We are in Phnom Penh and on our last day of the trip. I want to thank you and your affiliates for the great job all of you did to pull together this incredible journey. It was our first time in this part of the world, and we learned so much from your knowledgeable guides who did a seamless job of pulling together each day’s activities. We had a wonderful time in this part of the world, and enjoyed meeting the gentle, peaceful, accommodating people of Southeast Asia. I will highly recommend your company to anyone looking to plan a trip to these countries. Thank you so much for all of your efforts on our behalf to make this trip so fulfilling and memorable. Best regards,Lisa and Maria FI want to offer some specific comments and feedback to share for your information.
The airport meet-ups were terrific and welcoming. Nice not to have to figure out navigating to the hotels, etc. and it was a nice way to meet the guides before touring.The guides: In Hanoi. Of all of the guides, we had the hardest time understanding him. And he tended to repeat himself (data and facts) quite a bit. Apart from that, he was very kind and accommodating. Our guide in Hue/Hoi An. He was also very good and kind. He had us thru a difficult part of the trip…3 consecutive 1-night stays, and three 5:30am wake ups, which I had discussed with you how much I wanted to avoid that…and with the flight change, it was unavoidable. Our guide in Saigon. She was by far the best guide of them all. She was smart, accessible, natural, and generous on all levels. She was outstanding, through one of the tougher parts (emotionally) of the trip (all of the war sites). Our guide in Laos. He was very competent, but not very enthusiastic. It seemed he was distracted, on the phone a lot, and just sort of going through the motions without too much energy. Our gude in Siem Reap. He was truly lovely. Young and energetic and very caring. He was very knowledgeable about all of the religious history of the Angkor area, and we enjoyed touring with him. And finally our guide in Phnom Penh. Our time with him was very brief, but he was also very knowledgeable and very pleasant. He obviously loves this line of work.
The hotels: I've been trying to find the original list of options to see what I passed up in favor of the hotels I selected. No luck. Overall, the hotels were good, but I think it would be nice to have a couple of choices at the 4* and 5* levels, rather than just one. The hotel in Hanoi. We really didn't love this hotel. The service was fair, as was the room. The wood floors were so slippery, they were dangerous. HALONG BAY…was completely lovely. Great boat. Great cabin. Hotel in Hue. This hotel was fabulous…the room was huge and comfortable. We slept for hours. Unfortunately, they claimed to have 24-hour room service; but when we awoke at midnight and called for food, no one answered. The hotel in HoiAn. This hotel was ok, but not great. We didn't have hot water for showers. The hotel in Saigon. I had high expectations for this hotel…I had read good things and I've stayed at several wonderful hotels of this brand. This one was just ok. Nothing special about the room. And the beds were like a piece of plywood. We had to have them pad the mattress, which they did with a duvet, and then I sweated through the night between 2 duvets. Also, there was only one chance for us to enjoy the pool (it rained), and when we went up to use it, we found it being set up for a private party…one whose thumping music and noise disturbed us all night. I've been in this business for 35 years…and I've never seen a hotel restrict an amenity for all if it's guests to accommodate only a few guests. It's very bad business. I let them know my displeasure, and they offered me a 30% credit on my restaurant charges, which was very kind of them. The hotel in Luong Prabang was really nice. We had a room right off the pool, and the entire property was very pretty and well located. The hotel in Siem Reap. This hotel was fantastic. But we had a similar issue with the pool, which they closed early (5pm) for a dinner event for just 20 guests! As it turned out, it was raining at 5pm, so we couldn't use it anyway, but I just don't understand the thinking of interfering with a crucial amenity such as a pool, at a critical time (after touring on a 90 degree day!)…especially for just 20 or so guests. That is simply crazy! The hotel in Phnom Penh. This hotel was also spectacular and huge! The rooms. The pool. The lobby. All of it was massive. We enjoyed our brief stay there very much.The itinerary: My only complaint about the itinerary was at the beginning with the three consecutive one-night stays that also required super early morning departures. That really wiped us out, and took a toll on our energy early on in the trip. I know the flight change made this an issue, but it was really rough on us during that part of the trip. The main question I now have about our itinerary, is WHY DIDN’T WE BEGIN IN SAIGON? We'd have gone north from there, and then from Hanoi to Luong Prabang, which would have avoided the day of connecting flights from Saigon to Laos. We'd have then gone from Laos to Cambodia, and our journey would have been a continuous circle, rather than the jumping around we did. I also question why we went to Phnom Penh at all. After we chose not to see 2 main sites (Pol Pot’s Torture and The Killing Fields), it seems silly to have spent a day flying 45 minutes from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh just to spend a half day touring a palace and a cycle tour…although I admit I did enjoy seeing Phnom Penh…though we probably could've skipped it. The one serious complaint I had was the 1500 meter hike in Siem Reap to the waterfall. This was a technically challenging CLIMB with rocks and tree roots and difficult and dangerous footing throughout. We started with the best of intentions, but after the third or fourth very technical stretch, we became very concerned about our ability to manage the descent. We bailed on it after going half way up, and relied on a tree branch walking stick and our guide's support to make our way down. I think you need to advise guests of this challenge…and give the option whether you include it or not. With bad feet, knees, hips, and back issues, this hike provided too much danger and risk versus the “reward” of a waterfall (in the dry season).
I hope you accept this input in the spirit it is intended…to help you and your team provide an ideal experience in this part of the world. We remain very grateful for your hard work and fine coordination efforts of your associates throughout the region.
We really enjoyed Luang Prabang, Laos. It’s very lovely there. Vietnam was tough...so much war memories, which wasn’t pleasant for us.
I think I address this in the long review above.
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