Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
This trip was my first time travelling overseas by myself and I honestly had never been so terrified/nervous/excited in my entire life! As quite an introverted person I was worried about going by myself and having to make friends, but going by myself ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made! I met so many amazing people on this trip, and it was easily the best two weeks of my life! Our tour guide Danny was amazing!! He had such extensive and helpful knowledge on everywhere we went - make sure to to go to his restaurant recommendations in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, they were off the beaten track and so delicious! Make sure to bring at least one jumper and pair of pants and some wet weather clothes, we had really unusual weather in Laos and we were all permanently drenched and cold for the majority of Prakbeng and Luang Prabang! Enjoy Vang Vieng, it was easily my favourite place on the entire trip. Go to Kangaroo Sunset and talk to all the staff there, they all have incredible stories to share, and make sure to write your name on the wall! Definitely do all the optional extras as well, like tubing and kayaking in Vang Vieng as they made the trip so much better! Also, on your return flight home, don't book it too early in the morning. Everyone gets absolutely crazy on the last night and I made the mistake of booking a 9am flight from Siam Reap and then having an 8 hour stopover in Bangkok airport hungover as hell without a wink of sleep. But most of all just enjoy it! It was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to go on this trip and to see so many amazing places and meet so many amazing people. My only regret is not continuing onto Vietnam with everyone!
Best thing i have ever done! This trip was incredible you spent 12 days falling in love with so much history and culture of Italy. You really got to take time and experience cities and towns and not feel to rushed.
I meet so many amazing people on this trip and made some great new friend and the Enzo's (Tour Manager and Driver) were amazing really went above and beyond to make our trip that much more special.
Defiantly do all of the Extras as they are all worth it the only one i didn't like to much was the final dinner the food wasn't the nicest also the Gondola ride in Venice was to crowded with 5-6 people and wasn't what i expected, defiantly book your own. But everything exceeded my expectations. All hotels were really nice except for Sorrento but can't expect more as its a small town not city. All hotels were in pretty good locations either close to city centre or close to public transport. Food in italy is amazing as we all already know, defiantly try this cute restaurant in Castello, Venice called Marco Polo really yummy pizza for decent price.
My favourite places and experience on the trip
- Isle of Capri and boat ride around Island
- Florence, Statue of David and Bell Tower climb
- Dinner in Verona
- Venice and Palazzo Ducale
- Sirmione and boat ride on Lake Garda
- Wine Tasting Tuscany
- Sistine Chapel Rome
All in all a incredible experience and i recommend to anyone who wants to slow down and get a in-depth history and culture experience of Italy.
Thinking about doing the big indochina tour? DO IT.
It was the best adventure that I've ever embarked on. I was the youngest on the trip (19) and trust me, it did not stop me from having the time of my life and meeting some of the best people that I still stay in contact with.
Here are my tips for you that I wish I had when going on this trip and just tips in general that I can give to you:
- Take a backpack not a suitcase. It's especially helpful on the overnight train ride as a suitcase is too big to fit under your bunks so you won't have to be stepping over a suitcase from point A to B and it's just easier in general.
- See your clothes? Split them in half. I suggest bringing only one dress or formal clothes (for the boys) as there is really only one formal night on the trip and that's on the Vietnam part of the trip when you go to the Sky Bar. The Asian Adventure part is really casual. I wore board shorts and singlets around the clubs and I wasn't the only one who did so. A big point to make is that make sure you bring temple pants. At Angkor Wat they WILL NOT let you up the top if you're just wearing a sarong. You MUST wear temple pants.
- Bring some sort of playing cards, whether it be uno or just normal playing cards. On the over night train ride and the boat ride you'll get good use of them.
- At the Laos border make sure you get your money! I cannot stress this enough. I made the stupid mistake of not getting any money at the border and when I got to Pakbeng I found out there were no ATMs.
- The boat accepts all currency, so don't worry about spending all your kip on beer Lao.
- Bring a neck pillow! You'll be thanking me on all of those bus/plane rides around everywhere.
- Be prepared to spend money in Cambodia and Vietnam. So budget carefully. I came very close to running out of money multiple times.
-Laos has a curfew and the only place that's open after that curfew is bowling. GO! It's really fun and a really cheap tuk tuk ride away from Utopia bar or whichever bar your leader takes you to.
-Bring an adaptor. If you're from Australia like I am, you will need two adaptors for this trip.
- Take a couple days break from drinking. As much as you're going to come to love drinking around 10+ beers a day starting at 7am in the morning (as they're $1.50 in most places.) You need that break as you'll start getting run down like I was by the end of the Vietnam part. It's completely up to you if you take a break but I recommend it :)
- Be prepared to get the Contiki Cough. It doesn't hit you until you least expect it.
- If you get more than 5 hours sleep each night on this trip. I applaud you. Expect sleepless nights especially if you were like my roommate Amanda (love you!) who got awoken by me most nights at 3am.
- Go to the Ping Pong show in Bangkok. You won't regret it (enough said).
- DO ALL OF THE OPTIONALS. TRUST ME. They're all so great. From memory, the cooking classes were exceptional. No complaints. For someone who has no cooking history and can only cook pasta, I cooked some good food on that trip. The hill tribes were so much fun. IF you get to participate in their activities, do so. It's literally the coolest feeling banging wood on logs with the other musicians (just to name one of the activities). The Mud baths were so much fun, embrace your inner mud monster.
- Be prepared to get two songs stuck in your head. Every morning we listen to the Contiki song which is chosen by your leader. Ours was "Rather be - Clean Bandits and Jess Glynne" and "MMBop - Hanson".
Afraid to go by yourself? Don't be. Honestly I was in the same boat as you when I first went but when I met everyone it was like we knew each other for years. Don't be afraid to rely on your leader for advice on where to go and what to do as they'll help you every step of the way.
Don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and do something. Do everything you can. I guarantee if you do everything that is given to you on this trip, you will have the best trip of your life.
I will always remember this trip and everyone on it. You won't regret choosing this trip.
Any questions that you may have? Feel free to message me and I'll help you out :)
Egypt&Nile is a trip like taking a time machine back to 5000 years ago with the magnificent ancient Egyptian monuments right in front of your eyes while listening to Sheriff tell you all the grand and glorious stories. (It is definitely not a party trip, but you do get to party on the Egyptian dress up night and the Red Sea farewell night.) I did all the optionals except the high dam and the light show, Abu Simbel is definitely worth of waking up 3am and 3 hours bus ride to see. Also, you are gonna see a lot of temples so it is a good idea to take pictures and make some simple notes to remember later which is which, some people are over temples at the end of the trip but remember you will probably never see them again and you did sign up because of the amazing Egyptian historical sights/monuments/temples.
Our tour guide, Sheriff is very knowledgeable, personal, fun and humble. He is the key that your Egypt trip will be guaranteed once a life time experience. You can ask him about anything, the ancient sights, Egypt culture/politics, extra history lessons/stories (while everyone was asleep on the bus, a few girls and me were up and listen to him telling the hidden stories of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.) At the end of the trip I tried to ask him the appropriate amount of tips to give and he wouldn't tell me and said that anything is ok because he understood that us young people are traveling on budgets. I found out he now works 75% less due to the decline in the Egypt tourisms n yet he is still so considerate, genuine and humble. So if you are taking this trip, please be kind to save some good tips at the end of the tour for him :)
Now about the accommodations, I was happy with everything even though the Victoria hotel and the overnight train were not the best, but hey we are in Egypt to experience the real Egypt, not the Western luxury everyday life.Yes, you will probably encounter pushy sales or get rippled off on a few souvenirs on the first day, but you can learn, I did, and I haggled for the rest of my shopping trips and got the lowest prices for everything. If by the end of the trip, you understand Egypt a little more and can appreciate the good and the bad, and able to empathized with its current undesirable economical/political circumstances, and it's culture and people, then you did it right. This is the reason why we travel. You see, you learn, you understand, and you empathize. This is how you become a more open minded person with a bigger heart.
Tips: get the Egypt visa on arrival for $25, break your money into smaller Egyptian bills for easier tipping ( I exchanged approx $200 into 10s & 20s only, most places take US dollars so you can also prepare some $1,$5,$10 for back up, Google Egypt tipping for guidances too), the selfie stick my best friend gave me for the trip was so so handy, bring toilet paper at all times, bring wet wipes for instant shower(dusty everywhere because you are in the desert), power converter/adapter ($6 from Amazon,) external batteries for phones, small empty water bottle that can fit your day bag (all the bottle water you end up buying are big ones,) snack bars for in between meals, small sunscreen for your day bag,
Things I wish I had done:
get to know all my Contiki friends on day 1, since it was a short trip and can be tiring and I was tired to social at the end and didn't get to connect to some friends that I wish I had.
Extend 1-2days at the end of the trip and sign up with at least 2 people in order to to a one day Alexandria tour with Sheriff, I would of totally done it if I d know earlier.
Sorry for the mom like lengthy review, but I do hope you will be well prepared and have the time of your life on this trip! If you have any other questions about the trip feel free to email me email@example.com
I did this trip solo, and I am so glad, a friend or partner would have definitely been hard to deal with on this trip, as you want to do what you want to, and to not have to worry about anyone was a highlight. I also skipped London and had an extra day in Amsterdam, where I met the rest of the people on the tour the next day at our hotel. Our Tour manager Sarah was absolutely awesome, she definitely made our trip, caring, fun, and full of facts. People got sick half way through the trip and Sarah was amazing, she helped out a lot and I can say everyone was appreciative of this, with the extra stops and just the notion of her going to each person to see how they felt. I do believe that had it not been for her our trip would not have been as enjoyable. Also take medication with you for general illnesses (flu, nausea, stomach bugs, sore throats, fevers...) and DO NOT forget a sleeping bag, I did and I was horrified with the cold. I loved every second of the trip, I would definitely advise that you take the me time trips, as it allows for a lot of free time to divert from the group and enjoy the things you would like to experience, and to have some time with the group is also awesome. I made some really great friends and I cant say I would have done this trip differently. Our tour driver was super cool, got us into the mood before a great party night, awesome, friendly and best of all she was a chick :) I think the places we stayed at was alright for just a short sleep and a shower, the coach is awesome and clean! Cant wait to do another trip!!! This trip was perfect for a short trip, however I extended with pre and post night stays in Amsterdam and Paris, you have to do this! Try and do it for the places that you enjoyed the most. I would also say try and go on this tour when it is not peak season, so that there are not too many tourists around, I felt like that ruined my experience in Venice. Try and do as many optional events/experiences as you can, if money is not an issue, just do it! But other than that I enjoyed ever second of the European Horizon!
I just got home from my trip, and I could not be more disappointed to be home. Our tour guide Carly, was absolutely fantastic; she knew historical information, where to go, where not to go, she joked around, and knew how to show us a good time. Our driver, Sandro, was equally as awesome!
Met 44 of the most incredible people, and met 7 people that will forever be family. The places we went were incredible, and even though most of the monuments we went to in Italy were under maintenance and covered in scaffolding , we were just as amazed. The parties were nothing but fun. We were unable to do the water rafting in Austria due to it being off season, but other than that I did almost every optional, and I don't regret one. the Paragliding in particular was my absolute favourite.
There were people that travelled solo, people in groups, and even couples. So if you're travelling alone, don't worry about it at all. Everyone becomes a family by day 3. I would do this trip over and over again.
It is a budget tour, so don't expect to stay at fancy hotels. That being said, we were always looked after and had accom needs met, no problem. Contiki on sites were always there to help.
My one suggestion is to bring medicine and lots of it. the #contikicough is real, and it is not fun. I had it for a few days and then got over it, then everyone got sick and i caught it again and its sticking around. So make sure you bring lots of cough syrup, cold and flu meds and lots of tissues.
If you're on the fence about doing this trip, just jump and book it. Best time of my life. Miss it already.
This was my first Contiki tour and my first trip to Europe. What a wonderful way to get back in to traveling! I know that I was older than many of my travel mates but that didn't bother me too much. Heading into Northern Ireland was an amazing experience! Maybe on another visit, I will spend a day and a night in Belfast...
Pros: Giant's Causeway, Derry guide tour, Aran Islands, Galway (will definitely go back whenever I visit Ireland again), Jameson Experience (not on the tour necessarily but so glad my tour guide decided to make an impromptu stop from Kilkenny to Dublin), Guinness factory...we happened to arrive in Galway on the closing weekend of the Galway races and it was the best nights of my life on that trip.
Cons: Losing money, thanks to the Euro and Pound...now I know why some many Europeans have been heading to the States to visit over the last few years. Also, some of the dinners included on the tour were kinda the same, in terms of entrees (some sort of beef and root vegetable mashed up). While the beef is good over there, by the third included dinner, I needed a change!
I made a few great friends, both on the tour and in Ireland, and everyone is friendly over there, even when they are teasing you! If you need to bring back souvenirs, just buy chocolate, even if it's a KitKat! Chocolate and Guinness has never tasted the same in the States after my trip...gives me a reason to go back!
Let me start off by telling you I didn't want to go on this trip. I had bought it as a surprise gift for my boyfriend. You see Italy was on his bucket list, not mine. However, he said no to the trip and I went anyway. Contiki is about no regrets and I wasn't going to let buying a trip for someone be one of mine.
Am I ever glad I went! Italy is such a beautiful country with so many things to see, experience and eat! Boy oh boy, do you ever eat. So many pastas, pesto, gelato, pizza, wine and more!
I had Margherita as my tour manager and Enzo as our Driver. Margherita is an amazing person with such a passion for her job and it shows. If you end up with Margherita you wont be disappointed. Enzo is such a lovely driver with some serious driving skills. Italy has got some tight bends to it and I never felt unsafe in his bus once. A big shout out to both as they both made this a unforgettable trip for me.
The places you will visit are breathtaking. This is a trip where you make it what you want it to be. Rain or Shine! We had a day of rain in Rome, and let me tell you it dumped buckets. Be prepared for the wet, but also for the beautiful sun! Italy has a beautiful personalty to it and it will give you many great memories.
I don't have much bad things to say about this. The only thing I didn't like was the Autogrill. Like mentioned by others, you make a few stops at them. You do spend some time on the coach and as a result you will have to make stops. You could complain about the stops but you will probably be to busy sleeping on the coach, laughing with your new friends, or watching Italy go by to really notice.
Contiki is about adventure, memories and no regrets. This trip had everything and more then I had expected. To be honest with you I had no idea what to expect when I booked it, but I'm glad I booked it and I can't wait for my next adventure with Contiki.
Since I've been home, I've been asked by almost everyone what my favorite part of the trip was. I've responded "The whole thing, I can't choose just one!", every time.
This trip fully exceeded my expectations. It was my first big trip and I traveled alone from the U.S. to London. My roommate was the only other American girl on the tour and we ended up being best friends. Everyone on tour was amazing and it was so interesting to see where everyone was from and where they have been.
Our tour manager, James, was the best! He did everything for us to make sure we had the time of our lives. He truly looked like a graceful swan on a lake but underneath he was paddling like crazy to make sure everything was perfect. He knew the best spots in every town and was great at telling us the history of each place we went to. I couldn't imagine doing another tour without him, he was so great! Chris, our coach driver, was also amazing. He had the best (and most random) music that would play on the bus and would always have us all laughing, dancing, or just kept us in great moods. Between the two of them and their awesome personalities, they made the trip.
All of the included activities were great. All of the optional activities are a must. Just do them. What have you got to lose? If you go home broke, but happy... it's worth it. I promise. Making memories with the great people you'll be surrounded by is far more important and worth it. The ghost walk tour in York, the high ropes course in Keswick, the Lake Windermere Cruise, Scottish evening in Edinburgh, Hadrian's Wall, and the Gretna Green group photo - they're all worth it.
The hotels were in prime location the majority of the time and were perfectly comfortable. We got breakfasts every morning and many included dinners (which were always delicious).
I honestly felt like I didn't waste one penny (or pence).Tip the tour guides that take their time to make your trip an even better experience! Each tour guide we had was great and interesting.
I cannot wait to take my next Contiki trip and I have already recommended this way of traveling to many friends. Thank you Contiki for such an amazing time!
This was my first Contiki and I honestly didn't know what to expect. I'm 30 so closer to the upper end of the Contiki age range, but this trip I felt had a good mixture of ages and personalities - some of us out for the party scene (in Prague beer is cheaper than water) and some out for the fantastic art and architecture. There was a couple of married couples, some people travelling with friends, but mostly other solo travellers.
Do every optional you possibly can. You'll regret not doing them more than the cost of them, and really the cost is very low as you do everything in a group - I was very pleasantly surprised on checking my bank balance once home! If they still use Ivan Galik for the tours in Prague, they should not be missed, he's hilarious!
Food wise, it's not great for vegetarians; there's a lot of sausage and schnitzel to eat and the alternatives I saw the veggies being given didn't look all that great. However, if you do eat meat, you're all set! Don't forget to try currywurst in Berlin (a bratwurst sausage in a tomato and Worcestershire sauce with curry powder, it's incredibly popular) and the tredlnik doughnut things in Prague. Try as many local beers as you can handle and visit the Schnapps tour in Vienna for the best Schnapps you'll ever have.
The crew we had, tour manager Alex and driver Johnny, were extremely knowledgeable and helpful and happy to have a drink with us (well, not Johnny - he was driving!) whilst still remaining very professional and with the group's best interests at heart. I did have an accident flying off my bike in Prague, no bones broken just a whopper of a bruise, but it was handled really well and everyone made sure I was ok and taken care of. Schnapps happens. Was still an amazing trip!
Really though, the best thing about the trip was the people with you. I had such a great time and did things I might never have done if truly travelling solo, and really feel like I've made some great friends out of this.
If you are reading a review, it means you are considering it. Stop just thinking about it, bite the bullet and go. I'm looking into my second Contiki already. #NoRegrets
If you're thinking of booking a contiki, this is the one to book of Thailand. We were really lucky and had a wonderful tour guide (Dom) and a fantastic group to share the experience with.
On the first day we had a late dinner, followed by drinks at the beach and a ping pong show! And boy did that open our eyes. Welcome to Thailand. It was great having a tour manager that really knew the area because he was able to tell us all the good drinking spots, shows to go to and day activities. Food is really cheap, and so are drinks so you can indulge in all the fantastic food Thailand has too offer.
You have quite a bit of spare time on the tour, so we were able to do things such as go to Tiger Kingdom, shopping, massages, and a few of us took a trip out to Phuket Waterpark for wake boarding.
Our tour group was great because we had a big group to go out at night with which made the night life even more exciting! We went to a 'bucket night' which was unlimited bucket drinks for three hours, which was probably the highlight of the trip as everybody had such a fantastic evening and terrible morning.
I spent my 21st abroad which I was apprehensive about, but everyone made it a super special experience and I can't thank Dom enough for making my birthday very memorable.
Transport was really good and organised, so the trip ran very smoothly the entire time. Best moments included dress up night on the final day, the climb to the top of phi phi island, monkey beach, snorkelling and bucket night where everyone really got to know each other. However much sunblock you're thinking of packing, double it plus a little extra. I think I applied at least 5 times a day, and still managed to get burnt! Safety first.
I would definitely recommend it, as well as booking your last night before you go at the hotel where we all finished up because a lot of us stayed and spent another night together exploring Bangla road.
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.
Some of the optional restaurants were not worth it but all the other excursions was great. The picture is from one of the walking tours in Rome.
This trip was perfection! I met the most amazing people who I'm now best friends with, the tour guides and bus drivers went above and beyond to make sure we had the best expirence. If your deciding between starting in darwin or sydney, I'd recommend darwin because the starting group is smaller (mine was 22 people) and you bond so well and really get to know each other and then when you go to the east coast there's usually around 55 people so it can be harder to get to know everyone. The outback was amazing, lots of long hikes and river cruises with crocodiles, I went in March and it was between 35-42 degrees. Lots of partying as a group rather than clubs etc which was good for bonding. The east coast was so iconic with beautiful beaches and more opportunities for the adrenaline junkies, it was like 90% free time where as the outback we were always doing things together, so there was lots of time to explore on your own, overall I had the best 24 days of my life it was amazing and worth every penny
This was my third Contiki with my husband and was a wonderful experience. We had a fantastic group (a little more mature than past Contiki's) and a very charismatic, knowledgable tour manager, Kenneth, that did his best to share his culture, Peruvian history, and make us a part of his extended family.
This trip seemed a little more loosely scheduled than the past trips but we all just went with the flow. There were some extremely early wake-ups, and not as many late nights because it was more physically demanding. The Inca Trail Trek is a must if you are in shape. It is 11km, mostly up stone steps- Lord of the Rings style- through the mountains and jungle areas and some archeological stops. The Inca Trail Trek guides were very special to the trip. They poured their heart into what they do and also sharing their culture and some rituals with us along the way that made the Machu Picchu experience even more memorable. It is about 6 hours of hiking with a short time at Machu Picchu, but you have the next morning to do a tour of the Machu Picchu archeological site with more detail and of course to take amazing pics.
All of food was very good. Alpaca is delicious and the passion fruit pisco became one of my new favorite drinks.
We didn't do many of the optionals: an unmentioned one was a massage after the Inca Trail trek, which was such a great price and much needed. My husband did the Canopy climb and I'm glad I decided against it, as it was scaling a Brazil Nut tree in the jungle with two metal contraptions to hoist yourself up a rope and required a lot of strength.
The jungle lodge was a bit out of my comfort zone; open air, sleeping under mosquito nets with the possibility of anything coming in your room including opossums, lizards, frogs...and BUGS--- there are so many bugs in the jungle. It was incredibly hot and humid but I did my best to wear long sleeves and pants as there is a lot of hiking in jungle area and bugs everywhere- mosquitos, army ants, beetles, and bugs that sound and look as big as flying pterodactyls. The piranha fishing was very cool and worth the 4:00am wake up to get on the boat to the lagoon early. The jungle guides were very informative and friendly also.
Our stay in Puerto Maldonado was the lowlight of the trip- kinda shitty town, would have preferred to be tired and traveled to Lima to have 2 nights there and skipped this town. There isn't much to do or see at all and the hotel was dumpy. Otherwise, the rest of the hotels were decent. MamaSara hotel in Cusco was nice and about a 10-15 min walk from Plaza des Armas.
Overall, the few places we saw of Peru were very beautiful and special. The people were friendly, the souvenirs were great, and the culture is welcoming (especially in Cusco). Machu Picchu is breath-taking and truly a world wonder. Great experience.
Greatest thing I have ever done.
One thing to keep in mind, travelling between countries takes time! Prepare for long hours on a bus. Research things to do in each city before you get there so you can make the most of the limited time in the city.
When my Tour Manager (Alex Tkachuk) explained at the beginning of this trip, that we would all become a family and would look back on this trip with the greatest memories of our lives, at first, I was a bit skeptical considering the total number of people and the amount of time we had together as a group. I am so glad that what Alex told me, was, in fact entirely true. Never have I met such genuinely nice, caring, diverse, fun-loving and great people and loved them over two weeks. I have experienced 9 countries and taken so many ridiculous pictures, it's unreal. I would like to specifically say that our Tour Manager was so down-to-earth that the trip was never stressful and always fun. Alex has a Masters degree in History so whatever questions we had from each location from Rome to Switzerland, he was always a fountain of knowledge. No question was stupid to ask and he would always act like one of the group and make fun of us, and play pranks on the other Contiki staff that we met on the way. I feel that with Alex, sharing his knowledge and great enthusiasm in all the cultures and backgrounds meant that this trip was even more exciting. I felt that he was truly passionate about his job and that made the trip feel so effortlessly great, he always went above and beyond my expectations. From showing us how the Rome Metro worked to dancing with us in Space Disco, he was definitely an important member of our Contiki family and I would most definitely recommend Alex for Contiki manager of the year. Another great member who without, we would be totally stuck was Ana. She was the best driver known to man and I truly stand by that. There was one tense time where Ana had to maneuver our huge bus over a small cliff edge and in silence we all watched as a cliff wall progressed by, merely inches from our faces. Once we were at the top, Ana was given the greatest round of applause and so many 'good jobs' that it was heart-warming even for me to hear. During the trip, it was also Ana's birthday whilst we were in Rome, so the majority of us stayed up and partied in the hotel disco with her. Again, like Alex, Ana was so down-to-earth and danced with each and every one of us. She always went out of her way to speak to us and took plenty of pictures with us. Ana and Alex even gave us extra gelato in Rome and free Easter chocolate in Switzerland for being a nice group. These members of staff were so fun, that I could not say a bad word about them at all.
As a trip in general, I loved all of the countries, each had its own unique vibe and background so that no two countries felt alike. I was surprised that Austria was one of the locations that stood out to me, which at first, I thought would just be small villages and nice views. Not only were the locals absolutely lovely with the greatest manners, but the food was delicious! They also have the best chocolate, (sorry Switzerland). I felt like the excursions for each place definitely added to the cultural experience of each country, wine tasting in the Rhine Valley for me was a surprise as I don't normally drink wine and they were all absolutely gorgeous, especially the ice wine. Another favourite excursion of mine was the bike ride in Munich, it was fun, energetic and got us around the city so efficiently that we got to the beer house quite early. I would highly recommend going to all the excursions, even those which seem expensive like Moulin Rouge. Don't let the price of the excursion be off-putting, as the slogan of Contiki states "no regrets". After all, what do you want to remember from the tour, spending your time with 50 amazing people, going to sights for example such as the Moulin Rouge to see some fantastic dancing, acrobatics, comedians and more, or do you want to remember the trip thinking 'I wish I would've spent that extra money and gone to that excursion'? Money means nothing in the long run, experience means everything! I will never forget this amazing experience and I have added all my friends from the trip on every social media platform I have so that I can continue to stay in touch, reminisce about the great times and talk about seeing each other soon.
I don't regret a thing, not even staying up until the early hours of the morning nearly every single night to hang out with my Contiki family. We ate amazing things, and seeing every place was so special and I will remember it always. Thank you Contiki for making the trip the trip of my life! I will see you soon since I will definitely be booking another tour with you in the near future. ❤️
This was my first tour and honestly the most fun two weeks of my life. Traveling with contiki is the best way to see the USA. I DEFINITELY recommend!
There was a group of about 15 of us who were on this tour, joining the Grand Southern tour halfway through, so we immediately clicked with those people and eventually become great friends with many of the others. For this reason I would recommend starting from LA so that you begin the tour at the very start but as long as you make the effort to know everyone then it doesn't really matter. The group was primarily Aussies in their 20s. Top people!
The accommodation is all fantastic and very central, we only had to get taxis in Vegas. Our tour manager James was awesome too, extremely knowledgable, helpful and fun. You will learn so much about American history on this tour. Also, the long drives are no problem at all as you have incredible scenery, great tunes and new friends with you on the bus.
The highlight was definitely the Memphis nightlife on Beale Street, and in terms of scenery hot air ballooning on Christmas morning over Albuquerque and driving to Monument Valley. The nightlife is primarily small bars, taken over by a group of 50 contiki travellers which is alot of fun.
I want to do this tour again!
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