I did not have time on tour to make more notes
Once we got to Laos we knew this was going to be our favorite part. The hotel was lovely and the places and people the best.
Tips--- this tour was strenuous for us for two reasons, the heat and humidity which we knew we would get, but also on three of the days throughout the tour, we had to be up around 4-15am and because it was not every day our bodies found it harder to adjust to the twelve hour time difference to home. The following days we might be up three hours later so our internal clock was extra confused and we experienced being tired quite a bit and did not make the extra effort to do more than was on the itinerary as we do on most Tauck tours.
You can easily take this tour and spend money without having to change to the local currencies, but you do need cash in dollars as well as credit cards. We used an ATM once in Vietnam without a problem. We had not informed our bank we were traveling there. We rarely use ATMs while traveling, relying mainly on credit cards--- this trip we informed Visa of our travel plans. We don't have to inform AMEX, they do not ask you to do so.
Visas--- we got all ours via the Tauck recommended visa company and they were put into our passports. We know this is expensive but we do not like to be without our passports for long! It is the only way we can prove we are Americans, we travel a lot and might need to visit Britain unexpectedly so the least amount of time without a passport is necessary for us, doing the process three times would be longer and tedious. Some people had separate visas that were not in their passports but on separate sheets of paper. There was nearly a disaster because of this because the couple in front of us from our group when at one of the immigration areas did not have the visas for the other countries being visited with them, the tour director had them, he kept our passports with him most of the time, the immigration officer wanted to see the other visas. If Mr B and I had not spotted the tour director on the other side and been able to beckon him over, we would have all been stuck and missed our flight because they were delaying the line.
The tour director kept all our passports so he could get all our luggage and boarding passes for the six internal flights before we arrived at the airports and that was otherwise a great idea. Even on the last day, he was able to check us in and handle our check in luggage and get it checked to our final destination so we did not have to carry or see it until we arrived back in the US.
On the last day we had a visit to an Elephant sanctuary--- note sanctuary and not camp because there is also a camp which is not the same at all. We were all given the opportunity to bareback ride on an elephant. These were all rescue elephants, for example, some from logging and one who had had part of her foot blown off from treading on a land mine. It was about a half hour ride along a fairly steep slope down to a big wide river, into and along the river, up onto an island in the middle and then back in the water and another group of people got onto the elephants on the other side while the first group came back via boat. The ride began with an elephant handler behind you, but later they got off and took pictures of you and you could ride alone. Mr B did the ride, I got on my Elephant but was very nervous which I thought the elephant picked up on and she was being rather naughty, so I only stayed the ride for about five minutes and asked to return. Another of our group got on her and also got misbehavior too, so it was not just me. Well I can say I rode on the head of an elephant even if not in a river.
Shopping---- there was free time to shop on this tour if you wanted to, we declined a couple of opportunities and preferred to relax back at the hotel out of the brutal afternoon humidity. But I did shop, I do it very quickly as only Mr B will allow. Look out for silk scarves, lacquer ware, leather belts and handbags of snake and crocodile, jewelry , pop up greetings cards with all manner of pop ups, chop sticks, qualities of everything varies, you get what you pay for.
We loved this tour, it will be one of our favorites.


  • British and Mr. B--Great to hear how much you enjoyed the trip. We are spending 4 days in Singapore to get over jet-lag before flying to Hanoi. Just booked flights and hotels. All that remains is to wait until we can apply for the Visas and make the final payment to Tauck. We are going in January 2019. What would you expect the heat and humidity to be like then? Many mosquitoes? We're off to England and a Tulip Time cruise this April. Cheers.
  • edited March 2018
    Hi Ed, I think the heat and humidity will be just as bad then, though Vietnam temps are Ok, the rest of the tour it’s humid. There were not that many mosquitoes but we did encounter some on one of the planes! All this post retirement travel is taking it’s toll, I am recovering from a bad cold at the moment, unusual for me to get a cold. We are off to England in April, it’s extra cold there at present my friend tells me, lets hope it warms up for next month. Tulips— there was a wonderful display of a ‘Netherlands Tulip field’ at the Philly Flower show last week, many unusual shapes and colors, enjoy them in the real Netherlands! We were in Singapore overnight many years ago on a stop over visit to friends living there while on our way to Japan. Our children were young and we were not impressed by all the concrete and high prices. The one thing we did which I would highly recommend if it is still there is the Nighttime Zoo! Most memorable for the kids who still talk about the two men having a fight on the little tram you travel round on. They got into a fisty cuffs and one got hold of the others cell phone and threw it away, we could not follow the fight it was not in English but obviously more memorable than some of the animals. I’d love to go back to see if I thought differently about Singapore now I am older and can afford to have Singapore Sling at the Raffles—— we had those at both Raffles hotels on this tour, there is a happy hour at the first Raffles!
  • British,
    Are there Parts 1 and 2? Can't seem to locate them.
  • AshvEd wrote:
    Are there Parts 1 and 2? Can't seem to locate them.
    Neither can I Ed, I’ll see if I copied them on my notes
  • British. Thanks for reposting them. Ed
  • Can anyone comment on the bugs in this area? In heat and humidity there are usually mosquitos, gnats etc. Should w bring repellants?

    edited October 2019

    I took this tour in Feb.-Mar. of this year. I don't recall seeing bugs anywhere except Siem Riep and Luang Prabang, but perhaps there would be bugs along the Mekong and at the Cu Chi tunnels. I brought a travel pack of insect repellent wipes (that I got at CVS) that didn't take up any room in my luggage, but I didn't open the package. The Luang Say Residence has mosquito netting around the bed, which I did use.

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