Just Returned from Vietnam / Cambodia / Thailand

We have just completed this tour and wanted to provide some insights and comments.

Most important, the tour was amazing - the itineraries were just right, the accommodations were exceptional, and the tour director and local guides were outstanding. We left feeling that we had seen what needed to be seen in every city, as well as gotten an insight into the history and local culture of each destination.

We do have some comments and suggestions for both Tauck and future travelers.

For Tauck, the only logistical issue was the plane ride from Saigon to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat). Our plane left Saigon at noon, and, after checking into our hotel and enjoying a leisurely lunch, we did not arrive at Angkor Wat until after 4 pm. Because of this late arrival (and another important reason, noted below), we did not have enough time to properly tour Angkor Wat. That was unfortunate, as our tour guide kept telling us that this was the highlight of the trip (and it was). Tauck, we urge you to change to an earlier flight out of Saigon.

On a related note, our tour was impacted by having several mobility-impaired people in our group. Asia is a difficult place to walk, with few handicap-accessible facilities even in modern attractions, and virtually none in historic or archaeological sites.

Travelers, if you can't comfortably walk great distances, handle uneven roads and pavements (or, in many cases, NON-pavements), and easily go up and down (many flights of) often-uneven stairs, then this is not a tour you should be taking. If you wish to visit these destinations, you would be better served creating a private tour that can accommodate your abilities and pace. On our trip, our tour director did a great job of trying to accommodate all guests, but there were a number of uncomfortable situations in which either the less able guests were left behind on the bus, or the entire group was forced to wait for slower travelers to catch up.

At Angkor Wat, having arrived late in the afternoon, our group had to wait an additional 45 minutes for all of the travelers to arrive at a meeting point for a group picture (and two never made it that far). As a result, we were unable to climb to the top of the complex, as the top closed at 5 pm. Additionally, a special guide, who was added at Angkor Wat for his photography expertise (great idea, Tauck!), instead spent much of his time helping with the mobility-impaired guests.

After this visit, our tour director took a more active role in limiting the activities in which the mobility-impaired travelers could participate, strongly suggesting they remain on the bus or on the boat while other guests trekked and climbed around ruins and temples. It helped the pace of the overall tour, but made for some awkward moments. When traveling with a group you want to be able to socialize with everyone, but not every guest was sharing all of the day's experiences.

One final comment - the beautiful Ha Long Bay, just east of Hanoi, is not included in this tour (it's part of Tauck's Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos tour). That's unfortunate, as it is a spectacular vista. We arrived a day early and visited Ha Long Bay (on a privately arranged, whirlwind tour); it's well worth doing, but if you choose to see it, you'd be better served by arriving 2 days early and spending a night cruising in the bay, or at a local hotel. You can work with the Hanoi concierge to plan it.

Again, overall a spectacular tour, and many thanks to Tauck and the tour guides.

Comments

  • Thank you for sharing your experiences on this tour. I would hate to be in the situation you or the tour guide found themselves in when Tauck make it clear the pace, terraine and expectations of each tour. Has Tauck considered putting on one or two special dates each season for people who have mobility issues with a reduced itinerary?
  • Thank you for your review (the good parts).

    Curious to know what kind of footwear you had for this trip? Is it necessary to have more tread than a good running sneaker or Keens provide? Especially for the temples where there is climbing. Thanks for any additional insights.
  • Thanks for your review! Was your tour booked from Tauck? Do you know any travel operators else that supply tour to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos?
  • Regarding footwear, nothing special was required for this trip - just comfortable shoes and/or sneakers.

    Not sure I understand your comment about tour operators - we booked this tour through Tauck, after debating whether we wanted to book the Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand tour or the Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos tour. As Tauck does not offer any extensions, we decided to add a weekend in Laos at the end of our trip - well worth it (we also spent some time in Myanmar and thoroughly enjoyed that country). If you have the time, it is definitely worth visiting Myanmar in addition to Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand/Laos.

  • Thanks for the information on the Vietnam to Thailand trip. Did you get a typhoid shot before the trip? Any other vaccinations?
  • We are booked on 3 October trip but will have all of 2Oct and the bulk of 3 Oct "on our own".
    Possibilities?
  • Easy decision.

    Visit Halong Bay. Several options for doing that. Given your schedule, best would be to plan for an overnight stay in the Halong Bay area, either on a boat (preferable) or in a local hotel.

    Hotel in Hanoi, Viator, or a travel agent should be able to present several options.
  • We did this trip in January and it WAS fabulous. We had almost a full day in Angkor Wat. I will have to think about how this was accomplished. Plenty of time for a group picture and we crawled all over the site for hours.
    We did NOT get any vaccinations and we had not problems. Some if our group got so sick from Malaria pills that they could not join in some activities.
    I do regret not visiting Halong Bay. In hindsight this was a must.
    Judy
  • When we took this tour (last February), there were two flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, a morning flight and a flight that left about noon.

    My guess is that your tour took the morning flight, which gives you plenty of time at Angkor Wat. Our tour took the later flight and as a result we did not get to Angkor Wat until after 4 pm.

    We have recommended to Tauck that they use the earlier flight for all tours. Not sure how the flight schedules are decided for each tour.
  • Did anyone take malaria pills before, during and after Angkor Wat-Siem Reap?
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