“first experience with a travel agency, used for vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia”
I travel pretty often, and this was my first time and only time (so far) using a travel agent. With that said, I’m not sure what I should expect from using a travel agency. We used it to plan a trip for Vietnam and Cambodia.
– Upfront logistics were handled really well. Hotels recommended were all great quality.
– Communication of the agents were great and speedy (even with the time difference).
– We waned to keep the price down, so we had quite a few “do on your own/free days” and didn’t use a guide for many of our transfers (i.e. didn’t have a guide to take us to the airport, etc).
– The transfers and guides were private to us, and very useful/nice to have during parts of the trip. This is the one thing I’m not sure we could have booked on our own. Our favorite guide was named x in Siem Reap. He took so many pictures for us throughout the day!
– I did the math on how much more we were paying additionally to book everything through an agent. It came to be somewhere between 15% and 30%. It was hard for me to value/price the guides and transfers in the calculation. This was much lower than I expected.
– Didn’t really provide informative recommendations or trade-offs between different activities. Definitely felt like they just suggested the one itinerary that is suggested to everyone.
– A cyclone hit Vietnam during our trip, and we had to cancel one of the cities/stops we had planned (phong nha caves). While they handled communication of the itinerary change well. They called our hotel and told us our flight had been cancelled and due to safety concerns, we should just stay in hanoi for a few extra days and then fly straight to Hue (the stop planned for after Phong Nha). While they handled all the rebookings, they only booked each additional night at the hotel in Hanoi the day off. They said they couldn’t book in advance without getting cancellations from the other hotels, and there was also low availability at the hotel we were staying in currently. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case. But the situation made us basically have to pack and be prepared to check out of our room mid-day and into another room at the same hotel or a different hotel every additional day spent in Hanoi.
– More so than the above bullet, I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t suggest what we should do with our additional unplanned days in Hanoi. We ended up visiting the phong nha caves later anyway as a day trip from Hue, but we had to ask if it was possible on our end instead of having them suggest it as an option after we saw viator day trips to the caves from Hue. They also didn’t give us any recommendations on how to spend the additional time in Hanoi. We looked up a few ideas on our own, and asked if they could help arrange it.
– Before we arrived in Asia, I asked what was the best way to handle laundry needs. I got a very curt response about how all the hotels would have options to do laundry. I followed up asking for prices from the hotels since I couldn’t find that information online, and received the pricing sheet from our first hotel. They failed to tell me which of the hotels during our stay had the cheapest laundry options (variation on prices was high), or that many of the hotels had laundry vendors across the street that were extremely cheaper and still good quality ($2 for 1 kg opposed to $2-5 per item).
Conclusion – with research and time on your end, it is possible to plan a trip of the same or pretty close caliber I think. If you have the money, its a good way to save some time and research.
Visited October 2017
This review was originally posted on TripAdvisor