burton on trent
- There were many good points with this trip but also a couple of minor ones.
Firstly the accommodation was excellent throughout the trip. the itinerary was varied and the pace was " progressive". It was neither relaxing or full on but that depends on how much you want to see.
A big downside was the trip from Thailand to Cambodia. Our first guide was terrible. We never did get to find out his name but we were only with him for a day. On arrival at the Cambodian border , he took the whole group of 13 into a restaurant or more of a shop with tables. He told us that we would eat here and that the owners would organise our "express" visas through to Cambodia. This would cost $40 (a visa is only $30) , and 300 bahts for food each. I raised the point that we could all easily just go to the border and sort our own visas out but he just ignored me and kept repeating that the owner would sort everything out whilst we ate some lunch. My partner and I refused and flagged down a tuk tuk and proceeded to the border where we organised our own visas , which was very quick and easy to do. We were through within 20 minutes. We both feel this was some sort of scam and that because the guide was only with us for 1 day he thought he could get away with it.
By contrast, the next guide we had in Cambodia ,Nak was absolutely brilliant. In fact so much so that he made this part of the trip very special. The highlights in Cambodia were Ankor Wat and Ankor Thom. The boat trip was also excellent as were the "killing fields" trip and the prison. The food was good and varied and the people very friendly.
We traveled into Vietnam via public bus so you experience how the locals travel. This was great. Going through the border between Cambodia and Vietnam is a pain. Very slow and time consuming , but all part of the experience.
Our tour guide in Vietnam , Bee , was a contrast to Nak. Although he was a very nice person , we felt that we were there for his benefit. On several occasions he took us to restaurants at night that were owned by his friends , and then he would leave us to go and eat with other people he knew , or would just leave us there and go. He would usually wait until everyone had eaten breakfast in the morning ,and then left , and then go and have his . He tried to up sell the most expensive trips . On one occasion there were 2 trips we could choose from . One was a river cruise ($15) and the other was a more expensive trip ($45), although I can't remember what that was. He said that the river cruise wasn't running because of the weather and when nobody wanted to do the more expensive trip , the river cruise was available again. ( so we all did that). He always took us to top end restaurants even though i suggested we eat at simpler places so we ate with locals and not another group of tourists. Saying all that though , 2 American ladies were very impressed by him and they say he did do a lot for them , and they tipped accordingly .
Haylong bay was another highlight although just a word of warning , don't expect the place to yourself like you see on the internet .........
My partner wanted to add about the train journeys , of which there are 3. As much as they were enjoyable , she felt that it would have been beneficial to pay extra to have a better sleeping compartment due to the thin mattresses in the compartments we had.
We hope this has been useful when thinking about doing this trip. Its a great trip and the score of 9 for tour leader is for Nak , the others would range between 1 and 6.
Published on: 18 December 2016