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Turtle, Ecuador

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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817 Reviews

  • Reviewed March 2020

    Fabulous Holiday

    Everything about this holiday was excellent from the arrangements and information prior to the holiday through to the sights visited, food, accommodation, tour leaders and the people of Vietnam & Cambodia. A truly memorable holiday!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Vietnamese people and their whole attitude to life.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both tour leaders were excellent. Their knowledge, friendliness, competence, efficiency & their personable nature couldn't be faulted.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't rely on being able to use your bank cards everywhere & make sure you have US dollars if you haven't bought your visa for Cambodia in advance.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is my 1st Exodus holiday & I will definitely be using the company again for other trips.
  • Reviewed March 2020

    Exceptional!

    This is my first Exodus Trip and 4th international cycling tour. This was one fantastic trip. Our Tour Leader, Long, was an absolute joy. The cycling is hard. I did have to sag a couple times, there was a 5 mi stretch that never got less than 13% (and got as staggeringly high as 26%!) and it was hot. But my god was it stunning - the vistas were absolutely incredible. The accommodations were good (with the exception of one which I believe has since been removed.) Having the extra night staying on a boat in Ha Long Bay was phenomenal as well. Really, if you like a challenging cycling trip, do this - don't wait.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Strangely seeing an old woman on a bicycle carrying a HUGE (5x or more her own body volume) load of who knows what up a mountain road - she smiled at us.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Long is a great guy! I believe he is the owner of the local company that Exodus books this tour for. He is unerringly positive, engaging and funny. He clearly also looks for staff that are similar. We got to learn that undulating hills means largely uphill :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do be sure that you're ready for this level trip - I thought I was and for the most part was, but some climbs were daunting - but I wouldn't take them off the route if I could.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    A Brilliant Trip

    We have been on a couple of cycling trips before and this one was probably the best. Tri our guide was outstanding and all our fellow cyclists were a great bunch of people. We got a real flavour of life in Vietnam. Lots of interesting food.The meals were good and plentiful. Thought we would lose weight but didn't! Good Hotels. Many highlights but a couple or so to point out,Whale Island and Hoi An, the 30km exhilarating downhill ride and cycling in city centre traffic...... great fun but leaves your heart racing. It is quite full on which leaves you wanting to spend more time in some of the places visited. The usual pattern is arrive at 5 - 6 pm, leave at 7.15 next morning. However we did find time to swim in the hotel pools. Overnight train was great fun ....all part of the adventure. To cover the length of the country there are some longish times in the bus but the bus was comfortable but great chance to talk with your fellow travellers. This also gives you time to see more of the country and people watch. Staggered us how much could be piled on a scooter! The bikes were ideal for the road conditions as well as being clean and very well maintained. At the frequent refreshment/rest stops there was lots of juice, water, fruit, nuts and biscuits. The driver and bike mechanic were very friendly and very competent. Great organization, things happened when Tri said they would.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The local people were very friendly and were very welcoming. They seemed to have put the past behind them and were striving to build a modern country with no rancour about the past. We had four Americans and a Frenchman on our trip and they experienced no animosity. I accept this is the view of a short stay holiday maker looking at things through rose tinted spectacles but the people smiled a lot and the little children shouted greetings and wanted to high five you.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tri our group leader was outstanding. He was highly organised and efficient. He instilled confidence and was always cool, calm and collected. Tri ensured we were always well briefed. He and his team ensured our safety was paramount at all times. Tri had a lovely sense of humour and made things enjoyable. He was a great ambassador for his country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read the trip notes carefully.Get your self into reasonable shape but if you have any doubts about your fitness hire an electric bike........you will have a much better experience. Go with the flow. Learn some basic Vietnamese, it goes a long way if you can say good morning/evening and thank you.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A great trip made by having a superb group leader and a bunch of fellow travellers who all gelled together.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Best Group Ever

    Though the group, tour leader and support staff were phenomenal throughout the trip and there were many highlights, the rural cycling within Thailand and Cambodia proved to be largely uninteresting, smoggy and garbage was strewn throughout. Mostly we saw different tree plantations of smaller trees for rubber, furniture, etc. and a little bit of off season ground crop areas. On the plus side the accomodation was spotless, the food excellent and the people wonderful. We certainly enjoyed Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and the other temple complexes and Phnom Penh. Also the history of Cambodia during the Khymer Rouge regime, though dark, was extremely educational and offered an understanding of current day Cambodia that we would have not gotten without physically attending the Killing Fields and the S-21 prison. In sharp contrast to what we saw of Thailand and Cambodia, Vietnam was very green and lush and our stay at the Homestay on the island, travel on the Mekong and other cultural highlights was amazing. The very best of the trip was getting to know the wonderful group of people the tour attracted and the care our tour guide Chai gave us.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Attending the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh (Choeung Ek) and the S-21 Prison (Tuol Sleng) which is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and meeting two of the 14 survivors from the prison, Chum Mey and Bou Meng.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Chai was beyond superb. His organizational ability, his kindness and concern, his upbeat demeanour, his availability and his sharing of cultural knowledge made the trip.
  • Reviewed February 2020

    Slow burner

    It must be said this is a bit dull to begin with - the first three cycling days are not particularly interesting - but it builds and in the end it is a great experience. Cambodia is a fascinating journey from the pomp of Angkor Wat to the rat infested piles of rubbish in Phnom Penh to the anguish of the Killing Fields; I'll never forget it. Vietnam was a complete contrast - colourful, enterprising,confident, resplendent with gold starred red flags everywhere.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Quite a few: The giant recumbent golden Buddha in Wat Pho The frog sausage with green tamarind salsa from a street vendor near Siem Reap Cycling through the North Gate of Angkor Thum at dusk Being brought to tears by the guide in the Genocide museum Riding through the country lanes and bustle near Chau Doc with all the children shouting "hallo" to us

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chai is a great guy - a fine advocate for Buddhism

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The cycling is a bit of a side show and this trip is really more about imagining yourself in the heartbeat of another as Sebastian Faulks, I think, said. I felt privileged to have made the journey. The best day's cycling is the second day in Angkor Wat so don't go shopping as some of our party did. It is very hot - take lots of factor 50 sun block. Aside from the frog sausage the best dish was Fish Amok served in a hollowed out coconut - don't miss it

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Not for cyclist purists but an adventure you won't forget
  • Reviewed February 2020

    A good trip but.....

    Good points. A very varied trip. Plenty of cycling but other things too. A taste of real life in Vietnam as well as tourist destinations. Lots of interesting food. Interesting culture Good Hotels Highlights are whale Island and Hoi An Bad points Too fast paced to spend quality time in some of the places visited - Arrive at dusk, leave at dawn. Trip notes are full of things that there would never be time to see or do. Overnight train is a low point! Too much cycling in dangerous city centre traffic. Lots of time in the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The 30km descent on day 5. Also the general friendliness of the local people considering all that the country has been through over the years.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tiet was a real joker who tried hard to make sure everyone in the group got what they needed from the tour. Nothing was too much trouble and he took us to some great dining experiences.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be sure to take a small overnight bag for whale Island in particular, but also the hideous sleeper train.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    wendy fairhurst

    Great trip overall - a real journey

    Just returned from this trip . Myself , my husband and 3 more friends went on the trip - we are all keen on cycle touring. For myself and my husband, our overall experience was very good . Our guide, Chai was the best we have ever had . He dealt with a varied group with humour, fantastic organisation and always a smile. The group we were with was made up of British , Canadian, American and Australian cyclists . The group was great and bonded well under Chai's expert guidance. Culturally the trip is very interesting - Angkor Wat is fascinating and beautiful and the Killing Fields in Cambodia were life changing. Travelling through the 3 countries and seeing the various levels of development, political situations and living conditions was interesting and sometimes disturbing. However the cycling itself was sometimes disappointing - in the first few days there is rather a lot of cycling along straight, featureless , flat roads in 35 degrees of heat. Being taken out to eat local food in the evenings was very enjoyable and welcome after this. Cycling around Angkor Wat and the various temples which make up the complex was beautiful and the cycling in Vietnam is amazing - cycling through communities , hopping on and off ferries - everywhere a riot of colour and interest.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hearing the story of our young female guide in Phnom Pen give an emotional and personal account of the Polpot regime and life in Cambodia nowadays moved me to tears . Cycling around Angkor Wat Hearing our guide talk about his humane and pragmatic approach to Buddhism Cycling through villages and communities in Vietnam

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chai was quite simply one of the nicest human beings I have ever met and an inspirational guide and leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for the first few days of cycling which are long , scenery is not spectacular and it is very hot. It does get better! We are reasonably strong cyclists and were able to find enjoyment in blasting down the long, straight, quiet roads but still found the heat a challenge. Chai managed it well though and arranged stops every 8-10 miles to re-group and cool down. The team were always waiting with very welcome and delicious snacks and drinks. Go easy on them if you don't want to gain weight. Cycling around the Angkor Wat temples and in Vietnam is lovely. Go out with the guide to eat in the evenings - the local food and experience is fantastic and hotel food often very average. We did not get ill.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip was a journey rather than a holiday and overall a very positive experience. Most people on the trip who had never done Exodus holidays before were inspired to do more trips like this. However be prepared for some of the cycling in the heat and seeing the poverty of some of the communities, particularly in Cambodia.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    David Hindley

    Excellent, probably the best yet.

    This was an amazing trip. Totally fell in love with Vietnam, We did so much in such in two weeks. The cycling, somehow. only felt like a small part of the experience as there were so many other things that we did. Each day was full on, exceptionally well organised, great food, etc Been on a few cycle trips, and I think this was the best one so far.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many, how could I choose? I'd always wanted to go to Hoi An and the Hai Van pass. Both did not disappoint. The whole trip was inspirational.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Linh was a perfectionist in all he did. There was no waiting around for buses to turn up, bikes to be made ready, trains to catch, boats to board, meals to eat. etc Everything was there at the time stated or when we just happened to turn up. He was very knowledgeable about all aspects of the places we visited. A great leader. The support team was great too, fixing my puncture on one occasion, and replacing the whole gear system on another. Just great, great and great!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I stayed an extra day each end, and depending on how you counted my stay, I was in Vietnam for 15 or 16 days (if you counted the part days at each end as whole days). I asked Exodus if I needed a Visa, they said no. I emailed the Vietnam Visa website also, but got no reply. Vietnam Airlines, flying from Paris, did see this as a problem, and I needed to sign a disclaimer form before they would let me fly taking all responsibility. The Visa counter in Ho Chi Minh also saw this as a problem, where I was questioned at length, but they did eventually let me in. Personally, I would have preferred to have paid the Visa, so I did not have this uncertainty. Others in the group, staying the same length of time, did not have the same problem. So your choice if extending your stay, but you may want to be aware that some see 15 day visa as counting a part day, as one whole day! The accommodation throughout was excellent, but I found the "1st class" train compartment very claustrophobic and far too hot and spent some of the night sitting on a small plastic chair in the corridor. The 2nd/3rd class carriages were far cooler and more spacious. I would probably decamp there if I did this again.
  • Reviewed January 2020

    A Fascinating trip

    Fast paced trip from north to south Vietnam yet with time to explore the places we stayed in. We slept in a great variety of places from lovely hotels to sleeper train via three great homestays and overnight on a boat and enjoyed the varying sights and tastes of the country as we travelled.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say; there were so many. Experiencing the street life in Hanoi where traders carried their wares on paniers balanced on their shoulders as they wove between the traffic. Sharing a long house with all the other members of our group on only the second night of the trip. Wondering why there was a large boat travelling towards an end of the Da River reservoir and then later finding in moored by our homestay and discovering it was the mobile supermarket; stocked with almost anything you might wish to buy. Kayaking amongst the rocks in Ha Long Bay. Eating in a restaurant across the road from our hotel in Hoi An where we were the only western diners, live fish swam in plastic bowls at the side of the restaurant and we enjoyed the best seafood noodles of the trip (and we had enjoyed quite a few) Trying the many variations of Pho. The cooking lesson in Hoi An and helping to prepare dinner at our wonder Mekong Delta homestay ……………………………...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Tuyen was fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. He opened his country up to us with great enthusiasm and supported all of us throughout the trip. The mix of history, culture, food and personal experience was amazing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I ignored advice from other travellers to take your own bike saddle and regretted it as I couldn't cope with the narrow saddles and had to give up after a few miles; which was a shame as I had been very much looking forward to the bike rides.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Expect some hot weather and some humid. Take lightweight waterproofs for the occasional wet day, we had one but it was a great day nevertheless, and then enjoy it's a great trip.
  • Reviewed January 2020
    andrew bole

    An amazing trip, a couple of tips

    This is a really wonderful trip. I would highly recommend it. You get a unique view of the people, country life and see very few other tourists, outside of the big cities! A good balance between cycling and transfers on the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to list.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guide makes the difference between a good trip and an amazing trip. Our guide, Nut, was excellent. He was calm, efficient and is vastly experienced so easily managed the large group (18) and so we were all relaxed and could enjoy the trip. Simple things were done very well. We visited lots of different artisans along the way but were never pressured into buying things. They guide handled tipping, meals etc

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some tips not in the trip notes: 1. It is hot and very sunny. Over xmas, there were no cloudy days and no rain. 2. Take lots of high factor sun cream. We used more than expected as you are out in the sun most of the day. You can only buy it in the big towns, Bangkok, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Saigon. 3. Wear white or light coloured tops when cycling. Dark colours absorb the heat making it even hotter! 4. You move most evenings, so can only visit the laundry in the big towns where you stay for more than one night, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Saigon. 5. Take a water bottle that fits in a standard bike water bottle holder. 6. We took our own clip in pedals (MTB prob best as in and out of them in the towns), which worked well. The bus is always close by so you can change shoes if you need to walk round a temple 7. To go into most of the temples you need to wear trousers or shorts/skirts that cover the knee. Applies to men and women. You can leave them on the bus, so dont need to wear them when cycling. 8. Take some electrolite tablets for your water, as you are out on the bike in the heat sweating alot!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Spend a bit of time looking at the flight routes/options as there are lots of possible routes you can end up on, which vary considerably in terms of duration and connections.