Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
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
This was my first time travelling overseas from Canada and I loved it! Paris and London were two great cities to start in! Our tour manager Katie, was amazing and very knowledgeable of both locations, giving us all the tips and tricks - the Street Art optional tour in London was awesome as well as the Jack the Ripper tour - Pepe is a great local tour guide, and is from the area! Visit Camden market while you're there. Very neat spot and the tube makes everything so easy and accessible! Paris was unreal and the Moulin Rouge was worth it - I wasn't too sure if I should do it but so glad I did! ALSO - the bike tour in Paris had me feeling like a local, riding around the busy streets of Paris checking out all the sites! The final night dinner, in the Montmarte district near the Sacre Coeur was awesome and I wish I would have spent more time there! If you are looking for a good trip to visit both these cities in depth, this is awesome!
Wow! What an amazing trip!!! An experience of a life time.
Sherif, our tour guide, was nothing short of amazing. He was so helpful in giving us tips and pointers where ever we went, talked us through the trip, and was so friendly, personable and comical! He is so knowledgeable of the history of the sights we toured and shows such passion in his countries history.
The food was good, surprising to me because I can be picky, everyone we met was very friendly and helpful. I never felt anything but safe while on this trip. Sherif really helped with that.
The first night in the Alexandria Hotel was a bit shocking-a little dirty and in a very busy area of Cairo. But everyone was friendly. The overnight train was a shock as well-no showers! and I highly suggest you BUY TOILET PAPER for the train, and rest of the trip. They don't seem to use any or stock bathrooms with it, and you have to pay a pound for most bathrooms. The Nile Cruise was nothing short of simply beautiful. The scenery, breathtaking. The rooms, bathrooms, and restaurant was really nice. The crew was phenomenal! Everyone is so nice and eager to help. We even partied with them on the 'egyptian dress up night". Very fun. We traveled by tour bus inbetween and to different tours. The buses are pretty nice and air conditioned. (We had one bus for a long ride that was cramped though). The Hurghada Hotel is great too, though I wish we were there for longer. I hear the snorkeling is a must, but it was too windy.
All the extras I would suggest doing, except for the light show. Very dated and not very interesting.
It is definitely a culture shock, especially being female. But I always felt safe with Sherif and while on the tour.
I hope all tour guides are like him!
THERE IS NO OTHER PEOPLE ON THIS TOUR. IT IS HOTEL ACCOMMODATION ONLY. IT IS NOT GUIDED. I honestly wish someone had stolen my wallet instead. Would have cost much less time and money. My travel agent charged me $1200 for the 'last place' which was a shoebox room overlooking an adjacent building, also totally bull*** because there was no one else there.
If you're traveling alone, book at The Beach Boutique Hostel next door for $40 a night (owned by the same guy!) where you'll find all the travel buddies you could possibly want. As well as free breakfasts and BBQ nights on the rooftop, free trips to the North Shore beaches and tons of cheap drink & activity deals. For that $1000 you save, you could rent a car for a few days, book a skydive, visit one of the other islands, go on a sunset dinner cruise and still have spending money for urban outfitters. Absolutely do not recommend, I will not use Contiki again.
Seriously loved this trip! It even inspired me to write a blog post!
Check it out! http://www.darlingpursuit.com/im-a-bird/
This is a great quick way to see Western Europe. The guides are amazing big shout out to hannah she's the best. You will cover all the sites you always see in the movies and on TV. My advice be prepared to take all the opportunities they offer you.
This is not a contiki tour. Their is no group, guide or events arraigned. The accommodation is a party hostel that is fine but they put you in rooms that vary from four people to eight and they mix their genders so you never know what your walking into. If you call the contiki people with an enquiry they won't help you because they no nothing as they are not there and do nothing for this tour. The pro dive people are great. You would be better off making your bookings with them directly.
If you want to travel around Europe and have it all organized for you then this is the tour for you!! If your asking your self " Do i really want to travel alone?" or "Maybe i am to old to do a Contiki tour?" Then stop right there! We had 35 ish people in our tour which was considered a small group ages between 18 and our eldest was 33. ( Room to spread out on the bus ummm Yes please!!) We had 5 couples and the rest traveling alone or with a friend. This tour shows you the best of every country and you make so many friends along the way. My favorite place we visited was SPAIN!!! The hostel we stayed at was awesome and so clean and funky!! The food and country is amazing!! Make sure you get to the Food Markets and the Sagrada Família. Switzerland was beautiful but cold so take warm clothes!! I didn't and had to buy a few things haha. Try and do all of the ME time options there honestly worth the money!!! Beware of the bed bugs in Rome that was the only down side of the accommodation and my poor partner got eaten alive!! Take vitamins and cough syrup but keep in mind THE CONTIKI COUGH IS REAL no matter how healthy you are you will get sick!! I sounded like a dieing seal the whole time but it didn't effect my time overseas!
I could talk forever about this tour If you have any questions message me and ill reply to any of your questions or concerns.
I feel like this tour is missing a honest review from someone who has done other Contiki tours in the past.
I was really disappointed and will no longer be calling this a tour but rather a trip for the rest of the review and that will be explained later.
Athens: A interesting city but unfortunately you don't have enough time there to actually do to much other than go on a quick "optional" tour. This is a trip and not a tour as Contiki is not allowed by Greek laws to give you a tour, they actually have to hire someone to do it and unlike all other Contiki tours I've taken it isn't free, this is considered an optional event. The optional tour quickly stops off at 3 locations and very little information on history and historical relevance is given, i had more information in my travel book that i luckily brought with me. The hotel in Athens is nice and the staff there are very friendly. It has an excellent location across the street from the beach and there is a roof top bar/pool. The first 2 days is where you really start to get to know people on the tour and make friendships. Do not do the optional dinner the second night, i luckily didn't and everyone who did wished they hadn't.
Mykonos: When i booked the tour the website boasted about a exclusive contiki beach hotel i would be staying at, in fact my itinerary when i received it in the mail even showed my reservation at this hotel. Upon my arrive in Athens at the first night meeting it was explained that Contiki had "over booked the tour" and we would not all be staying at that hotel as we would be divided up into 2 groups. Unfortunately I had bonded with quite a few people from the other group. You jump on a ferry which is quite large and comfortable, bring a snack as i found the food on the ferry limited, definitely do not drink the coffee, its vile. Our hotel in Mykonos was the Rhia which is according to Contiki "walking distance" from the famous beach hotel the other half of the group was staying. In reality according to google maps it is a 2 hour walk through dangerous roads. The hotel had a small pool and the rooms were little cottages. Internet was VERY VERY spotty and would come and go faster than the wind. The hotel staff were very friendly. The beach is not close so live it up in the hotel pool. Mykonos in general was a cool place to see, there is a huge party scene but with the location of the hotel it is not within safe walking distance (one of the guys on my tour decided to make the walk late night and fell into the rocks and needed stitches). Some people rented quads which Contiki suggested we didn't, i really wish i would have, then i could have actually enjoyed the island without having to pay a relative fortune to Contiki for a bus ride into the town. Taxis are non existent for the most part so if you are going to make your own trek during the day catch the bus. I had a friend who had booked this same trip 2 weeks later and so i advised her of the hotel switch, she called to check to see if she would be at the beach hotel or not and was told they would never swap hotels. This made me think it was a honest oversell… i was wrong, when she arrived in Athens she was told she was going to be staying at the Rhia. I took my photo of the windmills and did the optional tour which was somewhat informative, i feel this tour was worth the money as she explained a lot about the culture other than that I could have done without Mykonos. Oh also girls BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL here, we went to the beach day party and girls were getting assaulted everywhere. There were some very scary stories of narrow escapes. Stay with the group, don't venture off with people you just met, especially locals and you'll be fine.
Santorini: This is an amazing island! Very beautiful and very romantic. The hotel was centrally located and easy to walk to many sights and shops. We were reunited with the other half of the group which was nice. The hotel was very very roomy but small beds. Some people complained about the showers but i found them good. Large pool in the middle of the hotel. The island is quite large and a quad would have made exploring much easier but after so many people had gotten injured drinking and quadding in mykonos i decided not to, especially seeing how there was a lot within walking distance. Despite what our tour manager told us there is quite a lot of ruins and cultural things to see on this island, i recommend researching it before you go as i missed seeing some pretty important ruins on the island only to see a documentary about them on tv when i got home and no I'm not talking about Akrotiri. I did the optional tour and it was money well spent as i did learn some things and got to see a lot of the island. I unfortunately signed up for the sun downer optional… total scam, just take a cab to the other side of the island with some of your new friends and sit in the same free patio for exactly that… FREE. Like mentioned very romantic place and i would recommend this island to anyone for a honeymoon.
Ios: This is a pure party island, there is nothing to see culturally. The hotel is nice and there is a free shuttle to the beach or you can walk 30 mins down the winding road. Enjoy the sun and relax as there is nothing else to do. The optional pirate ship was supposively the 1 thing worth doing, i unfortunately missed it do to a family crisis i had to deal with over the phone. At night everyone goes into the town and does a pub crawl, i can't remember if the pub crawl was an optional thing or not, i know we always had to pay for a bus, there seemed to be extra charges almost every day for something and many of us felt like we were lining the pockets of our tour managers. The debauchery was out of control on this island and i was often ashamed of people who were on our trip. I won't go into the details as it was appalling and inappropriate to even write on this review. To give you perspective i used to be a bartender in the biggest nightclubs in western canada, love to party, frequent ibiza and have never seen anything like this. I did the optional dinner and it wasn't good value but it was nice to eat with everyone on the last day in Ios.
You then return to Athens to the same hotel, everyone on the last day is pretty partied out so its really quite. At all the hotels we stayed at there was pricing on the door for the room, we did the math and we could have booked this trip by ourselves and saved significant money. For the people on this trip whose it was their first Contiki experience they said it would be their last as the value wasn't there. I encouraged many people to try some of the our Contiki tours as they are actual tours where you not only party but grow culturally. So on that note if you are looking for value and a balance between party and sightseeing/learning then this is not the trip for you. If all you want to see is the bottom of a bottle on island with very loose rules then this is the trip for you.
This trip was amazing i definitely recommend it, and i suggest you do the extra activities that are not included like the Stonehenge and roman baths. You get plenty of free time in Paris to go explore the museums and the great Parisian food. Amsterdam was unescorted but you make friends throughout the first two destinations. We went to the Anne Frank house, the Heineken factory, red light district. Definitely a great adventure, I will travel contiki again specially since i went as a solo traveler never felt like i was alone.
I did this tour two years ago, so it's been a while, but as I'm about to finally do my 2nd Contiki I thought I'd review the first!
It is a great way to tick so many boxes in Europe - It's crazy to think how many countries I've visited, and now I know which places I want to see again in more details.
It was soooo cold, but I packed accordingly and it was nice to have snow as we walked through places like Prague and Amsterdam.
The best thing about this tour is because it's in winter, there aren't so many tourists, and you get to see places in a different light, other than the sunny postcard pictures most people imagine in summer.
The people were amazing - our tour guide and driver, Laura and Andras were phenomenal. Our bus was full of Aussies, and they were so much fun. Heaps of couples, which was perfect for us as we were also a couple, but also a group of singles who bed hopped a bit.
If it's your first Contiki, do it. It's awesome, and just long enough to say you've had a great time, and you're ready to go home at the end!
Take way more money than you think you'll need. There are extra things to do all over the place, and there were some people on our trip who couldn't afford it and it sucked for them, and also for us because we didn't want to talk about it in front of them.
I actually went last year and promised the guys I'd leave a review. I've completely forgtton until I've come back here to book my next holiday.
I've seen the dude who's left a rather indepth review; it's pretty acurate so I'll try keep mine short and sweet :)
Don't think about it, just go ahead and book it!!
This trip was soooooo incredible; the people, the lifestyle, the destinations...ARGHHHH, thinking about it makes me want to go back so much!!
I can't call them staff becuase they've really become my friends but the guys at Contiki on the boat were really awesome. Their company really made the trip for me.
What I really loved was the freedom to really feed my curiosity. I would litrally say "Hey guys, can we head over to that little island over there?" and they would reply with just simply sailing over. It wasn't on the trip, just some random island we were sailing past that was a nature reserve. We set anchor, and spent a couple hours there. AMAZING!!!
The food was incredible, the people even more so, and the places we visited were breathtaking.
From watching a thunderstorm in the distance after an incredible plate of food to raising some undies that I stole as a flag to climbing up a castle to swimming with schools of fish to chilling at a bar with a glass of bourbon; there's tons to do to completely unwind. I forgot to mention the donkeys..oh, and the dolphins.....
So a huge thanks to my skipper Yiorgos and the guy who made it all happen Petros for making it a week I'll never forget. And all you lovely gals who were with me as well, you know who you are ;)
Greece, I love you.
P.S, the toilet paper thing takes a little getting used to but it's not that bad. If you have no idea what I mean, go forth and find out brave adventurer!!
P.S.S, the picture I've included is one I actually took by the way, just saying....
For me, going on this trip was quite spontaneous and a spur of the moment thing, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions and one of the most incredible experiences of my life so far.
I travelled solo and did this tour over Christmas/New Year and had the best time. I met the most incredible people from all over the world. I met people from Australia, South Africa, the US, Germany, Ireland and we all got along like a house on fire! So much so, I miss them every day!
Overall, it's a safe place to travel (although beware of pickpockets, especially at night - don't take your valuables out with you), your money goes so much further there, the accommodation is great, the people are so friendly and the food is unbelievable.
I'd recommend the Vietnam Experience over the Highlights tour, purely as you have the extra 2 days at the start. With the 'Experience' tour, you go to the Mekong Delta and that is the first full day of the tour. The night in the jungle was a great ice-breaker of a night and a great bonding experience for the group. The people who joined later as part of the 'Highlights' tour very much became a part of the family, but were like 'oh man!' when they heard about the night in the Mekong!
Highlights for me were:
-Christmas Eve at the homestay in the Mekong Delta.
-Nha Trang. The day on the boat/swimming in the sea and the night at the Sailing Club were incredible.
-Halong Bay. Like nothing you've ever seen before. You'll be awestruck at it's beauty. Kayaking in the bay and through those limestone karsts was just magic. Photos just don't do this place justice. Quite possibly the most beautiful place I've ever been.
I feel the group dynamic on the whole is slightly better on Contiki Asia tours than the Euro ones, as there is a max of 30 here. As a result, everyone gets to know everyone really well and it's like everyone's known each other for ages!
This country has so much history, everywhere you go, it's such an interesting place. I'm so glad I made the spontaneous decision to go on this trip. I've got friends for life and still reminisce about this trip all the time.
If you've got any questions at all, feel free to hit me up here or on facebook, I'll be happy to answer them! My instagram's also got many photos of the trip (@jonty_cabral), feel free to check it out!
Last recommendation - If you can, spend a bit more time after the trip in Hanoi. There are a few people who stay behind a bit longer after the tour and all you'll want to do is keep exploring with your new contiki family!
It's been nearly a year since I did this tour, but I still reminisce about it all the time. I'd never travelled overseas on my own before this trip, but I've done it again since. Honestly, don't worry about travelling solo, there are many others doing the same and you'll all have the best time!
This is a bit long, but bear with me....here are some of my notes and recommendations about the places you'll visit on this trip:
-If you're a football fan, doing a tour of Anfield is a must in your free time.
-Spend some of your free time chilling at Albert Dock, very peaceful place.
-I had a blast at the Cavern Club! It's very crowded early on in the night, but give it some time and once it starts to clear out a little is a very enjoyable place. Interact with the locals!
-The narrow cobblestone streets of York are very cool. Take a stroll through the markets, you'll find some amazing food for lunch or an afternoon snack.
-Check out Clifford's Tower, you'll get some very impressive views of the city.
-DEFINITELY do the ghost walk at night. Even if you don't believe in that stuff, York is a great setting for those horror/supernatural type stories as the sun goes down. By the end, some people are so on edge, that even dull sounds in the distance start to scare them!
-Do the high ropes course! It's great fun with many laughs involved. A really good bonding exercise for those who choose to do it.
-If you do the Lake Windermere cruise, take a decent jacket!
-This is such a great city for sightseeing. Definitely check out Edinburgh Castle, then go wandering the cobblestone streets to check out the awesome architecture around the city.
-Absolutely go to the Scottish dinner and order the haggis! You're at a Scottish dinner in Edinburgh with everyone dressed up with a brilliant and hilarious bagpiper, might as well try the haggis! It tastes better than you'd imagine!
-If you're a rugby fan, take the opportunity to check out Murrayfield in your free time.
-Searching for Nessie is good fun and take a dip in Loch Ness!
-Isle of Skye. Amazing. Never have I seen such stunning natural scenery. Take the opportunity to dip your face in the freezing 'stream of eternal beauty'!
-Oban is a nice chilled out seaside town. Glenn, our awesome TM, took us Scottish Highland dancing that night and it was amazingly fun! Another really great bonding experience for the group.
-On the way you'll stop in at Stirling, check out the castle there, pretty cool way to spend a couple of hours.
I actually found Glasgow quite average, but if you're a football fan, do a stadium tour of Celtic Park. Stunning.
-The nightlife in Glasgow is really awesome, this was one of my favourite nights on tour. Everyone gets dressed up and has a super night!
*Dublin (1st time)
-The bus ride to the port and then the ferry ride from Scotland to Ireland is as good a time as any to catch up on sleep. Trust me, your body will thank you after the previous night.
-Head out to Temple Bar and check out the live music scene. Great atmosphere.
*Dublin to Derry
-Belfast is an incredibly interesting place, especially if you're a history nut like me. The peace wall and the Titanic slipways are very cool.
-Giants Causeway. Amazing. Incredible natural scenery.
-You must do the walking tour with Ronan in Derry. Such a great guy and so knowledgable. So much history there and by the end, you'll feel a great sense of empathy for what went on. The best walking tour of a city I've ever been on.
-I thought it was a pretty average place to be honest, but you MUST go and see the Aran Islands. You can ride a bike around the island all day surrounded by stunning scenery. Quite possibly my favourite place on tour.
*Galway to Cork
-Cliffs of Moher = Breathtaking, peaceful, magnificent.
-Blarney Castle - Go on, kiss the blarney stone. It makes for some cool photos!
*Cork to Kilkenny
-Not too much going on during this day, but I thought paying a few Euro to see the Rock of Cashel was worth it.
-If your TM plans to take the group to the Karaoke Bar, you must go! It's an incredibly fun night, right up there as one of the most enjoyable nights on tour! Words cannot describe.
*Dublin (last night)
-This is pretty much the last night of the tour, so make sure you sign up for the optional Irish dinner! Everyone gets dressed up again and there's some great Irish food, singing and dancing going on.
-As it's the last night, everyone's pretty tired but I'd recommend heading out to Temple Bar one last time before the trek back to London. It might even be the last time you'll see some of the group as they finish in Dublin and fly out early the next morning. So make the most of it!
*Dublin to London
-The whole day is taken up by a ferry and bus trip, with a short stop in Wales with the longest town name in history. Everyone pretty much spends the whole day sleeping on the bus. Your body will need it.
All in all, it's 16 days of awesomeness and worth every last cent. You see so much in such a short space of time. Perfect for those with only a few weeks to travel, like myself. Last few recommendations/info:
-On this trip, you don't spend much time on the bus at all which was awesome. Your sightseeing time was definitely maximised.
-Food was great, as was the accommodation.
-Travelling solo was great. As long as you're open minded, willing to make an effort to get to know people and let others get to know you, you'll be sweet. You'll have friends for life from all corners of the globe. I now have friends from NZ, South Africa, Canada, the US, Germany, Mexico and all parts of my own country, Australia. Since this trip, I've had numerous contiki reunions (even travelling interstate for these) and it's so great to catch up with my fellow travellers and reminisce about the great times we shared on this trip.
-Travelling alone and having to share a room is fine. In fact, my room-mate on this trip is now one of my football team-mates.
-If you're a student, bring your student ID - you'll get in cheaper at some of the places.
-As this trip does a quick drive through of London at the start before departing for Liverpool, I HIGHLY recommend staying another week or so after the trip in London. A lot of your new friends will do the same and after the trip is done, all you'll want to do is spend more time with them! Not to mention having enough time to properly check out one of the most amazing cities on the planet! I only spent a further day in London and regretted that, while several others did exactly what I mentioned above and had a great time.
-It doesn't matter if you're a partier or not. My group had a mix of people who partied a lot (sheepishly raises hand haha....) and people who chose to have many quiet nights in. No-one forces you to do anything and no-one minds either way if you decide to go party or stay in. I made good friends with people on both ends of that scale. It's entirely up to you!
The only downside to this trip (apart from not having enough time in London or Wales included) is that after it's all said and done, you'll miss everyone like crazy! I'm currently planning a trip to Canada (with some fellow Aussies from this tour) to catch up with the Canadians I've met from this tour.
If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up here or on facebook. I'll be happy to answer any questions you've got about anything! If you want to check out some photos of my trip, I have many up on my instagram (@jonty_cabral).
If you're thinking about doing this tour, just do it and don't look back. You will have the most amazing time! #noregrets
We are a married couple from Adelaide, South Australia.
From the moment we stepped onto our tour bus we knew we had made the right choice choosing Contiki.
Everything was expertly organised and everyone on the bus was ready to experience everything Europe had to offer. There was a good mix of couples, singles and friends travelling together. Every second day was a bus ride to our next destination and we usually got there early/late afternoon. The bus was extremely comfortable and everyone actually looked forward to getting on the bus - good to catch up on sleep/sight see. Maps were handed out for the city we were travelling to. Landmarks, tourist attractions and the best places to eat were all pointed out to us so we could plan where to go in advance. A basic language lesson for each country was given also - super handy!
We had walking tours in every city we went to, which got us orientated with the city and the best places to go and then usually had the majority of the day to ourselves after/before coming together as a group for planned activities/meals.
Night time was often reserved for anyone who wanted to hit up popular clubs/pubs - which was always super fun and we always felt extremely safe.
Hotel rooms were all lovely. Breakfasts were nice. Included meals were great. Our tour leader, Dani, was amazing - so warm, welcoming, fun and organised.
Could not have asked for a better experience, we didn't want to leave and were sad to leave everyone and head home.
Best value for money and a great way to experience Europe.