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“Check, double-check, triple check and in the end it won’t probably be what you wanted”

I chose this company because of the excellent reviews and because they answered my email very promptly. Unluckily I cannot share the enthusiasm of the other customers, I don’t know if it is because I have very clear ideas about what I want to see and do and I do not accept a standard itinerary without discussion. Last March I asked them if they could organize a tour of Myanmar and Yunnan lasting about one month between October and November. I am retired and I have no precise limits of time. They answered positively and we began to decide the itinerary. At first I wanted to see the hot-air balloon festival near Inle lake. They had no idea of when it was but when I gave them the dates first they acknolwledged the fact and later they said it was not possible to arrange a visit because it was dangerous!… When I was in the place, actually then some days before the festivals, the locals confirmed that the festival is indeed beautiful and it would have been great to attend and of course it was not dangerous at all. Too bad!
I worked on the program for some time together with the agency and finally the itinerary was considered definitive in April. I left in October and although I liked Myanmar the organization left a lot to be desired. Just to give some examples, in Yangon the program featured only the visit to the market whereas the famous Shew Dagon Pagoda was completely disregarded and no time was allowed to visit it; at Inle lake one day was described as full-day trekking, on the contrary the local guide informed us that the trek lasted just three hours, luckily he was very kind and offered us an alternative option; in Bagan the program featured two identical sunset cruises, also in that case the guide pointed that out and suggested something else. But what was most annoying is that on the third day of our travel I began to receive e-mails informing me that the itinerary in Yunnan had to be changed cancelling two of the major highlights because of lack of time!…. Now of course I had never given a limit of time and I confess I hadn’t checked the distances thinking that the agency would do that. I understood that Exotic voyages uses an agency in Myanmar and an agency (Orientis) in Yunnan and I guess they have problems of communication. The saga went on for the whole duration of our stay in Myanmar, every night a new e-mail with a change of program, which is certainly not the best thing to make your holiday pleasant and relaxed. First we were told that the road was under construction and we couldn’t go to the rice fields in Yuangjang. We saw when we were there that it wasn’t true, the road was perfectly ok, only there were many kms to drive (which hadn’t changed since April of course). Then they said that the treekking in Tiger Leaping gorge could not be made because it was too long. I was perfectly aware of the duration of the trekking as my daughter did it last year but it took me some days to make them accept my plan. We received a final program, slightly modified from the original but still acceptable two days before arriving in China. When we arrived we discovered that the program had been furtherly modified, nothing written was given to us and every day it was a surprise!…. Hotels had been changed also because often we stopped in a different town than planned, the train timetable was different, we had once a car instead of the train, the trekking was moved on a different day so that we had no time to visit Lijang.and we had a completely superfluous extra day in Shangri La. Moreover my friend was asked to pay an extra 60$ to be taken to the airport (ten minutes’ drive!…). On the whole I am afraid I cannot recommend Exotic Voyages as a professional tour operator.

This review was originally posted on Trip Advisor

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