Review of the Big IndoChina Adventure with Contiki

I initially chose to go to South East Asia because I wanted to travel to a tropical location for my winter holiday. Other then wanting to catch some rays, I had no other aspirations. But I now have a new love and appreciation for asian culture and solo travel.

This trip introduced me to a completely foreign culture, new (amazing) foods, friendly people, peaceful cultures, exotic adventures and stunning landscapes. This trip put me out of my comfort zone and completely emerged me in different ways of life. I can honestly say I have returned as a stronger, braver and more confident person. I recommend going on this adventure alone. You will meet many like-minded travelers and you will discover so much about yourself.

When I booked this trip I expected to stay in mostly hostels and cheap hotels…expectations were blown out the water. We stayed in mostly 4 and 5 star hotels. Every place was nicer then the last. But my favorite places we stayed we not the 5 star hotels. We stayed at two charming guest houses and on a beautiful junk boat in Ha Long Bay. Every place we stayed had free wifi, water bottles, safes and hot water!

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of fellow travelers. I will forever be friends with many of the people I met. Especially my tour manger Lee (Hailey). I can safely say she made my trip. Lee is super cool, chill and fun. She showed us the best bars, hangouts and foodies in town. She was familiar with the locals and even spoke most of languages. I told her initially I planned on turning my brain off for most of my trip. So it was awesome having her plan most excursions and helping me have the time of my life.

The coolest thing about this trip is you’re not stuck on a bus all day long like many other contiki trips. Don’t get me wrong there are bus trips. The longest was 6 hours. To get through the different countries you will take an overnight train, boats, tuk tuks, buses, vans and jets. I loved our overnight train ride. It really gave everyone a chance to bond.

My favorite things I did on the trip were the Wat Phrathat in Chiang Mai, Thai cooking class in Chiang Rai, Elephant riding, “Kangaroo Sunset” bar and kayaking in Luang Prabang, causing a street dance party in Siem Reap, jumping off our boat in Nha Trang and sailing in Ha Long Bay.

I would recommend this trip to everyone. I always felt safe, culturally submerged and had a blast.

Tips I wish I had been given:
-Bring temple wear (Long pants, t-shirts)
-Pack your bag and then take out half. It’s super easy to do laundry.
-Bring only one swim suit. There are water activities, but not consecutive ones. You only need one suit.
– You should not need more then $25 a day if you don’t plan on doing much shopping.
– Invest good pair of flip flops. You have to remove your shoes a lot and they’re easier to get on and off then sandals.
-Don’t bring a huge suitcase. A back pack is better.
-You don’t need to bring makeup. Most of the girls on the trip won’t wear it. It will just sweat off.
-Bring your own bug spray.
-Bring or be prepared to pull out american dollars. You will need to pay for most excursions with USD. Also Cambodia widely prefers USD over Riel.
-If you’re coming from the states you don’t need an adaptor. All outlets take the US plug!
-Wifi is everywhere. Turn your phone on airplane mode and don’t bother getting a plan. Just Skype and iMessage people using wifi.
-Pack playing cards!
-Pack your own portable charger!

16 thoughts on “Review of the Big IndoChina Adventure with Contiki

  1. Laura says:

    Hi! Loved reading about your adventure in Asia 🙂 Can you tell me more about the people on the tour? Ages, nationalities, solo/couples? I’m considering doing the trip solo and was wondering what most of people do. Thanks!

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    • sagenlavender says:

      There was a great mixture of people. A lot of Aussie’s, 4 British People, 6 American’s, 1 NZ and 3 South African. The solo people out numbered the couples. The few couples we had were all awesome. Very independent and didn’t mind mixing in with the others. We all got a long great and became life long friends.

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    • Laura says:

      Hey I noticed ur interested in the big indo trip. I am also looking into doing it. I’m 24 female from Canada. If you would like to email me laauraa607@hotmail.com maybe we can chat. I’m really nervous to go so I’d like to talk with someone to about what they are planning etc.

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  2. Stephanie says:

    Great blog post! I am looking at doing this one in May. What was the age mix? Don’t want too young or too told! Looking at this one or G Adventures.

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    • sagenlavender says:

      It was a mixture of all ages. I was 25 at the time of this trip. There were a clump of 18-21 year olds, several of us in-betweeners and then a couple of 30 year olds. But everyone got a long really well.

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      • Stephanie says:

        Thanks! Looks like I might be booking it. Was concerned about the ages and also the group size primarily, which the rep put at 30 — seems a lot, but doesn’t seem like it was an issue for you …

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      • sagenlavender says:

        My group had about 30 and it was perfect. Easy to get to know everyone and travel around. When you hit up towns or venues the group disperses into smaller groups for free time. So I never felt like we were a hoard traveling together.

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      • Stephanie says:

        Excellent — sounds just about right, as I am sure there are a mix of interests and in truth it might be easier to find a few people to connect with if the initial pool is bigger.

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  3. nicole says:

    Hello! I know you addressed a few questions regarding age but I was wondering if you could further break down the age of the group. I will be 26 at the time of the trip and I am worried with Contiki there will be several 18-21 year olds.

    One of the appeals of contiki for SE Asia is that they do most of their travel by plane as opposed to overnight trains. Did you still find that you felt that you were constantly traveling from place to place? I know that it’s sometimes the nature of these types of tours but I was wondering if taking planes as opposed to driving allowed for more time at each location vs. GAP which has some very long travel days according to their itinerary.

    Also, did you find that this tour was sightseeing and adventure or just more sightseeing? I was hoping to be able to do some hiking, kayaking and biking at some of the locations rather than just sightseeing.

    Thanks so much!

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    • sagenlavender says:

      I was 25 at the time and there was a wide range of ages. Of course their was a group of schoolies from Australia because I went during their vacation. But the group was very diverse. Traveling on planes certainly allowed more time each place! I’ve done contiki Europe and was happy that there were no 12 hour bus rides!
      The thing I loved most about this trip was the adventure! I went kayaking (twice), snorkeling, hiking (monks really love putting temples on top of mountains). Plus we rode bikes, elephants and more!

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  4. Laura says:

    Hey
    You’ve cleared up alot of Concerns I had with ages. How was the drinking portion. I love to party but not every day or two is this the norm?. I also plan on going solo and it gives me quite a bit of anxiety haha. I’m shy at times but usually pretty good at making friends. I’m finding it hard to commit because I’m so nervous. Do you get enough restful time on the beach or is it usually pretty constantly moving? Thanks!

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    • sagenlavender says:

      There was a lot of drinking. I hadn’t partied so hard since college so it was pretty crazy. But not everyone drank. My roommate never did. But she still came out dancing with us. Some people partied much harder then others. To each his own. You make your own rules. I went alone and I’m an introvert. I made friends really easily. My tip to make friends is book a double or triple room! You’ll automatically have a pal and know what at least one person is up to! My roommate was from England and is now one of my best friends. We are even planning a trip to South America next year!

      Only in Vietnam are their beaches. While there you have time to sunbathe and chill.

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