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Vietnam and Cambodia Feb 2013
Post: #1
Hi I'm just back from this fantastic holiday which I enjoyed from start to finish! There were 33 on our tour, of whom 22 went on to Cambodia. I'm very glad I did the add-on as all of us who did really loved Cambodia. The tour of Vietnam was very comprehensive; the weather in Hanoi was unfortunately wet but this didn't stop either the city tour or cyclo ride, both of which were very interesting. Hanoi is a bit on the shabby side, with beautiful parks and some fine buildings. Halong Bay was of course a highlight and we all enjoyed the stay on the junk. Again, the weather wasn't great there - very overcast and hazy, which I gather is pretty normal for Halong unfortunately. Still we we able to admire the views and get some reasonable photos. The trip to one of the caves was worth doing. Word of warning - forget all the photos you've seen of the picturesque wooden junks: they have all been painted white so they can be more easily seen at night, which does take away from their appearance!

When we reached Hue the weather improved enormously and in Hoi An it was glorious; what a wonderful town with a great atmosphere, another holiday highlight. My Son and the Cu Chi tunnels outside Ho Chi Minh City were both worth seeing, as was the War Remnants museum. We spent a lot of time on the water on this tour, very enjoyable seeing the world go by on various rivers; however don't expect the boats to be luxurious, they are functional with a small space at the back for the sun-worshippers and photographers. The journey to Phnom Penh by boat was very enjoyable with lovely scenery. I loved PP, a very scenic city which I would have liked to seen more of. The temples at Siem Reap were great to see and the floating villages on Tonle Sap also very interesting.

The hotels in all were very good, with the one at Can Tho being outstanding. The only exception was the Angkor Paradise which didn't live up to its name! The food was very good throughout, with most meals being seven or nine course tasting menus shared between four people. You usually had a choice of using chopsticks or a fork and typically at each meal there might be one or two spicy dishes, the rest being delicately flavoured. We had excelllent seafood throughout and the food in Cambodia was fantastic; the only let down was the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh which was very poor. Most people had an upset stomach for a day or two, usually sorted out fairly quickly by a dose of immodium! One lady was more unfortunate and had a trip to a clinic, but she had recovered later in the day and was well enough to travel the next morning.

So all in all, an excellent holiday with lots of variety. The group were all friendly and mixed extremely well together. For the first time in five JY holidays I was the youngest (at 42!), but as everyone comments age is a state of mind and I've made some very good friends out of this tour and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing south-east Asia. The people we encountered were very friendly and welcoming and it was a very well structured and balanced tour - with not too many very early starts!

I hope this review encourages you to book this tour; I am sure everyone on it thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

All the best,

Bob
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Post: #2
(05/03/2013, 11:49 AM)BGray Wrote: Hi I'm just back from this fantastic holiday which I enjoyed from start to finish! There were 33 on our tour, of whom 22 went on to Cambodia. I'm very glad I did the add-on as all of us who did really loved Cambodia. The tour of Vietnam was very comprehensive; the weather in Hanoi was unfortunately wet but this didn't stop either the city tour or cyclo ride, both of which were very interesting. Hanoi is a bit on the shabby side, with beautiful parks and some fine buildings. Halong Bay was of course a highlight and we all enjoyed the stay on the junk. Again, the weather wasn't great there - very overcast and hazy, which I gather is pretty normal for Halong unfortunately. Still we we able to admire the views and get some reasonable photos. The trip to one of the caves was worth doing. Word of warning - forget all the photos you've seen of the picturesque wooden junks: they have all been painted white so they can be more easily seen at night, which does take away from their appearance!

When we reached Hue the weather improved enormously and in Hoi An it was glorious; what a wonderful town with a great atmosphere, another holiday highlight. My Son and the Cu Chi tunnels outside Ho Chi Minh City were both worth seeing, as was the War Remnants museum. We spent a lot of time on the water on this tour, very enjoyable seeing the world go by on various rivers; however don't expect the boats to be luxurious, they are functional with a small space at the back for the sun-worshippers and photographers. The journey to Phnom Penh by boat was very enjoyable with lovely scenery. I loved PP, a very scenic city which I would have liked to seen more of. The temples at Siem Reap were great to see and the floating villages on Tonle Sap also very interesting.

The hotels in all were very good, with the one at Can Tho being outstanding. The only exception was the Angkor Paradise which didn't live up to its name! The food was very good throughout, with most meals being seven or nine course tasting menus shared between four people. You usually had a choice of using chopsticks or a fork and typically at each meal there might be one or two spicy dishes, the rest being delicately flavoured. We had excelllent seafood throughout and the food in Cambodia was fantastic; the only let down was the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh which was very poor. Most people had an upset stomach for a day or two, usually sorted out fairly quickly by a dose of immodium! One lady was more unfortunate and had a trip to a clinic, but she had recovered later in the day and was well enough to travel the next morning.

So all in all, an excellent holiday with lots of variety. The group were all friendly and mixed extremely well together. For the first time in five JY holidays I was the youngest (at 42!), but as everyone comments age is a state of mind and I've made some very good friends out of this tour and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing south-east Asia. The people we encountered were very friendly and welcoming and it was a very well structured and balanced tour - with not too many very early starts!

I hope this review encourages you to book this tour; I am sure everyone on it thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

All the best,

Bob

Hi Bob.

I have been waiting for your review of holiday, glad you enjoyed it. I am booked to go in June. I know previous reviews of this tour have mentioned the long wait on return journey at Kuala Lumpur, how did you find this?

Audrey
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Post: #3
(05/03/2013, 11:49 AM)BGray Wrote: Hi I'm just back from this fantastic holiday which I enjoyed from start to finish! There were 33 on our tour, of whom 22 went on to Cambodia. I'm very glad I did the add-on as all of us who did really loved Cambodia. The tour of Vietnam was very comprehensive; the weather in Hanoi was unfortunately wet but this didn't stop either the city tour or cyclo ride, both of which were very interesting. Hanoi is a bit on the shabby side, with beautiful parks and some fine buildings. Halong Bay was of course a highlight and we all enjoyed the stay on the junk. Again, the weather wasn't great there - very overcast and hazy, which I gather is pretty normal for Halong unfortunately. Still we we able to admire the views and get some reasonable photos. The trip to one of the caves was worth doing. Word of warning - forget all the photos you've seen of the picturesque wooden junks: they have all been painted white so they can be more easily seen at night, which does take away from their appearance!

When we reached Hue the weather improved enormously and in Hoi An it was glorious; what a wonderful town with a great atmosphere, another holiday highlight. My Son and the Cu Chi tunnels outside Ho Chi Minh City were both worth seeing, as was the War Remnants museum. We spent a lot of time on the water on this tour, very enjoyable seeing the world go by on various rivers; however don't expect the boats to be luxurious, they are functional with a small space at the back for the sun-worshippers and photographers. The journey to Phnom Penh by boat was very enjoyable with lovely scenery. I loved PP, a very scenic city which I would have liked to seen more of. The temples at Siem Reap were great to see and the floating villages on Tonle Sap also very interesting.

The hotels in all were very good, with the one at Can Tho being outstanding. The only exception was the Angkor Paradise which didn't live up to its name! The food was very good throughout, with most meals being seven or nine course tasting menus shared between four people. You usually had a choice of using chopsticks or a fork and typically at each meal there might be one or two spicy dishes, the rest being delicately flavoured. We had excelllent seafood throughout and the food in Cambodia was fantastic; the only let down was the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh which was very poor. Most people had an upset stomach for a day or two, usually sorted out fairly quickly by a dose of immodium! One lady was more unfortunate and had a trip to a clinic, but she had recovered later in the day and was well enough to travel the next morning.

So all in all, an excellent holiday with lots of variety. The group were all friendly and mixed extremely well together. For the first time in five JY holidays I was the youngest (at 42!), but as everyone comments age is a state of mind and I've made some very good friends out of this tour and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing south-east Asia. The people we encountered were very friendly and welcoming and it was a very well structured and balanced tour - with not too many very early starts!

I hope this review encourages you to book this tour; I am sure everyone on it thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

All the best,

Bob

Thanks for the report Bob. I'm really keen on this trip and its great to know that it gets such a good review. I haven't had time to fit it in so far but am hoping that I can do one of the trips on Nov/Dec.
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Post: #4
Bob

Welcome back!

I am so glad you had a good time, and a really nice review of your tour.

Cindy
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Post: #5
Hi Audrey, I was initially very disappointed that JY had cancelled the KL taster tour, but while on the holiday I began to understand the reasons why. One of our tour party had a relative who lived there and she confirmed that it can take two hours plus to clear immigration, then another hour to get into the city - this together with the fact that it was a Friday evening, I was told by someone else that the crowds and traffic would have been horrendous and the last thing you need at the end of a busy holiday would be a panicked run to try and catch your flight home!

As it turned out the eight hour stopover wasn't bad, well not for me anyhow. With two others we checked into the Plaza executive lounge for three hours (it's open to everyone for a fee) and enjoyed the comfy seats and complimentary nibbles and drinks. We then went for something to eat, wandered around the shops and made our way to the gate. The time passed fairly quickly and I even slept well on the flight to Heathrow, something I don't usually do (perhaps the wine helped!!). So despite the long journey home it wasn't as arduous as I had expected. Any more questions I'd be happy to answer them as best I can.

All the best,

Bob
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Post: #6
(05/03/2013, 01:34 PM)BGray Wrote: Hi Audrey, I was initially very disappointed that JY had cancelled the KL taster tour, but while on the holiday I began to understand the reasons why. One of our tour party had a relative who lived there and she confirmed that it can take two hours plus to clear immigration, then another hour to get into the city - this together with the fact that it was a Friday evening, I was told by someone else that the crowds and traffic would have been horrendous and the last thing you need at the end of a busy holiday would be a panicked run to try and catch your flight home!

As it turned out the eight hour stopover wasn't bad, well not for me anyhow. With two others we checked into the Plaza executive lounge for three hours (it's open to everyone for a fee) and enjoyed the comfy seats and complimentary nibbles and drinks. We then went for something to eat, wandered around the shops and made our way to the gate. The time passed fairly quickly and I even slept well on the flight to Heathrow, something I don't usually do (perhaps the wine helped!!). So despite the long journey home it wasn't as arduous as I had expected. Any more questions I'd be happy to answer them as best I can.

All the best,

Bob

Thanks Bob, the lounge sounds ideal. No doubt I will have more questions for you as the time gets nearer. I am hoping the June trip goes ahead as at the moment only 8 people have booked, fingers crossed as I might have to consider another date.

Regards, Audrey
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Post: #7
Hi Bob,

Thanks a lot for the review. I'm off there in 2 weeks.

I have been undecided about the My Son tour mostly because of the length of time and seemingly arduous journey. Was it that bad?

Also I have got very conflicting advice on the need for malaria tablets. Can you throw any light on the risk areas if any?

Thanks,

Rosemary
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Post: #8
Hi Rosemary, I was very glad I visited My Son - most on our tour did, a few decided to have more time around Hoi An. The itinerary varies a little from tour to tour. On ours, the tour manager and local guide decided to leave for My Son early in the morning, to avoid the heat of the day which was very considerate. I think we left at 7.30am and we were back in Hoi An for lunch (at a local restaurant, which was included in the cost of the excursion). My Son was very interesting - the journey wasn't arduous in the least! Perhaps the road has recently been resurfaced? We walked the last few hundred yards, but it was not at all difficult. When we arrived, we were greeted by an exibition of Cham music and dancing which was unexpected and enjoyable. I think we saw three different sites and there was plenty of time to wander around. After lunch we were offered a one-hour boat trip up the Perfume river, for $8 which was a nice way to finish the day. There was still time to wander around Hoi An for the rest of the aternoon.

I had some malaria tablets with me, left over from my India trip the previous year (I didn't need to use them there) - and there was no need to use them on this tour either. I double checked with the tour manager who has done this tour many times and she said there is absolutely no need. I only saw mosquitoes in Hoi An and Siem Reap, although I DEETed up most evenings and any morning we were in the countryside. Some websites show the area between Can Tho and Phnom Penh as being a risk area for malaria - if you're doing the add-on, we travel between those two places by boat. So that day I just put extra DEET on - and didn't see a single mosquito! I got one bite in Hoi An (through my sleeve, so don't listen to those people who say you need to wear long sleeves etc - as they can bite through them anyhow!).

Any other queries, ask away - and have a great holiday!

Bob
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Post: #9
(05/03/2013, 03:57 PM)BGray Wrote: Hi Rosemary, I was very glad I visited My Son - most on our tour did, a few decided to have more time around Hoi An. The itinerary varies a little from tour to tour. On ours, the tour manager and local guide decided to leave for My Son early in the morning, to avoid the heat of the day which was very considerate. I think we left at 7.30am and we were back in Hoi An for lunch (at a local restaurant, which was included in the cost of the excursion). My Son was very interesting - the journey wasn't arduous in the least! Perhaps the road has recently been resurfaced? We walked the last few hundred yards, but it was not at all difficult. When we arrived, we were greeted by an exibition of Cham music and dancing which was unexpected and enjoyable. I think we saw three different sites and there was plenty of time to wander around. After lunch we were offered a one-hour boat trip up the Perfume river, for $8 which was a nice way to finish the day. There was still time to wander around Hoi An for the rest of the aternoon.

I had some malaria tablets with me, left over from my India trip the previous year (I didn't need to use them there) - and there was no need to use them on this tour either. I double checked with the tour manager who has done this tour many times and she said there is absolutely no need. I only saw mosquitoes in Hoi An and Siem Reap, although I DEETed up most evenings and any morning we were in the countryside. Some websites show the area between Can Tho and Phnom Penh as being a risk area for malaria - if you're doing the add-on, we travel between those two places by boat. So that day I just put extra DEET on - and didn't see a single mosquito! I got one bite in Hoi An (through my sleeve, so don't listen to those people who say you need to wear long sleeves etc - as they can bite through them anyhow!).

Any other queries, ask away - and have a great holiday!

Bob


Hi Again Bob,

These posts seem to be appearing a lot quicker now which is good.

Thanks for info - think you've persuaded me to do My Son - too scared of missing something anyway.

Last question, I think! I know the temps can vary quite a lot North to South but it looks as if at worst it's warm even when wet. Take it I can leave the winter woolies at home?

Rosemary
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Post: #10
Hi Bob

Thanks for your great review and comments. Just a few questions.
Wondered what the prices for non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks and other extras would be. Am taking all US dollars. Do I need to get hold of a few Dong before I go?

Also wondered what the swimming pools were like. Do the hotel rooms have tea and coffee making facilities?

Cant wait for 20th March to come around - am so ready for a great holiday.

Maggie
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