highlights were Krakow, Budapest & Amsterdam. You will not regret!
Being a solo traveler and finding out closer to the trip that my trip is part of a bigger 'Quest' got me worried that I would be joining a group that has already formed their own cliques and would be resistant to 'newbies'. However, that was not the case :) There were a couple of stretches that we had people leaving and coming in as well, so it was a good mix and I got to meet more people as a result.
I do have to say it was a little awkward in the beginning (as do most trips when you join a group of travelers that you don't know), but after a while, I got to know quite a number of friends who were lovely people! I've heard of some stories about trips being only about parties every night, but it really depends on what you want out of the trip. I didn't go out a lot during my trip, but that gave me more rest time and being able to enjoy the sights of the places visited more!
Our Trip Manager, Ellie and our coach driver, João were the coolest people! They're so friendly and helpful throughout the trip. While there were hiccups a few incidents here and there, they were dealt with amazingly well. I liked how organized the whole trip was! I can basically just relax and not have to worry about logistics and stuff...they're all taken care of by Ellie :) Traveling in the coach is also not a big problem (even though we have a lot of travel days, which can be a little tiring) as the coach was spotless and João has amazing driving skills, especially navigating through the teeny tiny roads of the Italian countryside! I could not have felt safer in the amazing crew's hands :)
The accommodations provided were better than I expected! Having stayed in some not-so-satisfying hostels before, the accommodations in the trip were quite comfortable for a 4-person sharing room. It's not a 5-star accommodation, but it's decent enough for you to crash after a long day of exploring in the city :)
I really liked the places that we visited in the trip...there were even some places that we stopped by that were not listed in the itinerary during our service stops, and that made it even more of a cool surprise as I could see more of Europe than if I were to travel on my own! I had so many favorite places that it's hard to name any...some were even unexpectedly nice, especially given that the weather was exceptionally wonderful in this time of the year (we got sunny and/or mild days almost throughout the whole trip...rainy and windy days were only towards the end!)
I did all the optionals, and most of them did not disappoint as I'm a history buff and I really enjoyed the walking tours! I'm not too psyched about some of the dinner optionals, as they were a little too 'similar' in concept (especially in Italy), but they were still good experiences though. If you can, I would recommend to do them all :)
All in all, it is definitely a most memorable trip for me thanks to the people that I've met, and enhanced definitely by the awesome crew on the tour! I would definitely recommend this stretch, but if you can...go to Barcelona a few days ahead so that you can experience Barcelona yourself before the trip starts, as this stretch directly travels to Nice from Barcelona. I made this mistake by not booking ahead, but I wouldn't trade my experience for another one yet :)
I wish more people would've written recent reviews for me to see so I'm doing it for you: DO THIS TRIP. I'd never been to Europe at all and this was more than incredible. We saw soooooo much in so little time. You may think the me-time's are pricey but do them all. I did and it made my experience something I could never get if I had traveled on my own. I never was much of a partier but I experienced almost every night of partying and then got up early to explore the cities the next day and it was so worth it. Don't worry, there's some nap time on the drives that everyone takes advantage of ;).
Accommodations were mostly pretty great and decent for the price you pay. A couple odd ones but to be expected! Food is best experienced through me-times and going off with some new friends and finding cool little restaurants.
Speaking of friends, you'll make them. Lifelong travel buddies that will have so many memories with you. You spend all day and night with these people and it doesn't take long to become a family and you may cry when you leave them but my best advice is to take TONS of photos (with them and in general. There's so much that happens and you'll forget it all and then you'll see a picture and it'll come back.) oh yeah and if you're wondering about ages and stuff, it varies. We had 18-35 for real. And it depends on the group but there were couples, siblings, friends, and people who went on their own and everyone was friends so don't worry about that at all!
This specific trip is a lot of tours of the main touristy points of Europe. It may get kind of boring during those and it's a lot of touristy areas but you learn a lot and go everywhere that's popular. You end up seeing a lot more than you thought you could. And there's always time to explore on your own too.
PS the cruise? Yeah. Best part of the whole thing. Get the drinks package. Do it.
If you happen to get tour manager Evana, she's the best in the business and consider yourself extra lucky. If you get driver Mitch, you'll wonder how a "bus driver" could ever be so cool.
I 100% recommend this trip. Do it do it do it. You'll get the contiki cough and you'll be more tired than you ever thought possible but I promise it's worth it.
My Southern Adventure was amazing! Everyone on the trip was awesome, and the driver and trip leader were one of the best tour teams iv traveled with! definitely recommend this tour as a way to see the southwest in a short time frame! Highlights are 45 min Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, all of Memphis, and without a doubt New Orleans was one hell of a way to start the trip! My only regret was not starting in New York and doing the eastern part too! Already looking at the northern version!
I spent twelve days travelling a fascinating and diverse country with a group of wonderful people. This was my second Contiki tour and so different from my first in the US. Being a small group of about 20, we all got to know each other quickly. Our tour manager Alex was great with his vast knowledge of the history of the country, as well as where all the best Western toilets were! The addition of the 5 local guides at each destination was helpful, I especially enjoyed the visit to our guide Lilly's neighbours house in a Beijing Hutong for lunch.
We saw so many iconic sights: The Great Wall, the terracotta warriors, the Shanghai Skyline, and yet one of my favourite moments was the overnight train from Beijing to Xi'ian, where we all crammed into one compartment and partied all the way there!
Accommodation was great, especially in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and food is nice and cheap. There are plenty of opportunities to eat western food if you want, but make sure you try dumplings!
I also did all of the "Me time" optionals and I would do them all again. The cooking course was a personal favourite, and the light show in Yangshuo was spectacular, although some in the group were underwhelmed...
If you've never been to Asia before like I hadn't, take hand sanitiser and tissues for the squat toilets! Also prepare to stand out in a crowd, I never quite got used to being asked for photos due to my blonde hair, and the attention a group of tall westerners will attract!
This tour exceeded all expectations and led me to discover what an incredible place China is. I will definitely be going again as soon as I get the chance. I am currently planning to meet up with around 10 people from my tour, which is testament to how well we got on! I just cannot recommend this tour enough, and since returning, I have loved responding when people ask "Oh, why China? I'd never think to go there"!
I so badly want to give this a five: the sites, the me-times, and the guide (Sherif) were outstanding and could not have been better.
The only thing that prevents me from giving this a five is the sexual discrimination and uncleaniness of the Victoria Hotel in Cairo. Fortunately the staff and cleaniness everywhere else has made up for it - but still an unforgettable experience. Dont let that hold you back from going; just be vigilant and report anything and everything to the tour manager (he has a big heart).
I never felt unsafe during this trip. I never will be the same person after this trip. Go on this trip- and go on this trip knowing that only the most wild people in the world - with the biggest heart for travel and culture- would go to this country right now (everyone else is dumb and has no idea how amazing this place really is!).
Seriously, go. Go now. Go and pack snack bars and have the time of your life.