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.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed November 2018
    Theo Theodoulou

    AOP181027

    Good holiday with an excellent guide called Keigo Ninomiya. He was always available and provided some fantastic optional trips such as the temple of a thousand budhas in Kyoto called Sanjusangen-do. I do not understand why this was not in the itinerary.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Temple of a Thousand Budhas In Kyoto and the optional trip to Mount Fuji. The EDO museum in Tokyo was very good. The bullet train trip to Hiroshima was also inspirational and may be more time should allowed for the Peace Memorial Museum.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Keigo Ninomiya was excellent always helpful planning optional trips on our free days and buying our railway tickets for instance on our day trip to Mount Fuji which involved bullet trains and other transport.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    MasterCard and Visa were accepted everywhere contrary to the trip notes so less cash is needed. In addition, the minimum cash withdrawal from 7 Eleven stores was 10,000 Yen which is around £70 which is a large amount if you are in the last few days of your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotel in Tokyo was not very good. I paid a single room supplement and I could barely move it was so small. The trip to the snow monkeys was a waste of time as they did not appear which according to other group members is quite normal. This should be dropped and an extra day added to Tokyo where an optional visit to Mount Fuji could be added. There are so many things to do in Tokyo that the time we spent did not do it justice.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Kate Woch

    Japan - land of dreams

    Japan is a must in regards to countries you should see in your lifetime. This itinerary covers a lot and you will get a comprehensive outlook on Japanese culture through it. Every single day was an experience of it's own. There is a lot to say about Japan: transport system is excellent, streets are spotlessly clean. The best costumer service you will get and one of the kindest/most efficient people you will have a pleasure to meet. The diversity between new and old that you can see so clearly just by visiting Kyoto and Tokio is so interesting to witness. I will definitely come back to Japan after this trip!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Geisha district in Kyoto, mystic Nara with shrines and deers, cultural diversity in Tokio, traditional Japanese villages in Takayama, Matsumoto and Yudanaka, and of course...food!!! So many inspirational moments :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take it all in and enjoy the ride, be open-minded to a very different culture and try to immerse yourself in it.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Martin McColgan

    A Wonderful Trip to a Fascinating Country

    I have been on many trips, all over the world, during the past decade or so, including many with Exodus. This Exodus trip I would rank as one of the very best. From start to finish, it was a wonderful experience, with a great group of fellow travelers. Each day was filled with new delights. The Japanese people were consistently kind, friendly, welcoming, and polite. The transport system is absolutely superb. The spotlessness of every location - even side streets in huge cities - has to be experienced to be believed. I am absolutely adamant that I will return to Japan in the near future because I was so enthralled by my experience during this trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Big things? The sheer scale of the space age buildings in Tokyo, standing not far from delightful back alleys with great restaurants and bars. Or the traditional dwellings and tea houses of Kyoto, with the promise of a sighting of geishas in the early evening. Hiroshima. The artistry of so many shrines and temples. Smaller things? The lovely student lad who, when we couldn't find our way back to our hotel, insisted on taking us all the way to the front door - then bowed at us as if we had done HIM a service. Snow monkeys - hilarious. The tiny bars in the Golden Gai in Tokyo. The first ryoken - and the first onsen.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Keigo Ninomiya . What a wonderful group leader; indeed, what a wonderful friend. He loved his country, and was desperate for us to experience and enjoy as much of it as possible. This was a man who did not accept that a "free day" was a day of respite for himself. Keigo was with us EVERY day and EVERY night. Our itinerary was so much more full than the extensive programme outlined in the trip notes. We visited temples and shrines which were not covered in the notes, we went to great restaurants (ie great food and drink, for modest prices, in traditional Japanese places), we went to Japanese theatre. in Tokyo. On one particular night in Tokyo, after our meal, a small group of us wanted to visit the Golden Gai. Keigo was immediately obliging, and led us to the place and to a delightful little bar, which could accommodate no more than a dozen people. We stayed there until 1.00am. Keigo was up bright and early the next morning, having arranged the theatre visit on our "free day". THAT was the kind of commitment he had throughout our trip. I have had great guides on every Exodus trip. In an exalted group, Keigo is the top man. Thank you so much, Keigo.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring a portable umbrella. Expect rain in Japan. Do a bit of basic homework about bars and restaurants before you go. Eating can be fairly cheap. The small supermarkets are well stocked with sandwiches, etc, for a modest lunch. There are PLENTY of small supermarkets, close to hotels, where you can stock up on essentials. Hotels have kettles, so if you have a supply of tea bags and/or coffee to supplement the handful of items supplied by hotels, it might make things easier. Day tickets for buses are about 600 yen, and if you are travelling on your own in Kyoto or Tokyo, these can be a good investment. Western food and drinks are available, but if you go into a "British Pub", such as "The Hub", which is behind the Kyoto Tower, you'll pay about £7 for a pint. There are also "Irish Bars", such as the one at the rear of Kyoyo railway station, where Guinness, or an equivalent, will cost 1000 yen, which is comfortably more than £7 a pint. Japanese pale beers, in Japanese places, are a MUCH better purchase.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I'm going back, in the foreseeable future. I suspect that, if YOU go, you'll feel the same way afterwards.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Pauline stanlake

    I think I'm turning Japanese?

    We loved Japan. The people were amazingly friendly and helpful, the food was an experience in itself. The different culture had to be witnessed. The lack of litter was refreshing. The punctuality of the trains had to be seen to be believed.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Mount Fuji emerge from the clouds when we arrived at Hakone.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Initially disastrous. Pepe? stepped in on day 2 and was excellent until he handed over to Shin-ichi Maruyama who provided excellent service for the remainder of the tour. He really went the extra mile, including guided tours around Tokyo that weren't part of the itinerary. He always ensured that the group kept together, essential when connecting trains where there was a 5 minute gap between them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just savour the whole experience. The Ryokans, especially in Takayama were very different but should be taken in context. What's the point of staying in 5 star hotels. You would just be missing out on a truly Japanese traditional inn. Surely that's the whole point of the trip. Plus the food was exceptional. Also be prepared for long days, long train journeys and lots of walking. But if you want to see so much in such a short period this is what it takes.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    While we enjoyed the Ryokan in Takayama, it was isolated from the town. Perhaps an extra night in Matsumoto might be an alternative. Kyoto was a good introduction and the walk along the Philosophers path is to be recommended. Such a peaceful contrast to the city with a lovely traditional tea house en route. The river cruise at dusk in Tokyo could also be included in the trip notes as a recommendation as people who did it said how enjoyable and spectacular it was.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Helen & Joe Winkler

    Great Trip

    We had booked this trip to mark our 40th wedding anniversary and it did not disappoint. The travel arrangements all worked very well and our accommodation was of a very good standard. We had a brilliant guide, who introduced us to a series of memorable experiences, including our first taste of authentic Japanese cooking. The trip lived up to our expectations and was very much in line with what had been set out in the Trip Notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In no particular order...... Seeing Mt Fuji appear through the clouds Travelling on the Shinkansen......seriously quick! Seeing the contrast between the countryside and the built up areas as we travelled around Walking The Philosophers Path in Kyoto.....very peaceful Seeing the macaques at Yukanada...the babies in particular were very entertaining Experiencing early morning rush hour on the Tokyo Metro Appreciating the cleanliness of the country...no litter to be seen anywhere Feeling welcome in a strange land

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is an excellent leader and nothing was too much trouble for her. She went out of her way to make sure that we all enjoyed our time in Japan. On arriving in our hotel room in Kyoto on the first evening, we found that she had left us a card and gift for our anniversary. The daily arrangements for travel were a masterclass in organisation, always done with a smile. Misa gave up her own time to make sure that we could all make the most of our free days. Some of the group found the food choices challenging, so Misa put a lot of effort into finding dishes to suit their dietary requirements. We learned a lot about Japanese culture and history from Misa and her charm and grace was simply an extension of how we were received by Japanese people in general.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Realise that the food in Japan is totally different from what you are used to. Read the Trip Notes carefully and bring your own snacks and/or be prepared to shop in the local small supermarkets. We had never eaten Japanese before and found that most things were delicious. Everywhere you go, the toilets are spotless. Most do not have hand dryers or paper towels, so do as the Japanese do and carry a small towel or flannel with you for hand drying. There is quite a bit of walking and steps, so make sure you have your walking legs on!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It’s a great experience, well worth trying.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Rita Manni

    An unforgettable holiday

    I loved this trip! We have seen a variety of places and we have learnt learn so much about the Japanese culture. Overall this trip is well organised and I thing that there is a good balance between free and organised time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed staying at the ryokans, the meals we had there and the onsen experience. The most memorable temple was Daishō-in on the island of Miyajima. The atmosphere was amazing and it felt very spiritual. I found the visit to Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum very touching It was great to be able to see the snow mountain monkeys and spot Mt Fuji from our hotel room window in Tokyo! I loved all the food that we have been able to try Last but not least I loved the kindness and the composure of the Japanese people, their respect towards other people and nature, the technology, the cleanliness ... In a nutshell, I will treasure every moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is very organised, knowledgeable, kind and patient. She was very attentive and always made sure we were all right. She has given us very good tips of what to do in our free time. One evening, when she should have been free to rest, she has accompanied me and my husband to the district of Gion in Kyoto's as we had not been able to go with the rest of the group on the previous evening due to personal commitments. She also accompanied the group to Hakone for a day trip on her free day. She has definitively go out of her to ensure all the participants had a good time and has thought us a lot of the Japanese culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In our group there were people with very specific dietary needs. I think that they have found it a bit difficult at times to find the right food for them. People with special dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, coeliac) might find it a bit challenging to find the right food for them at all times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to go back one day!
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Jim and Rachel

    The serene and the frantic

    A good balance of the ancient and modern, as the trip title suggests. Travelling by public transport helps to convey the flavour of "normal" life in the country rather than a whistle-stop tour of "tourist" destinations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The overall sense of order and respect for others, even in crowded city centres. The attention given to presentation - of food and everything else.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka took great trouble to ensure we optimised our time by being fully prepared: helpful annotated maps, advice on tickets, and so forth. She took us to a variety of types of restaurant for the optional meals, which are not in the programme, but where in fact the majority of the group chose to eat together. And she was great fun !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't worry about whether it's cherry blossom time: there are plenty of beautiful sights anyway. Be prepared to pay cash for meals if the group eat together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The first ryokan didn't quite live up to expectations; it was in a more urban environment than we'd imagined.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Grahame Erskine

    A great experience, a wonderful country and an amazing tour leader.

    A fantastic tour with so much to see in such a short time. Our group leader (Ayaka Tsukamoto) kept us informed of historical and cultural details throughout the tour and she also went out of her way to ensure that everybody was able to get what they wanted from the free time available..

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose any single inspirational moment from the serenity of the temples when you got away from the crowds, the friendliness of the people or the rush you feel when bullet trains go shooting through the stations at high speed. However, we were lucky to have fantastic views of Mount Fuji on a fun jaunt around Hakone on the various modes of transport.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was a brilliant tour leader who was tireless in her enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring we had a fantastic and fulfilling tour. Even on our free days she helped by ensuring we used the most effective transport to maximise our time and in recommending places to visit and where to eat. She took us to restaurants that we would not normally have chosen and these were some of the best restaurants that provided us with great experiences along with the authentic cuisine. Throughout the tour she kept us informed of historical and cultural details and amused us with her anecdotes that gave us an insight into growing up in Japan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a tour with lots of walking and some long days so that you get the most out of your time on holiday. Using public transport gives you more contact with the friendly Japanese people and is much more ecological than using coaches.
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