Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • Reviewed April 2018
    Paul Clifton

    Trails of Vietnam 1st - 14th April 2018

    Overall, this was a very enjoyable and active trip which enabled us to get a good undersanding of the different areas and lifestyles of the people from the hill-tribe villages in the north down to the islands and floating market traders in the Mekong Delta. Unfortunately, we were all disapointed when we were told that we would not be allowed to stay on our boat in Halong Bay overnight and would not be able to enjoy the planned kayaking around the islands. We had not made aware that this could happen. Following on from this we had a full day in Hue when it rained the whole day, whilst we did visit the Imperial Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda (in the rain) it prevented us cycling to other planned places of interest. Once we had flown south to Ho Chi Minh City and the weather improved (+35C) our moral was restored and we enjoyed a very active and varied 2nd half of the tour.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Visiting the two hilltribe settlements of Sung Village and Đá Bia village in Hoa Binh Province. and meeting the Dzau Tien and Muong people. So welcoming, uncommercial, natural and friendly.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Phi Hoang. Very nice guy, very knowledgeable and passionate about his country and culture. A minor criticism would be that he could have provided more information on interesting buildings and points of interest during the many long and tedious bus journeys we undertook. I suppose to him they are just everyday buildings but to us tourists they are all very interesting pieces of architecture and culture. Also, as I have noticed on my previous trip to Cambodia the guides always seem to take the tourists to the more upmarket, European, trendy and very expensive restaurants (by local standards). Personally, I would prefer to try the more authentic, local cuisine and more "street food". On one occasion, our guide wanted to take us to a restaurant by taxi which we could have walked to faster. When he called taxis to take us back to our hotel after our meal, we refused and said that we wanted to walk a little after our meal. We are all grown adults and do not need to be chaperoned.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I would advise potential travellers to try to add a couple of days onto the start and end of the trip if at all possible as this gives the traveler a little time to acclimatise and to get over some of the jet lag before starting a fairly intensive travell programme. On this particular trip, I would advise travelers to ensure they take something warm to wear on the overnight train journey with the Reunification Express from Hanoi down to Hue. The air conditioning is absolutely freezing and cannot be controlled from the cabins. The four people in our cabin froze and struggled to get any sleep.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Unfortunately, after a very good start to our trip we hit a low point on day 5 when we had travelled to Halong Bay for our overnight boat trip in the bay and Kayaking around the islands. Whilst we did board our boat and enjoyed a nice lunch sailing in the bay, we were told that the authorities had stated that "no boats would be allowed to stay on the water during the evening or night time due to an impending storm". We and all the other boats had then to return to shore and we were transferred to a very dated and tired looking hotel in Halong City for the night's stay. Many of the group were very disapointed that they did not get an opportunity for kayaking which was one of their main attractions when booking this trip. What made the situation worse was the fact that it was not wet or stormy during the night, so we could have stayed on board. The poor weather then hit the shore on the following day when we had travelled to Hue. Personally, prior to travelling I had thought Halong Bay would be the highlight of this trip but in reality, it was disapointing and overrated. The bay and islands are certainly beautiful but the area is far too commercial with too many tourists and hundreds of tourist boats all following each other around in circles in a closely controlled area of the bay.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Mary South

    Vietnam Adventure

    My experience if Vietnam was an adventure from start to finish. The highlites for me was the mountain trekking and staying with local tribes, experiencing their culture, food and kind hospitality. The homestay on the Mekong Delta was mind blowing, again the culture and food experience was unforgettable. Our guide Phi was excellent with his knowledge and aptitude for organising us, I felt privileged to have been able to learn so much about his wonderful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Definitely the home stays, being amongst tribal cultures and experiencing their lifestylez

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phi Gas an outstanding knowledge of his country with a great passion to share his wonderful country so that the traveller will experience the real Viestnam

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This was good introduction for me as a first time solo traveller and an excellent way to experience the culture and history.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Looking forward to planning my next adventure...
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Alice Bzowska

    Vietnam is outstanding

    Vietnam is a beautiful country full of friendly people, stunning landscapes, delicious food and hectic cities, and this trip encompasses it all along with some activity thrown in the mix!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved hanging out with the children at the homestay, even if we couldn't communicate properly with each other! They were all so sweet. I also loved weaving through the crazy Hanoi streets and cycling in the Mekong Delta. Hoi An was also excellent!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Small bags are needed for some of the stops, so maybe pack light! Learn hello (xin chao) and thank you (cam on) in Vietnamese as it is always nice to say to the locals. Take a tote bag with you for souvenirs and a reusable plastic bottle as you can fill it up on the bus. Go with an open mind as things can sometimes change due to weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Visit Vietnam before it becomes too touristy! It is an amazing country with so much to see and so much variation.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    Oliver Mills

    Varied and exciting tour of a fascinating country

    An excellent 2 week trip exploring the culture, nature and history of a beautiful country which, despite its complicated history with war, was one of the most friendly and welcomes places I've visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Inspirational is not quite the right word, but I loved the first hike when we reached the top of a lookout point where all around you you could see mountains and lakes. I also loved cycling through rice fields.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Phi was friendly, knowledgable and easy to talk to. He struggled to motivate the group when the overnight cruise was cancelled due to predicted poor weather, which never materialised, much to our frustration. I liked how he recommended local specialities at each restaurant, they were delicious.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light and make the most of the washing facilities provided, as small bags are required for a number of stops. Expect wet weather in the north/centre and very humid sun in the south. Bring a poncho and be aware that the itinerary may be forced to change due to weather conditions.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Growing up in England, you are not taught about the Vietnam War (or the American War as they call it), so learning about it in Vietnam was truly eye opening and horrifying. This trip combines culture, history and nature in equal measure and its multi-activity style meant each day was different and exciting.
  • Reviewed April 2018
    John Booth

    Trails of vietnam

    Trip didn’t get off to best start due to industrial action at Air France but Exodus went the extra mile to sort things, superb service as I’ve come to expect!!! Great trip too ... put it on your bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hoi An, cool city!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent, attentive & great sense of humour

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go for it!!
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Larry Meyers

    Trails of Vietnam--Traveling During the TET Holiday

    We were a group of 7 representing 5 nationalities. The size of the group bonded us quickly and kept it that way through out the trip. Couple with an excellent guide it was and will be remembered as a memorable trip. Before booking a trip in January or February check to see when the TET holiday will occur and decide if potential deviations from the standard trip notes will have an impact on what you want to see and experience. TET is not a festival, rather a holiday period for the Vietnamese people to leave the cities and return to the country to spend time with their families. Millions of people are on the move which starts with the Vietnamese New Years Eve. All told we experienced the impact from Day 5 through Day 13 of our trip. Some guide books will advise you not to visit during TET as you will experience closed businesses and the businesses that remain open often hike their prices. While the hotels are operating restaurants options are limited and may only offer a set course meal to serve to tourists. Our guide was constantly adjusting our schedule to accommodate for TET--substituting a cycle day for a kayak trip, locating someone to do our laundry while in Hoi An and of course picking our restaurants. On the plus side there was less traffic to deal with.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reflecting back now it was clearly the two nights we stayed with the hill-tribes. Given our small group it was easy to interact with the adults and especially the children. The music and the dancing on the second night was as enjoyable for the village as it was for us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tuyen Nguyen was everything you would want in a guide--professional, well organized, capable of dealing with multiple changes in itineraries (think TET) plus a good sense of humor. He worked his hardest to make sure we enjoyed our time in his country. Our bus rides were filled with his wisdom and wit.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Weather in the north can be really cold especially at the homestays--a sleeping sheet or a light sleeping bag if you chill easily--the bedding provided is a sheet and a blanket. Ear plugs are essential as the dogs and roosters are everywhere. Bring the slippers from the Day 1 hotel to use in the sleeping rooms. You will be backpacking on Day 3 to your new homestay. It rained on us and was very slippery and muddy. Your large bag will be stored at a hotel on Day 2, 5, 11 & 12. You can pack more stuff after the homestay but you still have to carry it between the bus and your night's stay. Day 7 is a long day and one needs to have cycle gear readily available--from the train right to cycling--gel saddle cover and gel cycle shorts really help. We didn't see the sun until Day 7 but the sunscreen came out from then on. Bugs were not a problem.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip covers a lot of ground. You will experience considerable time on the bus and periods of inactivity especially at the front end of the trip. This isn't a cultural trip nor is it an activity trip. As a group we only kayaked on Day 5. Cycling often seemed to have no purpose other than to keep us busy. What was billed as trekking was really just walking. A pleasant surprise was the overall quality of most of the hotels. The guesthouse on Day 12 was a very nice end to the trip. The trip is just an overview of Vietnam. I arrived a week before the group and booked my own trip to Siem Reap. In Hanoi I spent several days walking the city and going to the various museums. That week will always be my personal highlight.
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Martin Goodman

    Trails of Vietnam 20th January 2018

    Just returned from this trip The Trails of Vietnam and we have had the time of our lives. It’s the first time as a couple we have attended a group holiday and we were a little nervous about how we would mix with the 12 other participants. We need not worry as our group were all of a similar age group (50 plus) and we all got on very well indeed. The group leader was called Thanh Vo although he preferred to be called ‘Ten’. Ten was a absolute legend and made the whole trip so enjoyable and he was professional and knowledgable throughout. The balance of activities is perfect and the organisation was impeccable. We stayed in homestays with families in the Vietnam countryside and in some rather nice hotels in the towns and cities. What struck me is we never had to spend time waiting for anything. When we’d arrive at a hotel we didn’t have to all queue to check in. Instead we would immediately be given our room keys and sometimes our bags would already be waiting for us in our rooms. There are times when you need to pack for just 2 nights and leave your big suitcases at the hotel so take a rucksack too. The whole transportation of our baggage was very well organised throughout. The overnight train is also great fun and its surprising how well we all slept on this journey. In some of the home-stays you are all in the same room (although you do have privacy) and the odd snorer in the group may keep you awake so take some earplugs! The cycling was a reasonable length of time but do take gel cycling shorts to prevent a sore bottom. There is absolutely NO need to take a saddle or helmet as the equipment provided is of a high quality. The walks/hikes were not too taxing and were very scenic and done at a leisurely pace. There are plentiful times to do shopping to buy ‘original copies’ shirts/bags/trainers etc. The bus journeys are done a very comfortable bus with plenty of room and WiFi onboard with suitably spaced out refreshment/toilets stops. We chose to relax and conserve our energy on the bus journeys and they were also some of the funniest parts of the trip too. This really is a wonderful holiday experience. Go for it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The boat trip to Halong Bay and the kayaking were great days/nights and the overnight train. Walking through the towns and taking in the history of this amazing country. Too many highlights!!!!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I think his name was Thanh Vo although we all called him ‘Ten’ We cannot put into words how brilliant this man is at his job and he made the whole experience for us so special. A true professional who really cared about the group and his enthusiasm for his country was infectious. His organisation was top class and we all felt lucky to have him as our guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t take a saddle ( a saddle over cover or gel shorts is adequate) No need to bring your own cycle helmets as the equipment provided including the cycles themselves are of a very high quality. Along with you big suitcase bring a decent size rucksack to hold 2 days clothes and toiletries. Don’t pack to many clothes as the laundry services (they’re everywhere) are of a good quality and are usually 1USD for 1KG washed dried and ironed within 24 hours absolute BARGAIN!!! The many markets sell t shirts, shorts, sandals, trainers etc for next to nothing so leave plenty of room in your cases. You can go your own way in an evening if you wish, or stay with the group for dinner. The guide Thanh always pointed us in the right direction as he knew all the best eateries and we found our group amazingly great company. Usually the group are all of the same mindset after all we’ve all booked the same holiday! We expected the group to be younger but were pleased to see we were all within 10 years of each other around the 50 year old mark.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You cannot fail if you book this. It’s a great balance of activities and you really feel you know what Vietnam is about. You dont have to be a fitness freak to take part either. An amazing country with amazing people.
  • Reviewed January 2018
    Jennifer Carter

    A truly life enhancing experience

    This was an intensive two weeks of exploration, adventure, learning and physical challenge. As the holiday approached, I had begun to feel some apprehension as to whether I (aged 65 )was fit enough for all the activities, especially the longer cycle rides. From the first day, on arrival in Hanoi, we fell in love with Vietnam. The expertise, knowledge and support of our fantastic guide, Bac, helped us to meet all the challenges, including the 40+ km cycle ride on tracks along the Mekong Delta. All the members of our group 'gelled' very quickly. This was fortunate as the day after arrival we were off to our first home-stay with hill-tribe families where we all shared sleeping quarters and limited washing/toilet facilities in a traditional long house! This was supposed to be the dry season. We expected it to be a little cool in the North but it was really quite cold and damp with unseasonable amounts of rain. In the south it was warm but also wet. Nevertheless, we found the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Vietnam to be thoroughly alluring even if the more distant mountain views on our hill treks were shrouded in mist - still very atmospheric! Don't expect to have much time for relaxation - the schedule is pretty tight. This tour gives you a really good taste of the country, from North to South and also perhaps, a desire to return to spend more time exploring in greater depth and at greater leisure!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I think the opportunity to meet with the hill-tribe families and get to know a little about their lives was a great privilege and education. We also took an optional morning's cycle tour on the island Cam Kim near Hoi An where we met local villagers in their homes doing their work such as weaving sleeping mats from reeds, making rice wine and making rice noodles. We had the privilege of being able to try our hand at reed weaving and at making rice noodles. We spent time with Mr Do, the rice wine maker and learnt about his struggles to build a new life after he had lost his leg to a landmine during the war with Cambodia. He was truly inspirational! Everywhere we went, especially in the rural areas, we were greeted with great enthusiasm and the children, particularly, would run out shouting, 'Hallo!' and waving. The warmth and friendliness of the people was a joy.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We were so lucky to have had Bac as our group leader. he worked 24/7 to make our experience very special, including recommending and organising group meals in local restaurants and also in a family home. He managed to keep us all, more or less to schedule, organised to have our laundry done by local workers etc etc. He was an extremely knowledgeable and effective tour guide both during our visits to historic sites and our treks and other pursuits. He never seemed to get tired or lose his enthusiasm for what he was doing. No request was too much trouble for him. He is a true asset to the company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are not already a moderately experienced cyclist, I would recommend some regular practice prior to the holiday. I was very pleased that I had spent time building up a bit of stamina before the holiday as I had not been on a bike for 12 years and would never have referred to myself as a cyclist! We found our silk sleeping bag liners extremely useful for the home-stays and overnight sleeper train. Padded cycling shorts are to be highly recommended! Even with them we couldn't avoid getting somewhat saddle-sore! Don't be put off though because the experience is really so worth-while and ample compensation for a temporally sore bottom! This is a full-on experience , not a relaxing holiday. At times you may feel you would like to spend longer in certain places, but that will have to be on another trip!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    There were 16 of us in our group - my husband and I were probably the oldest at 70 and 65, but not by far. Most were between 50 and 65 with a 22 year old and a 30 -40 year old. Regardless of age though, Exodus recommends you should be moderately fit and I would say that is definitely so and possibly a little bit under-estimated, especially for our age group.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Cat Conley

    Great trip

    Great trip but a lot of time traveling. Which if you can sleep on buses is great as gives you a chance to catch up. It really is a on the go all times trip. But the locations and different cities is worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Loved the kayaking especially in the rain.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Lam was great. Good sense of humour, and the patience of a saint.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I think this trip is accessible to all. I would recommend taking an umbrella. Buying a waterproof case/pouch for phone for the kayaking. Pack of cards. Small hold-all for all the home stays. Most of us just had backpack which we needed to use for walking so ended up with stuff in platic bags.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Well worth doing. I got to see all of Vietnam in a short time.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Deb Norman-pawley

    Wow!

    This trip is non stop.. you see and do so much with a fun, knowledgeable guide. There is nothing we were not happy with...brilliant experience

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Not sure I could chose one but probably the war tunnels ..

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Such fun from start to finish and worked tirelessly to ensure everything was good..so knowledgeable and passionate too...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just do It! .. ideal for single travellers too

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    2nd exodus trip and both have been amazing ..
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