Im going to be heading through Cambodia and Laos on my own. In comparison to Thailand & Vietnam i have heard they are not as "tourist friendly" on the transport side of the things due to having a less developed transport system. Travel agents in UK have advised me on getting a pre organised tour through these countries to help me get around. Is this wise? Or are they trying to get money out of me when I can make my way around myself. Ive heard these tours are easy to come by when you are out there, rather than shelling out more for them before i leave the UK. Anyone have any past experience of this?
DO NOT book anything until you are there. Prices are stupid expensive at home or online. Much cheaper when you are standing in front of them. You do not need a tour. There are hundreds of backpackers doing your exact route daily. If you are the least bit outgoing, you will pal up with others on the bus, eating, drinking or at your GH. Someone to bump around with for a few days. I would not go the organized tour way. Do daily tours like I did. Moto tour of Hue, city tour of HCM, one day HaLong Bay tour, My Son ruins, Cu Chi tunnels, 1-2 day delta tour. Do it on your own and you will have memories for a lifetime. My 2 cents.
I agree with VegasMike.
Similarly in Cambodia and Laos it is easy to tour just about every city and site you want. When you get to Siem Reap- there will be tons of offers to take you around the different temples at Ankgor. Luang Prabang has a bunch of day tours to book as you want. And most other places- if you have a good guide book you will be just fine finding wherever you want....
I found it perfectly easy to get around Cambodia and Laos, so as the others have said, I don't think there is any need at all to book a tour. Both countries are geared up towards backpackers travelling around. I'm surprised the travel agents would advise you to do this and I can only think it's because they get commission from tours they book you on.
I'm surprised the travel agents would advise you to do this and I can only think it's because they get commission from tours they book you on.
That is exactly the reason they push the organized tour for new travelers. Money out of your pocket and into theirs. This is why the TP forum can be so helpful. You can chat with other members that have been there before you.
Dan, do it on your own and members can help you in every city that you care to visit.
Thanks for the advise people, I will definately follow it! I think you are right mike, the people in the travel agents in UK are commision based- so they are trying to upsell you to get more money out of you. I could pretty much see this clear as day! I am a salesman myself lol! Yeah im an outgoing person and part of my motivation for travelling is meeting people, so this sounds like a great way to do it.
I have personally travelled around all four of the countries that you mentioned, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam and did not go on a pre-arranged tour, apart from the occasional pre-booked day trip during my time there. However, like the travel agents suggest, if you have a limited amount of time in both countries, if you were to go on one of these pre-arranged tours, it will make your travel and accommodation arrangements a lot simpler for your time visiting these countries.
Granted the travel system for Cambodia and Laos is a lot less developed than in Thailand and Vietnam and the main form of transport is by bus or even plane. Due to this there are only a few routes in which you can travel around in both of these countries and some of these routes can become inaccessible for buses during periods of heavy rain, unless you go in a truck.
During my time in Cambodia and Laos, I found that many of the guesthouses that I stayed in especially in Cambodia, had their own tour company or guides on site or nearby which they worked with. These tour companies and guesthouse can pre-arrange trips or visits to ‘attractions’ such as Angkor Wat or the Plain of Jars as well as organise bus tickets for your journeys from one place to another.
The choice is yours really, if you are after a hassle free trip then I would advise you pre-book a trip with a travel agent who specialises in these countries. If you like the idea of making travel plans up as you go along, then I would advise that you go it alone and book tours as and when you arrive at a place of interest.
Luckily ive got six months to travels from Bangkok, Do the circle (of sorts) and get back to Bangkok to fly home. I think the planning it and getting tours as i go along is the best option. Thanks for your advice.