Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
If you are wondering whether or not you should take this trip, don't think--just do! You'll never regret it. This is by far the most incredible trip I've ever taken. From the culture, art, food, water sports, people and of course, your amazing tourmates, this is the trip to end all trips (and be the envy of your friends). Two weeks pass by in a flash, but you get a great mix of big city, landmark highlights, nature, history and laughter, not to mention the once-in-a-lifetime experiences and interactions.
My highlights: riding an elephant in the jungle, waterfalls in Laos, giving food to the monks, seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat, tubing in caves and playing with monkeys... here are some of my photo highlights from Laos:
If you get a chance, go around the Songkran New Yr Water Festival (April 13th or so), which is super humid/hot, but there's a great water fight in the streets of Thailand, complete with supersoakers, partying in the streets and crazy adventures. Our tour guide, Jeenah, was awesome, really fun and knowledgeable about the local culture and hot spots. If you really wanted to, you could just relax and do your own thing, but I recommend doing the optionals, as they were all pretty amazing. There were a few times that you'll have to wake up super early (like 4am) for alms giving to the monks and checking out Angkor Wat, but we were able to beat the crowds (and heat), and the scenery was incredible. This is the second Contiki trip I've taken (1st was Europe), but this trip was really unique as you get to check out the countries by train, tuk tuk (motorcart), bus and boat--so you get a whole different experience than just by bus. To put it simply, be prepared to have your mind blown by everything you see and experience, from the gorgeous art of the temples to the sad genocide museum of Cambodia, to the simple beauty of the Laotian landscape, and even the crazy partying in Thailand.
Food: Thailand--amazing snacks and street food! I was really wary of the drinks, as I was trying to avoid ice (to be safe), but found out later that the ice in Thailand is made with filtered water, so enjoy those fruit smoothies--they're incredible! Laos, try the street crepes--yum! In Cambodia, avoid street food, as the quality isn't so great and you may get sick. Though, in the restaurants, you could get an amazing slab of steak for under $8. Cambodia has a unique "Kampot pepper", which is pretty pricey if you get overseas, but is cheaper there, and has amazing flavor. Also, if you have a weak stomach, stay away from salads and dairy, as it's so hot there, you never know...
If you love shopping, you'll definitely enjoy this trip--everything is super cheap. Luang Prabang is where you could get more handmade, unique items (silk scarves!) and Cambodia/Siem Reap, you'll find great prices for silver jewelry, clothes and other souvenirs. Haggling for the prices is super fun.
Mobile connection in Laos is really spotty at best. Also, English is not really spoken much, so I'm glad I created this Visual Guidebook beforehand. This may be helpful for you too--just point to the pic and smile :)
-Mosquito wipes/spray and lotion (if you get bit)
-Temple Wear: Depending where you go, you'll need a couple tees and pants/capris that cover your knees. You could always buy something there too
-Trainers/tennis shoes: You'll have to walk up hills and some rocky areas; some of my tourmates hurt themselves while wearing flip flops
-Small packet of vitamins/medicine: With the constant go-go-go, lots of folks get sick...
-Earplugs: on the overnight train, this comes in handy
-Tissue paper and wipes/purell: some bathrooms don't have the essentials or soap/running water
-Currency: Cambodia is the only spot that widely accepts American dollars as well as Riel, so be sure to get local Thai and Laos currency as they don't really take the other ones. Small bills are best as most places won't have much change.
Good luck and happy travels!
My Contiki trip was one of the best things that I have chosen to do. The people on the tour were all amazing and I now consider them great friends who I want to keep in touch with. Our tour manager and bus driver weren't only amazing at their jobs, but they were crazy great people to tour around with too. I would recommend this tour to anyone looking for a stress free holiday to some of the most beautiful countries in the world with some awesome people!
Had an amazing time exploring so much of the United States and a small part of Canada! Would highly recommend the trip to anyone. Our tour guide was great, I met some fantastic new friends and made memories for life.
Best way to sample a lot of countries in a short space of time! Late nights and early mornings featuring awesome people who became my family, the best tour team (Scotty and Gaz!) and all round amazing experiences. You have to go into it with the mind set of NO REGRETS! I did every optional activity and everytime I said that I would have regretted not doing it.. I think that pretty much says it all! So go for it :D
This was the best trip ever!
It was so much better doing less countries but having more time in each, you really need the extra time especially in Spain! You get to pretty much follow other contikis around as well so you'll always be meeting knew people.
If you're a guy and looking for females you would love this trip because it was 90% females. but still so much fun. highly recommend it!
This adventure was amazing. You make SO many friends and so many more memories that will last a lifetime. The staff are lovely and the included and optional activities are great too. Nearly all of the accommodation was to a high standard. So much FOOD! Would recommend!
The landscape of the south island of New Zealand is unbelievably breathtaking. The accommodation is pretty good and the people on the trip were very good and I would recommend this trip!! I higly recommend this tour for anyone!!
All in all the trip was amazing, this was my first contiki and I was travelling solo, but the people were great and it was a really good experience. It's really fast paced, you really just get a taste of each city, but you still get to see a lot. You get a lot of free time to do what you want do and see what you want and really get a chance to experience every city.
The accommodations are just okay, they weren't the greatest, but you really only end up sleeping for about 4-5 hours if even, so you don't really spend too much time in the cabins. Bed bugs were an issue, which was really frustrating and upsetting, but it happens. Bug repellent and cough/cold/flu medicine is a necessity, because the contiki cough is unavoidable.
I had a really great time and everything lived up to expectations.
It's a smart idea to take a sleeping bag, a few people didn't and they froze some nights. I also recommend taking cold and flu tablets and antibiotics with you just incase you catch the wretched cough/flu that goes around the bus. It's bound to happen!
The Volendam dinner was so so, the rest of the dinners and canal cruises were good choices. As was paragliding, that is a must!
The driver was amazing and as was the tour manager.
The only problem I had was trying to get in touch with the tour manager to find out what time to meet and where, as I was joining on the second day in Amsterdam. I was disappointed when Contiki told me I wasn't needed at the hotel until 6pm that night. If I hadn't turned up early I would of missed the canal cruise. That was the only problem I had the whole tour.
Time flies on this tour. Make it count!
Easy way to see the city that never sleeps!
So many inclusions & the optionals are worth it as well.
The tour manager (Stephanie) went out her way to organise baseball tickets for us which was awesome!!
I can see why this trip is so popular!!
Seen so much in such a small amount of time, such a well organised trip with the best road crew (Dylan & Ricky) who made it the best trip!!
Being underage did limit the nightlife experience for me - but planning to do it again when i am 21.
Only negative - i wish i was still there :(
The Grand Canadian is a fantastic mix of cities, nightlife and outdoor adventure. We saw the east coast of Canada plus New York and Boston then over to the Rockies and Vancouver. Our trip managers Phil and Alex were fantastic and went above and beyond expectations, they included great insights and knowledge of all places visited. Me time options were excellent my favourites, Jet boating, ziplining and the Banff horse back ride and steak fry!
Highlights were seeing a Boston Red Sox game had the best atmosphere, so happy we had this experience, also beautiful Quebec city, Whistler, Jasper and Banff, could have spent so long in these places. No photos can do the backdrops in the Rockies justice!
The very sad part was saying goodbyes to our Contiki family!
Was an excellent trip if your looking for a laid back relaxing holiday, on the other hand there's lots of things that can be done if that is what your after. Margie was an excellent tour manager full of great advice and great ideas on extra things to do. Had a blast meeting new people from all corners of the globe and discovering the island life of Thailand. Can't thank Margie enough for the effort she put into her job!
I highly recommend this tour to anyone wanting to get a taste of western europe, the essence of travel, and the cultures of 10+ different countries.
Me Time Optionals
As i experienced the me-time optionals, I found which ones i did and didn't like. I preferred the high-energy outdoor optionals; (white water rafting, paragliding, bike tours) more than the dinners and the guided tours. This is totally dependant what your coach group is like though.
As I'd paid for all the optionals, i can say that if you don't sign up to them, you actually get more "me" time, because everyone is encouraged to buy them and therefore you go to dinner with the same 35+ people you were on a bus with, instead of going to a local italian pizza restaurant(or any other restaurant) and soaking up the culture. Just my view.
I'm not really interested in history so the guided tours were a bit of a waste on me. Though I can say that the guided tour we got in Venice was the best one. (Since there is no real definitive map of that city) Also dependant on the tour guide you get.
The food I bought using my own money was great. Pizza and pasta in Florence, Nutella Crepes in Paris, Tzatziki and Moussaka in Greece. It gave me a great sense of experiencing culture and the different flavour profiles between countries, sometimes only 100s of kilometres apart.
Jess was our trip manager, Tim was our trip driver.
Jess was super knowledgeable about the history and culture of every country we went to. Again, while I'm not that interested in history she did explain things in a more interesting way, and offered tips and advice if we wanted to go exploring once we got to a place. Always went the extra mile in terms of helping us out.
Although Tim's main job was to get us safely from A to B, he also helped with pointing out attractions we could go and see, and him and Jess also came out to party with us on selected nights. The professionalism from both of them was incredible.
While the coach probably could have been more comfortable, It fit the speed and energy of the tour, and has basic amenities like a toilet and charging station for phones/tablets etc. Being 6"4' i couldn't really get comfortable enough to sleep, but I tended to use the beds at the campsites at night and take photos during the travel days.
People on Tour
Our tour group was extremely diverse. We had the loud alcoholic types and the reserved types as well. I was constantly surprised at how well everyone got along, especially towards the end of the tour.
Again, if it's your first time overseas or travelling in general, I highly recommend this trip. It may be one of the longer ones but it gives you a chance to experience a "contrast" of different cultures, and there is a 3 day break in Greece in the middle.
I went on the European Encounter in February of this year. It was my first ever experience to Europe, and my first experience with Contiki. I cannot describe how absolutely amazing my trip was. Every moment was sacred, each person I met was amazing and I couldn't expect any more from my tour guide Cam and driver Joao. I learnt things I will remember for the rest of my life!
A few #regrets I had was that I didn't take more photos and videos with the people in my group. At the end of the day, I will always remember each place I visited, but I wish I had more photos with the people I got to share it with.
I have just booked my next contiki to America next year, and if it is half as good as the European Encounter, I will be completely satisfied. I am planning my next one solo, rather than with a friend, as I believe contiki allowed me to get the confidence to meet others and embark on a journey by myself.
I am very jealous of everyone that is going on this trip in the future, I wish I was there to share it with you!
This was my first Contiki and honestly the time of my life! You get to see and do so much in the short time you're on this tour! This tour joined another which started in London and we quickly became friends with everyone.
All the accommodations were fine, the Generator in Barcelona, and the accommodation in Nice and Rome were the best in my opinion. It's usually 4 or 3 people (same sex) in a room, but sometimes you may get a twin. If you're traveling with someone like I was, as long as you book together you should always get to be in the same room! On this trip you get alot of time at the beach and by the water (which I loved) but still some good time in the cities exploring as well.
Our tour manager Ellie was amazing, very friendly and so knowledgeable. I felt very comfortable talking to her about anything I needed to.
Like most tours, the nightlife is a huge aspect, you don't have to go out, but it's really hard to turn down. Contiki takes you to some of the best places, and gives you advice on where else to go. I always felt safe everywhere that we went and the parties are the absolute best!
As far as optional go, I did the Isle of Capri boat tour, the Florence Tuscan Countryside dinner, Space Night club in Florence, the Vatican, the Colosseum and Pompeii. In my opinion those were all must dos! My favorite was definitely the boat tour where we got to cruise around for a few hours jumping off the boat into the ocean. For dinners, some I heard were hit or miss, we decided to pay for Tuscan Feast and it was well worth it! Unlimited wine, followed by a night at an amazing night club with all your friends!
If you're on the fence about doing a Contiki do it! It'll be the time of your life and something you will remember forever.
I booked this trip on a complete whim and was so nervous about going out alone but there was no need. From the first moment I met my tour mates, I had the time of my life and didn't experience a single moment of regret or doubt.
18 days is probably the perfect length for the tour and it'll fly by like you won't believe - I was nowhere near ready to leave all the amazing friends I'd made and tears were flowing on the last day.
High energy is definitely a good way to describe the tour and I'm totally not a party animal back home so I was scared that I wouldn't fit in here. If you're the same, don't worry. You're with such fantastic people that you want to spend each and every night partying with them. Be prepared for early morning while hungover to be tough for the first few days but by halfway through, we all just caught up on sleep on the coach. #noregrets
I was concerned that long days on the coach would be boring and take away from seeing the cities but for me, the journeys flew by. Everyone would doze off until the first service station stop, then chat or watch a movie for the rest of the time. Take a neck pillow!! Also, you'll get sick - almost everyone on my tour did. Take cough medicine and cold and flu stuff but a few shots did the trick as a quick fix for a night out too ;)
Everywhere we stayed was decent enough - some obviously nicer than others - but you spend so little time in the hostels that it doesn't matter. Breakfasts were a bit lackluster but did the job, and included dinners were nice except for the hostel in Berlin. There's a great pizza place nearby though! Staying at the campsites and Contiki run places was fun too and the party nights they held were some of my favourite nights of the trip - especially in Austria.
My favourite optional extras were the Amsterdam river cruise and dinner, Berlin walking tour, white water rafting and the gondola ride in Venice. The walking tours in Italy weren't great in my opinion but it's probably the easiest way to see the Vatican City and Colosseum.
Tony and Darius, our tour manager and driver, were absolutely incredible and I can't count the number of times I nearly cried laughing on the trip. Both went out of their way to make sure everybody was happy and the talks Tony gave about each country were really interesting. We made several stops along the way that weren't in our itinerary - an amazing scenic spot in Switzerland for photos and Dachau concentration camp were my favourites - and their commitment to doing this for us made the trip just that little bit more special.
It was honestly the best three weeks of my life and I'd encourage anybody to do it - I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat if I could!
"Go big or go home"
We saw the east and west of Canada including Boston (which was one of a highlights) our tour manager organised us to see a red sox game which was one of my favourite experiences! Highlights in Canada was Quebec, Montreal (especially the nightlife) and Banff, Jasper and Whistler were all so beautiful! The me time options were amazing! Overall would recommend Contiki to anyone! Would also recommend contiki phil, he organised so much for us that exceeded expectations and he made sure everyone on the tour bus got to know each other and it really felt like family at the end! The worst part was saying our goodbyes :(
If anyone is worried about the length of the trip, 18 days goes by in a flash. The bonds you make with people on the trip is incredible in such a short amount of time. Everyone got along and interacted with everyone. Tears were definitely shed when the last day came around, but you make friends for life.
It also helped that our tour manager Tony, and our driver Darius were outstanding. Both hilarious, kind, and knew so much about each place we visited. They tried so hard to make this trip worthwhile.
Every place we visited had something special about it, whether it was the view, the history or the night life, you will find something amazing.
I must admit some of the me time options or walking tours did seem to drag on at times, but the majority of the optionals were loads of fun. Definitely try and do most of the me-times, worth the money.
The places we stayed in were really great for the most part, the usual hotel Contiki stays at in Paris seemed very sketchy but our amazing tour manager and driver managed to get us transferred so we had no issues. Just a tip, don't expected the breakfasts to be anything special. Some places had really nice ones, but the first half of the trip were mostly some toast and a bit of fruit or yoghurt. The dinners in general were really good, with the exception of the hostel in Berlin.
This tour is high energy, and everyone is ready to party, so be prepared for every night to be a Saturday night and every morning to be a Monday. The amount of alcohol consumed on this trip is incredible. But even if you stay in for a few nights, you'll have great company and still have a fantastic time. For our trip, majority of us got very little sleep at night but we caught up on sleep on the coach so you'll be fine.
Contiki has honestly changed my life for the better, opened my eyes to the world and allowed me to make amazing friends. No one was ready to come home but take advantage of your time in Europe and stay extra days in Paris or continue your travels.
#noregrets #contikitony #gobigorgohome #getin
My favorite islands were Rhodes, Santorini, & Mykonos .. I didn't think Ephesus was all that great, it was also really hot outside when we were in turkey. I loved that on a cruise ship you keep the same room and only need to pack/unpack once. The casino and parties on the cruise ship (toga party, karaoke) were alot of fun !!! Crete and Patmos didn't have much but the other islands made up for it. The 2 excursions i would recommend are RHODES via donkey and also SANTORINI, you don't really need to pay for the other ones. We had a really great group of people in my contiki so that made everything pretty awesome as well. If you are staying at the president hotel the first night you should go to Gazi afterwards if you are looking for a place to party.