2 November 2017

An honest review of Contiki Tours


For the second half of my travelling I decided to go with the company 'Contiki Tours,' like with IVHQ, this was mainly due to recommendations by friends who had used the company before. It is a well known organisation operating in 6 continents and providing part-inclusive tours over 6 continents. The tours can last anything from a few weeks to two months and usually include, accommodation (a mix of hotels and hostels), transport within the dates, a few meals throughout the trip and a couple group activities. They operate all year round for the ages of 18 to 35. 

My tour, 'Bangkok to Singapore', was 2 weeks long and included Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The group, of around 30, was very warm and welcoming, with the majority being solo travellers under the age of 30. This tour included 16 meals and two optional activity add on's (extra), with a mix of accommodation types. It's important to note that my review is specific to this particular tour, I know that others operate in different ways (bigger groups & more activities) so some of my review may or may not be relevant. 

The positives: 

- You get to stay in some incredible places. My personal favourite were these tiny, basic floating huts in the middle of a giant lake in the heart of Khao Sok national park. All the accommodation was clean, fairly well located, and safe. 

- You don't have to worry about anything. My trip manager (who was lovely) always had everything planned and would pass out day sheets which gave suggestions for places to eat and go at each stop. She would also make sure you knew timings for the next day e.g. When to meet in the lobby & what time dinner was. 

- Transport is all organised, you just have to make sure to be at the meeting place on time. 

- You meet some amazing people. Because you're with the same group of people for multiple weeks you tend to bond with them quickly. This is also easy as you will usually have a roommate. In my case this was done well as Contiki try and put people of the same age together. 

- There's no obligation to do the group activities. It is a tour but you can mostly just do what you want so long as you're on time for transport. 

- You get to do activities you might not have thought of doing if you were on your own. For example I went canoeing, trekking and caving. 

- Fun nights out. Again you obviously don't have to go if you don't want to. The trip manager usually knows all the best places to go. 

- It's a good way to see a lot in a short amount of time. Think of what you want to do before going as you have usually very little time at each stop.

- There are tour guides for many parts of the trip. 

The negatives: 

- The website and customer service was terrible. I constantly received spam mail from them and about 10 copies of the same invoice and trip schedule. The customer service was pretty abysmal, when I asked a question they usually either avoided it or gave an inadequate short reply. They were not helpful at all in regards to visas and travel vaccines. 

- Despite them knowing I was vegetarian and telling the trip manager to check if the lunch had meat in, I was given a sandwich with tuna in. What's worse, is that I only found out after taking a bite out of it. I didn't get lunch that day. 

- The extra activities were fairly expensive as is the trip itself. I would have expected the extra activities to be at least discounted. 

- You have to be the kind of person who enjoys tours. This means the organised timings, places and always being around the same people. I remember some of my friends absolutely hating one stop on the trip. 

- These trips can be orientated towards going out and partying, obviously it's how you choose to make it, but this can be seen as a negative and wasn't especially a positive for me. 

- Tour song. I found this slightly cheesy, not everyone joined in and it seemed slightly over the top. 

- Airport pick up and drop off is not included. You can arrange this with the company but it is ridiculously expensive compared to getting a taxi in-country. 

In conclusion I found that Contiki was a good way to experience Asia as a first time solo traveller, however, if I were to go back I don't think I would use them again. It was a good way to ease myself into travelling alone as I knew I always had a group and tour manager if I had any problems. Now having travelled on my own and knowing what to expect I don't feel I need this security net as much. I would recommend others to research what they actually want to gain from the experience before choosing Contiki and maybe look into other options such as Gadventures or volunteering. Personally, I would definitely choose a volunteer experience over the 'Contiki experience.' 

8 comments so far

  1. Ooo this tour sounded pretty fun! I've never heard of this company before. I'll definitely have to look into it. Thanks for sharing! :)

    xo, Chloe // https://funinthecloset.com/skye-footwear-sneakers/

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    1. Go for it! just make sure you know the positives and negatives before signing up.

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  2. At least the positives are pretty good! I miss Malaysia and Singapore so much.
    Hope you enjoyed. Lovely pic !!


    http://www.desiringsme.com/how-adapt-change/

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    1. Yeah, to be fair some of the places we stayed were incredible! I just think one time was probably enough aha.

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  3. Sometimes this companies look too good to be true, but at least you had lots of positive feedback.

    Vanessa x | www.springlilies.com

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    1. Yeah I think it really depends on the person, I know some people who love Contiki and go multiple times a year!

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  4. Thank you so so much for this honest review! I've seen people use them for trips and always wondered if it was worth it, since I almost never do organized tours. Glad to hear the good and bad!
    Vanessa
    www.theretropenguin.com

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