Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I 100% recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see the most of what Europe has to offer in a flash. Tour is 10 days and hits most major Western European destinations. I am an avid traveler having lived in Spain and Australia in the past and have traveled Europe prior to this to a large degree. I decided to go with a friend who had not seen Europe at all and I was not in the mood to plan it all for us. Contiki did a great job of leaving the planning out of our hands. Even for some one whose seen Europe and is well traveled this tour wasn't too 'touristy' and didn't bother me like I thought it might. Everyone on the trip was respectful and super fun. Many traveled alone, some couples, and some friends. It was great to go out and do things on your own during the day and meet up with everyone at night for a good time. Its super easy to make new friends on this trip which is what everyone ended up doing.
London, Day 1: London on this tour is a quick stop. Arrive early if you want to see London as you really just meet up in the morning the tour starts and are off to Amsterdam. My friend and I came in the morning before the tour started and saw as much as we could. The day the tour starts you basically get on a bus and travel down the UK over the English Channel and to France and eventually through Belgium to get to Amsterdam by dusk. Its actually not bad because I was tired from traveling from NYC to Europe so the bus time allowed me to rest. That night you take a night cruise through Amsterdam and this is really fun. Its the best way to meet your fellow travelers. After we explored the red light district and saw a sex show. Everyone on our tour pretty much did it and it was all a harmless laughable experience to share.
Amsterdam Day 2: Amsterdam is gorgeous. Our tour manager gave out maps and let us know what we should see if we had no plan. Most people ended up checking out Anne Frank's house and then heading out to shop, wander the canals, or go to a museum. My friend and I ended up going to the Heineken museum which was a blast. It was quick so it didn't take too long. After we wandered the streets and ended up getting some food. Bus to Germany was in the late afternoon. At night you do a wine tasting tour in the Rhine Valley which is super nice.
St. Goar Day 3: Day 3 is spent mostly on the bus. We started off the morning in St. Goar at a small little German town which was picturesque and had some shops. From there we took a LONG bus ride down to Munich. It seemed like it took forever but we hit a bad accident on the highway which tacked hours onto our commute. You play bus games and can sleep so it really isn't the end of the world. That night we had limited time in Munich because of our delay but we went to a beer hall and had lots of fun in Munich for what we had time for.
Day 4: We ended up waking up in Austria. Our tour had to make a detour because of our traffic mishap and we got to spend a night in Austria, which was bar far my favorite place! Today is a bob sled trip in the Austrian alps. Super fun but if you don't like roller coasters this isnt for you. Its fast. We had a rainy day so we couldn't see much of the Alps either which was disappointing, but, its Europe, and it rains. A lot sometimes. In the afternoon we made another long bus journey down to Venice. This bus ride was long but the views of the Austrian and Italian alps are an event in themselves.
Day 5, Venice: Venice is glorious! We started out with a quick train to Venice for a full free day in this city. We literally did everything. Got lost in the streets, climbed the tower in St. Marks. Saw a royal palace. So much fun! We stuck around with most the group this day to hang out. At night you eat a Italian restaurant with the group before departing by ferry and train back to the hotel. Party at night of course near hotel.
Day 6, Lucerne, Switzerland: Bus ride from Venice to Switzerland is long, but, like previous rides the views are gorgeous. We passed by Lake Como and into the Swiss Alps. It was rainy when we arrived in Switzerland so we missed out on going to the top of the Mountain but it gave us extra time in Lucerne to hang around and see the sites. Still lots of fun. At night everyone went to a local bar for some fun. You stay in a jail this night. Kinda bizzare and not my cup of tea but its one night and its kinda funny.
Day 7: To Paris! Today is another long bus ride to Paris. Painful but worth the ride! You arrive at Paris late afternoon and go to the Eiffel Tower with the group to go to the top. Super gorgeous views. At night we all took the metro back to hotel together.
Day8: PARIS! Full day in Paris. I had seen Paris many a time. You start off with a group photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. BUY THIS. Its like 8 euro but its a fun photo. Then my friend and I went to the top of the Arc de Triumpf and walked down the shopping street to the louvre and eventually went into the Notre Dame Cathedral for fun. Night time is the Moulin Rouge show. This show is expensive. Most everyone in our tour did but from my perspective (having been to Vegas many times and seen many shows) I really wasn't that blown away. If seeing 'shows' isnt your favorite thing I would skip this. They tell you its classic French culture and you can't miss out but I thought it was kinda dull. 1 or 2 acts were interesting. Afterwards is the last night party so its worth attending just to go to the bar with everyone after!
Next morning was depature!
I'm sure I forgot some things. So much happens on this trip but my main take aways are .. Most people were traveling alone and made friends immediatley so dont worry. If you are an experience traveler.. no worries.. this wasn't a 'touristy' trip that makes you roll your eyes. If you've never seen Europe or never traveled this is also perfect for you because its all very taken care of. Overall, amazing trip! Shout out to our tour guide Steve E. who was awesome.
Deff would do Contiki again! :)
Where to start! This contiki was 13 days and it was the best thing I have ever done! We had a group of 49 and everyone got along so well and we bonded so quickly. The ages ranged from 18 to mid 30s.
The trip was so flexible and allowed us to do what we felt like. There were a bunch of optionals you could chose from or you could do your own thing. The islands were amazing, they were beautiful and so relaxed! Food was great, you could find cheap alcohol and the activities were awesome, things such as the beach party, the boat, water sports and more.
I made life long friends on this trip and it was so sad to leave it because of the connections we made!
Last but not least our tour manager Courtney went above and beyond! She was a gem. Instead of just telling us where to go for certain things she would walk us there, she was so organized and such a cool person! The group got along really well and she if definitely the perfect person for the job! From making sure we were safe to enjoying a day at the beach, and doing water sports with us, you could tell she put everything in to her work and absolutely loved her job! Rock on girl!
The only thing I would say is that I could have definitely done 5 more days! It was so good we never wanted to leave!
This tour is the first European Contiki I have done, so having said that it definitely was on par with the tour I did in the US and Canada. You get to see a lot of cities a little more in-depth with this tour than with other Contikis since it is two nights per destination. For the optional extras I did all of them except for the concert in Vienna, which according to everyone in our group who went was well worth it. The only optional extra I would not have done looking back is the nuclear bunker tour, you can rather spend that extra time exploring Prague. I spent two extra nights in Berlin and got to go to The Carnival of Cultures which was extremely fun, the hotel in Berlin that we stayed at wasn't great, no air-conditioning and the hotel faces East which means you either get a lot of sun first thing in the morning or in the afternoon which literally bakes the room so it was not ideal for mid-summer. Other than that the rest of the hotels on the tour have air-conditioning, the best hotel we stayed in was in Vienna which had spacious rooms. But all the hotels are worth the money you will be paying.
My favourite parts of this tour were definitely having lunch in Bratislava, such a cool city actually, and then I absolutely loved Budapest and Krakow. I would say for shopping your best options are Prague and Budapest, I got some really nice items for good prices. A note for vegetarians, the pierogie dinner in Krakow did not make a very good vegetarian meal so maybe check with your Tour Manager before booking that one. Otherwise this tour will pretty much consist of a ton of amazing sites and activities, and is definitely one for the foodies. Our Tour Manager, Dani was fantastic and so was our bus driver Pete who took us to Prater Park and even went on the rides with us. Contiki always provides the best service and gets the most out of the time you have to see your destinations, this tour definitely upheld those standards and it was money and time well spent.
This was my first Contiki and I travelled by my self.
Contiki was the best decision I made especially if your travelling solo as you make friends so quickly.
My favourite part of this trip was
Vegas oh it's such a wicked experience.. so much to do and see. I recommend seeing a show I went and seen criss angel and my mind was blown was incredible, look around the casinos so much to see and do in each place. Shopping I recommend the southern outlets in Vegas so many cheap deals..
A MUST is the Grand Canyon helicopter tour trust me it's amazing you will not regret it..
LA - universal studios is so so fun as you can see my pic with the Simpsons you need a whole day here and I recommend getting the VIP pass, you do not need to wait in line for any rides you see so much more in a universal tour it's a bit more pricey but me and the girls wouldn't do it differently..
The first night in LA we attended the Teen choice awards if this is Your thing I'd recommend attending one..
San Francisco need to do Alcatraz it's awesome to see and go to bubba gumps for dinner and also the cheese cake factory has amazing food, best garlic bread ever :)))
In New York of course the Statue of Liberty and a helicopter tour amazing views of the skylines..
The hotels were pretty good Vegas had the biggest room, LA hotel was pretty small but hey you only sleep there..
The only thing I can say negative about the tour was needed more time was rushed a lot but still got to see amazing things.. I suggest using your time wisely and be prepared to have a busy busy couple of weeks but you will love this tour and make some incredible people :)) if your Australian everyone will say I love your accent so be prepared to talk a lot haha...
DO THIS TOUR :)
I chose this tour because it suited my budget as a uni student, it was my first time overseas and I was a little hesitant to do one of the longer tours and finally because it ticked of 90% of Europe's well known, must-see sights. And it was probably the best decision of my life!
This was my first trip overseas and I travelled solo, which was quite daunting and I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. But everyone is so friendly and all there for the same reason and there were many other solo travellers as well. I found myself making new friends the night before the tour had even begun.
Our tour manager Sophie and driver Sergio were incredibly fun, so knowledgeable and would do everything they could to ensure you had the time of your life. On the first night they even broke the rules and let us hope off the bus for a 10 minutes photo opportunity at the Eiffel Tower during our sightseeing coach tour. Everyday is something different and there is a good combination of included sights and activities, optional extras (which I suggest you do them all!) and free time to see a few things of your choice. There is quite a bit of travel time involved in this tour, but time on the coach is a good chance to relax and recharge the batteries.
I mostly enjoyed the accommodation, it is budget quality and you do stay in rooms with up to five other people but you're only there to sleep. That's another thing - sleep - don't expect to get too much of it. But if you're only in Europe for two weeks you are mad if you don't seize every opportunity to have fun and explore your surroundings, you can sleep when you get home! The included food was wholesome and usually more than you could eat.
If you're thinking about doing this tour, just do it! Every moment will become a lifelong memory and you won't be able to stay away from Europe for long after you'd had a taste.
I have travelled all over the world but Contiki Egypt is one of the favourite trips I've ever done - what an amazing trip! The history and culture that we saw in just 7/8 days plus our 3 day 5 star Nile cruise and day snorkelling in the Red Sea - just incredible. I can't believe we saw so much in such a short time.
Sherif is an amazing tour guide - hard to see how this trip could continue without - his knowledge is limitless and nothing is too much trouble for him. What an amazing guy!
Now is a great time to see Egypt as the troubles over the last few years mean that (except for the Red Sea resorts) Egpyt is incredibly quiet at the moment - terribly sad for a country so reliant on tourism - but also great for any tourists that do visit at the moment - we didn't find any crowds or queues - and were able to get photos of the amazing temples, pyramids etc without any tourists getting in the way!
Just do it - you won't regret it.
Book directly through Pro Dive Cairns, as Contiki adds no value by booking with them.
Note that the 'Learn to Dive' trip page on the Contiki website states that the hotel you're staying at is Rydges Esplanade - this is not true, the Contiki accommodation is Gilligan's (backpackers). Meals are not included when you stay at Gilligan's.
Contiki didn't communicate to me where I needed to meet the group - I had to phone Pro Dive to arrange it myself.
Overall, a disappointing experience with Contiki. I booked through Contiki because I wanted my whole trip arranged for me - this was not what happened.
AMAZING trip though, but book directly through Pro Dive and choose your hotel (or backpackers) yourself - you'll also save a lot of money doing it this way.
This trip was amazing! Highlights included:
The adventure! From ziplining and white water rafting in the Colca Canyon, to kayaking in the Amazon.
The animals! Loved feeding alpacas and llamas and seeing endangered vicunas (their relative) in the wild. We woke up early in the morning to see macaws and parrots eating clay adjacent to the Amazon river. We were fortunate enough to see a female jaguar cross the Amazon river right in front of our boat. We spotted all sorts of night creatures including caimans in the river and tarantulas in the trees (but luckily no snakes).
The architecture! From the Inca masterpiece of Machu Picchu to the colonial splendor of Lima, Arequipa, and Cuzco.
The food! From ceviche, guinea pig, and alpaca meat on a volcanic stone, to all the delicious, exotic fresh fruit.
The diverse landscape! Snow-capped volcanoes, stunning nature reserves with flamingo flecked lakes, and man-made islands consisting of reeds (Lake Titicaca).
The people! Our guide, Clarissa, was fantastic. She was knowledgeable and passionate about her country, plus a lot of fun. Everyone we met was welcoming and warm (Taquil Island especially - even when we beat them at soccer).
The schedule was packed tight with fun things to do, like participating in a blessing ceremony by local shamans and tasting chicha, an alcoholic Inca beverage.
The logistics were arranged well, the buses were comfortable (and almost always included a restroom), the drivers were nice, and the local guides in Arequipa, Puno, and Puerto Maldonado (Wasai Tambopata Lodge) were interesting and engaging. The included meals offered plenty of options (one highlight being the dinner show in Lima! Wow!) Hotels were comfortable, centrally located, and were often unique (a former Inca palace in Cusco and a place in the middle of the Sacred Valley with stunning views and a pet llama).
This was truly an incredible adventure!
The Grand Southern Contiki is the mother of all for touring the USA! You get to see and learn so much! Our optional's were all great fun, snowmobiling in Colorado, Vegas strip in a limo with champagne, access to the hottest clubs, bike riding around South Beach Miami (best morning of my life) and so so many more great extras!
We also made our own extra in New Mexico ABQ - and visited all the locations from Breaking Bad! If you're a fan that's a must, and really easy with a group in a cab the morning before you leave :) !
Our coach was always kept clean and fresh (THANK YOUR MARKUS! - who is also the BEST bus driver) Braden our tour guide knew so so SO much about every part of America, and if he wasn't sure he would soon be researching the answer! He was helpful in every situation and someone we could all really rely on!
I met some of the best people on my Contiki who I will never forget and will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.
I literally had #noregrets (apart from loosing two phones..)
I traveled solo and would recommend that to anyone! Its not as scary as you think and you really get to know a lot about yourself as well as the world!
I could go on forever about how life changing and the many amazing experiences I had on my trip, best advice.. live every moment to the fullest!
The only regret you will have is that you hadn't booked it sooner :)
This trip is a great way to see all the best bits in America in a short space of time! The accommodation was nice and it was great to fly to each city as it meant you can spend more time exploring! The extras were a great way to do what you like and meet everyone in the group and the way the trip was organised meant you had free time as well as spending time with everyone else! Best 2 weeks ever and I really want to go back...
This tour was my very first Contiki, and it met and surpassed every expectation, we had such a great time, and such a great group, everything was awesome, there was literally nothing to fault during the entire trip, Every city was amazing, DC, Montreal and Philadelphia being my favourite, all the optionals are also a must do, especially the Niagara Falls Helicopter ride
The most incredible experience ever! The people on my tour were amazing! Going alone was the best decision I made. Our tour manager was absolutely amazing.. He was great at showing us around and making the tour extremely exciting and fun for all of us as well as our bus driver. Everyone on the tour became family within a week of being on the tour.
The places visited were beautiful and perfect.. Never had a better holiday in my life.. Contiki has changed my life it has reawakened apart of me, a passion for life, food, friends, family and culture.
Optionals were great and gave us an opportunity to bond as a group as well as experience as much of the country we were in.
Wow just wow! I want more saving up for the next one :P
wow! where do i start! if you haven't done a contiki, DO IT!! Most amazing experience ever! Amazing tour guide (bushy) made this tour fantastic! The people on the tour will come from far and wide.. By the end of the tour you won't want to leave your contiki family....Everyone gets along very well because u have at least one thing in common, TRAVEL!
When i started this tour i had started half way through...so i started New Orleans...The tour had already been undergoing for 2 weeks so people had already gotten to know one another ....after what i thought would b hard to get to know everyone, 5 mins after arriving i knew this wasn't the case!
We explored New Orleans all together before having a costume party that evening to get to know people better! best idea ever!
i will get back to this review, as I'm to excited and had to check out the tours avail for 2015!
I loved this trip and it was the most amazing experience!! Our tour manager Giuseppe and our driver Stefano were the best I could have asked for! They helped make this trip so fantastic!!! Giuseppe took the extra mile to help us, and give us extra tips on where to eat and where to go in our free time! He was so happy and always got us excited for the day to come! Everyone needs to do this Contiki!! Our group had 47 people and everyone got along, and I made some life long friends! I was a solo traveler from Canada and my roommate was from the UK...needless to say we are now best friends and planning to visit each other sooner then later! :) I did every Me Time optional and it was worth every penny! We got to go and tour and see the most impressive sites of Rome, Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano (DO THIS ME TIME OPTIONAL!! It was beautiful!) Verona and Venice.
It was hard to pick out cons with this trip! I felt Pisa and Verona were rushed, and I would cut down time spent in the outlet designer mall. I would also add the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Museum in Florence as Me Time optionals since it is hard to book tickets for them otherwise. I would also say to budget about 20-30 euros for water and bathroom usage ha ha! You have to pay for the bathroom and sometimes water is hard to find! Also bring comfortable shoes since there is A LOT of walking! That is the biggest tip I could give anyone. Also...buy something made of Florentine leather at the Leather demonstration store! They have beautiful and well priced items, and you will regret it if you don't :) I went back later in the day and got a leather box and I am so happy I did that!
I also want to add one thing about accommodations. The hotel in Rome I found to be a bit warm, but other then that I did not find any horror stories as some have posted on here. The BBhotel in Florence was definitely the best!! It was so clean and the air conditioning was FANTASTIC! The Venice hotel we only stayed in for one night, but it was very hot! Some people have complained about this trip not being worth the money, but I have to disagree. The fee for your tour not only includes your stay, but also the highway fees, gas for the bus, your backstage passes, the cost for your manager and driver to be there, and many other costs that many travelers are not aware of. The experience of meeting people and seeing all that you do in the time frame you have (1 week) is almost impossible if you did it on your own!
Those are just some tips :) EVERYONE BOOK THIS TOUR ASAP! You won't regret it! It will change your life forever! Message me if you have questions! :)
Living in Australia but never having seen much more than my home town, I decided to do this tour to see something different. Once again contiki did not disappoint, tour manager and especially bus driver were very knowledgeable and helpful - great people! I would recommend this tour to overseas and Australian travellers - you'll have a great time!
Where to begin... I don't even know how to put into words what I experienced on my tour! I booked this tour solo and it was the best decision I could have ever made. Hands down the most amazing month of my life. I strongly recommend to anyone who is thinking about doing this tour solo to 100% do it and to not be scared or anxious or worried.
Type of tour: Previously concept now 'high energy', that's exactly what it is. If you want to lie around the pool relaxing and having massages this is not the tour for you (however there is time for that in Corfu!). Be prepared for a jam packed tour seeing some of the most amazing places in the world. The contrasts itinerary is in my opinion one of the best to see Europe with. These tours also offer a mix of accommodation types. You get to stay at the special contiki stopovers and campsites and have party nights but you also get to stay in hostels with awesome bars and hotels in a few places! All the accom is clean and the food was always delicious. The onsite members do an awesome job at cooking amazing meals! Party nights are the best and are always some of the biggest nights on tour.
Length: 29 days is a perfect amount if you're wanting a tour that you get to see a lot with and bond with your group members but can't afford or don't have time for a longer tour. I could have stayed on that coach way longer and not gotten sick of it though! I was however extremely sick, as was everyone else and don't think I could have physically gone on for much longer due to the amount of alcohol being consumed and 3 hours sleep average most nights (this is of course your own choice!)
Optionals: I did all of the optionals except for the Mozart Concert and Bunker tour and I don't regret a single one! They were all amazing and definitely worthwhile. I recommend doing all dinner optionals as that is where your group bonding happens.
I can't comment on the Corfu sailing option but the resort was like heaven! After so long being on the go and running on minimal sleep, we got to relax by the pool at the amazing resort and float in lilos in the beach for 3 whole days! It was a much needed mini holiday within the trip. Don't be put off by the overnight ferry. It was actually the best night of sleep for the whole tour because our TM got us cabins and they were pitch black and soundproof! On the way back, we went to the nightclub on the ferry till 6am then slept until early arvo as we weren't arriving until 5 or 6 pm (we had a change in schedule to the normal one).
Some people don't know this until the start of the tour but it is customary to tip your TM and Driver 2 euro a day each. I am a huge believer in tipping them for their fantastic work and it's a way of saying thank you for looking after you and giving you an amazing experience for the past month. Some people didn't tip because they hadn't budgeted for it but I sacrificed other things to make sure I could tip them as I feel it is really important.
I can't finish this review without saying that I believe your fellow tour members and your attitude to the trip really do make a huge difference. I was lucky enough to have the most amazing group who clicked straight away and we all got on like a house on fire. We had a unique ratio of 30 guys to 13 girls which made for a very very rowdy trip. Our dynamic was so relaxed and chilled we were all so close within a few days!
I'd like to say a huge thank you to our amazing Tour Manager- Kellie Birkett who went out of her way to organise extra things and detours for us and had a very loud, crazy group to deal with. She knew so much about everywhere we went and was always happy to find out more for us or help us with extra activities. Our driver, Joao Silva was a legend!! Only his 2nd tour and he drove us up the windy hairpin bends to the top of Mt Vesuvius because we had extra time! He was so friendly and always enjoyed hanging out or doing optionals with us.
I have made the best friends from my tour. In under a year, 8 of us have already travelled to 5 Australian cities to see each other, we talk almost everyday on the phone and although it sounds cheesy and cliche, I 100% know we will be friends forever.
I'm devastated that I'll never get to experience Contiki in the same way again but i'm already planning another 3 tours for next year. Thanks for such an unforgettable, memorable experience!
The first night of the trip would have to be the highlight of the trip for me. Climbing all 669 stairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower at twilight watching the light change and taking amazing photos. Make sure that you make it to the bottom on the hour to watch the light show.
If you are planning on going to the Louvre make sure that you prebuy tickets and skip the line or you will wait in line for 1.5 hours as we did.
The Moulin Rouge was expensive but the show was great so much more that you expect. We sat that close to the stage that the feathers of some of the costumes would brush your face. It was definitely worth it.
Nice was a great time to relax and have time to yourself. The weather was amazing and the food was great. Make sure you treat yourself to a great lunch out with your new friends the seafood in Nice is amazing.
Monaco was amazing with all the fast cars and yachts. Dress to impress so you fit in and admire the views.
Florence has the best gelato in Italy in my opinion, make sure you try some.
Rome is super hot and there are plenty of pick pockets there make sure you watch your things. The Colosseum and Vatican's Sistine chapel are the highlights of Rome. Make sure that you do the optional cooking class. What could be better than telling your friends and family you learnt to make pasta in Italy!
Venice was great. The included gondola ride was beautiful.
Hopfgarten's Haus Lukas had the most amazing included meals and the white water rafting was great fun although even in summer it is super cold.
The Dachau concentration camp was so eerie and will open your eyes to things you never realised happened.
Even if you are not into beer make sure you go to the Hofbrauhaus in Munich and try pork knuckle and enjoy the atmosphere.
Even if you don't think that you will enjoy Mozart and Strauss concert in Vienna make sure you attend this one it is a great night and appealed to all that went. You will be surprised how many of the pieces you will know.
Prague is a beautiful place and with the exchange rate is a great place to do a bit of shopping. Don't expect the fairy-tale castles that you hear of though the castle was very underwhelming.
Amsterdam was a time to look at new and different things and beautiful to walk around with all the canals. Make sure you try a stroopwafel you will want to bring some home.
My best tips would be make sure you get into London a day early to get used to the time difference and recover from the flight. Make sure you pack great walking shoes. They will help with the vast amounts of walking you will do combined with all the cobblestones. A must is a rain jacket preferably with a hood. There is nothing worse than walking around all day in the rain unprepared.
Take the leap, be adventurous and enjoy the time of your life. The time is now! Don't wait around for someone else and don't fear being a solo traveller like I was you will make lots of new friends and will never be alone.
Vietnam is a genuinely beautiful and relatively untouched country that few people in the West (especially Australia) have truly seen. The good thing about this tour is that you get to see it from top to bottom. Central Vietnam (Nha Trang, Hue and Hoi-An) is one of the most beautiful regions of the world I have ever been.
Try ALL THE FOOD AND DRINK on the tour, the rat is good, the snake isn't the best and the snake and banana whisky will literally take your breath away. Get ready for a variety of delicious dishes that will be your staple diet for two weeks, and the spring rolls (wow)...the ones back at home will never be quite as good as they are in Vietnam.
The local people are generally friendly and helpful if you decide to go off the beaten track a bit. In the north they are ruder and less helpful but certainly not as harrassing or annoying as the locals in places like Bali. Be prepared to BARGAIN HARD, that means acting disinterested, walking away, and coming back 30 minutes later. The Vietnamese give no quarter but respect assertiveness.
Contiki get a 10% discount at the Yali (tailor-made) clothing outlet in Hoi-An so take full advantage of this and leave a little space in your luggage for a suit, shoes, dress or whatever you decide to get - there is alot of choice and the quality is top notch for a fraction of what you pay in the West. Both boat cruises off Nha Trang and Halong Bay are definitely worth it and are alot of fun. The Cu-Chi tunnels visited as part of the Vietnam Experience that aren't included in the Highlights tour are also great, make sure you physically get into the tunnels (they are tiny), open your mind to the Vietnamese perspective (while keeping in mind there is alot of blantant Communist propaganda) and shoot an AK-47, M16, Garand or M-60 at the end for good measure. In Hanoi, ask your tour manager to take you to the Water Puppets show, this is a weird and wacky cultural experience that is definitely worth the small entrance fee.
Being a slightly smaller contiki in terms of group size, your experience on this tour is impacted heavily by the quality of the group and tour manager, luckily both for me were good, especially the tour manager Alex Palma. Alex is very knowledgable and helpful, he also is good for a laugh to.
Make sure you book some time before and after your tour in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi (respectively) at a backpackers, as the backpacking culture is awesome and the pub crawls are definitely worth checking out. Don't get stuck partying with the same people, go and join in with the hundreds of backpackers who are keen to party! Central Backpackers in Hanoi is great for this due to the free beer they serve during happy hour, and the large pub crawls with Hanoi Original Backpackers are legendary.
First of all there is no perfect amount of time for a contiki tour I come to realise. A lot of people told me not to do a long one as it tends to drag on. I can tell you now it solely depends on the people in your group and I/we could have done this trip for the rest of our lives! 18 days was so fast and everybody grew so close to each other in such a short space. It will be an experience I'll never forget. Also Jake our tour manager with his laid back but knowledgeable personality made quite the difference. They probably say it to everyone but I truly felt this was the best group his ever had, it certainly felt that way anyway to the point where the whole bus was crying saying goodbye to one another at the end. Tiago our bus driver also made this your great, his bus tunes and funny quirky personality just added to it all. The wake up song and the arrival song I really enjoyed, to the point where I've made it my ringtone just because I never want to forget this amazing experience. Pay for the extras, you won't be disappointed! Money shouldn't be an issue, live it up! That's what you're there for! Only thing I could recommend is bring a neck pillow. Came very much in handy! Will be booking another contiki in the near future! Thanks jake and tiago, thanks contiki and thanks all my new friends :)
It was my first time with Contiki and also my first time travelling solo. I had the time of my life!!
First of all, our tour manager, Margherita, was the best ever!! She made everything to make every moment unforgettable! She gave us a lot of information about history, italian culture, best places to eat, best drink, maps with all the tips we need it. Our trip wouldn't have been as amazing without her!!!
Our driver, Enzo, did a great job of driving safely despite the crazy traffic of Italy. He also did his best to communicate with us despite the language barrier. He was always ready to get in and even when it was not their obligation.
I made a lot of friends from Canada, USA, Australia, France, Puerto Rico. Although my English was not fluent, I could talk, laugh and have a lot of fun.
The itinerary couldn't be more perfect! We discovered differents Italies in each city we went to.
I'm really in love with Italy, their food, people, culture and everything!
Thank you Contiki, Megghy and Enzo!