Read reviews from past Contiki travelers.
I went on this trip by myself and before I had even got to LA I was already speaking with 15+ people who were also doing this trip. We had such a great group of people who all got along and it was our tour managers first trip by himself taking a group. There were big days and long nights out partying and sightseeing of course, but it evens itself out when you have long bus days so you can sleep it off! Never say no to anything because you will regret it. Met so many awesome people, and keep in contact with alot and planning future holidays together even. This really was a trip of a lifetime, there is so much to see and do in America, and travelling solo via Contiki is the best way. Hopefully one day I will do the Grand Northern and have the same experience. 26 days is the perfect amount of time. Don't think about it for too long, this is something you wont' regret!
Highly recommend this tour to anyone out there looking to getaway to somewhere warm and beautiful. The sights are stunning and list of activities to do are endless. My favourite part was probably making friends with the contiki group from all around the world!
Australia was never really on my bucket list, I simply wanted to go somewhere different and the timing worked out for me. This was an unexpected adventure of a life time. This is my no.2 favorite contiki tour yet. worth every penny. If you love outdoor sports, Australia is just the spot for you. Every city brought a new and different treat. I got to bungy jump, sky dive, sail, snorkel, surf, camp (first and last time hehehe), pet a koala, hang a python around my body, hang with kangaroos and also ate quite a bit of their succulent meat. I probably would never travel to Australia again, but I made sure I enjoyed a lot of what it had to offer. A tip for those going to the northern territory, take a bug repellent for your body! I also purchased a face net that made my life much easier...bugs everywhere! lol. But that definitely added to the experience. I took a separate trip to Melbourne to enjoy yarra valley wine and try out their popular food culture...loved it!
oh yeah, Australia is insanely expensive. I had a water bottle which I refilled at every hotel we went to...that helped a lot instead of spending $5 on water, ridiculous.
Courtney is the best tour manager EVER and you seriously have to do this tour. it was the best time of my life by far!
This tour had AMAZING potential. the cities were beautiful and the other members of the tour were really what saved it. Our tour manager was literally the worst I had ever heard of, and I sincerely hope he no longer works for Contiki. I was on this tour from July 21 to August 4 2013, and it was the last part of my 10 week holiday. I had previously been on two other Contikis, which were 10/10 amazing, so ending my trip with this complete dud of a tour was even more disappointing after having such great experiences in the past. Our tour manager, Emmo, was better suited for tour groups aged 65+. He completely discouraged any sort of fun-having, right down to refusing to let us have a Day Song. If you have been on a contiki before, you know that a Day Song is what is played in the coach every morning, plays at the bars you go to, and is overall just the "theme song" of the tour. Having done two contikis before, my self and the girl i was travelling with already had ideas of what we could suggest to be our day song. after sitting through a 2 hour (literally two hours, could have even been more) lecture that was 100% unnecessary, we boarded the coach, only to be shouted at for the slightest muttering about a day song. Our fun-sucking tour manager would not allow a day song and refused any of our protests, as though he wasn't the one we were paying to show us a good time. after two days of arguing with him, we finally got our song. after that, each day was filled with Emmo lecturing us for entire 9 hour drives, not letting us sleep on the coach as we had wanted, him leaving us in a random spanish town, giving us nothing but shotty directions on how to WALK back to the hotel. now this was the real kicker, because my previous tour managers had never left us to our own devices, as they were the ones who were supposed to be the experts. we all ended up getting lost for 2 hours walking around, terrified, constantly asking locals for directions. we were all so upset and scared and it honestly ruined the tour for us. in summary, i would recommend this tour only if Emmo is no longer the tour manager, for that matter, i would recommend not doing any tour that he is working on, if he still works for Contiki.
I had hands down the greatest time in Australia. From the gorgeous views to the tasty food! I took advantage of sky diving in Cairns and it was the best thing I've ever done, I recommend everyone do it even if you're scared. Everyone on the tour got along so there was always someone to hang out with. I'll never forget laying out under the stars on the farm stay. It was breath-taking! I only wish we were able to spend more time in Byron bay... and that the trip was longer! There was nothing on the trip that I didn't love!
This trip was absolutely amazing, would recommend to anyone wanting too see what's out there. :) Great bunch of people.
This was my first Contiki trip, went alone not knowing what to expect, and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life! Met a lot of wonderful friends, our tour guide was helpful and entertaining. The tour was long enough where I didn't feel rushed from place to place, but short enough where I didn't feel homesick. It's a great taste of Italy, just enough of an intro to make you want to come back to your favorite cities. Definitely recommend Italian Espresso!
Overall the tour was good. We saw many sites and had fun doing it. The biggest problem encountered was the flights booked by Contiki. The airline booked our flight on a Wednesday morning from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls instead of Tuesday morning when it was supposed to be. Contiki should have confirmed the correct departure date and time well enough in advance to avoid this situation. As a result we had to change our departure flight from Iguassu Falls to Rio de Janeiro. That flight had to be changed to the following morning due to technical problems with the jet. It is not Contiki's fault for the technical airline problems but if Contiki had us on the proper flight the first time, we would not of encountered the delay in our flight from Iguassu to Rio. This resulted in condensed time in both Buzios and Rio de Janeiro. The tour manager did her best under the circumstances and did well to ensure we did everything we planned on doing during the tour however we were very rushed in Brazil with no downtime. I only hope that Contiki has learned from this mistake and doesn't let it happen again.
Great way to see the East Coast of America should your travelling time be limited. Met some amazing people. The pace was varied through out - Party nights in Miami, touring Washington and arriving in New York.
I took my husband for his 30th birthday and we had a blast! All of the people in our tour group were friendly and all about having fun. Mike was our tour guide and did a great job of answering any questions we had. Overall I was very satisfied!
I went on this tour a few years ago in 2011 and I have just booked another Contiki because I had so much fun on the last one. My tour guide was Cam and he was a very knowledgeable guide but was also very relaxed which made for a really fun 2 weeks!
I met up with some fellow Contiki crew the day before the tour started at the hotel, which was a nice welcome to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Bangkok was certainly an experience, although I was very glad to make our way north on the overnight train to Chiang Mai in the country. The train was a very different experience but loved it, I did feel sorry for the 2 monks we had in our carriage though.This felt like the real Thailand! I loved the Thai cooking class, and making big flames with my cooking! The Tigers were absolutely amazing, scary at first until I gave him a big belly rub.
The Long neck people in Chaing Rai was very eye opening as I had never seen anything like this before, and they were so friendly. We had a nurse on our trip which was helpful to the locals who had a sick little boy at the time.
The boat was a nice relaxing time, being able to chill out was just what we needed to prepare ourselves for the next week, a great time to read a book!
Pakbeng was a really cute little place, and glad we got to stop by there.The accommodation was nice, as Cam said about the bathroom "you can sit on the toilet, have a shower and brush your teeth at the same time" that's how small it was :)
Luang Prabeng was great fun, the elephants, the water falls, and a night out a Utopia! Riding bikes around the town was super fun with our local guide Tooey! I did miss out on the giving of the alms which is the only thing I regret about the trip ( I turned my alarm off in my sleep ) So make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time for this activity! Once again the accommodation was nice, and they even have a laundry service so take advantage of this!
The bus trip to Vang Vieng was a very long and adventurous journey. It was supposed to take 8 hours it took almost 13!!! These roads were very very very rough due to the wet season and landslides etc. So be patient and remember its about the journey not the destination. We had a lot of fun singing to old classics and taking in all the local village life. We came to a section of the road that was literally a river! we had to stop and take our bags out of the bottom of the bus and put them into the bus as the water was going to go through the baggage area, it was an unexpected event but gave us a real insight into how the Laoation people live. The locals took the flooding as a chance to go fishing, drink beer and laugh at the tourists is the bus!!
After a very long day we arrived in Vang Vieng, this place is amazing! the accommodation is set right on the river amongst some beautiful mountains.
One thing you must do is Vang Vieng is to split up into some smaller groups and go on a local tour. It cost about $15 AUD, but worth every cent. They picked us up from the hotel and took us to a local street and talked all about their way of life, cost of building a house etc. They then took us into some caves and into a water cave on tubes that attached to a rope with headlamps on, meanwhile it was pouring rain, so don't wear anything you care about, buy a Lao Lao singlet or something! I also recommend taking some sandals such as Teva, that way you can wear them in the water without them coming off. Thongs were kind of impractical at times. The we had lunch in a hut by the river which was delicious! Our guides took all of our bags and followed us down the river tubing, making sure we were all ok. I know this part of the trip has been taken off the itinerary, which is unfortunate but I can understand. I am certainly glad I had a local guide with me when we did this for extra safety.
Vientianne was nice, I think we were only there for a night so I don't recall anything too crazy! We did go to a restaurant that had amazing local food that supported a charity.
We flew from Vientianne to Pnohm Penh which was a nice change to a long bus trip. Pnohm Penh was crazy! We hadn't even pulled up to our hotel and young locals were selling us thing through he windows, such as books and sunglasses. This is great if you want some bargains, but be careful, they wont leave you alone!! The tour to the Genocide museum was sad, but its great to have a real insight into their history.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was also by plane! They save the best till last, I LOVED Siem Reap, the accommodation was just beautiful!! Visiting the floating villlages was unique, great photo opportunity here. Siem Reap had some nice shopping and cafes, I even bought and ipad there! I was envious of everyone else with one which made swapping photos with each other a lot easier. So having a computer or some spare USBs is handy at this point as the trip is about to end. Angkor Wat was just crazy!! Especially drinking champagne watching the sunrise up over the landmark. It made getting up early that little bit more interesting!
The last night in Siem Reap will be the best yet as you have made some really great friends. Believe it or not you only met them 1 days ago and you wont want to leave them :(
I went on this tour on my own and don't regret that at all. I am still in touch with some of the girls and guys 3 years on, and plan more trips together as they are all like minded people. That's why your on this trip right?! To meet people from the other side of the world, gain more contacts for your next adventure, visit them in their country!
All in all this was a life changing trip as I am still talking about this trip, it gave me such an unforgettable cultural experience and I still use the Language I learned on the trip on Thai restaurants here is AUS. I recommend using their language as much as possible, just to see the smile on their faces!
I'm sorry for the long review, once I got started i just couldn't stop, so I hope this was helpful - things may have changed from my trip to your trip though.
My next tour is the Thai Island hopper East in April!!
The tour manger and the coach driver were real real good. I could not ask anyone else to guide me like them. The group was best of all and i had a great time with them. The extra actives were fun and the night life were really good and all the fun we had.
I absolutely adored this, it woke up my travel bug, my tour manager was amazing, one of the best people i've ever met. I met people on this tour who are now life long friends
London and paris was amazing, I absolutely loved the people I was with and my tour manager and bus driver were amazing people and they both helped all of us greatly. I decided to follow the tour to Amsterdam so I could stay in Europe longer and that was the best decision I ever made. Amsterdam was simply incredible. I highly recommend this trip.
I recently returned from my trip doing the Grand Southern (LA to NY) - this was honestly the best time of my life! It was my first time overseas, so I travelled with my sister and we had a blast! Of course we were nervous going but once we were there and met everyone on our bus we lost all our nerves. Our group became family. We were blessed to have such amazing people on our tour and a great tour guide Andy. Since we have been back everyone has organised multiple contiki catch ups and we are all heading to Brisbane for Australia Day next year together! I have definitely made friends for life. From the very start it was a lot of partying and socializing. There were always moments to wind down and catch up on sleep on the bus. I wouldn't recommend doing this tour if you are under 21 as it would be extremely difficult to watch the rest of the group go out almost every night and be stuck in the hotel room. I am happy to answer any specific questions if you would like more info. My advice is to JUST BOOK IT! You will have #noregrets :)
This was a fabulous trip and I had an amazing time over the 25 days. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone who would like to get a good feel of what Europe is like, it was just the right amount of time, anything shorter and I don't think it would of been as enjoyable. Do as many of the extras as you can, they really make the trip.
As a concept tour, you agree to pay a little less, to stay in lower grade accomodation. Do it. Choose this option. You can drink more, buy more and eat more.
Accomodation: Yeah, it's mainly hostels and you bunk with a few of your new friends, but after the first night and day with your group of around 50, it'll feel almost natural. Most breakfasts were included and continental. Take advantage of this, it's free and why buy food when you don't need to?
Locations: Every country was different and every city was more beautiful than the last. Make sure you have a good camera and a large memory card, because you're going to want to take as many pictures as you can because it's that fricking pretty.
People: I travelled with my sister, and a lot of people travelled either alone or with another friend. It takes a while to remember everyone's names but I guarantee you will be friends with most if everyone by the end of the first week. Spending an entire day on a bus with them all kind of forces you to, but you know #noregrets.
General review: I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. Even though we only spent 2 nights in most places, I know exactly which places I want to go back to. This is a great all rounder trip and there's plenty of oppurtunities fro everyone no matter what you're in to. Solo exploring, making friends, museums, parties, culture, whatever it is, there's plenty of it.
My two top tips for this tour are
1) Sleep the first night in a new city, rest up and explore during the full day, then party hard (if that's your style) the second night. The next day will be mostly spent on the coach, so as long as you're on there when the bus leaves the hostel, you're free to sleep your hangover off.
2) Eat as healthy as you can. If you're young, and in Europe, chances are you're gonna do your liver a bit of trouble. Even if you're not a drinker, make sure you eat fruit and veg and as balanced of a diet as you can get jumping between cities. Try new foods, but make sure you don't only eat pringles and drink vodka. If you get sick on this trip, you're gonna have a bad time. If one person gets a cold on the coach, it'll spread pretty quickly.
This was my first contiki on my first big trip. My tour manager Caroline was awesome, she knew the answers to our questions before we even knew what our questions were. She knew her way around, and made it her sole priority to organise the best time we could have. The people I met were awesome.
Pros: All meals included, choices of buffet or restaurant setting. Choice to get unlimited drinks tab for 80 Euros I think it was. Good crew on the ship
Cons: Shared giant cruise ship with old folks, not enough time to completely explore each place we went to. That being said, I looked at this trip in terms of a taste tester. I didn't know where I wanted to go, but now I've been to them, I know where I want to go back and discover more of.
If you're planning on partying hard, and turning every stone this isn't the tour for you, but if you want to experience a bit of everything, this is perfect. It really does take the hassle out of organising the trip yourself. The optionals are a little pricey, but you won't want to do all of them or else you wont have any free time because the boat's got to go between islands at a certain time.